Links 3/17/19

He couldn’t hack it as a drug-sniffing dog. Now he’s conservation’s best friend CNN. Good dog!

11-foot wall of water: One dam breaks, three counties suffer Lincoln Journal-Star

Severe Flooding Omaha to Southern Wisconsin – 50s Possible Late Next Week Star Tribune. Lots of charts and maps. Here is a National Weather Service map.

Insurance Rates Seen Rising in Flood-Prone Areas With Trump Plan Bloomberg

Deutsche Bank set to announce merger talks with Commerzbank: source Reuters

BREAKING: County Board Approves Amazon Incentive Package Arlington Now

The Rapid Decline Of The Natural World Is A Crisis Even Bigger Than Climate Change HuffPo

The Toxic Consequences of America’s Plastics Boom The Nation


How the backstop deal was done – and why Cox blew it apart RTE (PD) [puts head in hands].

Brexit talks focused on legal guarantees ‘not cash’, says DUP Irish Times. Good to know.

The Prime Minister of Humiliation Der Spiegel

‘Back me and we’ll be out by May’: Prime Minister urges MPs to vote for her deal or risk being stuck forever in the EU’s ‘Hotel California’ Daily Mail. “Hotel California” is attributed to a source, not May.

The Fake News Nazi – Corbyn, Williamson And The Anti-Semitism Scandal Media Laens

Italy probes mystery death of Berlusconi sex trial witness Agence France Presse

737 Max

Boeing’s Unsuccessful Attempt to Avert a Crisis Der Spiegel

Boeing 737 Crashes Raise Tough Questions on Aircraft Automation Bloomberg

Boeing’s woes complicate US-China trade talks FT. Agree or disagree, the crisp analysis backs up Amber Frost’s view (summarizing) that the New York Times is for fans, but the Financial Times is for players.


China’s “South Asia challenge” for the Belt and Road Initiative Lowy Institute

How could a sharp slowdown in China affect growth prospects for the rest of Asia? South China Morning Post

Domestic Workers In China: Invisible, Vulnerable, And Indispensable SupChina

Short-Term Exposure to Air Pollution May Increase Asthma Mortality MedPage Today. From China.

China Scrutinizes $43 Billion Pawn-Shop Lending Boom Bloomberg


India’s Sputtering Rural Growth Raises Stakes for Modi Blooomberg

We Are Already Living in a ‘New India’ – and It’s Alarmingly Water-Stressed The Wire

Delhi’s Dying Holy River The Diplomat


Who Are the Private Contractors Fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan? Defense One


Venezuela’s Guaido starts domestic tour to stir support France 24. Some tyranny!

Juan Guaidó’s Policy Proposals: ‘The Venezuela to Come’ or the Venezuela That Has Already Been? Venezuelanalysis

Netherlands, U.S. agree on use of Curacao as possible aid hub for Venezuela Reuters. Oh.

What’s behind the historic blackout? E&E News. From the article: “Maduro has blamed the blackout on a cyberattack on the plant’s all-important electronic monitoring system, though engineers who have worked on the dam say they don’t believe that. Three engineers consulted by the Associated Press explain that the computers that operate the monitoring system are not connected to the internet and can only communicate with each other, making them immune to an outside attack.” Not to put on my tinfoil hat, but these charmingly naïve engineers seem never to have heard of (a) USB sticks or (b) insider threats. To be fair, the Venezuelan government hasn’t released any data to support their own assessment of a cyber attack, although they promised to do so. For a possible parallel case, see US officials offered my friend cash to take down Tehran’s power grid Medium.

NetBlocks Tracks Venezuela’s Power Outage IEEE Spectrum

How millions of ‘dirty dollars’ were laundered out of Venezuela Deutsche Welle

Trump Transition

House Armed Services chairman says Democrats open to fairly big defense budget Federal News Radio. But how will they pay for it?

How a citizenship census question could hurt data accuracy Federal Times

Police believe New Zealand shooter may have acted alone FT

A teenager egged the Australian senator who blamed the Christchurch shooting on immigration — then got punched in the face WaPo. Now dubbed “#EggBoy.”


Elizabeth Warren Actually Wants to Fix Capitalism NYT

Why Bernie Sanders is the only candidate going directly after Trump McClatchy

What Jesse taught Bernie about running for president Politico

I’ve Seen Civil War Destroy the Democrats Before. We Can’t Let it Happen Again. Politico. “A successful candidate will eschew identity politics and want to unite Americans rather than divide the country into warring tribes.” Exactly what Sanders is attempting to do, I would think, contradicting the article’s thesis that What America Needs Is Access to Pragmatism™.

Imperial Collapse Watch

America’s Global Vigilantism The American Conservative

Strategic Violence During Democratization: Evidence From Myanmar (PDF) Darin Christensen, Mai Nguyen, and Renard Sexton World Politics. Useful dynamic to know in a “warring states” Jackpot scenario.

Guillotine Watch

The college admissions scandal shows how US meritocracy is a sham Richard Reeves, FT. “In elite circles, the idea that coveted college places can be bought, one way or another, has been normalised. And once it is known that something is for sale, perhaps it is inevitable that some will come to believe that it can then be stolen, too.” Because markets.

Class Warfare

Why are millennials burned out? Capitalism. Vox. Hard to imagine a headline like this in a venue like Vox even two years ago, let alone in (say) 2008.

NASA going commercial could signal a paradigm shift for deep-space travel The Verge

Is a mission to Mars morally defensible given today’s real needs? Aeon (AL).

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterdays Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. timbers

    The way the Media and elites handle anything to do with Israel is out of control.

    Throw it back at’m.

    I always preferce Israeli with the work Naxx (you can figure out the real word) placed firmly in front.

    Because that is what she is. Not her people her government.

    1. nothing but the truth

      criticize israel and you will lose your plum govt/govt pampered sector job.

      And you will never find one outside the poor people gigs.

      1. Wukchumni

        I was good with old money in my line of work, and as luck had it so were about 40% of the Jewish component in the business as well. Great competitors and mensches of the highest order, I salute them all.

        An American Jewish friend told me he treats Israel presently as if it were a no-goodnik relative doing time in the slammer, whom nobody really ever talks about anymore, in polite company.

    2. integer

      CONFIRMED ✔: Senate Democratic Leader @SenSchumer will speak at the 2019 AIPAC Policy Conference.

      CONFIRMED ✔: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy will speak at the 2019 AIPAC Policy Conference.

      CONFIRMED ✔: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will speak at #AIPAC2019.

      CONFIRMED ✔: @VP Mike Pence will speak live at the 2019 AIPAC Policy Conference.

      CONFIRMED ✔: Secretary of State @SecPompeo will speak live at #AIPAC2019.

      1. Cal2

        BFD, None of them are presidential pretenders:

        March 7 2018
        “Harris spoke at a Monday session called “A Conversation with Senator Kamala Harris,” which was not listed on the conference’s program or website. Its occurrence was revealed in social media posts by conference attendees Avraham Spraragen, a Cornell University student, and Elan Karoll, the IlliniPAC co-president.

        Had the unique privilege of hearing from @KamalaHarris (D-CA), progressive hero and a personal source of inspiration, at #AIPAC2018. As a proud member of the Democratic Party, I appreciate @AIPAC’s commitment to bipartisanship.

        — Avraham Spraragen (@abspraragen) March 6, 2018

        — Elan Karoll (@elankaroll) March 5, 2018
        Right now: @KamalaHarris speaking at @AIPAC!! 2020!!

        — Elan Karoll (@elankaroll) March 5, 2018
        Amazing: @KamalaHarris at @AIPAC: “As a child, I never sold Girl Scout cookies, I went around with a @JNFUSA box collecting funds to plant trees in #Israel.” ????

        Planting trees anywhere is great. Why not stop bulldozing Palestinian olive orchards then?

        1. Procopius

          So, you were happy with Hillary promising that, if she were elected (taken for granted at the time) she would do everything Netanyahu requested? I reluctantly voted for Hillary, but I’m not sure I can bring myself to do that for Harris.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Ugh…its shaping up to be a regular John McCain funeral guest list. All they need is Megan McCain to whine about hurtful Jewish stereotypes in Seinfeld.

      3. gordon

        Look on the bright side – Jeremy Corbyn probably won’t be attending AIPAC events! Gee, could that be why they hate him so much?

  2. The Rev Kev

    “A teenager egged the Australian senator who blamed the Christchurch shooting on immigration — then got punched in the face”

    The Washington Post missed the best bit. So this idiot kid eggs that Senator while having his mobile up recording hoping for a reaction for a film clip. Well he got one OK. The best bit was after when he did a short film clip saying “Don’t egg politicians, you get tackled by thirty bogans at the same time, I learnt the hard way”. Idjut!

    1. shtove

      Eejit, surely? Youtube John Prescott – a UK politician who responded to the egg with amateur boxing skills.

      Also, it seems the recent Corbyn “egging” was a punch to the back of the head.

    2. Cal2

      Love how the handwringers bemoan him hitting the kid who attacked him.

      Self defense is a basic human right. He should have broken the brat’s nose.

      I predict this Aussie will win his next election in a landslide.

      1. ambrit

        This kind of stuff is part and parcel of retail politics. The Senator should have thought this through first. Once the “deplorable masses” learn their lesson, that throwing eggs, rotten fruit, drinks, etc. at politicos gets you a beat down, the next step in the learning curve is for the ‘aggressors’ to start throwing little bits of lead at the politicos, very fast.
        The basic lesson would be obvious to any Victorian era mechanic or engineer; when you tie down the safety valve, the boiler eventually explodes.

      2. Massinissa

        An egg is an attack now? Its not like he threw a rock. This is the equivalent of George W Bush hitting the guy that threw shoes at him.

        1. Wukchumni

          An egg is an attack now?

          In these politically correct times, egging somebody with a brown could be construed as a combination of whites conspiring with the yellow center of power within, for Aztlan.

      3. The Rev Kev

        The politician got egged because he made some stupid remarks in connection with the Christchurch massacre. He’s another idjut and both sides of the house are roasting him at present.

      4. Carey

        I’m still waiting for an explanation of why immigration is a good-in-itself, when the
        citizenries of most developed countries are doing badly, and are told that they need
        to “tighten their belts”, et c.

        Let’s take care of our own citizenry better first, before we take on millions of immigrants (see Sweden).

    3. Wyoming

      LOL well I see the reaction to your post is pretty typical of my rightwing tea party libertarian neighbors.

      I have a different take. The kid got hit all right, but that is how you learn to fight. The next time he will likely use a rock or a club. Then a gun. You don’t learn to give up fighting from getting punched in the nose. Only people who have never been in many fights think that way. You learn to go all in right away to make sure you don’t lose.

      Give the kid some credit. He walked up to a scumbag who is a much bigger physically person than himself and a vastly more powerful one – and had the wherewithal to make a stand. We need millions more like him.

      1. Oregoncharles

        The kid tried to hit him back – you can see the punch in the video, right before the “bogans” (actually 3) landed on him. He didn’t expect that? He did pretty well just getting the egg on the guy.

    4. a different chris

      I do not think think we should be egging people, I’m especially bothered by the fact that he’s raised 30K off of it (although it’s supposedly going to a “good cause”.

      But, on the non-intellectual level I find the egging way funny and the kid took the “punch” like, well a man.

      What I don’t get is you all standing for that family-blogger Anning. Who actually slapped, not punched, um so very manfully, at the kid and then fell over his own feet. The video is easily found.

    5. witters

      I think the kid did all white, RK, certainly the yolk was on a deserving target (one far worse, in my view, than your offense at an “idjut.”)

  3. killing nature for kilowatts

    The Rapid Decline Of The Natural World Is A Crisis Even Bigger Than Climate Change

    Not far from where I live in southern New England developers have cleared 150 acre of forest to build a solar “farm.” The topsoil is piled up and being trucked away. Same goes for the wood chips of what use to be trees. Similar proposals are in the works.

    The mid boggling, illogical insanity of it is overwhelming. State government policy.

    1. coboarts

      What does a forest have to do with nature? Nature is solar and wind farms, and wood chips burned in power plants.

    2. Swamp Yankee

      We might not live so far from one another, then; they’re doing exactly that here and it’s infuriating. Globally rare Atlantic coastal pine barrens (carbon sinks!) for greenwashed solar ‘farms’. Outrageous.

  4. Livius Drusus

    Re: Why are millennials burned out? Capitalism

    NC readers might want to check out this study on perfectionism and young people. It touches on some of the factors discussed in the article about why young people are burnt out.

    Neoliberalism and technological change, particularly social media, are producing most of the distress among young people today.

    1. Summer

      And technological change should not be confused with innovation.
      As the millennials age, they are starting to notice. I’m sure that is depressing.

      1. Carey

        Interesting that “innovation” these days mostly means making everyday things
        *harder* to use, and gatekeeping; often, both at the same time.

    2. Phil in KC

      Read also the Vox interview with Steven Brill about the death of the American Dream. These two conversations nail what’s ailing the kids specifically, and more generally the nation at large. I read with keen interest about the protected class and the unprotected class, the latter growing ever larger. Millennials are more and more likely to fall into the unprotected class, hence the turn from neoliberalism and capitalism. They want something different and better. So do I at age 63.

  5. Mirdif

    Re: How the backstop deal was done – and why Cox blew it apart

    Mehreen Khan of the FT reported that the meeting on the sidelines at Sharm El-Sheikh was much more “testy” as relayed by Martin Selmayr to EU27 ambassadors. With regard to a lengthy extension May wanted to know what guarantee she had that she’d not be dealing with some Eurosceptic commission chief à la Matteo Salvini. Juncker shot back asking what guarantees did he have that he won’t be facing Boris Johnson.

  6. David

    Amongst all the other news, just as you were thinking the Gilets jaunes had gone away, they are back with a vengeance. Literally.
    Yesterday, the 18th week of protests, saw the GJ back in Paris, though there were sporadic demonstrations and some violence elsewhere. The official figures were 32,000 demonstrators in France as a whole, and 10,000 in Paris. It’s clear that, after several weeks of peaceful processions, the authorities were not ready for what happened.
    What happened was widespread destruction and looting, in place of the organised and pre-announced protests of the last few weeks. The centre was, once again, the Champs Elysées, and the chic areas round about. Around 80 shops and restaurants were attacked and damaged, including clothes shops, luxury boutiques, banks and smartphone shops. The hyper-expensive Brasserie Fouquet’s, where Sarkozy famously entertained his financial backers the evening of his 2007 election victory, was trashed and partly set alight. (I could never afford to eat there, but I’m sure Col Smithers knows it). Rioters threw looted champagne bottles at the police. Only in France ….
    Why? Well for the first time it does look as if large contingents of non-GJ were involved. For several days, messages had been circulating on social networks linked to extreme left and right-wing groups, and many of the rioters were seen dressed in the traditional black clothes and hoods with helmets. One Belgian was arrested: other demonstrators were heard speaking German. The rioters went straight into action, attacking police cars with paving stones and smashing windows. Some of the attackers were also from the GJ, but in many cases the yellow-jacketed protesters stood around watching, sometimes moving out of the way of tear gas projectiles. Interviews revealed very split opinions. Most of them deplored the violence in principle, but, as one said in a story that has been much shared, “they only listen to us when things get broken.” After a couple of weeks when the establishment and the media had begun to congratulate themselves on having got through the crisis, and the police believed the worst was over, this was a real shock.
    Politicians from all sides have assailed the government, demanding an end to the violence, and Macron, furious at having to cut short his skiing holiday, announced “tough new measures”. But it’s not clear what can be done. There were 5,000 police in Paris yesterday, more than enough to manage a normal demonstration (and there was a big one at the same time for the environment and social justice), but hopelessly inadequate to protect the buildings under attack. The police have firm orders not to intervene just to protect property, but only if lives are in danger or they attacked directly, which happened a lot yesterday. Anything else would mean deaths and injuries on a large scale, and it’s not certain that the police would win. All the police can do is try to arrest those involve in the violence, and every arrest will take 4-5 policemen. The numbers are against them.
    Meanwhile, there’s no sign that it’s over. As was predictable, the GJ are settling down to a hard core, some of whom, at least, are prepared to entertain violence as a last resort. The motivations of the protesters are not ideological in the abstract, but very personal. I watched a social worker being interviewed, and saying that she simply couldn’t put up any more with the things she saw every day. She had to do something. Between righteous anger and the activities of the black blocs and others, it’s hard to see the situation calming down, whatever Macron comes up with next; Ultimately, after all, he’s the problem.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, David.

      I am in Paris and sent Yves and Lambert some updates and photos throughout yesterday.

      I am staying on the corner of St Honore and Friedland. I left early for breakfast at the Place des Vosges yesterday morning. I had to go the long way round to the races at Auteuil as the stations in the city centre were closed.

      On the way back from racing, I walked around the back of the Arc to avoid the crowds. This was about 17:30. The police decided to tear gas the side / back streets. I was caught up in the rush and tear gas down Wagram.

      @ Yves and Lambert: please feel free to share my updates. I will send some more later.

      I know Fouquet’s. It’s full of arrivistes and wannabes, just like Sarko. Lots of people are taking selfies there.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The glass door to Fouquets has big scratches under the handle from the oversized diamond rings of the arriviste clientele, so it’s the perfect symbol. Macron played the Obama game (pretending he was something other than the billionaires’ errand boy) but the French plebes aren’t falling for it. Their American equivalents still haven’t connected the dots.

    2. Colonel Smithers

      I agree with / attest to all that David wrote.

      What was odd is that on Friday night, not all of the obvious targets were being boarded up. I had an early drink with former colleagues at HSBC as they went home early to allow the rather elegant second empire building to be boarded up.

      I will write more about the GJs during the week. This was my third encounter with them. I have spoken to some them, too.

      Yves and Lambert will recognise the Belgian flag from one of the photos I emailed about 10 am.

    3. Colonel Smithers

      WTF was Macron thinking of / playing at by going skiing, an activity beyond the reach of most French people.

      I was thinking that the Macron “regime” does not have the equivalent of the wise old and / or moderate heads who, perhaps unsuccessfully most of the time, tried to countervail the Thatcherite jihadists. I am thinking of the likes of Anthony Meyer, Peter Morris, Douglas Hurd, Heseltine, Clarke etc.

      1. David

        Oh yes, and Macron seems to be surrounded most of the time by a band of close advisors who in photos look as if they have barely left school, and have the collective political wisdom of a stuffed toy. This is his “start-up nation” approach apparently: I only wonder why he didn’t recruit Elizabeth Holmes.
        But worse than that, he did have the chance to bring somebody of wisdom and experience on board. That was François Bayrou, a right-wing but generally respected and very experienced politician, who was thinking of making another run for President in 2017. Had he done so, he would have taken votes from Macron, and the laddie would not have been President today. As it was, Bayrou was persuaded to stand down in return for a share of candidates in the parliamentary elections that followed, and, implicitly, exactly the kind of wise old man status you speak of. But after a short stint as a Minister Bayrou was knifed. There’s nobody now of any standing who dares contradict Jupiter. What’s worse is that this was a weekend skiing break , flying both ways by Air Force aircraft with all the security at heaven knows what cost. To continue the metaphor, those whom the French gods wish to destroy, the first send to Sciences Po, ENA and a merchant bank.

        1. nycTerrierist

          Thanks David for the excellent reports.

          “To continue the metaphor, those whom the French gods wish to destroy, the first send to Sciences Po, ENA and a merchant bank.”

          Macron and his coddled, clueless advisors remind me of the ‘Obama boys’ as read by Nathan Robinson:

          For surplus rage under Obama, we had Occupy, which as we all know at NC, was squelched by ‘our’ government, with assists from the corporate press. I’m heartened to see the French
          aren’t so easily shut down.

          I too deplore violence in principle. Who can deny this is true?

          “…as one said in a story that has been much shared, “they only listen to us when things get broken.”

          1. Eclair

            ” … they only listen to us when things get broken.” Or, when we ‘egg’ politicians who condone/incite violence through their speech, or by shepherding through laws/economic policies that unleash structural violence upon thousands.

            I feel very uncomfortable around violence of any kind … words, actions. But when I contemplate the silent graphs showing the astounding increases in wealth and income inequality since the 1970’s, or when I read boring statistical studies demonstrating that, in the US, the bottom income quartile dies, on average, 15 years earlier than the top income quartile …. 15 years! …. I feel an inchoate rage rising within me.

            Thank heavens for NC comments …. they act as a pressure release valve. I think.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              So the other side can employ violence at will but we’re supposed to be all polite?

              A foreign policy (ultra-violent) that sucks out all resources and leaves despair and opioid death in its wake? Domestic health care policies that sow early death? (sounds violent to me). Bank bailout trillions that do violence to domestic saver and pension balance sheets?

              Nice guys finish last. Aux barricades!

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                In this country the “other side” has the most and best weapons, all the police departments, the Raytheon Oven Rays, the LRAD ear-bursters, etc.

                The “our side” may have a lot of numbers. Perhaps the “our side” should think of methods of passive obstruction, uncivil obedience, etc.

              2. Carey

                Hear effing hear.

                Until we-the-many organize to defend ourselves against what the very few and their minions have been inflicting
                on us for the last forty years, there is no reason at all to
                expect change for the better.

                More and more, I am thinking of the smart!phone as an
                absolute masterstroke by the Few, for the watching, conditioning, and control of the citizenry. The damn thing
                gave me a bad feeling when I first saw one… something about strangers bearing gifts.

          2. Oregoncharles

            The GJs appear to have learned some things from Occupy. They aren’t stuck in a park, they do have a list of demands, and they’re prepared to fight.

            The implicit alliance with the Black Bloc and associated is a very mixed blessing – but, as she said…

            1. JBird4049

              OWS was a peaceful protest movement that mainly occupied public parks and
              did stuff like making signs and small public libraries; they, along with their leadership, were violently crushed with simultaneous raids on multiple cities in multiple states as well as their homes; I think that the GJs have learned from Occupy’s suppression. They will not have any easy to find and destroy leadership or any regular peaceful gatherings at the same place.

              Rather sad that open peaceful protests are not allowed which means only secretive violent ones are allowed.

      2. Wukchumni

        I too had the yellow vests stop me from going skiing this past week for about 15 minutes, in a one-way construction zone part of the road, where the pilot car led those from the other side and then turned around and was our vanguard, with the American version of the GJ leading the charge-sign in hand in an approximate turnout of 2-perhaps 3 people. No tear gas, but too many people thought it’d be a good idea to keep their engines going, as it was a bit chilly. I wanted to relish the outside air, but it smelt like eau d’octane.

    4. Craig H.

      > Macron, furious at having to cut short his skiing holiday

      Is he quoted saying “I am furious that my ski holiday was interrupted” or is that somebody’s interpretation? I remember when the drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico the BP CEO (whose name I forgot) pretty much sabotaged his job when he told the press he didn’t want to be there talking to them because it was supposed to be his day off. After that there was not one good word written about him until he resigned (or maybe he got re-assigned to some other non-CEO BP job) a few weeks later.

      If you are the boss of France I don’t think you get days off.

      1. The Rev Kev

        If he was going skiing, then perhaps it would have been wiser to ski during the weekdays and not on the weekends when the yellow vests are on the march.

    5. shtove

      My report from Westminster, Friday 15 March 2019 01:30 GMT. Alighted at Waterloo, walked past the London Eye, marvelled at its foundation works. Made way for, and smiled at, several pretty girls. Mission accomplished. Proceeded to Westminster Bridge – can confirm place flooded with the Gilet Jaunes of the Metropolitan Police, and heavily fortified against nutter traffic terrorists. Also infiltrated with numerous north African 3-card monte artists, for which I have not fallen since Manhattan 1988. But it still works on tourists from eastern Europe, whence we can conclude that life goes on as before. Encountered shrill, albeit giggly, demonstration by Kids Against Climate Change. Admired the strength of the police horses. Observed that the bronze statue of King Arthur is vulgar. Ended on a random thought: if it’s expensive, it’s not worth it. Boarded train for Barnes. Over and out.

  7. Frenchguy

    FT vs NY Times

    It’s the same thing in the French press, Les Echos (business newspaper) is ususally more interesting to read than Le Figaro or Le Monde (though it’s not FT-quality level…).

    1. Colonel Smithers


      The FT is in decline, though. The neo cons and neo liberals are taking over. Even the likes of Martin Wolf spout the BS or have to pretend. The likes of Luce and Kuper are the real thing.

      1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        I could sense decline creeping in around the time my subscription ran out (from poverty) The ‘call ’em like you see ’em days of the last economic crisis are past and Borg-Think is the rule from what little I see now.

        1. Anonymous2

          Change of ownership may have had an influence. The Japanese do not like putting their heads above the parapet.

      2. barrisj

        We have been subscribers of LeMonde Diplomatique for nearly 20 years now (it was once included with a sub of The Guardian for US readers), and have consistently been rewarded by its reportage, editorial views, and aggressive independence. Its slant for a while now has been anti-neoliberalism, and – of course – critical of Nato and US adventurism, and although only 16 pages per monthly edition, Diplo packs a huge amount of in-depth reporting and analysis for its readers.

  8. Clive

    Re: “The Prime Minister of Humiliation”

    This is a fun article and I always enjoy reading May bashing, especially from non-U.K. outlets. You can’t get enough May bashing as far as I’m concerned.

    But it also neatly illustrates Remain’s intractable problem. It can bemoan May and paddle down the ritual denunciation river. It can whine and whinge and witter about how terrible, just terrible, Brexit is. It can plead, to it’s own numerous internal audience of fellow Remain’ers that Somthing Must Be Done and Won’t Someone Please Think of The Children.

    Yet it has no way forward from there. The referendum result went the way it went. Article 50 has been triggered. Rowing back on either of those needs a plan, but what, exactly, is that plan and how will it avoid the risks to any plan which might be devised and operate within the unavoidable constraints it has to operate within?

    And, deeper and more fundamental, what is the philosophical underpinnings it can be built on? Remain can put up economic arguments which it can wipe the floor with Leave on. But how are these to overcome Leave’s sovereignty and politics rhetorical base? And even the economic arguments are difficult — “Remain, else your factories will close” is good, but every year I’ve been alive and aware of current affairs people have been threatening — and not hesitating to carry out those threats — to close the factories. Or outsource or offshore my work. Or make things more expensive for me. In the end, I can be scared into going along with some political direction for a while but I cannot live like that indefinitely. What, apart from a potential but only ever theoretical promise to not end up with lower standards of living, does EU membership offer me or Leave voters?

    Attack May all you want, with my blessing. But it won’t move the Brexit dial anymuch.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That last sentence of your comment says it all. However. Did you see that article on going to Mars where they talk about Musk and his first wife said-

      Elon is not someone who would say: ‘I feel you. I see your point of view.’ Because he doesn’t have that ‘I feel you’ dimension, there were things that seemed obvious to other people that weren’t that obvious to him.

      Now who is that sounding like? But without the technical smarts?

        1. Tom Doak

          Probably 90% of the people who are diagnosed from afar as having Asperger’s are really just Adult Children of Alcoholics, which extends to all sorts of dysfunctional families (but probably goes back to alcoholism in some previous generation).

          One of the key attributes is bottling up one’s emotions for fear of an emotional or violent outburst from the parent.

    2. Sanxi

      I am beyond hope, but not beyond this:
      So come my friends, be not afraid
      We are so lightly here
      It is in love that we are made
      In love, we disappear
      —Leonard Cohen “Boogie Street”

    3. David

      I’m afraid you’re right, and I have a feeling that this was the weakness with Remain from the beginning. Vote for Us or All the Horrible Things that have Happened in Recent Years will Keep Happening Only Morely, was never a coherent message. In turn, though, this reflected the desperate poverty of the UK establishment’s conception of Europe from the beginning. It was, and is, all about trade and finance. Europe was a bunch of unreliable foreigners who with careful handling could nonetheless be a useful export market. By contrast with the establishments of virtually every other European country, the British establishment was, and remains, pig-ignorant about the wider and deeper aspects of European integration (and I say this as something of a sceptic myself about some of its consequences). But as long as UK elites had their Polish plumbers and Romanian maids, their lucrative European jobs, their frictionless travel around the Schengen area and a chance for their children to study at European universities, why should they care? Well, they care now, but it’s too late and it’s their own fault. It doesn’t have a plan because it never thought it would need one, except Shut Up and Do What You Are Told. And we know how that worked out.
      But there’s another dimension also. Groups in Europe who want reform of the EU, and might even be prepared to leave it, are watching the British familyblogup with something like despair. If a big player like the UK can’t negotiate decent terms, asked the left-wing French magazine Marianne a few weeks ago, what hope is there ever of substantial change? Good job Theresa.

      1. Clive

        One pitch I really wanted to see coalesced around was “Remain — and we will collectively, Leave and Remain — collaborate if for no other reason than ‘my enemies’s enemy is my friend’ and unstintingly do anything and everything to make the EU’s life a total misery (ungovernable, even) until it mends its ways; that means no more Commission drafting the Directives as this will now be done by the Parliament with the Commission relegated to being what it always should have been i.e. a civil service only, no more Council meddling as the Council will be disbanded because if the EU is handed a competency then why do Council’s Heads of state or Heads of government get to then lobby for their pet national interests which only undermines the EU Parliamentary authority and, to top those two off, a timeframe for when all national competencies are to be handed off to the EU because if it’s ever closer union that’s the end game, we all want to know when and how it’s going to happen and if that is going to cause the population of Europe to stand on its stool and go ‘eek! eek! an integration mouse! make it go away! make it go away!’ then we’d all better address that sooner rather than later”.

        Or whatever were deemed the forks we want to stick into the EU toaster are.

        But no. We just get the political equivalent argument of which goes in the cup first, the tea or the milk.

        I’m glad it’s not just me that finds it deeply ironic the U.K. is on the verge of leaving, just when, finally, for the first time in a generation, the EU does seem genuinely to be forced, kicking and screaming no doubt, into a course of real change.

        1. Sanxi

          No, you just don’t get it. The Norths, all three do. They are as children, playing with their toys in a house on fire. —Gautama Buddha.

        2. irrational

          Then we need an European Parliament that doesn’t just put out legislation dictated by lobbyists and otherwise indulges in silly resolutions. Are we all ready for that?

    4. BillK

      Note that Remainer Conservative MP Nick Boles has just resigned from the Conservative party because he was going to be deselected by his local party (that voted for Leave). Remainer MPs from areas that voted to leave are likely to be out of a job at the next election.
      The UK is still divided whatever happens.

    5. notabanker

      Last line of the FT Boeing article:
      “….. the Chinese won’t take such risks. Party legitimacy is at stake.”

      The US, UK and France seem to have no such concerns.

      1. VietnamVet

        Chairman Xi; “China Is the World’s Only Sovereign State”. The USA isn’t as shown by Boeing’s influence over the FAA and the President. In the USA and France there is one party – “The Corporation Party”. This is what the Yellow Jackets are revolting against. UK will be the second sovereign state if it breaks out of the European Union. The problem is that it is not self-sufficient and companies are decamping. Chaos is guaranteed. China can survive on its own except for oil but it has Russia as an ally. China can and will demand an end to the trade war before it certifies the 737 Max to fly there. Boeing’s fate is now in China’s hands. Power like this can force crazy hotheads to start world wars. Trying to regain sovereign power will rip the United Kingdom apart. If lucky, England will end up alone by itself. The causalities could be enormous.

    6. Ahimsa

      From the Guardian: Brexit: Labour set to endorse a plan to put May’s deal to a public vote

      The party warms to a proposal that aims to break deadlock by backing deal, subject to a ‘confirmatory referendum’

      Per usual no concrete details. Wording? Timeframe? Etc.

      Previosly here at NC, the problematic nature of lead in time frames, the choices and wording of a second ref have been discussed. However, now that parliament has decisively rejected ‘No Deal’, does that now suggest a simple binary choice of ‘Leave w May’s Deal vs Remain’?

      And I don’t fully follow the logic of backing the deal subject to a referendum. An extension is required regardless. Is Labour trying to show brexiters they have their back and at the same time giving their remain base that yearned for second ref?

      When the ERG see this will they want to back May’s deal to avoid the possibility of a Remain result from a second ref??

      1. Clive

        I’ve never been able to see a second referendum as anything other than a poisoned chalice.

        It could never be “Remain or May’s Deal” — No Deal would have to be on the ballot. To pretend that somehow No Deal has gone away when 180+ MPs voted, in effect, to have No Deal still left on the table would incense Leave MPs and a good chunk of Leave voters and thus delegitimise the poll. In a three-way poll, May’s Deal or No Deal would eclipse Remain so it would be either May’s Deal or No Deal that won out. Neither, stating the obvious, helps Remain.

        If a referendum were really intended to “settle the matter by having the people decide” you’d have to have an element of unicornery on the ballot — Norway, Canada, BINO, “managed No Deal” etc. etc. would have to be trotted out because, unless and until you put them through a negotiation process, you don’t know definitively they’re non-starters. But how would any voter make sense of this rag-bag of options?

        So, I don’t get at all why Remain doesn’t just rescind Article 50, if it has the votes. Or recognise that, if the U.K. really is to Remain, it’ll need to have Lab and Remain Conservative MPs force a vote of No Confidence in May, establish a temporary government for a week or so with some neutral figure as Prime Minister just long enough to do that then have a General Election. There’d be blowback the like of which U.K. politics has never seen, naturally. But if Remain isn’t up for this, why doesn’t it pack up and go home?

        The longer it (Remain) prattles on about isn’t it awful, just awful and fails to comprehend that it didn’t lose the argument to Remain in the EU on the 23rd June 2016, it had been losing it on a daily and systematic basis since, oh, about 1992 when the Maastricht Treaty scraped through Parliament by the Speaker’s deciding vote alone. Remain seems destined to forever fail to grasp that no political ground has to be, once captured, forevermore occupied by the forces in posesssion of it. Remain failed to defend and secure its political territory. It paid the price of its complacency at the referendum.

        To have any hope of regaining it — to actually win — it’ll need to do a lot better than the current endless repetition of bleating about how dreadful Leave is and all the other tedious sore-loser’ing.

        1. Ahimsa

          Thanks for your reply.

          The longer it (Remain) prattles on about isn’t it awful, just awful and fails to comprehend that it didn’t lose the argument to Remain in the EU on the 23rd June 2016, it had been losing it on a daily and systematic basis since, oh, about 1992 when the Maastricht Treaty scraped through Parliament by the Speaker’s deciding vote alone.

          Interesting, I didn’t know that about the Maastricht Treaty vote.

          1. David

            Technically it wasn’t ratification, since that’s a Crown prerogative in the UK. It was a bill to incorporate various necessary changes into UK law, but which some Tory rebels treated as a surrogate for a vote on the Treaty itself . Most of the legislation was passed fairly comfortably, but one Labour amendment was defeated by the Speaker’s casting vote. But it goes to show that the present insanity is nothing new.

        2. David

          Yes, I’ve said much the same as you in your third paragraph for some time now. Yes, it’ll blow up UK politics, but what won’t, as things stand? Let’s at least do it properly.
          The worrying thing about Remain for me has been the automatic assumption by its champions that it will lead to a clear vote to stay in the EU and then we can all go home. But as you say, the question is no longer one of principle but of different quite precise options. The risk, clearly is that you get a result like No Deal 40, May’s Deal 30, Remain 30. How can you possibly interpret that to everyone’s satisfaction?
          The only answer, I would have thought, is to have a referendum with options that actually exist, which means either May’s Deal or Remain. Otherwise, the number of alternatives is essentially infinite. Oh, and did I hear you say that somebody should have thought of all this in 2015? Well, yes, they should.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Hasn’t it been May’s job all along to pretend to be Leaving but actually to be sowing chaos? It’s not as though she was ever a true believer

            1. Monty

              No, I do not think it’s an act. I suspect she really is every bit as foul and stupid as she looks.

              1. Carey

                Maybe you’re right- I can’t begin to follow what’s happened
                with Brexit, though I’ve tried- but hasn’t there been a strategic consistency behind May’s and the Tories’
                obtuseness, working toward no-deal?

                That’s how it looks to me from the outside.

      2. Ahimsa

        On cue (sorry, another link ftom the Guardian)
        Brexit: McVey backing for May’s deal raises hopes for approval

        “The rules have all changed,” McVey said. “We all stood on a manifesto that no deal is better than a bad deal, and I still believe that Theresa May’s deal is a bad deal – but after the votes in the house last week, that isn’t the option facing us any more.”

        “No deal has been removed; article 50 will be extended; so the choice before us is: this deal or no Brexit whatsoever – and to not have Brexit you go against the democratic vote of the people,” she told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

        1. ChrisPacific

          Translation: “I want to change my mind without admitting I was ever wrong in the first place, so I’m going to pretend that the vote against No Deal was somehow more binding than the vote against May’s deal, and that No Deal is therefore off the table while May’s deal isn’t.”

  9. The Rev Kev

    ” Who Are the Private Contractors Fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan? ”

    Can we all agree that these ‘security contractors’ and ‘private contractors’ are bs terms and what they are is actually mercenaries – or mercs for short? If they get themselves killed the government does not have to include them in casualty lists. They are disposable to everyone but their families. Why do they do it? Some for the fast bucks. Some find it hard to fit back in back home. Some come from poverty stricken countries. Some even have a liking for the military life but for whatever reason these people are now a part of the way wars are fought. The Romans too outsourced their military to mercenary forces which worked – until it didn’t.

    1. David

      They are not mercenaries, at least not in any traditional sense of the term. Mercenaries fought in the front line, in formed units, transferring their loyalties from ruler to ruler for commercial reasons. Often, from Greek hoplites, Swiss pikemen in Italy, to South Africans in Angola, they brought combat experience and specialist skills to direct combat, and could alter the outcome of the war. That has pretty much finished as a model now.
      Private Security Companies today do something rather different, as the article recognises. Modern militaries are expensive and modern soldiers in western nations are highly trained. Armies in most countries are getting smaller all the time. I can’t really comment on the US, but assume (I speak from first-hand knowledge here) that you have an Embassy in a place like Afghanistan, since that’s what the article mainly talks about. You have a compound where your Embassy staff, as well as aid and development personnel, and perhaps NGOs, live and work. The compound needs to be protected, vehicles searched, visitors booked in and out etc. Since the possibility that somebody will try to remodel your compound with a vehicle-borne suicide device is always there, you need guards who are trained and disciplined in the use of weapons. Likewise, you have people to escort to and from the airport, and to meetings Any given journey is likely to be safe, but you need escorts who can extract you from trouble if there is any. But using front-line troops for such tasks is expensive and unnecessary. So you go to PSCs, who employ mostly former soldiers in organised groups. They do short-term, well-paid engagements for a restricted number of tasks. Generally, they don’t go near the front line or engage in deliberate combat. In spite of what the article says, a lot has been written about PSCs and how they work, and, at least outside the US, there’s nothing especially secret about it.
      Don’t forget either that the UN and EU, as well as NGOs like Save the Children and Oxfam increasingly work in insecure environments, where their personnel are liable to threats and violence – Mali is a good current example. They often make use of similar organisations for their security.

      1. diptherio

        Gotta call BS on your supposed knowledge of what our PSC employees are up to. The authors of the report state clearly, and repeatedly that, “The simple truth is that there is little reliable data about this industry,” and “There isn’t a detailed account of the private military industry’s practices, workforce, misconducts or contracts.”

        But you know all about what they are and aren’t up to? Tell me more….

        1. Clive

          David makes a very valid point. The line between defence contractors, private security and the “officially” military owned and operated systems and forces is now so blurry, you simply cannot tell where one ends and other begins.

          Merely browsing at the, ah-hem, services offered by a shady outfit like Serco gives enough for anyone to go on. It is impossible to unmesh private defence services providers from government controlled military functions

        2. David

          Not your PSC employees, if you are a USian. But in general PSCs are governed by the Montreux Process and the Montreux Document to which all major western nations have signed up. There are a series of ancillary documents, including human rights declarations and so forth. In general, you won’t get a contract from a major western state unless you agree to abide by these standards. There’s also a very active NGO network that studies the subject and produces reports. If you type “private security companies” into Google Scholar, you’ll also get lots of results of academic studies dealing with them.

      2. Carey

        So “modern militaries are expensive” but mercenaries, I mean “private contractors”
        are less so?

        This is long-winded bafflegab.

    2. John

      Doesn’t condotterie translate as contractor? Mercenaries likely have a thousand individual reasons for taking such a job, but a mercenary person is a money lover so it follows that money is high up if not at the top of the list.

      For public consumption and with great fanfare the government could bring the troops home from Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan while quietly replacing them with mercenaries out of sight, off the books, and of no concern to the politicians. Is this not in fact what has happened, is happening, and will happen?

      1. The Rev Kev

        Already happened with those US troops in Syria as the quoted number of soldiers there does not include the substantial number of contractors living with them. Erik Prince recently said that he wants all the US troops entirely replaced with his contractors. For a price of course.

  10. Tyrannocaster

    The article advising Dems not to destroy themselves and advocating moderation/pragmatism is really a very good example of concern trolling. I get the feeling that the author is so out of touch that “concern trolling” might not be a concept he understands; from references in the article I gather the author is at least my age (“child of the 50s”), and a lot of us seem to have missed the boat – Leave It To Beaver isn’t coming back, and it really shouldn’t.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      I’m almost 50, and i all but yelled at the computer screen.
      the part about how “most americans” don’t want all this hippy dippy free stuff is particularly galling…since just about every poll I’ve seen that’s not obviously shill-induced indicates clearly that a majority wants things like MFA and to tax the hell out of the parasitical elite.
      but, no…we get yet another “adult in the room” sonorously telling us children how it can’t be done, how gone are the days when we could do big, cool stuff, and how we must settle for soggy crumbs and boring platitudes.
      “market based incentives” and “strengthening Obamacare by making its private exchanges function more efficiently”….
      it’s almost Kafkaesque, the flashback to the 90’s this engenders in me.
      will these people never frelling retire?!

      1. notabanker

        I’m a few years older than you and Leave it to Beaver was well before my time. These people are clueless.

        Checked the weather last night before bed and saw the newly formed Sea of Nebraska. Another perfect confluence of events that just seem to be happening to occur lately. And Trump is in no hurry to sell the Chinese 1.2 trillion dollars worth of food. Good, because that problem is going to take care of itself. The Isle of Albion is going to cancel every global trade agreement they have in 13 days to become the next Singapore. Two Boeing planes fly themselves into the ground and their single biggest customer is somehow the bad guy.

        And the best they got is can’t afford to undermine Obama’s glorious ACA, tweak the tax code because that’s been so successful in the past and hand the carbon tax money to consumers so they can buy more junk they don’t need from the Chinese, the largest contributor of GHG’s. And let’s back that up by reminding all you folks who didn’t live in a bygone era that Carter doesn’t get the credit he deserves for being such a successful Moderate, even though he really wasn’t successful and was ousted by a Republican. Somewhere in there is a wise lesson to be learned.

        1. Wukchumni

          When it rains bad news, it pours. It reminds me of a compulsive gambler losing big and chasing each wager with a larger one in an effort to play catch up, eventually you’re tapped out, but maybe the casino will comp you dinner?

          Generation Jones here, if anything for me it was Happy Days-set in the 50’s, but produced smack dab in the middle of the 70’s malaise, teenagers, please don’t notice what is happening all around you presently, and wouldn’t you secretly want to be as cool as the Fonz?

        2. Jeremy Grimm

          Today’s links about water in India, David’s much appreciated reports about the situation in France, the news of BREXIT, the occulted floods in the Midwest, the politics of 2020, all suggest we approach a breaking point where our governments are inept, corrupt, and no longer able to govern.

        3. pretzelattack

          the october surprise was the first time i realized how corrupt the ptb really were. also the democrats going along with reagan, a precursor of things to come.

    2. Tom Doak

      I looked up the author, Stuart E. Eizenstat, [born 1943] on Wikipedia. Politico recognizes him as a long-time Democrat who had positions in the Carter, Clinton and Obama administrations, but emphasizes his time with Jimmy Carter. Wikipedia also notes that he was Deputy Sec. of the Treasury and later one of many Under Secretaries of State for Bill Clinton, and was appointed to his current position of Special Advisor for Holocaust Issues by Hillary Clinton, when she was Secretary of State.

      He is also a partner at Covington & Burling, the huge law firm that represents multinational companies. So that would make him a “professional” pragmatist and Progressive.

      I guess we just have to expect more of these biased articles throughout the campaign, though. Pretty much every Democrat in the last 30 years is complicit with the Clintons in how we got here, and they want us to know it’s the best we could possibly expect them to have done.

      1. Carla

        Well, I say NO WAY do we let them own pragmatism. Bernie Sanders has more pragmatism in his little finger than they do in their entire bodies. M4A is utterly pragmatic. Ditto MMT’s Job Guarantee. Green New Deal? Pragmatic only for those who want a future for our children and grandchildren.

        Is Bernie perfect? By no means. It’s only by comparison with the rest of the field of candidates that he starts to appear so. And they continue to elevate him more and more with every passing day.

    3. Chris Cosmos

      While I agree that articles like you mention (I didn’t read it but know it by heart) are always ways for the corporatocracy to get it’s two-cents in the concern is real. There are large numbers of people in the US who say things like “I worked hard for what I got and nobody gave me any help” usually from the working class who will reject on principle any humanistic-oriented policy–that’s why they voted for Trump. The question is how large is this contingent relative to those who feel universal health-care, decent pay, and free post-sec education benefit everyone. I don’t think opinion polls count for much–it is well-known that large numbers of people hold opposite and mutually contradictory ideas about not just society but life. We live, after all, in a post-rational historical moment.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        those polls and surveys are at least anecdotally(and regularly) confirmed, by me and others who do the same thing(#fieldwork,lol).
        I hear at the very least tacit support—often in garbled and almost incomprehensible language—just about everywhere I go and open up my ears.
        in rural Texas.
        they’re not saying “we need medicare for all”…but, “everybody needs healthcare….and I have a cousin who’s been to canada, and guess what she said!?…”
        and the spittle flecked rage I see sometimes towards “the damned billionaires” in the last five years of so is shocking when compared to the all but universal adulation towards them before.
        I’ve said before that it depends very much on the comfort of whomever your talking to/eavesdropping on…and this is perhaps most glaring when comparing 2 folks of the same age, one with a pension, the other without. the former is likely to be what we think of as goptea…hating on poors and ruskies and europe in general.
        the latter…to my eyes…is in the process of digging under the ideological fence that they’ve been caught in for so many decades.
        The baser parts of The Base are waking up, I think…and learning that the R’s are just as bad as the D’s…and no one is on their side, after all.
        hell…me and my east texas cousin were talking about this the other day(he was up for spring break to cut a bunch of firewood(good times!lol))…and mike dewine comes on cspan to laud sewer socialism,lol.
        went on and on about the neglected infrastructure and essentially called for a reinvigorated commons.
        things are in flux, and the tired old nomenclature doesn’t work anymore to describe things.
        my fear is that trump will pick up a few of the birdsnests the vichy dems leave laying in the grass, and make hay with such things…and the run of the mill goptea will feel compelled to go along.
        imagine trump as a new fdr/raygun…inaugurating the next 40+ years of the next party system/paradigm…establishing the new Third Rails that noone will touch…and shudder in fear.
        political opportunism(“oh, look! a birdsnest!”)=>some post-rational, post-political New Normal that I can’t even begin to envision.
        and all because the chucks and nancies of the world couldn’t see past their dried and faded laurels, until they finally caught fire and burned them away.

        1. Chris Cosmos

          Makes sense. There are so many variables here. We are definitely in a historical moment where everything is changing. The right becomes the left and the left becomes the right. Most pro-imperial media outlets, for example, are usually on the “left” like MSNBC or NPR. The question I have is will the people if flyover country rediscover compassion. Yes, sure they’re beginning to get that they’re getting screwed and they are being lied to but will they support left-wing policies when they believe that the benefits may go to people they don’t like? We’ll just have to see.

          1. tegnost

            “The question I have is will the people if flyover country rediscover compassion”
            um…compassion for who? And coastal people are compassionate? Also I think it’s long past the time when rural people figured out they were being screwed by some very much not compassionate coastal elites. Will they vote for something rather than nothing? I suspect they would. We’ll just have to see, I agree with you there.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          My mom considered all the issues, studied the candidates and their positions, and decided to support and work and vote for Adlai Stevenson.

          On election night she overheard two women sitting behind her on the bus: “I’m voting for Ike, he’s got a nice smile”.

          1. LifelongLib

            I can’t find a link, but there was a study that said there are enough voters like the ones your mom overheard to swing most elections. Scary.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Chris C – that contingent weren’t OFFERED “universal health-care, decent pay, and free post-sec education,” were they? They were offered Hillary vs. Trump – for decades now. This is the essential thesis of “What’s the Matter w/ Kansas:” if they aren’t offered populist policies, they vote on “culture.” Hard to blame them, though the implicit cruelty is offensive.

        This is the fundamental trap presented by the 2-Party, once they’re both bought out. And I remember Eizenstat’s name; same-old, same-old; not even that good at it, or he would have risen further. He’s one year older than I am, incidentally.

      3. Massinissa

        “usually from the working class who will reject on principle any humanistic-oriented policy–that’s why they voted for Trump.”

        They voted for Trump because the alternative was Hillary who was basically a shit sandwich of a candidate. She didn’t ‘offer’ policies of any kind other than the centrist BS her husband peddled, certainly not anything ‘humanist oriented’.

        Maybe if they were ACTUALLY offered ‘humanist oriented policies’ like Medicare for All or free college rather than whatever it is Hillary, Kerry, Dukakis et al offered they might actually voter for it.

        1. newcatty

          Agree about the last potus general election. It was a vote for the lesser of the two evils. In our acquaintance there are people who wholly identify as Republican. This is not just of, “the greatest generation.”..The kids and grandkids, too. These people voted for Trump. What did Hillary have to offer? The ironic thing is that even though Trump is scoundrel and an elite; he did not talk down to them. So, he’s a player…that is to be admired. More irony: the people we know, and almost all of their family, friends and cohorts are also players of the system. A good job is outsourced or is crappified… that’s the way of “big business”. It’s cool, cause we all just work under the table…wink, wink. Or way under the table…ha,ha. So, we are all on Medicare and/or Medicaid. We get snap when we can…snap! We get free lunches, paid for sports activities, etc. For all the kids. They deserve it. We think it’s smart to eat road kill and one of us always gets our hunting tags. We love the free food at our local food banks. We think we are totally cleaver and could care less, if someone on the bubble to not qualify for the big government handouts, work hard and have no healthcare, or expensive crappy insurance and no free lunches. We have told these “folks” that Medicare, ss, Medicaid, snap and the rest could be in jeapordy for us all. They laugh. Unfortunately, they also laugh at any mention of climate change, perpetual war ( love the military…some kids in it) and don’t hide contempt for anyone not white in their community. Maybe, a real progressive could appeal to them. Not holding my lib tard breath.

    4. Jeff W

      Stuart Eizenstat is 76.

      It’s the same tired old establishment Democratic appeals to “moderation,” “pragmatism,” “unity” and against “maximalism” (a sibling of “purism,” I guess) and “inflexibility,” all meant to shut down anything but the slightest incremental change. (“Maximalism,” when it came to abolishing slavery or child labor in the 19th century or eradicating smallpox in the 20th, doesn’t seem half-bad to me. And I think some “inflexibility” when it comes to, say, air safety right about now is probably a good thing.)

      The “pragmatic” solution to health care, to me, would be one that has shown its effectiveness in other advanced countries around the world. And, with regard to climate change, as comedian Ron Placone says, “There’s nothing pragmatic about an incremental solution for a catastrophic problem.“ If the call is for “unity,” for averting “civil war,” then I’d think the reasonable, not to mention, ahem, democratic, thing to do would be to “unify” around those policies that have overwhelming support within the party—and, not incidentally, in the country as a whole. (We don’t even have to mention that neoliberal policies, ushered in President Carter and apparently favored by the writer, brought us to the disastrous situation in nearly every area that we have today. It’s not like we haven’t seen the consequences of what Stu Eizenstat is peddling—we have.)

      Is anyone outside the Democratic establishment bubble buying this shtick anymore, really?

      1. Carey

        Very good comment. My impression is that our elites, represented in this case by
        Mister Eisenstat, still believe that they can slow-walk the great many of us to an early oblivion.

        “How’s your sleep, Stu? Here’s a scrip.”

        1. Jeff W

          Thanks, Carey!

          …our elites…still believe that they can slow-walk the great many of us to an early oblivion.

          Oh, sure, I agree completely. I just wish the arguments weren’t so dopey and patently false.

          I’d actually have a bit more respect for Eizenstat or these Washington establishment-types if they just came clean and said, “Look, it doesn’t matter to us, those of us who shape and make policy, how many of you want Medicare-for-All, how much sense it makes, how many lives it will save. It doesn’t matter to us what the imperatives of climate change demand. We won’t change anything that prevents rivers of cash from flowing in. So stop wasting your time and thinking that the system is ‘broken’; it works—for us.”* Realistic futility is, perhaps, more effective than empty platitudes about “unity” and “pragmatism.”

          *I’ve said before, I always thought the subtext of the “pragmatism” of the 2016 Clinton campaign was “I’m corrupt enough to know ‘how things work’ in Washington and can get the allowable things done.”

  11. Samuel Conner

    re: the Venezuela power grid instability: I have lately been getting served ads for the National Guard that depict a young Guardsman restoring power to a blacked-out hospital using a mobile power generation module. The tag-line is that the National Guard serves the community.

    I wonder whether someone among TPTB is getting anxious about foreign interventions in the US power infrastructure. If we are doing this to other nations, it’s not hard to imagine that tit-for-tat reactions may eventually arise.

    1. human

      It’s propaganda to inculcate a sense of “Responsibilty to Protect,” and send “humanitarian” aid, in the form of the US National Guard to Venezuela particularly as their damaged power grid is in the news. Just ask Puerto Rico or Haiti, “What could go wrong?”

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      The Grid is fragile and grows more fragile as utility companies reduce their maintenance and repair budgets. The Market applied to electric power fashions the Grid for disaster. One utility in the Midwest failed in its tree-trimming duties, there was a bug — a race condition — in a utility’s computer program and we had the 2003 Northeast Blackout.

      1. JBird4049

        And we do not make such things as those large transformers or at least not many of them. Get an earthquake or a flood and it might take up to two years to replace an entire station. If China is still willing to sell the transformers to us.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Perhaps suburban people who live in real houses with real roofs on them and real yards around them should start to think about installing stand-alone solar electric systems charging good-old heavy banks of plain vanilla batteries and powering some DC-based appliances around the house fed by DC wires from the batteries.

          Forget about “selling power back to the utility”. Think about surviving when there is no utility there . . . either for a while or for good.

    3. JBird4049

      I remember my Dad saying he was always nervous when the camouflage on the military vehicles at the local base was changed. In that case from the regular green pattern to desert tan just as the drumbeat was getting strong for Iran a few decades back. Back and forth went the camouflage on the trucks when we drove by. Changing to the news reports on the radio.

      With apologies to Carly Simon, I keep hearing her song…


      We can never know about the days to come
      But we think about them anyway
      And I wonder if I’m really with you now
      Or just chasing after some finer day.

      Anticipation, Anticipation
      Is making me late
      Is keeping me waiting

    1. Shonde

      I have only read the first part of your link but it certainly puts a new light on why nothing came of Carter’s push for action on climate change and why we are where we are today facing potential extinction.

      The piece describes Carter as the first president picked by the people (sad) so is Trump the second president picked by the people and is the same treachery why Trump never got his wall funding in the first two years when his party controlled both houses of Congress?

      Excellent read by the way. Thanks. That Politico piece by Eizenstat is really a piece of crap since I could immediately recognize all the arguments through the years that have given us our ever more right of center Democratic politicians. The oligarch grip is tightening.

      1. dcblogger

        Trump was chosen by the Electoral College, Hillary won the popular vote by a margin of 3 million.

    2. richard

      Dang dc, thank you for that link! imnsho, Liberty Under Siege best describes the 70’s Reaction: how elites recaptured the dem party for oligarchic use and only oligarchic use.
      I didn’t read the entire awful politico article, so didn’t catch the reference to identity politics, but I think the key to understanding how a party is being “torn” is always in thinking about whose doing the tearing. The full public reaction to the blatantly undemocratic injustice of the ‘68 dem nomination process (unmentioned by politico writer/hack) led to some rules changes and democratic reforms in the party. The elites responded to the 2 most democratically chosen nominees in their party’s history by sabotaging both (though Karp’s book really doesn’t mention McGovern, I think it’s fair to say he was torpedoed too). So that’s one way of “tearing apart a party”. Quite another thing when less powerful figures “tear” a political party by demanding it recognize legitimate grievances.
      Anyway, I highly recommend this link, for a short taste of Walter Karp!

    3. pjay

      I’m sorry, since I think we all share a similar political orientation. But this article (and book) is very misleading. It is the mirror image of the Eizenstadt article, except instead of deluded “liberals” f**king things up, it is the right-wingers of the Committee on the Present Danger and their Democrat allies who kept Carter from achieving his “progressive” goals.

      The right-wing Team B coalition was certainly real. And Carter was an “outsider” of sorts to the Congressional Club. But he was selected and supported by the Eastern Elite — esp. Rockefeller interests of the Trilateral Commission/Council on Foreign Relations crowd. This is not “conspiracy theory” but very well documented. Many TLC members staffed his administration, most notably Brzezinski who, as we all know today, left a considerable legacy in foreign policy. This was a “Yankee-Cowboy” elite dispute in many ways. On domestic issues, Carter was a conservative *obstacle* *to policies pushed by progressive Democrats in Congress (health care, full employment, etc.). Though Karp’s description of Congressional Conservatives is not wrong, Carter and most of his administration were corporate Democrats in the DLC mold before the DLC was created. The first “supply-side” tax cuts occurred under Carter, as did the appointment of Volker and obsession with inflation and budget “discipline.”

      I would agree with many that Carter has been a decent “ex-President” when compared to the money-grubbing elitists that followed. But his administration was the beginning of the Democrat model that would be perfected with Clinton and continued under Obama.

      1. pjay

        Adding: Eizenstadt was a key policy adviser in the Carter administration. His views, reflected in his miserable article, were those of Carter as well.

      2. richard

        The political actions Karp describes in his book, the neo-cons who derailed SALT II, the scuttling of his Consumer Protection Agency legislation, the blocked energy policy, all happened within Carter’s own party. His own party decided his fate, and handed things over, implicitly but also rather obviously, to a vicious gang of repub thugs. That would be Karp’s main point, I think.
        I don’t think Karp saw Carter as particularly “progressive”, or even if he saw progressive as a good thing. He died about 30 years ago and framed things very differently anyway. He was very “left”, but not in an economic/marxist sense at all. He tended to think arguments about history that relied on the concept of “omnipotent corrupting captialists” were a dodge. Karp actually also used the idea of a mirror image to explain that the idea that “politicians have no power, because the rich oligarchs control them” (a prevalent idea among some leftists in the 60’s and 70’s) is functionally the same as saying “the politicians have no power, because they represent the will of the people, and the people are cruel and ignorant”. It takes all agency out of the politican’s actions, and let’s them completely off the hook. He framed things always in terms of a government of free citizens; I think that he assumed that in the late 20th century this would take the form of democratic socialism, but that was never his prime good. The prime good for him would be good (not corrupt) government.
        I agree Carter’s government was well staffed with thugs; Zbig the Apparently Deathless high among the list. By the time the voting (mostly democratic) was over in ‘76, before even the convention, the party was already moving in and taking over. There were also good guys like Cy Vance. I don’t know that I’d count carter as a dlc type, just because he was the guy who got knifed, and they were the guys who seem to profit from the knifing. But I can’t argue with points on early neo-liberalism.
        Sorry I went on and on, but I wasn’t sure from your comment if you’d read the book, so I wanted to clarify and expand.

        1. pjay

          Thanks for the elaboration. I was familiar with Karp’s work from years ago and had read several of his articles. I never read the entire book from which this excerpt comes, though I did read the entire excerpt linked above. I am sympathetic to his argument about the conservative forces arrayed against him, but I do not see Carter as quite the weak innocent Karp does. He did have some powerful supporters in the “oligarchy” himself. As I implied, I think a lot of what was going on was intra-elite conflict in a period of major policy upheaval. And I agree that this conflict was reflected within his administration as well, especially in the Brzezinski vs. Vance battle. But on economic policy I see him as a precursor to the Democratic administrations to come. He bought the era of limits argument and some of the increasingly prominent criticisms of regulation and postwar Keynesianism

      3. pretzelattack

        i don’t think they were really pushing healthcare, and kennedy slashed ike’s taxes, intervened over the globe, almost got us in a war with russia, etc. the rot didn’t start under carter.

        1. pjay

          Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, etc… you are certainly right that the rot didn’t start under Carter (I’d argue that Kennedy kept us *out* of a war with Russia, though). But the depiction of the Carter administration in the article was misleading. There were many progressive policy options being pushed in Congress, and opportunities in the post-Watergate period (as with Obama after Bush and the Crash) — these did include health care, as well as full employment, major labor law reform, major consumer legislation, etc. The Carter administration resisted these (along with conservative and neoliberal Democrats and most Republicans, to be fair) choosing to stand for responsibility, restraint, and smaller government. He did have some bad luck with inflation, Iran, and sabotage. And the regime to follow was certainly worse. But Eizenstat’s worldview pretty accurately reflects that of the Carter administration.

      4. Oregoncharles

        Yes. Carter deserved to lose. It’s just that we didn’t deserve Reagan.

        An important point: Reagan is blamed for neoliberal economic policies. But wages departed from productivity (they were in lockstep until then) 3 years before Reagan was elected. No wonder Carter lost – that, and knowingly precipitating the Teheran Hostage Crisis, then botching the response.

        He’s been trying to make up for his presidency ever since. He gets credit for that – but he can’t, not really.

        1. Efmo

          Carter signed the airline deregulation act in 1978. I think he started the deregulation ball rolling that Reagan gets all the credit for.

        2. Carey

          “deserved to lose”? I’m not at all sure of that.
          I voted for Anderson.
          Wish I’d voted for Carter, but ATT hoped to slow the MIC.


    4. JohnnyGL

      Interesting link. A little dense and insider-y, but still decent.

      TL:DR version that I got out of it — top Dem Congressional leaders, union leaders, war-hawk repubs, and a little help from CIA top brass worked to undermine President Carter, and helped open the door for Supply-side faux-populist cranks to grab the reigns of power for the Reagan ascent.

      So, I’ll try to consider the state of play and compare it to today’s environment, in the event of a Sanders ascent to the presidency (dare to dream!) I think there’s some commonalities, but important differences.

      Not in the article, but also important in Carter’s demise: 1) the Federal Reserve a) rate hikes from Paul Volcker and b) implementation of credit controls. 2) Oil commodity cycle timing and 3) Iran-contra pre-cursor hostage taking back-stabbing by Reagan-ites in the run up to the election as documented by Robert Parry, but this is a nice summary (not written by him)

      in common:
      -damaged political establishment, but still powerful
      -war fatigue
      -cold war smears from hawks about going soft
      -outsider prez elected seen as different from usual DC-insiders
      -team dem willing to work with repubs to undermine popular prez from their own party
      -fiscal, monetary and real policy space opened up from war wind-downs (Sanders can free up this space, if he wants to).

      -Brzezinski was an inside mole who was hugely hawkish, arguably worked to undermine Carter’s push for peace, and Carter stuck with him.
      -Sanders has built a parallel organizational structure, outside the party
      -everyone already knows Sanders and top congressional dems hate each other
      -top congressional leadership is deeply discredited and tin-eared
      -repubs are completely out of ideas, still recycling tax cuts and defense spending hikes from Reagan-era.
      -unions much weaker, less right-wing.
      -Carter was committed to ‘fiscal responsibility’, which weakened him. Lots of push/pull factors around the budget moving in different directions. Sanders will face pressure from pro-MMT types who want to push the gas pedal, hard. Post-Trump, no one believes anyone who says they’re in favor of ‘fiscal responsibility’.

      MMT was freshly introduced and not well understood (really by anyone) after Nixon closed the gold window. Also, US had run into real capacity constraints around energy prices/supplies…then hit more constraints around wheat prices and supplies. In today’s environment, price stability is firmly entrenched (in a sense) and the economy’s energy price sensitivity is way down.

      1. JohnnyGL

        My only critique/comment to the above view of what basically reads as “how the insiders killed the Carter Presidency, in excerpts” would be the above additional factors that weren’t under consideration listed in my paragraph that starts with “Not in the article…”

        1. urblintz

          Carter, who tried to do some good as president and did much good after his presidency was, alas, the first neo-liberal Democratic POTUS.. He signed the Motor Carrier Act (and act often attributed to the odious Reagan) which allowed trucking companies to bust unions (especially port unions) so they could replace unionized truckers with non-union independent contractors. As I recall he also supported “right to work” laws, also anti-union and was overly fond of de-regulation. He did indeed appoint Volcker (re-appointed by Reagan) and gave us Brzezinski as well as initiating the “Carter Doctrine” which asserted US control over middle east oil as a “vital interest to the USA” and for which military force was justified.

          1. pretzelattack

            also pushed for peace between israel and the palestinians, and the democrats were pushing neoliberal bills in congress before he got there. he was vilified as a communist sympathizer in his time, not least by the neocons under democratic senator scoop jackson.

    5. Chris Cosmos

      A relative working in Congress who knew all the players told me back in the day that “everyone” was opposed to Carter and all he stood for particularly his focus on “human rights.” My only question on the article which I did not read in full but scanned was that this was not simply a Democratic Party thing–across the aisle collegiality was strong in those days. Washington as a total state had begun to form into what it is today what some call the Deep State that includes the media, lobbyists, the various interest groups, and, above all, the spooks and military industrial complex.

      Interestingly, it was from that time that we saw the movement of money from the working and middle classes towards the very rich and other trends that have been unbroken since then, i.e., productivity growth with wage stagnation and other ills. It was also well-known that the Soviet Union was no longer the threat it once was and the land of spooks did what they could to prop up the “threat” which worked very well then and now and, I’m sure, will continue to work. Just witness the extraordinary hostility in media towards Tulsi Gabbard’s rather mild critique of Imperial policy.

      1. Montanamaven

        Unfortunately for Carter is that he was the President and the buck stops there. Under his watch, the US started the Shock Doctraine in earnest. Deregulation of airlines and trucking; raising the cap on what banks could charge in interest on credit led to (with stagnate wages) the working class going deeper and deeper into debt; Volcker’s policies were a disaster for most Americans especially farmers who were encouraged to buy more land with sky high interest rates because we would “feed the world.” I don’t remember reading anything about Carter threatening all kinds of vetoes on these terrible neo-liberal ideas by Milton Friedman. I think it’s in Doug Henwoord’s book “Wall Street” that he talks about how “saving New York City” was actually more Shock Doctraine. (Although he didn’t use that term as he wrote the book in 1997).
        I was young and stupid politically so I thought it was really cool that he cared about “human rights”. If only he had cared about USAians and how he helped rig the system against them.

    6. Hopelb

      Thank you for this! Wonderful writing AND great analysis! There’s nothing better than that. I’ll give you all the credit when I post it on reddit subs.

  12. jfleni

    RE: County Board Approves Amazon Incentive Package;

    Arlington used to be a nice area; now, don’t forget to pack your
    p– bottles!

    1. Craig H.

      The article was well done and the comments were even good!

      There was a refrain on “good for Arlington”. The tone reads to me like a six year old being told to sit down and shut up “if you know what is good for you”.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Italy probes mystery death of Berlusconi sex trial witness”

    So this woman was murdered with “a mixture of radioactive substances which are not normally available for purchase”. Now why would the Russians murder an Italian model?

  14. Alex

    That’s a global trend btw. Russia has also used ‘private contractors’ extensively in Syria and elsewhere (see Wagner Group)

  15. Henry Moon Pie

    Stu Eizenstat hasn’t changed a bit. More than forty years ago, my spouse was a White House intern working for Joan Mondale and her effort to promote the arts. Joan got a little populist (sounding like a New Deal Democrat) and her words were reported in the press, so old Stu came over from the West Wing to set things straight in the EOB. “Cool it,” he instructed the Second Lady. And she did.

    Wouldn’t you think that anyone who’s had a leadership role in the disastrous decline of this country since 1976 would STFU as we experience a decline in life expectancy and PermaWar, not to mention that the end of civilization can now be clearly seen on a not-so-distant horizon? But no, the Stus of the world still feel entitled to instruct us proles about the dos and don’ts of politics.

    1. katiebird

      I am having flashbacks to my 70s rage. How DARE he blame liberals for wanting a universal government paid healthcare.

      He lies that it was about inflation in 1976. It was about Jimmy Carter and his pals not caring that lots of people in this country could not get or afford the healthcare they needed and deserved. He says, those liberals… they didn’t want our crumbs and now look at the party….

      With that post Watergate super-majority, we could have had the Expanded Medicare for everyone for all these years. Instead, how many deaths, how many bankruptcies, how much suffering and fear? How many dollars sent to insurance companies for their extortion? I blame this all on Jimmy Carter and his devotion to a balanced budget. And none of the so called progressive BS mentioned in that Political article can make up for it.

      1. pjay

        This article is about as bad as it gets. No right-wing Republican could write anything that would make me as mad as this epitome of corporate Democrat tripe. It is true Eisenstadt wants to eschew “identity politics” — so that we can go back to the “bipartisan” centrism that has worked so well for most of us over the last 40 years:

        “A successful Democratic presidential candidate might take a leaf from Carter’s playbook, even more successfully accomplished by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, to appeal to both sides of the party’s coalition to attract and hold moderate Americans tired of partisanship…”

        I encourage everyone to read this article (if you can keep your breakfast down). It is an educational history lesson for us deluded lefties. I have no doubt Eizenstadt believes every word.

        1. Carey

          Yes, with “Democrats” like this…

          but then, that why Eisenstat’s tripe got published.

          holding action, seen immediately as failing

          “he’s dead, Jim..”

      2. flora

        hell, even Richard Nixon (not exactly a ‘pinko’ liberal) in 1974 proposed universal health coverage.

        From the Boston Globe:

        When Richard Nixon was a teenager, he watched two of his brothers die. His little brother went first, at age 7, of a sudden and mysterious illness. Then his big brother died at age 22, after a long battle with tuberculosis. It was the 1920s. Health insurance hardly existed. The sicknesses sapped his parents’ meager resources. His mother stopped baking pies for the family’s little grocery store to care full time for her ailing son. Nixon worked as a janitor to earn extra money, and turned down a scholarship to Harvard because it didn’t cover room and board.

        When Nixon, a staunch Republican, became president in 1969, he threw his weight behind health care reform.

        1. Cal2

          Read Family of Secrets by Russ Baker to see how the Republican Party destroyed Nixon for many of the same reasons the Democrats are trying to destroy Sanders. –Clean Air Act, E.P.A., proposing health care, etc.

          Tidbit, Donations to local Republicans were put in envelopes and pre-presidential candidate Dick Nixon got to hand them out.
          Future culpability when Watergate “happened”;
          The most intelligence experienced operatives in the world leaving a horizontal strip of duct tape, to hold the locking mechanism open, around the outer face of the door so that a security guard could not help but see it?

          Never in my wildest political dreams did I think I would look back on Dick Nixon with fondness.

          1. Duck1

            Silent Coup by Len Colodny is also interesting regarding the termination of the Nixon presidency.

          2. Wukchumni

            If only Tricky Dick knew that my father existed, surely pops would have made it on his enemy list, oh how he relished his role as a secret badmirer…

            I mean to say, how many of your fathers threw an impromptu party on August 9, 1974, as mine did?

            Last year my Congressman Kevin McCarthy sent his young goons to town to inform us of on goings on, and evade all questions, so I thought i’d take a different tack, and stood up and related that we shouldn’t gut the EPA, as it was started by a Republican President-Nixon, and that would’ve set an ugly precedent in backwardation, were the Congressman to let that happen. I told of the awful air quality in L.A. when I was growing up, where I couldn’t see the San Gabriel mountain range that was a straight shot 25 miles away, more than a total of 10 days per annum when I was 10.

            As with all of the questions, the 30 somethings from his office were able to slip my trap without missing a beat, having had their consciences surgically removed, prior to accepting the position.

            I was wary of lightning striking me dead inside the building, having supported Nixon, but I think my dad was smiling at the sheer ridiculousness of what has become of us from his perch, a photo of which is in the link below-the 6th photo down-Great Western Divide, in a place known as Hanging Garden, just to the right of the trees, not a bad place to be for all eternity.


            1. The Rev Kev

              So we have now reached the point that Richard Nixon is being seen as a ‘lefty’ President? And Archie Bunker was right all along? Certainly his judgment of the ‘meathead’ has turned out to be prescient. If I could go back to that era and tell my younger self the politics of this era, I am not sure that I would believe it.

      3. JohnnyGL

        Hey there, not sure if you read about how he ‘smelled the stink bombs in ’68’.

        That’s the full weight of experience, authority and gravitas being brought to bare, right there! I mean, how could you know any better? If you’d smelled those stink bombs, (and gotten yourself a sweet gig at Covington and Burling) you’d have learned the right lessons!

        I love the part where the problem was that Kennedy wouldn’t throw down for Obamacare in the 70s! Since Obamacare did NOT solve the problem, perhaps the author would like to reconsider whether Carter’s plan was going to prove inadequate, just like Obamacare has proven to be?!?!?!

        The answer, of course, is no. The narrative is always to beat the left into playing ball, and if that doesn’t work, blame the left again for it’s refusal to be housebroken even more.

        Democrats can’t fail! They can only BE FAILED by a left that won’t shut up.

        Perhaps the real lesson is to stop giving credibility to those who’ve evidently learned all the wrong lessons from events from many decades ago, and refused to learn anything from more recent history, or even admit that their own record of involvement in politics consists of one failure after another.

        pjay below says these dem apparatchiks get his blood boiling. I have a different reaction. I just smirk and shake my head. All I see is failed insiders giving more advice to stay the course and keep on failing some more. No one who matters will have their mind changed by this, but those already on his side will have their predilections reinforced.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          I’ve all but abandoned politics…outside of my little county, and the occasional irate email to the republican nutjobs who “represent”/resent me from local all the way to DC.
          the elite parasites they really work for(bipartisan, that!) won’t allow good things or good people…so what’s the point?
          as is my wont, I think of Toynbee and Spengler and the life cycle of empires and consider that these things we’ve allowed to be constructed and given some semblance of life…from corporations to nation states and even our global civilisation itself…can no longer be altered by us’n’s using any of the approved mechanisms still laying about.
          I agree with that linked vox interview, that Millenials(and those of us older folks who remain conscious) will either have to become fascists or revolutionaries….no other choices are left.
          ergo, it’s gonna fall to bits at some point.
          per the Archdruid, I’ve chosen to “collapse now, and avoid the rush”.

  16. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert, for the link to the Deutsche and Commerzbank merger. We / DB received the CEO’s confirmation just before midday. If it was not for the Brexit uncertainty, there would have been an exodus from the bank’s UK operations.

  17. JacobiteInTraining

    Regarding Boeing – that whole situation will play out the way it plays out, at the macro level, but at the micro level I am thinking about my downstairs neighbors.

    Young guy, his wife, with a couple kids, and a dog. Always seems very pleasant, the family is very friendly and doesn’t seem to have any obvious foibles – the kids all seem motivated and cool when I talk to them.

    The wife works somewhere, don’t know where – while the guy had been a house-husband over the last year or so, taking care of the kids, keeping the home fires burning, and all of that. Based on the reliable but very aged nature of their 2 cars, they were not raking in any dough….or if they are they are very thrifty and/or good at hiding it.

    In any case they seem like a good bedrock kind of family group – the kind that is trying to play by the rules and get a leg up for themselves and their family. Maybe they even want to get a house someday with a picket fence.

    I remember the husband being very proud about the new job he got about 4 months ago – in Renton at Boeing, where amongst various things I believe they make 737 MAX.

    Hope the decisions of potentially corrupt executives don’t end up canceling out the efforts of good people like this family in the rank-and-file – and someday soon lose this poor guy his new manufacturing job.

    But they probably will.

    1. Mel

      Similar thing with the electoral concerns around SNC-Lavalin. Great Corporations get to use employees and pension holders as human shields between the corporation and the consequences for what the corporation does.

  18. stefan

    A passing quote:
    In “A Non-Euclidean View,” Le Guin cited a writer and folklorist who described a saying among some members of the Cree people:

    Usà puyew usu wapiw!
    “He goes backward, looks forward.”

    The phrase is used to describe “the thinking of a porcupine as he backs into a rock crevice.” The author in question, Howard A. Norman, wrote that “the porcupine consciously goes backward in order to speculate safely on the future, allowing him to look out at his enemy or the new day. To the Cree, it’s an instructive act of self-preservation.”

    For Le Guin, the expression became a kind of watchword. “In order to speculate safely on an inhabitable future,” she wrote, “perhaps we would do well to find a rock crevice and go backward. In order to find our roots, perhaps we should look for them where roots are usually found.”

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Boeing 737 Crashes Raise Tough Questions on Aircraft Automation”

    I am thinking that this crash was a watershed moment. Not only for Boeing but for American aviation in general. Instead of grounding this jet as has been normal practice in the past, Boeing tried to do an end run and have Trump keep it flying. Why, I have no idea as it could then only be used in the US and Canada. The rest of the world no longer trusts the FAA anymore and it appears to be extending into air crash investigations. The US wanted the black boxes but the Ethiopians balked and sent them to France instead. I hope that this was not based on an earlier incident.
    Those 737s are going to be hanger queens the next few months as hundreds have been delivered already with orders for about 5 thousand more in the pipeline ( Maybe older jets will have their service lives extended and planes leased from other airlines. If it goes on long enough, some may be brought out of storage. What it also does is to open the door for other new aircraft to come in and snap up some of those orders. The Russians have a new plane called the MC-21 almost ready to go but which has been held up by sanctions. Forbes did an article on it a few months ago and it might solve the problems of sanctioned countries like Iran in need of updating their aerial fleets-

    1. tegnost

      the fight between the us and ethiopia over the black box was an eye opener to me, and as you suggest, a phase change?

    2. 737 Pilot

      Reference the wholesale grounding of all or portions of an aircraft fleet, this is actually a rare event even when a design or maintenance issue is discovered. In most cases, the typical response is to put in place procedures or inspections to mitigate the problem until a permanent fix is executed.

      Back in the early ’90s, the 737 experienced two fatal accidents and several incidents related to uncommanded rudder movement. More than 7 years elapsed until the NTSB was able to identify the likely cause (a previously unknown failure mode of the rudder Power Control Unit) and order the appropriate remedy. The ordered repairs were not completed until 2002 – over 10 years after the first accident. In the meantime, procedures were developed to mitigate the threat of an uncommanded rudder event during critical phases of flight. Notably, the 737 fleet was never grounded during this period.

      Given the information that has been released to date, I am mostly in the camp that the 737 MAX grounding was unnecessary. If the chief concern is uncommanded MCAS activation, then we now have both the information and the procedures to respond to another MCAS related event. That wasn’t true prior to the Lion Air crash.

      I am not defending what appears to be a poor MCAS design nor the initial decision to withhold information about MCAS from the flight crews. I am still concerned about the extent that Boeing, the FAA, and the airlines have gone to minimize the apparent differences (and hence training) between the MAX and earlier 737 models. However, specific to the known MCAS issues, now that I am armed with information about the system, its failure modes, and procedures to counter an uncommanded MCAS activation, I would not have reservations about flying the 737 MAX.

      1. marku52

        Except that after the Lion crash, and the “discovery” of MCAS, you would think that every 737 pilot on the planet would have rehearsed how to recognize MCAS and turn it off in his sleep.

        But the Ethiopian plane crashed anyway, and apparently from the same MCAS cause.

        And there is the odd bit about multiple occurrence of failed angle of attack sensors on what are very new aircraft.

        Other pilots are reporting dangerous behavior in autopilot, where MCAS is disabled. (google “Don’t sink, Don’t sink”)

        Still not clear what all is going on. And the real crime is that such a failed piece of poorly designed software was ever approved as a band aid over poor stability in the first place.

        1. 737 Pilot

          And there is the odd bit about multiple occurrence of failed angle of attack sensors on what are very new aircraft.

          There is actually a perfectly reasonable explanation for why this problem has afflicted some new aircraft. In the Lion Air crash, the faulty AOA sensor was on the left side. It will be interesting to see if the same is true for the Ethiopian Airlines plane.


          The left AOA sensor is among a group of three sensors toward the nose of the aircraft that is not that far from the area where the jetbridge and/or air stairs would be mated to the aircraft as part of the boarding process. There have been cases in the past where careless maneuvering of this equipment has damaged one or more of these sensors. I do not know what kind of training the ground personnel of Lion Air or Ethiopian receive or whether they would appreciate the consequences of incidental damage to one of these probes.

          The opportunity for damage to the external AOA probe is the same for the MAX as for the earlier model 737. However, the other non-MAX 737 aircraft do not have MCAS, and thus a bad AOA sensor would not result in a system trimming the aircraft nose down as the result of an erroneous input.

        2. 737 Pilot

          Except that after the Lion crash, and the “discovery” of MCAS, you would think that every 737 pilot on the planet would have rehearsed how to recognize MCAS and turn it off in his sleep.

          Yes, I agree. After Lion Air, every 737 crew should have been capable of handling this scenario. IMHO, the Ethiopian crew was set up to fail.

          It has been widely reported that the First Officer in the Ethiopian accident had around 200 hours of flight time. I do not know if this included time in training. Scheduled airline pilots routinely log 200 hours of flight time in 2-3 months. In the U.S. you must have 1500 hours just to get in the door as a pilot for a commercial airline. The average new hire at my airline has well over 3000 hours of experience. Putting a pilot with a mere 200 hours in the right seat of a B-737 borders on the criminally negligent in that it created a situation where there was effectively one pilot operating a two-pilot aircraft.

          Frankly, I would rather have a sack of potatoes in the right seat than someone with this level of experience. At a minimum, a sack of potatoes is not likely to 1) panic or get highly emotional, 2) misdiagnose the situation, 3) “assist” the Captain in some way that was not helpful, or 4) incorrectly execute a critical procedure.

          Let me give you a vivid description why the First Officer’s lack of experience may have been the final link that led to this accident. For the following discussion it is important to note that the stab trim cutout switches are on the First Officer’s side of the throttle quadrant. From the Captain’s perspective, these switches are not very prominent, and it is a bit fiddly for him to reach over there and activate them unless he has practiced that motion repeatedly.

          The Captain was likely flying the accident aircraft (which would have been challenging given the circumstances). If the AOA system had (falsely) indicated an impending stall, the “stick shaker” would have activated which creates a lot of noise and makes it difficult to fly the aircraft one-handed. Therefore, the Captain probably had both hands on the yoke. Initially, there will be some confusion as to what is really going on. After all, the aircraft really could be approaching a stall for a number of reasons. As the Captain is trying to control the aircraft, MCAS kicks in and the control column forces start getting heavier (as in nose down heavy). The Captain attempts to retrim the aircraft. MCAS pauses, and then starts trimming the aircraft nose down again. This cycle repeats. At some point, the Captain may realize that he has an uncommanded trim situation. He also has both his hands full with a vibrating yoke that is getting heavier. If he takes one hand off of that yoke for a second, then the aircraft nose will drop even further.

          Assuming he correctly identified the problem (faulty AOA, uncommanded MCAS), and the correct solution (activate the stab trim cutout switches), the Captain has two choices. Either he tries to direct (with a very noisy, vibrating stick shaker going off in the cockpit) the First Officer to move the switches and hope it gets done correctly, or he diverts his attention from his primary job of flying the aircraft, removes his right, and probably stronger, hand from the control column (nose drops), and attempts to activate the switches himself.

          Did I mention that the First Officer was about as green as they come?

          If they have gotten this far and the aircraft is still in a recoverable position, now they have a plane that is horribly out of trim (i.e. it wants to dive into the dirt and requires lots of back pressure on the yoke to maintain level flight). Lucky for them, the 737 has a manual trim wheel. They simply need to deploy a handle and start cranking the trim wheel like an old fashion coffee grinder.

          Did I mention the Captain has his hands full of a noisy, vibrating yoke trying not to let the nose drop any further?

          This is not a one-person job. One pilot must maintain control of the yoke (and hence the aircraft) while the other attempts to trim the aircraft in the correct direction. Inexperienced pilots have been known to initially trim in the wrong direction. It is also not easy. For mechanical reasons, the more out of trim the stabilizer is, the harder it is to move the trim wheel. In extreme case, the flying pilot actually has to release pressure on the control column (nose drops further) to let the non-flying pilot crank the trim wheel. This is a highly coordinated effort, but it can be accomplished fairly quickly if both pilots know what they are doing.

          Once the trim problem is stabilized, the crew still has a fair amount of work ahead of them to get the aircraft back on the ground. This will also require the coordinated effort of both pilots.

          This malfunction is absolutely survivable, but you really need two properly trained crew members working together to have a decent chance.

            1. 737 Pilot

              True, but he was still effectively single pilot in a two-pilot aircraft.

              Under benign conditions, a well-prepared, alert and properly trained pilot might have been able to deal with this emergency all by him/herself. But let me emphasize, once again, that the amount of things going on in the cockpit in this scenario are potentially overwhelming. I’ve been flying transport aircraft for over 30 years, and I would not wanted to handle this situation on my own.

              Large commercial aircraft are designed around a crew concept for a reason. Handicapping the crew with a highly inexperienced First Officer was negligent at best, criminal at worst.

              1. Carey

                Almost like the duties require a Captain, First Officer, and Flight Engineer on a commercial passenger aircraft.

            2. Basil Pesto

              In case you are confused, Anon, First Officer (co-pilot, 200hrs flight time) is not the same as a Captain (pilot, 8000hrs flight time)

              If you’re accusing our 737 pilot here of being mistaken or dishonest about the pilot’s logged flying time, then you’ve misread his post. If not, I apologise, but the point about the captain having 8000 logged hours isn’t really germane to what our pilot friend is saying, as I think he’s more than adequately explained.

              (while I’m at it, many thanks to our pilot friend for the fascinating insight)

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        I am not a pilot. I would not fly on a 737 MAX, perhaps ever. Flying has become a truly miserable experience. That combined with my growing lack of faith in the FAA and what was once our premier aircraft maker makes me wary of ever flying again if I can avoid it.

        1. 737 Pilot

          Strictly from a passenger comfort standpoint, I don’t like riding in the back of a MAX either. It has one of the most uncomfortable cabin configurations in the fleet. However, the quality of the passenger experience is a separate issue from safe operation of the aircraft itself.

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            Don’t know if I’d say they are separate issues. Both derive from short term profits uber alles, no?

            Another candidate:

            If it’s from Seattle, you’ll be treated like cattle.

      3. Carla

        “now that I am armed with information about the system, its failure modes, and procedures to counter an uncommanded MCAS activation, I would not have reservations about flying the 737 MAX.”

        Good to know. But I have a feeling that because of the way this was [mis]handled, you may not have a chance. Because for you to pilot the plane would require paying customers willing to ride, and I don’t know that the 737 MAX will ever have those again.

        People saw clearly, many for the first time, that the FAA is just a subsidiary of Boeing. Their eyes are open, now.

        1. tegnost

          hmm. It’s too bad there’s no mechanism by which boeing could sue the government for profits lost due to the grounding…

          1. Carla

            Trump only grounded the 737 Max’s after the Boeing CEO called him and asked him to. Please keep straight who takes orders from whom in this country — it’s important!

            1. tegnost

              also I’ve been looking and citation of boeing ceo telling trump would be appreciated because I have not found that report. Did he call all the other countries who grounded the plane to make this demand as well?

        2. 737 Pilot

          Because for you to pilot the plane would require paying customers willing to ride, and I don’t know that the 737 MAX will ever have those again.

          Perhaps, but that hasn’t historically been the case. In most cases where an aircraft fleet is temporarily grounded, a fix is applied, it is returned to flying status, and within months the planes are just as full as they ever were.

          1. The Rev Kev

            What you say is quite true. Boeing will now spend the money that they should have years ago redesigning this system and I have no doubt that this bird will return to service. But there is a difference this time. Boeing has shown that they let the bean-counters and the marketing droids make operational decisions on an aircraft safety issue which will not be forgiven. The FAA has lost whatever respect that it still has internationally. The US has been shown not worthy of trust in the matter of reading black boxes which I think is huge. Compensation will have to be paid to the families of some 350 dead people and Boeing will lose god knows how many lucrative contracts as well as paying those airlines that have brand new planes that they cannot use. And I think that for a long time, pilots will be extremely wary about using the auto-pilot on this bird and I suspect that an unofficial procedure will arise where when this happens, the co-pilot will have his fingers ready to cut the circuit-breaker for it.

            1. 737 Pilot

              I think that for a long time, pilots will be extremely wary about using the auto-pilot on this bird

              Actually, the opposite. Turning on the autopilot disarms the MCAS. However, the aircraft has to be in a properly trimmed state before the autopilot can be engaged, so turning on the autopilot in the accident scenarios was not an available solution.

              1. The Rev Kev

                I was actually thinking of those two anonymous pilot reports where they said that they turned on the autopilot and straight away the cockpit warning came on saying “Don’t sink. Don’t sink”. If this was straight after take-off it would have made me think too of that saying about the three most useless things to a pilot – runway behind them, altitude above them, and a 1/10 of a second ago-


                By now they must have run this take-off scenario in a cockpit simulator a coupla times. I wonder what the results were?

                1. 737 Pilot

                  I’m aware of the reports you mentioned, but they are really not as big of a deal that some in the media are trying to portray. One of the reasons that commercial aviation has such an enviable safety record is because we operate under the assumption that systems can and will fail and that human beings can and will make mistakes. Given this approach, the trick is to build in enough redundancy, enough layers of protection that even multiple failures or errors will not lead to an accident.

                  The report cited above was an example of a system failure, but because of existing procedures (not engaging the autopilot until you are at a safe altitude) and training (what to do when the autopilot doesn’t engage correctly), it did not lead to an accident. The incident was duly reported so there an opportunity for the aviation community to learn from the event. Rather than this incident being evidence of an underlying problem, it is more correctly a demonstration of how the aviation safety culture is supposed to work.

                  1. The Rev Kev

                    That’s the whole problem, isn’t it? There was no redundancy built into the MCAS system and it had a single point of failure. Nor were crews told about the system and neither was it given its own section in the manual. And this was all by deliberate choice which was the underlying problem all along. That Ethiopian pilot is also coping a lot of flak because he couldn’t save his ship but just because he was Ethiopian does not mean that he was no good. This whole situation could just as easily happened over Milwaukee or Chicago and it would have been an American pilot under the gun whom the media would have tried to blame – with the help of Boeing and the FAA of course. I am labeling the whole 737 saga an inflexion point in world aviation and things will change now because of it.

                    1. 737 Pilot

                      I understand your frustration, however I feel compelled to point out that the aviation safety culture largely works as designed and has the result to prove it. Last time I checked, in the U.S. a little over 100 people die every day due to vehicular accidents.

                      100 people.

                      Every day.

                      How much collective gnashing of teeth do we have over this ugly statistic?

                      No matter how safe aviation has become, we still must guard against complacency. There have been notable failures in the commercial aviation safety culture, and people have died because of those failures. We owe it to the public to learn from those mistakes and try to make our industry even safer.

                      So you must pardon me if I respectfully disagree that the situation with the MAX is an “inflection point.” Fatal aviation accidents have happened in the past and they will happen again in the future. The important thing is that we learn the right lessons from these tragic events.

                  2. notabanker

                    how the aviation safety culture is supposed to work.

                    You are defending a myth. This poor design was dictated by competitive speed to market, intentionally withheld from pilots as a cost saving feature, was not redundant and political pressure was applied to certify it to the point of having the manufacturer perform crucial aspects of the certification. It killed a planeload of people, a software fix was promised within weeks wasn’t delivered and now a second plane has gone down. The FAA is being run by a lobbyist. The Ethiopians do not trust the NTSB to perform objective analysis on the flight recorders.

                    That is the actual culture in the US, right now, today.

                    1. 737 Pilot

                      The sentence you quote actually refers to a different incident in which no accident occurred. In this case, the system DID work.

                      I also said that despite these efforts, there will still be failures, and the current situation with the MAX is one of those failures.

                      However, in the aftermath of one of these failures, a extraordinary amount of effort will be put into determining the causes and putting in place procedures to avoid this type of failure in the future. And that is how the safety system is supposed to work as well.

                    2. notabanker

                      Yes, lessons will be learned.

                      Pilots must be better trained.
                      Gate operators must be better trained.
                      Software must be smarter.
                      Profits must be protected.
                      Bonuses must continue.

    3. notabanker

      I think if you go back to Clinton’s angst at Russia for inserting themselves in Syria and now Trump’s inability to get the Columbian’s to front the Venezuela invasion, the cracks are there.

      UK and France are a little pre-occupied. Netherlands are the No 2 exporter to Russia, only a few billion behind the Chinese. Germany is No 4 exporter to Russia and No 2 importer of Russian goods. German trade with Russia was up 24% in 2018 and continues to grow in 2019, despite US whining about sanctions.

      My personal speculation is that Venezuela is much more important than what is being reported and it sure seems like the Chinese have more influence in what is going on than what is going to be released by the West.

      WSJ is hyping $20 billion of outstanding loans. Those loans are payable in oil. 20 billion is chump change in a $12 trillion economy. They want the oil, and those reserves are huge. Look at the Chinese diplomatic quotes: Beijing was opposed to “hegemonism and interventionism.”

      Now we have Boeing and white supremacist exports to NZ. We are living in interesting times.

      1. johnnygl

        Back a few months, the russians sent a few long range bombers to pay a visit to venezuela when the rhetoric had heated up, but before the most recent flurry of ‘destabilization’ measures took place.

        I’m still concerned that trump’s crew severely overplays their hand and maduro invites the russians to build a base there as a deterrent.

        I don’t doubt that putin would LOVE his legacy to be a strategic ace to play against the USA to match the airbase we have in Turkey.

        I don’t think the DC crowd would handle things too well if there were russian bombers stationed within a few minutes of FL.

        The whole thing would probably end in war…hard to see it going any other way.

      2. Carey

        notabanker, thank you for the very interesting statistics you’ve been providing lately.
        Good stuff.

  20. Pelham

    Re the moral question about a missions to Mars: It’s a lousy idea by any measure. But perhaps in MMT terms and the allocation of resources, it’s not such a big deal.

    A lot of money will be spent, but does that necessarily mean that productive capacity and labor that could be directed toward other problems will be redirected to a Mars project? I’m thinking not.

    In fact, sending billionaires to Mars may be an efficient and ideal way to dispose of some of our most disagreeable personalities.

    1. mle detroit

      @Pelham: Brilliant idea, the Alternative Jackpot, the Left Behinds win! Can the rockets, or communication devices, self-destruct 24 hours after touchdown?

    2. polecat

      I say send the whole lot of uniparty officiate as well .. cuz in Space, no one can hear them Scream “I recant !!”

    3. Oh

      I can think of many squillionaires, current and “retired” politicians and lots of right wingnuts to go on the maiden voyage.

    4. John k

      It is a big deal. Man on moon was huge expenditure of resources, this would be bigger, granted economy is bigger. But can’t cut wasted military expenditures to zero, and mmt only says no limit to dollars, limit is resources. If our infra was world class, ok, but it’s approaching third world. Not to mention we should be attacking co2 like defending wwii… look at the map and see how much territory lost to sea invasion from 120-ft of rise… granted China will be in worse shape and Low Countries disappear. (People like to think China well run… they’re still expanding coal.)

  21. Foomarks

    Re: Whitey on Mars

    “Trickle-down Science” is my new favorite term!

    Oh the irony: Tesla promises to reduce our everyday fossil fuel usage, while SpaceX burns up all the remaining dinosaur oil to hurtle itself across the heavens.

    1. Summer

      Tesla and SpaceX are prime positions to take advantage of mandates that will make him rich beyond wildest dreams.

  22. jsn

    “With implications beyond Myanmar, the authors argue that outgoing generals can use instability to retain rents where plausible challengers to state authority provide a pretense for violence.”

    Sort of sums up US ME policy for the last 4 decades…

  23. George Phillies


    The UK commentators seem to be unaware of the possibility that one of the EU Prime Ministers, variously titled, will veto any extension.

  24. Pookah Harvey

    One of the main points of criticism for the GND is commercial aviation. The aircraft manufacturers have been looking at global warming for quite some time. One of their solutions is Liquid Hydrogen fuels. Airbus has an in-depth investigation report published in 2003. Some of their conclusions:

    Results achieved confirm the feasibility and the environmental benefits of using liquid hydrogen as an aviation fuel in all categories of commercial aircraft. Results hence are relevant for all sectors of civil aviation, for aircraft/ engine/ equipment suppliers, airlines, and airports.

    Under today’s economic conditions, hydrogen is not yet economically competitive.

    Transition scenarios have shown that aircraft using liquid hydrogen may first enter commercial operation in about 2015. Estimation on the development production costs of the kerosene on one side and on the other H2 has shown that we could expect an equivalent price in 2040.

    If efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions are effectively stalled for a long time by some political initiative (like CO2 tax etc.), the date may well shift by many years.

    Overall technical challenges are understood, known design principles can applied in for new components. Of course, there is a need for further R&D work to achieve operational readiness

    One interesting statement from the report:

    Transition from kerosene to hydrogen can be initiated in the mid term only by some drastic political event or action, e.g. political measures to reduce aviation’s CO2 emissions. A scenario with the transition starting in some defined “leading region”, e.g. in Scandinavia, has been studied

    Maybe it’s time for “some drastic political action”

  25. Wukchumni

    A teenager egged the Australian senator who blamed the Christchurch shooting on immigration — then got punched in the face WaPo.
    Is there a better foodstuff to tell somebody to go get stuffed?

    No long term damage, just egg on the face.

  26. barefoot charley

    This American’s answer to the question never asked, “Gee, why are authoritarian nationalists popular even in Eastern Europe?” is well answered. (Registration to the site is required and takes time; a NC referral led me to it yesterday and I’m glad to read it today.) Spoiler: they help the people whom neoliberalism hurts by subsidizing big families, and not sweating the Handmaiden’s Tale.–orenstein-2019-03

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Thanks for that. All we ever hear about Orban and the like are that they are racist nationalists and those who vote for them are too. Turns out they are actually interested in providing concrete material benefits.

      I seem to remember someone say once “It’s the economy, stupid.”…

      1. Olga

        Haven’t read this yet, but I did read some time ago about Orban in the local press. The article made clear that, when he first came to power, he kicked some western banks out and greatly improved the economy by eschewing austerity/neo-liberal approach. Methinks that is all one needs to know to understand why the western press likes to vilify him. (He also dispatched certain manifestations of the “open society” across the border, to Vienna. This did not endear him to the EU, but probably helped Hungarians be less brainwashed.)

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Thanks for the link and nice to see a fuller picture of the situation. Concrete material benefits seem to do wonders for one’s popularity.

    3. Carey

      Thanks for this comment and link.

      Definition of a nationalist in 2019: a leader who wants to help their existing citizenry.

      “that’s ‘hate speech’!”

      For most of the the West, our “leaders” propose more- much more- immigration.

      I oppose them.

  27. barrisj

    Re: 737 Max – The Seattle Times continues its stellar coverage of the train of events that led to the catastrophic 737 MAX-8 crashes (and apparently now of “closely related failures”) the past several months, noting both commercial and financial pressure to get the aircraft certified ASAP. Many of the safety assessment tasks were turned over to Boeing engineers at the behest of senior FAA officials “to speed up the process”, and in doing so several flaws in the documentation vs actual in-flight operation of the MCAS “nose-up” auto-correct system were carried through the certification drill through delivery to airline customers.
    The inescapable conclusions found by the ST analysis are that expendiency, certification benchmark date completions, lack of end-to-end FAA involvement, and incomplete documentation has led Boeing and its “cash-cow” MAX to where we are today. Excellent bit of reporting, and a cogent reminder how industry “self-assessment” – even within a company noted for aircraft safety – can sometimes go awry.

    Flawed analysis, failed oversight: How Boeing and FAA certified the suspect 737 MAX flight control system

    1. Don Utter

      Excellent short summary of this article on DailyKos

      1. Boeing changed the engine locations in the 737 MAX, which created a possibility of nose up pitch (in some circumstances) as compared to the existing 737.

      2. Boeing created a “secret” computer program to override the pilot and push the nose of the plane down if the angle of flight was too steep. (I call this “hidden” because pilots were not told about it and IT WAS NOT IN THE FLIGHT MANUAL.)

      3. Boeing self-certified to regulators the secret computer program was acceptable and indicated it could only push the nose of the plane by less than one degree (.6 actually). The FAA granted Boeing this authority because of budget cuts and time pressure.

      These are the first 3 of 5 points. Secret code.

  28. Oregoncharles

    “Insurance Rates Seen Rising in Flood-Prone Areas With Trump Plan Bloomberg”
    Actually, according to the article, some would go down. I have a personal stake in this, because we live in the flood plain of a tributary of the Willamette. We’re actually between the river and a couple of important floodways. In 1996, the highest water we’ve seen was about 60 feet horizontally (I just paced it off) and maybe a foot vertically from our house. We were cut off, with at least 3 feet of water running fast across our driveway. Our floor, unfortunately a slab on grade, is just 2 inches above the hundred year flood line – which is pretty arbitrary around here. Note all the numbers: they get personal in a hurry when you live with all that water.

    You’re probably wondering: WHY would anyone buy property in the flood plain? It’s a rural area, 5 acre zoning, very pretty and fairly quiet, literally inside town. We’re a 10-minute bike ride from either downtown or the University. Only so quiet, since we can hear the stadium and the traffic on two highways; but in the distance. Our county is committed to minimizing insurance rates by following the rules very strictly, so the area won’t be developed in the foreseeable future. If we were going to add on, the new floor would have to be about 10 inches above the current one – that actually stopped one project we considered.

    All of which personal story serves to show why flood insurance rates stir up so much emotion. I have a conflict of interest here: it’s obviously in the public interest for as few people as possible to live in flood areas – but I do, and would just as soon stay here. A footnote: this is an ideal area for produce farms that would feed our town without much transportation, but aside from some ambitious gardens, there aren’t any. It does serve as greenbelt.

    The article says that FEMA is working on making the insurance rates much more granular. Now I wonder just what they’re including, because after the repeated flooding in the late 90’s the city made improvements to open up the floodway that drains our area and controls the level. We haven’t seen dangerously high water since. It’s possible our rates will go down, so we might be able to afford the insurance. It’s far more expensive than fire insurance. The main reason people buy it is that their lender requires it.

    1. Wukchumni

      Boy, that is something. It’s almost as if you can see ship debris on the higher bottoms of the rapidly divulging 92 year old dam.

      We have a clunker down south of us named ‘Success Dam’ and it turns out it’s in a seismic suspect zone if an earthquake of size were to happen, so the way to fix it w/o spending $500 million on a pipsqueak of a dam that would have 1/50th the capacity of Oroville Dam when full, is to only have it 35% of capacity, 29,000 acre feet instead of 82,000.

  29. Summer

    Re: Adimssions scandal

    I’m not stomaching the elite college students being now called “children” and “kids.”
    “Youth” and “young adults” – more fitting for people that were only last week being thought of as “future leaders.”

    Still not buying that there are young adults walking around a collge campus completely clueless as to how they arrived there.

    They are allegedly intelligent but are wandering around like, “Gee, duh, wonxer how I got here?”

    1. Geo

      Especially when you read they were old to act stupid, posed for forged sports photos, and were made to take part in the scam in some way much of the time.

      If the “kids” didn’t know, then they really are dumb and makes sense why their parents were desperate to protect them from their own idiocy.

    1. Carolinian

      Article linked up comments and I just caught via Mike Whitney. This extremely damning for Boeing.

  30. Plenue

    >Is a mission to Mars morally defensible given today’s real needs? Aeon

    It isn’t morally defensible even on its own terms, outside of any question of whether its a good use of money and resources. A Mars mission will inevitably get people killed, probably everyone we send. And for what, exactly? Mars is a radioactive desert. Colonization isn’t going to happen. The planet can’t be terraformed: it’s too small to retain water vapor and it has no magnetic field. Any outposts will have to be airtight domes, and any true colony is essentially completely out of the question. And, just like the moon, there’s really nothing live humans would be able to do there that can’t be done with robots.

    Squillionaires: WE ARE NEVER GETTING OFF THIS PLANET. We shat our only bed, now we have to lie in it.

    1. Joe Well

      I’m a SF fan and it seems like a lot of this Mars delusion was cultivated in the SF world, perhaps most in the Kim Stanley Robinson books, but many other authors as well.

      One author described the apollo moon missions as “coitus interruptus” and many have said that the moon landing was the greatest thrill of their lives and the end of manned outer space travel was the biggest disappointment.

  31. Plenue

    >Elizabeth Warren Actually Wants to Fix Capitalism NYT

    “Bill Clinton had a consequential presidency when it came to the economy. He brought down the Reagan-era deficits, helping spark the strongest economic boom in decades, and he made the tax code more progressive.

    Barack Obama had an even more consequential presidency. He halted the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. He did so in part by signing a stimulus bill full of spending on education, wind energy and other programs with lasting benefits. He also put in place new regulations for Wall Street and extended health insurance to almost 20 million people.”

    Our media class is literally illiterate.

  32. The Rev Kev

    Just when you get your hopes up….Ilhan Omar has just tweeted out the following-

    The people of Syria revolted against Assad’s repressive dictatorship 8 years ago today, demanding a more just and free government. Peace loving people around the world stand in solidarity with them in this struggle!

    She gets the hammer dropped on her in the comments for basically repeating CIA talking points. Maybe she should take E. M. Forsters’s advice and “only connect”.

    1. Carolinian

      M of A picked this up too. If you make the lie big enough everyone on the Dem side of the fence (maybe not Gabbard) will believe it. Would Bernie have tweeted differently?

      Of course on one level it is boiler plate. We would all like a more just and free government (especially here).

    2. Carey

      The CIA only allow limited hangout, and only for a very short time.

      Omar is functioning exactly as intended.

      That’s how it works here in the Exceptional Nation.

      “so cool!”

  33. Tomonthebeach


    No, it’s not, but the recent college cheat stories, Sanders’ progressive assaults on capitalism, and the over-hyped Obama notion that a college degree is a meal ticket sure help to promote merit as a myth. Work hard and today, you get nowhere. Your pay does not rise, and you do not promote. Since when has that not been true?

    The hard-work characterization of merit in the US culture has always been mythology. It is not because, as Dean Baker has asserted, that the system is “rigged.” The system has always been rigged. Nor have the standards for upward mobility changed. Hard work has never ever been a criterion for upward mobility – merely job security.

    Think about your own career. Unless you went to an Ivy-league U, after fits and starts, you finally found a decent job with decent prospects. But what were the criteria for advancement? You got promoted because your contributions stood out from those of your peers. This is often manifested in leadership skills. Your peers tended to look up to you for motivation – even direction. Then there was innovation. You figured out a more effective and/or efficient way to get the job done, and then demonstrated that it works. Often achieving such a feat involves personal risk. If your idea bombs, so might your future.

    As a boss, and all the bosses I consulted for over 4 decades, I viewed prudent risk-taking that tries to advance the organization’s mission as evidence of loyalty, organizational identification, and cleverness. I promote you so you have more freedom to do more of that stuff. I could go on, but my point should be crystal clear. Hard work has never led to upward mobility – only job security. The sage remark” Work smarter; not harder.” is what upward mobility is about – unless your daddy plays golf with the CEO, of course. Only children believe in a just world. Nevertheless, injustice does not mean merit does not work. It just means we have to watch our timing.

    1. ambrit

      You completely miss the point of the function of chance in the world.
      The chance that you will be born into money or power.
      The chance that you will meet minimum requirements when a crisis appears. Not be the best, but just manage to get by at the right time.
      The chance that others ‘above’ you will suffer hard luck and misfortune, thus opening the way for you to advance.
      The chance that you will have an underling with an ‘innovation’ the credit for which you can steal.
      Also, the definition of “upward mobility” can be debated. Going from being hungry once a week to being hungry once a month is being upwardly mobile. So is being able to afford belonging to a Country Club where you practice ‘networking’ skills. When the latter accelerates while the former decelerates it can reasonably be viewed as a society that is downwardly mobile, with a successful elite on top.
      Finally, though perhaps “Only children believe in a just world,” sane adults work for one. The Greeks had the concept of Arete. It covers the idea of working towards perfection. To do that, one must have an idea of what the goal is that one works toward. This requires a theoretical framework that includes extremes of good and bad.
      Arete wiki:

  34. The Rev Kev

    “Is a mission to Mars morally defensible given today’s real needs?”

    Well, maybe. But not the way Musk is going about it. Even the space program of the 1960s was done wrong as after it was all over, there was no platform in space left to keep more missions going. Space exploration has always really been about research on the unknown as much as exploration. You want to live in a society where you cannot do research unless you can prove immediate economic & financial benefits? We have a lot of that now. It’s what I call neoliberal science.
    It’s all very well for a Reverend Ralph Abernathy to march on NASA saying that that $30 billion should have been spent on the poor. I would have been more impressed if he had also marched on the Pentagon which spent $168 billion on the Vietnam war. Some reports say $350 billion to $900 billion in total including veterans’ benefits and interest. It was not the poor he was talking about so much as black people. NASA was notoriously under-represented by black people back then while the Pentagon (at least the troops in ‘Nam) were over-represented by black people. Eliminating poverty has never been about money anyway but about forming the political will to do so.
    If the author is so worried about how billionaires spend their money I can understand that. But do not expect humanity from them. The solution is simple. Dial back the tax code to where anything over $200,000 was taxed at a rate of 70% and a lot of the problems that you see will go away. Oh, and stop rich people hiding their wealth in Foundations where they still control it and decide how their money is spent. And check the Panama Papers and put a 90% tax on that wealth whether it is in America or not. As I said, it is all a matter of political will.

    1. RMO

      The year of the first Moon landing NASA accounted for a whopping 2.31% of the Federal budget. In 2017 it was 0.47%.

      Spending on the world’s space programs isn’t what is keeping hundreds of millions in poverty.

  35. Wukchumni

    “Whenever I hear one of these old guard leaders on the other side talking about cutting taxes, when he knows it means weakening the nation, I always think of that story about the tired old capitalist who was driving alone in his car one day, and finally, he said “James, drive over the bluff; I want to commit suicide.””

    Adlai Stevenson

    1. ambrit

      That reminds me of the story somewhere in F Scott Fitzgerald of the Wall Street magnate who killed himself when his fortune dropped to a single million dollars after the Crash of 1929.
      Perspective. Expectations Relativity.

  36. Plenue

    I’ve noticed there haven’t been any updates on the war against ISIS along the Euphrates lately in the Links or Water Cooler posts.

    ISIS is down to a single encampment along the river, less than two square kilometers of territory. There doesn’t seem to be any town there, just dirty mattresses, garbage, and hastily dug trenches and foxholes. Everyone estimated there were at most a few hundred fighters and maybe a few thousand in family members of the fighters left in the pocket. But so far the actual number has turned out to be more than 30,000. The only reason the Kurds and US haven’t just flattened the place is because they’re deliberately trying to limit casualties (which is sort of weird. They didn’t show such restraint in Mosul or Raqqa, and here in the Baghouz encampment the only targets present are ISIS affiliated). So far something like 25,000 have been captured or surrendered, but there have been some number of suicide bombers hiding amongst the crowds. 5,000 ISIS members still remain fighting, and there’s video footage of kids and women joining in the fight. So it looks like most of the ones left are the die-hardest of the diehards. They don’t seem to have much left other than rifles; the fight has become entirely one sided, with the Kurds claiming less than 150 casualties (dead and wounded) on their side vs 1,600 dead for ISIS.

    Meanwhile Russia is repositioning air power in Syria for what looks like a push into Idlib.

    1. The Rev Kev

      There may have been another reason why the delay in going in and destroying ISIS right away. I cannot verify the following report though the UK-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights backs it up who are no friends of the Syrian government. It seems that in their rampages through Iraq and Syria, ISIS was able to accumulate about 50 tons of gold. The US wanted it and ISIS wanted to trade the gold for safe passage for their leadership out of Syria. If you find this hard to believe, just look at what happened to the Ukraine and Libya’s gold. A deal seems to have been reached and the gold turned over to US forces with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) getting their share of ten tons of gold – since they are doing the actual fighting and dying – and the other forty tons to the US. Of course that gold actually belongs to Iraq and Syria but they will never see that gold ever again. More on this at-

      UK-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights

      The unsaid story is those ISIS wives who I predict will be the dragon’s teeth for ISS. They are true believers who had to be separated from the other women who would not fully cover their faces. This is probably why no country wants them back – as they know that they will seed the next attacks in their home countries. They are the real fanatics of ISIS. Story for this at-

  37. Carey

    “..Nature underpins all economies with the “free” services it provides in the form of clean water, air and the pollination of all major human food crops by bees and insects. In the Americas, this is said to total more than $24 trillion a year. The pollination of crops globally by bees and other animals alone is worth up to $577 billion..”

    I guess it’s all going down anyway, but this kind of framing makes me sad, sad.

    Is “Nature” (heh!) not a good-in-itself?

    Helping the few understand that they will not be excluded from the hell *they have
    created* for the last forty years seems worthwhile to me.

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