Links 2/5/19

Florida readers: We did get a few responses to my plea, yesterday, for which I thank you, so I will again refrain from using the phrase “chewing our hands,” but we’re still a bit concerned about attendance at the NC Fort Lauderdale Meetup this Thursday, February 7. Floridians, please step up, and confirm your attendance in comments! Unless you’re comfortable with the picture of Yves sitting alone at a bar for a couple of hours, trying to type on her laptop. She’ll have her shooting stick, but do you really want to make her use it? –lambert

* * *

Lack of forest connectivity threatens Sabah’s Sunda clouded leopards The Star

As Grizzlies Come Back, Frustration Builds Over Continued Protections NPR

Stone Monuments in Western Sahara Record How People Adapted to Shifting Climate Atlas Obscura

If Property Rights Were Real, Climate-Destroying Companies Would Be Sued Out Of Existence Current Affairs

40% of Rural Bankers Peg Loan Defaults as 2019’s Biggest Challenge AgPro

‘A lot of people are going to get hurt’: Petrou on fintech risk The American Banker


Against U.S. Intervention In Venezuela NPR. Interview with NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis.

Ousting Maduro from Venezuela without violence appears unlikely, experts say Bloomberg

Venezuela press coverage has been horrible for years. Thread:

European nations recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president CNN

Venezuela President: U.S. Invasion Would Be Worse Than Vietnam The Onion


UK government vowed to shield Nissan from Brexit fallout FT

Theresa May to give Brexit speech in Northern Ireland today The Journal

A High-Stakes Fight Is Brewing in Norway Over EU Relations Bloomberg

Macron fights yellow vest protests with ‘anti-wreckers’ law FT

Amazon sacks staff ‘for supporting gilets jaunes’ The Connexion

Former gilets jaunes leader launches new political party ‘Les Emergents’ Euronews


Syria Sitrep – Trump Says U.S. Will Leave But Pentagon Keeps Adding Forces Moon of Alabama

Exclusive Report: Sold to an ally, lost to an enemy CNN


‘Peppa’ Goes Viral Ahead of China’s Year of the Pig Variety

Why 5G, a battleground for US and China, is also a fight for military supremacy South China Morning Post

Europe split over how to respond to rise of China FT


In charts: Who funds India’s political parties? Scroll (J-LS).

Trump Transition

Scoop: Insider leaks Trump’s “Executive Time”-filled private schedules Axios. Jacob Bacharach: “Everyone funning on the Executive Time stuff, but no one wants to talk about the fact that packed executive meeting schedules are largely make-work for what are often do-nothing jobs to begin with.”

Democrats in Disarray

Congress, Don’t Give DHS Unrestricted Authority to Build a ‘Smart Wall’ ACLU. Thomas Frank would have something to say about why a “Wall” is anathema to liberal Democrats, but a “Smart Wall” is A-OK.

Why are Democratic party thinktanks still not backing universal healthcare? Adam Gaffney, Guardian. Because they’re not paid to think that. And they don’t believe in it anyhow.

Schumer and Sanders: Limit Corporate Stock Buybacks (opinion) NYT

Health Care

What to expect when you’re expecting to eliminate private insurance Sarah Kliff, Vox

WHO Report Flags Distortion of Investment and Innovation in Cancer Research The Wire (J-LS).

How Unvaccinated Kids Impact Your Health, Database to Find Out How Many Kids Aren’t Vaccinated at Local Schools WFMY

Imperial Collapse Watch

What to Make of the Pentagon’s Internal Civilian Casualties Review, and What Comes Next JustSecurity

Are millennials killing the aimless, protracted war industry? Duffel Blog

Recent events highlight an unpleasant scientific practice: ethics dumping Economists

Class Warfare

Capitalism’s New Clothes Evgeny Morozov, The Baffler

LA Teachers Show the Way Forward Jacobin

The Path of Greatest Resistance NYRB

Netflix Hiring ‘Binge-Watchers’ to Rate Shows and Movies College Trends Daily

Why Instacart and Doordash workers don’t always receive the tips you give them NBC

Rachel Maddow’s U.S. Cold Weather Concern Over Russia and China Was Not Baseless Normally, I wouldn’t link to state-controlled media, but this venue sponsored by VoA and RFE is in the “Fact check” sidebar at Google News, so I guess it must be OK.

Polar express: magnetic north pole moving ‘pretty fast’ towards Russia Guardian. Maddow takes notes furiously….

Green New Deal won’t call for end to fossil fuels Politico

Impose a Speed Limit on the Autobahn? Not So Fast, Many Germans Say NYT (PM). Maybe if the 1% were willing to lead by example and sacrifice their private jets, the lower orders would follow? Sacrifice for thee but not for me does not seem to be recipe for social cohesion, let alone compliance.

Management of Australia’s Murray–Darling basin deemed ‘negligent’ Nature

A third of Himalayan ice cap doomed, finds report Guardian (J-LS) (original).

A chemistry is performed LRB. Elizabeth Holmes.

Evidence mounts that gut bacteria can influence mood, prevent depression Science

Antidote du jour (Furzy Mouse):

This is a superb owl, so I really should have published it yesterday.

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. Brooklin Bridge

      This is a superb owl, so I really should have published it yesterday.

      Today is just fine – and it’s a superb shot as well!

    2. icancho

      since that is a European red squirrel, that would be a Ural owl, Strix uralensis, I’m thinking.
      Ural owls often nest in such hollow tree-trunk ‘chimneys’, and are VERY aggressive, especially near their nest … so the squirrel’s ‘bad feelings’ are well justified.

        1. icancho

          Yes, they mostly eat mammals, from small rodents to young hares; but also birds from finches to pigeons to grouse; occasionally amphibians, lizards & insects. They also have been known to eat other owls, apparently.

    3. michael hudson

      This is NOT Chinese New Year. Please stop saying that.

      It is Lunar New Year.
      Many Koreans and other non-Chinese are offended (including my wife).

        1. The Rev Kev

          Chris is right. It’s just what we call it and I think that the local Chinese call it that in their adverts. Hey, any excuse for a party, right?

  1. Mamzer ben Zonah

    … And speeding isn’t the only freedom the autobahn offers.

    Driving naked in Germany is legal, too. But if you get out of the car nude, you face a $45 fine.

        1. kgw

          I defer…The left rear foot does go with a squirrel. When I was living in the Berkshires, long ago, I had a Morso airtight wood stove that had such a squirrel on its sides. Longer ears than the North American variety, to be sure!

          1. tegnost

            I’ve been keeping toasty with a morso for the past few days, and yeah it has the squirrel on it…most of the time it keeps the house too warm, but recently that has not been a problem

            1. kgw

              Haha! I remember -20 some winters… the smokepipe leading to the insulated pipe that went through the roof glowed a dim red in the dark…

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            I was once on Key Largo for a time, and spent a little time birdwatching in the tough gnarly leathergreen forest there. The squirrels had big ears almost like baby rabbits. I was guessing to dump body heat faster in a hot place.

      1. Yikes

        Reminds me of “The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin” by Beatrix Potter – Nutkin only lost a tail, according to the tale.

  2. Steve H.

    > Stone Monuments in Western Sahara Record How People Adapted to Shifting Climate

    Since reading Laureano’s ‘Water Atlas’ I can’t see a mound of stones and not consider water harvesting.

    “The cold surface of stones condenses the moisture and dew slides in the interstices, thus wetting the soil, or it is harvested in the chamber of the cistern. Most of these structures are usually considered as funerary monuments but they can be exploited for hydraulic uses, both for functional or worshipping purposes.”

    While the quote is from this paper, The Water Atlas is available online for free. It’s of such quality I got a hard copy despite that.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Regarding the Sahara desert, it’s known that it was previously green.

      Was it a desert before it was green, or had it always been green? Did it go back and forth?

      And related to that, did humans migrate out of Africa through a third route (through Egypt, and over water from somewhere around Djibouti to Yemen), across the strait of Gibraltar (also over water, of approximately the same distance)? WIkipeidia entry “Early Human Migrations” shows migration back to (vs. out-of) Africa via this third route (160 kya).

      1. kgw

        It was green for an enormously long time, but the sudden draining of ancient Lake Aggasiz at the end of the last period of glaciation totally wacked the Atlantic Ocean currents. The cold fresh water covered the Northern Hemisphere portion of the Atlantic, changing the climate to a colder, dryer regime.

        Yes, there was such migration as you speak of, 150-200k years ago. I am reading, ” Origins: How The Earth Made Us,” by Lewis Dartnell, that is most interesting!

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Thanks. Do you know if he refers to migration south, from Europe back to Africa, or from Africa to Europe? Or perhaps both ways. In the Wikipedia article, the map shows the former, around 160 kya.

          That leads to another question. Could early humans have taken the route from Tunisia to Sicily (wider over water), then up the Italian peninsula?

          1. kgw

            The routes Dartnell shows are at the north end of the Red Sea, and the south end of the Red Sea, with the northern route leading to what is now Turkey, and then on to Europe. The southern route goes across Yemen through the head of what is now the Persian Gulf, and across to India, hugging the Himalayan foothills.

            No mention of “seafaring” at this early date! 60-70k years ago…

      2. Dogstar

        “Variations in the climate of the Sahara region can, at the simplest level, be attributed to the changes in insolation because of slow shifts in Earth’s orbital parameters. The parameters include the precession of the equinoxes, obliquity, and eccentricity as put forth by the Milankovitch theory.[2] The precession of the equinoxes is regarded as the most important orbital parameter in the formation of the “green Sahara” and “desert Sahara” cycle.”

        “A January 2019 MIT paper in Science Advances shows a cycle from wet to dry approximately every 20,000 years.[3][4]”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      From the article:

      In the Super Bowl commercial which will run in regional Georgia markets, Abrams, who served as Georgia’s minority leader in the statehouse for years before running for governor, makes a call for updated voting machines and increased resources for local officials, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

      “Every vote should be counted, from every corner of our state,’’ she says in the ad.

      The 30-second TV ad reportedly cost about $100,000 and was paid for by liberal voting rights group Fair Fight Action.

      Abrams started Fair Fight after losing to Gov. Brian Kemp (R) in a close election fraught with allegations of voter suppression and reports of uncounted ballots.

      The ad features Abrams sitting next to Republican county commissioner Natalie Crawford. Habersham County, where Crawford is the commissioner, was the subject of a legal battle over a previous legislative election, AJC reported.

      “We need hand-marked paper ballots, and our election officials to have the support that they need,” Crawford says in the ad.

      Well, which is it?

  3. Alex morfesis

    North pole(magnetic) moving pretty fast to the actual North Pole…life in new klikistan….Russia will be warned and sanctioned if the earth keeps moving and Putin take no steps to prevent natural occurrences…

    1. The Rev Kev

      Rumour has it that when the magnetic north pole reaches Siberia, the US military will switch to using the magnetic south pole for navigation because Russia!

      1. polecat

        What if the magnetic north bifurcates into two .. one near Siberia, the other in Brussels ??
        Ummm … who to invade first ??

      2. Big Tap

        At least we know what Rachael Maddow will be discussing tonight on her Russiagate Central hour. ” This highjacking of the magnetic North Pole by Russia can not be allowed to happen. We need better magnets than Putin has”.

        1. Procopius

          That is so blatantly propaganda I could not read past the statement that Rachel Maddow is not anti-Russian.

      1. Roger Smith

        No no… the big guy was in on it all along! RED to the bitter end! Red suit, Red Sleigh, Red nosed reindeer!! KARL MARX BEARD!!! They’ve been poisoning our children’s minds for decades!

          1. Epynonymous

            All the petroleum we stole causing global warming just shows how evil and cunning our victims were.

      1. juliania

        Too late – there’s a Russian Orthodox Church already there. The penguins have been Orthodox for quite some time.

    2. ewmayer

      It’s Teh Putin’s magnetic personality!

      This defection-to-the-commies by the Norh Pole also illustrates another failing of the USian empire, namely that its quest for a unipolar world ran smack into the laws of physics, in this case the “no magnetic monopoles” one. The empire can ignore its own laws and international laws as it sees fit, but those are laws made by humans.

        1. ewmayer

          Only to the “faith-based” – Wikipedia:

          In particle physics, a magnetic monopole is a hypothetical elementary particle that is an isolated magnet with only one magnetic pole (a north pole without a south pole or vice versa).[1][2] A magnetic monopole would have a net “magnetic charge”. Modern interest in the concept stems from particle theories, notably the grand unified and superstring theories, which predict their existence.

          Cue Peter Woit’s Not Even Wrong blog.

  4. Steve H.

    > The Path of Greatest Resistance

    “Both authors identify this as a critical weakness as well for Occupy Wall Street, which was adamantly opposed to institutions and hierarchy, and as a result was often dysfunctional… Both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street started from grassroots, but the Tea Party focused single-mindedly on electing representatives who reflected its views, while Occupy had little appetite for ordinary politics. One engaged in democracy; the other largely opted out.”

    One was crushed by a multi-state federally-coordinated effort, the other not.

    Also note the bait&switch from ‘Democratic’ to ‘democratic.’ And the nearest search of ‘voter registration’ is “to register their disapproval.” No instances of the word ‘teacher’ or ‘nurse’.

    “the American Civil Liberties Union, of which I am legal director.” Sclerotic in all but the begging hand.

    1. Eureka Springs

      I have to disagree with suggesting the Tea Party was organic or grass root in origin. Unless you consider Rick Santelli and Koch Bro’s to be grass roots.

      The movement began when CNBC’s Rick Santelli called from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for a bankers’ revolt against the undeserving poor. (He proposed that the traders should hold a tea party to dump derivative securities in Lake Michigan to prevent Obama’s plan to “subsidise the losers”: by which he meant people whose mortgages had fallen into arrears.) On the same day, Americans for Prosperity set up a Tea Party Facebook page and started organising Tea Party events.

      1. jsn

        I completely agree. In 2010 I was at a proto-Tea Party event in Rockland County NY where most of the people were suburban Republicans who in conversations with me mostly agreed with the general favorable polling core New Deal programs continue to get: pro Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, progressive taxation etc.

        A group of three Republican Party operatives showed up in a BMW with a trunk full of cash and propaganda they distributed in exchange for sign up lists at the various booths and paying the real grass roots booth hosts to display their hard core anti-debtor Tea Party branded posters, cards and literature, pinning the foreclosure crisis on scamming borrowers.

        At the end of the day, at the Diner where I was having dinner, these three had dinner with Pamela Geller, who was at the time driving the “anti-mosque” effort two blocks from the World Trade Center site.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Why then did the grassroots booths roll over for this? (Not that I don’t think the same dynamic couldn’t happen anywhere else, just that your description is so vivid and pointed.)

    2. jhallc

      The author mentions the rise in subscriptions to the NYT and WP along with ACLU membership, but fails to mention anything about about the 8 fold increase in DSA membership since 2016 or Bernie Sander’s “The Revolution”. These omissions clearly show the authors neoliberal bias.

    3. Carla

      Both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street started from grassroots, but the Tea Party, AFTER BEING CO-OPTED AND FUNDED BY THE KOCH BROTHERS, focused single-mindedly on electing representatives who reflected its views, VS. Occupy, WHICH WAS NOT CO-OPTED BUT CRUSHED BY A CONSPIRACY OF MAYORS AND FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES.

      There. Fixed it.

      1. jsn

        Thank you Carla!
        I also participated in a series of Occupy marches, fortunately didn’t sleep there.

        Zucotti Park and the WTC Mosque protests were both several blocks from my office so I monitored both along with NYS Tea Party events (my business was drowning so I had lots of free time).

        The right wing events definitely had outside funding, Occupy definitely did not, and like Gilet Jaunes now, got the sharp end of the state stick.

      2. jrs

        he’s only legal director of the ACLU, you really can’t expect his focus on be on civil liberties violations like that. He’s more an expert on the trend lines of NYT and Bezos Post subscriptions really. We all have our expertise …

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “Occupy Wall Street…was adamantly opposed to institutions and hierarchy, as as result was often dysfunctiona…”

      Still, their votes count, and will they vote for AOC or Sanders? They are at the top, gathering media attention.

      Will they in fact go further, and oppose single individuals standing out like that?

    5. jrs

      What he is looking for in that paragraph IS the DSA. That is the organization that perfectly describes. They don’t shy away from politics (that is in electing socialists), or organization, even to the point of having a bit of a heavy hand. They are not exclusively and only ever about electoral politics though, they don’t shy away from direct action either.

    1. Darthbobber

      Nice segment. Like scoring into an empty net, though.

      The amount of space the polygraph hack devotes to defending the nonsense is amazing. For fun, click the author’s name and check out samples of some of the other hackery she’s whackslapped together.

      Bare assertions with no evidence provided are presented as fact, even though the providers of the assertions may have an—err—mixed track record.

      Almost axiomatic that the Russians and Chinese (and anyone else big enough to play) would be making some effort to figure out how to take down power and communications infrastructure in the event of hostilities escalating. And we certainly are at the least reciprocating. This is part of what these large “defense” establishments do and plan for.

      And as Dore points out, it’s been the case for ages that these players have rsenals of missiles aimed at each other. It takes no great imagination to work out what would happen toyou in Fargo if an ICBM hit anywhere in your remote vicinity.

      Some have been known to suggest that the nuclear powers’ capacity to harm each other (and pretty much make an end of most biological life) might be a reason to seek some sort of rapprochment, or at least tone down the hostility. And many of the people leading this hysteria, including Maddow, would once have been among them.

      1. pretzelattack

        i’m not sure where maddow would have been on this, she’s such a natural shill for the neocons.

    2. Barry

      Boosting anti-Russia hysteria now is only part one of this sort of op.

      In part two, the US has the option of doing an attack on Russia’s energy infrastructure and saying it was in self-defense or in retaliation for the future attack Maddow claims Russia intends to do.

      We have a right to defend ourselves, etc.

  5. Henry Moon Pie

    Bacteria and depression–

    A correction to Descartes:

    Cogitamus ergo sumus.

    And in case you’e interested, we’re doing just fine today.

  6. human

    What to expect when you’re expecting to eliminate private insurance Sarah Kliff, Vox

    The pundits still don’t get it. There is no “plan.” You receive medical care from a provider and they are compensated (however it is decided) from the “single payer.”

    1. kurtismayfield

      Nevermind that there are plenty of functional single payer private markets in Europe that can be used as examples for the US. But that would mean actual price controls and regulations.

    2. Tomonthebeach

      The Vox article struck me as a soft hit piece on Sanders’ proposal. In only a few generations we have gone from virtually no health insurance to the scammy mess we have today. It is a scam, and it is a mess. According to many analysts, the US pays twice as much for the same health care at countries with single-payer. By neocap standards, we should be getting twice as much healthcare, but clearly, that money is going into insurance company profits. Ouch.

      The Dems could easily dismiss neocap challenges over the fate of the poor insurance companies. Allow health insurance companies to still function – just ensure that it is over and above the national plan in which all must participate – rich and poor. I am basically talking concierge medicine for the super-rich. Why not codify it? You can be damned sure the wealthiest among us will find workarounds anyway.

      1. Procopius

        I thought that was already in the current proposals. If not, it should be. Of course the insurance companies will be getting a lot less revenue and might have to restore their CEOs’ “compensation” packages accordingly.

      2. paintedjaguar

        Bernie’s bill is already a somewhat watered down version. Unfortunately, “Medicare For All” is just a slogan that can mean pretty much anything in terms of policy.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          There are (were) two bills that implemented “Medicare for All.” One is S1804, the other was HR676 (the bill to be replaced by whatever Jayapal is doing). I don’t agree that a proposal backed by two pieces of legislation, both with co-sponsors and refined over several years, mean “pretty much anything in terms of policy.” Now, liberal Democrats, engaged in the exact sort of brand confusion and distraction policies they used in 2009-2010, would like you to think that way — and as a talking point, it sounds “savvy” — but there is no reason to fall prey to their propaganda.

  7. zagonostra

    >Ethics dumping

    The term is an oxymoronic, it is self-contradicting (only read the first couple of paragraphs before paywall).

    The point of ethics is you can’t dump-off on anyone else, you own up to honestly, it has to do with virtue, not the “virtual,” a concept which seems to be of little interest to the modern-day philosopher unlike being the central concern of works such as Plato’s Meno….

  8. Carla

    Re: Green New Deal won’t call for end to fossil fuels — I would have filed that under Democrats in Disarray.

    Re: Gaffney’s piece on Democrats and “Medicare Extra” — I hope Physicians for a National Health Program (of which I am a member — non-physicians can join) will also publicize this article, which Lambert featured in Links a week ago or so:

    Lambert called it “surprisingly good” and I agree. How it was sneaked into WaPo I can’t imagine.

    1. Another Scott

      I’m far more concerned that Ed Markey is involved in the bill. As someone who has been represented by him my entire life, I don’t think much of him. His signature achievement is the the Telecommunications Act of 1996. I’ve seen quotes from him calling for a suspension of the gas tax during one price hike and tapping the strategic petroleum reserve during another one. His policies largely seem to advance the interests of his donors, while masquerading as progressive achievements.

      1. jhallc

        Markey also voted in favor of Rubio’s S.1 Anti-BDS Bill in line with the GOP. I’d be worried about his sponsorship as well.

    1. Judith

      The squirrel with the long ears should help with the identification. A possibility for the squirrel is the Eurasian red squirrel. The range of the Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) overlaps with the range of the Ural owl. (See Wikipedia.) So this sounds like a good call.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Thanks. It looks like you have arrived at this conclusion through analysis of facts . . . the Eurasian red squirrel and what its range overlaps with, etc.

        Whereas I just reacted to my in-brain visual pattern recognition. I used to enjoy looking at Peterson-Fisher’s ” Birds of Britain and Europe” and remembered the Ural owl from among the illustrations. And this looked like that.

        1. Procopius

          The “cottontail” looks to me like an artifact of perspective. We’re looking at the tail from its end, so not seeing that it is, in fact, long.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “UK government vowed to shield Nissan from Brexit fallout”

    Good to see that with only 51 days left until Brexit, that the UK’s top priority is to protect British firms. What? They’re from where? They’re what? Oh! Nevermind. Scratch that comment.

  10. Skip Intro

    I hope it works out in Ft Lauderdale.
    If not however I imagine Yves in that bar inadvertently starting a movement with an impromptu lecture on the plague of fraud and corruption behind the real estate bubble and foreclosure crisis, from liars loans through failed and fraudulent securitization, to robo-signers and the judges who love them.

  11. DJG

    The Baffler and the ultra-long article about Zuboff stumbling and bumbling toward a critique of capitalism: I am reminded again (and again) how out-of-touch and how out-to-lunch the Anglo-American elites are. It took her forty years to reach this?:

    –She vividly portrays the unbearable “psychic numbing” induced by surveillance capitalists. “Forget the cliché that if it’s free, ‘You are the product,’” she exhorts. “You are not the product; you are the abandoned carcass. The ‘product’ derives from the surplus that is ripped from your life.” The worst, though, is still to come, she argues, as tech giants shift from predicting behavior to engineering it. “It is no longer enough to automate information flows about us,” she warns; “the goal now is to automate us.”—

    The surplus she refers to must mean profit, right? Or do we stick with biz-school jargon here?

    Then Morozov comes up with Toni Negri. But Morozov misses a big group of French/Italian Marxists who diagnosed this problem in the 1970s, when Zuboff was still all starry-eyed about proto-Google.

    Pulling from an anarchist web site, I’ll introduced Jacques Camatte:

    To quote:
    The Despotism of Capital
    Camatte asserts that we have entered a particular period of capitalism, which he calls the “Despotism of Capital”. This is a situation in which capital has created and forms a “material community” and a “human community”: in other words it is the condition of real subsumption: a situation where human activity takes place in the interior of capital. Previously we could typify capitalism as a “nomadic war machine” (Deleuze & Guattari). That is, an expansive apparatus or an ensemble(s) of apparatuses, that attempts to de/reterritorialise, reform and capture people, space and activity.

    Camatte theorizes a different situation, one in which no substantial boundaries none that can not be overcome to capital exist. Indeed, it is not the case that capital dominates society, as some kind of lording power, but rather that it itself constitutes the entire community. This situation of the Despotism of Capital is typified by a number of conditions. One is that is has undergone a process of “autonomization.” This is a situation in which the various elements of capital production, exchange, rent, the state etc., increasingly fuse together and escape any previous human constrictions on their development. The second process is one of anthropomorphosis. Here capital transforms itself into nothing more than human behavior and human behavior into nothing more than capital. This happens through capital’s tendency to ultimately head towards a state of representation and thus able to mediate all human interactions, and comprise all of humanity’s relationships within its terrain.

    End long quote.

    Summing up: If this essay in the Baffler is about the best the Anglo-American elites can give us, that is, Zuboff, along with Brexit, then it is time to stock up on bomb-shelter supplies.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      Very good and substantial post–wish there were more like this. In order to understand our current situation it is pointless to focus merely on this or that news event or commentary related to that event. It is important to get the heart of the problem in our political-economy. I think “Despotism of Capital” is a powerful term and needs to be understood in some depth–it seems related to “Inverted Totalitarianism.” At any rate, capitalism is the air we breathe. The endless commercials, propaganda, false narratives in “entertainment”, real coercion against dissenters and so on are all part of our cultural landscape. This has caused alienation which spawns depression, anxiety, suicide, addictions of various kinds. Our bodies swim in a chemical soup, not because it is good for us, but because the chemical drug companies now monopolize medicine of which the underlying assumption (still) is that we are machines who need to have parts replaced or our metabolism ruled by various drugs (no matter how many) not because that has a scientific basis but because that enriches the industry which must have willing victims. Alternative medicines are marginalized and discredited (still).

      In the same way “work” is seen as forever and ever consisting of working within the corporate landscape which allows for no freedom or democracy. How people can call our culture “democratic” is beyond me. If my friend can’t post what she really thinks on Facebook or other social media because her bosses are watching and she will be nailed if she exhibits any non-conformist beliefs.

      It is the same with the war business. The US goes to war to feed the capitalists who own companies that produce arms, ammunition and other materiel as well as provide “consulting” work in a variety of ways and purposes that remain very obscure (US media won’t report on money and war) but is known to those of us familiar with the Washington “scene.” While so-called “strategic interests” play a part in US wars it is mainly a project to make money thus war is and will continue to be perpetual whether it’s covert or overt.

      1. Off The Street

        Economic Value Added, or EVA, was a shiny new concept not that long ago. To many, that provided the imprimatur to pursue revenue maximization and expense reduction to their bitter ends.

        Scarce few mentions of actual people in that calculus, preferring labor costs or other euphemisms. That concept metastasized throughout the body economic and has donated organs to the body politic ever since.

    2. Summer

      Yeah, it went through a lot to say the Zuboff book avoids or glosses over the role, exercise, and distribution of power in social and economic relations.

    3. pjay

      To be an Anglo-American “elite” – or an “elite” anywhere – usually requires learning to “see” the world a certain way while learning *not* to see other aspects. I remember well how important the works of Chandler and others were in allowing “elite” academics to deal with economic concentration and monopoly capitalism while mystifying the full structure and dynamics of capitalist development itself (including the centrality of class relations, of course). But we don’t have to go to France or Italy to find useful critics; there were plenty of “Anglo-Americans” pointing this out back in the day. In my own formative years I remember Samuel Bowles, Herb Gintis, David Gordon, Richard Edwards, and the other URPE critics putting much of this new economic history in the context of Marxian political economy. Of course that’s why they were at places like UMass rather than Harvard! To obtain “elite” academic status requires *not* recognizing certain realities (or keeping quiet if we do).

      Not trying to be self-serving here, but Alan MacLeod’s work says something very similar about “elite” journalists and the MSM (see my comment below).

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Yes. I remember reading In the Age of the Smart Machine shortly after I started graduate school and I couldn’t believe how lightweight it was for an up-and-coming superstar academic. But what eventually becomes clear to everyone who pays attention, though because it is a finding that advances no one’s career we all discover it individually and independently, is that superstar Harvard and MIT business and econ professors become superstars by not seeing things. Don’t get me wrong – not seeing at a high intellectual level is a real craft. But what makes Zuboff of interest now is that she has left the reservation.

        It happens occasionally – see Stephen Marglin. Complete marginalization to follow.

    4. Bugs Bunny

      Came back here to say something along those lines, and the reviewer has become a tiresome one note writer as of late I’d say he needs time off to think.

      India comes to mind. To reflect.

    5. Darthbobber

      Don’t know that I’d call (former Marxist) Camatte’s fellow travellers a large group, or for that matter credit him with theorising anything in the common understanding of that term. The almost-literal anthropomorphism of capital, the heavy reliance on rhetoric and the lack of the slightest effort to ground one bit of it empirically seem both untheoretical and also lacking in any guidance for practical action. And the whole theoretical enterprise has been spinning in a circle for my adult lifetime, without “developing” in any direction at all.

      Almost a “left” synthesis of the end of history and the central idea of Augustine’s city of God, in which secular history becomes utterly meaningless except as prelude to a future posthistory vouchsafed to a saved remnant.

    6. Lambert Strether Post author

      It looks to me like capital has found a way to exploit labor not only at the workplace, but through the social reproduction of labor as well. I should go back to the hard stuff at the Monthly Review (to whom Mozoroff gives a shout-out), and see what they have to say, instead of the Shirley Temple version from Zuboff.

  12. pjay

    Thank you for posting Alan MacLeod’s twitter thread. His work is valuable in understanding not only MSM coverage of Venezuela, but of most everything else as well. My only complaint about the Herman/Chomsky Propaganda model is that — contrary to most of their “academic” critics — they *understate* the direct influence of the “intelligence” community. That would seem to be obvious in a day when a James Clapper or a John Brennan can be hired as media “analysts” with no apparent qualms among mainstream “journalists.” But it was true when Manufacturing Consent came out as well. Nevertheless, MacLeod is right that most elite media pundits actually believe what they are saying — which is why they are in a position to say it.

    1. Parker Dooley

      Well, at least it is marginally less harmful than Marshmallow Fluff (filling for sandwiches made with Wonder Bread in my childhood — and apparently still a thing).

    2. Oregoncharles

      Hazels are one of the main crops here, and millions more are being planted (we have nearly twenty, very old). They do extremely well here, WITHOUT irrigation – even though there is very little rain in the summer.

      Hard to imagine it would pay to grow them where they DO require irrigation, but it is a long way to Australia.

    3. The Rev Kev

      There was a place called Cubbie Station that was diverting massive amounts of water from rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin and had much more water in storage than Sydney Harbour. The reason? So that they could grow cotton in the middle of a desert for export to China of course. Tough luck for all the farms and ecosystems downstream of them up to two States away.

  13. Fred

    In the link “Against U.S. Intervention In Venezuela” You missed a word of some importance.
    “NPR’s Michel Martin speaks with retired NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis about his recent op-ed in Time, arguing against deploying U.S. soldiers to Venezuela.”

  14. JohnnyGL

    For those who are interested, there’s an interesting battle on the black left in the US. The video above from Antonio Moore gives a nice summary. Yvette Carnell and Antonio Moore have pushed back against ‘black gatekeepers’ as dictated by MSNBC like Joy Reid.

    MSNBC crowd has gone for a full-on Russian-bot smear attack.

    On one level, the debate is about ‘who controls the narrative’. But, on a deeper level, it’s a debate over what it means to be black in america and what the legacy of slavery means.

    Moore and Carnell are right to point out that the long history of slavery, prison labor, red-lining and mass incarceration have left a legacy of poverty and disfunction among African Americans that handicaps them through today. They point out that most immigrants, black or not, often don’t understand or appreciate this legacy.

    I think they’re right to emphasize the understated importance of inheritance in the US. It’s a country that over-empasizes individual achievement, but most academic research has indicated that we’re a less mobile society that other western countries, and your future prospects are best predicted by your parents’ level of wealth (not income).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I think they’re right to emphasize the understated importance of inheritance in the US. It’s a country that over-empasizes individual achievement, but most academic research has indicated that we’re a less mobile society that other western countries, and your future prospects are best predicted by your parents’ level of wealth (not income).

      I agree. And inheritance, besides property, also includes epigenetic factors as well (both tied together through housing/geography). I have thought of tying these under the heading of caste (class and caste being a neat dichotomy).

  15. Summer

    RE: Are millennials killing war industry

    Hell, no. And no entire generation is for long aimless protracted wars or however they worded the questions.
    And that doesn’t stop them.

    And nothing stops the stupid generational marketing terms.
    Talk about BS jobs.

      1. Procopius

        I find it interesting the article says the troops removed from Syria will be repositioned at Al Asad Air Base. That contradicts what I’ve read at other blogs, which said they were going to be stationed in an uninhabited desert area located to block the Syria-Iraq-Iran highway, in order to prevent communication by land from Iran to Syria, which is what the Al Tanf base does now. To do that, of course, they would have to engage in acts of war against Iran on Iraqi soil. It’s no wonder Iraq objects, even though the Western media choose not to mention that to their readers.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Against U.S. Intervention In Venezuela”

    Kinda funny when you read it. When he says ‘In any free and fair election, he’ll be defeated.’ but the trouble is that he was elected in a free and fair election. In fact, the standards for elections is much higher than what the US has, from what I have read, and Jimmy Carter’s mob signed off on the previous election. So what happens if Maduro wins again? That tactic of having an opposition refusing to take part in an election and then afterwards claiming that the election was tainted because they were not in it is wearing a bit thin by now.
    And when he suggests having the new elections done under the Organization of American States, does he realize that they support Maduro? Unlike the LAMA group, sorry, LIMA group which is a make believe AstroTurf organization. What happens if the US can’t ‘land this thing diplomatically’? Is he ready to invade and send South America into uproar like the Middle east? A lot of the governments may have signed off of this but bet that there would be a lot of unhappy voters in several countries that result. Would they send their military in? Would that have a effect on their stability?
    And what happens when that thug, if he wins, brings in a shock doctrine and sells the country out. What if that pushes the country into a civil war? The weapons are already there. This attempted take-over has all the finesse of the attempted Turkish take-over not that long ago. It is a gamble that is not paying off so the incompetents running it are trying to double their way down to success because that is the way that they roll, baby.

    1. John k

      Certainly the us should not intervene militarily, enough already with unending foreign wars.
      3+ million have left the country, a similar number of refugees left Syria.
      A continuous stream of refugees continue into Columbia and, from there, throughout south A.
      Maduro has refused foreign assistance.
      Oil production continues to decline.
      Inflation is enormous and rising. Basic services such as medical, and food, is unaffordable.
      Maduro continues to sell off the jewels (Citgo), and maybe gold held by central bank. Huge debts to China and Russia.
      Maduro has the military, so he and his policies will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
      So… what can we expect to see over the next year?

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      The resolution put forward by the US requiring Maduro step down and allow Guaidó to take command failed to pass the OAS by only two votes, so saying the OAS supports Maduro is behind the times. Ecuador, for example, has been persuaded to dump him in exchange for a $500 million loan (which also includes throwing Julian Assange out of the embassy) and promise of more to come.

  17. L

    This could easily be filed under class warfare or Trump Transition but it is being reported that Trump is nominating David Malpass world bank critic and as others have noted former chief economist at Bear Stearns to be world bank head.

    Either this is a nefarious and secretive plot to blow up the institution by handing it to an idiot, or Trump wasn’t quite serious about that whole sticking it to Wall Street thing. Some days it is hard to tell.

    1. crittermom

      >Trump wasn’t quite serious about that whole sticking it to Wall Street thing.

      Did you ever believe he was? Really?

      He hasn’t ‘drained a swamp’. He’s lined it with gold bricks & invited his friends donors in for a pleasurable swim.

      I’m not even sure William Black could reverse what Trump is doing, but I’d sure like to see him given the chance.

  18. woof

    Venezuela press coverage.

    Joan Didion’s Salvador from 1982 is an excellent read. A lot more is known now about that decade and since in Latin America than was available to Didion, which makes her reportage all the more gripping and prescient.

    1. Philip
      When the Mountains Tremble filmed in 1982 at the height of the Guatemalan Army’s repression against the Mayan indigenous people, has become a classic political documentary. It describes the struggle of the largely Indian peasantry against a heritage of state and foreign oppression. Centered on the experiences of Rigoberta Menchú, who later became a Nobel Peace laureate, the overall effect of the film is exhilarating. With clarity and energy it conveys the birth of a national and political awareness.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It seems the destination of those caravans is to just enter the US.

          Where have people of the past caravans gone? Have they gone to the Pentagon, the CIA, multinational corporations, foreign policy think tanks, DC politicians, Wall Street banks? And stayed, in order to show how the dots in Guatamala and here are connected?

  19. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is a Richard Heinberg on the website-arm of the Post Carbon Institute . . .
    about different ways to speed up skycarbon-drawdown and fix the drawdowned-carbon into either bio-char or other para-biochar carbon solids , depending on the feedstocks going into the process. The book discusses several industrial-world products where para-biochar carbon-solids would make a product as-good-or-better for its purpose than the materials currently being used now. Using hard bio-carbon instead of sand or sand + gravel etc. in making concrete is one such example.

    Here is the link.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      When this book comes out physically, I will certainly get a copy. Albert Bates has a record of effective stuff-writing and thing-doing.

      I think a very good test for the effectiveness of these and other methods is whether they can be applied and get results at the sub-national regional and local level in the in the dark shadow of Federal-National indifference, or even in the teeth of hostile Federal-National obstruction.

      Because I think region-loads and locality-loads of global-dewarming-minded people will have to begin crafting sub-national civilizations devoted to aggressive sky-carbon suckdown and other approaches to global dewarming pursuable at sub-national levels in such a way as to be able to deny and destroy revenue streams to fossil-fuel-based subnational regions and communities so as to attrit and degrade the political and economic power of those communities and reconquer our Federal-National government from physical and policy occupation by the various representatives and agents of those pro-pollution and anti-conservation communities.

      Eighty Million Pairs of Strong Blue Hands . . . wrapped around the neck of Big Fossil.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          A revolution? Certainly not. Maybe a velvet stealth rebellion leading to a velvet stealth counter-offensive.

          I am not a revolutionary. I am a New Deal Reactionary. Perhaps I could call myself a Reformationary Solutionist.

          If I wished to troll a room full of sparts and trots, I could call myself a Petty BoozhWannabe Liberal Reformist.

      1. Parker Dooley

        I see a good deal of magical thinking in discussions around carbon capture and sequestration.

        First of all, “biochar” is just a fancy word for charcoal. It is apparently a wonderful soil amendment — no argument there. Producing it in a fashion that avoids releasing the byproducts of anaerobic combustion (essentially bio-diesel oil and natural gas) into the atmosphere requires a good deal of non-trivial technology The amount of biomass to be processed to have any significant effect would, of course, be enormous, which leads to questions of the energy cost of transporting the materials. If the pyrolysate byproducts were burned to satisfy the heating and transport requirements, the CO2 released would have to be captured & dealt with.

        This leads to some other concerns:

        Elsewhere, it has been suggested that CO2 could be reconverted into fuels. It is my understanding (many years dated, to be sure) that thermodynamic considerations for this process would require input of an amount of energy equivalent to that released by the combustion, plus a “rent payment” in energy to account for entropy and inefficiency of the process.

        Capture of carbon from the atmosphere involves similar considerations. Anyone who has ever made maple sugar recognizes that you have to input a hell of a lot of energy to recover a substance from a dilute solution. Easier to grab concentrated CO2 from a stack than to attempt to recover it from the atmosphere at 400 parts per million. Or not burn it in the first place.

        Incidentally, I became interested in the pyrolysis process during a trip to India seeing the incredible amounts of plastic and other organic trash in the ditches with women cooking over dung fires who could have been paid to collect the trash to be converted into pyro-oil or pyro-gas for stoves. (any comments, Jerri-Lynn?)

        (I live near a county landfill where they burn a good deal of biomass, but the antediluvian troglodytes on our board of supervisors show no interest in this idea).

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          The plants who recover CO2 from the atmosphere do it all by themselves driven by solar energy without any energy input from us.

          Plants use sunlight energy to work up CO2 and H20 into reduced chemicals with chemical energy in their chemical bonds re-releasable upon re-oxidation. The plants do it for “free” all by themselves on energy they keep after all the energy taxes have been paid all the light that got lost or degraded along the way. The earth is intercepting sunlight coming from the sun. The sun consuming itself in fusion reactions is where the primary entropy in the system is steadily increased.

          If the pyrolysate byproducts of hypoxic heating of the biomass were burned, would the carbon “have to be dealt with”? No. It would not. It would only be going back into the same sky which the plants took it out of to begin with. And the hard carbon remaining behind as biochar would be the perma-fixed part of the carbon which the plants took out of the sky and which is KEPT out of the sky. With every turn of the grow it–char it/ grow it–char it cycle, the carbon which stays hard and charred is skycarbon which has been pulled from the sky and kept OUT OF the sky.

          Would it take more energy to ship the char to all its destinations than was fixed by the pyrolysate and the char? That is a good question which deserves study. For backyard home-charmakers, the answer is obviously “no”.

          As people keep studying and experimenting, we will hopefully find and admit-to-recognizing the “magical” , and filter it out from among the “real” for rejecting and discarding.

          I believe charcoal refers to big hard lumps left from charring wood and which are easy to handle and use. Biochar refers to any and every bit of hard black carbon left after the charring process, including the black ghostly hard carbon remains of whispy grass stems and other things not handle-able as charcoal lumps.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I would like to see sub-national regions begin trying to do stuff like this in view of Federal Non-Support for any of this for some years to come. States or regions of states. Multi-country clusters or interstate multi-county zones. Etc.

        Perhaps various Rural Electric Co-operatives could look into bio-mass electricity for their own little Co-Op grids with biochar left over as a high value byproduct. Or maybe even not just a byproduct. Maybe an equal-value coproduct.

        Certainly any Rural Electric Co-operatives located in States withOUT a coal industry or even a natural gas industry would face just-that-much-less opposition to carefully experimenting with Eprida for power and biochar.

    1. Judith

      Thanks. I am saving to read later. I did notice the following section as I was browsing the report, which I am not used to seeing in reports from U.N. special rapporteurs.

      Section H.
      Ad hominem attacks

      An atmosphere of intimidation accompanied the mission, attempting to pressure the
      Independent Expert into a predetermined matrix. He received letters from NGOs asking
      him not to proceed because he was not the “relevant” rapporteur, and almost dictating what should be in the report. Weeks before his arrival, some called the mission a “fake investigation”. Social media insults bordered on “hate speech”and “incitement”. Mobbing before, during and after the mission bore a resemblance to the experience of two American journalists who visited the country in July 2017.

      Utilizing platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, critics questioned the Independent Expert’s integrity and accused him of bias, demonstrating a culture of intransigence and refusal to accept the duty of an independent expert to be neutral, objective, dispassionate and to apply his expertise free of external pressures. The idea that an independent expert should think independently and weigh evidence does not seem to have occurred to some critics, for whom human rights are
      weapons of demonization, not only against governments, but also against experts.

      The Independent Expert explained to critics that he must evaluate independently, not only from governments, but from lobbies, non-governmental organizations and even from other rapporteurs.

    2. Pookah Harvey

      Thank you for the link. From the report:

      67. The Independent Expert recommends that the General Assembly:
      Invoke article 96 of the Charter of the United Nations and refer the
      following questionsto the International Court of Justice: Can unilateral coercive
      measures be compatible with international law? Can unilateral coercive measures amount to crimes against humanity when a large number of persons perish because of scarcity of food and medicines? What reparations are due to the victims of sanctions? Do sanctions and currency manipulations constitute geopolitical crimes?
      Adopt a resolution along the lines of the resolutions on the United States
      embargo against Cuba, declaring the sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela contrary to international law and human rights law

      As usual one of the few news outlets to take notice is Jimmy Dore.

      Also a Jan. 25 report from TRNN seems to have an even handed discussion on Venezuela from people with on the ground experience:

    3. makedoanmend

      Thanks for the link. Excellent.

      Gives a fairly broad view of the troubles these countries are facing – some self inflicted; some due to the vagaries of complex economic factors; and many imposed within and without by those who see gold in them thar hills. Some wants the precious for themselves – my precious, all mines.

      One sentence that struck me was the one about Venezuela’s problems was that it had too many ideologues and not enough technocrats in the civil services.

  20. Summer

    RE: Capitalism’s New Clothes

    Just started reading the article and I get hit with:

    “The general public, seduced by the tech world’s youthful, hoodie-wearing ambassadors and lobotomized by TED Talks, was clueless…”

    Ok, the general public can be clueless.
    But “seduced by the tech world’s youthful, hoodie-wearing ambassadors and lobotomized by TED Talks” is not describing the “general” public.
    That’s a special cluelessness from a specific group of navel-gazing social climbers.

    1. Cal2

      Agreed. At the other end in the household spectrum is the simple act of not allowing any device, other than a computer, access to your router password.

      Once you are in public, things change. Every time I get a survey, am asked for an email address, to join a buyer’s club, to sign up for special offers, sign a petition, etc., I change my name a bit, use a fake phone number, bad address, or, use the address of someone with a similar or same name.

      The only people who get my real info are tax authorities and a bank when I sign up for a new account, which is a good idea every few years to avoid information leakage.
      When it comes to medicine, nothing is done online.

      1. EricT

        For medication it doesn’t matter anyway. All of your pharmacy records no matter what pharmacy you use( in the USA ) are sold to companies who track what medications are prescribed and used for the express purpose of sending the information to whomever pays for it and provides a waiver release for the client. So, whether you do it online or through the mail or even in person, you are going to get the same treatment.

        1. Cal2

          You are right about pharma. Have gotten junk calls about pain relief.
          Have yet to get a pharma ad in the mail though.
          My email is for my friends. Never sign up for online anything or “portals.”
          Startpage anonymizer for searches, anonymized page loads, Firefox, ad block plus, ghostery, no script, makes for an ad free online experience.
          A nice check to Yves and mailing a hundred dollar bill to other sites’ owners is the least we can do.

    2. Craig H.

      Capitalism does not have any new clothes.

      It is naked.

      It is in the title box on your browser. :)

  21. Mark Gisleson

    Just saw a picture of Ilhan Omar surrounded by US flags.

    I don’t know how to process that image any more than my brain knows what to do with pictures of her in a hijab and mini-skirt, or Stacey Abrams at CAP.

    I’m pretty sure that the first time I see Corey Booker in a Mao cap, my head is going to explode.

      1. ambrit

        I spared myself the self-flagellatory experience of watching the Grand Kabuki Show. Thanks for mentally polluting yourself by seeing it for me. That image of a group of white coated chanters brought to mind the idea of “The Tyranny of Conformity.”
        Bad as he is, Trump is not the real enemy. There is a lot of misdirection going on.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Year of the Earth Pig.

      According to the Theory of Five Phases,

      1. earth is assoicated with the middle, and the color yellow (earth color in the region generally)

      2. where as wood is associated with the color azure, the dragon and the east ),

      3. fire is associated with the color red, the vermillion bird and the south (it’s warmer in the south),

      4. metal is with the color white, the tiger and the west (perhaps the snowy mountains, and not likely to do with ‘white people’ over there),

      5. and water is assoicated with the color black, the turtle or the snake (sometimes depicted wth both), and the north.

  22. JohnnyGL

    That Current Affairs article by Nathan Robinson is excellent. Property Rights are paramount and foundational to our society….until they’re not….

    This little side remark to the article shouldn’t be missed, either:

    “When consistently applying legal principles would produce results that conflict with judges’ natural conservative instincts, principle tends to be set aside. (A similar phenomenon is that champions of Property Rights are rarely advocates for slavery reparations or returning U.S. territory to Native Americans, because their principles are overridden by their horror at the idea of significantly disrupting the status quo.)”

    1. Chris Cosmos

      Native American property rights were not honored because they were a different culture and were often thought to be sub-human. Property rights generally only apply to the powerful and rich who have pull in the political world–if you don’t have clear title to the land as handed down by the current legal regime you have no property. This tragedy has been played out in Latin America, particular Columbia in recent years.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        To consistent, should those believing homeowners practive it by returning those homes to the natives?

        For example, will dacha owners in Siberia returning theirs to, say, the Koryak people?

        “I just paid $180,000 for this condo in Plymouth and I am returning it?”

    2. flora

      Article is charmingly naive.

      1. Libertarians do not believe in reciprocity. If a libertarian is asked, “If someone takes your property or harms you should you be compensate?” the answer is ‘yes’. If asked, “if you take another’s property or harm them should you compensate them?” the answer is ‘no’, because that would cause a harm to the person asked to pay damages and divest them of some of ‘their’ property. See Koch bros illegal pollution in Fla and elsewhere. Reciprocity isn’t in the playbook, that’s one reason they aren’t keen on democracy.

      2. “Not to do it would be to admit that we do not actually care about property rights, we just care about favored parties. (Namely corporations.)”
      This isn’t news. See: police asset forfeiture. See: corporate abuse of eminent domain; Kelo v. City of New London as an example.

      1. flora

        adding two very old sayings about property:

        1. Possession is 9 / 10th’s of the law.
        2. He might have it, but can he keep it?

    3. Barry

      Most libertarians might be propertarians, true, but the neoliberal playbook says externalities are a fundamental right.

      If you can’t demonstrate the amount of harm and exactly what proportion of the harm is a result of my action or my property’s action, in dollars and cents, then you can’t bill me for it. Therefore, if I can spread damage into the environment and the community in a diffuse way that can’t be precisely measured, in dollars, then it is my right to do so.

      If you can’t defend yourself against such harm, then Hayek’s Magic Calculator aka the Market, says you deserve that harm.

      And carbon taxes are of course wrong according to the neoliberal playbook on three counts:
      1. You can’t set the price accurately, so you can’t know if you are taxing the right amount (see externality rights).
      2. Taxation is theft. period. If the government takes what is mine to spend what is mine in ways that I don’t agree to, that’s theft.
      3. The government trying to make things better through regulation or taxation or whatever is by axiom a violation of the function of Hayek’s Magic Calculator, and can only make things worse. By axiom, so you can’t question it.

      And we mustn’t ever forget that making business responsible for the damage it causes is bad for business.

      1. Barry

        It’s way too late in this thread, but where else will I say it?

        The externality right works on both sides of the neoliberal ledger. They feel they don’t need to acknowledge the value of any of the benefits they receive from the government or community or (“there is no…”) society (- M. Thatcher), because these benefits can’t be measured and stated in dollars and cents in an account statement. Things that can’t be valued in dollars aren’t real; or if they are real, they don’t have to be responsible for them.

    4. Oregoncharles

      “Civil Asset Forfeiture”, short of conviction, is another flagrant violation of property rights. That’s why a lot of conservatives supported the successful anti-Forfeiture initiative in Oregon. I recommend it.

      1. flora

        Noting here that traditional GOP conservatives I know aren’t libertarians. The notion that real conservatives are libertarians is a slander on real conservatives, with whom I may disagree on many issues, but respect as honest republicans. (Republicans with a small ‘r’; as. for example, I am a capitalist with a small ‘c’).

  23. JTMcPhee

    Here’s hoping some real progressives, sorted out from among the mass of apathetic or true-believer Dem people in the Sunshine State, decide to attend the Ft. Laud meetup. One wonders at the situation. Maybe we sense that getting together more directly exposes us to the attentions of the Sinister State. Maybe the fountain of futility information that appears in the NC links (along with the meliorist pieces on acts of wisdom and decency and hope that also appear) has so many of us turned off to more leaning in and confirming the woefulness of the world situation. Maybe Ft. Laud is just not a good place to try to scare up a gathering of kindred souls seeking solutions as well as diagnostics. I personally can’t afford to drive for four hours and not young enough to sleep rough at the other end. But I hope some folks do show up, pour encourager les autres…

    Mopes of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your supply chains!

  24. Cal2

    If property rights were real, homeowners could sue those who install low income housing projects in their community.
    Or, at least, make the developers, or politicians, post a performance bond that could be attached by victims of crime, post-criminal conviction of those artificially moved into the communities who committed the torts.

    1. sd

      From this comment and the one you posted in the Homeless project thread, I get the sense that you hold a bias against poor people.

      1. Cal2

        Nope, I grew up poor, more so than you would believe.
        I do have a bias against bad behavior, stupid voluntary choices and a lack of personal responsibility.

        Other than that, I’m a raging humanitarian who believes that charity begins at home, not on a global scale.

        1. sd

          Noble however charitable giving drops considerably when relied for at the level of the individual. If you want to see changes in homelessness, etc government support is required.

          1. pretzelattack

            there’s a lot of reasons that people have a low income, other than “poor choices”. who they choose as parents, for one, which coincidentally also applies to people in more affluent neighborhoods.

          2. Cal2

            sd, Nothing wrong with collective government support for local poor people and ex-taxpayers who have raised children in and contributed to building a community. Expecting a community to charitably support all voluntary arrivals is pointless.

            Pretzel, people who chose to use hard drugs have made poor choices. Not all low income people are homeless. Round and round we go…

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              People who were carefully addicted to oxycontin by the addiction engineers of the Sackler Industrial Complex did not make their own bad choice.

              Once they have been carefully addicted by the addiction engineers, and they are then de-prescribed from their deliberately addictogenic oxycontin, how much of a choice is it for them to turn to the oh-so-conveniently available heroin delivered by the global Narco-Intelligence Industrial Complex?

              1. Cal2

                Total agreement. When will the Sacklers have their property seized and be tried and put in federal prison?

            2. CarlH

              Your attitude toward poverty and drug use/abuse strikes me as ignorant and mean spirited. It is also strikes me as self congratulatory.

  25. Chris Cosmos

    Children who are not vaccinated can pose a problem, clearly. However, what the mainstream view here don’t understand is there is good reason to be skeptical of vaccination. First, the vaccinations are made by drug companies who to many of us are not much better than criminal organization who fudge and falsify data to their own advantage so how do we know these vaccinations are not harmful. We also know that government, particularly the FDA, are corrupt and captured by the industry. Also, there’s plenty of evidence out there that strange things seem to find their way into these vaccines. Second, we don’t know the results of so many chemicals entering the bloodstreams of children–perhaps on average the results won’t be negative–but we don’t know that do we? Why? Because, in reality, we don’t know how the body really works as a whole system. In my own life, one of my sons suffered clearly from a vaccine regimen. He was one person before this particular battery of vaccines and another afterwards–frequently sick, sad, an borderline autistic–others have noticed similar changes.

    Now, I want to be clear here, I have no absolute position or vaccines–I just don’t know. But we do have an epidemic of autism and we don’t know why is there a connection? We don’t know because the money people won’t invest in there is a profit in the solving the condition. When you have a culture that only honors money above all other things you get people who don’t trust the authorities. And, in this case there’s ample and rational reasons not to trust the authorities.

    1. newcatty

      Chris Cosmos,
      There has been a lot of discussion about putting people into the “anti-vax ” camp or the absolutist vaccine is safe, effective and necessary for protection against the scourge of the dreaded childhood diseases. I aappreciate, imo, reasonable stated position: ” I just don’t know.”

      One fact that I don’t know that anyone disputes: autism is definitely now an epidemic. Your personal experience is so sad and, as you know, you are not alone as a parent. I personally know children who are ” on the autism spectrum”. Also, knowing young parents, who if their own children are not, all know other parents in their circles or at their schools whom are autistic. Also, to point out the fact that in the same family: one or more children are and others are not. This leads to perhaps a vulnerability in the affected child. What comes to my mind is that we live in such a polluted , chemically saturated world that the causation may be multifaceted. The child that I know best, who is also borderline autistic, also had the battery of vaccines. She had speech impairment, was often sick and not just sad, but also had terrible tantrums as a young child. Her sibling, also vaccinated, has none of the above. Same parents. One child, the affected one, was in utero, born and raised ,as a young one, in a very polluted environment. The other, not. Oh, yes, correlation does not equal causation. There is an interesting question here.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I think the chemical sea we live in is the obvious suspect in the, yes, epidemic of autism. I wonder whether there’s any research being done to pin it down?. It would go against some very obvious interests.

    2. Parker Dooley

      Witnessing just one case of tetanus, measles encephalitis, bulbar polio or birth defects from rubella can sure turn one into a believer!

      1. newcatty

        Parker Dooley, yes. Understand your point. But, again, does that mean that one can not also question that , perhaps, vaccinations need to be critically and without prejudice , researched to not just their efficacy, but that they also can be administrated with , for example more attention to scheduling or other variables that might make them more safe for all kids? Like to see more of a “physician do no harm” be more emphasized. What’s the harm in asking for more research? BTW, I am not an anti-baxter. My own child was one of the first kids to get the MMR vaccine.

      2. Elizabeth Burton

        But how do we know it’s safe giving so many vaccinations (didn’t I hear somewhere it was up to something like 26?) to very young children in great batches, which is now the case? I’m firmly behind vaccines that work, being a polio survivor now barely ambulatory from post-polio syndrome, but just how much stuff can one tiny body deal with at a time?

        So, I just don’t know, either, but I would very much like to; and I have to agree that the lack of any serious study of the topic has a rather off smell to it. Now even we old people aren’t immune, since having missed the chance to inject us with a chicken pox vaccine we are now warned we must get one to prevent us from getting shingles. Since every case of shingles I’ve ever encountered went hand-in-glove with severe stress, and since I’ve learned to avoid stress, I’ll pass, thanks. I have a fully operative immune system, and I plan to keep it that way.

        1. newcatty

          Rev Kev, usually I agree with your opinion on many subjects. Also, enjoy your knowledge on many. Your above statement: “Some people just miss the good old days ” was , if not intended to be patronizing or sarc, had the smack of that. To follow Elizabeth Burton’s comment with your comment was just callous. Think she made it clear, as a polio survivor, that she is “firmly behind vaccines that work.” She, like many others, wants more study and research into the many vaccinations given in concentrated time periods to very young childern.

          1. The Rev Kev

            In re-reading the thread I think that you are right and I apologize to Elizabeth Burton. I can understand Elizabeth’s trepidation with too many vaccinations with young children, I really can. I guess that I have a sore spot with the subject of vaccinations as I have read too many stories of children who have suffered because their parents followed a trend of not having their children being given protection, even though they themselves were protected. I will have to watch that in future.

              1. Parker Dooley

                Not true, Lambert. That is what community health centers and county health departments are for.

  26. allan

    The good news about the Foxconn mess in Walkerstan is that the state had nothing better
    to do with the money … oh, never mind:

    Flooding, burst pipes damage 28 UW-Madison buildings since Friday [Wisc State Jour]

    Burst water pipes and other flooding-related problems have damaged 28 UW-Madison buildings since Friday, according to university officials.

    The most affected buildings, Vilas Hall and the Chemistry Building, suffered severe damage over the weekend, closing both buildings and forcing 180 course sections to be relocated Monday and Tuesday. The university expects additional relocations later this week, UW-Madison spokeswoman Meredith McGlone said Monday. …

    Officials said the sub-zero temperatures last week followed by a rapid thawing in the past few days likely weakened building pipes and led to flooding, McGlone said. …

    McGlone declined to say whether the amount of state funding allocated for building maintenance may have been a factor but said the university will look for “lessons learned” from the incidents.

    She said David Darling, UW-Madison’s associate vice chancellor of facilities planning and management, will speak broadly about campus infrastructure at the UW System Board of Regents meeting later this week in Madison. …

    Speaking broadly, maybe the lesson learned should be that deferred maintenance bats last.

    1. Skip Intro

      I wonder if things at UW-Madison will be rebuilt, or whether the public university will simply be degraded. If so, we have a candidate for for phase one of (Lambert’s) neoliberal playbook with sabotage through defunding.

      1. newcatty

        It would be interesting to hear other examples of burst water pipes and “other flood related problems” in other public buildings in the sub zero cold country. Especially, the ones like this where rapid thawing soon followed. Yeah, deferred maintenance, or no maintenance, is a good candidate for sabatoge through defunding.. Destroy the institutions that help make a populace educated (?if universities and colleges are not being devalued in that mission is for another discussion) ; pit people against the other to ,keep them disempowered; justify homelessness as a necessary and unfortunate outcome to hard times in the country( if there are hard times, why is in the eyes of the beholders); pollute and desecrate soils, water and air everywhere (cause economically neccesary); allow the surveillance of everyone and thing (cause of 9/11 and you know who is baaack!). The effects of climate change, like above, are just so obvious. Wait…now, it was because Mr.Darling will be a darling and address the need for “lessons learned”.

      2. Left in Wisconsin

        I could speak at length about the building infrastructure at UW-Madison. There was a huge amount of construction done in the late 1960s and 1970s, much of it brutalist, virtually all of it low quality. (As an aside, everything built after student protests started had as a top priority an architecture that made it immune to occupation and takeover. So a huge number of building on campus puzzle visitors or new campus residents and employees because they have bizarre entrances – hidden or tiny or below/above grade – fronted with barricade-like plazas or concrete landscaping.)

        Vilas Hall is a complete disaster as a building. Chemistry is a pretty standard 1970’s laboratory and classroom building now in the process of being replaced.

        To the extent the recent weather exposed B&G problems, they have more to do with poor building design and architecture than lack of maintenance. (That said, much of the campus is still tied to central steam heat that is a perpetual issue because steam is not meant for buildings where the windows don’t open.) The frozen-then-burst pipe that caused the trouble at Vilas was exposed in a concrete stairwell ostensibly in the heated part of the building!

        There is no doubt that the university is degrading, quality-wise, but the one place where that is not obviously true is B&G. They have a huge maintenance staff, spend a huge amount on buildings and maintenance, and for at least the last two decades have been continuously upgrading their physical facilities. Unfortunately, there are still a large number of 1970s-era buildings that are all crap and will have to be replaced at some point.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          This is very interesting. The multi-decade cycle of building replacement (if replaced they are). I wonder if there’s a connection between the style of architecture (brutalist, tiny entrances) and the HVAC choices that now make the buildings vulnerable to global weirding.

          Why the heck would you ever expose a pipe in a stairwell, even in a heated part of the building?!

          1. ambrit

            From my experience in construction, I’ve noticed that interior walls are often undersized for the ‘services’ scheduled to be installed inside them. This, I have been led to believe, is tied to contractual rules governing the amount of usable interior space. So, often, to save cost on concrete used in slabs, the walls are sized to minimum tolerances. Thus, sometimes, pipes are moved to less visible spots in the building for indirect financial reasons. Those exposed pipes are usually insulated. Too, consider that the very fact of heating applies to the entire building. Over time, the void spaces in the walls fall to the ambient temperature. Heat for the interior spaces equals heating for the walls themselves.
            In the Southwest, adobe mass external walls utilize the rate of heat migration to harness the daily sunlight to warm the interior spaces. In this case, the building is still being heated, just not by human technological methods. I doubt if something similar to adobe mass wall heat cycling would work up North where cloudy days would disrupt the solar heating somewhat. True, there is some infrared heating going on through cloud cover, but not anywhere near the combined infrared and visible light heating values you get on a clear day.

  27. Hameloose Cannon

    “[E]xecutive meeting schedules are largely make-work […].” Totes. Except when you are 1.) Head of State and the Head of Government…and half your cabinet is “acting”, your presidency is hanging on by a thread, you just fired the Federal Government, but made them keep working, then failed to make a point; and 2.) No. It’s the “Executive” branch, not an executive office. You don’t have a national election just to make work. This statement is the most feeble-minded shortcut to thinking, you’d think the President himself claimed it. Then was proud about it. Told his friends. But we know DiJiT lives it and tries to hide it, –so, this Bachrach guy, what a putz. Now I’m having executive time. Kerplunk.

  28. Oregoncharles

    “A High-Stakes Fight Is Brewing in Norway Over EU Relations”
    So “free movement” really is a cheap-labor policy; who’d a thunk it?

    Another example of the slow collapse of the EU’s model, still gathering steam. Italy’s plan to nationalize any banks they have to bail out is another.

    1. The Rev Kev

      It’s almost like the EU is also a mechanism for depressing both wages and worker’s conditions. I don’t think that the Norwegians are impressed with the EU trying to turn Norway’s social conditions into an eastern European nation. They have a lot to be proud of and between Brexit and now the trouble with Norway you do wonder at what point the disadvantages will outweigh the advantages of belonging in any form to the EU. If the EU had stuck to being a trade organization that would have been one thing but turning itself into a political organization with a death-grip on member nations as well as an un-elected, unaccountable oligarchy in place is setting up all sorts of massive internal tensions that will be constantly reverberating in the years to come.

  29. urblintz

    I don’t remember if I responded about the FL meet-up… I was sure hoping to be there but between my migraines and a new dental emergency I just don’t think I’m up for the 41/2 hr. drive from Tampa Bay. I am so sorry to miss it and the opportunity to meet the incomparable Yves… something that WILL happen one of these days. Have fun!!!

      1. Oregoncharles

        There’s been Plague in rodent populations in the SW for a long time; I remember seeing a rather chilling warning about it at Bandelier Nat. Monument in New Mexico – in about 1980. Once in a while there’s a human case.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Maybe my previous reply got lost – skip this if not: there’s been plague resident in the SW since at least 1980,, probably much longer. Once in a while even a human case.

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