Links 2/19/19

Amazing Winners of the 2018 International Landscape Photographer of the Year Contest MyModernMet (David L)

Bruno Ganz: always poetic and inspired, from Hitler’s bunker rant to a Berlin angel Guardian (J-LS)

In France, the Force is strong with lightsaber dueling Associated Press (David L)

Twilight of the sundials: Archaic timepiece dying out and millennials are to blame, reckons boffin The Register (Chuck L)

Toxic black snow covers streets in Siberia – video Guardian

‘No, You Can’t Ignore Email. It’s Rude.’ New York Times. Bullshit. Tons of people write that I don’t know and don’t deserve a response. And some of those jerks get insistent and e-mail multiple times.

Grand Canyon tourists exposed for years to radiation in museum building, safety manager says Arizona Central (Chuck L)

Gaslighting the climate-striking students Julia Steinberger, Medium (martha r)

The weird rise of cyber funerals Wired

Landmark research creates “universal” stem cells using CRISPR gene editing New Atlas (David L)

China?

Huawei’s Efforts To Steal Apple Trade Secrets Include Employee Bonus Program and Other Dubious Tactics: Report MacRumors

US elites remain incapable of understanding China Asia Times (Chuck L)

The US cannot crush us, says Huawei founder BBC

India

Pulwama Fallout: From Social Media to the Streets, Calls for Revenge Feed Political Agenda The Wire

India, the World’s Second Largest Internet Market, Is Turning Its Back on Silicon Valley VentureBeat

Hit drama captures Seoul’s savage school wars Asia Times (Kevin W)

Australia’s Major Political Parties Targeted by ‘Sophisticated State Actor’, Prime Minister Says Guardian

Ericsson chief warns on Europe’s 5G delay Financial Times

Brexit

The plan to avert banking chaos in a no-deal Brexit: QuickTake Bloomberg (Ignacio)

Remainer Cabinet ministers tell Theresa May to stop using the threat of No Deal as a negotiating tactic Guardian. Not even a wet noodle lashing, More like wet noodle waving. Philip Hammond resigning would be a real threat; not sure other Cabinet resignations would make much difference if May can fill the open slots.

Ireland rejects calls for ‘keyhole surgery’ on Brexit deal Telegraph. Note the UK press has reports on a meeting between Geoffrey Cox and Michel Barnier that seem unduly optimistic.

Jean-Claude Juncker: Brexit delay beyond EU election is possible Politico. Note that every insider who has spoken to the press (and the conversations have been with top reporters on this beat, so they presumably know their sources well) before has said having the British actually seated is a big problem. Juncker sometimes freelances, and so I’d like to see Barnier or Tusk say something similar before I’d bank on it. And even so, any extension requires a unanimous vote. Given the great antipathy to having the UK continue to be represented in the European Parliament with a live Article 50 notice, I would anticipate any extension into the new term, which starts in early July, would come only if the UK made a concession (Gibraltar? Fisheries?) which would make it a non-starter.

Too Little, Too Late? Contingency Planning for UK Nationals in Case of a No-Deal Brexit Migration Policy (Ignacio)

EU citizens in the UK and a no-deal Brexit – what remains unclear The Conversation (Ignacio)

EU Citizens in UK after Brexit: Deal or No Deal Scenarios David Morris (Igancio)

Honda factory closure could put 13,500 people out of work The Times

Venezuela

Donald Trump to Venezuela’s military: ‘accept amnesty or lose everything’ DW

Syraqistan

Future rabbis plant with Palestinians, sow rift with Israel Associated Press (David L)

Summit cancelled as Israel and Poland row over Holocaust Guardian (Kevin W)

Congress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support The Hill

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Facebook Has Behaved Like ‘Digital Gangsters,’ U.K. Parliament Report Says NPR (Kevin W)

Facebook security app used to ‘spy’ on competitors BBC (David L)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Pence: ‘We will not stand idly by’ as Turkey purchases S-400 Military Times (Kevin W)

Today’s Rift with Europe Echoes the Iraq War Debate American Conservative (resilc)

The US Air Force Has Won Control of the Space Force Defense One (resilc)

Trump Transition

States File Suit Against Trump Administration Over Wall Emergency Wall Street Journal.
Here is a copy of the suit, but not the filed version.

California Leads 16 States Suing to Block Trump Border Plan Bloomberg

There is no national emergency at the border other than the ones Trump created. Slate (resilc)

How Mitch McConnell Enables Trump New York Times (resilc)

What’s next: A bigger spending battle Axios. Resilc: “Until the Demos cut social security when they win next.”

Obama set for role with new African basketball league backed by NBA Independent. Resilc: “Never a thing for the USA USA black community, no voter drives. Just me me me.”

2020

No Joe! Andrew Cockburn, Harper’s

The First Rule of AIPAC Is: You Do Not Talk about AIPAC Counterpunch (resilc)

California’s black market for pot is stifling legal sales. Now the governor wants to step up enforcement Los Angeles Times (resilc)

Fake News

An AI that writes convincing prose risks mass-producing fake news MIT Technology Review (resilc)

YouTube To Blame For Rise in Flat Earth Believers, Says Study CNet

What Happened When I Bought a House With Solar Panels Bloomberg

The era of the all-powerful tech CEO has only just begun, even though Facebook and Snap show why that’s a bad thing Business Insider (Kevin W)

Amazon caught selling counterfeits of publisher’s computer books—again Quartz (Dan K)

When Queens Was Lame New York Times (furzy)

Class Warfare

BREAKING: West Virginia Teachers Strike Again Jacobin (martha r)

Why the “Self-Made” Success Story Is a Myth — How Parents Help Children with Money Bazaar

A DIFFERENT WORLD: NEW ORLEANS’ HEALTH CARE NIGHTMARE and the DSA’s PLAN TO END IT AntiGravity (martha r)

Antidote du jour. Crittermom: “I have read that cats can’t smile. My cat Shredder begs to differ…”

And a bonus (martha r):

See yesterdays Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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324 comments

    1. DJG

      Isotope: I am already seeing rumblings on Facebook of the Clintonian revenge fantasies. As Lambert keeps reminding us, the Clintonian class has long memories. Not much else, but long memories and no compunctions about in-fighting, because, as we all know, control of the Democratic Party is more important than wielding power.

      It is going to be clarifying to watch the Usual Democrats trying to undermine Bernie Sanders. Which will also mean trying to undermine Medicare for All / Enhanced and the Green New Deal.

      I’m wondering how many of the current candidates are in fact running for vice president.

      And, yes, it is going to be hard to run on doobie-smoking relatives, Midwestern Nice with jell-o molds, and irrepressible Joe.

      Bernie has a political program. The rest of them have entourages.

      Reply
      1. Isotope_C14

        Well said.

        The Dem establishment gets paid regardless of the President, they probably make more when Trump is in office, but they don’t make as much as getting a cabinet position/lobbyist revolving door gig. I guess they have to suffer with first class plane tickets instead of private jets another 4 years. How sad I feel for the Neera Tandens of the world.

        Looks like Twitter is going to clamp-down on “political advertising” in March. What could go wrong?

        https://sputniknews.com/science/201902191072562758-twitter-eu-india-australia/?utm_source=short_direct&utm_medium=short_url&utm_content=kJWd&utm_campaign=URL_shortening

        I donated $27 to the Bern just to make it so they have to cheat Sanders again. Plus I want to see how much he gets in the first 24 hours and be a part of that. I’m not rich either, otherwise it would be more.

        Wikileaks shows an interesting tweet that they are blocking the donation leak as an un-trusted site. They sure are coming out in full force, day one to prevent the Sandernistas.

        Reply
        1. Parker Dooley

          $27 is my default contribution to any candidate I like. I have been donating $27 monthly to Sanders since he first ran. Wish I could give $2700.

          Reply
          1. Isotope_C14

            That is fantastic, if I had more cash, I might do more. If you want:

            https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/2/19/1835869/-Daily-Kos-Democratic-Presidential-Primary-Straw-Poll-February-19

            For desktop/laptop only, perhaps we should explain to Daily Kos that Bernie will beat Kamala. Lovely straw-poll results now. Surprising numbers considering how popular Biden is! Hahaha.

            I don’t normally suggest voting in a poll, but sticking it to the folks at Daily Kos, after the roses were delivered to Pelosi, is a worthy endeavor.

            Plus I love seeing poll results. I wonder if they are going to shut it down when Bernie is beating Kamala 2:1?

            Reply
      2. Oh

        I wonder if you could say that the others have (corporate) appendages.

        Kamala is so greedy that she wants to be in the WH even though she has been in the Senate for hardly one term.

        Reply
    2. Big River Bandido

      I read two paragraphs of Time Magazine’s “article” on Sanders’ announcement. I had to stop after that, it was making me more stupid with each word.

      Reply
        1. UserFriendly

          And his first interview where he makes a minor flub in the first 30 seconds. “A million people from each state.” 6 states don’t even have a million people, VT being one of them. I also don’t quite expect him to win over the 600k in Wyoming.

          Reply
          1. pretzelattack

            he talks about a grass roots movement of 1 million people. he didn’t say there would be 50 million, a million from each state. he said the movement would comprise at least 1 million people, from every state in the union.

            Reply
      1. Isotope_C14

        Lol, according to twitter, Bernie raised more in 4 hours than Kamala did in a day.

        Oh this is going to make Neera explode.

        I guess they are going to have to get Tom Perez, to say Bernie is not “a democrat in good standing”. Can’t wait for them to re-elect Trump.

        Reply
    3. Arizona Slim

      Could this be why I’ve been getting a spate of out-of-state calls from people who don’t leave messages? I suspect that the Bernie phonebank is already up and running.

      Reply
        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          I got two texts from the Organizing for Bernie peeps. One from the head honcha Ceci and the other from Stephanie the regional coordinator.

          Lets get Organized, NC FAM!

          Go to OrganizingforBernie.com and create an event!

          Reply
    4. Jeff W

      From Common Dreams “Bernie Sanders Raises Over $3.3 Million From 120,000 Small Donors in Just 10 Hours” here:

      …the Sanders campaign has now raised more money in less than half a day than the campaigns of Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar raised during their first 24 hours – combined.

      The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capeheart, reacting to earlier reports that the campaign had raised over $1 million since the 7:00 AM launch, said that Sanders’ morning fundraising haul was “pretty damn good.”

      Reply
  1. Another Scott

    I really, really don’t want to defend Trump and the stupid boarder wall, but I the outrage and lawsuits filed by liberals to be incredibly annoying. Over the past 70 years, we have had president after president (ab)use executive powers to invade basically where ever they want, even when the country posed no threat to the United States. Did they do anything to stop them? Sometimes there were protests, but were states lining up to sue Obama after his invasion of Libya and Syria in spite of the War Powers Act? Did they care about the cost of these? Not as far as I can tell. But they’re willing to do this over an $8 billion wall that won’t do much of anything.

    I want to reduce the power of the executive and restore the balance of power between the branches, but is that what the Democrats really want or do they only care about stopping Trump? Will they just use the same powers once their in office to advance their own agenda? I think we all know the answers.

    Reply
    1. lyman alpha blob

      It’s even more annoying because of the blatant hypocrisy involved.

      Obama, Schumer, Clinton and 20+ other Democrat Senators all voted to build a border fence back in 2006 and 700 miles has been built at a cost of a few billion so far.

      Perhaps a “fence” is more acceptable to the Democrat party than a wall because the informal 3rd definition reminds them of all the grifting they just gotta do.

      Reply
      1. Oh

        IIRC, there was several billion $$$$$$ spent on an electronic fence, a big gift to Boeing and there’s nothing to show for all the nucks spent. Virtual fence.

        Reply
    2. Cynthia

      The same thought crossed my mind as well, Scott. Dems never complained when Obama used his executive powers to illegal prop up ObamaCare, to illegal wage war on sovereign nations or to illegal spy on Americans — and even have them assassinated if deemed a threat to Western hegemony. They only complain when Republican presidents do such illegal, unconstitutional things.

      Then again, dems hardly ever complained about how unconstitutional Bush’s executive actions were, much less how they violated international law. Actually, they only complain about such things when it involves a president who is an outsider, who is not part of the establishment. Even though Trump is not a complete outsider, he is enough of one to get the establishment uniparty and the establishment unipress to unconditional attack him on everything he says and does.

      Even a leftist version of Trump would suffer the same unconditional attacks from the uniparty/ unipress here in the USofA. The attacks on an outsider leftist President might start from the Republican side the uniparty/unipress, but the Democratic uniparty/unipress members will follow suite, or at least turn a big blind eye to these attacks.

      Reply
    3. MLS

      Go easy on yourself, you’re not even close to defending Trump. You’re just calling out the behavior from the states that you don’t like (and with good reason). Don’t conflate the criticism of one with the defense of another.

      Reply
    4. davidgmillsatty

      Seems like the Pentagon has reduced the power of the President. When Trump announced we were leaving Syria, the Pentagon let him know who was boss.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        That’s not what I’m seeing at blogs like Moon of Alabama and Sic Semper Tyrranis. His National Security Council and his Secretary of State are in a state of mutiny, it’s true, but apparently the Pentagon is following his orders (as required by law and their oaths). They have had to bring in troops from Iraq to help with packing stuff up and preparing vehicles for shipment (my brother-in-law was a depot-level mechanic, so I learned something about that in Vietnam). This should be expected. If, six months from now there are still more than two thousand American troops in Al Tanf, then I’ll agree with you. Otherwise what I hear/read is that they plan to relocate to an uninhabited area in Iraq astride the Syria-Iraq-Iran highway. The Iraqi Parliament is considering legislation to require all U.S. forces to leave Iraq. That’ll be interesting. Mattis resigning was a good thing (I believe his civilian pension had vested, and he was already retired from the Marines, so he’s got a nice income for life).

        Reply
    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      On the other hand, if the suitbringers win their suits it may turn out that the same Court reasoning which forbids (President) Trump from getting to keep his Emergency Declaration would stand ready to use to stop the next President (Democrat) from getting to have an Emergency Declaration either.

      Reply
    6. Procopius

      Minor quibble: Technically, Obama did not “invade” Libya. He bombed the shit out of the country and provided close air support Al Qaeda (the moderate rebels), but as far as we know he did not send any Special Operations troops in to actually lead the jihadists, as he seems to have done in Syria. I’m pretty sure the CIA did, but no way to prove it and they would have been in-house knuckledraggers (technical term for CIA paramilitary operators), not soldiers.

      Reply
  2. Livius Drusus

    Re: Why the “Self-Made” Success Story Is a Myth — How Parents Help Children with Money

    I don’t mind people getting help from their parents, even when it is rich young people getting help when they really don’t need it since they already have so many advantages in life. Almost everyone tries to help their kids including working-class people. The only difference is the size of the advantage.

    I normally don’t like resorting to naturalistic arguments but the urge to help your offspring succeed is probably deeply ingrained in human nature so we likely cannot eliminate it without instituting some form of totalitarianism.

    Instead we should be more honest about the help that people get from their parents, other family members and friends since it would do a lot to dispel the myth of the self-made success story. If we did that perhaps there would be more support for reducing inequality through means other than just equality of opportunity, which is the neoliberal framing of the problem.

    Reply
    1. russell1200

      There are self made people, it’s just not normal.

      At the point that parents don’t help their children, what type of society do you have?

      Too much easy access to borrowed money and policies that pushed down wages of service providers seem like to of the major culprits in the equation.

      Reply
      1. Mark Gisleson

        Cronyism. One set of kids doesn’t just have access to money, they have introductions to just about everyone they need to meet.

        Connections and networks are everything, and that’s a system that locks out all the outsiders.

        Even back during the Vietnam War, my family’s lack of military history and political connections kept me from serving (during a period of record setting draft evasion) because despite my life-long interest in military service, I had no idea I could overrule a doctor and get an eyesight waiver just by writing a letter to my Congressman (Chuck Grassley’s predecessor).

        That kind of thing may seem obvious to most here, but this farm kid had no idea how things really worked. Neither do most poor kids. The current system is gamed far more thoroughly than the affluent realize. Not that they wouldn’t shove their kids to the head of the line anyways. That’s being a parent. And some parents have more of what it takes (money, connections).

        Reply
        1. Henry Moon Pie

          “Even back during the Vietnam War, my family’s lack of military history and political connections kept me from serving”

          You might be the first person I’ve ever heard complain about that particular problem. Most were scurrying to use whatever connections they had to stay out of the military in those days. One example: prior to heading off to a college, my college’s local alumni club invited the incoming freshmen to a pool party prior to our departing for school in the early 70s. They told us that if we ran into issues with the draft–the college deferment was gone by then–we should let them know. They had connections to get us into a reserve unit where, they claimed, all we would have to do is sit around another pool while some general gave a lecture on Chinese military strategy.

          I wound up with a lottery number in the 330s, so I was fortunate not to face tougher choices, but like Ali, I had no quarrel whatsoever with the Viet Cong and would not have gone through induction.

          Reply
          1. Oregoncharles

            When I went through my draft physical (1-Y, doctor’s letter, exercise of privilege – to get out), a kid next to me at the end was very upset that they wouldn’t take him. I think it wasn’t all that rare.

            A guy I knew, a well-known activist, in there the same day, was given a 4-F and an armed guard because he essentially made stagey, pointed threats, some of them not suitable for a family blog. Strong as an ox. No, they didn’t want trouble. Under that, it was never meant to be “universal,” that would have been too many and too expensive. So they were looking for excuses.

            Reply
          2. Mark Gisleson

            I was being deliberately provocative. Months later I was participating in anti-war protests. Sitting on the benches at Fort Des Moines was very eye-opening for me. I couldn’t help but notice that almost everyone there but me wasn’t there by choice.

            I put the military on hold and then got 347 in the lottery.

            And now I can drive without glasses (but am too old to draft). Some of us are just lucky.

            Reply
          3. Procopius

            “Even back during the Vietnam War, my family’s lack of military history and political connections kept me from serving”

            Sounds like a person who wanted to “serve” as an officer, not an enlisted person. For the majority who have never paid much attention, about 75% of soldiers never see combat. They are clerks, cooks, mechanics, other necessary support tasks. There was a laundry and shower company in Mannheim when I was stationed there ’79-82. Seriously, if you were in garrison you could take your dirty laundry to the supply room and a week later get them back, perfectly starched (for the things that were supposed to be starched) and sparkling clean.

            Reply
        2. Robert Valiant

          I don’t think all parents shove their kids to the head of the line, not even all good parents. I didn’t. My kids are fine, and pretty unconcerned about status and materialism. Maybe I had something to do with it. Who knows.

          Reply
        3. BobW

          I went to a Lutheran Jr College from 1969-1971. It gave everyone a 4D (clergy) deferment, regardless of major. When lottery numbers came out mine was high as well. As far as I know no student deferred were ever drafted, anyway.

          Reply
      2. kevin

        I think the point is that reasonable people will have different views as to what it takes to be “self made”… to the point the word has no meaning. I’d argue being born in a first world country precludes you from being “self made”, and yet some people argue that Donald Trump or Kylie Jenner are “self made”. Neither group is wrong, but they’re not even having the same conversation when talking about “self made”

        Reply
        1. Monty

          Did I see a stat here recently that there are 3500 tonnes of public infrastructure for every US citizen. A very firm foundation to base a self-made fantasy on.

          Personal responsibility for success only really exists if events, causes and effects work like a billiard game. From a stationary vantage, the player has endless opportunities, knows the ones that lead to the best outcomes, then executes the choice with skill.

          That’s not how i see it working at all. I sees a continuous process afoot, one which we are being moved by and cannot pause. Our will, ability and opportunities are the result of an infinitely complex causal chain that stretches back to the dawn of time. The vast majority of the inputs toward success are completely out of our control and date from before our birth.

          Pretending otherwise is just propaganda to ease the conscience of the lucky ones.

          Reply
        2. Jessica

          Donald Trump’s father was a real estate tycoon in New York City, nasty and racist enough for Woody Guthrie to have written a song about him. No way, under any definition of “self-made” that Donald Trump is.

          Reply
        3. wilroncanada

          One advantage of being self-made, perhaps is: it is damn difficult to do a recall, no matter the defect. Lack of recognition.

          Reply
        4. davidgmillsatty

          My definition of being self made means having a successful business without incorporating; i.e., being willing to accept all liability personally. That is genuine personal responsibility.

          Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      Yeah, I’m glad this discussion is open now – the truth is that peoples life cycle is hugely influenced by parental/family help, both indirect (schooling), and in providing seed capital for mortgages or businesses. Its impossible to exaggerate just what a difference it can make to people having even a fairly small sum available at crucial parts of your life to get that seed capital to get yourself off the ground.

      Reply
      1. jsn

        Or even just the intellectual capital that results from parents comment to education. That has been my main inheritance and even without monetary backing (super lucky with the quality of central TX public education in 60s & 70s) it has opened worlds to me less fortunate school mates (parents less focused on ed) never got.

        Reply
            1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

              I got lucky with a Classics Professor Granda who would read Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh, etc.

              Ill do the same when i have a kid.

              Reply
              1. ChiGal in Carolina

                Some of my fondest memories are of reading Milne’s poems to my son–astonishingly lyrical about the natural world and burbling with laughter at human foibles.

                Reply
            2. eg

              Grateful that Mom read to me; upon reflection, less so given some of the material — “Little Black Sambo” cannot be unread …

              Reply
              1. LifelongLib

                As a young child I admired Little Black Sambo. I thought he was this really brave kid who outwitted these fierce tigers. I completely missed the racial context and suspect a lot of other children did too.

                Reply
          1. Todde

            I always loved to read. I dont think anyone read to me as a child.

            My mother grew up during the Great Depression, and went to work in the 5th grade, never graduating another class.

            I was taught how to self educate.

            Reply
            1. ChiGal in Carolina

              Nice, seems you’ve overcome plenty in your life even if you couldn’t wipe your own ass when you were born ;-)

              Reply
            2. Harold

              My grandmother, a former schoolteacher — she was the only one of her family that attended college (Hunter Normal School), used to recite the children’s poetry of Eugene Field and Walter de la Mare as we made the bed together, along with snatches of Longfellow and Shakespeare, and even Goethe at odd moments. I loved those old poems, the dear little doll , the most beautiful doll in the world, that was left out in the rain … .

              Reply
          2. ambrit

            Dad read to me before bedtime every night. Phyl and I did so and passed that ‘habit’ on down to our children. One of the daughters went the extra step further and read to the babies before they were born. She also did the “playing Mozart and Bach” to the unborn route. She swears that talking to and reading to the baby had the effect of calming it down whenever it would start squirming about in the womb. Any other mothers here have similar experiences? (I’m a male and so “pregnancy challenged.”)

            Reply
            1. Oregoncharles

              I can vouch that they hear and respond to music in the womb. (Pregnancy challenged, but it becomes pretty visible.) As in keeping the beat.

              The mother’s voice (and heartbeat) must be very loud in there, so it would have quite an influence. But I suspect that calming her down might be the main effect of “reading to” – babies respond very strongly to that.

              Reply
            2. Amfortas the hippie

              I read to both boys starting at the second trimester. walt whitman, idylls of the king, percy shelley.
              I worry sometimes whether the effects of my parenting methods(socratic dialog starting when they could speak, etc) have been undone, to some degree, by tv and iphones and frelling sports.
              I lobbied hard against these things from the get-go…but lost,lol.
              overruled by the rest of the family(and the civilisation, itself)…so the boys wouldn’t be “deprived”.(sigh)
              caving in to stepdad getting us direct tv is one of my few big regrets.
              the effects I notice are things like attention span…especially with the damned phones.
              but as a palliative to me, we have tv-free days, and I sometimes walk by the router out on the fencepost and accidentally turn it off,lol.
              and they both seem to enjoy our work days—firewood, garden, building the house, etc–where we get to have uninterrupted dialog about big things…and they have a work ethic that is unmatched by their peers.

              as to my own upbringing…
              I don’t remember anyone reading to me…but I also don’t remember ever not being able to read(self taught, somehow, before i was 3…which just scared everybody). I read to them, whether they wanted it or not.
              my second earliest memory is of reading a book about rabbits to my dad when my brother was being born when i was 2 1/2. I hung up on the word “together”…pronouncing it with an accent and an umlaut on the O(almost rhymes with Lagertha, the shieldmaiden(!)).
              my mind wants to pronounce it that way, to this day,lol.

              Reply
      2. jefemt

        I was hit by the dismal reminder of how ‘screwed’ one is if in a brown minority… so much less inter-generational wealth at the get-go. Veiled white privilege –from Bazaar magazine , of all things. If I recall correctly, former President Obama made this point and was awarded a very derisive reaction…

        Reply
      3. jrs

        it’s especially so as life in this society is front loaded. Like one my have all the maturity and *psychological* resources in the world in middle-age as one has matured into themselves, but there will just objectively be a lot less opportunities.

        But at 18, sheesh most people are just acting out parental programming at that age, and if encouragement pushes them one way they go, and if money helps them out of their F-ups they get a free ride, and if they get in early on a great career start because of connections sometimes it’s all up from there.

        Reply
      4. Xihuitl

        I recommend Chuck Collins’ Born on Third Base. A beautiful book, full of understanding and facts, written by someone born into the one-percent who gave it up and devoted himself to social justice. With great insight, he explains it all, including how to explain it to privileged people who don’t or won’t see it.

        Reply
        1. davidgmillsatty

          Would you rather be born smart or rich? Apparently the correct (but not PC) scientific answer is smart. So privilege is not the advantage, some (particularly the less smart) think it to be.

          Reply
          1. Grebo

            Yup, if you’re really dumb you’ll squander the advantages of privilege. They are advantages not guarantees.

            Smart and privileged, that’s the ticket.

            Reply
    3. pjay

      I’m just too jaded at this point in my life. Like other commenters, I acknowledge these truths about economic privilege that, while obvious to most of us, are often not even perceived by those without access to them. As noted by some here, it is not just economic resources, but forms of social and cultural capital as well (to use Pierre Bourdieu’s terms) that are passed down from parents. The more visible these advantages are, the greater our understanding of inequality.

      But to me, this article is simply another type of “acknowledge your privilege and feel good about yourself” statement. Be honest about it, work hard, perhaps “advocate for interns” or “scholarships”, and you don’t need to feel guilty. After all, who reads Bazaar? Like most discussions of inequality in our culture, it focuses on the individual level. There is no systemic or structural (or really even cultural) analysis — i.e. no real *class* analysis of this central feature of class societies (Was the term ‘class’ used? I can’t remember). This is the “virtue signaling” version of meritocracy critique. Better than no critique at all, certainly. But it’s real function seems pretty transparent.

      Reply
    4. Unna

      In 340 BCE the Roman general Titus Manlius Imperiosus Torquatus had his own son executed for disobeying orders not to attack the enemy. The son attacked anyway and won a victory. Titus Manlius congratulated his son on the victory and then promptly ordered him executed.

      Now those were the days of republican Roman virtue.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        There was also a famous case in England about two centuries ago or so ago where a judge found his own son on trial for murder and, following the law, found him guilty and sentenced to death. It must have been very hard on the old man but the case found renown due to the principal of the impartiality of the law being shown.

        Reply
      1. newcatty

        We have two cats. Very different, in many ways, from each other. One could be nick named Shredder. She uses the Cat Scratcher with great pleasure. The other one, much less. The one who is more mellow definitely smiles more, too. The shredder has her moments…

        Reply
  3. The Rev Kev

    “Australia’s major political parties targeted by ‘sophisticated state actor’, PM says”

    I’m calling bs on this story. For all we know, this could have been pre-arranged with one of the other Five Eyes in order to justify a bigger budget or more powers for the Australian Cyber Security Centre. It may be used further down the track to justify restricting Australians use of the internet or some other lame law ‘for our security’.
    Great Antidote du jour today. Crittermom’s cat Shredder shows why cats are so great. They keep themselves clean, are dignified, and would never stoop to rolling around in the mud or horse dung or something else of a foul nature.

    Reply
    1. Clive

      I wish a sophisticated state actor would target our political parties (here in the U.K.).

      Whatever mischief they made, it could only improve matters. And I also wonder, how would I tell the difference if they “influenced” the milieu in, one assumes, deleterious ways?

      Couldn’t someone break into the Watergate building again, just to mess things up properly? I for one cannot stand much more of this amateurish messing things up. Or perhaps CalPERS should enter politics.

      Reply
    2. Philip

      hey Rev

      you’re very likely correct in your suspicions. After all, what was it… like 44 years ago now, your PM, among other lesser transgressions, got a wee bit too interested in one Nugan Hand Bank – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nugan_Hand_Bank – and couldn’t be easily dissuaded. His Crown-appointed replacement being one Malcolm Fraser. The rest, as they say, is history…

      Reply
    3. Kfish

      Prime Minister Scott Morrison is universally loathed by people outside his own party and most of his own party hate him too. He’s been in power for approximately four months and has already gained a reputation for blatant lying anywhere it might get him an advantage. There’s an election due before May that his coalition is almost certain to lose.

      On top of that, the 2001 election was won by John Howard after he and his ministers lied about refugees swarming towards Australia and throwing their own children in the water to force the Navy to rescue them. ScoMo is just trying to recreate the ‘Tampa’ victory of 2001.

      Reply
    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      Several decades ago friends of mine got a white Siamese cat shortly before moving away. The young cat was pure white with blue eyes and shaped like a greyhound with a cat head and all its muscles very visible under the skin.

      When they were packing to move I called and asked if I could visit some. They said they were pressed for time. I said “how about just a few minutes so I can get a last look at that beautiful cat.” They said okay but be advised the cat discovered oil that drips from cars onto pavement and liked to roll around in that oil to make itself a dirty gray oily cat. Now maybe they were just telling me that, but that is what they told me.

      Reply
  4. zagonostra

    Free color association:

    Yellow Vest, yellow journalism, green new deal, green economy, red pill, pink slips, code pink, pink eye, red baiting, red scare, red book, blackwater, whitewater, blue dress, blue dogs, black swans, white helmets, blue shields, brown shirts, black shirts, red shirts, white Russians, white army, red army, pink elephants, blue blood, white knights, blue States, red States, yellow skin, brown skin, black skin, white lightening, white board, black board, lily-white, blue collar, white collar, pink dot, blue dot, red badge, blue badge, true blue, black gold, white flag, blue fin, black mark, green tea, scarlet letter, white teeth, yellow teeth, white lightening, black ties, red rose, red moon, blue moon, blue balls, yellow star of Texas, white dove, black birds, black listed, bullet the blue sky, purple haze…

    Reply
    1. Alfred

      Delightful. I feel magically transported by this list back to the days of White Rabbit and Yellow Submarine. May I add off the top of my own head: orange crush, blue whale, red queen, red scare, lavender scare, yellow peril, and gray area? I’ve taken many trips along the Blue Star Highway. I’ve seen the White House and the Pink Palace, even the Brown Derby, but not the Red Fort of Delhi or the Red House at Bexleyheath. Quite apart from the Red Army there was once also the Red Army Faction — impossible to confuse with the Green Party. In the early 1960s my school replaced its black boards with green boards. That was when my mother volunteered at the local hospital as a pink lady. From my lost childhood in a state whose feathered mascot is the brown thrasher, I also I recall yellow school buses built ironically enough by “Blue Bird.” From my lost youth I recall the hilarious disquisition on ‘yellow’ performed by Geraldine Chaplin in Robert Altman’s Nashville. Who doesn’t remember, from the same colorful film, Jackie recalled in her “little pink suit,” with her widowhood only minutes away? Now after all these years I have yet to read Meiss’s famous Painting in Florence and Siena after the Black Death. Now it’s almost too late…

      Reply
      1. whine country

        My favorite color: cost of living rose, which was popularized by a local SF disc jockey named Russ “the Moose” Syracuse in the ’60s. Those were the days.

        Reply
      2. zagonostra

        There is no end…black ops, black market, black hole, ruby slippers, purple robes, orange crush, orange clown President, green screens, red dress (Matrix), red river valley, blue-eyed son, black sheep, red shift, white light, golden calf, yellow brick road, red barns, red roof inn, black top, yellow lines, red lines, red light district, white hot…little red wagon, littler red bike, I’m no monkey but I know what I like…

        Reply
    2. Craig H.

      yellow rose of Texas

      The legend is a prostitute with this nom de guerre was servicing Santa Anna during preparations for the Battle of San Jacinto which finished the war for independence for the Republic of Texas. In any event the Mexicans got beat at San Jacinto.

      No yellow rose in the wikipedia entry on the Battle of San Jacinto and history.com says there is no evidence.

      So apparently this is like George Washington’s cherry tree.

      Roy Rogers Yellow Rose of Texas

      Reply
      1. newcatty

        Let us not forget: red, yellow, orange, green, blue, indigo and violet. Still thrills me when I ever see one. And, a silver lining around a dark cloud. Sky blue. White lightening. Snow White (ok, couldn’t resist). Yellow snow (we were warned to don’t eat it). Purple Rain. Golden sun. Silver moon. Black sky. Deep Purple. Red Sky. Indigo Blue.

        Reply
  5. voteforno6

    So, Bernie’s officially running now, which was expected. The politically savvy ones* out there are already pooh-poohing his candidacy, for various reasons, which was also expected.

    *Politically savvy being defined as stating with the utmost authority that it was impossible for Donald Trump to be elected President.

    Reply
    1. Roger Smith

      Video Announcement

      20 seconds in he calls Donald Trump “…the most dangerous President in modern American History.” No thanks. I won’t suffer this ignorant crap, let alone from someone who ought to know better. And if he does know better, he needs to be honest and tell the truth instead of lying to people for hardline Democrat votes.

      Reply
      1. jhallc

        I agree that there are plenty of other contenders for the “Most Dangerous” title and the Donald may not even be close to the top of the list, but I can’t fault him for throwing that out there. He need’s the “resistance” votes if he is ever going to beat the Joe Biden’s of the world.

        Reply
        1. Roger Smith

          One plus is that his announcement actually lays out platform points. But to me honesty triumphs above all. Pandering here and there to wheel and deal support is what dishonest politicians do (all of them at this point). His message and platform should be all he needs to unite people and get votes, no hyperbolic lying necessary. What good is it to unite people under false pretenses? Trump isn’t the failure, everything is. And the superrmajority are those who don’t turn out for BS, not Obama Kool-aid Democrats.

          Reply
          1. Darius

            I’m OK with tactical pandering. As in the price of admission. I’d like to see Bernie lay out why Obama was so terrible. But pick your battles. Bernie is implying that if the Democrats had gone with socialism, we wouldn’t have Trump.

            Reply
          2. JohnnySacks

            Anyone who expects to beat Trump has to be able to beat him at his own game. After seeing what the guy sitting in the white house now did and said to get there, I think Sanders’s statement is pretty damn lame in comparison and if anything he needs to ramp it up on a channel on parallel with policy to “LOCK HIM UP!” level to compete.

            Reply
            1. Roger Smith

              This is a good point. This polite, political approach won’t stack well against Trump’s rhetorical prowess. Although Trump has the negative of his rhetoric being tested against 3 years of mostly run of the mill garbage in office, so there is that. Again, this is where I think a platform like Sanders, founded on informing and helping citizens understand their contemporary government truthfully would be the right play against the more angry, simple version of this sentiment that Trump offers (it’s all BS, give ’em the finger! vs. It is all BS, this is why, but we can change that–or something similar).

              Reply
              1. mle detroit

                JohnnyS does have a good point, but we could have the intense opposition without the hatred. For months I have thought of the White House as Comedy Central. What Bernie should have at all his rallies is a sign language translator — and Alec Baldwin.

                Reply
                  1. pjay

                    No Alec Baldwin, please! Believe me, the last thing Bernie needs is “help” from the entertainment division of the “liberal” coastal elite. That is *guaranteed* to alienate a lot of “fly-over deplorables” who would be attracted to Bernie’s authentic domestic agenda.

                    Reply
                    1. Pat

                      Not just this, but it also isn’t real. Baldwin’s Trump might appear be a comic version of Trump, but it is still very much a fictional version. Thus it would leave a Sanders campaign open for being called a joke or a PR stunt.

                      Mind you I don’t see Baldwin considering an idea like this, not just because it is not particularly lucrative. No, because Baldwin is too much a mainstay of the neoliberal Democrats to ever want to ‘help’ Sanders – not that his presence would.

                    2. Procopius

                      I agree. I find Saturday Night Live about as funny as Bill Maher, and I think Bill Maher has no sense of humor.

            2. Chris Hargens

              To maintain his credibility, Sanders should continue pushing policy and go light on personal attacks, the exception being when the attacks are directed at him. Sander’s calm step-by-step focus on the the issues will stand in sharp contrast to Trump’s over-the-top, reality show behavior.

              Reply
            3. Alex V

              I’d like to see Sanders treat Trump as irrelevant – would enrage the Donald, maintain the “high ground”, enrage the DNC, doesn’t alienate most voters.

              Reply
              1. newcatty

                Alex V, agree with the taking the “high ground” regarding Trumps bluster and crude rhetoric. Thought about it. Trump puts on, in his reality presidential show, blatant appeal to what can be called The Good Ole Boy persona. Think it’s a mistake to think it’s really how he is in life. Not, dismissing that he really is a disgusting man, with no respect for women or a racist. But, no way is he one of the good ole guys, even if does love junk food and diet cokes. So, yeah, don’t come down to his level. It’s like trying to convince a narcissist that you really are not all that. Just plays to to their game and the defense is on. Hope Bernie sticks to his own game plan. Hope it’s based on articulating real policy issues and solutions. Think a lot more people are ready for some real alternative to Trumpsters and DNC bullshit. And, think a lot more are hip to shenanigans in the elections. But, don’t know what can be done about that…Bernie should choose a fabulous running mate , too. Now, that would be the ticket.

                Reply
                1. davidgmillsatty

                  Sanders’ Achilles’ heel is his foreign policy where he is Mr. Milktoast. Trump has shown some signs of trying to stand up to the Warmonger class, even if unsuccessful. Bernie, except for his votes that amount to nothing of consequence, make him look like someone who tacitly approves warmongering. He is no Kucinich.

                  Reply
          3. Carolinian

            Bernie doesn’t have Hillary to kick around any more (not that he did much kicking last time) so it is a different political landscape. And personally I think his age also works against him.

            Reply
              1. davidgmillsatty

                Trump won 84.7% of the counties in 2016; Clinton won 15.3%. Tulsi won’t help Sanders much in these counties Trump won. Sanders won’t do nearly as well this time around in capturing some of the 84.7% of the counties Trump won as he would have in 2016. The Russiagate crap and pimping for Clinton has hurt him in the counties he needed to bring back into the Democratic fold.

                Reply
          4. Brooklin Bridge

            I think you make some excellent points. Let’s hope he minimizes this trait as his campaign builds. It may turn out not to be as big an issue as our (somewhat justified in my nsho) sensitivity to pandering calls for. And if not, those of us who feel strongly about it might try and get the point across to him. It could be he feels he has to go more “main stream” and if so, I think such tactics on a large scale would end up weakening him badly even if somehow they worked.

            Perhaps I wasn’t paying enough attention last time, but it seemed as though his signature (certainly compared to Hillary) throughout was NO BS. Particularly sticking to his guns rather than apologizing on the pure plain sense of things like universal health care. His opinions on foreign affairs were indeed an issue but those seemed to come more from honest lack of understanding rather than pandering to “critical” groups or POV.. The degree of his capitulation to Hillary, without making more of an issue about her dirty campaign tactics, not to mention those of the DNC and the MSM, left me sick for weeks and is not something I got over easily regardless of whether or not it’s my own weakness rather than his..

            Reply
            1. Annieb

              “. . .his capitulation to Hilary, without making more of an issue about her dirty campaign tricks. . .”
              Yes, and voting for Bernie, if I decide to do it, will not be a pleasure, esp. because of his incoherent foreign policy. He supported Russiagate and supports the bullying going on in Venezuela. I doubt I am alone and wonder if enthusiasm for his candidacy will suffer because of these failures.

              Reply
              1. Lizbeth Altman

                I may be delusional but I sometimes wonder if Bernie and Tulsi are already a team with her candidacy doing advance work on foreign policy to move the populous left on foreign policy while Bernie works on domestic issues.

                Reply
              2. davidgmillsatty

                It has pissed off a lot of people I know who voted for him and do not intend to vote for him a second time. Pisses me off big time and I voted for him in the primaries and Stein in the general.

                Bernie appears to have spine and principal on domestic issues and no-spine and no principal on foreign policy issues.

                Reply
        2. davidgmillsatty

          It is a dumb comment. Dumb. It is not policy. Policy is Sanders’ strong suit. Cheap shots is playing to Trump’s hand.

          Reply
      2. windsock

        Genuine question.. Why is it “ignorant crap”?

        Was there a more dangerous President in modern American history? Or is Donald Trump not dangerous?

        Reply
        1. Roger Smith

          As far as the ‘good guys’ go, Clinton (1996 telecommunications act, Welfare Reform) Obama (upholding/expanding Bush war strategies, siding with the banks against the people, the massive psychological warfare and damage afflicted upon the general populous, prosecution of whistleblowers, Libya, Syria, killing real healthcare for fascist privatization care) were far more corrosive to the union that Trump. People celebrate when Obama, Bush(es), Clinton bomb some brown people on some place no one has ever heard of. Trump wants to build a wall and everyone loses their minds. This is a sick state of affairs that produces Trump as “the worst ever. This is the President who wanted to calm down rising nuclear tensions and restore diplomatic relations with Russia and North Korea… completely flattened by everyone around him (his fault too).

          Reply
          1. Roger Smith

            I don’t mean this to exclude the detrimental impacts of modern GOP Presidents either, only to showcase the one’s people tend to excuse.

            Reply
          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Yes but they must make the sale that Trump is “the worst evah” because otherwise people would wake up to the fact that in reality their guy (Clinton, Obama) was really awful, despite all of the flowery BS that emanated from their pieholes.

            Only by establishing Trump as the outlier worst guy can they point to their guy and say “See? He is/wasn’t as bad as that”. The result is utter policy inversion, the left is now rabidly pro-war, pro- open immigration (which labor spilled blood over decades to oppose). I wonder what the left will do about Trumps dealy announced today that he will seek to decriminalize homosexuality worldwide, let’s see Rachel Maddow find a way to say how incredibly bad that is too.

            Reply
            1. Amfortas the hippie

              on “decriminalizing homosexuality”:
              OMG!
              I had to go look that up,lol…my dog! Neera and the rest must be apoplectic.
              and the GOP?
              did this hit them in the backside unawares, like a randy billy goat?
              from the first few stories i read about it, it seems like a hamhanded rhetorical attack on Iran…but whatever,lol
              given the inertial trajectories of the last 3 years…team dem will hafta somehow both avoid patting him on the head, and also making this somehow a bad thing.
              gopworld will hafta “side with our president”…which is even better.
              another nail in the coffin of the duopoly…rendered absurd by a loud mouthed moron.
              I’d like to be a fly on the wall of many conference rooms in DC about now.

              Reply
        2. Quentin

          It depends on who you ask. A lot of live and dead Iraqis might chose Mr. GW Bush. Or Libyans and Syrians Mr. BH Obama (with his Mrs. H. Clinton). And on it goes with the ever so respectable candidates who overshadow the current president for their impeccable manners .

          Reply
        3. Carolinian

          Ask the one million dead Iraqis. However if Sanders had said potentially the most dangerous he could have a point. Pompeo, Pence and Bolton are bad news.

          Reply
          1. Roger Smith

            Agreed! Hell if he had called them out specifically that would have been amazing. “We’ve had our fair share of poor leaders, but someone who willingly staffs their administration with those like Pompeo and Bolton, could potentially be the most disastrous yet.”

            Reply
            1. davidgmillsatty

              But so far Trump has reined them in. They will be gone by the election. It is almost like Trump’s plan is to put the most heinous actors in his cabinet and then fire them to get them out of the political realm.

              Reply
        4. WobblyTelomeres

          For some definition of modern, I suppose.

          Clinton – war.
          Bush – war.
          Obama – war.
          Trump – nonstop idiotic bullshit.

          It is hard to take, I agree, this non-stop 24/7 gaslighting of America. Harder to take are the cabinet-level grifters. But, as Yves is wont to inform, cabinet-level grifters are NOT unusual (Bill Richardson comes to mind). Maybe if the US govt was more like Belgium’s.

          Reply
          1. DJG

            Wobbly Telomeres: Excellent summation. And as we go into another clarifying election, I’m going to go with your list, which I encourage you to publish periodically here in the comments, although I’d edit it thus:

            Reagan – wars, mini-wars, and dismantling the New Deal
            Bush Poppy – Iraq part one, plus formal declaration of class war
            Clinton – wars.
            Bush – wars.
            Obama – wars.
            Trump – nonstop idiotic bullshit.

            As for scandals, let’s not forget that much of the Reagan administration was one bizarre scandal after another, culminating in Ollie North and Fawn Hall, that is, when marines weren’t being blown up in Lebanon.

            Reply
            1. pjay

              Very good points here — though please list “continuing to dismantle the New Deal” next to Clinton, Bush, and Obama as well.

              Reply
            2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Can people see a theme here?

              The War.

              Solve that and you can solve everything else.

              That’s why Tulsi.

              Reply
          2. jsn

            All true, but the thus far bumbling amateurishness of Trumps either genius (using the NeoCons to dismantle the Empire) or incompetent (so maybe he’s not doing it intentionally, who knows?) foreign policy both advances the Dooms Day Clock and our ecocide.

            I think by accident of timing & temperament he’s more dangerous than his predecessors.

            Reply
            1. Shonde

              My perspective is that dismantling the Empire is absolutely necessary and part of any true GND. I don’t care if bumbling by Trump produces that result, I just want to see that done without more wars or blow back. So tell me why dismantling the Empire pushes the Doomsday Clock forward? Shouldn’t the clock reflect climate change and not just nuclear destruction?

              Reply
          3. FluffytheObeseCat

            Trump – filling the federal bench with “pro-business”, cryptofascist theocrats.

            Trump is still gunning for the title of “most dangerous” even if he hasn’t secured it yet. He’s dangerous on the domestic issues that matter to Sanders. Trump wants to gut Obamacare, seemingly despises women, eliminates environmental regulation without regard for specific impacts, gutted the CFPB, put a swindlers’ crony in charge of the Department of Education……

            He doesn’t appear to be as much of a problem in foreign affairs. Although, you have to judge the President by what he does, not whatever sweet baloney he spouted on the campaign trail 3 years ago. Trump does Bolton, Pompeo, Abrams…. saber-rattling over Venezuela and Iran.

            Reply
              1. marym

                11/2018

                The biggest escalation of the drone wars on those three battlefields [Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria]under Trump came in 2017, his first year in office, followed by a substantial drop in 2018 thus far.

                In 2017, Trump presided over an unprecedented 130 drone strikes in Yemen – there were 131, but one of those predated Trump’s inauguration – more than three times that of the previous year, CENTCOM told The Daily Beast…With little over a month to go in 2018, the U.S. has launched 36 drone strikes in Yemen, CENTCOM said, nearly as many as the 38 Obama launched in his final year and the first 20 days of 2017.

                …in Somalia, where the administration in 2017 loosened restrictions on drone usage, there doesn’t appear to be much of a drop-off at all in 2018.

                Reply
                1. Shonde

                  Yuk. awful stats. Thanks.

                  Guaranteed to produce lots of blow back. It frightens me to think we may need to keep a big military presence just to prevent all that blow back.

                  Reply
                  1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                    No! Free your mind.

                    The idea that “we would need to keep a big military presence just to prevent all that blowback” is just negative circular thinking.

                    Try this instead: “The U.S. announced today that it would be removing its troops from 130 of the 170 countries where they are currently stationed, with additional withdrawals still to come. Instead of blowing up bridges and hospitals in foreign countries (only to pay to rebuild them later) the decommissioned troops would be set to work rebuilding roads, bridges, highways and airports across the U.S. Also announced was a new G.I. Bill that uses the savings from former overseas military occupations to pay for higher education for returning military personnel”.

                    Reply
                    1. Amfortas the hippie

                      amen to that.
                      that’s the first five minutes of my “make me king for a year” day dream.
                      and you know what really rankles?
                      that idea…worded properly…sells well with my local yokels…in rural Texas, no less.
                      …of course, just about all my interlocutors get asked this question after learning just how far reaching our global “empire of bases”(ht: chalmers johnson) is. Faux, Rush and what passes for local news never, ever mention somalia, nigeria or diego garcia….and it’s doubtful may of these folks could point to them on the map.

            1. jrs

              “Trump – filling the federal bench with “pro-business”, cryptofascist theocrats.”

              yep no kidding. We’ll be fighting these for decades, even if we elected nothing but Sanders and AOC clones, we’d still be dealing with this legacy going forward.

              Reply
        5. anon in so cal

          Is Obama a contender for worst president?

          How many innocent Middle Easterners were killed because Obama approved of, or acquiesced to, the Clinton Nuland Brennan CIA regime change interventionist wars in Libya and Syria? How many stable nations were turned to chaos, complete with slave markets?

          John Brennan’s CIA’s Operation Timber Sycamore gave $1 Billion US per year to “moderate rebels” aka jihadis, in Syria, in an attempt to overthrow Syria’s sovereign president.

          Obama supported TARP and TISA, prioritizing the Wall Street agents whose irresponsible, if not fraudulent, actions led to the 2008 meltdown.

          Obama stood by as Hillary Clinton endorsed an anti-democratic coup in Honduras, which exacerbated the violence and may have led to the murder of environmentalists, including Berta Caceres.

          Obama may have used the US DOJ to unseat an elected president:

          “Obama Ordered Abuse Of Intelligence To Sabotage Trump Policies

          In its last months the Obama administration ordered the intelligence agencies to collect and distribute information of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. This to prevent any change by the Trump administration of the hostile policy towards Russia that the Obama administration instituted. The intent was also to give the intelligence services blackmail material against the Trump crew to prevent any changes in their undue, freewheeling independence.”

          https://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/03/obama-prodded-abuse-of-intelligence-to-sabotage-trump-policies.html

          Reply
          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            There are guys like FDR, but most belong to an Era or structural side. Obama is just part of Reagan gilded Era imperialism. He could have been FDR in a way Bill probably couldn’t. The story of LBJ and Vietnam/the Great Society stands out, but Obama is a child of the Reagan Revolution.

            Obama has a “betrayal” narrative, but he’s part of the Reagan Era.

            Reply
        6. Yves Smith Post author

          Trump pulled the US out of the JPOCA and the INF. You can argue on his escalating the odds of nuclear war he is the most dangerous president.

          Trump is also a climate change denier and his environmental policies are worse than Obama (and arguably Bush’s). The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the Doomsday Clock a half minute closer to midnight due to nuke risk and failure to address climate change.

          Not sayin’ this is dispositive, but Sanders’ position is not crazy.

          Reply
          1. pjay

            I think these are important points, as are the “cryptofascist theocrats” on the bench and in key policy foreign policy positions. As long as we are ranking, I’ll even give Obama some credit for a last-minute hesitation about Syria for which he was pilloried by the Clintonites. But I also think it is crucial to emphasize that Trump is the culmination of a bipartisan sh**storm that has been building for decades. He is unstable, uninformed, and unprincipled, which makes him very dangerous — but he has been given the tools by those that came before him.

            Reply
            1. Yves Smith Post author

              I agree, Trump did not come of out nowhere. And yes, he’s been handed a close to imperial Presidency.

              Oh, and I forgot to mention that even the Bush Administration (late in the game) acknowledged anthropogenic global warming, when Trump denies that there is even global warming! However the conservative press has done such a good job of burying that Bush position shift that heads explode when you try telling the true believers that factoid.

              Reply
              1. davidgmillsatty

                The global warming issue is a fight between theoretical scientists and applied scientists. The applied scientists do not publish and are at a disadvantage when it comes to having the public microphone. But their strong suit is that they are experts in all the disciplines of science that require the actual application of the scientific method. Don’t underestimate what applied scientists are saying. It is not smart Yves.

                Reply
                1. davidgmillsatty

                  It is also a fight between generalists (climatologists) and specialists. Most scientific skeptics became skeptics because the climatologists, who were generalists, were making claims involving things about specialties that the specialists knew to be wrong or partially wrong. The tide is turning.

                  Reply
                  1. pretzelattack

                    give an example of a claim that the specialists “know” to be wrong or partially wrong, and give an example of a “scientific skeptic”. climatology involves all sorts of specialties.

                    Reply
                  2. drumlin woodchuckles

                    The tide is turning? It is?

                    So the melted-back glaciers and snowfields and icecap-edges are all growing back and re-adding the volume they have lost?
                    The thawing permafrost has stopped thawing and is re-perma-freezing? etc? etc?

                    Reply
                2. pretzelattack

                  applied scientists aren’t saying anything differently than academic scientists. it has nothing to do with a public microphone.

                  Reply
        7. lyman alpha blob

          Trump didn’t start the Middle East on fire and cause a worldwide refugee crisis, not unless he’s got a time machine and a really good disguise.

          The Republican president who did is currently having his image rehabilitated by the Democrat party.

          Reply
      3. Hank Linderman

        @Roger – based on the requirements you express I suspect there will be no perfect candidate for you, or if there is one that fits your ideal, they won’t be electable. I respectfully suggest that you consider running for elected office, or, get deeply involved with a candidate you believe in. Candidates usually get very limited time to make their point, and being concerned about smaller details can derail the main message. Think of statements made by announcing candidates as headlines. At one of many political events I attended this year I heard a speaker say, “If you think you need to agree with everything your candidate says, I have three words of advice for you: don’t get married.”

        At least in terms of how it has affected me, this Presidency is the most dangerous in my time on earth, and we’ve had some doozies – Nixon, Reagan, Bush 2 – so I have trouble agreeing with your “ignorant crap” comment. But that’s your opinion man, so it’s cool with me.

        I say we need to put less emphasis on rhetoric and semantics, and instead focus on issues, electability, competence, and most important, the heart of the candidate. Where is their true loyalty?

        Reply
        1. Roger Smith

          It’s not that I want a perfect candidate, I just have a huge issue with hanging your entire, good, platform on a false understanding of why it is needed in the first place. People need to understand how it is we got here and this is the weakest part of his message. For one, he completely absolves an entire party for their involvement as well as the worst offending body, Congress. People need to understand their government better and be more active in it and this serves the current understanding of President based action.

          Currently I am most interesting in Gabbard. I appreciate that she has, as far as I have seen, stuck to her principle on certain issues. I may not agree with everything she says, but the most central issue she has (reigning in the out of control MIC) is something we do agree on and something a president has direct control over.

          Now I am sort of weighing the the two against each other. A really good, vague vision of what we should be, or a specific direct attack on one of the huge problems preventing us from being better.

          Reply
          1. Hank Linderman

            Understood.

            In case you hadn’t guessed, I was a candidate in 2018, my first time. I came to recognize certain people as “finger-waggers” – the folks who would directly challenge me when I was speaking. It didn’t take long for me to realize that these were potential activists, so my response to their challenge of “what are you gonna’ do about it” quickly became, “no, what are WE gonna’ do about it.” It worked every time. The finger-waggers became allies, activists, and friends.

            Roger – you and many others on this site are finger-waggers. Candidates need your help. Please consider getting involved.

            Reply
            1. ChiGal in Carolina

              I think Roger is an Aussie, but your point stands for us USians.

              I hope as 2020 approaches the commentariat will not spend more energy complaining about Bernie’s failings (HC 2016 redux) than taking real-world action for a better outcome than Trump, whatever they think that is.

              We run the risk of spending waay too much time ON THIS BLOG correcting for those less “enlightened” than ourselves (corporate media covering corporate Dems, the endless list of neoliberal centrist candidates).

              That’s preaching to the choir folks! The NC commentariat is not I don’t think intended to be a mutual admiration society. It is a refuge in an insane world, yes, but we need to speak up more in the real world.

              Apologies if this was a bit harsh, but it’s really not adding any value for me, all this smug griping about Bernie practically before he’s out the gate..

              Reply
              1. Hepativore

                This is part of the reason why I stopped watching Jimmy Dore. While he was very accurate on the extent of how the Democrats are largely beholden to the corporate interests and will do everything in their power to remain so, I do not agree with the idea that the answer is to go “third party” and he spends most of his time now tearing down other progressives like AOC and Sanders.

                Make no mistake, while I would like to see a viable third party, the way that our electoral system is set up would make it impossible to get anywhere with it at this point in time. It will probably take decades to remove ballot access laws on a state-by-state basis, and that is assuming that we had an entire Congress full of progressive liberals. I admit taking over the Democratic Party is probably going to be a multi-decade slog before the effort gets anywhere. With that being said if progressives ran as third party candidates it would make it much easier for the establishments in both parties to simply sweep them aside and marginalize them much as they have throughout the history of the US.

                As to Sanders endorsing Clinton in 2016, I do not fault him for that. He had lost a highly contested primary and he probably felt that it would give the impression of sour grapes if he did not endorse the winning primary candidate even if the means that Clinton used to get there were highly suspect. He probably meant it as an olive branch as it would have reflected badly on him if he was a sore loser. He also probably thought that even a deeply-flawed Democrat like Clinton was better than Trump. What else could he have done?

                Reply
                1. pretzelattack

                  he could have not endorsed clinton, and told us why we can’t afford more right wing democrats taking us down the road to neoliberal hell.

                  Reply
                  1. Hepativore

                    In the past three months he has started going after them, Sanders ever since he decided not to run as a third party candidate, and AOC after she voted for Pelosi even though AOC had no real choice other than possibly facing Pelosi’s position going to a Republican.

                    Reply
            2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

              No finger wagging for this bro! I voted Belden ‘Noonie Man’ Batiste for LA 2 against Cedric Richmond last year.

              We got trounced. Lol

              Onward and Upward, Comrades!

              Reply
          2. whine country

            To paraphrase the Russian saying: They pretend to govern and we pretend to vote. (This could be said to be concrete evidence of Russian involvement in our election)

            Reply
          3. Unna

            It’s said that Trudeau is the Obama of Canada. But what if Obama was only the Trudeau of America? That is, merely a ceremonial figure who just does personal appearances.

            Also, Bernie needs to be careful in the way he attackes Trump. He needs to do it on policy and not personality. Otherwise he risks personally insulting the people who voted for Trump. It’s the votes of the Deplorables which will give him the win, and not the top 10%er Clintonites.

            Reply
            1. m

              I watch both “left” and Ron Paul type sites, many of the deplorables are not happy with Trump over the war stuff. Those that don’t watch Fox news or are true believer evangelicals.
              Many comments people feel betrayed & not just the war, but that is #1

              Reply
        2. John Wright

          I am curious why you find this “Presidency is the most dangerous in my time on earth”. I go back to Nixon, and I find that Trump’s actions such as shutting down government/threatening to build a wall (rather than enforcing e-verify and costly fines on employers) as Potemkin Village show.

          We had Nixon/Kissenger’s secret bombings + Watergate.
          We had Nixon’s killing of Johnson’s peace deal with Vietnam to help get him elected.

          We had Reagan’s deregulation of finance, wasteful military spending, we had Clinton’s welform reform, betrayal of Russia via NATO expansion, more foreign military actions and more deregulation.

          Then the Bushes, the younger of them damaging the US’s reputation throughout the world via the Iraq War.

          And spending/will be spending about 6 trillion dollars as a consequence.

          Then there is Obama, giving heartfelt speeches and then droning foreign citizens to death while protecting the financial industry and the MIC/security complex from any reasonable reform efforts as they expanded.

          What damaging stuff has Trump done? Threaten to talk with disliked foreign leaders? Being allegedly influenced by Russia? How can Trump throw favors Russia’s way with the vigilant Democrats and media watching?

          Why do you find Trump so dangerous in comparison with so many prior bad apples?

          It is not as if he has Democrats signing off on his bad decisions as they did in the Iraq War (Biden, Kerry, HRC).

          Trump may be so bad that he is good as the Democrats don’t automatically fall in line.

          Reply
          1. Hank Linderman

            As I said, this is in terms of how it has affected me. I see the division stoked by Trump as a threat to the Nation. I have come to see the Civil War as unsettled, and bringing those divisions to the forefront has made for a very dangerous environment. On the other hand, confronting this division, the urban-rural divide, is the critical battle we face. It’s why I believe the battle for the soul of the country is in states like Kentucky, where the divisions are clearest. This battle is more or less over in states like California, but as we have seen, winning California is no longer enough to win the Presidency. We are all aware that Kentucky is where Mitch McConnel, the most powerful politician in the country, is from.

            Without addressing the urban-rural divide, we will be unable to address problems like climate change, endless war, corporate control of the government.

            As I mentioned in another comment, I was a first-time candidate for Congress last year, in Kentucky’s 2nd District, the 48th most Republican district in the country. I was the Democratic nominee, I raised $175,000 and got 79,000 votes, running against an incumbent with $2.5 million. My opponent was largely financed by corporate money, big pharma, large isp’s, so-called health care providers, the NRA.

            I think it’s an interesting discussion, which President is/was the most dangerous, but the danger we face now is Trump and the division he nourishes and exploits.

            Moving forward, I am planning on running again. Rural voters in Kentucky have rejected Democrats, somewhat predictable considering the way the Democratic Party abandoned Kentucky after the Al Gore defeat. Finding answers to what ails rural and working America is what I will be focusing on. If their concerns are not met, we are doomed to corporate dominance and a dying planet.

            Reply
            1. Lynne

              Honestly, I don’t think it is Trump who is stoking division. He is the symptom, not the cause. Obama, Pelosi, and Schumer have done far more to rip this country apart, as has the media (just spend an evening flipping between Fox and MSNBC), and our dreaded “thought leaders.” Say what you will about Trump, nobody can accuse him of leading thought. As much as I hate to sound like I’m parroting the fake news trope, just spend a little time going back though the new media’s coverage over the last decade, and consider all their efforts, from Cooper sniggering like a schoolboy while making obscene jokes about US citizens, to some Fox reporter complaining on prime time that a black guy might play Santa Claus at his kid’s school, to the false reporting calling Ukrainians Russians (with little or no correction) to all the approving coverage of McCabe’s talk of removing an elected president, and ask yourself honestly who is stoking division.

              Reply
              1. jrs

                For certain types of division Trump has definitely stoked it. I mean do you think Obama, Pelosi and Schumer were really stroking racial division? Really? Or MSNBC is? Really?

                I mean yes these things take place in a larger social and economic context which is increasingly bad for many people, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be stoked as well. Candidates specifically running on racial hatred platforms like some who have come after Trump are not really truly running on some other issue, even though other issues like the bad economy, don’t make anyone a better person.

                Reply
                1. Lynne

                  Good point. What I meant to say was that I don’t think it is JUST Trump who is stoking division. And yes, I do think Obama, Pelosi, Schumer and MSNBC have stoked and in some cases still are stoking racial division. Think back to the election: Democrats and outlets like MSNBC would report absolutely outrageous statements they attributed to Trump. Then I’d listen to the speech on youtube and guess what? He either didn’t say what they claimed, or they took it wildly out of context. I’m not the only one who came to that conclusion. There were quite a few comments about that on this site, and noting that the Democrats and media were hurting their case with overstatements. But they continued to repeat it and repeat it and repeat it, trying to whip up hate. The worst thing is that what Trump actually said was bad enough; they didn’t need to embellish anything, unless they wanted to drive division.

                  It’s ongoing. Just one example: take a look at the Smollet mess. Didn’t take long for Pelosi, MSNBC, etc to blame his alleged attack on Trump, racism, and hate. Funny, but I haven’t seen any of them correct that, and that is NOT helpful.

                  Meanwhile, they continue to give banks and insurance companies on pass on looting.

                  Reply
                2. pretzelattack

                  yeah, like when they, or their cutouts accused bernie supporters of being racist and sexist,claiming bernie lied about being down south during the civil rights movement, and claiming the only reason to oppose obama or clinton was racism or sexism.

                  Reply
            2. Carey

              The problem with saying “..the danger we face now is Trump..”
              is that it implies that things will be better as long as he is replaced in 2020 by just anyone.

              I don’t like that framing at all. Corporate Dems love it, though.

              Reply
            3. barefoot charley

              Here’s how I state your case: we all know that Hillary won the popular vote by 3 million. We mostly don’t know that she won California by 4 million. Which is to say, the Democrats lost the popular vote ex-California by a million votes across the rest of the country. That’s rural America even with the Acela corridor and other nodes of elite prosperity in the midst of it. That’s a lot of losing for the party that thinks it’s entitled to win without even promising what people want. That’s the likely reason they’ll lose again. Maybe blame the Chinese this time?

              Reply
          2. tegnost

            You forgot Raygun/Bushes Iran/Contra, the alumni from said debacle still gracing the administrative levels of government. IMO Raygun was really the beginning of the end (student loans and endless war), and now we’re at the end of that 30 year cycle. Will it get better or worse?

            Reply
          3. marym

            Trump hasn’t rolled back any dangerous policies of his predecessors and has taken steps to dismantle somewhat helpful ones. He’s openly hostile to nearly every demographic in this country, and has policies which increase the dangers for many of them. He hasn’t started any new wars, but he’s escalated involvement in Afghanistan and Yemen. He appointed Pompeo, Bolton, Abrams, and Haspel, and he watches/listens to and then tweets “policy” from FOX and Rush.

            I hope Sanders runs a campaign based on vision and policy, including restraining executive power improving his positions on foreign policy; not TrumpBad!! and certainly not Russia!!Russia!! but it’s not unreasonable for someone ranking dangerous presidents to rank Trump at the top.

            Reply
            1. tegnost

              I appreciate your comments marym, but trump axed the TPP and the mandate. Those were concrete benefits for some of us. I also have no idea why the democrats are so set on war with russia, but I’ve always suspected it’s to support the agritech industry, ownership of the genome being very valuable…

              Reply
              1. marym

                Fair enough.

                Axing the TPP was a good thing. The jury’s still out on trade. Trump doesn’t actually understand how tariffs and trade deficits work, but since I don’t either I shouldn’t really comment further.

                On the mandate I’d counter that the ACA helped some people and getting rid of the mandate helped some people. This doesn’t make Trump a lesser evil on healthcare for which he has no positive proposals except possibly on drug prices, and is undermining aspects of existing healthcare and public health programs.

                As far as Russia, I always thought his why-not-be-friends attitude was rooted more in potential business opportunities for him and his cronies than a quest for world peace, but even so it’s better than following the Clintonites off that cliff. Still, so far he’s not a proven non-interventionist elsewhere.

                Reply
                1. Amfortas the hippie

                  I’m no trumper…and find that i am embarrassed that he’s where he is.
                  however…aside from chewing up the dogwhistle and stating the bigotry plainly…all the stuff folks have listed that’s bad that he’s done have been the defacto policy of at least important factions of the gop for as long as i can remember. embassy to jerusalem, backing out of treaties(done before,iirc),putting oilmen at the epa(etc), manipulating various esoterica in the federal code, tax cuts, packing courts, hard border, gutting heritagecare…on and on. GOPers(and many democrats, too, to their eternal shame) have been clamoring for these things for decades.
                  is it trump’s heartfelt belief that that antinuke treaty was bad?—or is that the numerous trump-whisperers that the party placed to hand tickled his ears?
                  the hardest thing these last 3 years is figuring out what trump actually believes.
                  I still don’t know.
                  I wouldn’t want him as a neighbor, but I have no idea what his philosophical or even political stance is.
                  I still maintain that Billary was the worst president ever…followed closely by Darth Cheney(man in yellow hat)

                  Reply
                  1. Oregoncharles

                    “the hardest thing these last 3 years is figuring out what trump actually believes.” Not much beyond self-aggrandizement, I suspect. He contradicts himself too freely. I suppose we can deduce a few things from his actions. The Zionism might be real, the result of Ivanka and Kushner whispering in his ear. (I had the strong feeling she was b eing groomed to succeed him, but haven’t seen much of that lately. Maybe she demurred after getting a close look.)

                    But I don’t think there’s much of a there, there.

                    Reply
                2. tegnost

                  Thanks marym, sorry for the late response. Trump to me is best described as a mountebank/charlatan, and that sort knows that you throw a bone to the dogs. The sad, sad thing is that a person like that can outperform the party of the people. It’s true re the ACA some are helped, I have a struggling 57 yo friend and yes, thankfully, she can go to the doctor, the dentist even, and when she describes the services available to her I think that is really really great. The life she has to have to qualify for that? Not so great…work makes people feel good about themselves, people want to contribute, it’s right up there with snakes are scary in the psychology of people. I do appreciate the heavy lifting you do regarding the schism in the democratic party.

                  Reply
              2. drumlin woodchuckles

                Trump also reduced aid and support to the Syrian jihadis for long enough that Russia had time to give Assad some crucial assistance in preventing the Jihadis from winning . . . . and then forcing them to lose.

                Reply
              3. Brooklin Bridge

                What Trump did with NAFTA bodes an ill wind for your suggestion that through Trump we have escaped the neoliberal globalist ills of the TTP and other like agreements.

                https://libertyunderfire.org/2019/01/trump-duped-globalists-love-his-new-nafta-tpp-merged-agreement/

                Not at all sure that link is any sort of “last word”, but it’s main points about the new NAFTA having all the nation sovereignty killing provisions of the TPP, particularly the ISDS, I think, is supported elsewhere. Moreover, I believe Trump has indicated he is willing to revisit the TPP but with “his” changes. If they are anything like his “changes” to NAFTA, your argument, at least on that point, is considerably weakened if not going entirely up in smoke.

                Granted, Trump’s apparent willingness to revisit the TPP was short lived, but that doesn’t make me particularly comfortable that Trump is on the right side of this issue. More likely, he boxed himself in for the time being.

                Reply
          4. Tom Bradford

            What damaging stuff has Trump done? How about stacking the Courts with right-wing judges who are going to fight any attempt to introduce anything with a whiff of socialism in it for the next twenty years? How about removing what feeble safe-guards there were to protect the environment or possibly delay climate disaster for a couple of years? How about establishing the principle that occupants of the highest office in the land need no principles whatsoever?

            You’re happy that a man with the power to start a nuclear war has absolutely no moral compass, no comprehension of ethics, no knowledge of history and only one guiding principle – what’s in it for my ego and my pocket.

            Yes, previous Presidents have been dumb, duplicious, dirty and or devious to greater or lesser degrees but all, I would suggest, have had some concept of what the Office entailed and felt some compunction to meet those obligations to a greater or lesser extent. Trump, though, genuinely sees the Office of President of the United States solely as a birthright, a natural reward and recognition of his genius and abilities, and is motivated only by adulation or the erotic rewards of the exercise of power.

            I have the great good fortune to live half-a-world away but Trump still terrifies me the way I would never have believed an American President could, let alone would.

            Reply
            1. tegnost

              You’re happy that a man with the power to start a nuclear war has absolutely no moral compass, no comprehension of ethics, no knowledge of history and only one guiding principle – what’s in it for my ego and my pocket.
              I’m sorry, which of the past 5 presidents are you talking about?

              Reply
      4. Chris Cosmos

        I think he means “most dangerous” to the political establishment whose favor he’s trying to gain. He knows very well how the game is played particularly after he was made some offer he could not refuse around the time of the Democratic Convention in ’16. We assume politics as reported by the mainstream news is what it is. Actually, it’s mainly a Machiavellian affair with lots of arm-twisting, horse-heads on beds, and a variety of carrots and sticks wielded by guys with real power

        Trump is just embarrassing to the political class which is the class below the ruling class, FYI.

        Reply
        1. Chris Hargens

          I think it’s useful to make a distinction between “dangerous” and “destructive”. The former suggests future acts; the latter past acts. From this perspective, I would suggest that Trump’s instability and unpredictability has created a greater sense of danger for the public than previous presidents–e.g., will he start a nuclear war?, will he go to war with Iran?, is he fomenting greater internal unrest?

          Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Is Trump being unpredictive on purpose?

            I rememger he said just before taking office, that he wanted, referring to foreign policy where the US, up to then, had tended to telegraph our plan to the world beforehand, to keep them guessing all the time.

            If so, that is straight basic Sunzi 101.

            Reply
            1. Shonde

              You hit the nail on the head. He keeps everyone, including us USAians, off balance and, speaking for myself, that creates fear. Very Sun Tzu.

              Reply
          2. Pookah Harvey

            I don’t think he would go to war with Iran but Venezuela is another story. If Trump’s poll numbers are down and with Bolton and Abrams already putting together a “coalition of the willing” (Brazil, Columbia, etc.) , having a few American soldiers killed in “freeing” Venezuela would have the population rallying around the flag. Bernie has not helped himself by agreeing that Maduro is a dictator if he succeeds in being the Democratic nominee. The fiasco of Iraq did not hurt Bush in 2004. The way the MSM is portraying Maduro, a war in Venezuela would not hurt Trump, especially if the propaganda is intensified.

            Reply
      5. NotReallyHere

        Hear, Hear!

        I remember in the 2016 primaries Bernie impressed me with his line which basically said – don’t call your opponents things you can’t come from. Now he’s out there yelling ‘ist at everyone.

        He also said I dont believe American workers should have to compete with workers earning 50 cents an hour, but now says border enforcement is racist. I’d love to know how a US citizen farm hand in Vermont can compete with an unfortunate traffic-ed illegal from Central America working on a dairy farm for little or nothing.

        https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/fear-on-the-farm-trumps-immigration-crackdown-threatens-vermonts-dairy-industry/Content?oid=4031604

        Reply
        1. Aumua

          When the corporations can (and do) just move their production to wherever they can pay the lowest wages, then I don’t understand what American workers competing with 50 cents an hour workers has to do with border enforcement. Can you tell me?

          Reply
          1. John Wright

            There are jobs that can be outsourced overseas, but many other jobs that require a physical presence (security guards, construction workers, teachers, doctors, landscapers, plumbers….) who can be replaced with people moving from outside the USA.

            Corporations can move production overseas, but it is hard to move a need for personal service overseas.

            I know someone who had a roofing company in LA, a task that certainly requires on the job human worker presence. He told me he could not raise his labor costs for 20 years.

            One can make the argument that US workers are overpaid relative to the much of the rest of the world, but that doesn’t suggest, to me, that US workers are anxious to regress to the mean by allowing more workers into the USA via lax border enforcement.

            Reply
      6. Arizona Slim

        Good grief, Bernie. You’re old enough to remember Johnson and Nixon. Those guys were much more dangerous than Trump.

        And one more thing, Bernie: Lose the Russia! Russia! Russia! schtick. That one’s way past its expiration date. Oh, the evidence of Russian collusion with Trump is still not out there.

        Reply
      7. Oh

        Excellent speech. I think a President who guts environmental regulations, throws away the Paris climate accord (albeiet a pretty weak one), rips up an agreement with Iran, hires convicted felon, a a torturer and shady characters indeed deserves the label “most dangerous President in modern history”.

        I agree that the Dimrats are dangerous too, start with Nancy, Chuckie et al but Bernie cannot start by calling them out. Unfortunately, quite a few Dimrats cannot admit that and it would be self defeating for Bernie to call them what they are. His message has to hit the high points and he did that in his speech.

        Go Bernie and somehow with our help you can pull off the seemingly impossible task. WIth our help, maybe Bernie can dismantle the two party duopoly.

        Reply
    2. Henry Moon Pie

      Bernie was “welcomed” to the race by one of Markos Moulitsas’s most obnoxious henchman, the abrasive and spelling-challenged lawyer, Armando. At least this DK diary calling out Armando’s mischief, written by one of the Bernie supporters who survived the 2016 purge, was allowed to be published.

      Reply
      1. Mark Gisleson

        Armando gets very upset when you link his name to Moulitsas. I did that on Twitter once and he immediately said his views were his own!

        Which is exactly what I used to say when I stooged for others.

        At the time I never realized that while neoliberals were voting for war in Congress, other neoliberals were fronting the online peace movement, positioning themselves to “lead” the blogging class into a brave new neoworld.

        Reply
        1. Chris Cosmos

          Sounds like an interesting story. My own view is that DKOS is a CIA misinformation program of sorts. As we know, Operation Mockingbird was revealed in the 70s and had to go into dormancy afterwards. A few years later it was revived in the early eighties (remember how all news organizations pulled out of El Salvador because death-squad activity was no longer “news”–I knew a reporter for a major news weekly who resigned over this) and since then has blossomed to almost completely control the mainstream media and much of the “alternative” media. I have no smoking-gun proof of course other than testimony of people fired from jobs, in the media, for opposing some war or other. Of course this may not be CIA, it could be more informal but something controls the media so that it never strays off the reservation.

          Reply
          1. barefoot charley

            I loved how MSNBC canned their biggest and most profitable show because that devil Phil Donahue didn’t want to invade Iraq. One wonders what MSNBC got instead of profits, in light of Moonves’s quote that Trump was terrible for his country, but great for CBS. Business is business.

            Reply
          2. Mark Gisleson

            I drove Moulitsas around the Twin Cities when he was promoting his first book. He struck me as very sincere.

            I suspect that, like most prog pols, he started out transparently, then got sucked into the Borg where he seems to be quite comfortable.

            As for CIA, I have trouble mentally linking them to popular media. Or maybe they’re why DKos tanked. I’ve avoided them for over a decade now. Post-2004 that community klang-birded itself to where I don’t even see links to them in my social media. More or less a closed cmty now.

            Reply
            1. Chris Cosmos

              Look up Operation Mockingbird. The intel community and the military have admitted that part of their job is to manage the media–there’s nothing to stop them. The intel community has no practical accountability–so why shouldn’t they go in for controlling the media? Best possible bang for the buck.

              Reply
            2. Chris Cosmos`

              CIA officers and agents are very charming to a man/woman–if they are in covert services. The others are more nerdy.

              Reply
    3. JohnnyGL

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGLdebLKM7o

      Bernie’s Interview with CBS.

      First Q: What’s going to be different this time?

      Bernie: This time we’re going to win.

      I like that start to the interview, he also reinforces the ambition of what he’s setting out to do. Lots of talk about fighting the oligarchs by organizing ordinary people. Lots of Medicare for All and other policy talk. On ‘realism’ for health care, he happily lists off a bunch of other countries that do healthcare better than USA.

      Reply
        1. Oh

          Yes. He was able neutralize a lot of innuendos and misinformation that CBS (corporate brainwashing system) threw at him. There will be more of these attempts and we have to be alert.

          Reply
  6. richard

    Andrew Cockburn’s piece in Harpers is worth a read
    a fine rundown of Biden’s career
    you are what you do
    would be an important concept for biden to keep in mind
    as he ponders a 3rd run for the presidency
    (“I heard that! No snickering back there!”)
    because here’s why:
    if you are what you do
    then joe biden is a poor scolding, poor imprisoning, poor robbing and poor enslaving, windbag f*&% up.
    the mirror will refuse to lie at your age joe
    it’s little late in the game for a New Nixon makeover
    but
    he might try some lipstick on that pig yet

    Reply
      1. Shonde

        Excellent read and makes one wonder about the timing of the article. Can this be an attempt to tell Biden he has too much baggage and better pull back any plans to run?

        Reply
    1. Situation Normal

      I agree that this piece is a must read. It is even better than the takedown published in Jacobin and could serve as the authoritative rap sheet for Joe Biden’s political career. I am surprised it found its home in the mainstream media because criticizing US foreign policy, particularly citing American support for the Maidan and pointing out corruption in Ukraine, is ordinarily taboo.

      Incidentally, “No Joe!” would be an excellent antidote to whatever anodyne gibberish ends up being his official campaign slogan.

      Reply
    1. cnchal

      I’m waiting for the cartoon of an upside down Amazon dic pic with the words “Not in a New York minute, buster!” directly above.

      Seems Amazon, the sweatshop of logistics, has problems with an out of control AI no human touch automated seller system. Big surprise.

      . . . Authors and publishers are forced to police Amazon’s marketplace themselves for counterfeit books—and the same is true of other products sold through Amazon.

      The problem is that Amazon apparently doesn’t police whether book content uploaded to CreateSpace actually belongs to the person doing the uploading. As others who sell through Amazon have discovered, Amazon has had a problem with mixing legitimate and counterfeit products in fulfillment warehouses because of how it prepositions product for Prime Delivery.

      Two years ago, Amazon launched an effort to crack down on counterfeit goods sold through Amazon’s Marketplace using a brand registry, but book pirating through CreateSpace has continued unabated. Such pirated titles are being sold directly by Amazon, not through third-party Marketplace sellers. Earlier this month, Amazon executives admitted in the company’s earnings report that the company has a huge counterfeiting problem.

      Here is a comment from the article that gets to the nub of the issue.

      From Fuzzworks:

      Plus the crappy products that have already even returned at least once, often defective, with missing parts and packaging. I finally gave up on Amazon a few Christmases back where half the stuff I ordered was broken/messed up old returns. And then! Amazon got mad and started threatening me because *I* made so many returns…returning the piles and piles of damaged/dirty/missing parts pre-returned products they sold me.

      Reply
      1. ChristopherJ

        I cannot bring myself to even think about using the company.

        When I published a couple of novels, I avoided them and went through an indep publisher.

        Despite this, createspace picked up the manuscripts and is selling my books without my authority.

        Moreover, no royalties for me.

        When you generate such a monopoly, you become above the law that the rest of us follow

        Reply
  7. The Rev Kev

    “Bruno Ganz: always poetic and inspired, from Hitler’s bunker rant to a Berlin angel”

    What a magnificent performance that he put in for “Downfall”. He may have been uncomfortable with all the memes made out of that one scene but he seem to accept it for the compliment it was in later life. Here is one example of that meme and not even the funniest-

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

    Reply
    1. You're soaking in it!

      “Wings of Desire” is one of my all time favorite films, touching, beautifully shot, and capturing the perfect end of an era, including an excellent Peter Falk. Ganz was one of those actors who never stopped working, and whose love of the art inspired across cultures and genres.

      Reply
    2. RUKidding

      I’ve long admired Bruno Ganz and enjoyed everything he acted in that I could see. Very sad to learn of his untimely demise. RIP. Fortunately Ganz was a prolific actor.

      Of course, one does have to chortle at all of the excellent “Hitler in the Bunker” parodies. Also quite funny and the scene will probably be used for similar shenanigans for the foreseeable future.

      Reply
    3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      RIP Bruno.

      His take as Virgil in Lars Von Triers The House That Jack Built is perfect.

      I was always a little uncomfortable with the Hitler Memes even if they were funny as f.

      Reply
    4. ewmayer

      Fine, fine actor, whose range is captured by contrasting e.g. the Australian-produced The Last Days of Chez Nous with his by-now-immortal performance in Der Untergang. It would be interesting to see a count of how many YouTube riff videos have been made based on the famous “Es bleiben…” epic-rant scene in the latter movie.

      Reply
      1. cinephile

        Circle of Deceit, In the White City, The American Friend, Knife in the Head–all superb lesser-known Ganz films. And there’s a delicious turn in the recent Sally Potter flick, The Party.

        Reply
  8. richard

    I didn’t have any issue with what he said. He will be running against the guy, after all, and it’s not like he gets all tds or anything. Can you explain your thinking?

    Reply
  9. JohnnySacks

    With regards to the Sunrun solar panel lease debacle at property transfer, if you don’t know which party is the mark when signing a lease, then you’re the mark. Escalating cost tiers on a zero input, no maintenance system, what crap. Did anyone not foresee the level of grift and deception this business model would seize upon and exploit? Bad enough when a customer pays up front directly and takes the tax credit, he ends up with assuming the risk of having some fly by night contractor’s untrained low wage employees drilling through his roof and hacking together a system in the absolutely quickest way possible, a system made up of components that will be obsolete at about the same time a pair of shoes wears out.
    We’ve been considering it but can’t get past the assumption that a new 5 figure roof will be damaged and more wiring and conduit will be tacked on the outside of our house making it look like something out of a William Gibson tech dystopia.

    Reply
    1. martha ramsey

      report: i considered buying in to community solar and taking out a state-backed “energy efficiency” loan to pay for it, with the promise that eventually i would recover and better my investment in the form of lower or zero electricity bills. being leery of the loan obligation, i decided not to go for it. i continued to get phone calls from a solar company of some kind located out west, repeatedly pushing me to buy in. after a few months of hearing the same “buy now because others are buying this up and soon it will be too late to get in on it” shtick, i felt relieved that i did not bite.

      persistent marketing of this kind does not necessarily indicate a bad product, and we do live in times where “the market is all” is not only a governing myth but a snowballing reality. so why should i be bothered at the morphing of solar energy from a hippie dream into a vast capitalistic industry? must get over that. oh, wait–they’re marketing it as virtuous, clean, AND cheap, that’s why! something for nothing, plus you are saving the planet. so . . . caveat emptor.

      Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I always wondered how solar panels could acquire so much markup moving on top a roof that it was necessary to take out a substantial loan to pay for them. Given the way the Grid works, the idea of selling the rooftop solar back into the Grid seemed very ‘off’. And then I read about the electronics necessary to convert the relatively simple direct current from solar panels into a feed ready for the Grid, their cost and reliability. Solar panels looked to me like a way to sell loans and work for contractors … and their firms.

      The Green New Deal has its work cut out for it if it has any intention of remaining ‘green’ without Neoliberal ‘shading’.

      Reply
      1. JohnnySacks

        I’m more of a centralized fan, at least a public utility has the engineering resources to spec out, repair, and oversee the installation and replacement of the equipment. I’m just a basic homeowner with probably more engineering knowledge than the average person and the complexity of project management and maintenance of a personal power generation system is more than I’d want to take on.
        Not saying rooftop won’t happen, but I’d need to feel really confident about the devils in the details.

        Reply
    3. heresy101

      The SunRun article has most of the facts right but is deceptive about solar given the unique home location and customer use.

      I ran the Calif SB1 solar rebate program for a small municipal utility on and off from 2008 to 2018. Solar started at $9/watt installed in 2008 with a $2.80/watt rebate plus the 30% tax credit and the payback time was over 15 years for a 25 year life cycle. By about 2013, solar had dropped to $4-5/watt ($1.70 rebate) and payback at 8-10 years. Today, residential solar installation is about $2-2.75/watt with a payback of 6-7 years and no rebate and the 30% tax credit going away.

      We had an elderly lady with the same issues as Mr. Jug – they charged too much and sold her too large a system. Despite our protestations, she went with that seller because she wanted to do something good for the earth before she left.

      From about 2013 to 2017, the TPO model was the majority of the solar sales. As costs came down, that model was still sold but most of the systems were purchased outright. At today’s prices of about $2.50/watt, the cost of a 4 kW system generating about 530 kWh per month would be $10K ($7K after credit), which would be $907 per year if a 2nd loan were taken at 5% over 10 years. It would average about $0.14/kWh, or a $33/month savings over SCE’s tiered rates. The savings for 1,000 kWh (house w/air conditioning) would be about $80/month.

      What is deceptive about the article is the location in Santa Barbara (NO air conditioning) and energy usage of the author. To have a $30/month bill at $0.18/kWh SCE rate would be about 200 kWh/month usage. My co-worker had a 200 kWh usage but she was in charge of energy efficiency and her kids were in college. The only other customers with 200 kWh usage were retired ladies living in small apartments. The average usage in PG&E territory is 550 kWh/month and the bill would be similar to SCE’s $109. The author is right that solar doesn’t make sense for her because a 1.5 kW system generating 200 kWh/month would only save $5.50/month.

      Finally, it is not likely that all the solar on new houses after 2020 will be leased because the tax credit is dropping and solar is cheap enough ($20-30K) for the developer to bundle the cost in the price.

      Reply
      1. notabanker

        I commented in another post about having looked at solar for my home and the costs were outta sight. I thought at the time that the tax incentives had been priced into the capital acquisition costs. This article clearly states we pay twice as much in the US as other countries. Once again, tax incentives for rentiers and not for the actual consumer.

        I would have gladly spent the capital I wound up spending on another source, but not at 3x the cost and maybe a 15-20 year payback. Some cartel has a corner on the US market. This stuff should not be as expensive as it is.

        Reply
    4. BenX

      Not mentioned in the article is gains in solar panel efficiency. You might want to consider that a solar array in 2030 could be twice as efficient as what is produced today – or maybe they will be made with biodegradable material – or maybe all future roof tiles will be a combination of solar panel and battery with self-healing nanotech. In any case, a 30yr old solar panel is fairly certain to be a future liability and not by an means an asset to a property.

      Reply
    5. Oh

      The model where the power company pays you a pittance when your meter runs backwards stinks. If you’re committed to PV’s pay for it in full, get batteries for backup, get an electric car and get off the grid. I worked out the details of CO2 emissions from EV’s and the only scenario that makes sense is when you charge your EV from solar generated electricity not from the power company. You may want to charge the EV in the afternoon hours to take advantage of the sunlight in your area and therefore the power from PVs.

      Reply
  10. Amfortas the hippie

    Re: black market weed in Cali.
    I’ve come across numerous stories like this while researching how to position myself to jump on it when Texas finally comes to it’s senses.
    part of the issue is that the various states(all with very different processes fr getting licenses) don’t issue enough grow permits…or the licenses are prohibitively expensive…or the regs are so onerous that only philip morris can afford to do them.
    so these places legalise, demand shoots up…but supply languishes….so of course, black(and gray) markets rush into the void.
    interestingly, Vermont seems to have gone intentionally Gray Market.
    I prefer the Willie Nelson Model—small growers…taking a page from the original Organic Movement.
    I reckon that Texas will do this stupidly….the Radio Preacher(lite gov) and his ilk have spent so much hot air, over so many decades, vilifying the Noble Weed,, that they can’t rhetorically change course without admitting that they were wrong.
    so they will pretend to be dragged into the modern era. taxable weed would go a long way towards solving their perennial property tax woes.
    I expect Texas to take 2- 3 years at best to get a regulatory system up and running, and that interregnum presents the once in many lifetimes opportunity, ere the Big Boys corner it all.
    hard to do, of course….RJ Reynolds prolly can get all their ducks in a row—and even practice growing,lol(ie: in legal states)…before it’s legal(hell, they’ve been practicing for decades, no doubt)…while I must wait til abbot actually signs a bill and then rush around.

    there’s also a weird “conventional wisdom” at work…practically everywhere I look, including legal state ag departments, the belief seems to be that one needs a million dollar indoor grow “facility”.
    I say…yeah…if you’re in greenland, maybe.
    weed is a row crop…or near enough….and robust compared to the majority of other row crops(regarding pest and disease and drought resistance.)
    that’s much lower overhead…because you let mother nature play mother nature, rather than having to fill her role yourself.
    There doesn’t appear to be any movement on this in the current session(Texas Lege meets every 2 years)…but Legislature news is often quite opaque…and I’ve been rather busy, so I may have missed it.
    already in Texas, one can’t find the Mexican Brick any more; cartels have been obviated by colorado, et al.
    so the interdiction apparatus has been shifted from the border to the panhandle. when Texas does legalise, the flood from colorado will become a torrent, and demand will once again outstrip supply.
    I look forward to the chaos.

    Reply
    1. Mark Gisleson

      I import mine from another “legal” state. It’s very easy for govt-inspected cannabis crops to shrink. Quality control is not scrutinized and the same pot that shows up in stores gets taken east by entrepreneurs. If they paid all the taxes, the price of my weed would skyrocket. Instead, because there are no taxes, I can buy legal weed for less than local legal buyers (quantity discount) while making it worth the grower’s, trucker’s and go-between’s time.

      There is no way in hell of extracting tax revenue so long as legalization remains balkanized. Once it’s legal everywhere, the revenuers will get their share. Until then, it’s a cheaters market. After a century of having to smuggle pot, there’s no way the cops can keep up with bootleggers short of setting up internal checkpoints for interstate traffic.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Curious you should mention internal checkpoints.
        I remember seeing a small convoy of local coppers and various flavours of Fed waiting by the side of the Interstate-12 to seize a drugs shipment. It was a kabuki show from the beginning. The give away was that the “Forces of Law and Order” were waiting for someone.
        So, the lesson here is that the cops cannot keep up with ALL of the bootleggers. A small ‘sampling’ of the underground economy was considered “ready for prime time.”
        As for “internal checkpoints” in general; consider the phenomenon of “Sobriety Checkpoints” on local roads. At the local level, such bottlenecks are generally tolerated under the rubric of “Keeping the Streets Safe.” (There is much lively debate about that phenomenon.) As I see it, the only reason such “Checkpoints” are not instituted on the Interstates is simply the logistics involved. So much traffic flows along the Interstate system, the backups from any checkpoint would be so large as to be both visible, annoying, and, perhaps more importantly, an impediment to interstate commerce.
        I’m now cynical enough to expect to see ‘Interstate Checkpoints’ before I shuffle off of this mortal coil. All in the name of ‘Security.’

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          the unstated policy out here is to ignore weed…unless somebody does something stupid(3 guys in a plane full of pot at our “airport” got into a big fight. neighbors called cops. —or last week, 2 teenagers caught smoking on the square)
          then sheriff’s dept puts on an off broadway minor spectacle…shakes down the local independent prostitute(surprising, to me, given the dirt(and pictures) she has), and then it quietly goes back to normal.
          former sheriff dept employee confirmed that weed was bottom of list of priorities…specifically because so many tax paying older folks…who own businesses, too…and are heads of our pioneer families…now smoke dope.
          the world has changed utterly in this regard since my teenage years in the 80’s.

          Reply
          1. pretzelattack

            some of the local county sheriffs and prosecutors still are pretty enthusiastic about stopping cars and vans on the interstate–287 is bad in spots, around wichita falls, and recently wise county. the pot busts make them a lot of money in fines etc.

            Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      One you get beyond the demand of medical Marijuana which I think will be huge (not that bs rich whites in Cali flaunting the police while laughing at minorities with their prescription), what is the value of recreational pot? My college roommate grew pot in the woods behind his house in upstate NY. He had to replace the every year. The value is its been a felony in much of the country. Unlike tobacco, how much Marijuana do you need for recreational purposes?

      There might be regional market environments with an urban/non-urban break down, but I expect either a black market to develop if the cops aren’t completely crazy (I know right) or pot to be sold at farmers markets or play the nursery type places. Small operators are having a time in Colorado because they are losing on two sides: the tourism is played out and if I can’t get arrested for a Marijuana plant after ripping out my lawn why would I buy.

      The craft breweries in Virginia have led to an expansion and new beverage delivery operations. It’s insane here. There is a brewery on every corner. This might be the place to be for a small operation, managing recreational variants between producers and distributors.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        the “devil’s weed” aura will be maintained, here…as elsewhere…to maintain legal monopoly as long as possible, I suspect.
        in Texas, for instance, if you want to make wine, beer or likker, you must convince the county judge that you’re “morally upstanding”(some such language is actually in the code)
        what that means is undefined, and is up to the magistrate in question.
        lots of wiggle room, there.
        of course, this “devil” mythos, itself, is past it’s sell by date…everyone knows that reefer madness is itself madness….but the cops play along.
        how long that’s able to be maintained, I don’t know.
        eventually…weed growing will be like home brew….totally ignored…sold between friends, when folks don’t prefer the bland, GMO corporate variety….and even the niches will be colonised by corps(e)…just like with beer and fancy likker.(what? five global corps do all the likker, and 2 do all the beer? In mexico, all the various beer is now one company…the illusion of competition and diversity)
        and at some point, yes, as you say…it’ll be like growing lettuce for the farmers market.
        little guys making bank will be limited to a brief window, i fear.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          Once again: pot, like tea, is easy to grow – in the right climate; watch out for mold toward the end – but laborious and tricky to process, especially if you want something that tastes good. Around here, requires things like dehumidifiers and humidity meters. (Yes, personal observation – it’s legal here.) Might be easier in a drier climate. So the prices at the pot shop make a certain amount of sense, especially considering the regulatory hoops to jump through in order to sell it.

          Oddly, four plants, allowed here, produce far more marijuana than individuals are allowed. Just one little glitch in the rules. Fortunately, no one cares much , at least around here, unless you try to sell it across state lines. Which, given the glut, there was a lot of.

          Reply
      2. ambrit

        Growing tobacco may be ‘legal’ most places, but selling what you grow is highly regulated. As usual, it’s all about the money.

        Reply
    3. notabanker

      It’s been a joke in Ohio. Unless you are connected to the people appointed to the commission to decide who gets permits, forget having a shot. Politicians are totally gaming this legislation.

      Reply
  11. The Rev Kev

    “YouTube to blame for rise in flat Earth believers, says study”

    I hardly think that this is really fair blaming YouTube for this belief. As an example, how many people in America believed in angels before the internet even took off? No YouTube or Facebook back then to account for this widespread belief.

    Reply
    1. Joey

      The frightening foreshadowing in this piece is Google promising to gradually ban heterodox content. First flat earth-ers, then truthers, then vince foster narratives, then Chelsea manning, then NC…

      Reply
      1. Morgan Everett

        I do think that you’re right that disallowing certain viewpoints, no matter how nonsensical I think them to be, is a potential wedge that can be used later on viewpoints that I don’t find stupid.

        Reply
      2. skk

        I’ve watched a couple of their conference speeches on YouTube. As my bedtime story. Very interesting as in it blots the daily travails out of my mind and fall asleep. If Google takes it away, what next ? These heterodox lot help me sleep damnit

        Reply
    2. Chris Cosmos

      No offense, but belief in angels is not the same thing. Many people, like me, have seen “alterate” beings whether labelled “angels” or “aliens.” Just look, as an example, to the research of someone like John Mack who was head of the Dept. of Psychiatry at Harvard and a Pulitzer Prize winner and many others who have clearly documented research on strange encounters.

      Reply
  12. Brooklin Bridge

    What Happened When I Bought a House With Solar Panels

    I was hoping for detail on resident owned panels, but the article makes up for an all too familiar issue (rent extraction and crooked sales schemes) by being well written and very detailed. For instance, taking the realtor to court (or threatening to do so) and getting the solar contract paid off due to realtor’s claims of no 3rd party liens on the property. Also, diving into just how costly (compared to simply getting power from the utility company) the solar panel rental “deal” in question actually was. As to the scummy sales tactics, absolutely shameful.

    The article exposes a number of bottom feeder tricks that are useful and informative to know as well as that illustrate some of the underbelly of solar rental schemes. It still leaves one wondering why W.C.Fields was sooo right. In a world where greed and it’s spawn of dodgy tactics are so openly admired, what makes us still fall for these schemes? What turns off the “healthy skepticism” gene? And I say “us” because it seems we all have our weak spot and the previous owner’s weak spot (he had only recently signed the “deal” even though he knew he was terminally ill) had been “electronics” and the fact he couldn’t (or didn’t think he could) afford the cost of a solar installation on his own. That and the low life salesperson following even lower life company directives (often referred to as where the “smart money” is), of course.

    Reply
    1. Wendell

      > It still leaves one wondering why W.C.Fields was sooo right.

      Sorry, I don’t get the Fields reference. ‘Sooo right’ about what?

      Reply
      1. whine country

        Just a guess but Fields supposedly said: “You can fool some of the people some of the time — and that’s enough to make a decent living”

        Reply
      2. Brian (another one they call)

        perhaps; “Never give a sucker an even break” “never smarten up a chump” “Make him drag you lady, he got you drunk” But perhaps the reference is to; “You can’t cheat an honest man”

        Reply
        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Never give a sucker an even break bingo! A cynical way of putting it, but no doubt the bottom line of the salesman who got the previous owner to sign on the dotted line for something that would cost him a fortune compared to the utility company.

          Reply
          1. Brooklin Bridge

            I looked for that and couldn’t find it. But I swear I heard it in at least one of his films (though granted, a l-o-n-g t-i-m-e ago). Do you have a source?

            Reply
      3. Brooklin Bridge

        There was also the, “A sucker is born every minute” line which I could have sworn I heard him say in one of his films (a long time agl), but I couldn’t get any positives when doing a web query. Except that it is probably not from P.T. Barnum. Anyway, “Never give a sucker an even break.” was close enough, though from the salesman’s perspective.

        Reply
    2. Another Scott

      This is one of the many reasons why I’m so conflicted about solar panels. It’s clear that many people do not understand the costs of the detail (see the escalation assumption used), let alone the legal implications of the contracts. I don’t think that many of the people selling the systems door-to-door understand them either. The companies often hire recent college graduates excited about reducing global warming and give them a script to follow. They can answer a few basic questions, but nothing in depth.

      The rent seeking in this industry is astounding, that is a feature, not a bug, of how the industry developed. The discussion of tax equity owners reminded me of Schumer demanding a permanent extension of the solar tax incentives. Wall Street, surprise, surprise, benefits enormously from them, both to reduce their taxes and through arranging the deals. This is a very inefficient way of financing solar projects, meaning there are a lot of transaction costs, which go to advisers and consultants, not the users of the solar systems.

      Reply
  13. The Rev Kev

    “No, You Can’t Ignore Email. It’s Rude. ”

    Not all emails are equal. The one from a friend is not equal with the one suggesting that I invest in bitcoins or marijuana farming. The one from a relative is not the same as one that says that there is a problem with your bank account so click on the link to log onto your account. Some emails from strangers look suspect from the get-go and are deleted right off the blocks. As for the ones talking about Canadian meds and strange, exotic women wanting to contact me yeah, nah!

    Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i’ve never got in the habit of using emails…never required for my job(s).
        so mine pretty much just sits there, filling up…used for access, and not much else.
        when I do occasionally open it up and look…a whole bunch of pleas from various team blue outfits, begging for money is what’s mostly there.

        Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Specific versions of spam that I get on top of the usual:

      1. People offering to provide guest posts. Creepily similar pitch. All written at the 4th grade level. They usually e-mail at least 3x acting as if I need to reply (“Still waiting for your response”).

      2. Publicists…OMG…”Here is this story of the day. XYZ guy you never heard of who thinks he is an expert is available for interview.”

      3. SEO services. These are always super bad. Clearly canned, often have the site name wrong, barely literate.

      4. All sorts of publications/mailing lists I never subscribed to, like “Collection Industry News” and women’s networks and all sorts of Congresscritters when I never gave to the horrible Dem party (but I am a registered Dem, otherwise you are disenfranchised in NY). These are like cockroaches. Many do not honor unsubscribe notices or their messages are spam (no unsubscribe option). And new ones keep popping up.

      Reply
      1. Arizona Slim

        My sympathies, Yves. You get the same kinds of spam that I do.

        I also plead guilty to not answering the phone if I don’t recognize the number.

        Reply
    2. ChrisPacific

      I don’t know why the author felt the need to write a column on this. I think anyone with basic understanding of professionalism understands the difference between “Recipient, let me tell you about this great opportunity that we have for you” and “We need to clarify something by EOD regarding a section of this critical document that you wrote, can you help?”

      Slightly (but not much) more advanced is knowing when picking up the phone or meeting in person is better than responding in kind. People don’t typically enter the workforce knowing this, but the smarter ones figure it out pretty quickly after they’ve had a few email threads go off-track.

      Reply
  14. The Rev Kev

    “US elites remain incapable of understanding China”

    A lot of the demands that Trump and his cronies are making of China is that they pull back on technological development and have the economy more open to be exploited by western countries thus making China more vulnerable to foreign manipulation. Yeah, I wouldn’t take that deal either. Better stock up on Christmas toys from China as they may be harder to get by the end of the year. This whole thing about trying to hold back China’s development and to keep it vulnerable seemed to be vaguely familiar but could not place it until by serendipity an email arrived today that had the missing memory file. This what Britain did to America before the Revolution. It tried to keep the colony as only a source of resources and finished articles could only be purchased from Britain itself while they tried to deny the 13 colonies the means to industrialize themselves. They also locked the Colony from shipping from other countries so that only shipping from Britain was allowed. I do not have the book handy that talked about pre-Revolutionary America but I do remember those points as well as the fact that there were others which made for a lot of dissatisfied people in the colonies and helped breed resentment. So you could say that Washington wants to do to China what once London did to the 13 American colonies.

    Reply
    1. Chris Cosmos

      It’s always confusing to look at US foreign policy because it is NEVER entirely rational. Certainly, I understand the general policy of belligerence around the world–the US government has to find ways to insert military forces and make war in order to feed the Moloch of the most powerful lobby in Washington, the military and “security” sector or the economy–that is always “job one” for any administration. I also know that mid-level diplomats and military officers do understand China and other countries reasonable well but their advice is almost never taken. Many people knew very well that the Vietnam War was a disaster as the Pentagon Papers told us, many people knew for a fact that Saddam had no WMDs, I include here the major media that supported the invasion. I heard, for example, that the Bush administration simply threw in the trash reports on how best to manage the Occupation of Iraq and just winged it which was exactly what happened during the Vietnam War. I know from someone who was there every day in the decision making process that the WH simply ignored reports from experts and did whatever was judged as politically expedient at the time.

      I suspect with China, there are political pressures from somewhere that want a Cold War atmosphere perhaps to make sure Pentagon budgets aren’t cut–I don’t know but something like that is going on. Perhaps alongside business interests close to the WH pushing this nonsense.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It’s not rationale because there is no shadow conspiracy. It’s a mix of interests.

        I would say “because we can” might be the best simple explanation. I’m reminded of the story about Dempsey trying to explain to Kerry the difference between Libya and Syria was Syria could retaliate which is what would happen if the U.S. advanced beyond proxies. Obama put Libya to a vote of his advisers. That might be the most god dawn embarrassing thing I’ve ever heard.

        With Iraq in 2003, the warnings largely focused on occupation given the state of Iraq after a decade of sanctions. Fortress Baghdad didn’t materialize, but the over riding principle was “because we could and get away with it.”

        There was a fairly comprehensive refugee plan and managed civil war plan about Iraq in the event of Hussein dying without a clear successor (elections matter). Those boys were too rambunctious to work together and the one with the Crack units of the Republican Guard was a nut. There was an expectation for a three way fight among the Baathists plus local uprisings which would mean refugees pouring into Syria and Jordan plus the potential for hostage taking in the Gulf. The general in question had half a million men in mind to manage, not fight, just limit the conflict.

        Reply
        1. Chris Cosmos

          How is “because we could” a policy? There has to be some motivation for this. There’s way too many dollars at stake in Washington for that to be a policy. Washington runs on money and that attracts truly big-time hustlers from around the world. These people are, in my mind, gangsters who make money out of the misery of others–they make the old Italian mobsters look quaint. Look at what happened in Afghanistan and Iraq. Contracts were written to build “schools” they laid some concrete put up some walls and called it a done deal and got paid for a “school” meanwhile the buildings languished–the corruption of war is astonishing.

          At one time there was a policy that had an object to it however negative. Today, that object seems to be corruption. If that’s what you mean then I agree.

          Reply
    2. jsn

      The DC mentality really does see the world as a colony to be exploited in whatever way some corporate manager or executive can imagine.

      Reply
  15. Summer

    IRe: India Silicon Valley.

    They aren’t turning their backs on Silicon Valley. Bad analogy because they are smart enough to not turn their backs because you don’t turn your back on a dangerous animal. They are passing regulations like it is their business to do because it’s their f’in country.

    Reply
  16. Chris Cosmos

    There doesn’t seem much interest her in Venezuela which I think is a critically important matter. This is a test of the ability of the US Imperial system to succeed at something. The strategy is basically, to lay siege to Venezuela in steps hoping to intimidate the people of that country as well as support the “opposition” and run special ops and sabotage like they did in Nicaragua. I think the Washington martinet faction sees Venezuela as a “must win” situation. They have failed everywhere to bring about any result that could even vaguely described as a success so they really need this one. Unlike the attempt to go to war with Iran which, it appears, the Europeans have rejected resoundingly in the past week or so which symbolized that direct orders from Washington are now no longer automatically followed. On the other hand, the Europeans have supported Washington in Venezuela since it is across the ocean.

    What remains is to see what the Russians and Chinese will do. I don’t think they will come to the defense of Venezuela should there be an invasion but are carefully watching events and will no doubt snipe at the edges. Even though a US takeover of Venezuela (even if done by Brazilian and Columbian troops) seems likely because failure is not an option or the US risks further fraying of the Empire with a new President in 2020 who may have a mandate to roll back the Imperium (slowly of course).

    Reply
    1. Kurtismayfield

      There is no support because it is so blatantly about oil and US hegemony over the Venezuelan economy that no one of right might would make the argument that it isn’t. Maybe if Trump came out and said “Its about the oil” he might have better luck selling it.

      Reply
    2. Situation Normal

      I am personally very concerned about the US-backed coup attempt in Venezuela. I wrote a letter to the editor to my local newspaper in Canada (which, to my great dismay, also supports the coup).

      I’m not sure I agree Venezuela is a must win for the US. One would think, for instance, Pompeo would have learned how to pronounce the opposition leader’s name properly if this were true. And, in a sense, the US always wins inasmuch as its objectives include diverting more funds to the military-industrial complex, thereby enhancing its profitability and grip on power. I’m reminded of the scene in Dr. Strangelove where the major rides the nuclear bomb. The mainstream media, whether liberal or conservative, has shown it can be relied upon to promote US foreign policy with alacrity by crafting compelling narratives in support of it–notwithstanding that these may be deeply misleading or outright fraudulent–as if the extremely recent misadventures in Syria, Libya, etc. never occurred or are somehow not germane. The liberal media, for its part, experiences transient amnesia regarding its hatred of Trump and view that he is unfit to be President.

      As for whether the intervention will be anything but an unmitigated disaster, I very much doubt that. The opposition is fractured and the military seems unwilling to depose Maduro via a coup. Imposing sanctions is not a very effective way of achieving regime change. On the other hand, it is very effective at immiserating the most vulnerable members of the population. Even if Maduro does step down, there is no guarantee that total chaos or even civil war will be prevented, neither of which is conducive to US oil majors setting up shop there (won’t somebody please think of the profits!). But, hey, I guess oil prices have gone up a bit. Mission accomplished.

      I’m not sure there is much Russia and China can do to mitigate the effect of sanctions short of providing boatloads of cash, writing off loans, or providing low-interest loans to the Venezuelan government, to say nothing of the difficulty of delivering the required funds. I suspect they are not willing to risk billions of dollars with little prospect of long-term gain. Perhaps Russia and China accept that Latin America–at least for now–remains firmly ensconced in America’s sphere of influence.

      Reply
    3. The Rev Kev

      I saw a group from the European Parliament land in Venezuela at the invite of alternate-President Random Guy but the real government turned them around and put them on the next plane back to Europe. They were very bitter at this as they had all sorts of plans to support President Random Guy. Seems too that when Random Guy goes out he has a screen of Diplomats to protect him from being arrested which is not supposed to be their job. Meanwhile, India is taking the oil that the US refused so if Venezuela can hold fast, will the US ever get that oil again? Some refiners in the US want to know.
      In related news, the authorities in Haiti have arrested a group of men, five of whom are American and who had a ton of weaponry with them. As there was a Russian and a Serb arrested too, this sounds like a team of mercs but no word who placed their contract-

      https://www.rt.com/news/451787-haiti-armed-us-citizens-arrested/

      Reply
  17. Musicismath

    It’s been interesting watching the evolving class politics of “fake news” discourse. Someone remarked to me very recently, during a conversation on the Gilet Jaunes, that they’d heard that GJ supporters were big fake news believers and that some had apparently even expressed enthusiasm for chem-trails conspiracies and the Flat Earth. Working via the usual liberal logic of the smear, this group of fringe beliefs supposedly held by a small sub-set of members of the GJ was enough to brand the movement as a whole as beneath contempt.

    All the while, I was thinking how class-inflected the whole “fake news” idea is. After all, it’s not the done thing in liberal/left-neoliberal circles to call Buzz Feed, or the NYT, or the WP, or the Guardian conveyors of fake news, despite the dizzying number of demonstrably false stories each of those outlets has carried over the past few years on Russian collusion/Assange/infrastructure attacks/Trump impeachment, etc, etc. It seems we’re just supposed to pass over the failure of those stories to pan out with a sort of respectful, dignified silence. Their fake news is embarrassing and declasse–proof that the little people can’t be trusted with any sort of political power, or even representation–whereas our fake news is simply “unconfirmed reports” from “anonymous sources,” which may just deliver us the keys to the castle next news cycle if we believe it hard enough.

    Reply
  18. Summer

    Re: Plan to avert banking chaos in no-deal Brexit

    Deal or no deal, who was really worried about something bad happening to the big banks? That was always first thing on the list to take care of.

    Reply
  19. Louis Fyne

    Anyone left of -center who thinks Pence is better than Trump needs to listen to more Pence speeches. Or has total Trump Derangement Syndrome. Just sayin

    Potus Pence + rubber-stamping interventionist Congress, what can go wrong?

    Reply
  20. Jason Boxman

    The ‘self made’ myth is also debunked in the book ‘How to Get Lucky’ by Max Gunther. I still need to finish reading that. I apparently have about 5 books I haven’t had time to read at this point. It’s somewhat unnerving.

    Reply
  21. PKMKII

    On the SunRun article: been seeing a lot of their vans around lately. My neighbor got them installed last year, somewhat similar situation as “Jug” in the article: in her 70’s, has debts against the house, meager income. Methinks they target older folks like that, luring them with the promise of cheaper electric upfront, knowing that they’ll ignore whatever the long-term issues will be because, they’ll be dead by then, it’ll be the trust or their kids’ problem then.

    Reply
    1. Anon

      Yes, the elderly are particularly susceptible to the SunRun scheme. Hell, even young folks don’t understand the effects of compounding rates. I’ve warned against the scheme here in the Commentariat for years.

      The elderly usually have fixed income and some forego food to meet utility payments. What drives me crazy is the lack of ethical behavior on the part of ALL the folks in the supply chain for SunRun: salespeople, installers, etc. They ALL know the scam, but continue to feed it for a paycheck.

      Imagine a Green New Deal that puts people to work installing solar panels for social benefit (near cost).

      Reply
    1. Chris Cosmos

      I noticed it did have a bit about Klobuchar on the front this morning. It was at the top and is now just below–extensive coverage on how the brave Klobuchar is “resisting” the lure of pandering to the “left” and saying “no”–they portray her as a pragmatist. No she’s not, she’s a corporate shill of the worst order. Madame K will be one of the favored ones by the media who always favor the most corporate-oriented candidate and insist (as CNN commentators agree) that universal health-care is not only “too expensive” but a harmful fantasy–utterly ignoring the fact the current system costs a little more than twice the average OECD cost. Facts are utterly irrelevant in the US mainstream coverage of anything beyond sports scores. They just make shit up over and over and over again.

      Reply
    2. jrs

      Well cnn blackout, but msn has it, politico has it front and center … fox mentions it. CNN does that though, it blocks out certain news, a lot.

      Reply
  22. skippy

    Confused Marsupial ….

    How can Trump complain about those seeking his demise whilst seeking the demise of a contemporary in – another country – and square or frame it in democratic terms …

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      when i first found NC…someone was always including in their (insightful) rants the phrase “disheveled marsupial”. it was like a koan phrase inserted to shock you out of complacency. i thought “what the hell?!”
      I was new, so i didn’t ask about it at the time…but it’s stuck with me, whenever i watch the possum emerge from under the house.
      (possum already had a name, sadly(jethro))

      Reply
      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        I assume he is Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, blogger since Web 1.0-ish. Coiner of the term ‘blogtopia’ of course.

        Reply
  23. ewmayer

    “Hit drama captures Seoul’s savage school wars Asia Times (Kevin W)” — One of the dramas I’m currently watching (we have 2 US affiliates of Korean networks in our cable package), Children of Nobody (U.S. title: Red Moon, Blue Sun), is a murder-mystery drama in which one of the subplots features a hyper-ambitious Tiger Mom who locks her daughter in a study cube for long hours after school each. The cube is equipped with a video cam so Mom can make sure her girl isn’t goofing off during her solitary confinement. Any lapses in attentiveness or grades get the daughter vicious beatings. Naked class warfare, desperate social-climbing and credentialism, and the Chaebols (hugely wealthy familial industrial congomerates) effectively running the country are standard fare for contemporary dramas. The funny thing is, the similarly-popular historical dramas feature much the same thing, with the Chaebols replaced by the royals and nobility, the business suits by silks and armor, and the glass office towers by royal palaces and country estates.

    BTW, face-slapping is a very common form of extreme insult – usually occurring in a rich-oppressing-the-commoners context – in K-dramas. Women of similar status getting into hair-pulling contests is another favorite trope. In a lighter vein, the Koreans love their physical comedy – I’m guessing the 3 Stooges and old Buster Keaton films are quite popular there.

    Reply
    1. Plenue

      Confucius has a lot to answer for. Especially in Korea, where they never really got over their Joseon phase. It’s like they looked at the exam hell of Japan and decided it wasn’t extreme enough.

      Reply
  24. ChrisPacific

    My favorite Brexit quote from an article yesterday:

    “Skeptics saw it as evidence of the broadcaster’s bias, though they disagreed on whether the BBC was biased in favour of Brexit or against it.”

    Exemplifies the madness quite nicely.

    Reply
    1. ewmayer

      Currently reading Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting sequel, Porno, and – if one manages to make it past Sick Boy’s idle-sex-fantasy-involving-Hillary-Clinton already on page 6 – there’s a snippet later that nicely captures the self-inflicted inanity threatening to swallow the UK, in which one of the gang, since relocated to Amsterdam where he is running a nightclub, thinks to himself, “Someway along the line the British went from being the c***s who had is sussed out to being the biggest wankers in Europe.”

      Reply
      1. Plenue

        “Sick Boy’s idle-sex-fantasy-involving-Hillary-Clinton”

        How curious. My brain is actually rejecting the information my eyes are sending back to home base. It is not a pleasant sensation.

        Reply

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