Links 1/20/19

How much can forests fight climate change? Nature

Ancient Earth saw a huge spike in meteor impacts. It may be ongoing. National Geographic

BlackRock accidentally posted spreadsheets full of information on thousands of financial advisors that use its ETFs, calling some ‘dabblers’ and others ‘power users’ Business Insider. BlackRock should fit right in at CalPERS, then.

My speech on driverless cars at the Transportation Research Board, Washington DC, 15/1/19 Christian Wolmar (MH). Wolmar is a well-regarded British transportation journalist. Wolmar: “I will leave you with the words of Michael DeKort: ‘The 20–30-year time period [for the introduction of driverless cars] isn’t remotely close. The real answer is that they will never get remotely close to finishing. Not much farther than the first base they are on now.'”


Brexit: A grim process of elimination RTE (PD).

Britain is operating as if a Brexit delay is there for the taking. It’s not. WaPo

UK fails to close global trade deals ahead of Brexit deadline FT

Brexit: High-profile Germans plead with UK to stay in EU BCC. Classy letter, but….

Coalitions in the Commons? John Redwood (Clive). Clive: “His parliamentary arithmetic is broadly accurate although he does fail to state that the non-ERG element of the Conservatives could split off and support one of the various other ploys he lists. But not all of any Conservative defectors from May’s Deal would join a specific single ploy, so his general point about there not being any majority for anything is valid, as is the count for the overall scale of support for each competing option.”

They carry signs:

In a bizarre turn of events, Theresa May could get her Brexit deal through after all – the key lies with Yvette Cooper Independent. Interestingly, although Corbyn forbade Labour MPs from meeting with May, Cooper did so, wearing a hat other than her MP hat. Clive: “I suspect the Clerk to the Commons will have told the Speaker [John Bercow] that, if he doesn’t kill Cooper’s bill, he’ll almost certainly face moves to remove him from office because the constitutional position on the (un-) allowability of it is clear. So, despite press frothing at the mouth, it won’t go anywhere.” “Bizarre” may have given us a clue. Readers?

Unlock the Brexit logjam by learning from other nations FT. Citizen assemblies.

The Malign Incompetence of the British Ruling Class Pankaj Mishra, NYT. Even Theresa May can’t top Admiral of the Fleet Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO, PC, FRS.

800 fire doors across Poole the same as those that failed post-Grenfell checks Daily Echo. Like Grenfell, this is a privatization story. See NC Grenfell coverage here and here.


Amazing! Afghanistan’s ’10-year challenge’ picture looks exactly the same Duffel Blog

Inside Israel’s Secret Program to Back Syrian Rebels Foreign Policy. Still germane.


Forget the Trade War. China Is Already in Crisis Bloomberg

The R-Word Daring Fireball

300 investors, including 30 from Hong Kong, lose 400 million yuan as mega Zhuhai mall project stalls South China Morning Post

Chinese police must guard against ‘color revolutions’, says top official Reuters. Hmm. Who on earth would sponsor such a thing?


Mega water crisis ahead, says expert Deccan Chronicle

Experts sound rural job scheme alert The Telegraph

Young, Angry and ‘Untouchable’ Bloomberg

New Cold War

U.S. Steps Up Rhetoric Over Nord Stream 2 Pipeline

Trump Transition

Trump cancels U.S. delegation to Davos forum: press secretary Reuters

Trump offers temporary protections for Dreamers for border security funding and to end shutdown McClatchy (Trump’s offer).

Rove warns Senate GOP: Don’t put only focus on base The Hill

Despite the government shutdown, Trump’s efforts to gut Obamacare go full speed ahead Michaek Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

1,400 Miles of Abortion Restrictions The Intercept

New York Confronts Its Worst Measles Outbreak in Decades NYT

Our Famously Free Press

BuzzFeed News Faces Scrutiny After Mueller Denies a Dramatic Report NYT. Plenty of dunking on this one…

BuzzFeed’s big scoop and the media’s giant factual loophole Matt Taibbi, Hate Inc. “Four-source clovers.” Well worth a read.

Beware the permanent exclusive WaPo

Peter Carr Speaks emptywheel. “Trump’s not going to be indicted by Mueller — at least not before he leaves office via election defeat or impeachment.” Oh.

The House Democrats’ Colossal Election Reform Bill Could Save American Democracy Slate. No hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public. (A “paper trail” is meaningless, because the software that scans, tabulates, and prints the “paper trail” can still be hacked.)

Democrats in Disarray

Can I Talk to a Manager? Jacobin. Waiter, there’s a fly in my Chardonnay.

Lawsuit against California Democratic Party details alleged harassment by former chair Eric Bauman and Essential California: Ed Buck liked to generate controversy, but the deaths of two men may give him more than he wants Los Angeles Times. Seems to me like impressive coverage of California’s one-party state, but locals may wish to correct.

As LA Teachers Strike Over Charter Schools, Democrat Cory Booker Speaks at Pro-Charter Rally Gadfly on the Wall (MR).

If Only Obama Had Done the Things Obama Actually Did Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine. First and second words of the lead: “Matt Stoller,” who seems to have hit a nerve:

“Incredibly meek loser mafia families.” Pass the popcorn.

Guillotine Watch

Dimon, Schwarzman and Other Davos A-Listers Add $175 Billion in 10 Years Bloomberg

Class Warfare

The Radical Organizing That Paved the Way for LA’s Teachers’ Strike The Nation

Oakland teachers stage unauthorized walkout as contract talks hit impasse San Francisco Chronicle

can you marie kondo when you’re poor? Vice. The author, an expatriate, has a relationship with poverty that others may not share. I’ve always liked this poem by Elizabeth Bishop: “One Art“.

Kennedy and King Family Members and Advisors Call for Congress to Reopen Assassination Probes Who.What.Why. “A group consisting of relatives of the Kennedy and King families, as well as their confidantes and other prominent voices, is calling for a Truth and Reconciliation Committee to get to the bottom of these tragic murders.” Includes the group’s letter, with an impressive list of signatories.

Lunar eclipse 2019: how to watch this “supermoon” turn blood-red Vox

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


        1. GF

          Here’s a couple of wbcams put up by the Arizona State Game and Fish Department:
          This one is Sandhill Cranes at Whitewater Draw in SE AZ, which is near the border with Mexico:

          This one is of a Bald Eagle nest NW of Phoenix near Lake Pleasant. The pair haven’t produced any eggs yet so they aren’t always at the nest.

          Both havre great HD cameras.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Could it be the Alien, come to inspect it’s pet humans? It does have a critical inspection sort of look about it.

    2. kgw

      I run into 2-3 rufous egrets on my morning walks in the Bolsa Chica Wetlands, Huntington Beach, CA. They can be recognized at a distance due to their style of active foraging: walking along, stirring the bottom with their feet, flapping their wings. The Blue Herons normally stand still and wait for a morsel to pass by…

    1. djrichard

      Yes this article is suggesting the deficit isn’t the boogieman that everyone thought it is/was.

      I don’t read The Economist, but it’s a bible to a colleague of mine at work and he’s my friendly nemesis when it comes to this topic. So could be that this article is a tell. I’m forwarding it on to my colleague to gauge his reaction.

    2. ChrisAtRU

      It gives a half-polite nod to #MMT, but then trots out some of the same fallacious fear-mongering about government debt. If the ending paragraph is any indication, though, it appears that even that ole Tory rag (as a friend’s father once referred to it) may be finally, albeit slowly, turning the corner:

      “Yet for much of the past decade politicians have stimulated economies too little. Rich countries have spent far more time below their productive capacity than above it—at grave economic cost. An overdeveloped fear of public debt, nurtured by economists, is partly to blame. But experience suggests that governments face looser budget constraints than once thought, and enjoy more freedom to support struggling economies than previously believed. Economists, happily, are taking note.”

  1. Phillip Allen

    The link to Bishop’s One Art leads to the Vice article. Here’s the poem:

    One Art

    By Elizabeth Bishop

    The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
    so many things seem filled with the intent
    to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

    Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
    of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

    Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
    places, and names, and where it was you meant
    to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

    I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
    next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

    I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
    some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
    I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

    —Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
    I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
    the art of losing’s not too hard to master
    though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

    Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art” from The Complete Poems 1926-1979. Copyright © 1979, 1983 by Alice Helen Methfessel. Reprinted with the permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC.

    Source: The Complete Poems 1926-1979 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1983)


  2. Mark Gisleson

    Chait article was bad but the comments were worse. At this point in time, I have no sense of which party now harbors the most uncritical (delusional?) rank and file.

    1. edmondo

      You really shouldn’t read Chait. Nothing good happens when you do. The “CHA” in his last name should be pronounced “SH”.

    2. integer

      Reading the comment sections of various liberal and conservative websites, as well as replies to tweets from some of the many pundits and “thought leaders” that span the political spectrum, leads me to conclude that supporters of the D party establishment have less of a grip on reality than Trump supporters. In general, liberals hate Trump with every fiber of their being, and have been strung along by corporate liberal media and the Mueller investigation for so long that they simply cannot tolerate any deviation from their preferred narrative (i.e. that the impeachment of Trump is imminent). Anyone who dares question this belief is either stupid, a white supremacist, or a Russian troll/bot. The latest Buzzfeed debacle has provided some comic relief; some liberals are so desperate for Trump to be impeached that they are beginning to push back at people like Neera Tanden, who appears to have accepted that the SCO’s statement indicates that the claim made in the Buzzfeed article is false.

      FWIW liberals also hate Sanders and Gabbard. I hope I’m wrong, but I find it hard to envision the uniparty neoliberal establishment allowing the choice in the 2020 election to be between Trump and Sanders or Gabbard.

    3. Richard

      I thought I was brave enough just reading the chait article. Apparently, we don’t give bummer enough credit for ACA (30 million uninsured, massive giveaway to insurance behemoths, no control on costs) and tax reform (Bush tax cuts permanent, oops, chait forgot that one), and the transition to green energy (opened arctic to drilling twice, allowed fracking to continue unhindered, was our most drilling-friendly president and bragged about it, oops, chait forgot that too).
      Okay, I am now giving him full credit for all those s&*^%$ policies Jonathan. Done. Now, about you pretending to misunderstand, and gaslighting us. Meet me halfway here. I mean come on, this isn’t hard. Obama is personally popular; his policies aren’t. It’s not even hard to figure out why. He has tens of thousands of paid publicists, to cast his every move in a benign glow, and suspend disbelief. How many liars does it take to suspend disbelief for all of his policy failures? Too many. It’s too, too heavy

    4. John Wright

      That Chait will write this “performance art” makes sense to me as someone PAYS him money to do this and likes the content.

      See his slight mea culpa on his support for the Bush Jr. Iraq War with 10 years of hindsight.

      Here’s his continuing justification for invading Iraq

      “My logic in supporting the war boiled down to the following:”

      “The truce terms of the Gulf War requiring a complete, verified shutdown of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction were valid and necessary.”

      “Iraq had refused to comply fully with these terms.”

      “Therefore, it was appropriate for the United States to threaten — and if necessary, carry out — war in order to force Iraq to comply.”

      Chait got the war he wanted and maintains his employment for many years afterwards despite the terrible harm the war unleashed at home and abroad.

      I believe I was conned by Obama as I voted for him once. I stopped listening to him as I watched his actions (Libya, pursuit of whistleblowers, giving SOS Clinton opportunities to wreak havoc overseas, weak-tea Dodd-Frank, lack of prosecution of bad actors for financial misdeeds, no single payer, TPP).

      Perhaps Chait is still being conned by Obama?

      More likely he needs to write this dreck to “bring home the bacon”.

  3. timmy


    Larry Fink says companies should run their businesses with social good in mind and that investors (like BlackRock) will hold them to account

    In BlackRock’s $2 billion Basic Value (actively managed) mutual fund, Wells Fargo is the fourth largest holding (out of 63) at nearly 4%

    1. anon y'mouse

      investors will hold them to account. didn’t Greenspan say as much?

      what’s that saying? “now pull the Other one!”

  4. Quanka

    Re: Forests and Climate Change article — this is really simple: Grasses are superior to trees in fighting climate change because they are superior at transferring atmospheric carbon into the soil.

    Trees store carbon in their trunks and branches. When trees burn, the carbon is released into the air in much the same way as burning coal or oil does. Native grasses are physiologically very different: they capture carbon through photosynthesis and then transfer that carbon into the ground (soil). The roots of grasses have different relationships and interactions with soil microbes and fungi. So atmospheric carbon is put back in the soil by grasses rather than being stored above ground as with trees.

    This is coming from a tree lover. I could stare at trees for weeks on end. But they are not the panacea of climate resistance some people claim.

    1. Linden S.

      I think the right way to think about it is: the carbon sequestration potential of all ecosystem restoration efforts, even on a global scale, is peanuts compared to the amount of fossil-fuel CO2 that we are burning now. Two things should continually be happening for the rest of our lives: (1) continued dramatic reductions in fossil fuel use and (2) global-scale ecosystem restoration efforts (forests and grasslands with correct fire regimens, wetlands, coastal ecosystems, bioremediation and pollution cleanup, etc.). Maybe a magic technology will come along, like Direct Air Capture, but it will likely be prohibitively expensive to scale.

      I think I haven’t quite thought about this in the right way — we know we need to replant forests, grasslands, etc. — who cares if forests might not be omnipotent carbon sponges? There is no magic bullet, bet it natural or man-made technology. We just have to stop burning fossil fuels. It is a grim truth.

    2. JohnM

      actually it depends on the climate.

      in temperate zones this is true since cooler temperatures allow organic matter to accumulate in the soil. in tropical zones, not so much since year-round decomposition returns much of the carbon the atmosphere. the rule of thumb is that in temperate regions carbon is stored below ground in the soil, in tropical regions it’s stored in the biomass above ground.

      1. johnnygl

        Thanks for making this point. Trees help drop the temps a bit when providing shade and photosynthesis declines when temps get too high.

        Plus, trees can help create rain and reduce evaporation. No plants can grow when it’s too dry.

      2. Dr. Roberts

        It’s even more specific than that. It comes down to the particular species of fungi present in the soil and how completely they break down plant matter. There are temperate forests that are carbon sinks and temperate forests that are carbon sources. The age of the forest also matters, as young forest thats increasing its biomass can act as a carbon sink, while mature forest with stable biomass can act as a carbon source. It’s all incredibly complicated.

    3. Wukchumni

      Wild grasses dominate the scene here in a December to May romance with the soil on their way to being 3 to 4 feet tall and then die when stricken with natural drought conditions that come with the territory in this land of little rain after June. That’s the oak savanna cue to get busy once the first act is over, with their superior tap root dancing routine. Add in a riot of a dozen primary wildflowers that carpet the land starting in a week or 2 from now, which paint a lovely picture that fades in April, and there you have it, a symbiotic relationship in the pool, shallow giving way to the deep.

      Took a walk on the :Ladybug Trail in Sequoia NP, and it’s high cotton for the namesake, as we saw maybe a million of them all in one stretch of perhaps 1/4 of a mile @ 4,300 feet, where they’ve been wintering over for time immemorial, the highlight being a low-lying Manzanita Tree where the rounded red ones must’ve been 100 deep spread out around the apron at it’s base extending 3-4 feet from it’s trunk. They prefer wood stock in the guise of fallen trees typically, but this get together had them making out on wet leaves (didn’t see many on dry leaves…) and festival seating on the grass.

      It’s a bit early for Sierra Newts, but we sighted one that bore resemblance to Gingrich, as it wasn’t taxing itself by going really slow.

      One odd sight to see is ferns that are still vibrantly alive all over the place. Usually they die back in the fall and spring forward again in April-May, but they seemed to have not gotten the notice. Luckily everything except for pesky humans aren’t tied to a calendar that tells them when to expect things to happen in the new aegis of climate change.

    4. TimR

      So now trees are part of the problem? Pardon me if my skepticism towards the whole ball of wax deepens…

      1. Linden S.

        They can be if you are a technocrat that can only view ecosystems, biodiversity, and habitat through the lens of ecosystem services!

      2. nick

        Not so much “now.” There are papers from 10+ years ago featuring modeled predictions regarding the differential albedo of forests vs. grass (or even bare soil). This is a different mechanism than trees v grass re: carbon sequestration described above, but one that also may indicate the net benefits of tree cover for warming might be overstated. (In short, darker forests absorb more incident sunlight that will result in warming, compared to lighter soil that will reflect more sunlight back into space. So there’s a definite gross warming effect of forests, question is whether it gets outweighed in the net).

        1. liam

          The assemblage of species matters. So also the relationship of the species with seasonal light variation. The density of it’s composition. Where it is planted etc. Think a dense, dark conifer plantation placed on a drained peat bog vs a deciduous woodland that goes through successional change and seasonal senescence, rewilding a disturbed brown earth.

          They’re not like with like. The problem is comparing what the money mens idea of a forest is vs what a forest actually is. It’s important to remember that when reading many of the articles and papers. They always want to have their cake and eat it.

      3. Quanka

        No, trees are not a problem. We should maintain healthy forests were they are biologically appropriate. We should absolutely stop deforestation in temperate and tropical climates alike and restore these forest ecosystems.

        ~40% of the vegetative surface of the earth (e.g. excluding arctic and desert regions) is made up of grasses, and trying to convert these native grasslands into forests is actually worsening climate change. Grasses have an under-appreciated role to play. Unfortunately, a lot of these projects to “plant a million trees” or whatever — sometimes they end up trying to convert grasslands into forests.

        My point was an observation that the article, which was an extensive review of the limitations of fighting climate change by planting more forests is (pardon the pun) missing the forest for the trees.

    5. Jeremy Grimm

      What about bamboo? It’s a grass and it will provide shade, and cover from the wind, in 4 – 5 years. I think it might survive strong winds better than trees. I think it might also cause less damage if it did fall. There are many varieties adapted to a broad range of climates. There are types of bamboo that spread like weeds — true — but there are also types that are much better behaved.

      I’ve often wondered why bamboo wasn’t planted in the strip mall parking lots for shade instead of the tiny trees planted in every new strip mall parking lot. Bamboo might provide shade long before the tiny trees will even as those trees tear up the pavement in the parking lots of the shuttered strip mall in its future.

      1. tegnost

        because the bamboo is second only to the poplar in biomass per year of growth and it will tear up the asphalt faster. I spent many years digging up and planting bamboo. The common so cal variety is oldhamii and you need a machine, and not a small one, to deal with that stuff. Here in the pnw there are more varieties that are used in the landscape and they’re some great landscape plants as you can pick a variety that reaches your height requirement, some are 6′, some 20′, some 30’+ but it takes a gardener who can spend a small amount of time each year root pruning or you’re calling the ex me, don’t do it anymore, too hard and I felt like it was a fad of the 90’s so I branched out into installations and landscape construction. It also tended to be common solution to border disputes, i.e. I want a 20′ hedge today so I got a little sick of that , too as my own view is that bamboo is better in a circle, rather than a straight hedge. The huntington in l.a. is fantastic place for many reasons, including it’s bamboo collection. One of the greatest places in the city of angels and worth visiting multiple times, but bring your own snacks. My favorite varieties tend to be the smaller lacy varieties such as nitida (blue fountain) native I believe to the himalayas, and mexican weeping, which is very striking but does better down south than up here in the pnw. I could see bamboo being used to clean up toxins, it’s a grass so it grows fast and may be able to sequester some toxins but I can’t cite anything in that regard.

      2. Steve H.

        The bend more than trees. My 15′ nuda are parallel to the ground, and even without snow they can whip around pretty good.

    6. Oregoncharles

      You’re forgetting about half the tree: the roots. But I agree that soil storage of carbon is very important, the one form of “geoengineering” that is win – win, since it also improves soil fertility and drought resistance.

  5. John

    Exasperated “corporoid” Democrats try to shut down Ocasio-Cortez. You left out the most important word, “corporoid.” They should and will fail. Just because the owners of the institutional Democratic Party, that would be corporations and their funding billionaires and AIPAC and the Likud and office-holders-who-must-spend-four-hours-per-day-fundraising, do not like what she has to say is all the more reason she should say it. The Party is a mess. Its preferred candidates might as well be clones. Clinton was Republican lite; Obama tried, he was disappointing but he did have that horrid little man, Mitch McConnell, lying in his path like a gigantic coprolite, from day one. Hillary was no different and she was a bad campaigner as well. Look at the result. Q.E.D.
    Ocasio-Cortez had an agenda. The institutional party has nothing. I would like to hear what she and those like her have to say.

    1. kurtismayfield

      Sorry, but Obama went right for the Republican plan from the beginning. The ACA is the step child of Chaffee’s HEART bill, which was competition for Hillary Clinton’s proposals back in the early 90’s.

      He the passed a stimulus bill that used a social security tax cut as a stimulus.. instead of doing something more progressive.

      And of course, don’t forget the Pitchforks comment

      This was while he had the Democratic Senate. So stop blaming Mitch, and start asking yourself what were Obama’s real policy positions.

    2. johnnygl

      If McConnell had gotten along with Obama and been more supportive, then we’d have gotten the social security cuts the obama wanted so dearly…and maybe TPP, too.

      1. Lee

        Or, as has been so often and truly said at this site: “gridlock is our friend.” Not the best friend in all circumstances but it does tend to slow the birthing of grotesque, bipartisan monstrosities. And to the extent that gridlock produces government shutdowns, threats to public health and the like, at least it serves to further discredit both factions of the electoral duopoly.

        1. johnnygl

          McConnell, racist? Yeah, probably. But i don’t think that’s relevant here.

          I suspect McConnell preferred not to sign his own death warrant on his career as maj leader.

          Since he’s still maj leader, it would seem he knew exactly what he was doing by freezing out obama and his bad ideas.

        2. Procopius

          Leopards do not change their spots. McConnell has some reason which is not good for the rest of us for getting rid of King. I admit though, that I will be glad to be rid of King.

    3. jsn

      Failed to prosecute rampant financial fraud, failed to prosecute torture (opening the door to having the top rungs of the foreign policy bureaucracy administered by torturers in the next administration), institutionalized rather than prosecuted universal extrajudicial surveillance, institutionalized rather than prosecuted drone assassinations and started several new illegal, undeclared wars solidifying the lawlessness of the MIC.

      McConnell had nothing to do with these crimes, and like johnnygl says, if he and Obama had gotten on better they could have finally eviscerated the last of the New Deal by privatizing SS.

    4. Chris

      I’m confused as to why you think President Obama isn’t a “Corporoid” Democrat? I’m also confused as to why you think he wasn’t responsible for the party being a mess? A big part of the reason Mrs. Clinton was able to control the party was because Obama’s campaign in 2012 had almost bankrupt the party.

      I personally don’t have any illusions that things would have gone too much differently if the DNC had been in the black, but the disaster of 2016 can be laid at Obama’s feet. He is responsible for citizens rejecting the status quo. He is responsible for people disconnecting from the MSM when they say “America is already great.” He is responsible for killing the 50 state strategy and all remnants of it. He’s responsible for not pursuing all the goals he had which did not require congressional approval. Google Thomas Frank and see how long that list was. He’s responsible for making the Bush tax cuts permanent for most of the country.

      I don’t understand why you think a person who is wealthy, lionized in the press, and who has a long list of failures rightfully attached to their name needs to be defended.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Ignorance is bliss. The grossness of the cult of personality is fairly significant. What if Obama didn’t warrant the adulation that was bestowed upon him? What if Obama could have been pressured into being a better President? Imagine if the centrists fought the Republicans at all instead of attacking the left and dismantling the party which was built up without the Clintons (Dean beat the DLC candidate replacing the moribund Terry MacAuliffe).

        But do you remember the time Obama sang? Oh my god…it was glorious…OMG…Putin would never let Trump sing…

        There are a few examples of Obama responding to pressure and moving leftward, but the guy should have been hammered the day he announced Rahm as his CoS. Then he moved to save Joe Lieberman as the chairman of Homeland Security. Dismantling the DNC and the 50 State strategy which led to Democratic control of Congress in the election of 2006 where the map favored the GOP in the Senate and Obama was not on the ballot. Instead of addressing these realities, fantasies were concocted about Obama single handedly lifting the weight of the world on his shoulders.

        The filibuster was used as an excuse became I find most people vaguely remember another sentimental piece of garbage by Frank Capra and don’t know what the filibuster acutally is, preferring to believe its ordained by god rather than a pro-segregation rule voted upon by the Senate with each new Congress.

  6. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert, especially for the link to the Pankaj Mishra feature. Mishra knows the ruling class well as he’s married to Mary Mount, cousin of David Cameron, daughter of Thatcher’s policy chief Sir Ferdinand Mount, Baronet, and brother of Telegraph journalist Harry Mount.

    The wider family include other politicians, civil servants (including the current ambassador to Paris), journalists, fashion designers, legal eagles, City types etc., two dozen plus establishment / permanent state types I can readily name. The family has sat in Parliament since the reign of Charles I.

    One hopes Corbyn et al know how to take on this lot.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      I should have added that Mishra names the Mountbattens. A nephew of the last viceroy is an investor in and sits on the board of SCL, parent of Cambridge Analytica. Carol Codswallop knows better than to shine a light on these types, so she targets their martinet Alexander Nix at the CA operating company, that is when she is not busy smearing Corbyn, Abbott et al.

    2. integer

      Thank you, Colonel. Speaking of Corbyn:

      Fake Labour accounts fueling “anti-Semitism crisis” The Electronic Intifada

      From the start, reporting of the “anti-Semitism crisis” in the UK’s Labour Party has been characterized by dishonesty, exaggeration and outright fabrication. The real target of this manufactured crisis is not genuine anti-Semites, but Jeremy Corbyn and the wider Palestine solidarity movement. But now additional evidence has come to light of a disturbing trend which has been fueling the fire lit since Corbyn’s first leadership victory in September 2015. An investigation by The Electronic Intifada has documented 10 fake Twitter profiles posing as Corbyn supporters who have been posting virulent anti-Semitism.

    3. Carolinian

      One hopes Corbyn will be allowed to take on that lot.

      Of course enthusiasts for the Iraq war in this country were inspired by the example of Mountbatten and the British Empire. When will the NYT take on our American “chumocracy”?

    4. ChiGal in Carolina

      From a commenter on the article:
      “Whether the British ruling class are wicked or merely stupid is one of the most difficult questions of our time, and at certain moments a very important question.”
      George Orwell

      1. Cal2

        The article never mentions the “HalluciNations” in Africa or the Middle East.

        Funny that.

        “The majority of the world’s problems can be traced back to
        the map room at the British Foreign Office.”

      2. ewmayer

        The following saying is often credited as Grey’s Law:

        Any sufficiently advanced form of incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

        But note that one can also make an argument for the converse.

  7. Darius

    Antidote is a reddish egret. I’ve loved them since I first saw them in the Golden Guide to North American Birds as a kid. There also is an all-white form.

  8. Olga

    The Malign Incompetence of the British Ruling Class Pankaj Mishra, NYT
    It seems schadenfreude is best served cold. Forgive me universe, but that is what most comes to mind, when contemplating Brexit. Serves ‘em right – those who with “the unconscionable breeziness” … “first drew lines through Asia and Africa and then doomed the people living across them to endless suffering.” Chickens are coming home to roost, in other words. Perfidious Albion has turned its incompetence inward – at last. “But it is safe to say that a long-cosseted British ruling class has finally come to the end of itself as it was.” If only…
    In case one doubts the reckless incompetence of the chumocrats – or thinks it as only confined to Brexit – pls watch this interview with the current (and delusional) Lord Attlee:

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Olga.

      Please see my comment above.

      I went to school, Stowe, with some of these types. So did Synoia, who one hopes will pipe up, at Gresham. The people who vote for and / or indulge them should not be spared the blame, either. It takes two to dance at a hunt ball.

      1. Synoia

        Thank you Colonel.

        I should be back in the UK later this year. We could meet, as I will be satying near the City. It is too early to make plans, as I detect a little uncertanty in the near future.

        The ruling class exercise control, with complex family relationships.

        “He’s not one of us” is a frequent comment.

        “I see you are one of those who believe ‘Honesty is the Best policy’ said a future Major General when I was dating his daughter”.

        They freqent the City where my Sister’s senior partner said “I can get you an interview with any firm in the City, “when I was about to graduate from RMCS.

        I went instead to South Africa, where I worked , by chance, with a future Miinister of Finance.

        The Colonel’s father will be familiar with RMCS.

        I lurk here, using my twisted sense of humor to poke fun at the world.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Synoia.

          I work in the City and often stay nearby.

          I would be delighted to meet. If other contributors I know are around, we could all meet.

          According to a sort of outsider at the Chipping Norton set, Cameron often uttered, “You’re not one of us.” This echoes the Queen Mother.

          I know what you mean about interviews.

      2. David

        I’m no fan of Mountbatten, but the partition of India was originally the idea of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the “father of Pakistan” and sold to Mountbatten as a solution to guarantee the welfare of India’s Muslim community. We all know how that worked out.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you and well said, David.

          Also, the work of Jinnah’s circle at Cambridge.

          Jinnah’s daughter stayed on the Indian side after partition and lived in Bombay / Mumbai, much to the annoyance of Pakistan.

    2. Susan the Other

      thanks for the clip. the british elite’s power of denial is almost like a ghost dance. they’ve clearly got nothing left but delusion. planning to go to war with a “peer opponent” …who is actually Russia, but they avoid saying Russia by using a silly category of opponent. a “peer” – how very lordly. and what hubris – the UK thinks it, itself, is a peer to Russian military power? and the followup, the analysis of corbyn’s behavior – looks like the same playbook pelosi and mitch are using. playing dead. has everybody given up?

      1. samhill

        Reminds me of this, for those who haven’t seen it:

        I’m pretty sure people have been wondering whether the British elites are wicked, stupid or both since there was an England. Problem is the question matters squat to the British elites, the privilege of money and power, you can be as stupid and wicked as you please as someone else always suffers the consquences. As you can pass the lucre and position onto your kids… well, you all get the idea… 1000 year self-licking ice cream cone of wickedness and stupidity.

      2. gc

        Perhaps they mean ‘opponent of peer’ s? The UK ‘armed farces’ might be up to policing citizens fed up with those twits.

    3. ChristopherJ

      Thank you, Olga, for that link.

      As for the Geri Halliwell quote – leaving the spice girls, when you don’t really have the bits for a solo career

      as being equivalent to Brexit, just gold

      People ask me where do I come up with my plot ideas in my novels. Reality, I reply

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Inside Israel’s Secret Program to Back Syrian Rebels”

    Considering that the author belongs to an Israeli think tank, it is not surprising that the whole story is spun around Iran. In fact, it is in the first sentence about keeping “Iranian-linked forces away from Israel’s border”. There is no word how they tried to destroy Syria as a country but instead it was all about Israel using proxies to protect themselves against the Iranians. Israel has been supplying military gear out of their own stocks to help Jihadists in Syria and this is know because captured military equipment has Hebrew writing on it, some found at the other end of the country. Here are two stories that mention this but I have seen plenty more-

    I think that Israel is panicking now that Syria is winning the war and that now there are once again Syrian soldiers on their border instead of friendly Jihadists. This was never really about Iran but helping the west to destroy a country on their borders so that it is no longer a military threat in case Israel wants to commit excursions in it. Not the first time something like this has happened. They tried to take over southern Lebanon for its resources and water supplies but was forced to leave and now they have Hezbollah armed with missiles that can target Israeli cities, That is epic blowback that. After trying to destroy Syria, Israel now has a battle-hardened trained military on their border under protection of Russian air denial equipment. That’s a heck of a job that, Netanyahu.

  10. notabanker

    I have a 2016 German engineered sedan. It has front sensor cruise control, ABS and traction control. It is anything but “smart”. It’s lowest common denominator engineered. I prefer driving my 90’s beater for cruise control that just works when I want it to. I was driving in a snowstorm last night and the traction control almost got me stuck on a hill on the freeway, it was a joke. The computer just decided the wheels weren’t going to turn, at all. Never would have bought that car had I known how it actually operates in real life. It’s not like I even wanted the features, they just come with it now, because the general public is stupid and us really smart engineers know what’s best for them. LCD.

    I was shaking my head as I drove past the Tesla dealership while a salesman was walking a mid-30’s couple through the lot in a driving snowstorm. Self-driving, lol. Good luck with that.

    1. cnchal

      Somewhere in the onscreen menu of the infotainment system, several levels of commands down, after scrolling through all the selections, there is or should be an off button for that electronic crapola.
      Since you were stopped as the car refused to move, that shouldn’t add to your dis-traction.

      I would never blame the engineers. They are just doing what they are told by the finance and marketing department. That’s who should get the finger.

    2. lee

      I drive a 1999 car with embarrassingly low gas mileage. I make up for it by rarely driving it and using a motorcycle instead whenever possible. The only seriously life threatening failure if this beast was from a rudimentary digital component that for no apparent reason would shut the motor off. I was returning from a trip to the Sierras and the intermittent engine shut downs nearly got me killed about five times before I got home. If and when I buy another car I will look for a low tech option and hope they are still available. Maybe I’ll just build an electric go-kart.

      1. Carolinian

        Don’t forget those malfunctioning Toyota accelerator pedals where an electronic position sensor was substituted for the simple cable connection that controlled the throttle in the old days. Computer engine control has been a big plus for gas autos since the 1990s but in those older cars (I have one) the car would still operate, if not as well, if the computer conked out.

    3. Jen

      Neighbor had a similar problem with her new Honda civic. She’s beginning to regret getting rid of her old one.

    4. Mark Alexander

      We had that same problem with a 2008 Subaru Impreza in an early November snowstorm. I hadn’t had time to put on the snow tires, and we needed to rescue a hiker on the Long Trail, so out we went. The car just couldn’t make it up a pretty steep hill, until we finally realized it was the so-called “Traction Control” system that was applying the brakes too aggressively. Once we turned off that “feature”, the car made it up the hill.

      I am not sure when this “feature” is supposed to be used — maybe only going downhill?

      1. OIFVet

        It is not meant for deep snow, it is meant for wet/slick roads and perhaps a bit of snow, to assist getting going. I appreciate it for slick roads, though anyone 40 or over is probably just fine without this “feature”. However, when the snow gets deep, I shut the thing off. It is sure way to get stuck in the stuff otherwise.

      2. bob

        On newer models of the subaru you can’t turn traction control off. There is a button that purports to turn it off, but it doesn’t turn it “all the way off”.

        For a car that has made a reputation as good in the snow this is a huge problem.

        Ask about why you can’t turn it off and the dealers look at you like you’re crazy– “Why would you want to do that?”

        Because it makes driving in the snow a bigger pain. Now you have to worry about when the car is going to think for you and apply the brakes.

        Rumor is that Subaru is also going to make “eye-sight” standard in all new cars. It beeps constantly at you and also applies the brakes randomly, even on dry roads.

        Its safer, you understand. Junk.

    5. tegnost

      Re: traction sensor…omg that happened to me driving from reno to sf in a snowstorm on I-80 in an empty sprinter van, luckily traffic was at a standstill so I was able to get out and throw a bunch of ice chunks in the back for weight so the traction sensor would allow the car to go, almost forgot to add that to my list of reasons computers can’t drive…

  11. William Beyer

    The WhoWhatWhy link on reopening the assassination investigations on the Kennedy brothers and MLK is heartening, but likely to fail. Anyone now less than 55 years old will not understand the impact those killings had. But it continues to fry my ass that the name “Hoover” remains on a law enforcement building in Washington, DC when he organized the three-year, criminal, government conspiracy to murder King.

    1. human

      We’ll be doing the same regarding 9/11 in 50 years, though, no buildings have yet been named after the usual suspects.

        1. Jeff W

          Not quite.

          In 2008, a group proposed that a wastewater treatment plant in San Francisco (actually, the most technologically advanced one, Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant, located on the Great Highway near Lake Merced) be renamed the George W. Bush Sewage Plant. I’m not sure why a facility whose mission is to take steps to mitigate the adverse effects of something—i.e., wastewater—would be named after someone whose actions had, in contrast, so many deleterious effects—and perhaps San Franciscans weren’t sure either. When placed before voters, in November, 2009, the proposal failed by a wide margin, with 70 percent voting no.

    2. Chris Cosmos

      The failure to account for the 60s assassinations despite decades of meticulous documentation that prove without any reasonable doubt that the official explanation is utterly impossible is, to me, the source of the stunning degeneracy of American intellectual culture. Without going into the details of the various cases I will site two facts that are at the center of the RFK murder. First, Thomas Noguchi’s the official LA coroner (to the stars) said the shot that killed RFK was delivered at virtual point blank range from the back. No way Sirhan was in a position to do that. Second, a scientific sound analysis of the soundtrack showed that thirteen shots were fired from an eight-shot revolver. This pretty conclusively proves that the official story is completely impossible. The reason the authorities do not want any deviation from the official story is that if what I’m reporting is true then there had to be a “force” that managed to convict Sirhan on clearly trumped up charges which required the cooperation of not just a few people but and entire system. So this begs the question–what is this system? That question cannot be asked because then it has to be answered and then what?

      1. BoyDownTheLane

        I was 15 when JFK was shot, and I watched my elders keep their mouths shut (with the exception of my ex-Czech French teacher). Timidity is a gateway to hell.

        1. BoyDownTheLane

          The Unspeakable: “It is the void that contradicts everything that is spoken even before the words are said; the void that gets into the language of public and officials declarations at the very moment when they are pronounced, and makes them ring dead with the hollowness of the abyss.  It is the void out of which Eichmann drew the punctilious exactitude of his service.”

          “… A non-violent revolutionary, [King] personified the most powerful force for a long overdue social, political, and economic reconstruction of the nation.”

        2. Oh

          It’s the same timidity that makes the people put up with all kinds of surveillance, from red light cameras. digital eavesdropping to license plate readers. Peole do not complain about hacking of their personal data, frisking, body searches, sale of personal data, non transferability of airline tickets, TSA scanning, election machine fraud, openly dishonest TV commercials and a myriad of other things. They are so sold on free items such as gmail that they actually pay money for Alexa, google phone and google thermostats that farm their personal data.

      2. Olga

        You’re right, of course, but I do not think it is just “the source of the stunning degeneracy of American intellectual culture.” The weight of the lie – the collective weight of keeping these impossible secrets is what has slowly killed off the public’s spirit. In the period of seven years, four of the best (and progressive) minds were done away with. (And pls, forget that JFK was a warmonger… by all accounts, he underwent a remarkable transformation from his cold-war 1961 inauguration speech to the “peace’ speech in June 1963.) In the subconscious mind, the society knows the truth, but cannot acknowledge it. (It reminds me of an Austrian novel (I think), in which a murder happens (justified), and one person mutilates her mouth, so that she may never be able to tell what happened.)
        Killing those four people was a huge blow to the country… the full effect of which none of us is able to appreciate – because none of us knows what could have been.
        The progressive – and, perhaps, peaceful – path the country could have embarked on in the 1960s was thwarted. In the 1950, 60s, 70s, and 90s, the US secret services were routinely overthrowing progressive governments all over the world – why not do the same at home? There was that little warning from Eisenhower…, remember.
        The official narrative for each murder can actually be easily dispensed with. JFK – the best FBI shooters could not reproduce what Oswald was supposed to have done, and he was not considered a good shot. When I think if the murders, what immediately comes to mind is – who had the motive, the means, and the opportunity? But there should be a fourth question – who has had the power to keep the truth buried for so long?

        1. Chris Cosmos

          Excellent comment. You said what I should have said. JFK was most certainly not a war-monger but had to display a solid tough-guy alpha-male behavior that this was the sort of man you would prefer to be on your side in a fist-fight rather than poor Dick Nixon. JFK clearly wanted to end the Cold War as did Khrushchev. if you get a chance read some of the correspondence between the two men.

          1. The Rev Kev

            If JFK and Khrushchev were around and corresponding, would JFK be accused of “Collusion” then?

        2. Susan the Other

          yes, that’s the question. and the question that goes with it is What exactly was the motive? It is very hard to see that anything has been accomplished except by the natural progress of civilization and science which happened in spite of all the bad government we have endured. I agree with the implied connection to Kavanaugh (don’t get the vince foster connection) and the swing to the hard right of the SC. And now there’s Barr. There to bar any FOIA requests. Protecting the power of the presidency. Funny how Trump is now protecting his own presidential powers because (I assume) he has been terrified by threats of assassination. When irony is this evil it should really have another description. A better word.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            The organizing theme is war. The American economy is absolutely dependent on it. So anyone, and I mean anyone, who threatens any slide toward peaciness is treated as a cancer by the corporo-war Borg. And excised.

            It’s not just Raytheon. It’s Microsoft (their largest client by a good margin is the U.S. Army). It’s Federal Express (no-bid contracts to ship bottled water from Seattle to Baghdad). It’s KFC (guaranteed profit restaurants on hundreds of bases).

            JFK saw that public dollars flowing through developing industries had benefits (integrated circuits/NASA anyone?). So his space race was conceived as a way to get the benefits of the arms race without cracking the planet in half. Dealey Plaza for him.

            No need to recount The Project for a New American Century. Q: where is the plane that hit the Pentagon? Where is the plane that crashed in the field in Pennsylvania? These are not difficult or complicated questions to ask. But asking them would require us also to ask how our 401(k)s are doing, stuffed with companies from Google to Mariott who thrive on blood and death. So long as the victims are brown, and far away, we each choose not to do that.

        3. roadrider

          Olga, the JFK “war-monger” meme isn’t true and was never true no matter how many times its repeated in the MSM or by Chomsky disciples.The “evidence” these people usually cite involves the “missile-gap”, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missile crisis and Vietnam.

          In the case of the “missile gap” Kennedy did not invent the idea and was far from the only politician (Dem or GOP) that talked about it. The truth is that the entire country was misled by the propaganda of the military and intelligence agencies who were seeking to expand the US nuclear arsenal because they were actually delusional enough to think that the US should launch a preemptive nuclear first strike against the USSR before the Soviets could match our capabilities. The fact that their arguments about the crash Soviet buildup in nuclear missiles were fraudulent was only know to the small circle of people in the intelligence agencies and military who had access to the U2 and spy satellite data. The latter was so secret that the CIA and the Eisenhower administration decide not to disclose the fact that the data derived from it showed that there was no Soviet ICBM build up for fear of exposing the capabilities of the spy satellites. Kennedy only realized he, along with most others, had been had after taking office and admitted as much.

          Its important to understand that Kennedy, like most presidents (including Nixon and Reagan) was horrified by the prospect of nuclear war and took steps to have the military develop flexible response plans in place of their absurd overkill plan known as the SIOP so that he would not be boxed in by predetermined strategies that inevitably escalated political crises into nuclear showdowns. He also successfully got the first nuclear test-ban treaty with the Soviet Union ratified by something like an 80-20 vote in a Senate where it initially had little support and in the face of significant opposition from the military and intelligence agencies.

          In the case of the BOP (an Eisenhower administration plan that assumed Nixon would win the election) Kennedy was deliberately misled by the CIA about the prospects for success without direct US intervention. The CIA assumed that when the operation went pear-shaped Kennedy would relent and allow intervention by the US military. To his credit, he refused and took the political heat and admitted that he had screwed up in trusting the CIA too much. He tried to make the JCS responsible for all future covert ops but “the Blob” never really put his orders in place.

          With respect to the missile crisis I see many bloggers and commenters trying to blame JFK for initiating the crisis which is really silly. Its true that Khrushchev decided to deploy the missiles in Cuba in response to being encircled by US nuclear forces in Europe and Turkey but that situation had been in place since the Eisenhower administration. Kennedy had asked for the Jupiter missiles to be removed something like 5 times before the crisis! But he had little support from the military or in Congress for getting this done. Kennedy’s response of resisting air strikes and an invasion in the face of enormous pressure from the military and within his cabinet to was correct and courageous it was likely the only path available to avoid escalating the conflict into an all out nuclear war. Information released many years later that showed that the Soviets had placed tactical nuclear weapons in Cuba that their field commanders had authorization to use in the case of an invasion.

          Finally, with respect to Vietnam, Kennedy had visited Vietnam during the 1950s and had observed first hand the futility of the French effort. This helped shape his views on the necessity for the pre-war colonial structure in the third world to dissolve and for the US to support national liberation movements in Africa, Asia and Latin America by promoting democracy, personal freedom and economic security to replace colonial control and exploitation by foreign business interests. Without that, he argued, the Soviets would be able to easily co-opt the national liberation movements. That was Kennedy’s vision of the
          Cold War. He made a speech in the Senate on this issue during the mid-fifties and was told by Adlai Stevenson and the Democratic Party establishment to keep his mouth shut. Its true that Kennedy supported counter-insurgency efforts based on “winning hearts and minds” (what we would today call “nation building”) and that’s actually a debatable strategy (has been proven to be a failure) but he was hardly “war mongering” in that sense.

          Kennedy did increase the amount of “advisors” in South Vietnam to 16000 and you can fault him for not being able to control the military who had few compunctions about using the “advisors” in combat operations usually with a fig-leaf Vietnamese army soldier to give cover but he faced incredible resistance and duplicity by the military, intelligence agencies and even within his own State Department. Read John Newman’s JFK and Vietnam for details. Anyway, Kennedy (and RFK) were pretty much the lone voices in his administration resisting further escalation into a full-fledged ground war. Kennedy would refer proponents of escalation to Gen. McArthur who had counseled him against such action. In the end Kennedy decided to hoist the proponents of escalation on their own petard by using the fake reports of success in the field (despite clear evidence to the contrary) to give cover to his plans to withdraw all of the advisers by the end of 1965. For public consumption he continued to downplay the withdrawal plan but the information that has come to light by researchers in the past 20-30 years has clearly documented the withdrawal plan. It is now beyond argument that Kennedy planned to withdraw US forces from Vietnam and that Lyndon Johnson reversed those plans after Kennedy’s death.

          So if you want to claim that JFK was a “war monger” please provide contrary evidence. Which wars are you claiming Kennedy “mongered”?

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            , the JFK “war-monger” meme isn’t true and was never true no matter how many times its repeated in the MSM or by Chomsky disciples.The “evidence” these people usually cite involves the “missile-gap”, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missile crisis and Vietnam.

            So what years was Jack President? Also, was the decision to use Agent Orange a decision independent of JFK?

            Is this like how Obama isn’t responsible for anything during the years from January 2009 to January 2019?


            Is this really JFK’s fault? Did he come up with the name?

            1. roadrider

              NTG – you have always been way, way off base and uninformed about Kennedy.

              Why don’t you take a look at the graph at the top of this article and compare the amount of Agent Orange used during Kennedy’s time in office compared to the amount following LBJ’s escalation of the war?

              And note these excerpts from the article:


              However, by November 1961 President Kennedy agreed with his advisors that the US should ‘participate in a selective and carefully controlled joint program of defoliant operations in Vietnam starting with the clearance of key routes and proceed thereafter to food denial only if the most careful basis of resettlement and alternative food supply has been created.”

              So while the use of these agents was miniscule and highly selective during Kennedy’s tenure the widespread, indiscriminate use began when control passed military and exploded during the Johnson administration (and no, he was not carrying out Kennedy’s policy, which was withdrawal).

              While there was opposition to the herbicide program from the very beginning it did not grow in strength until 1967

              In 1969, it became widely known that the 2,4,5-T component of Agent Orange was contaminated with dioxin, a toxic chemical (chemical structure illustrated above) found to cause adverse health effects and birth outcomes in laboratory studies. In April 1970, the US government restricted use of 2,4,5-T, and therefore Agent Orange, in both Vietnam and the US.

              So there was little knowledge of the collateral toxicity of the herbicides and little or no opposition to their use from the scientific community until years after Kenndy’s death!

              Obviously this was not one of Kennedy’s best decisions. However, he relied on advice from the military via Rusk and on what proved to be limited knowledge of the full spectrum of the effects of the herbicides. And he did exercise oversight and control over the program that was clearly absent in later years.

              Please stop repeating this trash, which you’ve done on numerous occasions on this site. If you don’t like JFK – fine. But stick to the facts and not your own warped version of history.

        4. Roger Smith

          Dan Carlin has a great podcast about the early nuclear age that spends a good chunk on how stood up to the MIC right before he was killed by them.

          JFK, RFK, MLK, and 9/11… we’ve got some seriously big closets.

      3. Cal2

        9/11 is more important than either assassination.

        We are not getting treated like human luggage at the airport because of Kennedy or King’s death.

        There are no Patriot Act like laws or NDAAs on the books that affect all Americans because of them.

        We have not been in decade long losing wars based on the pretext of their assassinations.

        The guilty parties are still alive from 9/11.

        1. roadrider

          Ridiculous. All of those are equally important.

          Don’t you think the power the national security state has today has anything to do with the fact that those organizations found that they could literally get away with murder more than 50 years ago?

    3. roadrider

      Well, I’m a little more optimistic. I would argue that even if younger people didn’t fully recognize the impact of those assassinations and the obvious link between them (after all, no one was knocking off pro-war, right-wing militarists) they could be persuaded to support release of the documents since if these events were truly the work of disaffected loners then what would be the government’s interest in preventing the public (which owns these records) from having access to this information in unredacted form?

      Its an uphill fight of course but, despite the passage of time still an important one since we cannot truly understand how we got where we are now without understanding these events and how they influenced the path we have been following these past 5 1/2 decades.

      And yes, Hoover’s name on that building is a disgrace but then again, so is the institution housed in that building despite the current liberal fascination with it as some kind of protector of democracy.

    4. Alex morfesis

      Asking Congress to investigate ? Just laziness…there is more than enough public information to connect the real dots…but the dots don’t fit the simple narratives the mopery will accept…so…why keep beating a dead horse…honor those who tried to leave behind a better world than they found by doing the same…besides reality is for the uninitiated…

      If one were to argue ww1 was a started as an opportunistic coup against a morganatic regent instead of some random killing by lucky assassins…would anyone want to hear that ? That the coup got out of hand and the responses were not what was expected in the austro-hungarian nobility ? Yes…crazy…must be…until you notice the regular carriage man was replaced that day by the carriage man security officer of the man who replaced the guy who just happened to die…and if one knows anything about how most assassinations play thru…the driver is the first to get shot and then the mark…and in this case the driver years later is displaying artifacts of his deed openly disparaging the person who died under his watch…oops…drove down the wrong Street onto a dead end where an assassin just happened to be drinking coffee just minding his own business when opportunity happened… Yup…the wonderful fairy tales we tell our children…

      Leave the dead to lie peacefully finally and honor their lives by carrying forward the baton
      instead of looking at that family blogging baton sitting on the floor as if it is some kind of scared artifact to be left in situ….

    1. Wukchumni

      Didn’t hue hear about the yellow revolution in the Philippines in 1986, or the profusion of yellow ribbons round trees in the USA, welcoming home victorious veterans of the last ground war we won.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      As I read this link [Chinese police must guard against ‘color revolutions’] I started to wonder how it would read if I substituted US and US related issues for China and Chinese related issues.

    3. Massinissa

      China arguably has the longest history of color revolutions, if one counts uprisings such as the Yellow Turban Rebellion and the Red Turban Rebellion as color revolutions.

  12. bmeisen

    Thanks for the Wolmar piece on driverless cars.

    Hackers and liability are issues that the hucksters ignore systematically. Fiat-Chrysler recalled a cohort of Jeeps in 2015 after Wired reported on a controlled hack. 3 owners are suing – they would never have bought the things if they had known that hackers could take over – and the cases might be heard in March. Imagine you are cruising from LA to Las Vegas and your vehicle slows and accelerates and slows and accelerates and a calming voice announces that you must immediately transfer 50000 to the online account being shown on the monitor or your car will be directed into the 200 ft deep canyon that according to the navigation system is just 5 miles ahead. All efforts to regain control are to no avail – the hackers figured out how to disarm the manual override too.

    A further issue is the traffic choas that exists already thanks to deliveries generated by e-commerce, the load created by Uber in metropolitan areas and the retreat from mass transit policies. In a common urban environment there are 2 lanes of one-way traffic bordered on each side by parking. During morning rush-hour a (driverless?) delivery van blocks the right lane and traffic backs up. 10 cars back another delivery van blocks the same lane. How anyone can think that autonomous cars will be able to master these situations better than human drivers must have a serious pragmatic limitation.

    The author also helpfully notes that the truly elite will never go driverless – it’s too dangerous, not enough control. Indeed about 20% of today’s drivers might seriously consider it – because today they are sitting for hours everyday in their autos commuting and it would be much better if they could work instead of drive. Is the solution to keep them in their cars or to get them into trains?

    1. cnchal

      > Is the solution to keep them in their cars or to get them into trains?

      Who is “them”, we are talking about? Isn’t that us? Hmmm.

      The killer paragraph from the speech is this.

      AI is often touted as the solution to all these problems, but in fact many people in the industry are sceptical about it. AI is really machine learning, and it is a process that is non-linear. The computer analysts do not know quite how an AI solution is reached. There is no clear mathematical formula. Therefore each car could be different. And if one goes rogue or fails to learn, say, how it should react to a particular hazard and say, drives off a cliff, then how can anyone be sure that lots of other cars of the same type will not do the same.

      What this implies is that an AI disaster on the scale of a fleet of Titanics is already built into the technology.

      Ai is being used to run so many systems that the law of averages will catch up to us and bite our asses off.

      1. oliverks

        The statement, “Therefore each car could be different.” is just scare mongering. Good engineering would dictate the networks would be the same on a given release. It would be far too dangerous to train them in the real world.

        1. philnc

          “Good engineering would dictate the networks would be the same on a given release.” Don’t take this personally, but anyone who has managed 1,000’s of servers over a period of years or decades knows better. The plans of modern technology designers are like those of generals right up to their first contact with the enemy. Of course the whole point of using AI in vehicles is to have something that can mimic a human’s ability to adapt to the myriad of unique circumstances that their designers could not have anticipated. By definition they’re each going to then wind up with their own “personality”, just like most of the big iron I’ve had to grapple with over the years as an enterprise sysadmin — whose eccentricities were definitely never anticipated by their designers (or welcomed by their operators). The difference between that old Sparc server in the back of my data center and the AI in a Tesla or other purportedly autonomous vehicle, however, is that I’ll never have to trust the Sparc to safely deliver a load of refrigerators to market, or my kids to school. There’s also the question as to just how much risk of injury or death the automotive industry should be allowed to impose on those of us who will have to share the road with their AI wunderkind.

          1. oliverks

            Releasing a car is very different from managing servers. Car companies go through rigorous testing and freezing of components, design, software, as they go into production. When changes happen, there are signoffs and oversight.

            Not that all of this is perfect, and mistakes do happen, but you can’t manage a high volume production product with every device rolling out with different code on it. The logistical nightmare would could cause complete chaos.

      2. bmeisen

        Thanks for the reply. “Them” are people who choose a way of life that involves substantial driving time on a daily basis, Something like 2+ hours/day. I am not one of “them”. I live in a city and ride a bike to work.

        I guess one could counter that the American Way of Life forces so many individuals into the “them” lifestyle that with a stretch of the imagination one could claim that “them” is us. But count me and people like me out.

        Thanks also for the AI points. Though it’s not my area I am sure that, despite the hype, a machine that learns with the help of AI has limitations. I can well imagine that one of them is the autonomous car in a scenario such as the one I descibed above. The car may indeed be able to process inputs from diverse sources at a phenomenal rate of speed and in a sense learn from them. In the above scenario cars behind one of the double-parked delivery vans will probably learn to put the left blinker on and wait and when the stream in the left lane slows and a slot opens they will pull out and maybe into the next delivery van jam.

    2. Nakatomi Plaza

      The article also brought up an issue I’ve never seen mentioned before: Robbing the passengers of an autonomous car couldn’t be simpler. Just stand directly in front of the vehicle while an accomplice smashes a window out. The only solutions to this are far too dystopian for serious consideration. Cars that deliberately run over suspicious people? Nope. Armored self-driving cars? Good-bye affordability. Windowless? Never.

    1. human

      News costs money to publish. Pony up the couple of bucks for a few legitimate sources or go without. Socialism isn’t about things being free.

      1. Wukchumni

        Too late, as we’re used to free. Maybe it’ll be akin to music, where the only real method for an reporter to make money is live shows?

      2. Carla

        I understand. Still, there was something wonderful about the promise of the free and open Internet… NC Links have been important not just to me, but to many, many others. And I do pony up for a number of subscriptions, with a monthly donation to Naked Capitalism among the most important. And BTW, it ain’t just a “couple of bucks,” either.

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            Just clear your cookies when you exit. In Firefox,

            preferences->privacy and security->cookies and site data->keep until [Firefox is closed]

            They count the number of articles you have read in the cookies they place on your confuser.

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          That is the problem isn’t it? All the once happy talk (early 00s) about selling articles by the piece, for a quarter or a buck….. that’s all gone. Despite Jobs demonstrating how ready consumers were to buy music ala carte. An iTunes-like venue for other media could have worked, I think, but no one discusses such things now.

          When links articles are old enough, they may become available online through your public library. I.e. I can see WSJ pieces on a one week delay thru my county library website. And full current issues of The Economist, The Hill, Mother Jones, and a few others. FT article titles can be typed into the Google search bar for immediate full access. Also, you can periodically clear your browser cache for infinite NYT and WaPo access. Right now. They will close that loop hole some day. And the South China Morning Post website is a sticky wicket. The Journal and the SCMP are the 2 hardest nuts to crack, IMHO.

          1. Carla

            “FT article titles can be typed into the Google search bar for immediate full access.”

            This used to work for me, but no more.

      3. whine country

        LOL. It’s like the NFL. You pay to watch the games and they throw in the commercials for free. You want to track me and put all my data in your monster data base, I damn sure ain’t going to pay you for it. Sorry but I’m just human, human.

        1. notabanker

          Please turn off your ad blocker. No? Ok then…..
          Would you like to pay us $2 a month for this most excellent content? No? Ok then…..
          How about notifications? Just click right here. No? Ok then….
          Watch this video that has nothing to do with the content you clicked for. No? Too bad it’s going to pay whether you want it to or not.
          Still here? Ok, well maybe we’ll let you read the content you actually wanted to see, but only 4 more times then you pay.

          Yeah, I’m not contributing anything to the “free press”.

      4. Jeremy Grimm

        The news that is free will not be there forever. Every free site has its hand out now seeking contributions. But there are so many — like the homeless in our cities. We need to select and support a careful selection of the best of them — like this site.

        I started to wonder about another little problem for the future. The search engines can hide news sources, and block them, but so can the Domain Name Servers. I know its paranoid — even so — I’ve started to wonder whether it’s time to start collecting the IP addresses of my favorite sites to build my own semi-manual DNS for the future.

      5. Oh

        Mot of the news behind paywalls sport an deceptive headlines but are really stories invented by the writers and is not journalism. Why should anyone pay for junk?

    2. Bugs Bunny

      I can empathize. When I was jobless for a while I couldn’t afford to subscribe to anything and learned some workarounds to get access to sites. Most of them still work. Short version: If you use Chrome, install the uBlock and Disconnect extensions. If you are on Android, read up on how to install and configure NetGuard. For WSJ and the pink paper, you can copy & post links to Facebook (if you have an account…) and then click on the posted links through to the articles.

      That said, as a rabbit with a job now, I subscribe to Harper’s, Le Monde, Latham’s Quarterly and New Scientist, which I all love.

      To the moderators – if you feel the need to delete this one, I understand & please accept my apologies.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      I’ve noticed the same thing and can’t quite figure out the logic behind it. I’d thought most of the major publications had decided against the paywall model years ago – has it suddenly become more profitable for them? I’ve also noticed many of the major newspapers went to a limited number of free articles per month before you hit the paywall and that number has been dropping recently for a few sites. That one’s easy enough to get around though by simply using a different browser.

      1. Oh

        They want to farm your data and sell it, that’s all but they want you to pay for it too, just like google phone crap.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Redoing ad metrics? Ellen Pao, the former Reddit Ceo, made claims about inflated numbers using apps and visiting websites.

        The other major change is paying from a cell phone. How many people do they sign up because its just point and tap process?

        1. Cal2

          Data clutter as rebellion
          Here are a few things my coffee club has come up with to monkeywrench data collection:
          Locate people with your first and last name. Find out about their bios, addresses, etc.

          Your public library has its own data address and is a great location from which to start free email accounts for exclusive from there only. If a phone # needed to do sign ups, use Cheap burner phones, bought for cash. Include details of other people similarly named in innocent non-malicious emails you send back and forth to your friends or even to your own alternate identities. “This is Joe Blow, I just moved. My new job is at, here’s my new address.” Mix it up and add fake details.

          Those free contest cards and entry forms always get digitized and are fertile ground for name changes and shifts in spellings. How many middle names can a person have? There’s no law against assuming alternate identities for commercial purchases paid in cash–never credit. Incoming phone surveys allow one to change gender, age, race etc. Most importantly, radically change your stated income level up, or way down, if you want to be left alone.

          Have fun.

        2. lyman alpha blob

          You might be onto something there. I mentioned below that google, et al got rich by overcharging the rubes for advertising by making false claims. Perhaps people are catching on and some of that easy as money is drying up.

    4. flora

      Taibbi’s article about the Buzzfeed debacle is behind a paywall.

      Caitlin Johnstone has a good article about the same Buzzfeed debacle that’s open.

      Following what the Washington Post has described as “the highest-profile misstep yet for a news organization during a period of heightened and intense scrutiny of the press,” mass media representatives are now flailing desperately for an argument as to why people should continue to place their trust in mainstream news outlets.

      According to journalist and economic analyst Doug Henwood, the print New York Times covered the Buzzfeed report on its front page when the story broke, but the report on Mueller’s correction the next day was shoved back to page 11. This appalling journalistic malpractice makes it very funny that NYT’s Wajahat Ali had the gall to tweet, “Unlike the Trump administration, journalists are fact checking and willing to correct the record if the Buzzfeed story is found inaccurate. Not really the actions of a deep state and enemy of the people, right?”

      This is the behavior of a media class that is interested in selling narratives, not reporting truth. And yet the mass media talking heads are all telling us today that we must continue to trust them.

      1. Skip Intro

        Yeah poor buzzfeed, and this just after they were tagged as an orifice used by the “Integrity Initiative” for their digital disinformation business. I’m sure it is all coincidence.

    5. Alex morfesis

      Oh stop being lazy…most articles are placed by someone in the article… Most times just key in some party named and the subject matter into the googolmonstyr and the source will usually have burped out some white paper or report or funding request… News has never ever been objective… It had simply been slanted and one side would want you to know about the other sides dirty laundry to help you reject the “other” argument…

      In duh you ESS of hay hey xxxaeee the consolidated one party party system has reduced competing narratives and ye olde free flowing funding of said “approved opposition”… Tyz watt tityz…

      Besides this free stuff by mister craigz has devolved into unusable mush for both real estate, car sales and employment classifieds which is what kept news rooms fed…so why does no one blame $ir craig$z ly$t ??

  13. The Rev Kev

    “My speech on driverless cars at the Transportation Research Board, Washington DC, 15/1/19”

    This is really a great speech this and provides the best analysis that the whole thing about driverless cars is just a crock and a scam as much as the fracking industry is. One thing that snagged my interest is when he mentioned Sion in Switzerland having autonomous shuttle buses. I knew that city well a very long time ago and was wondering about those buses’s size but a link showed that they are actually quite small and compact. The link also includes a video–

    I notice in that film that the braking can be a bit harsh and it looks really slow in operation. I will say this. If they try to have these things go up the mountains to a resort like Crans-Montana that would be nuts. Forgetting reckless Swiss drivers, when it snows in the winter visibility goes way down and that is a lot of cliff faces that you would be traveling next to. I am calling those small buses just a tourist gimmick and not much more.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      The part that surprised me most about that speech was this –

      I visited an autonomous car exhibition in Stuttgart and it was very interesting speaking to the exhibitors. I had expected I would be a bit like an atheist being introduced to the Pope but not at all. They were all as sceptical of the claims being made by the tech companies as I was. They were happy making money out of producing sensors, running test tracks or developing collision avoidance systems but they did not think that there would be any AVs driving freely on the roads in the near, even medium term, future.

      The tech companies made their squillions by overcharging the rubes for advertising based on bogus claims about their efficacy. Now they have more $$$ than they know what to do with, so they’re running another long con, flushing billions down the toilet that could have been to far more productive use, just so a few people can stroke their egos and get even richer.

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better argument for increased regulation and a 70% tax rate.

      1. oliverks

        The self driving car problem is a hard nut to crack, I don’t think anyone denies that, but to be able to predict what is going to happen in AI with any reliability is also hard. 2 years ago everyone thought a computer winning at Go was at least a decade off, if not impossible.

        The architecture introduced by Deepmind (alpha zero) has crushed the best at Go and Chess. The 3rd revision of the architecture only took 4 hours to train (admittedly with Google’s oodles of processing power) to become the world champion at Chess. It learnt from never seeing another player how to become world champion.

        BTW there is a really nice open source effort of this architecture going on at:
        I encourage any chess fans to checkout some Leela games on youtube. The play is really fun to watch over a regular chess engine.

        AI results are really very non linear, and humans are very poor estimators of non-linear events. So long term (i.e. 10-15 years) results are just about impossible to predict.

        This would support your argument for regulation, but the problem is, who would be qualified to regulate AI? The last round in Congress on Facebook was pretty embarrassing. The congresscritters seemed to grapple with even the most basic tech. Are they going to show some flash of insight to see how to regulate AI?

          1. oliverks

            Ah, but I am not predicting what the breakthroughs are going to be.

            For example, I am very confident there will be big breakthroughs in medicine in the next 50 years. I have lots of historical evidence to back that up, but I don’t know what the breakthroughs are going to be.

            Likewise in technology, there will be lots of breakthroughs over the next 20-30 years, but I can’t be very confident as to exactly what is going to happen. In fact I am often laughably wrong.

            As an example, I thought the idea of a streaming movies was ludicrous only 30 years ago. But then compression became so much better, and bandwidth blossomed, and voila, something I thought could never happen, happened.

            AI as an area has created a critical mass to move it forward now. Even when the market turns against it, there are enough people thinking about it, new ideas will emerge. So I can be confident AI will make progress, but I don’t want to get out ahead of my skis in trying to predict what the progress will look like.

            1. JTMcPhee

              “Big breakthroughs in medicine,” like statins and SS(N)RIs and faulty hip joints and what-all else? Some fairy-dust replacement for antibiotics rendered useless by smart bacteria? and dangerous by use in animal feed and overuse in “practice?” Your credulity kind of shows, with the “Gee willikers, Mr. Wizard, what won’t they think of next?” Maybe CRSP-R run wild? Maybe the I think it was an Italian Egoscientist who thought it would be jst good clean fun to resurrect the 1919 influenza virus “because I can,” and the folks who want to experiment with rendering flu and other viruses and pathogens invisible to the human immune system? Thank goodness you are not in charge of making up the policies and rules that might apply to all that wonderfultastic futuriness (or evisceration of the tiny bits of the Precautionary Principle that are hanging on in odd corners).

              Do you also BELIEEEEEVE that geoengineering has “the solution to the problem of human-induced planetary destruction?”

              Yah, “the best of all possible worlds is just around that next corner,” all right… “I don’t know what the breakthroughs [what a marvelously loaded word that is!} will be,” but they will be WONDERFUL!

              Not going by what has transpired so far.

              1. oliverks

                This website shows life expectancy over time in the world


                I myself would prefer to be living now, rather than 50 years ago, but go ahead and dial the clock to a year you would prefer to live in.

                Science and technology has been moving forward since the Renaissance. It has not been perfectly smooth or linear. Some of it has been used for truly evil means.

                So I ask you, looking forward 50 years, given our history of 500 years of modern civilization, given our ability to transmit that knowledge across the globe, given that there are more scientists and engineers now than ever before, are there really going to be no major breakthroughs in science, medicine, and technology?

                1. Yves Smith

                  My father’s ancestors in the 1700s all (every last stinking one of them) lived into their 80s and 90s. Gravestones confirmed by church records.

                  If you survived childhood diseases and managed not to get your body mangled in an accident, living to be old was more normal than you’d think. But lots of people didn’t make to to be 10.

            2. bob

              SV dork rule of discourse #2

              If anyone tries to call out your BS-

              1) dismiss them entirely, accusing them of being “negative”
              2) double down on your BS, while not even pretending to address any of the criticism.
              3) claim authority on *anything* based on your very thorough knowledge of BS and ability to be *positive* (much better than negative, everyone knows this!)
              4) Use the opportunity to go further and deeper into the BS, who needs reason fact or science? certainly not you! You’re trying to change with world! Blurt away your craziest predictions for the future. There is no accountability.

              Rinse, repeat go to work for an oligarch if you are one of the lucky few. Lesser minions get work writing “tech journalism”.

              1. oliverks


                This is my third attempt to answer your post. I deleted the first two. In the end, I decided that perhaps the easiest way to respond is to ask what would you like to see.

                I give you Leela that can whip you at chess.

                I can give you the latest translation software that can whip you at 20 odd languages (even if you are tri or quad lingal)

                I can show you the latest ImageNet results where you would have to study for some time to try and beat the classification.

                What about these breakthroughs do you think is BS? Why do you think they are one off? Given that most of these results occurred well outside of SV do you think this is all “dorks” in SV.

                Finally what is wrong with being a dork anyway?

                1. bob

                  No, you didn’t “answer”, you took the opportunity to introduce a few other non-sequiturs.

                  That you don’t see that, and that you continue to assert knowledge of the future, is your problem.

                  You can’t admit what you don’t know. That’s not a good starting point. I forgot, you’re already 20 years ahead of us all in chess.

                  1. oliverks

                    You can’t admit what you don’t know.

                    I am a bit confused by now about your position.

                    Are you arguing that AI is a dead end and there are going to be no major advances over the next 20-30 years?

                    Or are you try argue a different point?

        1. bob

          “Are they going to show some flash of insight to see how to regulate AI?”

          Fuck it all! Let’s just sit back and hope that the tech dorks who equate playing chess with driving a 40 ton semi truck in traffic can sort it all out. It’s the only “reasonable” course of action for a non-luddite.

        2. Carey

          “…but the problem is, who would be qualified to regulate AI?”

          Yeah, let’s just leave that to techies and markets!, ’cause that’s working well
          so far.

          It’s so complex


          1. oliverks

            OK so if you were to write a law, and let’s not worry about the legalese here, what would your law say?

            Where does AI begin and coding end?

            Do you preclude computers from doing certain tasks?

            It is a good time to start thinking about these questions. I certainly encourage people to start thinking about this.

  14. voteforno6

    So, here we go again with those assassination “conspiracies” from the ’60s, from the usual suspects when it comes to that sort of thing. I guess that’s the original Russia-gate. These people want a truth and reconciliation commission? That’s rich, considering that they’ve already predetermined the outcome – an accusation that they’ve repeatedly leveled against the Warren Commission. The letter states that evidence exists backing their claims – what are the chances that this commission would examine the mountains of evidence that already exists, for example, that point clearly at Oswald acting alone in killing JFK?

    Beyond that, it makes accusations about the motives behind these killings. JFK was killed, maybe, for wanting to pull out of Vietnam? He’s the one that sent most of those troops there at the time of his death. Furthermore, the evidence cited for that are some rather self-serving statements by his brother and other people from the Kennedy circle, made after the fact, when it was becoming rather clear how much of a problem Vietnam was.

    No, I’m rather skeptical about this letter – some people just can’t accept inconvenient facts. Given the events of the past three years, that shouldn’t be too surprising.

    1. Wukchumni

      I propose a new Warren Commission, headed by Elizabeth.

      We’ll get to the bottom of who killed the economy, leaving us with a myriad of new fabric housing stock in a Neo-Hooverville, near you.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      On the first day of a U.S. history course, the professor opened up with a monologue about how pervasive conspiracy theories are among USians from Jamestown to the incubator babies in Kuwait. He didn’t have an explanation, but it was item to keep in mind for a class on the American Revolution because there were some crazy ideas out there.

      I think with JFK and newer excuses for Obama (he was so obstructed he had work so hard for Social Security “reform”) it’s a desire to deflect citizen responsibility. Yes, it required a federal judge, but the DADT repeal was the result of external pressure on Obama. He could have been moved, but cultists swore fealty rather than demand accountability. I would note “John” blames McConnell instead of say losing the House which is more reasonable, given the 50 vote plus the VP Constitutional threshold in the Senate which the Democrats controlled until the start of 2015.

    3. neo-realist

      On top of the facts that the JFK head shot blew Kennedy’s head back and to the side rather than forward (with large exit wound and small entry one) and witnesses who saw a man fire from behind the grassy knoll and a “secret service” person who told onrushing people to the knoll not to go there, a paraffin test on Oswald’s cheeks were negative while the hands were positive–more consistent with firing a gun rather than a rifle–possibly from moving boxes around or having his palm prints placed on the rifle post death. The FBI personnel who tested the rifle did test positive for acetate on the cheeks—why not Oswald??????

      Let’s take each murder on its own conspiratorial merits rather than condemn conspiracy theorists and theories period as the PTB would like.

      1. voteforno6

        I have very little patience any more for these JFK conspiracy theorists, but okay, I’ll have another go at it:

        – This is rather gruesome, but a shot from the front could not explain the violent backward motion of his head. It’s simple physics, really – the bullet weighs only a few ounces, and it wasn’t going fast enough to push a head back like that. Watch the Zapruder film closely – you can see his head go forward a little bit, then back violently. The second movement is due to something called the jet effect (and this is the gruesome part – look it up).
        – “Witnesses” saw someone firing from the grassy knoll? Real-time witnesses saw someone matching Oswald’s description firing from the School Book Depository – that’s why the police were able to get out an alert out for someone matching his description so quickly.
        – Paraffin tests aren’t conclusive, and claiming that someone planted his palm prints afterwards? There is zero evidence that such an opportunity even existed. Moreover, if that actually happened, why hasn’t anybody talked?

        I could go on, but everyone would be better off reading Vincent Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History. He rather thoroughly shreds just about every conspiracy theory imaginable (although people have been imaging some pretty crazy ones over the years).

        I really do get the fascination that people have in this subject – I used to be the same way. The U.S. government does not warrant a great deal of trust. However, considering how much has leaked out about its operations, it’s extremely unlikely that it could cover up its own complicity in the assassination of a sitting President, even after the fact, for so many decades.

        No, the more likely explanation is that it was an extremely confusing situation, which led to contradictory information floating around that confused a lot of people. That’s what happens for pretty much every major event. Also, you have agencies of the U.S. government, such as the FBI, CIA, and the Secret Service covering up embarrassing information about how someone they were monitoring was able to pull off this crime.

        People are too quick to attribute to conspiracy what can more easily be explained by incompetence and sheer dumb luck.

        1. Isotope_C14

          “it’s extremely unlikely that it could cover up its own complicity in the assassination of a sitting President, even after the fact, for so many decades.”

          Yeah, and jet fuel melts steel beams. Oh and of course WTC7 collapsed at free-fall velocity in its own footprint because of office fires.

          The 0.1% are sociopaths and nothing they say or do should be trusted, neither should their willing bobbleheads on the main stream media.

        2. Darthbobber

          Many people simply mirror the majoritarian credulity about official sources. That is, they maintain a healthy skepticism about official and semiofficial narratives, but don’t extend the same skepticism to the alternative theorymongers.

        3. Alex morfesis

          Okay…so…really…you like drinking the feinstein pelozzi kool aid ? There were zero witnesses who saw anyone on any sixth floor…there was one guy who was not wearing his glasses that day who confused the fifth floor with the six floor…said fifth floor occupied by three black men looking out open windows who did not react to any shots over their head because there were none…and no one has ever suggested…not even the hilarious official narratives… That the window on the six floor was anything but open a few inches…so the guy not only was not using his glasses…not using them gave him Superman x-ray vision to see behind the wall…you do realize even the official comedy pron version shows the magic Oswald and his magic bullet was leaning on and had his body hiding behind that wall for support… You did notice that minor detail right…since you are so sure of yourself…

          The zapruder film has a few frames missing to insure no one notices the Orangeman driving the Lincoln slammed on the brakes since the first wave of bullets did not finish off the president… The evil driver turned his head and was smiling right at Kennedy as he watched the kill shot do its deed…the Orville nix film shows the brake lights…

          but at least zapruders kid was able to turn his silence into something palatable to many…those trust funds most lawyers are supposed to use to sweep some of the interest into legal aid…zapruders kid henry is the lawyer who made that happen…

          Honest blackmail…My kinda guy…

          And as to Vincent and “refabricating history”… Guess you might have a friend with a few dozen hardly used copies trying to pay off some holiday credit cards since methinks that birdcage liner never got to see a second printing…

          Fine…you believed in the tooth fairy until you were twelve and you have figured out how Santa has been able to squeeze himself down the chimney with all those toys for centuries…

          We all have our image of life inside our own little narratives… You keep your fantasies and I will keep my imagination…

          It is really a waste of time and energy to imagine one knows enough of the ” facts” to be insistent… If you ever want to find the magic door to what might be most of the reality behind the multi layered myths…buy some girl scout cookies and then go to their new York headquarters and demand a refund…but before you walk into the building stop and turn around and look at the 404 error…remember…Lee Harvey lived in new York for a moment…lived with his half brother…and his brother lived in a part of Manhattan full of germans…bund types…and his sister in law had a name…fuhrman…you know like oj and Greenwich…and that silly little book he wrote recently… A simple act of comedy…funny how he misses he has that same name…or that his own brother lived in that same neighborhood… Probably just a silly coincidence… Probably…

          That 404 error…two addressees on building two different mailing addresses… Right there on 37th Street… Just a long block from the Morgan library… That 404 error…two entrances… Just like in new Orleans…

          Don’t worry…there are so many people who have threatened moi along the way…my fear is one day they will shoot at each other thinking the other one is my security… Life can be fun if you let it be…

          And let it be we should…the truth is hardly ever what it appears to be…let us leave these souls to rest and show our respects by leaving a candle or a flower once in a while at some spot in life they graced with their essence…

          But hey…you have it all figured out in a pretty little box with a great big bow under the tree delivered by Santa himself…

        4. JFever

          Anyone who can’t see the sheer incompetence/duplicitousness of our “thought leaders”, and “leaders” hasn’t been paying attention.
          That the whole scheme is able to support this many is dumb luck.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Duplicity, yes, but not so sure about incompetence. The “whole scheme” appears to be serving THEM very well.

        5. Carey

          I’ve noticed, over time, a consistency in language from those who will not
          allow any challenge to the originally-obfuscatory Official Narratives:

          “so here we go again..” “I have very little patience” “extremely confusing situation”

          yep, hitting all the right notes

        6. Unna

          Open sights, bolt action rifle at moving target. . Three shots (?) at moving target all fired in five to six seconds. Operating the bolt shakes the rifle and the right hand has to return to the trigger. How does he steady the rifle, calm his breathing, and reacquire a “sight picture” for the last shots in that little time? For each shot, does he slowly squeeze the trigger or jerk it back so he can get off the next round? Operating the bolt too fast on a cheap rife can cause issues too. As mentioned, he needs calm breathing and a calm body. But he’s shooting at the president, not at some game animal on a sunny afternoon which is bad enough, so count in all the physiologic consequences on his body and mind which must be extreme. Also, shooting in a downward angle at a distance presents its own issues.
          Don’t know anything about this other than that. I’ll rely on the “non system” experts for their opinion. What a mess.

          1. Unna

            I might add, drawing upon ancient memories from a miscreant past, shooting at a moving object at sufficient distance might require the shooter to “lead” the target, meaning to aim ahead of where the target is when the shot is made. That’s not a pronouncement about the actual situation LHO allegedly faced of which I know nothing, but if leading was necessary, a shooter could place the rifle sights on the target perfectly every time and still miss every time. This is, of course, something a responsible hunter should never do.

  15. Wukchumni

    Ancient Earth saw a huge spike in meteor impacts. It may be ongoing. National Geographic

    There were huge meteor storms in 1833 & 1966, so i’m going with quite a show in November of 2022, in keeping with tradition of it happening on same tail end year numbers.

    The image above shows a depiction of the great Leonids meteor storm that occurred on November 13th, 1833 in which more than 72,000 meteors per hour fell to Earth, and which according to one observer caused the night sky to radiate so bright with falling stars that “people were awakened believing that their house was on fire!”

    “I think that it was in Nov. 1966, I don’t remember the exact date, but I remember that thanksgiving was coming up soon. I was 15 years old.My older brother (by three years) had rented his first apartment and wehad just come back from staying up late to finish some painting. We gotback to my parents house, perhaps two o’clock in the morning, I’m not sure of what time it was exactly. My parents home is in Endwell, New
    York…that’s upstate, near Binghamton. I remember it was very cold
    outside that evening. When we got out of the car, something caught our
    attention. When we looked up there appeared to be hundreds meteors
    coming out of one point in the sky! The number of meteors kept
    increasing until it appeared that there were literally thousands of
    meteors streaming down! (I actually thought I could hear some of them
    as well!) I can only describe it as looking like you were driving in
    your car, facing into a snow storm at night with your headlights on! We
    even woke up the neighbors across the street. They thought we were
    crazy at first, but thanked us later for disturbing them to see this
    event that was occurring in the sky. It was very high up in the sky. I
    would say that we were facing generally in a southerly direction. I
    remember the point of origin being higher than the top of telephone
    pole, which was close by. I also remember how impressed I felt by the
    overall enormity of the event. I remember thinking that it had such a
    vast looking depth and width, like the inside of an enormous cone!”

    1. Synapsid

      Wukchumni and all,

      I doubt the author of the article in National Geographic wrote the title–I saw no mention of meteor impacts in the article and that says the author understands the difference between a meteor and what makes impact craters.

      Meteor showers occur when Earth passes through what was the tail of a comet before all the volatiles departed and only the rocky parts were left. The showers are so visible because those bits are burning up (well, being destroyed by friction) in the atmosphere; rarely do any reach the surface as most are too small to survive (any that do are called meteorites not meteors).

      Mappable impact craters on Earth are made by asteroids. The Chicxulub crater in Yucatan and offshore is a large example and dates to 66 million years ago.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for those links. Have bookmarked them and will read them closely later on today. Man, that must have been a fantastic experience watching those meteors.

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      I am no numerologist but good luck in 2022. From your first link:

      The practical effect of this is therefore that once every 33 years, Earth encounters such a high-density debris trail within the broader trail, which is what happened in 1833, 1866, 1899, 1933, 1966, and 1999, with the next major storm expected to occur in 2031/2.

  16. Carolinian

    The Mexican pipeline explosion that killed 73 people.

    Apparently they knock a hole in a gasoline pipeline and the gas then spews out under pressure (“20 feet in the air”) and people become soaked in gasoline as they capture the spew in plastic bottles. Any spark can turn them into flaming torches. Survivors of the victims say poverty is the reason gas theft has become common.

    1. Wukchumni

      You still see people on horseback in some Mexican towns, as they aren’t completely divorced from ways of old and dependent on gasoline to get somewhere.

      That said, if we had profound gas shortages (what i’m reading has our 1973 & 1979 versions seem like a slight bother, in comparison) that were entirely man-made, as per this version brought on entirely by the Mexican President, i’d guess we would go crazy in desire for distillates if a handy pipeline was near by. (and most aren’t)

      Really shouldn’t have watched the video inferno, it was like that scene @ the gas station from Zoolander, but all too real.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        They should use a water cooled [hand-poured water] hand drill with a tap and seal to puncture the last few millimeters of pipe. It would make the bleed more difficult to detect, and thereby more permanent. Watchers could scout for company men and keep the local community informed.

  17. TroyMcClure

    re: Talking to the Manager

    “It is a supreme arrogance (all exists to serve me) combined with supreme impotence (all I can do to change is dependent on the belief that my dissatisfaction can, and should, move heaven and earth).”

    This is the most succinct definition of narcissism I’ve come across. As most practicing therapists will tell you, it’s untreatable. The reason, however, is that it is in fact an ideology NOT a pathology.

    My unscientific analysis puts the percentage of adult americans with this ideology at around 40% (and unevenly distributed across social class I might add.)

    1. Chris Cosmos

      It may appear that many Americans are narcissistic but is, in the main, merely skin-deep. It is a fashion. Even if you are not actually narcissistic, it is proper form to appear as if you are since our heroes and heroines clearly are. The vast majority of us are secretly altruistic at least to some degree. Social science does back me up on this.

      1. newcatty

        “Social science backs me up on this”. OK. Based on credentials , including many hours of social science academic study, not just in Psychology, and actual work as a therapist, I have another view. First, I concur that Narcissism is not a “pathology” than can be “treated” by a therapist. It is, indeed, an ideology that the narcissist has accepted as his or her identity. The narcissist rarely changed his or her behavior, because to become truly more altruistic would shatter who they believe they are. Most narcissists, no surprise
        , are some of the most unconfident people in the world. Just an amazing mind game they constantly have to play with themselves to function in the world. Unfortunately, most narcissism is not merely skin- deep. To appear arrogant or too cool for school is not narcissism. Yes, many of our heroes and heroines are true narcissists. Its actually not possible to be alturistic and narcissist. They are excellent at manipulating others. They use people with impunity. They are cleaver at sometimes appearing “human”. I recall a narcissist who absolutely adored his dogs… This same man hurt his family deeply. The family broke up and, somehow, it was all his “lazy and selfish” wife who was all to blame. Now, a question comes to mind: are there narrcicists in TPB…not just that, but is it a short trip to what could be called evil? Real altruism would be intolerable cognitive dissonance for them. Its also so easy to mistake self confidence in a person for narcissism.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          Narcissists are fundamentally fragile. To be distinguished from sociopaths, or antisocial personalities. The latter are never altruistic but they are empathic because they use their ability to “read” others to manipulate them.

          Narcissists are not as good at reading others because their constant preoccupation with shoring up self interferes. They lack empathy.

    2. djrichard

      What power do consumers have? Freedom of choice. And from what I can tell, that pretty much informs how we think about democracy: it’s consumerism transferred to the political sphere.

      I keep going back to thinking about this type of stuff in terms of relationships. Our relationships are atomized in comparison to say how potlatch or other clan-based societies worked. At best we have the nuclear family. After that, it’s our relationship to authority: factory outputs (what we consume), factory inputs (our work), and the governance that governs such. But that authority has a much richer eco-system of relationships compared to what we have. They’re a united a front. They even invite us to be disruptive, by making capitalism more effective through creative destruction.

      But they don’t invite the type of disruption that comes from movements like the Yellow Vest movement. Not even the type of disruption that comes from electing somebody like Trump. But I imagine if they have to chose one, they prefer somebody like Trump being elected. Trump keeps the masses atomized. I’m hoping the Yellow Vest movement yields something that makes them less atomized. That will make them more powerful.

      Anyways, I think Devo had it right:

      Freedom of choice
      Is what you got
      Freedom from choice
      Is what you want

      We need to update the video that Devo did to their song. Instead of showing the dog dying from freedom-of-choice, it should have shown the dog hanging with its dog clan, and when the interlocutor comes along to sell the dog on freedom-of-choice, the dog and its clan kill the interlocutor.

      1. Carey

        >But they don’t invite the type of disruption that comes from movements like the Yellow Vest movement. Not even the type of disruption that comes from electing somebody like Trump. But I imagine if they have to chose one, they prefer somebody like Trump being elected. Trump keeps the masses atomized. I’m hoping the Yellow Vest movement yields something that makes them less atomized. That will make them more powerful.

        Thank you for this part, in particular.

        Organically fighting the enforced atomization (yes, that’s clumsy; will work on it)

        1. djrichard

          Thanks Carey. I agree this is hard to not only articulate but to even envision. I’m guessing it would foster a way to reciprocate with each other to form bonds, in a way that it simply doesn’t form isolated islands but ends up connecting those islands as well. Can we do that without a clan-like context?

      1. neighbor7

        Absolutely. I’m going to buy this book. Meantime the interview is full of sharp bits like this:

        For example, the idea of “data ownership” is often championed as a solution. But what is the point of owning data that should not exist in the first place? All that does is further institutionalise and legitimate data capture. It’s like negotiating how many hours a day a seven-year-old should be allowed to work, rather than contesting the fundamental legitimacy of child labour.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Sheryl Sandberg, says Zuboff, played the role of Typhoid Mary, bringing surveillance capitalism from Google to Facebook.


      1. kurtismayfield

        Thank you Carey for the link.

        What I find surprising was the lack of mention of the smart phone. Without this tool none of what has happened would be possible. Proper laws about surveillance and privacy on these devices would be the way to sever these company’s access to data.

      2. grayslady

        Here’s a quote from her 2016 article in the English version of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

        Surveillance capitalism is a novel economic mutation bred from the clandestine coupling of the vast powers of the digital with the radical indifference and intrinsic narcissism of the financial capitalism and its neoliberal vision that have dominated commerce for at least three decades, especially in the Anglo economies. It is an unprecedented market form that roots and flourishes in lawless space. It was first discovered and consolidated at Google, then adopted by Facebook, and quickly diffused across the Internet.

        That’s about as brutal and honest as it gets.

    2. Oh

      Thank you. More people need to know their vulnerability when it comes to personal info in light of the crooked companies like Google, Facebook et al.

    3. How is it legal

      Thanks for that heads up, she’s been my favorite Technocracy critic.

      Some prelude pieces from 2014: Dark Google and Dark Facebook: Facebook’s Secret Experiment in Emotional Manipulation Provides a Fresh Glimpse of its Radical Politics and Absolutist Ambitions.

      And one could spend hours at this site Frankfurter Allgemeine – The Digital Debate there’s a meaty 2016 piece by Shoshana on Google, along with more of her pieces, and a mix of authors. I’ve always admired how, unlike the US, so many Europeans have fought back against the Technocracy since early on.

  18. Neoliberal heist

    Wolmar and driverless cars: I am truly afraid of our great political leaders that will sooner or later cave in to the money offered to them by the driverlessindustry. They will clean up the roads from pedestrians and other living beings, make it illegal to be run over by a autonomous car and make sure owners and management are not liable for deaths (like now? How many aviation managers are in carcel due to malfunctions?).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > They will clean up the roads from pedestrians and other living beings, make it illegal to be run over by a autonomous car and make sure owners and management are not liable for deaths

      This is the premise of Richard Morgan’s Market Forces (not his best; too implausible!)

    2. NIx

      We will have autonomous vehicles, and maybe even in the not too distant future; but only in places where pedestrians are not allowed (freeways and the like).

      1. Carey

        So if “we” simply don’t allow pedestrians, anywhere, “we” can have autonomous vehicles, everywhere!

        1. NIx

          Sorry, my comment didn’t come across the way I meant it. I am in no way an advocate for this.

          I think that despite all the hype, joining an autonomous convey on the freeway is the most that is likely to be achieved. Everything else is fantasy.

  19. Koldmilk

    TIME magazine has an interesting opinion piece on Facebook by Roger McNamee, a FB investor
    who was involved in its early days:

    I Mentored Mark Zuckerberg. I Loved Facebook. But I Can’t Stay Silent About What’s Happening.

    Highlights are:

    Pointing out the toxic business model: “Facebook remains a threat to
    privacy. The company’s commitment to surveillance would make an intelligence
    agency proud […]” and “The business model depends on advertising, which in
    turn depends on manipulating the attention of users so they see more ads.”

    Calling Facebook, Google and Amazon monopolies and recommending regulation
    and more: “The economy would benefit from breaking them up. A first step
    would be to prevent acquisitions, as well as cross subsidies and data
    sharing among products within each platform. I favor regulation as a way to
    reduce harmful behavior. The most effective regulations will force changes
    in business models.”

    All of this is familiar to NC readers but that this appears in TIME is
    important. I’ve spent some time recently in various medical waiting rooms
    and TIME is still a staple there. It’s also still a popular and respected
    news source for professional and middle-class acquaintances. A group who
    love social media and venerate its, and other Silicon Valley, billionaire
    CEO-stars. I hope this will make more people receptive to arguments about
    the dangers posed by these mega-companies.

  20. flaesq

    We can do better than a paper trail, an open handcount, and a closed machined result. I think we can do better but perhaps not when there are dozens of positions and referendums to vote on.

      1. Carey

        >Not if Bernie is running against him. Anybody else, yes.

        Maybe I’m too cynical, but I have a hard time believing that
        Sanders will be allowed into that position, and right now,
        think that the PTB almost welcome the backlash from same.

        Action for the Common Good

        weeds ants everywhere

    1. Geo

      If the media continues to “help” them by proving the “Fake News” claims of the Trump administration correct I totally agree. At this point they’re making the Gingrich/Ken Star era look relatively sincere and sane. At least that media circus wasn’t trying to start WW3. The Dems seemed to learn the wrong message from that “vast rightwing conspiracy”.

  21. Craig H.

    > Young, Angry and ‘Untouchable’

    This is an interesting article but this figure caption is really weird:

    In January 2018, violent protests erupted in several parts of Mumbai and Thane as Dalits clashed with Hindu nationalists.

    Those are not riot police in that photograph. Could be the most peaceful looking crowd photographed any where, ever.

  22. Craig H.

    > can you marie kondo when you’re poor?

    Marie Kondo’s Shintoism

    Includes a tweet of a chan post and a meme with Pepe and an NPC in the comments so it’s totally over my head but I still thought it was pretty funny. What is the word for finding it humorous even though you don’t get it? Like you say a joke out loud and your dog looks like it’s laughing?

  23. Ape

    “But the place where Glickman’s argument really exposes its faulty premise is where he provides some concrete examples of the kinds of policies good, New Deal Democrats support, in alleged contrast the the weak-tea neoliberalism of the recent past. ”

    So is Chait so ignorant that he thinks that neoliberalism is a variety of midcentury liberalism rather than 19th century liberalism

    Or is he so dishonest that he’s preying on the ignorance of his readers?

    1. Monty

      Whether the journalists like Chait are wicked, or merely stupid, is one of the most difficult questions of our time, and at certain moments a very important question.

    2. Carey

      I was actually a little encouraged by Chait’s article, because it seemed so half-hearted.
      He has to say something- that’s why he gets the big bucks- and to go through the motions
      as he did in this hand-waving piece, while also internalizing the People’s position as well
      as he obviously did here, seems like a small, good thing.

      One POV.

  24. oliverks

    I think the driverless cars article is weak and poorly argued.

    The main argument is the predictions of driverless cars have been way to optimistic, and hence driverless cars are never going to happen.

    The progress in driverless cars has actually been incredible. Now I know the hype, as is usually the case, has been over the top. It is also wildly inaccurate (for example $200bn in funding is clearly bogus), but let’s look back a bit and see where we were, and where we have come.

    The first break through has got to be the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge. Even the 2004 Grand Challenge had stunned the world with how much better the contestants did than the military industrial complex had done with billions in funding.

    Now we had technology that allowed cars to drive difficult routes in an autonomous way. It was a huge step forward.

    Since then we have seen a slew of progress. Image recognition has now reach human level ability. Sensor fusion has moved forward to create more complete understanding of the world. Sensors themselves, from Vision, IR, and LIDAR have been cost reduced.

    So given all this, why don’t we have more driverless cars. Well the problem is AI is rather an idiot savant. It can be spectacular in a few narrow areas, but totally helpless in other areas. But the progress being made in AI is really incredible. Every year major insights and breakthroughs are happening. For example, Natural Language Processing had a big 2018. Perhaps language is not so helpful for cars, but these things tend to spill over into new exciting areas.

    Instead of thinking of self driving cars, think about self checking cars. In a self checking car, the driver may be required to override a safety check from the car. It could be the car sees a deer on a dark road and slows warning the driver. The driver then has to engage an override if they think the car is wrong, or they see how to navigate the danger. This level of technology is ready. From a legal, ethical, and customer point of view this type of technology is much more acceptable. It also starts building the type of datasets that will be needed to build truly autonomous cars. 5-10 years of data of people avoiding problems would be huge!

    Here is the point. 20-30 years is a very long time for AI research. There will be massive breakthroughs to what AI can achieve during that time frame. To pretend we have reached some plateau in AI is just as ludicrous as the hype AI had in the first place. This article might be seeing the start of the decent into the valley of despair when the hype gives way to defeatism. Regardless, AI will march forward over the next 30 years. Will we have level 4 or level 5 cars by 2050? That I don’t know, perhaps there will be some human property we can’t overcome, but what I do know is the AI in your car will be very different in 2050.

    1. notabanker

      I think the article bordered on rant and had a lot of opinion in it. My biggest takeway from it though, was spending $80-200B on the technology. First, in the midst of $17 trillion in money being created it’s almost a trivial amount of investment. Second, the alternatives that public money could invest in never even gets consideration. The real here and now returns could be massive, far greater than ‘probably someday AI will make this feasible and just think about the potential.’ Especially when the climate change clock is ticking.

    2. bob

      This is just a giant load of hopium. Lets go ahead and parse some of this out-

      ” Image recognition has now reach human level ability. ”

      Tesla, which has the only large scale testing program (their cars) can’t see firetrucks, tractor trailers and lane medians. All of those instances didn’t result in a “mistake”, they killed people.

      “So given all this, why don’t we have more driverless cars”

      Because they suck. They kill people doing things that humans do everyday without killing people.

      “Instead of thinking of self driving cars, think about self checking cars. In a self checking car, the driver may be required to override a safety check from the car. It could be the car sees a deer on a dark road and slows warning the driver.”

      Sounds like insurance speak. Why would a car slamming on the breaks in the middle of the road in the middle of the night cause a problem? Your insurance doesn’t cover that because you didn’t correct it.

      “But but but…cars will be networked!”

      Lets just go ahead and let cars that can’t drive themselves without killing people network themselves together to kill more people. It’s the old law of Crazy eddy. “We loose people on every ride, but we make it up in volume!”

      “This level of technology is ready. From a legal, ethical, and customer point of view this type of technology is much more acceptable.”

      Acceptable to who? Are we using the royal we? Ethics! Holy shit! Don’t speak those words too loud.

      “Regardless, AI will march forward over the next 30 years. ”

      Why? What property of “AI” requires that it marches forward? Isn’t this the straight line fallacy? Lemme guess, the dorks in silicon valley have “proved” that doesn’t apply anymore. All graphs go straight up, lower left to upper right. It’s called the law of the bagholder.

      1. Carey

        Thank you for this! All well said. One consequence of the “autonomous car” shtick
        is *limiting the autonomy* of the citizenry, and perhaps that’s the main, intended one.

        Action for the Common Good

      2. oliverks

        I will try and respond in detail.

        Tesla, which has the only large scale testing program (their cars) can’t see firetrucks, tractor trailers and lane medians. All of those instances didn’t result in a “mistake”, they killed people.

        We don’t know exactly what failures happened in the Tesla AI. I stated image recognition is now very good, and there are a number of publications over 2018 that showed good results on ImageNet and other classification tasks in comparison to humans. There is even more work to be done in this area, but the basic building blocks are emerging. I should also note most of these results do use more processing power than might be available on a Tesla.

        Being able to identify an object is only a small part of the battle. We have AI that can dominate humans at playing chess, but we struggle to make a robot that can walk up, shake your hand, sit down and move the pieces.

        In no way do I want to trivialize the difficulties in getting self driving cars working. There are real challenges.

        Sounds like insurance speak. Why would a car slamming on the breaks in the middle of the road in the middle of the night cause a problem? Your insurance doesn’t cover that because you didn’t correct it.

        No this a practical way of designing cars. Safety systems have been improving for years, and this is a logical way to move forward. Cars don’t need to slam on their brakes as the only way to warn drivers (although some European models now do).

        Interestingly there has been more resistance to this technology in the USA than Europe. Mercedes and Volvo have genuine targets to try and make cars than never kill anyone. There are in fact mass market models sold in the UK where this statement is true! Obviously cars can kill indirectly via pollution or global warming, but the bottom line is tech is getting better at making cars safer for occupants and pedestrians. I for one hope this trend continues, and this is a good place to apply AI. You will see more of it turn up in cars.

        But but but…cars will be networked!

        I don’t think I ever mentioned anything about cars being networked, so I will ignore this comment.

        Acceptable to who? Are we using the royal we? Ethics! Holy shit! Don’t speak those words too loud.

        People have demonstrated more comfort, if they are in control of the situation. With driver aids, the responsibility still lies with the driver, and they are still actively driving the car. This fits with the legal frameworks we now have in place, whether you agree with those frameworks or not. Now, if there is a defect in the design, then the car company must ultimately be held responsible. I am in no way trying to shift the blame of design faults to drivers.

        Why? What property of “AI” requires that it marches forward? Isn’t this the straight line fallacy? Lemme guess, the dorks in silicon valley have “proved” that doesn’t apply anymore. All graphs go straight up, lower left to upper right. It’s called the law of the bagholder.

        I think in my post I go to some effort to say it will probably not move in a straight line. That was the reason for talking about Natural Language Processing being very active in 2018, because a number of new ideas came about that really helped this area.

        In area as nascent as AI, there are many new and important ideas that will develop over the next 20-30 years that will reshape our understanding of AI. This is an area of research that doesn’t feel exhausted. Rather it feels like opportunities are opening up. I can’t tell you what these ideas are going to be, or when and where they will occur, but occur they will whether you want them to or not.

        1. Carey

          “…but occur they will whether you want them to or not.”

          And that’s the important thing: “Progress!” “Moving Forward!”

          As the biosphere, on which *we all depend*, wilts and withers

  25. Gordon Pasha

    That article is too harsh on Mountbatten. Here’s Wikipedia’s take: “his record is seen as very mixed; one common view is that he hastened the independence process unduly and recklessly, foreseeing vast disruption and loss of life and not wanting this to occur on the British watch, but thereby actually helping it to occur, especially in Punjab and Bengal.”

  26. David Carl Grimes

    I was wondering if anyone on NC watched Benedict Cumberbatch’s HBO Movie “Brexit.” If you did, did you like it?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I don’t intend to watch it, but I imagine the usual Sorkinisms are there. Hand wringing about the left, mansplaining, explaining obvious jokes, repeating basic stuff as if it was delivered from (insert deity or deities of choice) herself, making this point painfully obvious to reinforce how deep the characters are when no one speaks like that in public, including vile behavior as fun an hip (Rob Lowe’s character was such a sexual dynamo in The West Wing the escort paid him while she was working on her marine biology degree, so you feel good about the situation), and a conservative character lamenting the way his party lost its way from when they were very serious during the good old days when people could sit down at dinner with Conservative Democrats from the South after fiercely debating all day. The days Joe Biden pines for. And voters are idiots who are manipulated by carefully crafted ads.

      This is about the UK, so I imagine colonial paternalism will be the good old days. Add some music and presto, prestige tv!

  27. Richard

    Headed outside to see if I can see a blood red moon!
    Too soon. The moon looks weird though, bigger and blobby, like it is on a stage.

  28. allan

    Boeing overhauls quality controls: more high-tech tracking but fewer inspectors [Seattle Times]

    Boeing has begun a sweeping transformation of its quality system, including the use of “smart” tools and automation. It will also eliminate thousands of quality checks as no longer necessary. Boeing has told the union it will cut about 450 quality inspector positions this year and potentially a similar number next year. …

    At the December union meeting, several inspectors spoke of being pressed by managers not to write up nonconforming parts or to write “pickups” for rejected parts. Instead they were urged to have defects fixed, without a record.

    A violation of manufacturing procedures documented by the FAA last month offers evidence of that practice.

    FAA investigators substantiated a complaint by a whistleblower working at Boeing’s Electrical Systems center inside the Everett plant. They found that quality inspectors had issued final acceptances on some wire bundles, although afterward Boeing employees reworked the wiring to fix defects, without writing a record of the work.

    The FAA also noted that an earlier complaint alleging similar violations was also substantiated. …


    1. RMO

      This is not good… I’ve long been afraid that the corporate culture would change enough at Boeing for it to go down this road.

      Fortunately for me the vast majority of my airtime is in a 1972 Schleicher ASW-15B and instructing in the gliding club’s two seat trainers. Don’t have to worry about engine failure (at least after the four minute tow) and I wear a parachute.

      1. Carey

        That must be wonderful! I went up in a sailplane only once, in a two seater
        Schweizer (?) with a glide ratio less than half the one mentioned, and just
        loved it, loved it. Didn’t live in a place congenial to the sport, so started
        sailing instead, which was/is a fair good substitute. Still hope to silently
        fly again, though.

  29. BoyDownTheLane

    I am simply baffled by how it is that what has been described by its facilitators as the greatest commentariat on the Internet is still quibbling 50+ years later about the physics of a head shot after Vincent Calandria said within days that any nincompoop could see that unknown parties had gotten away with a blatant act of regicide in broad daylight in a city square that had been somberly announced by an ex-military intelligence operative who had gravitated upwards to become the trustworthy Uncle Walter, and that the brain that was inside the head in question (critical evidence in a murder case) was still missing those 50+ years later.

    Someone mentioned the tepid and tainted book by Bugliosi, prosecutor of Manson, but how many here have read the four or more books written by Peter Levenda, the first of the trilogy directly detailing Manson? I’ll “see” that pile of Bugliosi nonsense with the Simon And Schuster study edition, featuring questions and answers, of James Douglass’ unimpeachable nbook “JFK & The Unspeakable”; be sure to get to the very last page when he says “… I believe that what is written here about the assassination is only a tiny, visible piece of a systemic evil that continues to reach into the depths of our world….”.

    And then I’ll “raise” that Bugliiosi nonsense with what is disclosed in the fifth essay of George Michael Evica’s book “A Certain Arrogance” (introduction by Charles Robert Drago) about C. D. Jackson’s actions and role at the Luce media empire’s Time magazine, all of which can be verified with a little time and a well-chosen search engine. Jackson was, in addition to being a key founder of the Bilderberger phenomenon, an active media psy-operartive working for Eisenhower during and after World War Two, involved in Operation Gladio, and involved intimately in the manipulation of the Zapruder film that paralleled the manipulation of the victim’s body and brain.

    The commentariat should also explore the book “Mary’s Mosaic” (recently in its third edition) documenting much of the behind-the-scenes manipulation by the daughter of a Skull and Bones senior member, an Israeli named Freedman, and of course the very-behind-the-scenes and just-around-the-corner actions of a very top-level CIA functionary who also created the Mossad and ran the CIA’s liaison to the Zionists starting way back when he served for the OSS in Italy. His middle name was Jesus.

    A commentariat who want to be actively involved in debating things like JFK, RFK, MLK and 9/11 had better have done its homework.

    1. Yves Smith

      This is an assignment, which is against our written site Policies, and your comment is also what Lambert calls a reader assisted suicide note, which I am only too happy to oblige.

Comments are closed.