Links 1/17/19

Delivery Man Spots Strange Black Pile In Middle Of Snowstorm The Dodo (David L)

Future of coffee in doubt as 60 per cent of plants now at risk of extinction Telegraph (David L)

Key West Moves To Ban Sunscreens That Could Damage Reefs Miami Herald

Watch: Massive, Moving Ice Disk Takes Center Stage, Mesmerizing Maine NPR (David L)

Swiss Scientists Have Trained Their Dog-Like Robot to Better Fend Off Its Human Oppressors Gizmodo. Kevin W: “With very disturbing gif videos.”

Nothing Can Stop Google. DuckDuckGo Is Trying Anyway.Medium (Glenn F)

Bacteria In Worms Make A Mosquito Repellent That Might Beat DEET NPR (David L)

The diet to save lives, the planet and feed us all? BBC. See also EAT-Lancet diet (PlutoniumKun)

Man self-injected own semen to ‘treat’ back pain RTE (PlutoniumKun)


Huawei Targeted in U.S. Criminal Probe for Alleged Theft of Trade Secrets Wall Street Journal. Non-payalled summary at CNBC.


Tory voters, are you happy with your purchase? Jonathan Pie (Kevin W). If you haven’t see Pie, be warned, he swears a ton.

Pound Traders Indulge in Some Wishful Brexit Thinking Bloomberg (vlade)

Brexit: the noes to the left Richard North

You’ve LOST respect! Support for politicians PLUMMETS as chaos reigns – SHOCK EXPRESS POLL Daily Express

New Cold War

Talk of Western intervention in the Black Sea is pure fantasy Asia Times (resilc)

Russia designs ice-breaking nuclear-powered submarine for Arctic shelf operations Barents Observer. Glenn F: “Very interesting development. Russia is very serious about developing the Artic.”


Kabul’s air pollution kills more people than war Al Jazeera (Bill B)

Western mercenaries ready for Syria, Russians already there Asia Times

A Turkish ‘Security Zone’ In Northeast Syria Is A Bad Idea Moon of Alabama (Kevin W)

18-Year-Old Saudi Refugee Sheds Light On Male Guardianship In Middle East WBUR

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Marco Rubio Introduces Privacy Bill To Create Federal Regulations On Data Collection Fortune

Most Facebook Users Don’t Know That it Records a List of Their Interests, New Study Finds The Verge

Trump Transition

Trump’s Shutdown Is a Savage Assault on the Working Class VICE (resilc)

90 (and counting) very real direct effects of the partial government shutdown CNN (furzy)

Government Shutdown 2019 Explained: What Will Happen Next? Bloomberg (resilc)

One Wall, Supersized, Extra Racism, Hold the Wars Intercept (resilc)

Pelosi pulls State of the Union surprise on Trump The Hill

Will the State of the Union be postponed? That hasn’t happened since the Challenger disaster. Washington Post (Kevin W)

What Trump must achieve in his State of the Union address The Hill (resilc)

T-Mobile announced a merger needing Trump administration approval. The next day, 9 executives had reservations at Trump’s hotel. Washington Post (Chuck L)

Clemson’s White House Visit Turns Into a Meme Atlantic (resilc)

Floyd Abrams: Barr’s Stance “Deeply Threatening to First Amendment” Institute for Public Accuracy

Can the Swamp Drain Itself? Key Challenges for Anti-Corruption Reform Roosevelt Institute (UserFriendly)

Who’s Afraid of Bernie Sanders? A Lot of Democrats, Apparently. New Republic (reslic)

Has the Government Legalized Secret Defense Spending? Rolling Stone (resilc)

Tulsi Gabbard and the Great Foreign Policy Realignment American Conservative (resilc)

A Chicago Cop Is Accused Of Framing 51 People For Murder. Now, The Fight For Justice. BuzzFeed (Chuck L)

Women Now Run the Military-Industrial Complex. That’s Nothing To Celebrate. In These Times (resilc)


Four former Fed chairs call for US carbon tax Financial Times

Sears staves off liquidation, stores to remain open Boston Globe (chuck roast)

Vanguard founder Jack Bogle dies at 89 Financial Times (David L)

Sacklers Directed Efforts to Mislead Public About OxyContin, New Documents Indicate New York Times (resilc)

‘A blizzard of prescriptions’: Documents reveal new details about Purdue’s marketing of OxyContin STAT (martha r). Important

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I normally don’t make fundraising appeals, but hope you will consider this one. And please forward it to people you know who might be receptive. From ChiGal:




Briefs rebut claims made by Defendants in Motion to Dismiss Protect our Parks lawsuit

Chicago, IL (January 15, 2019) – Three “friends of the court” (amici curiae) briefs were filed today in Federal Court concerning a lawsuit by Protect Our Parks, Inc. (POP) that challenges the legality of using some 19.3 acres of Jackson Park for the site of the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) (Case No. 18-cv-3424: Protect Our Parks, Inc. v. Chicago Park District and City of Chicago)

  • The Preservation Chicago and Jackson Park Watch brief rebuts the claim of a “tradition” of building museums in Chicago’s public parks;
  • Professor Richard Epstein, with the University of Chicago and New York University Law Schools, asserts the taking of parkland for the OPC violates the public trust doctrine and merits stricter scrutiny; and
  • The Cultural Landscape Foundation in Washington, D.C. says building the OPC would result in irrevocably harming the nationally significant park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In the meantime, our funding balance has been much depleted by our recent work, and the end is nowhere in sight.  We are in need of funds to help sustain our work.  If you have questions about making a contribution, let us know at  Checks made out to Jackson Park Watch can be sent to Jackson Park Watch, P.O. Box 15302, Chicago 60615.  We thank you.


Class Warfare

Time for America to embrace the class struggle Financial Times

Trump’s economy is great for billionaires, not for working people Bernie Sanders, Guardian (Kevin C)

Gazing Downward, Looking Back The Baffler. Anthony L: “The condescending discourse of neoliberaism.” Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour. Martha r, from Bora Bora:

And a bonus video. This reminds me of Brexit:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. pretzelattack

    today’s must read in the baffler. is very good. the story about the rescued kittens is cause for optimism; the russian ice breaking sub plans not so much. i’m not sure where i read this, but anatole france has a fan–some federal judge, in a dissent, argued that a law against homeless people sleeping or resting in public was not targeting the homeless, because it also precluded rich people from these same activities.

      1. pretzelattack

        maybe from william blum? but it was presented as being about an actual case, with a cite to the judge’s dissenting opinion. maybe i can find it.

          1. pretzelattack

            sigh my reply disappeared (connection reset). no i’m saying the dissenting judge used an argument that tracks france’s ironic observation to support either a state law or city ordinance that penalized people sleeping in public by arguing it was nondiscriminatory because it applied to all citizens, whether homeless or wealthy. i should have bookmarked it because it was so perfect. the majority decision did strike down the ordinance or law.

            it struck me not just because france had in a sense anticipated it; but because it tracked arguments for laws with a discriminatory impact
            in some of the early civil rights cases, i.e. since there was no discriminatory intent the laws were legitimate.

      2. Balakirev

        One of my favorite quotes, as it turns out. It comes from Anatole France’s novel, The Red Lily:

        “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.”

        Actually damn pertinent in the way growing inequality is celebrated these days by using words to mean their opposite. Orwell would be pleased, too.

      1. pretzelattack

        yeah, that’s why i said she must have been a france fan, but i was being facetious. i suspect this is an old justification for discriminatory laws, that they aren’t discriminatory on their face. obviously (to me) these are measures cities use to get rid of the homeless and move them on somewhere else. maybe france at the time had similar problems.

  2. Chris

    From the New Republic article on Bernie:

    “Sanders benefited enormously from not being taken seriously in 2016; Clinton rarely attacked him, while the press, “Bernie Bro” takes aside, went relatively easy on him.”

    Say what now? The press went easy on Bernie in 2016??? They blacked out and revised any positive coverage. They slammed his every move. They posted smears and edited photos to make it look like his caucus supporters were violent thugs. They inundated the airwaves with talk of insufferable BernieBros who were only popular with entitled white dudes. They supported David Brock’s efforts to smear him for Clinton’s sake. They ignored paid trolls posting porn on social media sites to have pro-Bernie messages taken down. The MSM refused to cover the JFA debacle and the FEC records that supported it. The MSM invented the white working class problem to make Bernie look less electable in a general election because only white ski bums with wealthy parents who lived in Vermont actually liked him, ignore the rally attendance and other data that makes our statement false please…

    I like Bernie’s authenticity. I like his instincts for avoiding the neoliberal trap we’ve been in for 40+ years. I like how he can simply cut through all the bafflegab and BS in DC. But even with al that, he still has problems.

    His foreign policy positions being some of the biggest among them. His inability to handle the aggression of his political enemies being another – the Bern keeps bringing a bouquet of socialist flowers to a Clintonista knife fight. But of all the problems with another Bernie candidacy, both real and imagined, only a complete idiot would argue that they include his not being vetted and the press taking it easy on him last time.

    1. Donald

      That’s how I remember the press coverage too. It was hostile from beginning to end. And the pundits were worse. Krugman was practically frothing at the mouth. Krugman dismissed Clinton’s support for the Iraq War as something that happened when people were crazed by 9/11. I lost all respect for him then. I might read him occasionally now — he defended AOC’ s 70 percent marginal tax rate proposal— but I don’t trust him. And there was no one on the NYT opinion pages who was pro Sanders.

      It’s only gotten worse with many Democrats online ( not sure about the real world) blaming Sanders for destroying Clinton’s chances by criticizing her.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          They continue the ignoration too. In WC yesterday I commented about a BBC segment that reviewed the raft of D candidates, nary a word about Bernie.

          1. Patricia

            I read your yesterday’s comment and yep, par for the course, isn’t it? It’s their primary tool for destroying alternatives—pretend they aren’t there.

            They are now irritatingly repetitive. During 2016 election, I was often astonished and that kept me from this deep dreariness that I now drag along with me. Combination of absolute boredom and fear that they’ll get what they want. Blech.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I think the claim that the press did not go after Sanders hard enough in 2016 is the warning that they will be even worse this time around.

              So, the point is not whether or not what they did was tough enough, that is, the point is not to look backwards, but the point should be that we should be prepared for something even nastier…because things can.

              In that sense, I have no problem with the claim that they didn’t go after him hard enough 3 years ago.

              1. Patricia

                Yah, I am sure “they” will stretch as far as their declining “norms” will allow them. So far, mostly doubling down on the same-old, but we’re just toeing into the new cow yard. Ugh

                1. NotTimothyGeithner

                  My guess is they will go after Sanders policy record. Since Team Blue and the #resistance which includes notable Republicans such as David Brock, what they hate isn’t what the voters hate, and so it will be interesting.

        2. 4paul

          I try not to be a conspiracy theorist, but I find it an uncomfortable coincidence that two rich white northeastern Democrap [sic] women announce candidacy in the same week that a report comes out about misogyny / harassment of women by the Sanders campaign. I suspect Liddy Warren and K Gillibrand announced with the auspices of the Party, I don’t think they would have blindsided the DNC, so I am suspicious that it is a rather obvious preemptive strike.

          On a related topic, did Trump ever mention Bernie, or has any Republican’t [sic] mentioned him? How is all the negative talk (like the term “Bernie Bros” itself) coming from the people who could ride his coattails to victory?

      1. Tvc15

        Completely agree with Chris and Donald. I stopped reading the Guardian because of the daily smear pieces on Sanders and egregious cheerleading for the chosen one. It was hard to find coverage on Bernie and I found myself going to Fox for the first time in my life for information on him. Fox hated Bernie of course, but not as much as their hatred of her so they did a better job covering his campaign than “liberal” sources like the Guardian. I stopped going to a lot of my regular sources during the primaries because of the Sanders propaganda and have never gone back. NC was and remains the safe place from the insanity.

        1. jhallc

          I rarely turn on NPR, pick up a Boston Globe or NYT since 2016. As Lambert often said, the 2016 Primaries were very illuminating.

          1. Swamp Yankee

            Same here. The scales fell from my eyes, our class enemies revealed in all of their vile greed.

            There were many people I was friendly with whom I had to realize were, at a fundamental level, opposed to my well-being and that of the political Commonwealth.

            So be it. Onward to victory.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          What was interesting about the Guardians smearing of Sanders during the campaign was that the slightest glance below the line showed that the readers weren’t buying it. It did give me a little hope when I’d read the comments – invariably far more interesting and better argued than the salaried journalists.

        3. Whoamolly

          I too lost all respect for the Main Stream Media Industry, and the (current) Democrat party in 2016. It was (and is) shocking to see memes propagate across the MSM, often word-for-word. The smears, attacks and denial of coverage on Sanders was “very illuminating”.

          My news sources lately…

          I listen to a couple podcasters for daily comments on the ‘news’, primarily Scott Adams (who is excellent). Recently a friend turned me on to Joe Rogan podcasts, which I like a lot. I’m listening to a long-form interview with Tulsi Gabbard right now.

          I have started skimming the Wall Street Journal factual articles (and ignore the opinion pages) for hard news
          I read NC and the comments every morning

          I read and support a few bloggers including Caitlin Johnstone, and Jim Kunstler.

          I skim a dozen specialized publications in medicine, tech.

          I too lost all trust I had for Krugman, the NYT, NPR, and the Guardian.

          1. prodigalson

            Sic Semper Tyranis is also worthwhile, sometimes the owner goes full curmudgeon and turns into “old man shakes fist at sky” but overall good.

            Automatic earth, moon of alabama, are also good reads.

            The american conservative gives a more realist view of the R side, Matt Taibbi the same for team D.

              1. The Rev Kev

                Damn right. He called it for Trump about a year before the election by talking about wage earners who have gone backwards for decades and salary earners who had maintained their earnings in the same time period. Kept a copy of that article and here is one available on the net-


                Reading that article became a clarifying moment for me at the time as it explained so much.

            1. Procopius

              Maybe I don’t read The American Conservative enough. I didn’t realize they gave much coverage to the Republican party. If so, I really need to start reading them more. I’ve been surprised to find out how much they print that I agree with. Maybe I’m more conservative than I thought. I noticed something similar with Peter G. Peterson’s rag, The Fiscal Times. They do, sometimes, print something pushing his idee fixe, Social Security delenda est, but most of the time when I check them out they’re publishing thoughtful, realistic stuff that I agree with. Strange times we live in.

      2. notabanker

        Although he started backpedaling yesterday just a little, Krugman’s support of AOC has me leery of what’s really going on there.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Krugthullu routinely supports good policy then runs away to support the powers that be. He repeatedly warned about the political dangers if pre-ACA efforts weren’t good enough and then spent years attacking ACA’s lefty critics, going full Obama.

          1. Pat

            He back pedals once he gets the phone call from the “owners”. He has gotten it again. It just happens faster now that the owners get nervous that the people might actually get uppity and think they can start demanding the sane policy.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Does he even need the call? He’s an economist after all.

              I imagine he’s determined his column space is worth more than his name, so he needs to find a way to make his WAR high and sell t-shirts (Machado and Harper remain unsigned because they don’t move jerseys; and their WAR indicates they are worth $50 million not $300 million). By occasionally, promoting good ideas he builds enough credibility to attract an audience who would otherwise recognize an obvious right wing toad.

              1. Balakirev

                Krugman is a firm believer in TINA, full stop. Anything and everything else has to be thrown overboard when he perceives the Dem Party Line is being threatened, because There Is No Alternative. And that includes this bizarre little thing the Blob hasn’t seen in ages, called the truth.

      3. pjay

        Award for the most hilarious understatement in the article:

        “It seems possible that it’s Sanders continued popularity—and the role that some believe he played in Clinton’s defeat—that concerns figures, like Moulitsas, who are questioning his electability.”

        1. Jim Thomson

          continued “popularity” is a reason for questioning his “electability”

          Holy Cow, so what on earth is supposed to determine “electabilty” if not approval of the people?/s

          Don’t answer, I know, I know.

        2. jhallc

          Yes that old “electability” saw stuck out to me as well. From people who clearly had no clue about the “electability ” of one HRC says it all.
          Many of my friends, who I really felt would be on the Sanders wagon, were not because of that “electability” problem. No matter how much I tried to discuss policy and his other attributes it always came back to that one issue and he won’t be able to get anything done.

          1. Carey

            Elect Democrats!, because while they are bad for the great majority of
            the citizenry, they would be stopping Trump!, and that’s the imp’t thing.
            (we are told)

            Action for the Common Good

      4. WJ

        Ed Schulz (?) was forbidden by the higher ups at MSNBC (and I think NBC) from even covering Sanders’ announcement of his candidacy.

        And the WA Post had those charming 16 or so (how many?) negative pieces on Sanders within 48 hours.

        And the press used and continues to use the demeaning slur “Bernie Bro” as it it were an actual phenomenon and not something entirely false and proven to have been cooked up by the Clinton campaign to attack his strength (a Rove move, that).

        There are literally dozens of examples. The piece in question is pure propaganda. It’s first quoted authority is Markos!! for crying out loud.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Think of all the times Sanders didn’t deliver 25,000 roses to Dear Leader Pelosi! Sanders hasn’t shown the proper fealty for decades.

      5. Lee Too

        Yes, 2016 was a turning point for me. I wrote to my “even the liberal Sherrod Brown” senator to ask why he had already endorsed Hillary when the election was a year away. (This was in late 2015.) She had been, I told him, the “presumptive candidate” for the dems since at least 2006, when I first encountered this reference to her by Eric Alterman and was taken by surprise. Obama caught up with her subsequently, of course, but ten years later she still held the title. Why not at least wait a while and let Sanders nudge her to the left? (I was very naive in this but hey, I was only 70!) And I received no response.

        Step two in my disillusionment/enlightenment was the 2016 primary campaign itself and particularly the ambushing of Sanders — no other word for it — by progressive economists after the publication of the study that seemed to support his policy proposals. It turned out to be written by a Clinton supporter. But what was really damning for Krugman and the other jackals was that they appeared not to have even read it. Or had read it only to the extent of disagreeing with the model employed.

    2. nippersdad

      It seemed to me at the time that the only thing worse than the blackout was when they deemed him worthy of coverage. This was the kind of thing I remember, and it wasn’t pretty.

      I can only imagine the howls of outrage had Clinton gotten the same kind of coverage, but then that would never have been possible. The press was coopted early on. Something quite noticeable by its’ absence in Shepards’ article.

    3. Carl

      +1000. You hit it perfectly. It was enraging to see, but at the same time completely enlightening. I’ll never look at the MSM or the Democrat party the same way again.

    4. The Rev Kev

      Somebody correct me if I am wrong but at one point in the campaign, wasn’t Sanders making a big speech and instead of televising it, they televised an empty stage where Trump was running late for one of his speeches? Literally an empty stage instead of switching over to Sanders until Trump showed up.

      1. Tvc15

        Correct Rev Kev. Additionally, after a call from the Clinton campaign, Ed Schultz at MSNBC at the time was ordered not to cover Bernie by MSNBC president Phil Griffin. Schultz was also anti-TPP and was fired from MSNBC. He ended up at RT and confirmed the MSNBC stories before he died.

    5. NotTimothyGeithner

      The new attacks on Sanders from the msm and the political right (Team Blue and Red) will be like the FoxNews graphic trying to scare people about AOC. They will try to use Sanders’ positions against him.

      These people still see Sanders as a cult figure. The idea leftier policies are simply more popular than Beta is inconceivable among Team Blue especially. The Sanders supporters just need to see how crazy he is with his support for Medicare for All and so forth. See Harry Reid’s point about how Americans don’t want higher taxes on the wealthy from yesterday.

      1. WJ

        Which is all crazy because there are these things called Polls and it turns out that Medicare for All and Taxing the Rich are actually supported by the majority of Americans. The degree of patronization and deception now issuing from corporate media is in real danger of backfiring again (like it did in 2016) it is so clumsily overt. Even propaganda has been crapified. But alas so have the citizens who receive it.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Reid is the kind of guy who is near the end of his life and is likely looking back on his legacy. If Sanders and AOC can change the national conversation, the majority leader could have too, so my guess is he’s just denying change was possible or it raises questions about Reid who has demonstrated he can be a good communicator. I have no doubt Reid fancies having a marble or granite building named after him, but if people get too caught up in new ideas, they won’t recognize the greatness of Reid. If those “new ideas” were possible then, Reid just represented another stumbling block to progress.

          This is why its important to get rid of all the pomp around DC. The elites really buy themselves as successors to Jefferson and Lincoln for no apparent reason other than wandering around their monuments.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Can one deny the possibility of change when one works so hard to prevent it?

              Cognitive dissonance is real. After all, Reid helped deliver Donald Trump. If America isn’t ready for “radical” change that polls well, then gosh, Reid warrants all of the negative emotion around the “OMG Russia” hysteria to be directed at him.

      2. Donna

        Yes, they will attack Sanders even harder this time in order to justify their denial of his candidacy when the nomination at the DNC convention goes to a second vote and the superdelegates once again select the nominee.

        Hopefully, he will run again because we need him and people like him lighting a fire under the collective a…..s of the American citizenry. At least the teachers are on it.

        Speaking of alternative news sources I also like to check these podcasts and/or YouTube videos…….This is Hell, The Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Scheer Intelligence, Democracy at Work and of course Jimmy Dore and additionally Lee Camp on Redacted Tonight.

      3. Procopius

        I couldn’t find an article that said that, although I found a Fox News article that said Reid was saying you can’t make big changes fast because the American People™ are very conservative and don’t like sudden change. On the other hand, when I tried Duck Duck Go, I found a whole bunch of articles from 2013 where he was saying the rich really want to pay more taxes. Curious.

    6. Darthbobber

      The author opens the quotes with Markos Moulitsas, who has been pursuing a vendetta against all things Sanders without interruption since early spring 2016.

      The author does end with dismissing most of the lines of attack and concluding that Sanders is perfectly viable.

      And presumably many of those peddling this also fear that he is. You don’t put this much energy into preempting something you see as no threat.

      The presence of Sanders is a problem for the backers of all other candidates, which may be the sole unifying factor for the field.

      1. WJ

        They are afraid that he will out fundraise them again and in doing so prove that the “necessary” reliance on big donors and PACs that makes everybody so much money is a shibboleth.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Not just out fund raising. The other fear is fundraising leads won’t translate to votes. Sanders operated on a shoe string. Moving into the South was effectively impossible for Sanders who made his announcement in 2015 to no crowds or reporters.

          Even in 2008, Obama had one really great quarter where he tied HRC until after he won Virginia so decisively. Then money started to pour in as he was seen as a winner, and Obama’s campaign was way ahead of the Sanders campaign in 2016.

          In 2014, Pelosi’s sales pitch about bad Team Blue polling numbers was that HRC would fix everything in 2016, so stay tuned. If Sanders runs through the primaries, the way UVA is running through ACC competition with little actual effort, its going to change the way money is looked at for Team Blue and who are the recipients of the money.

          1. tangfwa

            Hi, thoroughly surface level comment here, but hoping someone better informed can deepen the discussion. I read that data is more valuable than donation$ at this point. ?

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Data and no money is meaningless. Data, all the money in the world, and Robbie Mook loses to Trump. Obama sold his lists to the DNC, and well, it didn’t help Democrats win. Without constant curation, that famed Obama list became a forgotten promise.

              Elections scale differently. Less people care about local elections for whatever reason. Its a different set of challenges.

              If you have a bunch of volunteers in June and no organizational capacity, you really just have a bunch of people waving signs at random times or talking to their friends who they already talk to. Campaigns need money to provide organizational capacity to support volunteer efforts, a full time organizer and office space, materials, because it turns people waving a home made sign into people making sure every high traffic bus stop has a registration desk with a person there who isn’t just sitting while playing with their phone but is actively asking people to register, and so forth. This doesn’t cost terribly much. It unfortunately requires full time attention from one person for an area, several for a Congressional district. Its a full time job. The problem is most people, even donors, don’t pay attention until the end. They might pay attention to a neighbor or person from the community willing to canvass versus an ad.

              This is one of the tenets of the 50 state strategy. The first real test was the Virginia Governor’s race in 2005. Kaine crushed it in areas where their were organizers. He didn’t what was expected outside those areas, and his opponent was a nice guy for a Republican. 2008 wasn’t Obama’s victory as much as the 50 State strategy being expanded upon from where it was in 2006 with Presidential fervor. They (Obama and his BFF Timmy Kaine who he appointed as the DNC head) dismantled the 50 State strategy and lost 1000 seats.

    7. JerryDenim

      “…he still has problems. His foreign policy positions being some of the biggest among them.”

      I hear this a lot from people who claim to support Sanders. Despite the claims by many that Sanders is naive and guilty of ‘bringing a flower bouquets to knife fights’ I think Sanders foreign policy is an example of his shrewd ‘realpolitik’ in action. Sander’s foreign policy represents an old socialist hippie acknowledging the limits of radical change one politician will be allowed to effect in Washington while recognizing a need for allies with guns if you really plan to restore justice and democracy in a country held hostage by a corrupt oligarchy. Assuming Sanders could win the highest office in the land, he can’t make enemies out of every single vested interest in Washington and still expect to keep power or live long enough to implement his agenda. If Sanders has to choose between waging war on Blankfeins, Bezos, etc. or the MIC, I think he has picked the right villain. If Sanders were to be elected President and he could successfully implement his agenda, his successor would have the popularity and the political support to finish the job, reigning in the warmongering and the vast size/power of the MIC.

      I think it’s fair for Sander’s supporters to push him on foreign policy, but I don’t think they should be duped into supporting a pied-piper candidate, be it a Beto/Obama (empty suit corporate candidate who will promise the moon only to serve the establishment with extreme fealty) type or a Ajamu Baraka type (unserious, bomb-throwing, lefty candidate with no experience or chance of winning ) based on what they perceive as Sander’s foreign policy shortcomings.

      1. John k

        I agree. He’s got enough enemies for now. Don’t make trumps mistake of beginning the fight with deep before taking office, or befor making all 3k appointments. And make smart ones, again not as trump did.

      2. gepay

        “and he could successfully implement his agenda” what chance would he have of doing that? He could appoint better judges. He could appoint better people to run agencies. He could choose a better cabinet. The Military Industrial National Security Complex is the biggest problem. Next is Finance Insurance Real Estate. Big Pharma and Big Agriculture. I doubt he could get Medicare for All passed.

    8. Cat Burglar

      The piece reads like UFO dictation from the DC consultant class. I notice a lot of weasel phrases being used, like “progressive mantle, ” to crowd out mention of specific policy. Looks like they are signalling that they will flood the field with candidates to divide the Medicare-for-All social democratic vote in the primary. And they are making threats, as in the phrase you quote. We will be hearing this on NPR tomorrow, I bet.

    9. Oh

      Their headline is misleading at best; no mention of any Dimrats opposed to Sanders. The whole article is tilted in favor of the neolibs in the Dim party.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Pelosi pulls State of the Union surprise on Trump”

    Missing from this whole story today is how this is going down in Trump Land i.e. all those people that voted for him. The people there know that the $5 billion for the fence is just chump change for Washington. Not even money for a rounding error. But to put the boot in and to use a technicality to deny Trump the State of the Union speech, well, I can only imagine the reaction. ‘That is the President of the United States that you are doing this to!”
    They may deny Trump the fence but come 2020 he can go to his supporters and use it as a massive issue for them. That and this State of the Union fiasco and trying to label a sitting President as a traitor that is guilty of treason. That is going to harden a lot of support for him and maybe convince more than a few 2016 non-voters to throw support his way. Are the Democrats still counting on suburban Republicans to vote for them in 2020? To modify a saying from Oz – “Tell ’em they’re dreamin’. ‘”

    1. Wukchumni

      I always thought the SOTU to be a dull charade where every player in the assembled audience knows their part when to feign excitement or express disdain, as if by rote. And then @ some point, our glorious leader singles out a citizen that saved a 4 year old adorable girl from Miami from being eaten by a hungry Burmese Python, which thankfully had started swallowing her feet first and had barely gotten to her ankles. Everybody cheers.

      Wouldn’t read too much into madame speaker perturbing the right in denying the President his precious bodily fluid delivery in the House, as everything is forgotten in a fortnight these days.

      1. Roger Smith

        It is ritualistic trash and Trump knows this and knows that is how the average person sees it as well. He will put on his own spectacle “for the people” instead, in a stadium, complete with Monster Trucks and Cheerleaders. Free pizza and beer for all. These career politicians just do not get it. This is not a bargaining chip and they are still too selfish to see why exactly it is that Trump won.

        1. jrs

          It’s trash in one sense yes, I mean it’s a bunch of lying political rhetoric afterall, but it’s not unimportant. It tends to illustrate policy priorities in the coming years. Or it has in previous administrations of both parties, I don’t know about Trump. So it is probably of some importance to at least skim if one wants to pretend to follow politics. The “average person” is wrong only I don’t think the average person is actually as portrayed. It would probably be better off summarized or read in transcript form, I mean if one can’t stand the sight of Trump/Obama/W etc. one doesn’t have to look at and listen to them that way. I admit being unable to stand the sight of many of them.

    2. Darthbobber

      Amusingly enough, it’s by no means literally a cancellation, just a suggestion that it should be delayed, but she seems to still leave it up to the Donald.

      I’m failing to see the brilliance of the tactic.

        1. Darthbobber

          And here I thought the objective was to broaden one’s own support, not to personally annoy the adversary.

    3. Oh

      We don’t need a SOTU address. We all know that the state of the union is all family blogged up! Of course Pelosi doesn’t care because she’s amassed millions and wants to continue to do so.

    1. DJG

      makedoanmend: Yes, Jonathan Pie is always worth a look and listen. If people are “offended” by the language, they must be the kind of person who doesn’t get out of the house much. (And certainly doesn’t also watch videos by Key & Peele.)

      Question: Is that necktie the best that British design can do? I fear for necktie exports after Brexit if his tie is an example of English craftsmanship, which seems to have declined since William Morris.

      1. makedoanmend

        lol. I’m sure they do much better re the tie and, if your pocket runs to it, they do excellent quality. Brexit shouldn’t help or hinder that situation too much but it might impact on the dwindling number of people who can afford quality.

        As for Pie, I believe after reading James Herriot, that people in Yorkshire often combined a sweet, such as cake, with cheese. To whit, a little salty language, used properly, can often convey more than saccarine on its own. I also love his anger. It seems genuine and from the heart (or at least damned good acting). Pie and O’Brien, the talk show host, still give me hope that the attributes that I come to know of sections of the UK are still operative.

  4. Lee

    Senate Democrats not cosponsoring S.97; to allow for the importation of safe and affordable medications

    So, we cannot import lower cost drugs from well regulated Canada but we can import millions of doses of tainted meds from India and China that could kill you. Go figure.

    Blood pressure drug recall: FDA investigates foreign plants in that made drugs with cancer-causing impurities

    1. JohnnySacks

      MA resident here: Ed Markey taking one for team Warren.

      But we should relax, they’re all ‘fighting’ for ‘access and affordability’

    2. Off The Street

      How much money does each non-sponsoring Senator collect from those pharma mfers? Correlations are likely strong, although any causation is left to the reader as an exercise.

      Given the purchasing power of, say, the Veterans Administration, why has there been such resistance to applying that to lower costs, improve service and otherwise better serve the very people who defended the corrupt regime that subjugates them? Oh, yeah, because.

    3. Carla

      I have a prescription that I regularly get filled by a Canadian pharmacy because it costs 1/3 of getting it here. The drug comes from India anyway. The neoliberal crap is global.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Same, only even more savings ($300 vs $50/mo), and been doing it for years, no problems with the medication–it’s brand, still manufactured by the same company but sold in India under a different name.

    4. Phacops

      Exactly. Since the fake Heparin from China fiasco it is well known that Potemkin facilities are set up to get through facility quality systems inspections and, once licensed, production of drug substance is moved to unregulated facilities. In the response to the adulterated Heparin that killed patients, Chinese authorities responded that they have no interest in regulating bulk drug substance for the export market.

      Also, in India, besides falsification of quality testing, the lack of proper validation of between-batch cleaning as well operational failures in aseptic facilities is rampant.

      1. Lee

        Not to mention melamine in pet food and baby formula, and toxic cough syrup from China with love. It is one thing to outsource the production of crapified ceiling fans and the like, but food and medicine are a whole other matter. It is a very strong indication of how little our government cares about us.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Watch: Massive, Moving Ice Disk Takes Center Stage, Mesmerizing Maine”

    It does look like the Moon and I have read that it has been rotating in a counter-clockwise direction which is a bit of an oddity. Normally, because of the earth’s rotation, circulation in a fluid develops in a clockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere and a counterclockwise direction in the Southern Hemisphere. The direction of the Maine circle must be due to the local river currents then. Paging Agents Mulder and Scully.

    1. Jeff

      … and fluids don’t rotate on the equator because they don’t know whether they are in the N or S hemisphere… not.
      Circulation develops in a fluid because of conservation of energy (the loss of ‘height’ is compensated for be an increase in speed, so the total mechanical energy remains constant), and the direction depends on whatever excuse is available.

    2. ewmayer

      You’re referring to the Coriolis effect, and you have it reversed – fluid inflows (e.g. going down a drain or atmospheric low-pressure system) develop CCW rotation in N hemisphere, CW in S hemisphere. Outflows (e.g. atmospheric high-pressure systems) are CW in N, CCW in S.

      The way to visualize things is to consider a north-south fluid current on the surface of a rotating globe like the earth – as one moves toward the equator one’s distance from the earth’s axis of rotation increases, so without a force accelerating one in the direction of the equatorial rotation, one’s trajectory will veer in the opposite direction. An example we used in engineering school to illustrate the Coriolis effect was the Mississippi river – in its dominantly southward-flowing sections, the water is several inches higher on the west bank compared to the east bank due to the force required to keep the water flowing southward rather than veering off westward as it would do in the absence of an applied force. The force here is provided by the west riverbank, whose bluffs tend to be more deeply eroded as a result of the higher water level there and the concomitant higher water pressure.

      In the case of e.g. a low-pressure weather system, air moves inward toward the low-pressure center of such a system, in the N hemisphere the air moving southward toward the low veers off westward due to the Coriolis effect and the air moving northward veers off eastward. The result is the classic CCW circulation around a N-hemisphere low.

      Note that the Coriolis effect only provides a macroscopic *tendency* which large-scale flow patterns inevitably follow due to their scale – for smaller flows such as sinks, shower drains and toilets, said tendency is of the “all other things being equal” kind – if one’s toilet brand has water nozzles angling the opposite direction, then the water will swirl that way because the Coriolis effect isn’t strong enough over that short a timescale to reverse the direction of rotation.

  6. Richard H Caldwell

    Nice sky/water photo, but don’t you think it’s likely a synthetic composite? A quick evaluation of the lighting underwater supports that. Art, yes, reality, probably not.

  7. Frenchguy

    Behind a paywall and in French but the details aren’t very important, the main message is: Le Pen will definitely shelve any plans to exit the euro. It was clear she was going this way after her loss in 2017 and the success of Salvini will have convinced the last holdouts in her party. With this, she will make a big step towards finally winning a national election, I am less and less certain the center will hold in 2022…

    1. PlutoniumKun

      That was one of the interesting things I found about the last presidential election in France – the right found that while there was a very strong hard core vote for leaving the Euro and maybe the EU the ‘soft’ majority definitely don’t want that.

      The far right are making the same journey most of the European left made in the 1990’s – from anti Europeanism to a sort of sceptical pro-EU stance (ironically enough, they made that move as the EU itself became more overtly neo/ortho liberal). Its pretty clear that this is the sort of policy position thats necessary for fringe parties to move mainstream in most European countries.

      1. Frenchguy

        You’re right indeed. Though I would add that the strong hard core vote is even smaller than we usually think. Florian Philippot, who was the anti-euro guru of Le Pen in 2017, has left her and launched his own party, he’s polling at 1% (Asselineau, another guy running on Frexit alone, is polling below that). While it’s true we’re not in 2012 anymore, I doubt the anti-euro stance was ever really popular. It really always was a big thing in the “intellectual” circles of the far-right (and far-left) but changing the currency that’s in our pocket, that’s never been or going to be a vote winner…

        1. Ignacio

          I think that europarliament elections in june are increasingly seen as very important and most parties are trying to improve their public image and carefully select their main representative. It looks like Le Pen migth surpass Macron in next european elections and could possibly obtain their best ever results. Her party is also happily watching the rise of similarly minded political options elsewhere. Happy with Lega in Italy and also happy with the rising star of VOX in Spain.

          Next european elections, first after brexit, will indeed be important.

          1. David

            Indeed, Le Pen’s party looks as if it will do very well at the European elections, coming well ahead of Macron’s lot. However, I think there’s a difference between hardcore anti-EU sentiment, which I agree is limited, and the more general kind of grievances against European institutions (notably the ECHR) which are seen as interfering and telling the French what to do. For a lot of people it’s not their first priority when deciding how to vote, but it is a factor, and Macron’s mindless parroting of Euro-slogans actually makes the situation worse. And of course, many people will vote for the RN out of disgust with the alternatives, rather than because of its stance on Europe. Worries about the increasing powers of European institutions are not confined to the Right either – indeed, the secular left is very concerned, as are a number of leftist parties who see the EU as a major obstacle to a redistributive economic policy.

            1. Ignacio

              And of course, many people will vote for the RN out of disgust with the alternatives

              Yep, IMO that is key and if established parties are unable to rise perspectives many will do. In the case of Spain and talking personally I have been positively surprised by PSOE Pedro Sanchez and it is likely I will vote PSOE, something I haven’t done since 1982.

  8. toshiro_mifune

    From the Purdue Pharma article;

    The complaint also accuses Purdue of rarely reporting allegedly illegal activity, such as improper prescribing, to government officials when it learned about it. In one 2009 case, a Purdue sales manager wrote to a company official that Purdue was promoting opioids to an illegal pill mill

    While Im glad to see legal action being taken, can we expect RICO charges against the Sackler family? More correctly; if the law was functioning as intended shouldn’t we expect RICO charges against the Sackler family?

    1. Off The Street

      Some clever (read, soulless) attorney has been working on plausible deniability and other technicality defenses to shield those up the chain from the impact of their own actions.

      1. toshiro_mifune

        Im sure they have. It would still be good to see them arrested and perp walked at the least

        1. lordkoos

          Anyone want to take a bet on the odds of anyone in the Sackler family spending a single minute in jail?

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      1. RICO is criminal, higher standard of proof than in a civil case

      2 Standard of proof is higher in RICO cases than for ordinary criminal cases, for reasons over my pay grade, which is why they are just about never filed.

  9. roadrider

    Re: The diet to save lives, the planet and feed us all?

    Needs to take into account food allergies and other sensitivities that would preclude many people from following it. No one-size-fits-all diet is going to work for everyone on the planet.

      1. Stephanie

        Yes. I once made a lasagna for my step-sons that included fresh parsley and was accused, among other things, of trying to kill them. Granted, I was*, but the point is that kids often need a lot of coaching to eat foods that don’t come in individually pre-packaged portions.

        To roadrider’s point, I have adult friends who go into anaphylatic shock when eating raw apples, adult friends with celiac, adult friends with Crohn’s. Do I think large-scale medical or environmental strategies should be based around their problems? No. Do I think you’re a bit of a jerk for comparing them to stubborn children? Yes.

        Re: attempting society-wide changes to diet, I think asking people to radically change their diets is like asking them to give up sex, or smoking. We can either make highly palatable foods extremely expensive or unavailable, which will probably create some kind of black market; we can pharma people up, as seems to have happened after it became unfashionable to smoke; or we can form close-knit communities where everyone is in each others’ business, there are strong religious institutions, and it’s routine to punch down on the sinners with the least power and fewest choices, as historically happened when western society promoted wide-spread chastity (although quite a bit of the latter is already happening when it comes to food choices). Together, all these options might create the desired change, and it might also create the type of backlash that puritanism tends to evoke (as with what I believe are the very well-intentioned supporters of ID pol). But maybe here in the U.S. that’s the only way we know how to play it?

        *No, not really. Just trying to torture them.

        1. gepay

          Born in; the 40s I never heard of Crohn’s disease till the 70s.celiac disease til the 80s. allergies and asthma was rare among people I knew but in the 90’s they were common among children. . hardly anyone was obese till the 80s. children with neurological problems were rare when I grew up. In all of elementary school I could remember one guy with epilepsy. Pancreatic cancer was also rare (probably somewhat under diagnosed but still not common) Diabetes Type II and breast cancer did not have a plague proportions. somehow I think this is a bigger problem than LBGT people being oppressed. .

    1. johnnygl

      I also have a problem with the implicit framing of “you need to get your individual choices right to fix the planet and your health.”

      That thinking gets a big WTF from me!!! No!!! Ban feedlots and tightly regulate the animal waste that comes from them. Make them eat the cost of turning manure into compost. Make ranchers initiate a rotational grazing plan for their livestock so that it improves soil quality over time.

      Phase out fertilizers and pesticides to make sure the people doing farming/ranching the right way aren’t at a cost-disadvantage to those who want to take damaging short cuts to boost short term profit.

      Also, grazing animals is the ONLY option in the semi-arid plains. Annual cereal crops don’t work there in the long term.

      Grazing animals on former tropical rainforest is a disaster.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        You need to read the original reports – these are exactly the points they make. Its the media that turns it into an ‘individual choice’ thing.

        1. anon in so cal

          Diet to Save Lives: Great ideas.

          More here:

          “Veggies Earth-friendly Diet / Two New Books

          Two books on Earth-friendly eating hit the shelves this week. Food Is the Solution was written by Matthew Prescott, senior director of Food and Agriculture for The Humane Society of the United States. It’s part cookbook and part coffee-table book, with delicious plant-based recipes, beautiful photos, and essays on the connection between diet and the environment.”

          “Are We Pushing Biodiversity Off the Planet?

          A new report offers some pretty chilling news: Our ballooning human population and rapidly growing appetite for meat may have pushed biodiversity loss past the breaking point across half the world. In other words, as we destroy natural habitats to make room for more farmland, we’re crowding out wild plants and animals to the point where natural ecosystems may not be able to function right.

          And that’s bad news for everyone. Endangered species are disappearing at alarming rates, and putting important ecosystems in jeopardy could also spell disaster for sustainable development and food production.

          So what can be done to stop our destructive ways before it’s too late? Thankfully there are some common-sense solutions that can help us change course. By having safe sex and switching to a wildlife-friendly diet, we can make sure there’s enough room for all of us — humans and wildlife.”

          Reducing, if not ending, meat consumption will help combat climate change as the human population balloons.

          Do we also need to limit subdivisions, malls, etc. to preserve biodiversity?

          My favorite environmental group, Center for Biological Diversity, places considerable emphasis on curtailing demographic growth.

      2. Eclair

        I like the French concept of terroir. Every geographical region, with its distinctive soil, terrain and climate, supports a certain type of food. You eat what that terroir gives you.

        Humans seem to be able to sustain life on a variety of foods; animal meat, fish, nuts, seeds, fruits, roots, grains, legumes. From what I know of the lives of North American Indigenous societies, their diets ranged from the mostly meat eaters of the Central Plains (bison provided the main diet, plus their clothing, housing and tools), to the acorn eating Chumash and Modoc people in what is now Southern California, to the heavily agricultural Seneca, Oneida and Mohawk of the north east, growing beans and squash that supplemented hunting large and small animals and birds, to the corn-based diet of the cliff-dwellers of Mesa Verde, to (my favorite!) the salmon eating Chinook and Salish of the North West.

        Our current industrial food system seeks to override terroir, to grow water-hungry crops in arid valleys, to cover hundreds of acres of fertile soil with soybeans and corn that goes to animal feed, to introduce defenseless cows and sheep (and, in the process, killing off the indigenous bison that could defend themselves) into regions that need wolves, coyotes and eagles to maintain balance, and then to shoot the predators.

        We seek to rule and overturn Nature, rather than being flexible and living within the loving constraints that She imposes. And, that has worked out so well for us.

        1. anon in so cal


          “An appellation of origin, also called Designation of Origin or Protected Designation of Origin(PDO) is a. special class of geographical indication generally consisting of a geographical name or a traditional designation”

          Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s initials always remind me

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Another problem is that, according to a documentary I watched, we waste about 40% of the food we produce in this country.

      In addtion, if we only clear forests to grow food we actually need to survive, and not, say for beer, we would even less land.

    3. jrs

      I don’t eat much different than that now except for my love of fish and dairy. But it annoys me to no end that we are all being asked to eat like that to support 10 billion, but oh heaven forbid we ask people to consistently use birth control (the most reliable they can manage) and not have more mouths to feed in the first place, and to question whether people really need to have a bunch of kids.

      Maybe people that have only one or no kids should be allowed an extra hamburger a month or something! Really though that extra hamburger is of little consequence in that case.

      1. Harvey

        Yep, another forbidden topic is overpopulation. Bring that up and people are aghast that their individual freedom would be ruined if they were asked to limit the number of children. Maybe China had a good idea on this back in the day.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Russia designs ice-breaking nuclear-powered submarine for Arctic shelf operations”

    An odd article this though the sub’s purpose is important. The Arctic is going to be a whole new region for conflict in the coming decades. America’s military to date has usually sent only subs and planes to operate in the Arctic though last October they sent a carrier group above the Arctic circle on exercises. The trouble is the lack of ice-breakers. To quote an article at

    “The Coast Guard’s existing icebreaker fleet technically consists of three ships, the USCGC Polar Star, USCGC Polar Sea, and USCGC Healy, the latter of which is a medium icebreaker with a more limited capability to move through ice-filled waters than the two heavy Polar-class ships. The Polar Sea is also in a permanently inactive state, serving as a source of spare parts for its sister ship. Despite undergoing an extensive refit between 2010 and 2012, the 1970s-era Polar Star remains prone to breakdowns and other problems.”

    At the moment, Russia has a massive icebreaker fleet consisting of five nuclear-powered and about thirty diesel icebreakers. Even the Chinese are starting to build ice-breakers and if you want ti get into the game, you are going to have to have ice-breakers to do it with. With a concerted effort, the US could start to build a fleet of modern ice-breakers but I guess that Africa and the Middle East have a higher priority for resource allocation right now. This could be a mistake.

    1. prodigalson

      If we were smart we’d just leave this alone. Russia is an Arctic nation, America just has arctic interests. Honestly we should hire the russian icebreakers for our commercial needs around Alaska and call it a day. (for reference Russia owns over 50% of the coastline in the high north, Canada I think is next with 25%’ish)

      Fun info at:

      China likewise is being silly about this, too much national pride from non-arctic nations trying to wedge in to an area they have no actual possesions. Even with possession being 9 tenths of the law, attempts by non-arctic nations to wedge in and gain ground have little potential for success. Either you have day-to-day practical knowledge for far north seamanship and ship construction needs or you don’t. Both China and the U.S. risk having their ships needing to be rescued by Canadian or Russian icebreakers. Embarrassing…

  11. marieann

    The video of the cat chasing and hissing at his tail saddened me. I remember when one of my kitties did this, and when he caught his tail he chewed it to to bits and I laughed…at first.
    Turns out he had Hyperesthesia, a brain disorder where the animal doesn’t recognize his tail as belonging to him and so attacks it.

    We tried all kinds of drugs with Sammy but none worked, it ended up he was constantly running away from his tail every he caught sight of it, he was terrified

    Finally we had to get his tail amputated after that he was OK.

    I think the disease is similar to when stroke patients can lose awareness of one side of their body.

    Sammy ended up dying of a brain tumour so perhaps Hyperesthesia was part of that.

  12. timbers

    Pelosi pulls State of the Union surprise on Trump The Hill

    Gee, thanks Nancy.

    Did you check to make sure your actions pass paygo standards? It might cost extra to re-schedule SOTU.

    I guess she couldn’t do something like that on an issue that would actually help people, like, oh, I don’t know…putting a vote on Medicare for all on the burner front in center in a “surprise” move?

    1. Lee

      Russia, the wall, the speech etc. Anything but anything that matters. It’s hard to stay in touch with what matters most to ordinary citizens when you live behind a wall of wealth.

  13. jfleni

    RE: Most Facebook users don’t know that it records a list of their interests, new study finds.

    ALL the more reason to trash buttbook forever; this spy machine must go now.

  14. PlutoniumKun

    Gazing Downward, Looking Back The Baffler. Anthony L: “The condescending discourse of neoliberaism.” Today’s must read.

    Not the usual ‘must read’ for NC, but very interesting nonetheless as I enjoy following Asian cinema, although I only usually get to do it once a year during the local film festival.

    I’ve noticed this about Asian cinema – most notably South Korean and Japanese – that in those countries cinema has tended to be one of the few outlets for in-depth criticism of the way those societies have gone. I think almost every recent non-mainstream Japanese and Korean film I’ve seen in the last few years has taken a very cold eye to economic inequality, usually in a much more subtle way than the Ken Loach style didacticism that you get from Anglo-American style independent film making. Anyone who knows South Korea only from its cinema would probably conclude its a hell hole inhabited by very good looking people. Up to a couple of years ago China had a pretty good set of film makers doing something similar, but they all seem to have been bought up, or locked up, so they are just producing pretty candyfloss films now (or occasionally, purely Orientalist gloss designed to appeal to the Cannes crew).

    The Phillippines films it references look fascinating. Its a pity that the supposed ‘long tail’ streaming sites were supposed to deliver us never happened. Without going to illegal sites I could get more obscure film via my old (now shut) DVD rental store than I can now off Netflix and other mainstream streaming sites.

    1. Oh

      I agree. The streaming videos of Korean and Japanese TV drama are full of themes that show inequality in hospitals, the justice system, the government and so on. It’s refreshing to see that the producers haven’t been chased away yet. However, it’s at the same time so depressing to see what’s happening here.

      It’s unfortunate that the DRM dictators are tring to shut down these streaming sites.

    2. ewmayer

      I watch a lot of Korean dramas, and enjoy the parallels between the historic and contemporary ones – in the modern-day ones the chaebols (rich, powerful, corrupt and typically ruthless familial industrial conglomerates) play the role of entitled royalty and court, with business suits replacing the silk robes and funky hairnet-hats of the historic ones. And yes, I also like the producers and writers’ emphasis on the viciousness and greed of the modern class-warmongers. OTOH, there is the persistent theme of the hoi polloi wanting nothing more than to join such a power-family, either by marriage – love crossing class boundaries and the resulting struggles is a recurrent theme – or by way of “switched-at-birth/long-lost-illegal-love-child” discovery – another top trope in K-TV dramas.

    3. Geo

      taken a very cold eye to economic inequality, usually in a much more subtle way than the Ken Loach style didacticism that you get from Anglo-American style independent film making.

      I’d be curious to get your thoughts on a lil’ indie film I made a few years back thatbdeal with the subject through the lens of a returning combat vet. As a nobody indie filmmaker I don’t have the budgets of the big movies but do have the freedom to tell stories without concern for investor profits or studio interference which is a nice trade off.

      Always appreciate constructive criticism from knowledgeable people like yourself!

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thanks, I’ll have a look over the weekend (and I’m not really that knowledgable, I just tend to have a sort of random taste in these things).

    4. Kris

      I was very glad to see South Korean films brought to greater attention, especially as they reflect the rapid shift from traditional society to hyper neoliberalism. I would point out that even Korean dramas (more family friendly, since on tv) explore these themes and are well worth exploring. The tension between whether a behavior/societal value is perceived as good or bad runs throughout both historical and contemporary dramas; unwavering loyalty can be good or bad depending on its object; violence and brutality can be good or bad depending on whether a state of affairs better for society is achieved; massive taking and concentration of wealth (and the people who achieve this) can be good or bad depending on whether it supports or destroys stability. This continuity is partly because both types of dramas are being written in the current era, but given South Korea’s long and well-known history (to many, and certainly to its own people) , I think part of it reflects the way neoliberalism is grafted onto and evolves in each unique culture.

  15. Roger Smith

    Really glad to see DuckDuckGo getting some attention. I switched to them entirely last year (outside of email as I haven’t found anything better than gmail yet). They only thing I use Google search for is for the local business information because DDG just doesn’t have the database for that yet and they use yelp which I find to be worthless.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, I don’t regret making the switch – but its still sometimes necessary to use google as well for some sort of searches.

      The main ‘downside’ of dDG is that the lack of tracking means your searches are non-local as it doesn’t know where you are. So, for example, if I DDG ‘government policy document on air pollution’ I get searches from all over the world and all sorts of agencies. If I google the same I will get highlighted documents specific to my area, so I’m much more likely to find something relevant. DDG would be much more useful to me if it gave a sort of geography option, as in ‘searches relevant to *insert city/country*’ .

      1. Roger Smith

        You might know about it already, but it does at least have options for some continental regions or countries that you can select as your primary pool for searching. Nothing super specific but maybe you are on the global setting.

      2. Anon

        As “shtove” indicated, if the writer of the article had typed in “vape stores Durham, NC” into Duckduckgo search it would have returned a map of 2 such stores in Durham. As well as, an associated link to the 10 best nearby vape stores (as rated by Yelp).

        I’ve been using DDGo since it’s inception. It’s no less limited than your own ingenuity. The smarter the search terms the better the result. I do not find it “hit and miss”. It is easy to make it your default search engine, which is imperative if you use a smart phone.

        Don’t leave the most revealing of Internet activity to the See No Evil crowd!!!

    2. Carolinian

      I use it now too and it’s perfectly good for the vast majority of searches where you aren’t looking for obscure information. If you don’t need Google with its spybotting to do what you need to do then why put up with it? Also Google’s leap onto the “fake news” bandwagon crosses a red line for me. The reason we are on the web is to avoid propaganda.

      1. Roger Smith

        Which is exactly the reason TPB need the technocratic elite to, as Obama put it, ‘reign in the wild west’ of the internet.

  16. bronco

    Going forward the coverage of Bernie Sanders in the MSM will be an interesting thing. These media outlets have been attacking Trump nonstop . They may have so destroyed their own sensibilities about how they cover things that they could go after Bernie with all the same language . Imagine if they accuse Bernie of treason 20 times a day What will happen then? There are only so many minutes in the day so every minute spent on Bernie is a minute Trump is ignored. Another thing is that the pool of viewers that are sick of this crap is getting larger every day. People just snap and shut it off . So far Trump voters and neutrals mostly but if they attack Bernie they are going to lose that group too.

    My 78 year old mother watches MSNBC and CNN every day , she is literally the only one I know that still does that. Even at the gym I see people come in and change the tv’s over the treadmills to non news programming where it used to be a fixture.

    1. notabanker

      Is there any good research / lit in the public domain on how influential MSM TV really is? I’ve been wondering about this because no one I know, even friends and family that are involved in the political system, and my kids generation in general just don’t watch it. Some of the ratings viewership numbers are pitifully small. The Fox numbers I saw, and I don’t know how credible they are, show viewership at less than 1% of the population overall and even if they were all registered voters it amounts to less than 2%.

      I’m wondering at what point their credibility is totally shot at a critical mass level.

  17. anonymous

    I’ve been getting away from Google and using DDG mainly because if you’re behind a VPN, Google presents annoying captcha challenges (the click on the image tiles kind) that don’t work very well.

  18. Wukchumni

    >Future of coffee in doubt as 60 per cent of plants now at risk of extinction

    Thankfully the scope of the drama is hidden behind a paywall, say no more, nudge nudge, wink wink, have another cup?

    I’d be ok with tea i’d guess, wait, who am I kidding?

    The last time there was concern that people might sour on coffee was in 1984 (the year-not the book)

    “Join the coffee achievers!” (including Kurt Vonnegut…)

    1. Anon

      Yes, I use it, too. They also have an encrypted email offering, StartMail, that is very useful.

      With a little effort, one can break free of the See No Evil and the Win10 tracking crowd.

      The extent to which Google is gathering personal data is beyond belief. At my local community college (in CA). ALL students must use GMail (even for federally protected student/professor communication), ALL students must use GoogleChrome browser to access campus-wide printers (class papers must be submitted in hard copy). This because Google provides funding/expertise in implementing the campus Google Enterprise network… and then skims the data for info and insight .

  19. ChiGal in Carolina

    Thanks so much Yves for passing along Jackson Park Watch’s fundraising request.
    From the email I received:
    We gave considerable thought to taking this step [filing the brief]. While raising many questions, we have not actually opposed locating the OPC in Jackson Park. Rather we have argued that if Cornell Drive and the Midway Plaisance were kept open with the modifications proposed in our traffic study proposal, much less damage would be done to the historic park and the Olmsted design with better traffic outcomes. (Note that Obama Foundation officials have twice told us they would build the OPC in Jackson Park even if Cornell were kept open.) The 235’-tall Obama museum tower could be modified to better fit with Jackson Park; rather than clear-cutting the site, the designers could situate right-sized buildings among the mature trees. However, the fact that the “myth” of building museums in Chicago parks is not only totally inaccurate but would pave the way for confiscating much more parkland for other uses prompted us to work with Preservation Chicago on this brief so as to set the record straight. No one benefits from making an important public policy decision on the basis of false information.

    You will find the full texts of all of the briefs and updated information about the suit at We hope you will read our brief in full; we also recommend Lynn Sweet’s coverage in the Sun-Times.

    1. Oh

      Thanks for the info and thanks to Yves for putting in the plea for funding.
      I think the OBAMA Presidential Center should be located in a warmer climate. I suggest Guantanamo. The GW Bush Library (with all of one book, “My Pet Goat”) needs to be moved there too.

    2. OIFVet

      Thank you ChiGal. I don’t have much time left in Chicago and the US, but the thought of this monstrosity being dropped in the park where I have spent so many good moments really bothers me. Jackson Park Watch has been a great organization of volunteers dedicated to preserving Jackson Park, so supporting them (and our neighborhood as a whole) is definitely worthwhile.

      About Obama’s tower, I think that his architect is actually having fun at Obama’s expense. Not far from the site is Oak Woods Cemetery, and Obama’s tower has an uncanny resemblance to the cemetery’s mausoleum. Only fitting, that, as this would be a mausoleum that would ultimately house the ashes of the dearly departed Hope and Change, murdered by Obama himself.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Talk of Western intervention in the Black Sea is pure fantasy”

    I’m looking at this as part of a campaign to militarize all approaches to Russia. The Black Sea is different in that by treaty, Turkey gets the say on how many ships enter the Black Sea and there would be no benefit in having a NATO fleet stationed there that would eclipse Turkeys own contribution to it. Meanwhile. on the other side of the world, things are heating up with the Japanese and the Kuril Islands. The UN gave Russia ownership to the Sea of Okhotsk back in 2014 but Japan wants those islands back and tried to force Russia to get the US involved in negotiations but the Russians wouldn’t have a bar of it. Russia has a big naval base in that sea and the Russians know that if they gave those islands back that in short order there would be US military bases and spy stations there. Bit more on this at-

    1. Darthbobber

      The idea that it could succeed at the present juncture is fantasy, but the fact that the United States, under a succession of administrations, has been interested in continuing to push in this direction since the mid-90s at the latest, should the opportunity seem to offer itself, is not.

    2. Synapsid

      Rev Kev,

      Navy vet here. I was stationed on the Black Sea coast of Turkey in the 1960s. Stranger things have happened.

    1. Jeff W


      (And, BTW, this comment:

      Nongotiations are nongoing. The Minister for Eggnog was unavailable for non comment.

      from a few days back had me laughing for longer than I care to admit—it still makes me laugh, actually—for its sheer kookiness.)

    1. abynormal

      Thanks Caroline! I take issue with one phrase…”push back”. I’ve spent countless times pushing back… only to creat more havoc stomach aches. I remember you and I doing a few rounds…took sometime to realize we were searching for the win win. We do what we know till we know different…can we blame people for not trusting thanks to decades of lies?

      I love to go out with a big smile and carry on with anyone…hi5 to my dad for teaching me how to talk with people not up to or down to them. What took me sometime to learn was to listen while I carry on…years n years of practice.

      I’ve come to notice a few things…many confuse their beliefs as facts. “Pushing back” against this trait only heightens their mistrust. Something else I notice is generalizations. I was in the foothills of the smokies, enjoying a conversation with 4 rural people that didn’t know each other and I asked a Hindu close by what they thought…the conversation continued smoothly with everyone smiling.

      I strongly think we’ll pull together…the dividers had their day. It’s all cyclical… including human nature. It won’t be pretty… kindness is hard work these days.

      Big Corps are rolling over…let the Fed awash them more money… won’t even slow down the like of PG&E etc. We’re resilient…the majority will recognize they rather trust an individual over the failed propaganda machines. My neighbor can fix a dryer with panty hose. I can bring people together you never thought you’d stand next to…but not if I’m pushing back against anyone.

      For decades I’ve pushed back and all it got me was name calling… don’t push. People are bruised enough… smile, gab, listen and if there’s a chance share a resource…hell ask for an idea with an issue. People love to share what they know. Smiling… tee-hee

      Aloha C

      (heads up…typing from Stoopid Fone)

      1. Carolinian

        Glad to hear from you Aby.

        And whatever happens with Gabbard she does seem different. Maybe she’s sincere about “war and peace.”

      2. aletheia33


        thank you for your inspiring statement of how you approach the problem. i am practicing harder that difficult, difficult skill listening. also smile, gab, share a resource, as you put it so well. all crucial skills in a time of social breakdown. anything that helps to mitigate the paralysis of fear and rage that most people seem to be walking around in now. (yes, a mixed metaphor, walking around in a state of paralysis.) we need, more than ever, one another. those who cannot see this are being taken less seriously by the day.

    2. pjay

      Hmm. My reaction to this piece was interesting. I’ve been defending her based on her policy positions (especially her anti-interventionist stance) and will continue to do so as long as she holds them. But this article struck me wrong. Even though the content was good on the surface and may well be sincere, the article seemed calculated, which goes against one of her key strengths. It seemed like she was trying to appeal to the “diversity” crowd while also immunizing herself from those who would criticize her ties to Hindu political organizations (or perhaps a certain Indian Prime Minister). I’m probably just too jaded after all these years.

      I liked the American Conservative article posted in today’s links much better (though I cringe every time someone equates the Democrat faction of the War Party with “the Left”). Shadowproof also had a very good overview article on Gabbard for those who are interested:

      1. pjay

        I just checked the date of the article you posted – Oct. 2017. I thought it was a recent statement. This changes my reaction some. I still stand by my comment, but this bothers me much less than if it had been posted after she announced her Presidential bid.

        1. Carolinian

          Oops–didn’t notice that myself. I got it from Mike Whitney’s blog where he sometimes posts old articles.

          Still, for those who know little about her (me) this adds some info.

  21. Wukchumni

    2nd earthquake in the last couple days on the Hayward Fault in the SF Bay area-sometimes these are preludes to something larger.

    A big enough shaker and the levees that keep salt water from getting into freshwater on the California Delta, get breached. That’s the route which the water in the giant reservoirs in the north, goes to the south.

  22. Carolinian

    Analyzing that Trump picture as art.

    It is not surprising that people found the photo visually arresting, said George Baker, a professor of art history at UCLA who specializes in modern and contemporary art. It observes the rule of thirds and has some aspects of the golden ratio, he said, but it’s more powerful in the way it evokes classical art.

    “You think of all of the great images of feasts in the history of art,” Baker said. “Right away, the most famous images are religious — ‘The Last Supper’ with Christ. And you have this incredible gesture [he’s] making, but it’s not really a presentation of the bounty and the food. He’s holding his hands up in a Christ gesture that we associate more with the crucifixion.”

    1. curlydan

      for me, the photo’s arresting quality was the interplay between the tacky opulence (golden candelabras and tablecloths) and the cheap nutrition-less buffet of fast food–all brought to us by the long-term “image” or caricature of American wealth, The Donald.

      I’m not sure how the UCLA art historian pulls Goya’s “May 3rd 1808” into this… that painting seems in another dimension to Donald’s feast.

      1. Geo

        Did you catch Eugene Jarecki’s latest documentary “The King”? That photo of Trump is like a one-frame synopsis of it. He uses Elvis’s life as a metaphor for America and how we’re currently the fat Elvis sitting on the toilet eating a burger and about to have a coronary.

        A very fun documentary if you’re into such things.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Did anybody think that if all those boxes were arranged like that on a table, then by the time is was to be eaten that it would have been stone cold? Maybe though the White House could rummage up a microwave. Blecchh! Microwaved fast food.

  23. abynormal

    Every morning it’s the same ole scroll….NC, WOLF, FEEDLY, and with one eye shut Zerohedge.

    Had to open both eyes on the ZH scroll….just headlines and all we’re missing is a dust bowl.

    Too much isn’t being followed up…like how are Brazilians doing after a few days of ‘military’ fighting gangs?…the gangs that have reined for decades.

    “It might have been” Steinbeck
    “The saddest words written” Vonnegut

  24. a different chris

    This, from the Baffler article, is really, really important:

    then shielding them from competition with tariffs and accelerating their growth with subsidies until their quality and cost could compete in the world export market.

    The trick the “tigers” etc pulled, which escaped earlier countries, was to improve their products under government protection. The whole complaint about border controls in the West is that “there is no competition so there is no reason for the products to improve”.

    I would think this was because they were exporting in competition with Western industries. And everybody can’t be a net exporter. So how do we “protect” jobs and industries but still ensure that they keep improving their product? That’s the key question that all us on the Left have to have a decent answer for.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thats a very astute question. Anyone who has lived or visited countries that attempted some sort of autarky (such as the former Yugoslavia) would know that something you have to get used to is terrible quality ‘domestic’ products. In the days of the Iron Curtain people lusted after Levi jeans not just for fashion reasons but because the quality could be felt and seen. The very high esteem US and European made products had (and still have) in all the developing Asian nations was primarily because of construction quality. The Japanese were prepared to invest very heavily in quality (such as Lexus cars) behind tarriff walls, but there are cultural issues there that may not be easily replicated.

      Of course, a major driver of quality is competition. And by extension the big enemy of competition is monopolistic behaviour – which we are seeing happen nearly everywhere despite supposedly open trading. A key factor I think in countries which have had successful industrial policies (such as the Asian Tigers) compared to those which have been less successful (many South American countries), is that the former encouraged internal competition. In the worst cases, ‘leader’ companies became parasites on consumers and governments, not generators of wealth.

      Incidentally, an example of where it went right, and then went wrong due to neoliberalism, is the Irish electricity company, formerly the ESB. It was a world leader in many technology areas up to the 1980’s as Ireland tried to develop indigenous energy sources such as peat burning and pump storage, as well as other technologies specific to small isolated grids. It prospered as Ireland opened up, setting up worldwide consultancies. But it was then broken up thanks to ‘competition’ law and deliberately prevented from accepting international contracts by successive governments convinced that a State owned company could not possibly compete with private sector competitors. It was cut down to size and sliced and diced deliberately.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I don’t know about Yugoslavia, but the Soviet states suffered from “Sovietization” policy. Everything needed a Soviet bent to separate it from the West, so a simple toaster had to become a Soviet fire hazard to prove superiority to the West. When they were doing large scale constructions projects, all the buildings had to be permanent, so instead of using trailers and temporary structures for welding and so forth that we see on large sites, everything was done inside or then simultaneously had to be rushed for the winter, leading to crummy buildings.

        Even though we have competition in numerous consumer products, I feel like the IT of Everything phenomenon leads to 21st century Soviet toasters as exemplified by the engineer in the UK with the tea pot that took 12 hours to boil of a pot of water. This is more of a sickness than a top down directive.

        The problem was they had to Sovietize everything the way we need to “reinvent” everything. They could have easily rolled off jeans for everyone with a pair for every day of the week.

    2. anon in so cal

      “shielding them from competition with tariffs and accelerating their growth with subsidies until their quality and cost could compete in the world export market.”

      Is that not the tried and true (?) Import Substitution Industrialization (ISI) that Japan and Brazil had practiced?

  25. Craig H.

    There are two people who have done more to impact my personal finance more than any other. The first is Burton Malkiel.

    The second is definitely number one:

    > Vanguard founder Jack Bogle dies at 89

    Here is what MarketWatch said Warren Buffet said:

    Writing in his annual letter to Berkshire BRK.A, +0.18% BRK.B, -0.39% investors a few years back, Buffett said of Bogle:

    “If a statue is ever erected to honor the person who has done the most for American investors, the hands down choice should be Jack Bogle.”

    (marketwatch story)

  26. Catman

    Is Patty Murray the most egregious fake progressive?
    She took about $584,000 from pharma 2013-18.
    Over 50% of her campaign financing comes from big donations – only 15% from small dollar.
    She consistently votes against drug importation.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Not disagreeing with contempt for those who wont even allow importation but I keep asking myself if this type of vote helps keep people from demanding that we The U.S. negotiate on our own even better prices than importing through yet another needless middleman/corp/country. I mean our pool is far larger than Canada, that alone in terms of bulk should enable much better negotiated prices.

      1. Oh

        Re-imprtation is not a solution. It’s better to re-negotiate contracts with the drug boys, starting with Medicare.

      1. Catman

        The link gave me a dead-end, unfortunately.

        I searched opensecrets periodically for the latest on Murray.

        When you look back a bit further, she comes out on top of the pharma beneficiaries from what I can remember.

        A ranking member of several healthcare-related committees scoping up those pharma dollars

    2. Angie Neer

      Murray is my senator. Several times in the past year I received big glossy campaign-style mailers instructing me to call her office and congratulate her on winning a bogus award for “supporting better care for seniors” or some such. Also, full-page ads appear in the newspaper from “citizens for health care” or similar pseudo-organizations that are obviously fronts for big pharma. I find these things depressing, but, as Lambert would say, clarifying. The mailers and ads make it very clear that Murray is owned. And, I doubt any of the money spent on them gets classified as “campaign spending.”

  27. How is it legal

    Re: Marco Rubio Introduces Privacy Bill To Create Federal Regulations On Data Collection

    Though I’m sure it’s a pipe dream, I would like to see a Federal privacy law much, much, much stronger than Rubios, or the way over hyped, ultimately compromised from it’s original version, weak tea California Privacy Act (which is likely to be far more weakened by the time it goes into effect in 2020).

    I would like to see a Federal Act where the default is, permission must be granted; a Federal Act which heavily penalized Hospitals, Employers, and Financial Institutions who put their patients, employees, or customers personal information at risk; a Federal Act which highly prohibits and penalizes data brokers from selling the personal data of highly vulnerable parties, particularly those with no 24/7 internet access; and a Federal Act which didn’t require one to hire an attorney they can’t afford, for Justice;

    Etcetera, and, most importantly – a Federal Act which would prohibit basic public services (e.g. Medicare, and the Social Security Administration), non profits funded to serve public needs (e.g. American Cancer Society, and the ACLU), and Politicians, from using Facebook and Gmail for serving the public, which then forces even those who refuse to use Facebook and Gmail to put their privacy at risk in order to: request vital services; whistle blow; and be informed, or assisted, by their Public Servants.

    The repeated and countless lies and privacy violations of Facebook and Google made this a no brainer over a decade ago. I am afraid to leave any contact data, and personal details with any of above named entities whose purpose and funding is to serve the public.

    1. Oh

      Let’s first stop Federal and State agencies from selling our information, such as Medicare lists, license plate and property ownership data and electoral lists.

      1. How is it legal

        Let’s first stop Federal and State agencies from selling our information, such as Medicare lists, license plate and property ownership data and electoral lists.

        I wholeheartedly agree there’s that too, in horrid abundance (admittedly even more criminal and egregious than non Government data brokers), and that it’s particularly harmful to minorities, youth, the increasingly impoverished populace at large, and vulnerable and impoverished elderly. It’s been going on since at least George W. Bush’s horrid reign (notably with the IRS), and probably much earlier. I’ve noticed over the years that even a few Local Postmasters, and/or Municipal Governments may very likely be engaging in it, in addition to Federal and State agencies.

        It appears to be getting far worse, particularly after the Affordable Care Act was passed; but that would come under the data broker policy. I think both Government and private data brokers should ideally be utterly nipped in the bud as criminal activity; at the same time, ASAP, before 2020.

  28. ewmayer

    “What Trump must achieve in his State of the Union address | The Hill” — What a silly headline from The Hill. The SOTU address by definition is talk rather than action. If our dear leadership class could manage to use the time save by skipping it to for once do something actually useful for the public, I daresay most USians would support that. But of course the latest circus-on-the-hill is as ever merely an opportunity for more political posturing for these twits.

  29. LifelongLib

    The Constitution requires that “[the President] shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union”. IIRC this originally was done in writing. A poster above says Wilson began the practice of doing so in an address.

Comments are closed.