2:00PM Water Cooler 3/27/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“China’s secretive lending to Africa” [Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum]. “Questions are swirling around China’s financing of Ethiopian Airlines (ET), and whether it was part of the country’s secretive lending to Africa…. While it is difficult to obtain hard facts about Beijing’s involvement, there are indications that Chinese banks, in particular the China Export Import Bank and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Financial Leasing, have lent large amounts to Ethiopian Airlines. The tragic crash of ET Flight 302 on 10 March shone a light on China’s involvement in Africa. Once its causes become clearer, it may lead to a reassessment of the risks of lending to a fast-expanding airline. It is possible western creditors will react faster than their Chinese counterparts. Regardless of the extent of ET’s fault in the crash, lenders will probably continue to support the airline. This is particularly true of Chinese investors as part of Beijing’s ‘going global’ strategy; Ethiopia plays an important role as a transport hub in Africa. Any retrenchment would have a knock-on effect on China’s strategy elsewhere on the continent. Chinese airlines are in no position to fill the gap if the country downscaled its commitment to ET. In addition, the airline’s success has made it a profitable Chinese investment.”

“China’s airplane ambitions get a boost from Boeing fallout” [Los Angeles Times]. “Seven days after the Ethiopian Airlines crash, the Ethiopian ambassador to China paid a visit to China’s state-owned airplane manufacturer in Shanghai. He tweeted photos of himself sitting in the cockpit of the Comac C919, a new Chinese-built plane aimed to compete with Boeing’s 737 Max 8 and Airbus’ A320neo. ‘It will not be so long that we will see them in the blue sky,’ the ambassador tweeted. ‘Even in my layman observations, I do not think they need 20 years and for sure they will not wait for 20 years.'”


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune



Although I like Buttigieg better than I did — I’m still suspicious of anybody who thinks that a Rhodes Scholarship, McKinsey, and the military is the royal road to the Oval Office — Stoller is correct to pose this question.

Sanders (1):

Sanders (2): Big if true:

Sanders (3):

The RNC keeps coming up with Sanders gotchas that are, in fact, excellent things that should be done.

O’Rourke: “Beto O’Rourke’s Free Ride on Charter Schools Won’t Last for Long” [The Intercept]. “O’Rourke stayed conspicuously silent on the topic of charter schooling during his Senate campaign, and his backers in the education establishment decided not to press him on it…. While most Democratic candidates are likely to face questions about charter schools on the trail to the White House, that likelihood is greater for Beto O’Rourke’s than most, given his wife’s stature in the charter school movement. Amy O’Rourke is a former charter school leader and currently sits on the board of a local education reform group that supports expanding charter schools in El Paso.”

“As Nevada lags behind in 2020 visits, Silver State Democrats warn about ignoring the state” [CNN]. “According to data collected by CNN, the 14 candidates running for the Democratic nomination in 2020 have made 13 trips to Nevada since the 2018 midterms, a number that dramatically trails behind Iowa, a state that has received 49 trips, New Hampshire with its 46 trips and South Carolina, which has had 26 visits since November 2018.”


“MSNBC’s Trump-Russia Ratings Fizzle: ‘Time to Pivot to 2020’” [Daily Beast]. “Within MSNBC, there’s an acknowledgement that the Trump-Russia narrative on which the cable network—and especially its primetime star Maddow—built monster ratings has fizzled for the moment. Insiders also claim not to be surprised that the conclusion of the long-awaited Mueller report—or at least the Trump-appointed attorney general’s summary—was a whimper, not a bang for an outlet that has invested so much time and energy, in primetime and throughout its dayparts, in the notion that Trump is unworthy of the Oval Office and might at some point be forced to give it up. And it’s also possible that the Mueller disappointment drove loyal viewers away in much the same way that people avoid looking at their 401(k)s when the stock market is down. Maddow, who has consistently vied for the first or second top-rated cable news program, was sixth on Monday evening, down almost 500,000 total viewers from the previous Monday, as was MSNBC’s second top-rated program in primetime, The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell.” • So, the “insiders” knew there was a problem, but kept stoking the madness until the last possible moment?

“Consortium News’ Record on Russia-gate—A Series of Articles on How CN Covered the ‘Scandal’: No. 1—‘The Sleazy Origins of Russia-gate” [Robert Parry, Consortium News]. From March 29, 2017, and how long ago that seems: “Despite the dubious quality of Steele’s second- and third-hand information, the June report [which included the piss tape] appears to have won the breathless attention of Team Clinton. And once the bait was taken, Steele continued to produce his conspiracy-laden reports, totaling at least 17 through Dec. 13, 2016.” • The late, great Robert Parry’s prose is lucid and calm. This is one of a series of re-posts, a well-deserved victory by Consortium News (another victim of the skeevy, WaPo-promoted propornot scamsters).

“The Paranoid Center” [Ross Douthat, New York Times]. “The Iraq war was fiercely opposed by paleoconservatives and antiwar libertarians as well as by the antiwar left, and the strongest skeptics of the Russiagate narrative have been left-wing journalists.” And:

This pattern points to the essential difference between paranoias of the fringes and what Reason’s Jesse Walker once called “the paranoid center.” Because the center believes in the basic goodness of American and Western institutions, the basic wisdom and patriotism of their personnel, its threat matrix is always attuned to Great Enemies outside and radicals within, and its greatest fears tend to involve the two groups working together — whether that means Middle Eastern dictators and Islamist sleeper cells after Sept. 11 or the grand alliance of Putinists and homegrown white nationalists that’s blamed for Donald Trump.

Meanwhile the extremes, in different but sometimes overlapping ways, are much more skeptical about American institutions, much more “unpatriotic” in the way that David Frum once dismissed right-wing critics of the Iraq war, and thus much more likely to be skeptical of any narrative that asks you to simply trust the wisdom and good intentions of, say, figures like James Comey and John Brennan.

Notice the tri-partite, non-binary structure. What a world we’re living in, when Douthat approaches making sense.

“We know Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Will anything be done to stop it in 2020?” [Think Progress]. • Still on the bandwagon. I’ve seen those “Internet Research Agency” memes. If they had the effect CAP thinks they did, then every Democratic strategist should close up shop, because the Russians are better, and far, far cheaper. Why not offshore campaign messaging to Russia?

“Taibbi: As the Mueller Probe Ends, New Russiagate Myths Begin” [Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone]. “After the 2016 election, the storyline instantly became that Trump was an illegitimate president, a foreign operative who’d cheated his way into office and would therefore need to be removed ahead of schedule.” • You could call that a “storyline.” Or, given the involvement of the intelligence community, after and before Election Day, you could call it a soft coup. Brennan and Clapper — and the faceless intelligence community represent — have been getting off remarkably lightly in all the victory laps (though I can’t say I’ve double-checked everything Parry wrote). Except here–

“The Reckoning Finally Arrives for the Trump Resistance” [Bloomberg]. The deck: “With Mueller’s investigation over, Democrats, the news media and the national security state have a lot to answer for.” This: “Finally, there is that handful of former officials who validated the worst fears of Americans about Trump without ever providing actual evidence. The best example is former CIA Director John Brennan. For the last two years, Brennan has been a frequent guest on cable TV to spread the innuendo that Trump is compromised by Russia. Just this month, he speculated that Mueller would be indicting members of Trump world for criminal conspiracy, even as he insisted he had no ‘inside knowledge’ of Mueller’s deliberations. That last part, at least, turns out to have been true.” • I don’t believe for a moment that it’s only “former” officials — who was doing all the leaking? — and it was Clapper, too, not just Brennan. I certainly wouldn’t mind having the intelligence community’s wings clipped with a Senate investigation, though it would be nice if they could avoid creating a Benghazi-style omnishambles.


AOC on environmentalism as an “elitist” issue:

“French Socialist Édouard Louis on Failed Centrism and the Rise of AOC” [New York Magazine]. “With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, my first reaction was, Finally, she talks about reality! When I was a student, I would open the papers or turn on the TV, and see politicians speaking, and I would think, What kind of society are they talking about? It’s not the society that I live in! When they were saying these words obsessively, like ‘responsibility,’ what does it mean? My father had an accident at the factory when he was 35. He couldn’t walk for a few years. His back was destroyed. But then, according to the French state, he was supposed to go back to work. The only job for someone like him was to be a street sweeper, because he had no education or diploma. The work destroyed his back even more. And so when you say ‘responsibility,’ what are you talking about? I can’t even answer to that kind of language, because it has nothing to do with reality. And so when Ocasio-Cortez talks about corruption, when she talks about pain, when she talks about rage, I think that finally someone is talking about reality.” • Very interesting on the French context that gave rise to the GJ as well.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Second man found dead in Ed Buck’s apartment died of accidental meth overdose, authorities say” [Los Angeles Times]. “The second man to die in Democratic donor Ed Buck‘s West Hollywood home died of a methamphetamine overdose, authorities confirmed Monday… He was the second black man to die of a methamphetamine overdose in Buck’s apartment. Buck, 64, who is white, is a former fashion model, self-described retired multimillionaire and onetime West Hollywood City Council candidate. He has long been a contentious figure in town, where he was best known for his animal rights and LGBTQ activism, and his donations to Democratic politicians and causes.” • Looks like donor class impunity at work.

Liberal Democrats think they own your vote, and they also think they own their seats:

I guess they prefer servicing donors?

Stats Watch

Readers, I’m sorry to be so light on business links, but RussiaGate is eating the earth (and also my brain). Hopefully things will be back to normal, if normal is the word I want, soon. –lambert

International Trade, January 2019: “January’s trade deficit came in … much lower-than-expected as exports rose” [Econoday]. “Details show a very welcome rise in food exports, which had been shrinking in prior months, as well as a gain for vehicle exports. Imports of capital goods fell, which is good for the deficit but a negative for business investment, while imports of industrial supplies, reflecting a decline for oil, fell.”

Current Account, Q4 2018: “As a percentage of GDP, the current account deficit rose to a still moderate 2.6 percent vs 2.5 percent in the third quarter” [Econoday].

State Street Investor Confidence Index, February 2019: “Global institutional investors continued to reduce their exposure to global equities in March” [Econoday]. “Risk aversion by North American and European institutional investors continues to be fed by concerns regarding the potential breakdown in US-China trade talks, a potential hard Brexit, and potential populist wins in European Parliament elections, according to State Street.”

Retail: “Boo light special? Market defends self against ghost claim” [Associated Press]. “A spokeswoman for Market Basket says in a statement to The Boston Globe that ‘as far as we know all of our stores ghost-free’ after someone posted on social media this month about seeing an apparition at a store in Wilmington, Massachusetts. The person said the ghost was ‘an old Victorian era woman in her nightgown … near the frozen peas.’ Hundreds of people weighed in, including others who claimed to have seen a ghost in the store.”

Tech: “Forget Photoshop. Adobe Is a Marketing Company Now” [Bloomberg]. “Chief Executive Officer Shantanu Narayen has upended Adobe’s business model and quietly transformed it into that of a marketing company. Adobe has been working full crank to track every interaction a consumer has with a brand: tallying her visits to a brick-and-mortar store and what she buys; using cookies to monitor her web activity and figure out how many devices she has; analyzing her interest in emails about sales or promotions; and incorporating social media monitoring to see what she says about a brand. Adobe can combine all of this with other companies’ data about a person’s income and demographics to try to predict the triggers that would make her buy a new phone or pair of shoes. In essence, Adobe is trying to know a consumer’s decision-making process better than she may know it herself.” • No doubt their “Software-as-a-service” model helps them.

Gentleman Prefer Bonds: “Here’s Why U.S. Bond Yields Plunged So Much Over the Past Week” [Bloomberg]. “The Federal Reserve’s surprise policy shift last week shook markets, but, even still, the intensity of the ensuing drop in U.S. bond yields has puzzled many observers. A massive wave of hedging in the swaps market helps explain the scale of the eye-catching move…. The sharp move in rates since the FOMC decision ‘can be attributed to mortgage convexity receiving hedging,’ Citigroup’s head of U.S. rates strategy wrote in a March 22 report. The 10-year Treasury yield falling below 2.5 percent ‘likely triggered convexity flows, which is typically done by servicers, REITs and money managers,’ he added.” • Swell. It everything goes pear-shaped, dull normals like me will have to figure out what the heck a “convexity flow” is. Yay!

The Biosphere

“Coal, oil, and natural gas demand hits record high in 2018” [Grist]. “Demand for coal, oil, and natural gas hit new all-time highs in 2018, according to a worrying new report from the International Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organization that compiles statistics on global energy use…. The report provides further evidence that the world’s two biggest emitters, the United States and China, are choosing to switch from coal to natural gas, not coal to renewables. While natural gas is often touted as being lower in CO2 emissions than coal, it still releases plenty of CO2 as well as methane — an even more powerful greenhouse gas. The move could lock in decades of emissions…. China added more than six times the amount of renewable energy to its grid than the United States did — but even that is nowhere near enough to offset continued investment in fossil fuels.”

“Stopping Human-Caused Air Pollution Would Prevent 5.6 Million Air Pollution Deaths Per Year: New Study” [Weather Underground] (original). “If humans stopped emitting air pollution, an astonishing 5.6 million premature deaths per year due to global outdoor air pollution could be prevented, according to research published Monday. About 65% of these deaths are due to burning of fossil fuels, with the remainder due to such activities as biomass burning and agriculture. Eliminating human-caused air pollution would also significantly reduce drought in monsoon regions, but it would allow more sunlight to reach the surface, increasing Earth’s surface temperature by at least 0.36°C (0.65°F). Overall, the effects would be hugely beneficial.”


Love your kids so much you want them to grow up in the swirling fumes of an anthropocene hellscape…

“Volcanic threats to global society” [Science]. “When Mount Tambora in the Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, erupted in 1815, more than 100 km3 of volcanic pyroclasts and ash were discharged into the stratosphere up to altitudes of over 40 km. The volcanic gases and ash dispersed over the Northern Hemisphere, causing what was called “the year without a summer” in Europe, with severe starvation, famine, mass migrations, and an estimated several tens of thousands of casualties…. The 1815 Tambora eruption was large, but far from extreme. Its size is classified as 7 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI), which is a relative measure of the magnitude of volcanic eruptions. In the past 2 million years, there have been 27 so-called supereruptions (VEI 8, with an eruption volume >1000 km3) (3), the most recent of which occurred at Taupo volcano, New Zealand, about 27,000 years ago…. Although more than 800 million people on Earth live within 100 km of an active volcano and are directly exposed to detrimental short- to medium-range effects of volcanic eruptions (7), the occurrence of a supereruption in today’s interconnected world extends that number to virtually the entire world population…. there is a need to develop a strategy for enhancing human resilience and for safeguarding the critical nodes and elements necessary to defend the level of progress and civilization that humans have achieved.” • One more thing to worry about! (Super-eruptions follow a Poisson distribution, so the fact that 27,000 years have passed since the last one does not affect the probability of the next one (if I understand a Poisson distribution aright).

Health Care

“5 Women on What It’s Actually Like to Have Universal Health Care” [Elle]. “We talked to women in five countries with universal health care systems—Canada, Iceland, Taiwan, Australia, and the UK—about their daily interactions with their country’s medical systems. While conditions varied, and there were certainly shortcomings, most of the women that ELLE interviewed could agree on one thing: at least they didn’t have to deal with the health care system in America.” For example:

In your own words, describe how your health care generally works.

If I’m sick, from a basic point of view, I just call my doctor’s office in the morning, they have walk-in hours in the afternoon and then I go to the doctor. For my baby, he goes to see the doctor more frequently than me, those are just check-ins that don’t cost anything. He just gets vaccines and gets weighed and the doctor asks us questions to make sure everything’s okay. He hasn’t had to get any prescriptions yet and not all prescriptions are free for kids, but a lot are free under the age of 25. That’s a newer thing in Ontario the past few years.

Amazing that we aren’t looking at these systems, copying what they do, and trying to do better.

“Democracy Matters in Global Health” [Council on Foreign Relations]. “Democracy has historically played little role in driving global health. Autocracies, such as China and Cuba, are famous for providing good health care at low cost. Many countries that experienced the greatest improvements in life expectancy and child mortality over the last fifteen years—such as Ethiopia, Myanmar, and Rwanda—are also among the least democratic nations [PDF] in the world….. The past may not be prologue, however, when it comes to democracy and global health. The health needs of low- and middle-income countries are changing: infectious diseases and child mortality rates are declining… New research published in the Lancet shows that, between 1980 and 2016, the democratic experience of a nation—an indicator of how democratic a country has been and for how long—was more responsible for reductions in mortality from cardiovascular diseases, transportation injuries, cancers, and most other noncommunicable diseases than the level of gross domestic product (GDP) or urbanization in that nation, or the amount of international aid it received (see below). By contrast, democracy had little effect on mortality from most infectious diseases and deaths associated with giving birth. The one exception is tuberculosis…”

Health insurance horror stories (1). Thread:

Because everybody loves their private health insurance.

Health insurance horror stories (2). Thread:

These two threads are actually a genre on Twitter; and others always chime, each new tweet always being more brutal and stupid and ridiculous than the last one.

“”Medicare for All” Is Missing a Vital Group: The Incarcerated” [Marshall Project]. “No one is talking about making federal health insurance truly “for all” by extending eligibility to the 2.2 million people incarcerated in this country…. The original Social Security Act of 1935 prohibited the payment of federal dollars, either directly or via state pass-through, for services for ‘inmates of a public institution.’ This means that federal dollars cannot be used to pay for healthcare or other services for incarcerated people in local jails or in state prisons, except when they are hospitalized for more than 24 hours in a separate healthcare facility…. Incarcerated people have up to 12 times the risk of death within the first two weeks after release, and up to four times within the first year. Lack of continuity of care certainly contributes to this horrifying statistic.” • Sanders and Jayapal should fix this. It’s not only humane, it’s good politics (as, for example, the Florida referendum restoring voting rights to felons shows).

“House Democrats’ new plan to strengthen Obamacare, explained” [Vox]. Among other things: “The Democratic bill is a smorgasbord of provisions to expand health care and undo the Trump administration’s regulatory actions to weaken the ACA: It expands the tax credits available under the law, both reducing costs for lower-income families and expanding eligibility so middle-class Americans can receive federal assistance.” • Oh. Tax credits. What a hill to die on.

“New York Suburb Declares Measles Emergency, Barring Unvaccinated Children From Public” [New York Times]. “An executive order pulled close to 6,000 unvaccinated children out of schools. Nearly 17,000 doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (M.M.R.) vaccine were given in 26 weeks. There was a public health campaign in which community officials, doctors and rabbis testified to the importance of immunizations. None of those efforts stemmed the severe measles outbreak that has been plaguing Rockland County in New York since October. So on Tuesday, in an extraordinary step, the county executive, Ed Day, declared a state of emergency, effective at midnight, that would bar children and teenagers who are not vaccinated against measles from public places…. As county officials tried to trace the outbreak, they were dismissed by some members of the community who refused to answer questions and even hung up the phone, Mr. Day said. Mr. Day cited this behavior, which he called shockingly irresponsible, as justification for his order.” • Thank you, anti-vaxxers!

Guillotine Watch

“At $50,000 a Year, the Road to Yale Starts at Age 5” [Bloomberg]. “The words are whispered under a cone of silence in moneyed Manhattan: cutthroat, ruthless, Darwinian, cruel. Whispered, too, are the shimmering prizes: the future keys, it’s said, to Harvard, Princeton or Yale. Welcome to the quest to win a spot at New York’s Baby Ivies, the private preschools and kindergartens where big money and bigger egos clash over whose three- or five-year-old will gain the first edge.” • “Cutthroat, ruthless, Darwinian, cruel.” So, good training, no?

Class Warfare

“The Impact and Malleability of Money Design” [Law and Political Economy]. Finance during reconstruction:

We pick up the story…. in the post-Civil War South, a monetary wasteland by any measure. Banks there collapsed along with the Confederacy and its currency. According to Lawrence Goodwyn, the per capita money supply in Arkansas was thirteen cents; in Rhode Island, it was $77.16. Bridgeport, Connecticut had more banks than the states of Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina combined, while Massachusetts alone had a national bank circulation that was five times that of the entire South.

Behind the numbers rose the system of debt peonage that came to shape production for millions of poor Southerners, white and black. Bereft of cash, farmers turned to “furnishing merchants” for supplies: everything from clothes to tools, seeds to hardware. The goods came on credit and that credit was extremely expensive—merchants routinely charged exorbitant rates, 100 to 200% annually. In return, each merchant took a lien on the farmer’s crops. Once the lien attached, the merchant virtually monopolized that farmer’s connection to the market. As to consumption, the farmer could buy only from the merchant who held the crop lien because no other lender would advance credit without collateral. And as to production, the farmer had to turn over his crop to the merchant for sale to pay off his debt.

The trap was, in fundamental ways, a monetary one. The devastation of the South’s financial infrastructure was only the beginning. After the Civil War, the federal government settled on a long-term deflationary policy; by limiting the amount of money in circulation, it aimed to drive down prices so that it could resume convertibility of the fiat currency that still circulated.

From Mehrsa Baradaran, The Color of Money. Damn, another book to read!

“Complex societies precede moralizing gods throughout world history” (letter) [Nature]. From the abstract; “Although previous research has suggested an association between the presence of moralizing gods and social complexity, the relationship between the two is disputed, and attempts to establish causality have been hampered by limitations in the availability of detailed global longitudinal data. To overcome these limitations, here we systematically coded records from 414 societies that span the past 10,000 years from 30 regions around the world, using 51 measures of social complexity and 4 measures of supernatural enforcement of morality. Our analyses not only confirm the association between moralizing gods and social complexity, but also reveal that moralizing gods follow—rather than precede—large increases in social complexity.” • Somebody tell Mike Lee….

“Succeeding While Black” [Boston Review]. Michelle’s book: “Yet despite all the optimism and goodwill that Obama embraces and inspires, I find Becoming troubling. Sticking to her strategy for success, Obama reassures her reader repeatedly that she is not a ‘political’ person. Instead Obama describes herself as a ‘child of the mainstream’ who ‘never stopped reading People magazine or let go of my love for a good sitcom. . . . And to this day nothing pleases me more than the tidy triumph delivered by a home-makeover show.’ But as someone who has been around politics since she was a child (her father was a precinct captain in the Democratic Party) and is now, domestically and internationally, one of the most well-known ambassadors of the United States, this denial is not modesty, it is misleading. Indeed, far from being apolitical, Obama is politically sophisticated, and any reader of her book should treat her that way.”

“A New Male Birth Control Pill is Being Tested. Here’s What to Know” [Time]. “The new pill, which works similarly to female contraception, passed initial safety tests and produced hormone responses consistent with effective birth control in 30 men, according to research presented by the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute and the University of Washington at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting. (The study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.)… ike female birth control pills, which typically build in a week of placebo pills to allow for menstruation, the male version would need to be taken every day to keep sperm counts low.” • Oh.

News of the Wired

“Why the cult of the early riser still captivates” [Financial Times]. “To spare you having to read [‘leadership guru’ Robin Sharma’s] 300-page manifesto, it boils down thus: club members must get up as soon as the alarm goes off at 4.45am before launching into ‘The Victory Hour’, which breaks down into 20 minutes of movement and hard physical exercise, 20 minutes of ‘reflection’, such as prayer, meditation or journal writing, followed by 20 minutes of ‘growth’, during which you might listen to ‘a podcast about leadership’ or ‘consume an audiobook.” • No. No I am not going to listen to “a podcast about leadership,” and I would listen to an audiobook, not “consume” it. My “Victory Twenty Minutes” consists of rising, showering, packing my man-bag, and emerging into the daylight in quest of caffeine and a lap-top surface. I don’t have time for this “growth” nonsense. Who reads this stuff?

Today we call them “memes”:

Domino theory:

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (via):

Rosa ‘George Lawrence Price’

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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. VietnamVet

      Thanks. I had to carefully check the italicized text to double check that it was the author who wrote; “In summary, Boeing now starts the long road of getting the improved MCAS function accepted and approved by all the countries Airworthiness authorities where 737 MAX airlines operate. It used to be a swift and smooth process; no longer. The dominant FAA, which other regulators followed without much discussion, has lost authority and this will take time to regain”. NBC reported last night that the pilots in Seattle to test the upgrades had only 40 seconds to turn off MCAS before crashing in an unmodified Aircraft Simulator. The 346 souls aboard the two flights had no chance. This is more than the loss of trust. Government no longer serves the people. To avoid the loss of thousands of jobs and market the 737 Max in the emerging new regional economic systems, the West must restore democracy, the rule of law and functional governments.

      1. rowlf

        Boeing missed the boat several years ago with the 737 NG when they should have upgraded the avionics package to be like the 777. That would have provided a central maintenance computer architecture and transmission of fault messages throughout the flight. This avionics system structure also allows for system health monitoring for fault prediction before the flight crews experience a problem. They milked 1960s flight data systems too long.

      2. Carey

        On the new and improved MCAS:

        “..MCAS can never command more stabilizer input than can be counteracted by the flight crew pulling back on the column. The pilots will continue to always have the ability to override MCAS and manually control the airplane..”

        There is some slipperiness (intentional, IMO) found in between those two sentences.

        corporate concentrations of power

  1. Friend

    My “Victory Twenty Minutes” consists of rising, showering, packing my man-bag, and emerging into the light in quest of caffeine and a lap-top surface.

    What on earth is a man-bag?

    1. Arizona Slim

      Think of a woman’s shoulder bag on steroids. Or a briefcase with a shoulder strap.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        A woman’s bag with bullet conchos.

        re Mike Lee and babies – betcha he has a quiverful of ideas to go with that.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        It’s my portable office, rather like Hunter Thompson’s notional “National Affairs Desk,” which he would set up in hotel rooms. Laptop, mousepad, mouse, hotspot, power, camera equipment, and stuff that would ordinarily go in a wallet. I don’t like to work in my domicile if I can avoid it, and I like to work in the midst of people (or my garden, to which I also take the man-bag).

        1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

          Man Bag (use at your peril):

          This reminds me of Viv Stanshall of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band: in his later career he came up with a character in ‘Sir Henry at Rawlinson End’ *(1980 – on the ‘tube):

          ‘Old Scrotum, the wrinkled retainer’.


          ps A quote: “I don’t know what I want, but I want it now!”
          * The antidote to Downton Abbey before its time.

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      I made it through rehab for 7 months exercising vigorously on the treadmill, weights, etc and then, immediately after, writing my ‘NOLA ADDICTION DIARIES’ on Fetlife.com. Very Cathartic.

      I believe there is something mythical and miraculous about that feeling after going to the gym.

    3. Lee

      My victory 90 minutes consists of rising between 430 and 530 am. I go downstairs and brew a cup of tea. I stare out the kitchen window for awhile, open the back door to check the weather and listen to the early morning quiet. I come back upstairs, fire up the lap top, go to Naked Capitalism, sip tea, read, eat a granola bar, until it’s time for my second cup of tea. The pit bull, who’s been snoozing under the covers at my feet peeks out, yawns, stretches, rolls over on her back and wiggles around happily. We play fight for a bit, go downstairs where I feed her, make a second cup of tea, go back to reading in bed, and declare victory.

  2. Robert McGregor

    Re: China competing with Boeing

    It will be the ultimate irony and coup de grace if within 20 years, China gets their plane-building act together and puts Boeing out of business. This will be while Boeing CEO’s keep searching for new functions to take away from employees and give to contractors, and generally dumb-down their operations however they can in order to lower costs, and increase their quarterly bonus. This is why Steve Jobs was so great. Once he had a money cushion, he really didn’t care what something cost in order to realize his product vision perfection, whereas Tim Cook–a nice guy, but a basic bean counter–just plays the “MBA game.”–contract out, fragment everything, run thin, CRAPIFY! Selling magazine subscriptions now–Geez! Hey, I use Apple products daily and its painful to watch the slow decline setting in. Okay that’s a stretch going from Boeing and China to Apple, but I’m sticking with it.

    1. toshiro_mifune

      Tim Cook–a nice guy, but a basic bean counter…. Okay that’s a stretch going from Boeing and China to Apple, but I’m sticking with it.

      No, its apt. Apple is a rudderless company with absolutely no real idea of what to do next other than shave off costs until things are crappy. Witness 3.5mm jack and 5400 rpm HDD drives in 2019 iMacs

      1. Off The Street

        Younger Apple consumers are telling me that they think that Apple is in terminal decline. They lament the eventual loss of pretty, functional products and lament even more the lack of anything new since the demise of Steve Jobs.

        Their observations took a more negative turn after the recent announcements, greeted with WTF, an Apple credit card!? How about an actual useful product?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          How about an actual useful product?

          I’m not sure Jobs would be able to make this work. My sense is the next logical step in the gadget field is a more rugged modular ability. The Nintendo Switch is where I see things going. Dealing with heat from electronics limits what a device can do, so making a practical portable device that can be upgraded for specific uses and professions/hobbies seems like the way to go. Apple’s whole schtick is being an all in one platform. I believe its Lambert who called Apple a toy company masquerading as a tech company.

    2. Peter VE

      We have 7 Macs in this house, the oldest 20 years old and the newest a Mac Pro laptop about 7 years old. When it was time to replace the Mac Pro on which I work, I built a Hackintosh for about 1/3 the price of a Mac Pro trashcan. Most software I use (office suite, photo editing, financial) is shareware, with the exception of my architecture software. The crapification of everything, and changing software from a product to a service. But when my Hack crashes (once in 10 months), no lives are lost.

      1. toshiro_mifune

        I built a Hackintosh
        I built a new PC last year for working from home. It was first new PC after a long time of being Mac only. I seriously considered popping in a spare SSD for a dual boot PC/Hackintosh system. I didn’t but am still considering it.

        1. notabanker

          My MB pro is going on year 6 and when it kicks the bucket I’m done with Apple machines. It took years but I eventually got all my music off itunes. The laptop is the last remnants. I have to say though, I exited MSFT in the 90’s and it was a brilliant decision. It’s been a pretty good run for Apple.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We have only 10 or 11 years, and rail transportation is the future.

      Perhaps the target for Beijing is not Boeing, but Musk’s exciting Boring business.

    4. rowlf

      Will Comac ever be able to sell their airplanes on the world market considering the court battles Boeing/Airbus and Embraer/Bombardier have gone through over government subsidies?

      Some other points is that the Comac uses foreign made engines even though China has been making Rolls Royce and Russian engines under licence since the 1950s. When will China develop a turbine engine that can stay on wing for 20,000 hours like a western engine? Will Chinese authorities be able to prevent counterfeit aircraft parts from entering the supply stream?

      1. Procopius

        Used to be I could buy counterfeit Gillette razor blades. They were actually sharper and lasted longer than the real things, but of course we have to protect intellectual property rights, right? Used to be there were guys selling counterfeit Rolex watches on Patpong Road (notorious entertainment district in Bangkok) for the equivalent of $15 or $20. The kept perfect time and usually lasted six or seven years. But of course we have to protect intellectual property rights, right? Dean Baker at Beat the Press sometimes comments on the difference between “counterfeit” and “unauthorized copies.”

  3. Arizona Slim

    Former Adobe Photoshop user here. And, yes, I’m shooting right smack-dab in their target market. Every time I pick up a camera.

    What turned me off to Adobe? Simple. Their software as a service business model. It killed any desire I might have to use their products. And, yes, Lightroom, that includes you too.

    So, what do I use for editing photos? Well, that’s easy too. I use my delete key. Because I only select about 5% of my photos for further processing, and I limit that processing to simple tasks like sharpening and adjustments to brightness and contrast.

    My software tool of choice? Nikon Capture NX-D. It came free with my camera.

    1. toshiro_mifune

      I really liked Aperture but Apple pulled the plug on that a while ago. I tried Adobe’s Lightroom but found the interface to be a clunky mess. The tools were fine and it was very capable but I spent most of my time trying to find things buried in menus rather than any actual editing.
      I got ACDSee last year and its much more like Aperture, isn’t sold as a service and fits my needs.

      1. Angie Neer

        I still use Aperture. Adobe’s user interfaces have always been nightmarish, and like Slim, I don’t care to sign up for a lifetime Adobe subscription in order to handle my photos. Eventually, I expect to be forced into a system upgrade that will kill Aperture. But that may be a long while off; my Macs are 2011-2012 Minis and run great with older, but not ancient, system versions.

        1. toshiro_mifune

          I still have it on my older MB Air but I built a new PC for working from home last year which is much better suited to photo editing so I got something for the PC platform.
          I’ve had a few Minis and have liked all of them. I’ve had them running as HTPCs for more than a decade. Hooked one up to my TV with a wireless keyboard and mouse and that pretty much killed regular TV for me. Had an early Mini with an Intel Core Solo that ran without complaints for 8 years. Really great little boxes that Apple has a tendency of ignoring for hardware updates

      1. LifelongLib

        I’ve heard enough stories about people losing everything when their computers crashed that I think there would be a benefit in software as a service, if the service providers could somehow be kept honest. Not everybody has the expertise or time to do it right themselves.

        I wonder if a credit union-like setup might work, where the users retain control over their data while having expert help in managing it. Just brainstorming, I really don’t know what’s been tried. I agree that the for-profit service providers are scary.

        1. kgw

          It’s called “backup software.” No, really! My Ubuntu box uses a tool called Timeshift. It backs up the system to an external drive at regular intervals. Restoring the system is very simple.

          For the personal stuff, Grsync does the job.

          Mac, PC, or FOSS, you must back it up!

      2. fajensen

        There are benefits to ‘software as a service’ for tools that need to track legislation and therefore change often and very expensive engineering packages that one uses intensively only once in a while.

        Accounting, with Invoicing, Electronic Invoicing, VAT, Taxes, Workflows, Web Integration and Inventory Management is a subscription for 15 USD a month. That is very hard to beat with an on-premise system (at least up to many thousands of transactions per month).

        Engineering design packages and CAD tools can be thousands of EUR per seat per year in license fees if one wants to keep the licensing current (ask some vendors, who are bastards, forces one to buy all the intermediate licenses up to the current level if one doesn’t). If one only use them 3-6 moths a year, it will often be cheaper to use “on-demand” licensing.

        There are many competent FOSS tools and packages available for free. The problem is that Altium Designer and Solidworks can interface with other tools such as Comsol for engineering calculations, like EMC and thermal design. They are just too productive, one would be losing out if one does not license these things.

        There are also benefits in hiring computing on cloud services when one has needs for a lot of CPU-power occasionally, say for particle-based radiation calculations triggered on the about monthly release of CAD files, or a steady trickle of a lot of rapid transactions like generating thumb-prints or categorising / summarising piles of documentation. Amazon Lambda lets one “buy” a stupid amount of CPU-seconds on the Free-tier, for that kind of thing.

        “Leasing” frees one from acquiring a lot of very efficient infrastructure that one would have a hard time loading up to capacity.

    2. Carolinian

      Gimp is a Linux Photoshop-alike that is not bad but a bit slow since built on python. I use an ancient Windows program called Picture Publisher that is built on ‘c’ and very fast. It can also be run on Linux via Wine. Good luck finding a copy though.

      The pros all use Photoshop, no doubt on their expensive Apple laptops.

      1. hunkerdown

        GIMP is a great image editing tool and its “UFraw” RAW-file import plugin is quite fit for purpose. Unfortunately, GIMP lacks a few important features: the plugin ecosystem with all manner of automatic processing/cleaner plugins (free and paid), an on-canvas “liquify” distortion tool, and non-destructive editing, but I hear the last is in the works. Great for landscapes and nature, but won’t get you onto a magazine cover.

      2. Darthbobber

        There’s also Serif’s Affinity Photo (and for illustrator users Affinity Designer), not free, but much less stripped down and clunky than GIMP, and at 40 bucks for software you’re actually buying, not a bad deal.

    3. Geo

      For video the options are very limited. Currently paying $60 per month for Premiere, After Effects, PS & Illustrator. Wish I could have stayed with CS6 but the codec of newer cameras don’t work on the old software.

      Only other option out there for video is Blackmagic’s DaVinci but would need to update my OS for that.

      It’s a tangled web and I’m caught up in it. :(

        1. Geo

          Thanks! If it was primarily just about editing Vegas would be great. In fact, editing alone can be done well on many platforms and software. It’s all the frills that are needed for the pro stuff that keep me tethered to Adobe. Doing the motion graphics and titles in After Effects (and creating assets in Photoshop and Illustrator), and doing quality color correction without having to go into third party apps like Resolve make life so much easier.

          I just wish I could buy all of this and not be tethered to that monthly fee and live in fear of a few lean months where I could fall behind on subscription costs and not be able to do my work.

          Also, switching platforms means all past projects are unusable for the most part. Can always use an EDL or XML to transfer over the basic edits but any “fancy” stuff like fades, transitions, effects, titles, or whatever are gone forever.

          Makes me long for the days of doing fine arts where my paint and canvas never were made obsolete in the creative process. Sadly, just obsolete as a means of income.

    4. Chris Cosmos

      I used all the Adobe products when they were made by the original companies and I found them useful. Last time I tried them, a couple of years ago, they were hard to use, had some stuff pros will use (with lots and lots of practice) to save, at a certain point in the production, some time. All in all I was very disappointed in the software.

    5. PKMKII

      At some level, Adobe knows a lot of the everyday users are either using free alternatives or are pirating Adobe products, and at some level they don’t care. The big money for them these days isn’t in those products, it’s in corporate/institutional licensing, building expensive, bespoke systems for said organizations for file processing that interfaces with their experience management suite, and then charging big money for maintenance contracts for when those bespoke systems go wrong. Those organizations are going to pay for that kind of coverage.

      1. Carey

        “..that interfaces with their experience management suite,..”

        here’s why we are doomed

    6. Kurt Sperry

      I use a Picasa, which Google bought, then abandoned (like most of their projects). I thought I was done with Picasa when I got a new Dell XPS PC (so far, loving it), but I tried all the most highly recommended photo programs that were easily available to trial and all were huge bloaty monsters compared to Picasa, which does everything I want and very little more. Perfect. It’s unsupported orphanware now but the setup files are out there. If as an amateur photograher you need more than Picasa’s basic functionality, I figure you probably just suck at taking photos and are trying to compensate in post-prod. Not a good plan. Sort out your photos *before* you press the button. I used PS Elements for a while when it was briefly freeware, but even that was way more complicated than is necessary for me. As for subscription model software that can be remotely disabled, yeah, right. Do I look that stupid?

    7. Procopius

      I’ve used GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program) for many years. For a long time you couldn’t buy many software programs (e.g. DOS, all Microsoft products, 1-2-3, etc.) because the companies claimed Thailand was a hotbed of software piracy. Well, it was (is), but the pirated software was already available here. They were just passing up sales. I can’t imagine who in the marketing department thought that up. I’ve always used freeware except for Phil Katz’s PKZip, which he distributed as shareware but never tried to enforce. He was pretty comfortably rich when he died.

  4. prx

    convexity is (loosely*) when a bond price falls instead of rising as rates go down (the opposite of the typical relationship).

    mortgages have convexity because you can refinance; if people can get a lower rate, some will refinance. This means a mortgage has a complicated relationship with rates. if they fall a little, the cash flows from the mortgage are worth more because they were set at the old rate. if they fall too much, however, the cash flows are worth less because they are more likely to be refinanced.

    convexity hedging is what it sounds like; mortgage issuers buying bonds (which go up in value as rates fall) to hedge the risk of widespread refinancing. this was in response to a leg down in rates, and the buying pushed rates further down. a convexity flow is like a feedback loop if it’s big enough, responding to a downward move in rates and pushing them further down

    * technically convexity is the second derivative of how a bond’s price reacts to rates. mortgages have negative convexity, which is colloquially often just called convexity

    1. barefoot charley

      Thank you prx, for shining where Lambert feared to tread. For a moment I’ll understand this!

  5. dcblogger

    I must say that one of the happiest phases of my life was back when I had to get up at 5 AM to get my dog walked before work. There was a pleasent 5 mile walk while we ambled our way thru the park, checking every tree along the way. By the time I got home, showered, and dressed I was refreshed and completely awake.

  6. Michael Hudson

    I am waiting for the Steel dossier to be traced back to Mr. Skripal, who worked in Salisbury for the man who worked for MI6 and Steele. he seems too have been the author — and was about to return to Russia when he was taken incommunicado with his daughter.
    I hope the Trump administration pursues this tasty lead! It might make the whole story movie-capable.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That would certainly explain the incommunicado part; you’d expect the war with Russia crowd to splash the Skripals all over the airwaves, if the official story is true.

      Adding, had I been following this story in detail, I would have noticed, all from March 2018:

      Was poisoning in retaliation to Trump ‘dirty dossier’? Kremlin double agent ‘was close to consultant employed by former MI6 spy Christopher Steele’ Daily Mail. But then again: What made Sergei Skripal an assassination target? Financial Times
      Unlikely that Vladimir Putin behind Skripal poisoning Irish Times

      1. Chris Cosmos

        Whatever happened the official story is ludicrous. If the Russians wanted to kill the guy they’d have done it with little trace. I think it was a bungled false-flag operation by British intel–not surprising given the level of collective intelligence of the British ruling elite–I mean what’s wrong with those people? They make Trump look good.

        Still, like you I’ve read some rumors that the Skripal and Steele affairs are linked somehow.

        1. Allegorio

          “I mean what’s wrong with those people? They make Trump look good. ” @Chris Cosmos. The answer is “Public Schools” as in Eaton, or elite Prep schools in the US. The bullying and status seeking and infinite privilege do the job of creating ignorant sociopaths.

      2. Procopius

        I suspect the 77th Brigade was surprised at the number of skeptics their clumsy story produced. Most people just assumed the government story was the truth and then forgot about it, Really, very, very few people are in any way interested, but the story has so many contradictions and unanswered questions it’s amazing they put it out. Example: the Chief Nurse of the British Army, one of very few people in Great Britain who know how to treat a nerve gas attack, and her teen-age daughter just happened to be walking by and spotted Skripal and his daughter on the bench, recognized that they were suffering from a nerve gas attack and applied first aid (the teen-ager because her mother had taught her what to do for a nerve gas attack). Furthermore, neither of them were affected by the toxic agent, which is supposed to be 10 times as toxic as sarin. Oh, heck, the story has been extensively critiqued at theblogmire.com and craigmurray.com.

    2. Peter VE

      I’m afraid that the Skripals have already been shipped to a “safe place” in the custody of the US, if not already dead from “aftereffects” of the Novichok. They haven’t been publicly heard from since Yulia’s hostage video 10 months ago.
      Pablo Millar (Skripal’s MI6 contact, who also lived in Salisbury, and an employee of Orbis) hasn’t been seen in public, either.

      1. polecat

        Assuming they both aren’t enjoying ‘the long nap’ (and I don’t mean an interstellar one !!) .. both are probably being forced to wear a Brennen or Clapper mask* whenever they’re let out in public .. to phule the ubiquitous facial-recognition software that’s so ‘popular’ these daze.

        *of course, I could be in error .. a Bush 2, Obama, or dare say a Trumpskin would also suffice.

        Maybe they went skydiving.

      2. integer

        Pablo Miller was Skripal’s MI6 handler rather than contact. Shortly after the Skripal story broke, the UK government issued a D notice to prevent the press from mentioning his name. It’s hard to see why they would have done that if they didn’t have something to hide.

      3. fajensen

        I’m afraid that the Skripals have already been shipped to a “safe place” …

        Perhaps a safe place involving Alkaline Hydrolysis? I would really like to be totally wrong, but, this is what I fear has happened to them.

        I think the cruelty and recklessness of our grey-market, off-the-books, military and intelligence “services” has not diminished since “we” taught the Vietnamese and then every latin-american dictatorship how to torture, murder and disappear people; What happens “out in the colonies” eventually comes back home, when the people we sent there are rewarded for their “work” with positions of power and influence!

        Even for nothing else than pure, unadulterated, self-interest, we should really, really, come down on our own war-criminals, to keep ourselves safe from them!

    3. pjay

      I would love to see the British side of this pursued. But I don’t think Trump will be allowed to go there. If there is an inquiry, I predict it will be confined to the DOJ/FBI and a few domestic scapegoats, if anyone. The CIA and their foreign intelligence allies will be protected, as usual.

      I’m not sure if everyone is aware of the Skripal connections MH is referring to here, but they are very interesting.

      1. mrsyk

        If you are interested, Craig Murray has written extensively about this affair. His blog is well worth a read.

      1. Procopius

        I think theblogmire.com is even better, and in fact Craig Murray refers to it. Reading the story almost makes Brexit seem sensible. The whole damned Civil Service is stark bonkers.

  7. Wukchumni

    We pick up the story…. in the post-Civil War South, a monetary wasteland by any measure. Banks there collapsed along with the Confederacy and its currency. According to Lawrence Goodwyn, the per capita money supply in Arkansas was thirteen cents; in Rhode Island, it was $77.16. Bridgeport, Connecticut had more banks than the states of Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina combined, while Massachusetts alone had a national bank circulation that was five times that of the entire South.

    Aside from a handful of 1861* silver Half Dollars, the CSA was completely fiat as far as their monetary system went, after they lost-there was no there-there, and Confederate currency was used for wallpaper in some homes in the south.

    From 1861 to 1865 the Federal Government struck over 20 million ounces worth of gold coins for circulation, in comparison.

    * worth a fortune, one sold for almost a million Dollars in 2017


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In 483 BC, a rich vein of silver was discovered in Laurium, or Laurion (etc), in Attica.

      With foresight, or maybe not, Themistocles persuaded Athenians to use the shining metal to build triremes, which came in very handy when Persians sent their warships to Salamis*, after burning down Athens nearby.

      *not sure if the famous sausage was named after the place.

      1. ambrit

        Forgive me, but I must assausage my inner demons.
        The idea that Salami=Greek Salamis is impure baloney.
        Apologies. It is not my remit to ferment discord.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Moreover, let’s make sure we don’t confuse Bologna with baloney.

          And for the record, I never thought the Battle of Salamis was a food fight where both sides threw sausages at each other.

    1. Geo

      Janet Reno is the one who changed the rules on what a Special Prosecutor can investigate and how the report is released because of the ever expanding scope of the Starr Report (from Whitewater to blue dresses) and how every detail was released to the public.

      Personally, I don’t think Reno should have done that. The public should know what these investigations find. Otherwise it just adds fuel to the conspiracies.

      Also, another example of Dems being reactionary instead of strategic.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The Senate’s nuclear option is similarly viewed by not a few people. Can we go back to what was before?

        Will changing the Electoral College be like that too? Will it only be advantageous temporarily?

        Apparently, there were some rules that Hillary and her campaign did not learn themselves well enough. Were those rule less than ‘democratic’ in the sense that if some people did not show up on time, or did not show up, period, becacuse they didn’t take the time to know the rules, their opinions or votes were not counted? And were those rules almost nearly (maybe better luck the next time) saved the country from Hillary’s nomination?

        1. Gary

          Good point. I want to drop the Electoral College because it’s an anachronism and disenfranchises voters. The whole “red state”, “blue state” sports paradigm will hopefully go away too. Anything that tends to be advantageous to one group needs to be rethought.

        2. Geo

          Add gerrymandering, campaign finance, and so much more to that list.

          The Dems seem to always be fighting yesterday’s battles while shooting themselves in the foot because they’re not paying attention to where they’re going.

          1. Carey

            That’s one interpretation of the Dems’ behavior, yes. I think there are other
            interpretations that better fit the readily-available, verifiable facts.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              The Democratic elites behavior is shaped by two major things (for a lack of a better word):

              -Bill Clinton being President during the 1994 collapse and the long term decline of people who joined the political world along with JFK and gradually replaced by New Democrats. Bill enforced his Arkansas views on politics which worked in a state with biannual elections and was shifting from the Solid South to the GOP South. There was a dynamic at play.

              -Gerrymandering. Not for helping Republicans win, but it puts Democrats in safe seats. “Ineffectual” leaders such as Pelosi don’t even have to face general election opponents as they are so far removed from losing. DiFi is obviously in the Senate, but the House caucus is full of lesser DiFis. Not only are they nonagenarians, but their staffers are too. Don’t take a knife to a gun fight, but Team Blue elites haven’t faced a competitive environment for a long time. Whether malicious or incompetence, it doesn’t matter. A tougher election environment would produce a more responsive group.

              1. Carey

                I respect your knowledge, but think this portrayal
                is too limited. How did Bubba get national attention
                in the first place?

                1. Procopius

                  Big Dog got national attention as chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, a bunch of well placed Democratic politicians led by Al From, who wanted to turn the party rightward and latch onto the big bucks donors. They also wanted to do away with the New Deal, which they think (yes, they’re still around) is old fashioned. They got Bill national exposure by having him go around the country selling the DLC. As governor of Arkansas he got some national attention anyway, and I believe there were a couple of scandals in his administration which got more.

                  1. Allegorio

                    The ubiquitous Koch brothers were proud sponsors of the DLC. Pamela Churchill Harriman was also a big sponsor of the Clintons. That is the Pamela Harriman, as in Averill Harriman’s spouse, formerly Mrs. Churchill nee Digby, 11th Baron Digby. Recall that Winthrop Rockefeller was once Governor of Arkansas. The Clintons had a long pedigree of shilling for the elites. Rhodes scholarships are often a recruiting tool for MI6, as in Rachel Maddow. Need I say more?

        3. Hopelb

          Aaron Mate mentioned on JimmyDore that Hillary spent her post Election night calling members of the Electoral College and trying to get them to change their vote due to Russian interference.

          1. pretzelattack

            hi i’m the dogsbody of the most qualified presidential candidate ever. if you have time to talk, she wants to discuss a grave matter of national security.

  8. Oregoncharles

    “The RNC keeps coming up with Sanders gotchas that are, in fact, excellent things that should be done.”
    Indeed – but they are also excellent fund-raising tools – in this case, from the insurance industry.

  9. Cal2

    Yesterday Lambert linked to the background of Kim Foxx, the state attorney who dismissed Smollet’s case.

    Here’s a little more on her:

    “3. She’s taken a lot of money from progressive organizations — and George Soros.

    Foxx’s campaign for State’s Attorney fell under scrutiny, even from left-leaning publications within the city, while it was in progress….Foxx took cash from two “dark money” super PACs, one of which has ties to mega-donor George Soros.

    Illinois Sunshine, which watches political donations to key races, shows more than $300,000 donations from Soros to Kim Foxx’s “Illinois Safety & Justice PAC” which Foxx used to finance her defeat of Alvarez in 2016. Soros also contributed $75,000 to Foxx’s PAC after the campaign had concluded, seeding her with money for her re-election.”


      1. Darthbobber

        Well, these are the documents that the Chicago pd wanted to release, basically the case as they present it. But obviously if some portion of this turned out to be fabricated or questionable that wouldn’t appear in this document set.

    1. Big River Bandido

      I’ve not followed the progression of events in the Smollet case very closely — I’ve just seen perhaps 5-6 articles over the last several weeks, none of them presenting any conclusive, unassailable fact. I never watch teevee anymore and I’m highly distrustful of celebrities. Add to this all the virtue-signalling and the whole affair completely turns me off.

      The only things I’ve been able to glean from this entire episode: The woman who defeated Anita Alvarez — an ophidian with human DNA who was one of the scummiest state’s attorneys in the nation — is now under attack by the Chicago FOP, and Rahm Emanuel is feeling angry and aggrieved. If Chicago cops are feeling besieged, justice has probably been done somewhere. And if Rahm Emanuel is angry, something great for America has probably happened. Knowing as little as I do, my instinctive sympathies are with Kim Foxx. I don’t care who her friends are, who gave her money, or if she’s not Larry Krasner or Wesley Bell. If she’s pissed off Rahm and the Chicago cops, she’s made the right enemies.

  10. super extra

    I guess they prefer servicing donors?

    my big sister’s favorite response when Hillary is raised as a possible contender ever again is Better run again, otherwise you’ll have to get a real job just like the rest of us!

    seriously though, AOC has talked about the difference in her quality of life after her congressional salary and benefits kicked in compared to her working class salary and (non) benefits from a year ago. How much of the bs we see in politics is just due to those who got in not having the ability to actually get a real job and trying to hang on to their courtier position for as long as possible?

    1. Geo

      They could get a real job but why? Playing train conductor on the gravy train seems like a great gig as long as you don’t have any self respect.

  11. RMO

    “This is the real solution to climate change: babies…the solution to so many of our problems at all times and in all places is to fall in love, get married, and have some kids.”

    If I recall correctly this is the second time this idea has shown up on NC links recently, I can’t remember who the other one was from. I would like to point out that this was Ted Baxter’s solution to the population explosion issue brought up by Mary in an editorial once. And now, what was a joke about a dimbulb anchor and his flawed thinking is being presented seriously. The Onion may as well just start doing copy/paste from “reputable” news sources.

    1. jrs

      most of the time that isn’t even the solution to people’s personal problems. Someone who has done a scintilla of thought and introspection please (oh wait we’re talking R politicians, never mind).

      But global climate change … Really … tell me more, no, never mind.

      The solution might not be births but if politicians like that would just kill themselves maybe deaths could be part of getting us to a better solution.

    2. jsn

      Tyler Cowan at The Koch funded George Mason U wrote about needing more kids to increase the probability of inventing a solution.

      Of course he also supports privatization of everything, condemning mos to ignorant lives of scarcity.

      The bad faith of these people is psychotic.

  12. pjay

    The opening sentence from ‘We know Russia interfered in the 2016 election…’ (Think Progress):

    “Perhaps the most important takeaway from special counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation, which came to a close this past weekend, is that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 election.”

    I could have sworn the most important takeaway was something else. I need to pay more attention, I guess.

      1. Carey

        I did pull out the Orwell Reader recently, but didn’t read much before closing the
        book. Just too sad, given these times. I guess his times were just the soundcheck, and the
        means for dissemination of Corporate/State propaganda are so pervasive
        (i.e. smartphone) now.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      All sides of the media coin and the political class seem to agree that Russia “meddled” in the 2016 election. There is no need for any proof or any need to define “meddled” obviously if these characters say it then Russia did not do any such thing because these people ONLY can talk platitudes and propaganda–and even a few years ago this was not always completely true–but it is now. Even Gabbard goes along with it. So welcome to another decade of permanent war against “Russia” and hopefully they’ll keep in imaginary and Orwellian. So, then, even if Hilary lost her agenda has won. Too late for Syria but not too late for the full-fledged Cold War we are wasting out time and money on.

      1. bassmule

        If she were a completely different person than the one she is, Mrs. Clinton might go to the fine fellas and gals at Think Progress and maybe even the DNC and tell them, “Enough.” After all, the whole point of Russia!Russia!Russia! was to invalidate the election and somehow put her in the White House. That would, of course require that she admit that the election was not stolen, which will never, ever happen, see qualifying statement above.

    2. Darthbobber

      We knew long before this report, or for that matter before the 2016 campaign, that everybody and their dog, in a host of places, attempt to exert influence on American elections to the extent of their ability.

      Before whitewater got all sexed up, the biggest Clinton administration scandal for awhile revolved around Chinese efforts to influence the 1996 election on behalf of the democrats.

      Not to mention the Israelis, or the habitual purchase of big chunks of “our” policy think tanks by various gulf principalities.

  13. clarky90

    I delve deeply and find a hidden meaning

    Re; ““The Paranoid Center” [Ross Douthat, New York Times]. “The Iraq war was fiercely opposed by (1) paleoconservatives, (2) antiwar libertarians and the (3) antiwar left… “

    the paranoid “center” (imo, The Powers That Be) …… whose threat matrix is always attuned to The Great Enemies, outside and inside …

    (now I change the NYT’s storyline) “The Powers That Be”‘s greatest fears involve the three groups working together —paleoconservatives, the antiwar libertarians and the antiwar left…….

    The “Center” Alchemists, mumble ritual incantations (Hate, Hate, Our Democracy, Justice, Peace, Abhorrent, Impeach…), dreaming of turning base-metal (RussiaGate) into Gold (Hillary Clinton)…..

    What if the “Three Groups” worked together …for Actual Peace? Ha!

    1. Chris Cosmos

      I’ve often brought up this working together in a kind of new ” American Anti-Imperialist League” that includes all the libertarians, paleos, and actual leftists but when I brought it up real leftists howled in objection and libertarians and paleos seemed more accepting. What do you think? It is, to be blunt, the only way out of this permanent war political economy and we, on the actual left, badly need allies.

      1. Geo

        Agreed. I find that lefties tend to be dismissive of Libertarians and paleos due to the racial and bigotry issues – for good reason since civil rights are an essential issue.

        That said, I whole-heartedly agree that we need allies. Much like Bernie or Kucinich would pair with Rand or Ron Paul on certain issues, we need to agree-to-disagree on social issues while working together on the others. Otherwise “The Center” will continue to trample us.

      2. ambrit

        The old ‘United Front’ method.
        Sadly, I suspect that such a formulation would end up like the Left in the Spanish Civil War did. The Ideologues, like the Stalinists, making war on their supposed allies, then being the Anarchists, now, everyone else.
        True Believers, of any sect, are not to be trusted. Left, Right, or Centre, human nature stays the same.

      3. Carey

        “I’ve often brought up this working together in a kind of new ” American Anti-Imperialist League” that includes all the libertarians, paleos, and actual leftists but when I brought it up real leftists howled in objection and libertarians and paleos seemed more accepting..”

        My experience as well. I can talk to those on the right, and find much to admire there. If we ever escape from this corporatist hellscape, it will not be an uber-fairminded multicultural™ type leading the way; of that I am sure.

        “rayciss! sexiss!” etc, etc. yeah yeah

        1. JBird4049

          It would be nice to have them realize that much of civil rights struggle was co-opted into identity politics by the political (Democratic) establishment’s leadership. There is plenty of racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination, but the goal of the political establishment is not to solve the problems, but to distract, divide, and control with the energy, votes, money, and focus on supporting one party against the evil ones.

          The truth is most people just don’t like things being unfair or unjust. What is fair and just is contentious, but the wealth and disparity, healthcare, the Prison Industry, the Perma-War on Everyone, the growing impunity of the upper classes and so on are all generally agreed on.

          And just like how the Spanish Communists first and later everyone else became dominated by Stalin with the goal of controlling the left and not that of winning the war, I think some behind the political scene today use money to push identity politics and whatever else will divide us. Why not as it worked through the 50s to the 70s. For example, Women’s Liberation Movement started as a broadbased coalition across the whole ethnic, political, economic, and religious spectrum. It somehow under the leadership of people like Gloria Steinem into a narrow white, liberal Democratic, upper 10%, white collar, unconcerned about economics, civil rights, or cross political alliances. I guess it is just a coincidence that Ms. received funding from the CIA for decades.

      4. clarky90

        The present NZ Coalition Government, in my opinion, is a working example of what is possible.


        Labour (liberal/unions), NZ First (populist libertarian) and the NZ Greens (ecologists, left) all govern as a team, with “give and take” with each other, in spite of their often, different POVs! (Like any healthy family, they do squabble a bit).

        For instance
        “Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (Labour leader) has defended Foreign Minister Winston Peters (NZ First leader)- saying he achieved exactly what they aimed for in Turkey”


        This Coalition Government is popular with the population.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Iceland also has a Green/right coalition, with the Greens as the ruling party.

          Funny – they’re both islands.

      5. Sol

        I admit that I am not One of Y’all. I say little, often, since saying anything at all might be far too much. We aren’t a society that’s very good at communicating right now, especially so with those who are different from us.

        Still, I think this is the answer. That’s why I hang out here, mostly silent. The different perspective of NC is valuable to me because it is not my own, thereby enlarging and improving my own understanding. There are news items, studies, lines of thinking I might never have been exposed to if I weren’t reading here. Perspective diversity is an intellectual advantage.

        I think you have the right idea. (Granted, this may be because you are confirming my bias and fostering effective cross-communication would be beneficial to me, so maybe I’m just talking my book. But hi. *waves*)

        1. Hopelb

          Glad you are here! This site has already gone to edge of the universe and back. It’s out of this world.

    2. Yves Smith

      Gee, kinda funny that three outsider groups were able to get millions in countries all over the world to demonstrate against the invasion?

      How about “It was obviously a crock”?

      Everyone forgets that the UN weapons inspector, Hans Blitz, was ALREADY IN IRAQ and had gone though 3/4 of the sites, in order of priority, when the US went in.

      1. Oregoncharles

        And “obviously” means that essentially ALL of the politicians who supported it were being dishonest. It really is a make-or-break decision point.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Are today’s kids* growing up too fast?

    Are we watching polls ever earlier these days?

    Political Polls
    2020 Alabama Democratic Primary
    Sanders 27%
    O’Rourke 17%
    Harris 16%
    Booker 14%
    Warren 12%
    Buttigieg 4%
    Klobuchar 2%

    *Some of them have become adults in the few minutes it took me to type this.

  15. allan

    Why the US–China trade war spells disaster for the Amazon [Nature]

    Last year, the United States introduced tariffs of up to 25% on Chinese imported goods worth US$250 billion. In retaliation, the Chinese government imposed tariffs of 25% on $110-billion worth of US goods — including soya beans, a crop mainly used for animal feed. As a result, exports of US soya beans to China dropped by 50% in 2018, even though the trade war began only midway through the year.

    We forecast that a surge of tropical deforestation could occur as a result of the fresh demand being placed on China’s other major suppliers to provide up to 37.6 million tonnes of the crop (that is how much China imported from the United States in 2016). Already, two decades of growth in the global market for soya has led to large-scale deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

    As of 2016, Brazil supplied almost half of China’s soya-bean imports, and it has the infrastructure and land area to rapidly increase production. We estimate that the area dedicated to soya-bean production in Brazil could increase by up to 39%, to 13 million hectares, extrapolating from the most recent (2016) data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). For comparison, almost 3 million hectares of rainforest were cleared in 1995 and in 2004, the country’s two peak deforestation years (see go.nature.com/2xtkkrd). …

    They were careless people, … they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

  16. Lee

    Medicare for Me

    My medical expenditures for last year:

    Med B premium 2250
    Med Supp premium 2304
    Med D premium 156
    Med D Sup premium 1134
    Rx copays 3118
    Total 8962

    Most of my costs are the premiums paid for to private insurers for their supplemental plans and are also attributable to high costs of drugs, nothing fancy and mostly generics, and medical care for some chronic ailments but no major or life threatening illnesses requiring hospitalization or surgery. Sanders’ point about the extraordinary costs of healthcare is well taken. Essentially, the private insurers’, that bear the much smaller portion of healthcare costs, reap the much higher premiums.

    I didn’t include dental, for which there is no insurance worthy of the name. When were teeth deemed to be not part of the human body? I’ve heard of the mind/body split but my teeth seem to be obviously connected to the rest of my corporeal form. Not to mention that tooth infections can be quite deadly and gum disease has serious and life shortening systemic consequences.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      I just avoid doctors and medical care. Dental care is probably more important than the regular docs. The American public (as a whole) is just fundamentally stupid and unable to think due to being, literally, in a stupor. Doesn’t matter what ethnic group, political affiliation most people in this country (God bless them, I love my people anyway) are not just stupid but militantly stupid because they know that if they really started to think they’d be obliged to be out in the streets like the GJ people in France and that would disturb our prime interest which is being busy entertaining ourselves to death (see Neil Postman). I remember during the big “debate” about Obamacare, that I kept saying, no, no, no, single payer is not the only alternative look at France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and so on they have mixed systems that work very well with better outcomes than we have at much lower prices–let’s look at these. No one heard that because no one f*cking travels beyond the tour bus in this country even so-called leftists.

      1. Summer

        Physicians are going to recommend you pay for some kind of healthcare each year.

        I figure it’s so expensive if anything is really wrong…I’m dead anyway.

        And I have insurance.

      2. Hopelb

        I have a very wealthy friend who complains that all he meets are Europeans on his exotic travels. Two weeks vacation and no savings will do that. Do you think this is by design? Imagine USians being exposed to the socialism of even Europe!

        1. Carey

          I have some experience with the healthcare available to most anyone in Sweden.

          That comparison does not come off well for USA USA, and no
          one there becomes bankrupt or homeless because of healthcare


      3. chuck roast

        I watched Blackboard Jungle (1955) last night. Glenn Ford, Vic Morrow, Anne Francis, Sidney Poitier.

        In one scene Anne Francis goes to the hospital due to a premature delivery. Hubby Glenn Ford follows along and consults with the doctor. The doctor leads Ford into the Doctor’s Locker Room for a private conversation. The Doctor’s Locker Room is just like a high school locker room, except that it is semi-private, smaller and a bit spiffier.

        The good old days.

        1. Carey

          Hell, I remember places and considered conversations like that, and I’m not
          that old (well, sixty is old enough).

          what a country

      4. Oregoncharles

        Of those, single payer is the least expensive. I think Switzerland’s is the most expensive, but still a lot less than ours, and much more universal.

    1. Cal2

      Thank you for that.

      Have you seen this excellent non-commercial organic food website?


      Second article; Middle class people are not helpless twinks before automation and screens.

      The formula is, “I have money and I refuse to buy your service or product if you try to put automation in front of me.”

      “Claim I don’t have a computer or a smart phone. No email address is available to you. I will not join a medical portal. Send paperwork to my U.S. Mail post box.”

      “Even if I have auto pay, send me a copy of my phone, utility, cable or internet bill each month. I will recycle them, I promise.”

      “E-mail address is never provided to banks, merchants or anyone except friends.”Tell businesses to use the U.S. mail, the printing is on them and you have more legal protection than just looking at a website would provide.

      “Open a bank account with no service charges. Deal with tellers face to face. Boycott ATMs.”

      Call the help line, service line, tech line when you are about to make a decent or large sized purchase of a product or service. If shunted to “go to our website” or speaking to a foreigner who cannot communicate properly in English, walk away from the purchase.

      Is there some reason that Middle Class people, or even poor people, as the article claims, cannot do the above?

      1. Carey

        Thanks. I do as many of those things as I can. Credit Unions are a good thing, and
        could be the “infrastructure” for more. Mine (Golden1) is getting a neolib feel, though.

        Almost like there’s a Plan

  17. dearieme

    “At $50,000 a Year, the Road to Yale Starts at Age 5” Why bother? A place can just be bought for them later on.

    1. Off The Street

      Add Stanford to its eastern competitors and you get SYPH. It is contagious and most serious during the tertiary stage, known to infect entire families.

      For southerners, add Emory instead and you get HYPE.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    A domino can knock over another domino about 1.5x larger than itself. An awesome mechanical chain reaction

    A series of Pyrrhic victories?

    Every one of the victors (knocking down another domino as a win) involves knocking itself down.

    I think the problem is that none of them is anchored down securely.

    1. TexasGentry

      The volume/mass ratios on the dominoes are deceiving. When he picks up the last domino to set it up, he uses incredibly poor form for lifting and it is obviously light weight.

  19. drumlin woodchuckles

    ” Regardless of the degree of ET’s fault in the crash ” . . .

    ET’s fault in the crash? Would it be the least bit ET’s fault in the slightest if it turns out that Boeing did indeed sell ET a Ford Pinto Airliner with Built-In ” Nose-To-The-Ground” Crashamatic software?

    1. Carey

      Oh, you noticed that bit, too.

      Our lives are run by large corporations now,
      with a touch of gubmint legitimacy™ on top.

      Don’t like it? As Lambert has said, “go die.”

  20. drumlin woodchuckles

    “The RNC keeps coming up with Sanders gotchas that are, in fact, excellent things that should be done.”

    If these “gotchas” are true reports of items Sanders wants to achieve, perhaps Sanders can OWN them in public and then ask his audience if they consider these things to be “gotchas” or
    whether his audience considers them to be ” gottahaves” and “gotta gettits”

    1. JBird4049

      Isn’t amazing how the various political factions, interest, and the political parties themselves in the “mainstream” establishment keep yelling evermore loudly about how things are fine, just fine and they will remain so as long as the average person justs shuts up and do what our meritocratic upper classes tell them to do.

      Killing the medical insurance companies really is appealing to almost everyone who dealt with them; seeing people using GoFundMe to try to pay for medical treatment is enraging.

      Politics and ideology, even religion and things like racism, tends to wither away when seeing such.

      Prochoice, prolife, gun-rights, gun control, socialism, whatever. If someone can’t buy insulin or will not go to the emergency room because that means bankruptcy…

      I can understand both sides of most issues even when I disagree. The insanity of our “healthcare system” I cannot.

      Tumbrels, anyone?

  21. Geo

    Re; ““The Paranoid Center” [Ross Douthat, New York Times]

    Reminds me of how Viktor Frankl described the “non-political middle class” he observed while incarcerated in a concentration camp. This is from an essay on the subject but his book is well worth a read for the psychologist’s observations within such an extreme setting for the human psyche.

    The non-political middle-class prisoners were a small minority among the prisoners. They were least able to withstand the initial shock. They found themselves utterly unable to comprehend what happened to them. In their behaviour became apparent the dilemma of the politically uneducated German middle classes when confronted with the phenomenon of National Socialism. They had no consistent philosophy which would protect their integrity as human beings. They had obeyed the law handed down by the ruling classes without questioning its wisdom. And now the law-enforcing agencies turned against them, who always had been their staunchest supporters. They could not question the wisdom of law and police. Therefore what was wrong was that they were made objects of a persecution which in itself must be right, since it was carried out by the authorities. Thus they were convinced that it must be a “mistake.”

    These prisoners resented most to be treated “like ordinary criminals.” After some time they could not help realising their actual situation. Then they disintegrated. Suicides were practically confined to this group. Later on, they were the ones who behaved in an antisocial way; they cheated their fellow prisoners; a few turned spies. They lost their middle-class sense of propriety and their self-respect; they became shiftless and disintegrated as autonomous persons.


  22. barrisj

    Also give a big nod to Raúl Ilargi, who has fought the good fight against RussiaGate for over two years…after Mueller’s report came out, he just unloaded bigtime on the fools who promoted and propagated this discredited narrative…as an example:

    Can We Lock Up Rachel Maddow Now?
    Message to Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Kemala Harris, Tulsi Gabbard and the rest of the crew: you can stop asking for campaign donations, because you no longer stand a chance in the 2020 elections. Your own party, and the media who support you, made sure of that. Or rather, the only chance you would have is if you guys start another smear campaign against your president, and I wouldn’t recommend that.

    I don’t want to start another Lock Her Up sequence, that’s too ugly for my taste. But three parties in this No Collusion disaster must be held accountable: US intelligence, the Democratic party, and the media. You can’t just let it go, too much water under the bridge. No can do. “The Democrats need to move on”, a recent ‘soft line’, is not good enough. They must be held to account.

    Bill Barr can investigate the FBI and DOJ, but the obstacles there are obvious: investigating the investigators. The Democratic party would mean going after individuals, but sure, let’s see what Loretta Lynch, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Maxine Waters have to say for themselves and take it from there, before you get to Hillary. The media, though, is something else altogether.


    Priceless stuff there.

  23. allan

    From MBS’s lips to Rick Perry’s ear:

    U.S. approves secret nuclear power work for Saudi Arabia [Reuters]

    U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has approved six secret authorizations by companies to sell nuclear power technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia, according to a copy of a document seen by Reuters on Wednesday. …

    The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) said in the document that the companies had requested that the Trump administration keep the approvals secret. “In this case, each of the companies which received a specific authorization for (Saudi Arabia) have provided us written request that their authorization be withheld from public release,” the NNSA said in the document. …

    Surely a Wahabist Bomb will take Middle East strife off the table. /s

      1. Carey

        As far as I can tell, the “don’t let this party stop!” vibe, will outweigh what you mention until the very end. Much like cocaine (I’m told™).

  24. ewmayer

    o “Stopping Human-Caused Air Pollution Would Prevent 5.6 Million Air Pollution Deaths Per Year: New Study” [Weather Underground], and
    o “This is the real solution to climate change: babies…the solution to so many of our problems at all times and in all places is to fall in love, get married, and have some kids.” –@SenMikeLee on @AOC and @SenMarkey’s Green New Deal pic.twitter.com/QdDEZJFIYs

    Is the irony that air pollution and global warming are ultimately rooted in the fact that there are simply way too many people on our finite planet lost on these folks?

    1. JBird4049

      There are probably far too many of we humans in the Earth, but it is the profiteers who spend gigantic piles of money to deny, confuse, and delay the changes needed to ameliorate, perhaps even solve, the ongoing climate change, depletion of resources, environmental collapse, and mass extinctions, who are the real problem right now.

  25. dcblogger

    The Human Costs Of Kamala Harris’ War On Truancy
    On the morning of April 18, 2013, in the Los Angeles suburb of Buena Park, a throng of photographers positioned themselves on a street curb and watched as two police officers entered a squat townhouse. Minutes later, their cameras began clicking. The officers had re-emerged with a weary-looking woman in pajamas and handcuffs, and the photographers were jostling to capture her every step.

    “You would swear I had killed somebody,” the woman, Cheree Peoples, said in a recent interview.

    1. Cal2

      Harris’ Howard University homie, judge Watson, tried to save her from an embarrassing link to the latest scandal; Smollett, the first test case to be handed to the feds after Bookher-Kamala-
      got their anti lynching law passed after other Democrats had ignored it for 111 years.

      Those damn FOIA requests, no way to bury this.

      Chicago police union calls for federal probe into ‘highly, highly suspicious’ conduct of prosecutor who ‘intervened in the Jussie Smollett case on behalf of Michelle Obama’s ex-aide and texted the Empire star’s family


      1. Geo

        I may be a bit of a broken record but I don’t care if the Chicago police are in a huff about this. They’re the police department that had black sites set up by one of the Gitmo heads. They have let their own off for killing innocent people.

        They can cry all the want that some rich TV dummy did a ridiculous publicity stunt but, if they really cared about justice, they’d start by looking in the mirror and fixing their own department.

        This all just sounds like a bunch of cops mad because an uppity black guy got away with the crime this time. Usually it’s the black guy that dies and the cop that walks away with all charges dropped.

  26. Harold

    What a lovely rose!

    It is interesting that the word stereotype comes originally from the printing industry. The modern sense, as applied to people and their outllook, was invented by Walter Lippmann in his book, Public Opinion, 1921. It is a little masterpiece, really: you can see why he was considered brilliant, though far from right about everything. (He did oppose the Vietnam War.)

    “The systems of stereotypes may be the core of our personal tradition, the defenses of our position in society. They are an ordered more or less consistent picture of the world, to which our habits, our tastes, our capacities, our comforts and our hopes have adjusted themselves. They may not be a complete picture of the world, but they are a picture of a possible world to which we are adapted. In that world, people and things have their well-known places, and do certain expected things. We feel at home there. We fit in. We are members. […] It is not merely a short cut. It is all these things and something more. It is the guarantee of our self-respect; it is the projection upon the world of our own sense or our own value, our own position, and our own rights. […] They are the fortress of our traditions, and behind its defenses we can continue to feel ourselves safe in the position we occupy.”

    Highly recommend his biography by Ronald Steel, Walter Lippmann and the American Century, which I read rather recently in an attempt to find out more about neoliberalism, which he had something to do with — arguably, or not.

  27. Samuel Conner

    re: ” back to normal”; perhaps better, “back to the customary state of pathology”

  28. Samuel Conner

    re: “Love your kids so much you want them to grow up in the swirling fumes of an anthropocene hellscape…”

    Just think of the wonders the increased selective pressure will do for human genomic and cultural evolution.

  29. Temporarily Sane

    You know what’s funny? People on the Remain side coming up with the most absurd and irrational nonsense to justify a second referendum on Brexit. Example: At the time of the vote “we” simply could not have known that leaving the EU will have profound and far-reaching implications. By “we”, of course, they mean “we people who voted Remain.” What they are really saying is: The referendum didn’t go our way…so we need to have another one and try to convince the swivel-eyed fascists to vote correctly this time.

    My favorite Remain logicism to date: Having only one Brexit referendum is like Africans having one election and keeping the winner in power forever. Some interesting subtext in that one.

  30. integer

    The Many Reasons to Believe Vasily Prozorov’s Testimony About Ukraine’s Role in Downing MH-17 MintPress News

    KIEV, UKRAINE — A former top official in Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU), who recently fled the country, has given explosive testimony regarding the involvement of the Ukrainian government in the 2014 downing of the MH-17 passenger plane. The incident, which killed all 283 passengers and 15 flight crew members on board, had been blamed on Russia by Ukraine’s government, the United States and much of Western media.

    In addition, the former official, Vasily Prozorov, told a group of international reporters that Ukraine’s controversial Azov Battalion, known for its Neo-Nazi ideology and symbolism, ran and maintained secret prisons in contested areas of Eastern Ukraine where there is fighting between pro-government forces and pro-Russian separatists. Prozorov, who has sought asylum in Russia, also accused the United States and the United Kingdom of training an SBU division that returned to Ukraine to conduct terrorist attacks in the Donbass region, which has been the site of a civil war since the overthrow of Ukraine’s government in 2014 in a U.S.-backed coup.

    Prozorov’s identity was kept secret until the press conference began, in breaking with standard protocol. Prozorov then introduced himself, stating that he had been employed by the SBU from 1999 to 2018, but — after the U.S.-backed coup in 2014 — had contacted Russian intelligence and began working undercover in the central office of the SBU. He does not describe himself as a defector, as he stated that his allegiance remains with the Ukrainian people while the allegiance of those who came to power with U.S. assistance in 2014 has long been suspect.

    A Ukrainian false flag op is the only explanation that has ever made sense.

    1. Carey

      I’m very interested in what happened to MH-17, but that is in my opinion
      a curiously unfocused piece.

  31. The Rev Kev

    “Why the cult of the early riser still captivates”

    Rising early can be a dangerous thing. Once I was due to be shot at dawn but I overslept for the appointment and here I am many years later.

      1. ambrit

        Another aspect of that mind set is that many of the people in those towers were already leaving and were told to go back to their offices and wait for ‘official’ actions. Those who ignored the orders mainly lived. Those who followed the conditioning died.
        From what I have gleaned, there was little panic in the beginning.

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