Links 2/3/19

Five Things That Stand Out from This Week’s “Arctic Midwest” Weather Underground

Michiganders answered call, cut gas usage 10 percent after emergency plea Mlive

Popularity of brief Uber, Lyft rides on campus raises environmental concerns Daily Bruin

The Green New Deal Must Put Utilities Under Public Control In These Times

Goldman could withhold Blankfein pay over 1MDB FT

Facebook Fights Multibillion-Dollar Privacy Class Action Courthouse News


Venezuelan air force general declares allegiance to Guaido – video Rappler

A Military Coup in Venezuela? Not Without the Military’s Support NACLA. Much interesting detail.

Sorting Through the Lies About Venezuela Portside. Interesting detail on the communal councils.

Self-declared leader of Venezuela Juan Guaido extends olive branch to China, wants ‘productive and mutually beneficial relationship’ South China Morning Post

Guaido plans Citgo leadership shakeup, new Venezuela hydrocarbons law: sources S&P Global. From last week, still germane.

To Florida’s Venezuelan exiles, Pence vows more pressure on Maduro Reuters. So, Venezuela is about more than oil: It’s also about Florida 2020.

Jair Bolsonaro’s son a growing risk to Brazil’s government Deutsche Welle

Mexican president unleashes labor unrest at border plants AP


Brexit: Theresa May ‘determined’ to leave EU in March BBC. “The EU remains publicly opposed to changing the backstop.” Typically, governments don’t try to retrade treaties that are already out for ratification; that could convey the impression that they were unserious in their previous negotiations.

Parliamentary progress of legislation introduced to implement Brexit (chart) Institute for Government

“Oh, that’s an implementation detail” is the sort of thing you hear when a project is doomed. Important thread (Richard Smith):

Irish police find weapons hidden in wood near border Deutsche Welle

A hard Border would bring destructive clarity to the North Irish Times

Fool Britannia NYRB

Everything’s going according to plan:


Sending a message?

The video is worth clicking through for the visuals; Mandarin speakers in the commentariat may wish to translate.


It’s Time to Trust the Taliban Foreign Policy (!).

As Trump mulls Afghanistan pullout, latest watchdog report paints grim picture of progress there Navy Times

New Cold War

Is the collusion theory dead? The Hill

Russia pulls out of cold war-era missile treaty FT. Tit for tat.

Trump Transition

Experts hated this Trump health-care policy. So far, they’re wrong. WaPo. Association health plans.

Trump is Right: The Intelligence Community Needs to ‘Go Back to School’ Scott Ritter, The American Conservative

Democrats in Disarray

Sherrod Brown: Medicare for all not ‘practical’ The Hill

Cory Booker Apologizes To Wall Street Bankers For The Mean Things He’s Going To Have To Say About Them The Onion

Tulsi Gabbard kicks off presidential campaign at Honolulu rally CBS. Gabbard: “[I] will end the regime change wars that have taken far too many lives and undermined our security by strengthening terrorist groups like al Qaeda.”

Russia’s propaganda machine discovers 2020 Democratic candidate Tulsi Gabbard NBC. Mark Ames: “Holy sh*t, this NBC piece actually cites New Knowledge—who were just busted by NYTimes planting fake Russian bots on behalf of Democratic Party operatives—as experts who caught Russian bots working for Tulsi. These sleazebags aren’t even trying.”

Why All Anti-Interventionists Will Necessarily Be Smeared As Russian Assets Caitlin Johnstone

Sports Desk

1 big thing: The coming sports boom Axios

Few sports are doing enough to protect athletes from brain damage Economist

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

How Ring & Rekognition Set the Stage for Consumer Generated Mass Surveillance Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts. Jeff Xizos…

How sex censorship killed the internet we love Violet Blue, Engadget

Imperial Collapse Watch

Some F-35s Could Become Unflyable by 2026 Popular Mechanics

A 5th grader’s boredom while visiting her mom’s job led to $70,000 for the elderly in need CNN (Martha R). Heart-tugging individual story; revolting systemic failure.

Updated employment multipliers for the U.S. economy Economic Policy Institute (TW).

Class Warfare

McKinsey & Company: Capital’s Willing Executioners Anonymous, Current Affairs

What if the poor people of all races formed a political alliance? Times-Picayune. William Barber: “The poor in the South hold the key. These states are not red states. They are unorganized and undermobilized states. If you change the South, you change the country.”

Who Needs Assistants When You Have Robots? Jeff Koons Lays Off Dozens in a Move Toward a Decentralized, Automated Studio Practice ArtNet

Common e-cigarette chemical flavorings may impair lung function Harvard School of Public Health

Judges jailed for taking bribes from private juvie prisons to send kids to jail Boing Boing. Interestingly, Luzerne County, a swing district.

Antidote du jour (JU):

Sierra newt.

Bonus antidote (BB):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. efschumacher

    Glad you posted the link to Jonathan Pie on YouTube yesterday. He has been compelling watching for a year or more now. Think of him as an English equivalent to George Carlin – he has a rather similar political outlook.

    I find I’m spending more and more time watching stuff on YouTube, as there is a great deal of good analysis, education and entertainment. Especially as the more channels appear in TV, the more crapola and repeats come up. Some channels don’t even bother to change the program from one day to the next. To be sure,YouTube also has an ocean of garbage, but you can select much more easily than the BoobToob.

    I started spending more time on YT since picking up a Bass guitar. Great musical instructional content from people like Adam Neely, Aimee Nolte, Nahre Sol, David Bruce and of course Rick Beato. What an improvement over a passive life of receiving televised messages of humdrum and commercial kinds.

    1. makedoanmend

      Yeah, J. Pie is special. Being so outraged and articulate at the same time is a rare ability. The fella who created J. Pie gives a good explanation of the development of the character and the character’s continuing evolution as a vehicle for political satire in the link below. It’s nearly 60 min long but the first 15 mins give a good overview of the impetus behind the character.

      Jonathan Pie @ Wickham Festival

    2. justsayknow

      YouTube is getting a lot of my time too. I’ve started playing the guitar again and love the lessons/resources their. As an entertainment and learning platform it is significantly superior to broadcast and cable tv.
      But it’s google. Lock stock and barrel with zero competition. You mention the remarkable Mr Beato. He creates significant content (for google) but cannot monetize his channel. If google had competition I’d expect they would find a way to compensate an earner like him.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        We need to demand that the surveillance state dragnet “keep everything forever” data centers get re-purposed as a public resource: YT-like web space for citizens, a non-commercially distorted web cataloging search service, cloud data backup (they’re already storing everything, but not sharing it), free email accounts through the postal service, etc. etc. Pre-MMT consciousness where we are, I’d sell the idea as “you are already paying for it!”

        The for-profit search engine(s) have turned into an almost purely advertising space instead of a useful catalog of available information. Imagine typing in a search term and having a default filter option only including sites not trying to sell you something and rating algos with no profit-seeking distortions. It would transform the web experience. You’d only maybe use google then if you were actually shopping.

        1. Richard

          “Imagine typing in a search term and having a default filter option only including sites not trying to sell you something…”
          omg, does that sound wonderful
          The Violet Blue essay on sex censorship that Lambert linked asked:
          when was the last time you felt free on the internet?
          when was the last time it made you feel happy, that it felt weird and wonderful?
          I definitely miss that aspect of the 90’s and 00’s
          But we should also ask:
          when was the last time you felt the internet supported research and study? Or at least that it didn’t try to monkeywrench research and study?

        1. Shouting Games

          Would have been funnier would he have not shouted and cut the four-letter-words to half.
          I don’t get it. Today you can hardly see any comedian that is not shouting. Just because it is loud, doesn’t mean it is funny.
          Anybody has any insights into this? Why are the producers of comedy shows, e.g., This Week Tonight, Jim Jeffries Show, Redacted Tonight etc. demanding that the host screams? Is that really percieved as more funny? Can it be measured?

          1. ambrit

            There is an emotional content being transmitted by the ‘outrage.’ Essentially, being nice and polite and ‘play by the rules’ has got the 99.9% absolutely nothing in the way of, as Lambert emphasizes, ‘concrete, material gains.’ Past time to take the process to the next level.
            Counterintuitively, all this ranting and raving serves to make the elites safer. Vocal violence can act as a displacement behaviour. Once people stop even shouting at each other, physical violence soon commences.

      1. aletheia33

        thank you, my sentiments exactly on that same day, november 10, 2016, but expressed so much better!

        it is refreshing to view a performance of some real righteous outrage, like what so many do feel and, as he says, is being rendered–by means of the ripping up of all social contracts and the erasing of the traditions of public debate–too risky for people to express outside the privacy of the voting booth, which only makes the overall situation more volatile and dangerous.

        apparently class war from above works pretty well, if class war is what you want.

    3. dcblogger

      I gave up on TV years ago, don’t own one. I watch YouTube. there are so many great channels. My favorites for news: The Zero Hour, Real News Network, Nicole Sandler, The Young Turks, Majority Report, plus lots of great period drama, music, and gardening.

      1. Cal2

        Don’t forget, how to repair or build (almost anything). As part of right to repair, you can get detailed instructions on appliances etc on Youtube.
        I hope that this isn’t as good as it gets, and that in the future, we’ll have to pay per view.

        Great websites, like gardening advice etc, save them and rename them before they disappear.

    4. Baby Gerald

      A friend converted me to a YT viewer a couple years ago and now I’m hooked. I never watched any mainstream media news before and wouldn’t see any now if it isn’t covered [and, more likely, criticized] on one of the channels I watch.

      For news and commentary, my favorite channels are The Jimmy Dore Show, Secular Talk w/ Kyle Kulinski, Status Coup with Jordan Chariton, The World According To Jesse and Redacted Tonight with Lee Camp on RT, Empire Files with Abby Martin, Moderate Rebels with Ben Norton and Max Blumenthal, and The Real News Network. A second-tier of favorites includes Mike Figueredo’s The Humanist Report, MCSC with Niko House, and Jamarl Thomas. If I want the milquetoast progressive angle, I’ll turn to RJ Eskow but he’s a bit too Trump-deranged for my tastes. TYT gets no love from me- Uyghur’s Russia deranged and Kasparian is obviously auditioning for a future job at MSNBC.

      Another great channel I came across the other day and one that I think a lot of folks here at NC might enjoy is Our Hidden History– an archive of all kinds of radio interviews with authors like Howard Zinn, Michael Parenti, Douglas Valentine and Christopher Simpson, audio book recordings of congressional hearings like the Church Committee and Warren Commission, and all kinds of historical documentation that our leaders would likely rather us not know about.

        1. Baby Gerald

          Thanks for the tip, Jeff! I’ll pay a visit to The Rational National on your recommendation. And a hat-tip to makedoandamend above for starting this off with the Jonathan Pie link. I can’t believe I’ve not heard of him sooner. He’s like a UK version of Jimmy Dore. I’ll definitely pay more attention to his work.

          It’s nice to find at least a few outlets to counter the coordinated gas-lighting effects of major media, but (as we’ve both noted about TYT) vigilance is still required. YT is also nefarious for demonetizing videos on so-called controversial subjects, so even these few voices aren’t completely safe from anonymous censorship efforts.

          For more lighthearted entertainment, particularly for fans of retro and new electronics, I strongly recommend Techmoan. From obscure tape formats and rare hi-fi to the latest dashcams and security doorbells, there’s probably nobody funnier or more well-versed on the subject than the host of this channel.

    5. Procopius

      There’s plenty of crapola on YouTube, but I find a lot that I enjoy watching. However I never click like, and I never subscribe. I think it was Theodore Sturgeon who wrote, “Of course 90 percent of Science Fiction is crap. 90 percent of everything is crap.”

  2. bmeisen

    re Sports desk – relegation and prolegation in professional sports in the USA – more precisely their absence – could get a little more discussion especially at this time of year. Static league membership guarantees owners a schedule of premier events regardless of performance. The Browns don’t have to get better – they’ve booked next year’s games already. The quality of play suffers accordingly – a player like Brady achieves superhuman status in an monopolistic athletic context that has predictably stagnated since the AFL and Trump’s challenge were defeated.

    1. Wukchumni

      Apparently this year, the Superbowl had much reluctance from would-be halftime talent showing up, on account of many acts refusing to showcase themselves in front of the biggest audience of their careers, because of the way the majordome-o’s have treated Colin Kaepernick.

      It’s oddly similar to the situation @ the Presidential inauguration, when even a Bruce Springsteen tribute band said ixnay on the payday.

      1. Oh

        It could also be that the groups or artists at half time may be at the end of their careers and it’s sunset time at the Super Bowl! e.g. Neil DIamond, Sting, Madonna….

        1. Enquiring Mind

          Does anyone watch the game, or just the commercials and halftime show? Asking for a friend.

          1. JohnnySacks

            It’s intolerable, totally. Pepsi vs Coke, GMC vs Ford, Verizon vs TMobile, FiOS vs XFinity, Papa John’s vs Dominoes. Ads for garbage food, telcom monopolies, things people don’t need paid for with money they don’t have interspersed with snippets of game play overlayed with scrioted sports blather.
            Perfect American sport.

    2. pretzelattack

      the afl won, they got the merger. the browns are in fact getting much better. it’s a monopoly that is run partly by egalitarian principles, redistributing the talent via draft position.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        If you want to argue for a quality of play decline, it’s the decline of the playing population and the NFL middle class disappearance. Players retire at the pension mark instead of playing for the league minimum as $20 million contracts have proliferated in a salary cap Era. This is why the Patriots win. Brady is playing for his allowance. He isn’t the bread winner in his family, and the Pats have the money to play the free agent market. Or why teams with QBs on their second or third year win the Superbowl when it’s not being won by Brady or a Manning.

        I think it was a Cowboys lineman with 10 years experience who about a year ago said the lack of guys playing beyond the pension is the only reason he’s still in the league. He wouldn’t be able to play in the league of his rookie year.

        1. pretzelattack

          i think the quality of play has gone up, especially on offense. i’ve never seen somebody make some of the plays mahomes has made this year. but the rash of “early” retirements as players become more cognizant of brain injuries will imo spell the doom of pro football as a dominant sport.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            YouTube and computers make it easier to teach x’s and o’s in high school, so the college offenses can become a bit crazier earlier which gives an advantage to offenses. The other side is the modern gloves are the equivalent of slathering hands in stickum. Guys who shouldn’t be playing wide receiver are now playing wide receiver. Its hidden behind a good receiver’s amazing catches. More veteran defensive players would have a much easier time recognizing offensive play routes and moving to disrupt the routes. The 1999-2001 Rams would crush it under the current system. This is why the college systems taking over the NFL never succeeded the way the pro-style system does in years past. Good players will simply disrupt it.

            Mahomes is a less aggressive “Favruh,” so he doesn’t make as many bonehead plays. My guess is with access to better equipment as a result of the internet and social media in high school meant he wasn’t simply going out there and throwing the ball around. I did watch both games against the Pats. He might even have a better arm, but he is a much better decision maker than Farvre.

            1. Wukchumni

              The NFL was quite touchy-feely to what lengths a defensive player can tackle the QB, and you get the idea it’s going to bleed over to other positions eventually.

              The game itself seems as near to parity across the league, as I can ever remember it being.

              The final score:

              Patriots 41
              Rams 17

              Brady retires on top and afterwards tells an adoring crowd, that he’s buying Disneyland.

            2. neo-realist

              If the gloves were happening when Fred Biletnikoff played, he would have caught 100 passes a year.

              1. Richard

                Freddie B was my favorite player on perhaps the most interesting NFL team that ever existed, the Raiders of the 1970’s.
                They were so cool, to my 10 year old brain. Even though I was a chiefs fan (Richard why???), I had to admit that much. And I prayed for the Raiders to beat the hated dolphins. The 1975 game with Clarence Davis’ catch prompted a 15 minute, running through the house, hopping and yelping, young boy dance. Not admired by my mom who rooted for the dolphins. Just because she liked that mammal. Bah!

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Venezuelan air force general declares allegiance to Guaido”

    Between him and that military guy attached to the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, that is two defectors. That leaves about 320,148 men and women left to switch their allegiances.

    1. Lee

      Below is an excerpt from the transcript of Lawrence Wilkerson’s recent interview with Christiane Amanpour. Sorry about the all caps but that’s the way it came from their site.

      While those portions of the Wilkerson interview during which he is critical of Trump are featured and easily accessible to the general public, the portion in which he criticizes U.S. intervention in Venezuela are harder to find and access at the site. Indeed, one has to be a contributing member of one’s so-called public media station to get the good stuff.


      I’m wondering just how much power there is in the barrios, can it be mobilized, and what would things look like if it were?

      1. integer

        Interesting to see that Wilkerson mentioned Lopez. MoA also linked Guaidó to Lopez:

        Venezuela – U.S. Again Tries Regime Change Which Is Again Likely To Fail Moon of Alabama

        Juan Guaidó, the self declared ‘opposition leader’, is just a telegenic stand in for the right wing leader Leopold Lopez, who in 2014 was jailed after inciting violent protests during which several people died. Lopez, now under house arrest, is a Princeton and Harvard educated son of the political and financial nobility of Venezuela, which lost its position when the people elected a socialist government. Lopez is the man the U.S. wants to put in charge even while he is much disliked. A U.S. diplomatic cable, published by Wikileaks, remarks that he “is often described as arrogant, vindictive, and power-hungry”.

    2. Chris Cosmos

      I don’t know enough about Venezuela to say much but I do know that Maduro is no Assad and seems to have few if any allies. I just don’t see how it is possible for him to endure. Washington is determined to overthrow the elected government to return it to the oligarchy it once was–in fact, I feel that Washington must take Venezuela or risk losing its “credibility” as the Imperial center. Not that failure here will dissolve the Empire but make it harder for Washington to crack the whip with it’s dominions and vassals. I’m curious do you or anyone else think there’s any possibility the Maduro government can stay?

      1. ambrit

        If the Russians and Chinese are sharp, they can ‘engineer’ this crisis into a new Vietnam War for America.

        1. Anon

          …and the Venezuelan peasants will be sacrificed?

          If the Russians and Chinese are sharp they will expose the US to be less democratic than they are. Then maybe the world liking us for our “freedoms” will shift.

          1. ambrit

            Considering the ‘Neo-liberal Playbook’ being dusted off this time for yet another ‘Todesfahrt’ into the hinterlands, I would consider the poor Venezuelan peasants as already being “in the crosshairs.”
            I remember an old comic book of the time showing the American actions in the Indochina War from the point of view of a rice farmer in the paddys. It did not end well.
            My point is that, despite all that America threw at them, the North Vietnamese still won the war. Dulles offered the French atomic weapons in their fight against the Viets, but the French very sensibly declined the offer. “We had to destroy civilization in order to save it,” was not the French motto.
            Similarly, the Indochina conflict was an Imperial war. The ‘subject races’ prevailed. The same can be seen today. The French were finally smart enough to say that enough was enough and return to France. America hasn’t learned that lesson yet.

            1. fajensen

              Dulles offered the French atomic weapons in their fight against the Viets,

              Nice Gift – The strategic problem of course being that that the only targets really worth using a nuke on in Vietnam would be those French / US military bases or logistics centres. So the return strike would be a dozy!

              The US military had figured that much out when Nixon wanted them to nuke the jungle.

        2. Sunday afternoon

          I think American elites can ‘engineer’ that all on their own witthout any help from anyone else. Though I know blaming some other random country for various missteps is kinda a vogue in Washington currently.

      2. Richard

        get in the streets, join solidarity organizations
        it’s our government, and we act like it’s a big mystery
        how we can stop it
        little actions do more than you think
        the usian solidarity movements in the 80’s, with the people of el salvador and nicaragua
        were relatively small, spied on by the government
        I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we were infiltrated too
        (I volunteered at cispes)
        but they also gave correct information to journalists
        informed the public directly
        put the corruptions of empire on front pages
        and made invasion untenable for the reagan/bush squad
        there is a heck of a lot to point out here too
        about venezuela we are now ignorant
        the usian people of our age are among the most lied to people in the history of humanity
        thinking only of volume of lies, maybe we’re number 1, woo hoo
        we can’t make any assumptions about what isn’t possible, until we’ve corrected the lies
        on some issues, that can happen quicker than you think

      3. Richard

        Also, check out abby martin on empire files, I think
        My understanding of Venezuelan politics is also not very deep
        but so far I am reading that although Maduro isn’t himself popular across society
        he does have a solid base of support (like trump)
        and the bolivarian revolution has even deeper loyalties
        it won’t be easy for the imperialists
        Trump may not feel it worth the cost
        if you make him feel there is a cost
        I begin to see his earlier fients toward non-interventionism in Syria and Afganistan not as principled in any way
        but just wondering how he’d get paid
        So call out his bs
        the non-interventionists might have given him the last election, it was that close

  4. Steve H.

    > Five Things That Stand Out from This Week’s “Arctic Midwest” Weather Underground

    “People really, really like the term “polar vortex””

    Perhaps the way to upregulate attention which the phrases “climate change” and “global warming” have proven insufficient for is juxtaposition. Years ago we had ‘the polar vortex meets the panhandle hooker.’ Something like ‘the polar vortex and the infernado‘?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Since this was a weakening of the polar vortex and a partial failure of polar vortex containment of the arctic air, perhaps it should be called a polar vortex hernia . . . or a herniated polar vortex.

  5. Wukchumni

    Alana Sur, a first-year psychobiology student, said her roommates have taken Ubers to their classes before, but only when it rained outside or when one injured their ankle.

    Nobody walks in L.A., and one day somebody will invent a device that keeps you dry when it’s raining, so lazy Angelenos will have to come up with another excuse for not being able to traipse a few hundred yards.

    1. sd

      Walking in LA depends entirely on which neighborhood you are in. Some are more walkable than others.

      For hiking, the San Gabriel’s are loaded with fantastic trails, some with with rivers and waterfalls.

    2. anon in so cal

      We take a 2.4 mile walk around the block in our L.A. neighborhood every day, with a 500 foot elevation gain built in. I’d guess at least 50 neighbors per day take the same walk. There are lots of “ridge” streets in the hills, with 360 degree views of the ocean, downtown, valley, San Gabriels, South Bay…

    3. SerenityNow

      People in LA are no more lazy or less lazy than anyone else in any other city–the issue is that LA has been designed for driving and not walking. I can’t produce great numbers, but this article suggests that there are 10,750 sidewalk miles in LA, while this page indicates there are about 21,825 miles of roads, arterials, and highways. Just these messy numbers show where priorities have been, and probably explain mode choice better than anything like laziness.

  6. Bandit

    Judges jailed for taking bribes from private juvie prisons to send kids to jail

    This news story is 10 years old and is misleading, since it barely covers even the most rudimentary facts of the case . The corrupt judges are not even named. Why bother? The case is quite interesting and convoluted and involves numerous other corrupt judges, prosecutors and officials in Luzerne County in Pennsylvania. The two principal judges ended up with 17.5 and 28 years in prison and various other conspirators were sentenced for shorter terms and fined. Over 6000 youths had there records expunged and some class action civil suits are still pending. For a more complete story, go to Wikipedia “Kids for Cash scandal”:

    1. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for that Bandit. I thought that it was the same case I read about years ago. Outrage does not even cover it here for all the damage they caused to thousands of kids for personal profit. They should have just thrown them in the slammer and then welded the doors shut on them.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Thank you for the further information. That link left so many questions unasked and unanswered. The statement at the tail of the linked article: ‘Very few people would stand up’ leaves me wondering what powerful entity haunts Luzerne. Do two senior judges alone wield that kind of power to coerce? What other schemes like this are lurking in the mud of our our Prison Industrial Complex? What kind of ‘news’ source is Boing Boing if it peddles a 10 year-old story as ‘news’? Recall the Army’s After Action Report for the Iraq war and its conclusions about the chaos left behind when governing control is removed from an area. I believe the architects of our Prison Industrial Complex are crafting the basis for a much larger and much worse chaos through their self-enrichment.

    3. Unna

      Thanks for the Wikipedia article. I had read about this case way back when and this certainly completes the picture.

      So the two judges got big sentences but the guys who developed and owned the kiddie prisons and did the bribe paying to the judges got off very easy. As per the article: “Robert Mericle, the prominent real estate developer who built the two juvenile facilities, pleaded guilty on September 3, 2009, to failing to disclose a felony. Mericle had failed to tell a grand jury he had paid $2.1 million to Ciavarella and Conahan as a finder’s fee.” What? No prosecution for bribery? Mericle did a year in federal custody and was released.

      Powell, a lawyer who was a part owner of the kiddie prisons and paid kickbacks to the two judges for their “proper” adjudication of 2,400 juvenile cases did 18 months in a low security federal facility for failing to report a felony and tax conspiracy. Oh, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court temporarily (!) suspended Powell’s law license citing his criminal conviction…. A trash court composed of trash judges “disciplining” a trash lawyer. I don’t want to be impolite, but what does this say about Pennsylvania and its political culture from top to bottom including its citizenry? Perhaps this case casts a shadow upon all of us and the character of our times.

      The cultural significance of this case and the fact that the businessmen types got off easy when they probably should have been doing de facto “life” provides much material for quiet contemplation.

      1. Big Tap

        As a Pennsylvanian we are old fashioned in how we conduct elections. We have no referendums, closed primaries, no early voting allowed, and is harder to get an absentee ballot than in most states. Explains why we have the lowest minimum wage rate in the country as no ballot issues arise. The political culture here is hard to change.

        1. Unna

          Well, I know I came across as too harsh. I think that now days we all live in these kinds of societies in the West. What’s the answer? Are we as people at fault, but how are we at fault?

          Maybe the answer is that we are living in a fallen age which the Hindus call Kali Yuga, the age of darkness, ignorance, and greed, when rulers and the officers of government occupy their positions only to exploit and have no courage, business people have no honesty, the priests are devoid of religion and withdraw from any god, and so on. With Tulsi Gabbard running maybe it’s time to brush up on such things. Who knows?

    1. DJG

      Steve H.

      Thanks for the link.

      I read the column in the Times-Picayune, which ends with the statement quoted above, which isn’t all that hopeful.

      “The poor in the South hold the key,” he said. “These states are not red states. They are unorganized and undermobilized states. If you change the South, you change the country.”

      My impression when I reached that paragraph was that I had heard that message too many times before: The South as the essential region, where, unfortunately, nothing ever seems to happen. So the South is Lucky and Pozzo, and it may be time for you, me, Vladimir and Estragon to move along. After 250 years of the same news, and pretty much the same economic structure, it may be time to leave the South to its own feudalism.

      Then you posted the truly telling link from Black Agenda Report. So what we are getting is more evangelical Protestantism, which, I am reminded, brought us such successes as Prohibition. So all that all of us have to do, including the vast majority of Americans who aren’t evangelical Protestants, is sing along to Amazing Grace a few more times. And all will be well.

      Maybe it is time for all of us to stop doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.

        1. JBird4049

          “The poor in the South hold the key. These states are not red states. They are unorganized and undermobilized states. If you change the South, you change the country.”

          Yeah, about that.

          There have been strong, even succcessful for a time, across class and race, reform, even socialist, movements which is one of the reasons that lynching was a thing in the South and private goon squads were also a thing across America. A fair number of whites, as well as blacks, were lynched for the crime of either being successful business/farm owners, or of being reformers, and not for any social transgressions. Native Americans, Blacks, and many Whites were made poor and stripped of power.

          It is annoying to hear about how stupid Americans are when the rich and powerful have used not only well funded propaganda efforts but also violence, including murder, for over two hundred years to push blacks into ghettos, natives into reservations, and whites…well there reasons why large areas of the country have always been poor, and unions, certain political parties, and even religious factions disappearing. The only real advantage of being white at times is a greater space to disappear into and a slightly more forgiving, less violent oppression. Being white means being more chance of being treated as something like a human being.

          Just as the American communist and socialist parties were destroyed often using the same tactics that were used on other reform movements, I am waiting for the DSA to have problems, much like Occupy Wall Street did. If the Blob is willing to use nonsense like Russia!Russia!Russia! on President Trump, or simultaneous multi city police raids to destroy OWS, or label Black activists as likely terrorists, never mind what was done in the last century, what will they use on any likely powerful and possible successful modern reform movement that appears to be forming?

          As the environment, economy, and politics drift into really, really interesting times, I would watch for what those in power and their servants do to maintain their power. Just as Alabama’s Antebellum ruling families can maintain their position despite the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Movement, and many efforts at reform, so might the current hegemony using the tactics that have succeeded in the past. As before, they might not care what ants they hurt with innocence being no protection; just like with the current condition of Alabama being fine with the victors, the future conditions of the Earth, however wretched, may be fine with the current elites, if they become the victors.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      I can’t disagree with Dixon’s criticisms about Barber’s lack of an anti-capitalist message along with the Moral Monday group’s coziness with the Democratic Party, but that doesn’t mean that Barber’s emphasis on morality is without merit. If any society has lost its moral grounding, it’s ours. Lust for stuff and status, cynical corruption and plenty of violence directed at other countries, the “others” in our own country and even ourselves do not add up to a functioning, much less moral society.

      A shared morality makes things a lot easier. If the billionaires continue on their immoral path, there’s little chance that things can improve without there being plenty of violence first, even if that is violence perpetrated by the powerful against non-violent resisters like those Moral Mondays seeks to mobilize. And let’s be honest. The morality problem isn’t limited to the billionaires. Their crass pursuit of money, stuff and power is mirrored down through the society all the way to the gangs that shoot each other up in public places because they could care less about collateral damage.

      A radical and widespread moral awakening is the only way we can get to the other side without going through hell first.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If Barber doesn’t believe in anti-capitalism, then he is not going to pretend to believe in anti-capitalism to validate Dixon’s belief in anti-capitalism. I suppose Dixon is mad that Barber won’t sheepdog the Moral Mondays people into converting to BAR-style Marxism, but that is not Barber’s job or Barber’s problem.

        It is up to Mr. Dixon to figure out how to get his anti-capitalist message to the Moral Mondays people and do his own work in trying to convert them to Marxism.

  7. FreeMarketApologist

    RE: “How sex censorship killed the internet we love”

    I think this is today’s must read — far more than a complaint about the censorship of ‘porn’, it highlights the silencing of fora where people can question, learn, and become members of a community of like-minded people.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Agreed that this is today’s must read. Corporations are at heart are cowards so in the face of possible lawsuits, they revert to the lowest common denominator with human sexuality – that of 18th century Puritans. Yes, they have done an excellent job of banishing sexuality and erotica off the internet – and in doing so have left the field clear for porn. Great job fellas. And where do a lot of young people go looking for information about sexuality these days? That’s right, the internet where all that porn is waiting for them. There was a great article on NC here not that long ago about modern sexuality with the millennials and a complaint featured was how young guys were getting their cues straight from porn as to how to go about it – with some pretty bad results. Thanks Silicon Valley. /sarc

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        My obligatory reference to Maggie Mcneill:

        She has been a fearless exposer-of-lies for years and years…from all angles and persuasions,not just sex workers (and FOSTA/SESTA) though that is clearly her specialty, and it also happens that she resides in my neck of the woods.

        To say her blog is voluminous is an understatement. I peruse it regularly, and it is easy to get sucked down various rabbit holes and end up coming up for air *hours and hours* later…very much the wiser.

        I don’t know if she reads NC or not, but if she doesn’t….she and her constituency would fit in right well here.

        1. adrena

          I don’t know if she reads NC or not, but if she doesn’t….she and her constituency would fit in right well here.

          Speak for yourself!

      2. Richard

        I appreciated that piece as well. Like (most) everyone else, I’ve felt the internet turning into more and more of a mainstream, corporate commercial experience. It helps to be reminded that a) this isn’t a natural or inevitable outcome, and b) it didn’t feel that way before, not nearly so much. We’ve lost something special, in just the last few years. Maybe we should be pretty loud about this?
        Not mentioned by the essayist, but also vital to bring up, is the loss of unbiased, disinterested search engines, for learning and research. That is a mighty axe blow to popular resistance, and we should make a LOT of noise about that aspect of authoritarianism on the internet as well.

    2. Durans

      Why the article does bring up many good points it seems to go off the rails at points when the author is ranting about the “alt-right”. That made it hard for me to read and glad the article wasn’t that long.

      Tumblr is/was far from all good. I’ve heard many horror stories about supposedly inclusive sections of Tumblr not being so at all.

    3. Barry

      My conclusion watching the growing repression is that you can’t have a real community on someone else’s platform. If enough people gather together on a platform to be noticeable, they are subject to attack. They are subject to the whims of the platform owners (and the platform can change hands), or the CEOs (and the platform can change CEOs), or advertisers if the platform depends on ad revenues. At any moment they can be driven off the platform and forced to scatter.

      Online communities are the new gypsies.

      1. Summer

        I too can’t get over the guilelessness that it takes to believe movements or community should be mediated by corporations.

    4. Oregoncharles

      I agree, but I think the problem is much larger than just the Internet. It corresponds with college students demanding to be “protected” from sexual troubles by the school, and for that matter with a decline in people even having sex. what’s happening is a reversal of the sexual liberation of the 60’s, and a slide back into Victorianism. I didn’t think that was possible, that it would be too unappealing.

      It now looks like this pendulum swing is built into human nature, that we can live with only so much freedom.

      On the bright side, there is Barry’s point about platforms. That implies a solution: a “platform” that is financed and controlled by the people on it. Which makes me wonder what became of Nerve, which the author presents as an exemplar. (A quick search didn’t find it; I’ll try again.) Of course, anything that is a personal project will wither away when that person gets tired.

      So where does Violet Blue publish? I don’t think she’s a regular on “engadget.” The author blurb, in total (read to the end):
      “Ms. Violet Blue (, @violetblue) is the author of the book How To Be A Digital Revolutionary. She is a freelance investigative reporter on hacking and cybercrime, as well as a noted columnist. She is an advisor to Without My Consent, and a member of the Internet Press Guild. Ms. Blue has made regular appearances on CNN and The Oprah Winfrey Show and is frequently interviewed, quoted, and featured in a variety of outlets including BBC, Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journal. She has authored and edited award-winning, best-selling books in eight translations and was the San Francisco Chronicle’s sex columnist. Her conference appearances include ETech, LeWeb, CCC, and the Forbes Brand Leadership Conference, plus two Google Tech Talks. The London Times named Blue one of “40 bloggers who really count.” Ms. Blue is the author of The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy. Find out more about her work in writing, sexuality, security, and privacy on her Patreon.”

      Then there’s: “I pop over to Yahoo News and try the same searches, exhaling relief to see 892 news articles for “porn” from outlets ranging from Associated Press to Rolling Stone. They’re there. It’s just that Google’s 2018 algorithm upgrade filters out news with the word “porn” in it. ”

      More evidence that Google is just a bad search engine – in this case, bad in a moral sense, as well. I use Yahoo, in the form of Goodsearch, which at least pays me for my data, in the form of a donation to a charity of my choice (the Green Party, as it happens). Works for me, although you have to wade through a lot of ads to find the actual search results. Most of them, oddly enough, are for search services.

      1. adrena

        It now looks like this pendulum swing is built into human nature, that we can live with only so much freedom.

        What does “sexual freedom” look like?

        1. Oregoncharles

          That depends on the individual. Entirely on the individual and their partner(s). That’s what freedom means: nobody else gets to poke their nose in, unless invited..

      1. Carla

        A friend of mine who is a passionate advocate for MMT education and consciousness-raising, just emailed me this:

        “To me, the analysis is really simple. In the U.S., we run a for profit healthcare insurance system, where executives, shareholders, hedge funds, and pension funds receive hundreds of millions in profit by ensuring premiums are higher than medical delivery costs. Medicare for all would wipe out a good chunk of that, so naturally, there will be opposition. So what is more important? Covering all people, or getting a certain rate of return to those that currently profit from it?”

        Obviously, it’s the latter, and those are the interests Sherrod Brown represents.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Did that long ago. Sherrod Brown has never been anything other than weak tea and political cowardice:

      Yeah, I have little interest in reimposing Glass-Steagall. That’s an answer to a question that’s not being asked. Breaking up the banks – they’re too big and too powerful – that’s not on my agenda. (October 2018)

      I hope the petitioners, the City Council, and Cleveland community members will work together to determine the best path forward in order to lift workers into the middle class and grow Cleveland’s economy. (June 2016)

      [Note that the legislature banned the wage increase after it passed — Brown and other state Democrats stayed silent.]

      1. JBird4049

        It is curious that the Ohio State Legislature believes that it, and not the Cleveland City Council, should determine how high the minimum wage should be. Until fairly recently state governments didn’t care if a municipal government wanted to raise the minimum wage above the required minimum.

        If a county or city was foolish enough to sink its economy by raising wages too high, that was between them and their voters come election time. The various increases were never more than $15 which is supposed to be still on the low side in many areas.

        Hmmm, that might be the point. The more areas that raise the minimum wage to around $15 without any problems, the greater the pressure to raise the minimum wage to that. Even higher in wealthier areas. I wonder who gave the bribes donations to the legislators?

      1. Richard

        Well, just like every billionaire is a policy failure, every fake leftist is a pity. It’s our organizing system.
        Wait a minute, is that equity? Seems like the fake leftists are gettting a softer landing than the billionaires; can’t have that.
        How about we substitute “disgrace” for pity?
        Every fake reformer is a bloody disgrace.
        There, that sounds better.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “It’s Time to Trust the Taliban”

    This article mentions the fact that the Taliban are in a fight to the death with ISIS. Nobody seems to want to ask how ISIS established itself in Afghanistan when they were based in Syria and Iraq 2,600 kilometers away. I am repeating a report that I read of something that happened a few weeks ago. This was an accusation by Russia and Iran so make of that what you will for credibility. The US Special Forces went into a Taliban prison, killed the guards and then evacuated the prisoners by helicopter. This may have been the same mission that a US Special Forces soldier died in. Thing is, this was a Taliban prison not for ordinary prisoners but for ISIS prisoners. It does fit a pattern. Both the Syrians and Iraqis have made accusations over the years of mysterious helicopters both supplying ISIS forces operating there as well as evacuating ISIS leaders and their families when their forces were about to be over-run. Maybe it is all propaganda but you do have to wonder.

    1. rd

      I think there is so much “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” going on, that helping one group versus another has become almost a random incoherent thing with nobody actually keeping score. That is part of how we got the Taliban and al Qaeda in the first place, arming groups like the Afghans against the Soviets and then walking away when that particular conflict was done only to have them emerge on our doorstep a dozen years later.

    2. Chris Cosmos

      If you go back and see how ISIS was formed and the high level (initially) of military competence (mercenaries) it displayed it is inconceivable that they arose by someone sowing dragon’s teeth in the desert. As far as I can tell men, vehicles, a large supply of modern weapons came from somewhere mainly Turkey and Jordan. I know with almost 100% certainty that Western intel services and Saudi money were involved in establishing ISIS if for no other reason that, it seems, officials in Washington were shocked (shocked!) at the rise of ISIS–they came from “nowhere.” This silly story is made up–NSA/CIA/DIA can monitor the entire globe and particularly down to the square inch (as a retired CIA officer told us) and have AI apps that monitor likely looking shapes going through sensitive areas like Syria/Iraq. That is one of the main tasks of these organizations. Do a search and you will find lots of material. You won’t find it in the mainstream–such ideas are forbidden to be talked about. BTW, the first thing I thought of when ISIS came barging into history was that they ought to check the PIN numbers of the Toyota trucks which can trace their movements and origins but the media wasn’t interested in the origin story–they were only interested the reality TV story. Americans seem to have a very, very hard time entertaining the idea that common historical patterns and Machiavellian politics applies to the USA.

      1. FluffytheObeseCar

        VIN numbers. Trucks have VIN numbers. [many of] The parts they’re comprised of are also numbered.

        1. Oh

          Maybe we need to check the PIN nos. of the CIA operatives in the area. It could lead to a lot of loot!!

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The dots are pretty easy to connect, Arab Spring happened and a handful of people in Idlib got on board. They would have faded to black like the rest of Spring but luckily there were some embedded CIA assets in Idlib who were able to pass them wads of cash, small arms, logistics, and intelligence. The result was the Syria War, hundreds of thousands killed and billions in damage. Thanks Obama. Thanks Hilary.
        The high-pitched DEM and MSM screeching at Trump for suggesting a Syria pullout has been particularly instructive. Clearly demonstrating that we do not need a third party in the U.S., we need a second one.

      3. Plenue

        “This silly story is made up–NSA/CIA/DIA can monitor the entire globe and particularly down to the square inch (as a retired CIA officer told us) and have AI apps that monitor likely looking shapes going through sensitive areas like Syria/Iraq.”

        This is the same intelligence apparatus that didn’t see the Russian intervention in Syria coming until the planes and helicopters actually started dropping bombs. I think it is entirely plausible that they didn’t see ISIS coming.

        Worse than a crime, a mistake.

      4. Jen

        For me the bullsh*t tell has always been the squishiness around the name. ISIS. ISIL. Daesh.

        You want me to believe these people are an existential threat, and yet you can’t settle on a brand name? Sounds like you’re keeping things vague just in case your little project gets out of hand.

        1. Plenue

          They’re all the same name. The Arabic name is ad-Dawlah al-Islamiyah fīl-Iraq wash-Sham. Which literally means Islamic State in Iraq and ash-Sham. ISIS and ISIL are simply variants based on if you translate ash-Sham to mean Syria or Levant. Islamic State is just the shortened title. Daesh is the Arabic acronym, the word used by most of the people actually doing the fighting against the headchoppers.

          1. ChrisPacific

            There is an important semantic distinction in that ISIS defines them as ‘Islamic’ while Daesh doesn’t. Opinions vary on whether they get to claim that distinction and thereby get (implicitly or explicitly) lumped in with the rest of Islam as a result. The US is in favor, so it calls them ISIS. Moderate/peaceful Muslims in the Middle East generally aren’t, so they use Daesh.

      5. Unna

        ISIS guy walks into the South Turkey Toyota dealership and says:

        “O my Brother, I wish to order 300 Toyota pickup trucks, Hilux model. And they must all be painted white because my family will be using them on a holiday trip this summer across the desert, God willing. Also, they must all come with the off-road package. You can supply them. And delivery? Yes, that is truly quick. Your dealership comes highly recommended to me, and for good reason. Oh, and will U.S. dollars in cash, newly printed, be acceptable as payment?”

  9. Joe Johnson


    I can’t thank you enough for your recommendation of “The Myth of Capitalism”.

    As an engineer economics appears to me as a mass of belief with many charts and few logical facts. This was a great book for those of us that are economically ignorant to see some real relationships of cause and effect.

    I would greatly appreciate more book titles for those of us that are not economist but very much interested.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      The main problem with economics as a field is the name. The proper name is “political economy” because there can be NO separation between politics and economics. We are fortunate to have good critics of modern economics around who can debunk the theology of most of the field.

      1. Briny

        You’ve got that right as the field started out with exactly that label, one I still use here should you look at the ontology I use for filing software and documents (books, papers &c.). Over the decades the various disciplines that make up the social sciences were hived off. The boundary lines in economics are still rather blurry today; witness behavioral economics today. Things get really interesting when you pay attention to the life sciences in addition. Genomics are delivering real insights into the history and behaviors of our species.

        1. Chris Cosmos

          The strange thing is that as knowledge increases in all the disciplines whether it’s “hard” science of social science the authorities continue to narrow the field of discourse to a very narrow band. If we took the general understandings, both very specific and general, that we’ve achieved we could utterly transform societies and live in a virtual Earthly paradise instead of a world culture rapidly in a state of devolution.

    2. Briny

      If you translate “scarcity” to :constraints” you generally can see why whole sections of economics are junk.

  10. Stephen Haust

    “Judges jailed for taking bribes from private juvie prisons”

    You mean you didn’t know about this? Well, I live in PA so I guess it
    would be more likely for me to hear it. Anyway, 2009,so it’s been a long while.

    But about the same time there was another scam near Erie. A collection agency
    had set up a fake courtroom where they were “prosecuting” so-called “debtors”
    who had been picked up off the street. Fake judge in black robes. “Debtors”
    were gracefully granted the opportunity to pay up before they could leave.

  11. integer

    On most days I experience some degree of despair for the state of humanity. Most of the time it is accompanied by a sense of optimism – misguided as it may be – yet on some days there is only despair. I’ve spent a fair bit of time playing chess against my computer over the last few months, on quite a difficult setting. Out of the 2-300 games I’ve played at this setting, I haven’t managed to win once. The program has had an answer for every tactic I’ve tried. It is not surprising I suppose; I had a look at the Activity Monitor while I was playing and the program was using 3GB of ram and nothing else I have ever used this computer for, including some reasonably CPU intensive stuff in Matlab, has ever caused it to heat up so much. Sometimes I can get one move away from checkmate – my first victory (at this difficulty setting) feels tantalizingly close – but the program always finds a way to stifle my plan.

    Neoliberalism, corporatism, globalism. Neoconservatism, war, and hatred for the other. Regime change. Ignorance, surveillance, and pollution. Love, selflessness, and humility. Happiness, joy, and contentedness. Friendship. Appreciation for the little things, stillness of mind, peace.

    1. pretzelattack

      well i play people online because playing the computer is just too frustrating. otoh, you don’t have to muzzle the computer for insults, and it doesn’t accuse you of cheating so there’s that.

      1. integer

        I really dislike signing up for things, both online and off. That said, I have wondered about what the online chess scene is like so perhaps I’ll make an exception and give it a try.

        1. ChrisPacific

          Learning algorithms have been a breakthrough in the computer chess field. Computers have had more raw processing power than humans for some time now, but have been hampered in fields like chess by the use of ineffective algorithms like breadth-first search that bear no resemblance to how a human would approach the game. Learning algorithms put computers on a semi-equal footing with humans for the first time – instead of pursuing doomed enumeration strategies they simply try different things and remember what works. Within that context, the processing power advantage has proved decisive, and there are plenty of computers out there that can beat even the best human chess players reliably.

          I’d just take it as a given that your computer will be better than you if permitted to use all its resources, and just find a difficulty level that gives you an interesting game. (On the other hand it would be quite a triumph if you could eventually win one on this level, and it sounds like you’re not too far off).

          If it’s any consolation, you are still a long way ahead of computers in some respects. Emergent strategies on an 8×8 game board with a handful of allowable move types is a far cry from a coherent and functional mental model of a (largely unknown and unknowable) universe. That’s one trick computers have yet to replicate, although the machine learning revolution is a baby step in the right direction.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Its been a while (I don’t have the attention span for online chess; I would just be effectively rude or wander off), but the last version of the chessmaster I had definitely had AI users with different styles of play.

    3. ambrit

      Herein lies the main drawback with the ‘Myth of AI.’ Chess is a strictly logical game. There are a finite, though approaching the infinite, number of moves available for each scenario. As such, a number cruncher computer has a natural advantage. As such, the AI hypothesis rests upon a base of strict Materialism.
      Spiritualism may get short shrift in many quora, but has not been definitively debunked, as far as I know. So far, I have seen no compelling refutation of the theory of ‘Intuition.’
      A side note. The spellcheck function highlighted the word ‘quora’ (lower case ‘Q’) as incorrect. So, I ‘Googled’ quora. The entire first seven pages of results were various and sundry references to the internet company Quora. Talk about crapified! Let us not talk falsely now. This is the quintessential “S–t Sandwich.”

    4. Summer

      You should remember the computer doesn’t care about winning and it is not reacting to you the person.

      1. integer

        Thankfully I have never been tempted to anthropomorphize computers. Winning a game at this difficulty setting is just a little challenge I have set for myself; the emotional attachment to achieving success is low. Of course, it does get a bit annoying sometimes. Anyway, the reason I made the comment about my chess endeavors was that I see a bit of a parallel between playing chess against a program with almost unlimited processing power at its disposal, and trying to effect the kinds of political changes that would begin to reverse the greed-driven process of multifaceted decline that we read about every day at NC. Those who seek to achieve this are playing against a well-financed and highly coordinated, extremely powerful yet essentially amorphous, and often downright psychopathic, opposition. I like to think it can be done but on some days I wonder if it’s an impossible task. At least when I play chess against the computer it abides by a set of well-defined rules.

    5. The Rev Kev

      When you play against another opponent where they set all the rules, that is always a losing strategy. That is where us humans have maneuvers of our own that we can use. There is the Kobayashi Maru test maneuver that can be used (look it up) and if that is not possible, there is also the RJ Macready move-

      1. integer

        Thank you! I had a look at the Kobayashi Maru test manuever and came up with a plan. I set up two games that I played simultaneously, one where I played white and one where I played black. By using the computer against itself, I won – if you could call it that – the game where I was playing white, which is what I usually play when I play against the computer. This gave me an idea of what I would need to do in order to win on my own. Many of the moves were extremely counter-intuitive, and I will now study the game to try to make sense of why they were being made.

        1. The Rev Kev

          There was something else that I saw once – again Star Trek influenced – where a character uncharacteristically lost a strategic game against a master of strategy. The second time he forced his opponent to withdraw. The difference was the first time around he was trying to win which made his possible maneuvers somewhat predictable. The second time around he simply aimed for a stand-off which increased his possible range of maneuvers and thus much harder to counter. Might be worth a go.

          1. integer

            A stand-off would be a good way to describe the way the game went – very defensive, and it was unclear which side had the edge until each side had made about 60 moves – so I’m thinking that is definitely the approach to use.

  12. Wukchumni

    The next few months will be prime-time to glimpse Sierra Newts on the Ladybug Trail in Sequoia NP. I’ve seen many dozens on a dayhike in the past, and they have almost no predators on account of having a toxin in their glands that’s hundreds of times stronger than cyanide.

    Cue up some Barry White for this link:

  13. pretzelattack

    sigh, the politico article, after pointing out the lack of evidence of collusion, genuflects to the “clear” evidence that russia hacked the dnc emails.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      Because that “evidence” comes from whoever is running the virtual Ministry of Trutha, i.e., the intel community and genuflecting to those people is a requirement not an option for the news industry.

  14. Yikes

    Xi – don’t have Adobe plugins, so can’t watch video, but did read the article. Interesting part is bottom 1/3 put heavy focus on security for Winter Olympics, importance of keeping welcoming enviroment while watching out for terrorist is a challenge, especially for Muslim terrorist (trained in Syria – implied, ie: CIA operatives).

  15. John Mc

    Mimetic isomorphism in the article about Kinsey & Company is an important construct for people in understanding how capital (neoliberal Johnny Appleseed policies) has taken root in all of our institutions, structures, and psyches.

    Thank you for reminding us and posting this link. Important read imo.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Willing executioners? Ha! More of a corporate fifth column.

      Elegant dilettantes and insatiable usurpers of authority. Relentless masters of form over substance, and of articulation over actual judgment. The skin in their games is always that of others. They rend organizations like wolves, substituting superficially slick but unactionable concepts for relationships and experience. Put rifles or spears in their hands and you would get the worst soldiery ever.

      I hate these people far worse than bankers, with the livid heat of a thousand suns.

      (sorry, Mme. Yves, nothing personal. Your apostasy redeems you)

      “Any form of sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.”

  16. ChiGal in Carolina

    The bonus antidote was apparently shot in slo-mo and features the Green Dragontail Butterfly, a species of swallowtail. From Wikipedia:

    Having much smaller wing size to body length ratio, the butterflies have a whirring flight, rapidly beat their wings and dart back and forth in a manner reminiscent of dragonflies, their long tails acting as rudders.

  17. allan

    David Sirota @davidsirota

    To cap off a week that saw 2,000 layoffs at news outlets, the WashPost is spending [$5.25 million]
    the equivalent of an entire investigative reporting newsroom’s budget on a single Super Bowl ad.

    Just shooting from the hip here, but maybe those 5.25 very large ones could be put to a better use.
    Say, investigating precarity in the New Economy.

    1. aletheia33

      OMG there is only one thing left that is sacred and you are besmirching it. the sacred GAMES. /sarc
      TPTB: “we need these games, without them we are toast.” /sarc
      the people: “without them what would we talk about?”

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      With none other than Tom Hanks narrating!

      Hanks, Streep, Spielberg…All putting out great exercises in propaganda.

      Independent Film in America is being slowly murdered by Big Film n Netflix.

      RIP good movies that aren’t set in a FreeMarketCult Dystopia.

      Blackkklansman, Black Panther…

      Add Spike Lee and Ryan Coogler to the list…

      1. Plenue

        Black Panther is a dumpster fire. Not just the movie, the character and comics as well.

        The core concept, an African nation that was never colonized, is interesting. But everything about the country is delivered through a bunch of colonialist stereotypes. By the time the movie was in the final act, and I was looking at a bunch of African tribesmen in literal animal furs with (energy, ’cause they’re advanced!) shields, I was seriously wondering whether a deliberately insulting and offensive movie made by a Klan member meant to belittle Africans would look much different.

        And of course the whole plot is this weird reactionary fable about a king (chosen by ritual combat on the side of a cliff, because for some reason a socially and technologically advanced country is absurdly archaic in its system of government) suppressing a revolution with the help of the ‘good’ CIA, and the only lesson he learns from it is that he as a rich man should do more neoliberal philanthropy.

        Ta-Nehisi Coates is writing the comics now, so I seriously doubt they’re any better or more insightful.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel


          Its like theres so many potential screenplay ideas out there waiting, simply by messing with political systems.

      2. ambrit

        Doesn’t anyone remember Melvin van Peebles? Klaus Kinsky? Michelangelo Antonioni? Werner Fassbinder? Wim Wenders? Ken Russel? H—! Ken Annakin? Douglis Sirk? Anthony Mann?
        The much maligned studio system had a few saving graces. One was it’s function as a nurturing creche for film makers. The ‘B’ movie units did a lot of good experimental work.
        It feels like our cultural heritage is being reduced, bit by bit, as the public’s attention span is reduced by “The Curse of Short Termism!”

        1. JBird4049

          Sacrificed on the altar to the God Mammon. Profit now, now, now! Who cares about profitability later?

          1. ambrit

            I’ll wager that Sartre’s ‘Waiting Room in H—‘ now has a big screen television on the wall playing cable junk for eternity.

  18. JimTan

    “Goldman could withhold Blankfein pay over 1MDB”

    Looks like talk about Goldman’s role in the 1MBD mess is heating up again. One of the more interesting aspects of Goldman’s role is how much money they made from suspect Malaysian bond sales. According to Bloomberg:

    “The bank made $593 million for arranging three bond sales that raised $6.5 billion for 1MDB, which was “exorbitant,”.

    That sounds like a lot to me, but it’s sometimes hard to know what’s really “exorbitant” when you’re talking about billion dollar bond deals. Fortunately Bloomberg also gives us a useful frame of reference when they reported how much Merrill Lynch made from underwriting highly profitable CDO deals. According to their article:

    “Merrill took a leadership role in underwriting CDOs in 2006 and 2007, when subprime mortgage lenders all but threw lending standards out the window. Over that period, Merrill was lead underwriter on 136 CDO deals with a dollar value of $93 billion………raking in $800 million in CDO underwriting fees (more than any other firm) since the beginning of 2006″

    So between 2006 and 2007 Merrill Lynch collected $800 million in fees as lead underwriter of 136 CDO deals that had a dollar value of $93 billion. Then between 2012 and 2013 Goldman Sachs collected $593 million in fees ( 74% of Merrill’s CDO total ) for arranging 3 bond deals that had a dollar value of $6.5 billion. Now that sounds like more than “exorbitant” to me.

  19. Chris Cosmos

    Russia is a gift that just keeps on giving just as it was in the 1950s. If Americans had an interest in history they would be aware of that fact. All politicians up until the end of the Cold War had to incorporate belligerent comments about Russia and “communism/socialism” in their discourse or be labelled “soft” on communism. Now, in this degraded time, we just demonize “the Russians” simply for being Russians and having a rather obvious accent which echoes generations of cold and cruel villains is movies and TV shows.

    Fortunately for the propagandists Americans have no idea about the nature of Russian culture in any way so Russia can be painted as evil. Washington requires a credible nuclear-armed villain. China doesn’t seem to have caught on as a good central casting villain because, well, that would bring back the days of the “yellow peril” and there are too many Asians in the USA now and political correctness is the thing. Iranians aren’t powerful enough to have caught on either though the authorities tried–it just never caught on anywhere but Israel. But Russia is the perfect villain that can be built up to be as tall as you want them. It seems that, nowadays, they are able to control elections, popular movements and are everywhere–and people actually believe this!

    Poor Tulsi Gabbard–she has the perfect message to at least garner much of the left-wing vote but that same left is easily led by the mainstream into believing the Russian con-game.

    1. Donald

      Just got back from church. At coffee hour two of our members were discussing Trump. One is a county legislator. Very liberal. I like her a lot. I like the other guy too.

      Both of them were talking about how every time Trump does something they ask themselves how Putin would feel about it. They both think Trump is in his pocket. Nevermind all the issues where Trump and Putin are on opposite sides, like Venezuela, the pipeline to Germany, the Iran deal, the INF treaty, etc… I They are eagerly awaiting Mueller to save the day.

      I am used to this nonsense on centrist liberal websites, but it is really depressing to see it from people in real life. I thought of speaking up, but wasn’t sure I could do it calmly, so I kept my mouth shut. But I should have said something.

      1. Big River Bandido

        I think there’s nothing you can say to these people. In my experience, as soon as you do, they shun you.

        1. Massinissa

          Donald might be better off without them, to be honest.

          They don’t need to share his views, but if they shun him just from his mentioning his own views, then what good are they as friends or acquaintances?

          1. Donald

            I’m sure they wouldn’t shun me, but they would probably think I was flakey on politics. They were so certain of the narrative that everything Trump does is in service to Putin that they would process disagreement as just some personal idiosyncrasy on my part.

      2. Schmoe

        I had the same disconcerting experience recently. A liberal acquantance who is very knowledgeable on current events told me with a straight face that if we pull out of Germany, there was “no doubt” that Putin would overrun Western Europe. She also mentioned she watches Rachel M every evening.

        It is also amazing on liberal political blogs’ comment sections how many believe the “WMD” stories in Syria which make absolutely no sense and how Tulsu Gabbard is in favor of gasssing civilians – never mind that they favor the regime change practices of HRC that contributed to 500K civilian deaths in Syria.

        1. Plenue

          “A liberal acquantance who is very knowledgeable on current events told me with a straight face that if we pull out of Germany, there was “no doubt” that Putin would overrun Western Europe.”

          As far as I can tell, even the dreaded Soviet Union never actually had any such plan. There’s the Seven Days to the River Rhine exercise, but that was firmly framed as a counter-attack strategy and opens with Poland being entirely taken out of the fight.

          As for the modern Russian Federation, they literally don’t have the capacity to do it even if they wanted to. They’ve reduced their military spending again this year, and it was already reduced last year compared to the year before. Germany just by itself spends like 60% as much on its military as Russia does. Russia has exactly one fully integrated combined arms formation, the 1st Guards Tank Army, which was reactivated in 2014 and is stationed outside Moscow. They have no ability to take and hold even a part of Germany.

          1. The Rev Kev

            They don’t even have the wherewithal to occupy the Baltic states nor do they want to. There were there for over thirty years and when the Soviet Union broke up, they took a good, hards look at them, said “Nope!” and walked away.

          2. Schmoe

            Just to be clear, what I found disconcerting is that a well-informed person believes that Russia might invade Germany, not any belief on my part that Russia would even attempt that. Russia’s military is likely adequate to take on a jihidi force (ISIS or HTS), but not take on or occupy any large country.

      3. Johnnygl

        You can’t really do much convincing in one conversation. I’m heartened by the idea that there’s much less ability to manufacture consent around a narrative than there used to be.

        Think of how long it took to break down public support for the vietnam war…i mean…domino theory???

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Much of this stems from absolution for blind support for Obama and the compromises made to support the Clintons and their political machine. The promise of running to the right and embracing corporate America was supposed to produce wins. HRC demonstrated her 2008 primary effort wasn’t a fluke, and looking back, 1992 was the only fluke. The Clintons are disasters.

          I point to the Northam controversy of recent days. Why was the standard bearer of Team Blue in Virginia a two time Bush voter? Because he was apolitical? Not that I don’t have issues with Periello, but he would have been a fine governor. As far as winning, his congressional district was not an easy place for Team Blue. I actually told Periello in 2006 (maybe 07) to wait until 2010 to run as I thought organizing a victory would be possible in a mid term turnout year. Northam was put on the Lt Gov spot because it was expected the Democratic AG would run for Governor, but he managed to irritate women’s groups in the state (it involved the potential closure of a girl’s college). Northam didn’t have a reputation as a guy who got out there and worked to pass legislation. He was just kind of there and represented an area which didn’t need to compromise on a Shrub Republican.

          “OMG Russia” is the only narrative which excuses the blind support for the Team Blue in recent years because the disaster of the SS Clinton was predictable and not merely limited to the personality of HRC but the structures put in place by Bill’s cronies and resurrected by Obama.

          1. Enquiring Mind

            Northam’s issues were known to somebody for quite a while. Would I be too cynical in thinking that the timing of the photo release was a type of counter-programming to shift discourse away from the publicity about ghoulish fourth trimester abortions? Oh, look, a shiny object.

            It is, to me at least, as though the weekly ebb and flow of news tides peaks, or troughs as needed, for the weekend news cycle with very little organic or actually random making the airwaves.

        2. Robert McGregor

          I don’t think the Kennedy and Johnson administrations would have been able to continue the pro-Vietnam narrative as long as they did if the internet had been up and running then.

          1. pretzelattack

            otoh we had a draft then, the body bags were a constant reminder that things weren’t going well. and the press sometimes did its job.

      4. aletheia33

        “I am used to this nonsense on centrist liberal websites, but it is really depressing to see it from people in real life. I thought of speaking up, but wasn’t sure I could do it calmly, so I kept my mouth shut. But I should have said something.” –donald@12:11p.m.

        OK, i don’t think we should dismiss this problem as completely hopeless.
        some day, not too far off, i may need to persuade this person to collaborate with me in advocating with our town government for making a garden in a public park to raise vegetables to feed our town’s children.

        we need to think together about what to say.

        what do you think you should/could have said–calmly?
        not to put you on the spot–just an invitation.
        some readers have posted great suggestions on this question and reported constructive experiences.
        other readers?
        help me!

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Im with you on this! Every person is reachable. I find that like my political evolution it takes time. To those espousing Russia gate, we reach them when nothing happens. Trump will go and time will pass and thats when we reach them.

          Be nice.
          Be kind.
          Go above and beyond.
          Be the Brand Ambassador for A New Hope.
          Be Marxism with a smile.

          When humanitys back is against the wall, we fn work together.

        2. Chris Cosmos

          I usually ask where they get their information and then do some simple logic exercises. For example, why would Assad knowingly gas an area which he was two days from winning militarily? The answer is, usually, because he’s just an evil guy. Most Americans have to view the world through good guy/bad guy glasses. When it’s a bad guy he just does bad stuff for the sake of doing bad stuff–it’s in his or her nature to be bad and that is much more important than actually doing something that would help his/her cause. In the case of Russia, they are naturally bad because that’s how they are usually depicted in movies and so on–they want to conquer Europe not for any practical purpose but just because the are bad and bad people do bad things. Once you realize that most people in the USA are obsessed with that POV it is far easier to debunk their absurd beliefs gently because most people just don’t think, don’t know history, don’t deal in the world of facts but you can slowly move them in that direction.

          1. wilroncanada

            Chris Cosmos
            While I agree with you that most of us, not just the “others” engage in informal discussion through a whole series of virtually pre-programmed misconceptions, and thank you and alatheia33 above for you replies to Donald, I don’t think it is at all easy to debunk nonsense.
            It may be as important, as above again, to try to find common ground on other topics with possible political aspects like feeding people and housing people, At the same time you may learn more about where their international political point of view came from and how deeply it is ingrained. As above again, you are unlikely to change long ingrained opinions in one conversation.

            1. Donald

              “As above again, you are unlikely to change long ingrained opinions in one conversation.”

              Agreed, though I felt today there was so much wrong in what my friends were saying I didn’t want to say anything at all, and just let the conversation move on to other subjects. But people do need to be challenged, though perhaps in a gentle way.

          2. integer

            Most Americans have to view the world through good guy/bad guy glasses.

            Along with the establishment media, Hollywood, the movies from which generally require vetting, and if necessary, reworking, by the CIA, has played no minor role in establishing this paradigm.

              1. integer

                I certainly didn’t mean to imply that the good guy/bad guy paradigm is limited to Americans. Thanks for the link, I am somewhat familiar with the halo effect, primarily in the context of attractiveness. I will have a more in-depth look at it.

                1. Yves Smith

                  Apologies if I seemed snarky. I am doing comment in haste and that can sometime come off as more brusque than I intended.

                  Re Americans, I think our knee-jerk tendencies come from Americans being way more conformist than we pretend to be, plus the intensity of propaganda. There’s an excellent book by an Australian. Alex Carey, called IIRC Taking the Risk Out of Democracy. He traces the early history of propaganda, and argues that American society is particularly susceptible to it.

                  1. JBird4049

                    Another book to read.

                    I think that much of the propaganda is maskirovka for hiding the propaganda itself. Like the book Toxic Sludge is Good: Lies, Damn Lies, and the Public Relations Industry shows. Once you are aware of being manipulated, it becomes harder to manipulate you. You might actually come to your own conclusions!

              2. integer

                Physical attractiveness, I meant, which, I now see, is exactly what you wrote. Somehow I missed that you included the word “pretty”.

        3. Donald

          What I should have said is what I said here— that some of Trump’s policies, as in Venezuela, are clearly not in Putin’s interest. And that people tend to cherrypick their data, which is why the myth of total subservience to Putin got started.

          I would not go into how I think Russiagate is a form of scapegoating indulged in by Democrats to excuse their own failings and bad judgement in picking Clinton as their standardbearer— Clinton the foreign policy expert who supported the Iraq War and a few others. That would raise hackles, though I think it is all true.

          But anyway, these people are good, well intentioned types, but with big blind spots. I definitely do not have the answers on how to reach people.

          1. aletheia33

            donald et al., thanks for these efforts. i am beginning to think that cultivating the very difficult art of listening, and a show of interest in how and where someone is getting their information, may be the best way to encourage a door to open. and then, if they do not seem to feel threatened, maybe just sprinkle in a fact or two they may not have encountered. the hard part for me with that one is remembering, with my failing memory, where i learned that fact and being ready to cite it! at any rate, a good metaphor seems to be i should make an effort to just plant an unremarkable seed of a question and let that be enough, until hopefully that person may be open to talking with me again going forward.

            i have actually had some success with one family member (in-law, next generation) with whom i generally try to speak as gently as possible, simply because he has told me that he is generally anxious, especially in social situations. as i can readily relate to that affliction, having it myself, i’ve had to really pay attention to bring the same carefulness to our conversations that i appreciate when people offer it to me. it seems to be working. he made a point of announcing to me a few months after the 2016 election: “you were right.” i couldn’t believe i was hearing it. at the time of our pre-election conversation, he had said to me, “i feel comfortable talking with you about all this, which i do not with most people.” our conversation was then very carefully civil though we disagreed; and i am sure we both learned something from it.

            this prompts me to note, primarily to myself here, that social anxiety is rampant in american culture and many, many people are ill at ease just getting together with family, colleagues, neighbors, etc., anyway. so when you mix in the increasing volatility of the world’s politics and the general meltdown everyone is now beginning to recognize as really happening, to remain aware of the level of anxiety people are feeling will be helpful in trying to communicate better information to them in conversation.

      5. drumlin woodchuckles

        They are two of the Jonestown Clinties. They are among the many massed millions who will remain a threat and a menace to the political mental health of this country for as many more decades as they remain alive.

      6. fajensen

        I am used to this nonsense on centrist liberal websites, but it is really depressing to see it from people in real life. I thought of speaking up, but wasn’t sure I could do it calmly, so I kept my mouth shut.

        When I feel the need to bother, I ask people ‘why’ they think whatever it is they think.

        Sometimes they will explain enough of their thinking to themselves to change their opinion slightly. The thing is that many people have never really thought about where they got their ideas from, when they realise this, they are not so certain about ‘the facts’ any more.

        Some people get aggressive, when they consciously realise that they don’t know, it’s easier to deflect with something “oh, nothing, what you just said, it sounded interesting, is all” than challenging their opinions directly because that is in some way like calling them “stupid”.

        It is always good to ask oneself the same question: “How do I know / why do I think this is so and so ?”.

    2. Oh

      They fear Tulsi Gabbard and so they’re wasting no time in spreading false rumors against her. The DimRats are worse than the Repigs in this kind of a situation, because the Repigs are already in the pocket of the billionaires but the DimRats lie to the people and pretend they’re not.

  20. Joey

    Just perused Paul Daly Twitter feed and I no longer have a smidge of hope for anything but a crash out. They can’t even agree on the points of disagreement.

    So how can the cake-loving unicorn hunters possibly pass the implementation after feeling like the sea border is a complete surrender? They won’t because they are incapable. EU only granting an extension with a clear purpose? Also sounds unattainable.

  21. Wukchumni

    Haven’t seen or heard an F-34.96584 from LeMoore Naval Air Station, flying overhead in months, and I just read that Top Gun 2’s release has been set back a year, and it features the hapless plane and Tom Cruise, not necessarily in that order.

    1. Briny

      I haven’t seen, or heard anything military save F-16’s and the F/A-18’s on post-deployment return to NAS Lemoore around Fresno. I really do pay attention having been stationed at NAS North Island (and Dad at NAS Lemoore for almost two decades while not deployed) as I want to know if something is going to fall out of the sky! Seen that far too often but mostly helicopters.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Theyre doing 1 and 2 jet training runs over new orleans from Belle Chase Air Base.

        Fn obnoxious.

  22. Hamford

    “Perhaps most famous for her controversial foreign policy views, Gabbard said she “will end the regime change wars . . .”

    When did the burden of proof fall on those opposed to regime change? When did it become “controversial” to advocate against conflict? World War I was a tough, tough sell for Woodrow Wilson. It took Pearl Harbor to get into World War II. “Gulf of Tonkin incident” for Vietnam. Heck it even took “yellowcake” to get into Iraq. Now you dont even have to try. Manufacturing Consent is an unnecessary, unneeded phase apparently. There is NO burden of proof to start a conflict. The burden falls squarely on those “controversial” characters who question conflict.

    1. Briny

      Supposedly those were all “Just Wars.” I know that line of reasoning quite well and it’s a tough sell to me. Especially if you examine US actions prior to those events. Pretty certain St. Augustine would concur.

      1. Hamford

        Well when a war is questionably “just” (last resort, proportional, etc.) manufacturing consent came into play. Yet the burden was still on the War Starters to show why we “needed” to go to war. Today consent is a given, instead the War Skeptics (Gabbard) must prove why we don’t need to go to war. If you question Syria or Venezuela you are deemed controversial or a Russian puppet, as if deviating from a state of war is crazy. “Just war” isnt even a debate, when we have Bolton proclaiming we need regime change for oil in Venezuela. Its no longer “Why should we go to war?”, it is “Why shouldn’t we go to war?”

        1. human

          I went to a talk by Congressman Lee Hamilton late in ’05 titled “Life in a Post 9/11 World” where he stated that, “if like driving your SUV we need that oil,” referring to Iraq. When I stood up and asked how our oil ended up under their sand, I was escorted from the room.

  23. Chauncey Gardiner

    Re the article on voting patterns in the South from the Times-Pacayune in the last section of today’s Links: It’s not just the South and it’s not limited to those below the poverty line IMO.

    Here’s an electoral map of the United States that shows how the election would have turned out if “Did Not Vote” had been a candidate in the 2016 US Presidential Election:

    It would be useful to know “Why” so many voters chose not to vote in that election, and whether vote suppression was part of an overall electoral plan by either or both legacy political parties. Begs the question of political legitimacy, no?

    1. Chris Cosmos

      I think not voting is all about the fact most people don’t have any idea what is going on in the world outside their immediate experience. To put it another way most people don’t care about democracy or public issues in this country at least. That’s just reality. Personally, I think the democratic “moment” is over. Our future lies in some kind of alternate system–either a decentralized feudal sort of society or a centralized totalitarian state. I prefer the former and Washington prefers the latter.

      1. Pat

        I have to disagree. While some are people too busy or uninterested in the system to go about the process of voting, there are.others who see no point in voting. You cannot discount the effect of our broken systems on voter turnout. Not only is there the cynical if somewhat accurate pov that no one is going represent any one who doesn’t have the means of making the payoff, there is also the question of if your vote will be counted. Between the various forms of suppression that leave large numbers of votes never counted and the computer systems that make it easy to inaccurately “record” the votes that is also not an unreasonable assessment of the value of voting in America. There is a reason why international election observers won’t even bother to try to oversee our elections.

        Blaming just laziness ignores deep problems.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Going forward, I expect the promise of Obama simply needing a second term will be a disaster for organizing in the inner city. He would have a freer hand to be progressive!

          Getting from 75% to 90% turnout is the kind of thing that can shift a state. Why should someone believe a kid who looks like an Obama kid from 2008 in 2020 working for Sanders? Life is tough enough. Asking working two jobs to understand why ACA isn’t working or wasn’t a practical promise isn’t about laziness.

          I have contempt for the professional class who don’t know better or the more well off retirees who dominate local committees.

      2. witters

        “I think not voting is all about the fact most people don’t have any idea what is going on in the world outside their immediate experience. To put it another way most people don’t care about democracy”

        Let me disavow this. I am all for democracy, but I will not vote in a BS “Democracy”, where that vote merely acts to further the BS. I would have thought that a reasonable position for a person who DOES have some idea as to what is going on in the world. So perhaps not so much of the rush to judgment.

        1. foghorn longhorn

          So the “choice” was a clearly corrupt to the bone clintoon or an effing clown.
          Gee, let me run to the polls and cast my cherished vote.

      3. Massinissa

        I vote, but I dont see the point. Sometimes I think the ‘lazy’ (who aren’t really lazy) people who don’t vote might have the right idea.

        I vote anyway, though. Though I ‘throw away’ my vote in presidential races by voting Green. I vote dems down ticket because I care less about whether they turn out to be scumbags or not. That and I live in a red state anyway.

  24. Lee

    Ralph Northam

    All the virtue signaling, identitarian, largely Christian Dem establishment calling for Ralph Northam to resign appear to have stopped believing in and should never again sing Amazing Grace. And as for the road to Damascus, it is closed until further notice.

    1. Wukchumni

      It’s very 1984, going after something somebody did 35 years ago that’s hurtful and tasteless, but not much more than that.

      What if we held politicians to the same rigid standards of back then?

      If you ever smoked 420-Disqualified

      If you ever had an undocumented employee-Disqualified

      1. ambrit

        Sorry, but your two ‘sample’ cases backfire spectacularly. Number one would have saved us from the Clinton Criminal Enterprise Presidency. Number two??? Too many possible targets.
        Counterintuitively, adding both together can be excused on the grounds of it being part of a “Third World Pacification Program.”

        1. Joey

          It isn’t what you did, its that it is now all archived to bring about your demise if you rebel against the empire.

    2. marym

      Because if there’s one thing there hasn’t been enough of this country for 400 years it’s forgiving racists?

      In any case, currently Northam has rescinded his confession, and moved to denial.

      A more applicable example of virtue signaling would seem to be Republicans (link, link, link) calling for Northam’s resignation, while continuing to support their own actively racist politicians and policies without apology or contrition.

      1. Lee

        The point is not forgiveness but the recognition of conversion, redemption and personal change. Or are we wasting our time trying to convince people to our way of thinking?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          What was Northam’s conversion process? Its a far different thing to not stone a person than elevating a person to power because their “black face” performance was actually a tribute to Michael Jackson. Also, I should note the whole “judge not lest ye be judged” story is about an extrajudicial punishment with real consequences.

          Since you brought up Saul and Amazing Grace, I assume you might not be familiar with Augustine, but recognizing the realities of living in a functioning civil society and the needs of the state versus the nature of the heavenly kingdom and matters of conscious were addressed by Augustine of Hippo.

          The honorific of the Governor of Virginia is “his excellency.” I don’t think its a matter of Christian forgiveness to suggest this is the kind of behavior that shouldn’t be rewarded. At the same time, Northam didn’t include his winning Moonwalk on the campaign trail. Was he not proud then? He was eager to bust a move yesterday.

          1. Lee

            I infer from his support from 87% of the black electorate, and 67% among Hispanics, that they viewed his public policies with favor. He must have done a thing or two they liked. Please note, I am in the unusual position of defending a Democrat. I’m sure he is as godawful as other Democrats, but it seems, within the framework he and the party are operating, that his more recent and important actions are at variance to how behaved many years ago. People change, sometimes for the better.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              What does support mean? As a governor, he does what? Really? The states are hamstrung through how they raise revenue and their funding relationship to the federales, so as a practical matter, it might even be easier than being a U.S. Senator.

              Yes, people can change, but its amazing how sorry he was only after he was caught. Partisanship exists, so being less obviously gross can one a good approval rating.

              People can change, but Northam shouldn’t be governor. This is a far cry from Robert Byrd who seemed contrite and actually grew. He sure wouldn’t be governor if people saw this before hand. He can get off the public teet. He’s paid.

              I don’t care about Gillespie and the GOP missing this. I want to know if the guys who recruited an apolitical candidate to run as a Democrat in a safe district knew about this.

              If Northam has to have an aid explain to him the problem with blackface circa 2015 (what he claimed), he’s too stupid to be trusted with any public job. I’ll take him at his word, but we have a responsibility to demand good government. The best thing I can say is he may not be racist in his heart but he sure is stupid.

    1. Big Tap

      Comcast (NBC) is in the pocket of the pro war Democratic Party. Exhibit A: Rachel Maddow. Tulsi Gabbard is someone they need to discredit since she doesn’t agree with permanent war we have had most of this century.

      1. Massinissa

        Lol, Maddow had Warren on her show awhile back and was upset with Warren for being at least somewhat against the war agenda she and her network constantly peddles.

    2. kimsarah

      Pretty good.
      From his column, “This is the group of “experts” on which NBC News principally relied to spread its inflammatory, sensationalistic, McCarthyite storyline that Gabbard’s candidacy is supported by the Kremlin.”

  25. David(1)

    Green New Deal.

    ‘Yellow vests’ hit German streets in pro-diesel protest

    Since January 1, only diesel vehicles meeting the Euro 5 emissions standard are allowed into Stuttgart, home of Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler, Volkswagen subsidiary Porsche and the world’s biggest car parts supplier Bosch…

    Environmental organisations last year took to the courts to push through similar driving bans in many German cities where emissions exceed European Union limits.

    Judges ordered Berlin, Mainz, Hamburg and Bonn to limit some diesels’ access, while parts of a motorway near Essen will be closed to the cars…

    “What’s happening to people is unjust,” joint organiser Vasilos Topalis told AFP.

    “Tens of thousands of people are affected and can’t afford to buy a new car” following the court-ordered ban, he added…

    “The French are an example to us, because they dared take to the streets to protect their rights.”

    Increasing numbers have been drawn to the movement over its four weeks, as Germany’s coalition government remains divided on how to balance the interests of drivers, city dwellers and the environment.

    If only there was some way they could get the old cars to pass the emissions test. Hmmm.

  26. Foomarks

    Uh oh, looks like the art boom is starting to retract. So, is Jeff Koons “streamlining” his business to achieve efficiency? Or, are the Rich freaking out and starting to get stingy with their money in the art markets?

    1. Kurt Sperry

      The article about Koons downsizing disappeared in my browser as soon as I scrolled down to read it — a new flavor of web crapification I’d never encountered before. Only the Reader View browser extension allowed me to read the piece. At some point we will have to refuse to link to or share content that isn’t actually available to a generic web viewer with an @dblocker on, otherwise the web as a public space will die divided into a million walled garden ghettos.

      Koons is coasting on his rare technical competence, which the current fine art field has seemingly abandoned and decided is no longer important. It doesn’t take much to stand out among the current crop of fine artists. I suspect that’s why few among us could even name three or four current visual art “stars”. It has probably been centuries since such a situation existed in the field of visual fine art.

      1. JBird4049

        Art is supposed to be interesting, moving, even informative. What is called “art” like with much of music and literature is pretentious nonsense deemed as Important by the current cognoscenti. I am not saying that it must be something that one should like, or enjoy, or agree with. What I am saying is that much of it is some kind of con.

        I loath most hip-hop, but when I heard Tupac there was a there there. I don’t like much of Picasso’s work, but his painting Guernica is a punch to the gut.

        What do we have now?

      2. integer

        The article about Koons downsizing disappeared in my browser as soon as I scrolled down to read it — a new flavor of web crapification I’d never encountered before.

        That has also happened to me at a few sites over the last week or so. Regarding art, I like photography, and after Lambert included one of his photos in Water Cooler the other day, I looked at, and was very impressed by, the work of Nicholas Buer, which features a high degree of technical competence. I have also been enjoying a genre referred to as “new topographics”, which is the primary focus of this website. It occasionally features photos with artistic nudity, so may not be the best thing to check out while at work. Also, it’s worth checking out a few pages, as the quality of work presented there is variable. Admittedly, this genre does not require anywhere near the level of technical competence as the aforementioned photography by Nicholas Buer, but I find it interesting nonetheless.

  27. Craig H.

    The Axios deal . . .

    Even live attendance has leveled off. Despite league expansion and the new facilities, weaker demand has driven down ticket prices, per PwC’s 2018 Sports Market Outlook.

    According to seat geek the cheapest seat for today’s game is $2900. This does not look like a decline to me.

    The most important statistics are the television ratings (the last time I looked something like 19 out of the top 20 all time rated television shows were Super Bowls.) The probability is in the range of .99 that the highest ratings for the year will be the Rams and the Patriots in a few hours.

    But my favorite statistic is the Action Fraction. If you add up all the time spent blocking, tackling, passing, catching, running, and throwing of penalty flags it’s about 10 minutes. In close to four hours of television. The Action Fraction is approximately .04. In other words, it’s a crappy television show. The youtubes after revealing all the Luciferian symbolism in the half-time show might be more entertaining.

    The Rams have the all-time best helmets. Tom Brady talks like a girl. I would root for Los Angeles except I’m pretty sure it’s fixed.

    1. Wukchumni

      Re: Halftime show

      One of my neighbors is in show biz and makes tv commercials, and they had friends over a few years ago and I was informed one of them was the wife of somebody in Maroon 5, and not having any idea what it was, I thought it must be a new sci-fi series about 5 people stuck on Mars, or something along those lines.

      I’d officially become my father, oblivious to modern tunes.

      Not my kind of music, and how this song has just under 3 billion views, will have to remain a mystery.

    2. ambrit

      Are “they” still doing the predicting of the year’s stock market performance from whether the remnant AFC or NFC team ‘wins?’
      *Genuflects in the direction of the “Temple of Irrational Exuberance.”*

      1. GF

        We record the game and fast forward through everything except the actual plays. Usually can get through it in about 45 minutes of actual watching. We do watch some “official review calls”. Also, today during the half time we will watch ACL Buddy Guy/ Austin Greene recorded last night.

        1. ambrit

          My stars! It’s been a heap of time since I opened a Shiner and kicked back to watch Austin City Limits. ACL still a PBS franchise? Last time I looked, which is some time ago, ACL was an hour show. How long are those Superbowl Half Time Shows anyway?

          1. wilroncanada

            Watched it last night. Guy paid tribute to Sonny Boy Williamson, the inspiration for Ronnie Hawkins to nickname one of my old high school cohort, Richard Newell, as King Biscuit Boy, from one of the shows Williamson was a regular on in the 1950s.

      2. Wukchumni

        Are “they” still doing the predicting of the year’s stock market performance from whether the remnant AFC or NFC team ‘wins?’

        That used to be the standard, but now it’s the length of the players hemlines.

  28. Oregoncharles

    Meta, but it would help readers: You should consider providing bullets of some sort for links. As it is, the red color of a link serves that purpose – but it doesn’t appear where the link is to Twitter. At least for me, that causes some confusion.

    More generally, I find Twitter links confusing, at best, because I don’t usually use that site. For instance, I read the Paul Daly string for quite a while before I realized it was upside down. I would think that’s maddening for those using the site. And although this one did, Twitter links often don’t go to the item posted, but to something posted since, so we have to hunt for the link. I could just ignore Twitter links, but occasionally they’re illuminating – like the Daly one.

  29. SerenityNow

    Popularity of brief Uber, Lyft rides on campus raises environmental concerns Daily Bruin

    This is a great example of how a big part of the problem with everyone driving everywhere is not because there isn’t transit or there aren’t sidewalks, but because driving is more convenient than anything else. Look at federal highway funding or any state DOT budget and you will see how much money we spend to ensure that people take this ultra-convenient option.

    Most college campuses like UCLA are designed to make walking very convenient and safe, yet here we find people still using uber because it is even more convenient. Would making UCLA more pedestrian friendly encourage these uber riders to walk over using rideshare? Unlikely, because no matter how convenient, it will simply not be as convenient as a $7 ride. So what’s the takeaway? If you want people to drive less, simply stop spending so much money to make it as easy and convenient as possible. Focus more on making driving’s price reflect its true cost, rather than spending huge amounts to incentivize transit. This could be spending less on widening roads/designing roads for drivers only, mandating free parking, letting people use as much road space as they want regardless of cost, etc.

    1. Ignacio

      Possibly it could be set some kind of economic punishment for very short rides with exemptioms for people with heavy loads, the elder.

      1. human

        Means testing for a taxi ride? I don’t think so. How about a student shuttle bus. Of course, concern for your carbon footprint would be a prerequisite.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Not means testing, but the ADA requires direct drop off for people with physical and mental disabilities if they aren’t able to use public transit.

          Usually, its a van shuttle type vehicle. I’m sure it has a proper name.

  30. Ignacio

    RE: Michiganders answered call, cut gas usage 10 percent after emergency plea Mlive

    Despite extreme temperatures overnight, natural gas usage dropped 10 percent after the Jackson-based utility issued a late-night plea and the state sent emergency text messages asking customers across Michigan to turn their thermostats down to 65 degrees, Consumers executives said.

    If anything, this demonstrates that when there is fear, in this case a real chance for a shutdown, (most) people generally respond. It is impossible to know precisely If all lowered termostats to the recommended 65ºF, wich is somehow below confort during wakefulnes but OK while sleeping. To be sure, I would give the benefit of indulgence to the elder, sick, and babies. There also migth have been cases lowering the thermostat from 76 to 71 with an effective reduction and no real sacrifice. Surely there were instances in which the thermostat wasn’t lowered.

    Can be taken lessons for climate change figth?

    1. Oregoncharles

      I heard about that from my sister in southern Mich.; she thought “sure, if it’ll help.”

      Personally, I’m comfortable at 65, but I am wearing a wool shirt. We keep the house a good deal colder at night – but again, I don’t mind a lot of blankets. Incidentally, in case anyone doesn’t know: a sheet OVER a blanket makes it much warmer, like double, because it traps the air. Just amazing, how much difference such a flimsy fabric makes.

  31. rd

    Interesting analysis showing why pension funds and other institutional investors need to stay under close scrutiny.

    Basically, this shows that simple portfolios available to any investor with $1,000 to invest outperform the typical “smart money” institutional fund. The comparison portfolios with the three-fund Vanguard portfolio are effectively the make-up of Vanguard Target Date funds up to about age 60-65 (they start to go much more conservative than 60/40 pretty quickly around age 65).

  32. How is it legal

    One more try, may have been snagged up in spam hours ago:

    Re: McKinsey & Company: Capital’s Willing Executioners Anonymous

    Thank you for that gem. Given the author’s anonymity, it also makes an excellent case for why the ability to be anonymous is very much needed -because powerful people and groups have repeatedly shown they’re very much capable, and certainly amorally willing to destroy someone who exposes their moral and legal crimes – and deliberately near extinct (along with analog tape recorders which can’t be snooped on, or hacked); unless one is powerful.

    Would love to read a similar piece regarding the ultimately bloodsucking, stunningly lucrative Temporary Employment Industry, which I suspect could have emanated (and profited off of, to the tune of trillions, off the backs of its Temps) from the CIA’s need to fill front companies with unwitting temporary staff who could believably be told they can’t join company meetings due to their non-employee status. E.g., Robert Half (Now Robert Half International, NYSE: RHI), founded in New York City, in 1948 [1], now headquartered on Sandhill Road, Menlo Park, California.

    Sand Hill Road, often shortened to just “Sand Hill”,[1] is an arterial road in western Silicon Valley, California, running through Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Woodside, notable for its concentration of venture capital companies.[2] The road has become a metonym for that industry; nearly every top Silicon Valley company has been the beneficiary of early funding from firms on Sand Hill Road.[3]

    Its significance as a symbol of private equity and venture capitalism in the United States is compared to that of Wall Street and the stock market,[4] and K Street in Washington, D.C. and political lobbying.[3]

    Interestingly enough, despite its immense profits and longevity, there are no Wiki™ pages for its original founder, or its CEO of 31 years now; because clearly when one is that wealthy and powerful, Jimmy Whales Wiki™ will certainly oblige in giving anonymity).

    Manpower (now, international also: NYSE: MAN) is another, now enormous, Temporary Worker Corporation started in 1948 [1].

    [1] On June 18, 1948, the National Security Council issued Directive 10/2[59] calling for covert action against the USSR,[60] and granting the authority to carry out covert operations against “hostile foreign states or groups” that could, if needed, be denied by the U.S. government. To this end, the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) was created inside the new CIA. The OPC was quite unique; Frank Wisner, the head of the OPC, answered not to the CIA Director, but to the secretaries of defense, state, and the NSC, and the OPC’s actions were a secret even from the head of the CIA. Most CIA stations had two station chiefs, one working for the OSO, and one working for the OPC.[61]

  33. Wukchumni

    Only in America:

    All of the announcers in the Toyota Superbowl halftime report were wearing American flag lapel pins.

    Irony is so very dead.

    1. ambrit

      When the ‘talking heads’ on cable start to wear American Flag hachimakis, then the end is nigh.
      Although, I cannot imagine any cable news or ‘opinion’ presenter saying; “I cannot live with this shame.”

  34. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is an interesting article about crafting and using multi-species semi-wild prairie type agri-systems to get some bio-fuel and some in-root/in-soil carbon sequestration at the same time.

    Here are two paragraphs taken from it to indicate its potential interest and usefulness.

    “In fact, moderate treatments with a low rate of nitrogen fertilizer and irrigation water resulted in the best biomass yields and carbon storage — twice the yield and storage of untreated plots. Meanwhile, the more intensively treated plots resulted in 30 percent lower greenhouse gas savings, 10 times greater nitrate leaching and 120 percent greater loss in plant diversity than their moderately-treated counterparts.

    While the results indicated that the energy yield from optimal management of prairie grasses was still somewhat lower per hectare than for traditional corn ethanol, the prairie grasses were grown on land too infertile for corn. Moreover, because much less nitrogen fertilizer was used than for corn and especially because of the high rate of carbon storage in soils, the bioenergy from the optimally grown prairie grasses gave much greater greenhouse savings. All this, with the benefits of ecological restoration.”

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