Links 3/23/19

Someone Challenges People To Google ‘Florida Man’ Plus Their Birthday, Here Are 30 Hilarious Responses Bored Panda

How to green the world’s deserts and reverse climate change Allan Savory , YouTube (furzy). From 2013.

LA County Halts Use of Popular Weed Killer on County Property NBC

China?

China hysteria falls on deaf ears in Europe Asia Times (Kevin W). US can’t ask for European solidarity after beating up on EU institutions and praising Brexit.

Dunford to meet with Google for ‘debate’ on Chinese ties Defense News (Chuck L)

North Korea

Trump Reverses Treasury Decision to Tighten North Korea Sanctions Wall Street Journal

‘This Is Utterly Shocking’: Trump Sparks New Confusion Over North Korea Policy Bloomberg

Brexit

As the clock ticks on Brexit, Japan warns of irreversible damage from political disarray Strait Times (guurst)

Brexit: Vote on Theresa May’s deal may not happen next week BBC

Authority in tatters, power leaches from Theresa May Financial Times (guurst)

U.K. Cabinet Ministers Are War-Gaming the Fall of Theresa May Bloomberg

Brexit: What’s the f**k is going on? Jonathan Pie, YouTube (Kevin W). One of his best.

Brexit breakdown: fear and anger on the Irish border – video Guardian (Richard Smith)

Week in Review: Suddenly, we kind of know what’s going on Ian Dunt

Secret Cabinet Office document reveals chaotic planning for no-deal Brexit Guardian (Richard Smith, Kevin W)

Vote giving MPs chance to force May’s hand on Brexit set to be delayed Guardian. May running down the clock again.

Another Richard Smith find….

….and this one is epic:

Brazil and Russia: Divergence and Convergence CME Group (furzy)

AMLO Takes a Hard Right Turn in Mexican Banking Conference Bloomberg

New Cold War

“Russian Army is Radically Upgraded” * by Sergei Shoigu – TTG Sic Semper Tyrannis (Chuck L)

Syraqistan

Brown University Becomes First Ivy League School to Pass BDS Resolution The Forward (martha r)

Democratic Hopefuls Reject AIPAC Real News Network

Piss Off Washington’s Power Players, Tune Into this Conference on the Israeli Lobby’s Impact on American Policy. Stream It Online Friday, or Access It Later for a Greater Grasp of the Issues than Most in Congress Have DownWithTyranny!

U.S. warns it can act against people helping Iran evade energy sanctions Reuters

U.S. accuses Iran of plotting to restart nuclear weapons program Politico

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

The toilet seat that could save millions of lives by detecting heart failure Daily Mail (resilc). I don’t want my house spying on me. But this is (at least for now) only for people with heart disease.

FEMA Data Breach Hits 2.5 Million Disaster Survivors CNN

Trump Transition

Mueller will not be recommending any further indictments in Russia probe Politico

‘The watchword is transparency’: Democrats ready to fight for Mueller’s complete findings Washington Post

Very Quick Thoughts on the End of the Mueller Investigation Lawfare

By Donald Trump’s Standards, Jared and Ivanka Should Be in Jail Vanity Fair (resilc)

HARPER: PRESIDENT TRUMP NEEDS A GOOD PLUMBER Sic Semper Tyrannis (Chuck L)

Kushner to cooperate with Judiciary document request The Hill

2020

DCCC Warns It Will Cut Off Firms That Challenge Incumbents Intercept (UserFriendly). Lambert featured this in Water Cooler yesterday, but important not to miss the gang character of the Dems on display.

Bernie Sanders Expands His Iowa Caucus Operation Iowa Starting Line (martha r)

Reinventing Beto: How a GOP Accessory Became a Top Democratic Contender for 2020 Norman Solomon, Common Dreams

Why are 2020 Democrats so weird? The Week (resilc)

“Beto Is in His Own Lane”: The Democratic Money Guys Like What O’Rourke Is Selling Vanity Fair. Resilc: “Beato be already boughto.”

Maryland General Assembly Approves Bill For $15 Minimum Wage By 2025 Huffington Post (martha r)

Fake News

How the Press That Sold the Iraq War Got Away With It Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone (UserFriendly)

Wall surrounding tank farm at charred Deer Park plant breaches Houston Chronicle (martha R)

Owning a Car Will Soon Be as Quaint as Owning a Horse New York Times. Resilc: “Another prediction from Brooklyn, like HILLIARY WINS!”

Trump Taps Fed Critic Stephen Moore for Board Seat New York Times. UserFriendly: “lol 2 GOP doves on the Fed?”

Dashcam Video Shows Tesla Steering Toward Lane Divider – Again arstechnica

Cramer: I’m skeptical about Lyft as a longer-term investment CNBC. It’s oversubscribed at a $23 billion valuation.

Yet another recession warning just flashed red — a Treasury ‘yield curve’ just inverted for the first time since 2007 Business Insider (David L)

Class Warfare

Going Cashless Looks More and More Like a Capitalist Scam Vice (resilc)

I made $3.75 an hour’: Lyft and Uber drivers push to unionize for better pay Guardian (Thomas F)

World Happiness Report: Americans are unhappiest in years Vox (resilc)

Antidote du jour. Tracie H:

Yes, I confess, we are only our kitties’ keepers—THEY are the primary residents, and we lowly humans are but their loyal subjects. What to most folks is a dining table, to Tinkerbell, E.B. White, Willow, Sinbad, Haiku (missing in this particular shot), Sherlock, and Pixie something more like a lovely chaise lounge, so we’ve made it a little softer for them.

And a bonus from Richard:

And another from martha r:

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318 comments

  1. Livius Drusus

    Re: Yet another recession warning just flashed red — a Treasury ‘yield curve’ just inverted for the first time since 2007.

    I hate to admit that my first thoughts were about how this would impact the 2020 election and especially Bernie’s chances for winning. A recession would put economic issues front and center in the Democratic primary which would help Bernie and prevent the centrist Democrats from making the primary about identity politics issues. For example, out of nowhere reparations for the descendants of slaves has come up as an issue even though it is an extremely unpopular policy that will never get passed. It seems like the issue was calculated to hurt Sanders in the primary by trying to paint him as insensitive to African-Americans.

    As for the general election, I would guess that a recession would hurt Trump since he is likely benefiting from the “good” economy that gets trumpeted in the news. NC readers know that the economy is not so good for millions of Americans but if it is good for some people and those people tend to vote more than poorer people then it is good for Trump.

    That being said I don’t want a recession to hit just to help Bernie win (I don’t think he needs a recession to win) and I feel disgusting thinking more about politics than about how a recession would likely ruin the lives of millions of Americans, many of whom never recovered from the 2007/2008 recession. However, I think 2020 will be a decisive election on many fronts so politics was the first thing to come to my mind.

    Reply
    1. taunger

      Not to be too identitarian, but “out of nowhere” is pretty obnoxious. I’m sure many see Medicare for All and the Green New Deal in exactly the same light – ridiculous, unpopular policies that will never be passed, and are the pet favorite issues of a small number of commies. I think reparations as a program has a much longer history than the Green New Deal, at least.

      I don’t have the solution to this problem; I have no idea if any reparations program is feasible, and I don’t think it could ever be popular. But I think recognizing there are humans beyond deceitful political actors with skin in this game is important.

      Reply
      1. human

        “out of nowhere”

        Though a poor choice of words, describes fairly accurately how the issue seems to have been picked up by the DNC clearly as a divisive issue in order to muddy the field.

        Many of us here recognize that any populist programs that could be implemented would disproportionately benefit poor and minority populations, which is a good thing, and therin lies the rub. Not a snowballs’ chance in hell of being passed, though the Dems “fought” for it.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether

          > “out of nowhere”

          See Adolph Reed here.

          I don’t see this as being DNC-driven, but rather as a case of adroit public relations by reparations advocates. That doesn’t mean DNC types won’t take advantage of it opportunistically, say as part of an effort to maintain the South Carolina firewall. But it will be interesting to watch them try to use reparations to smear Sanders as a racist, while simultaneously not actually advocating it (given that all their constituencies reject it, across the board). Perhaps they’ll take a leave from Harris’s playbook and rebrand existing proposals as reparations. Harris, IIRC, reframed some lame tax credit proposal as reparations). Then again, RussiaGate shows how adept liberal Democrats are at doublethink, so perhaps that will work.

          Reply
      2. Chad boudreau

        Careful, I’m pretty sure identitarian has become an alt right thing now.

        I figure that eventually someone will sell a new deal type thing, only for everybody instead of specifically excluding black people, and then ask to shake hands.

        I wonder if they will use explicitly nationalistic language to get it done, hmmmm

        Reply
        1. JBird4049

          It is strange that parts of the ideologies of both Parties seems to feel Alt-Rightist is it not?

          I think that the word identitarian is in reference to the Democratic Party’s use of (racial) identity politics to divide, distract, use, and conquer the groups making up their supposed constituency; the approved groups identified as African-American, Latino, LGBTQ, even somewhat the disabled, who are all entitled to their slice of the resource pie; more inclusive categories like American, the poor, or the working class are only referenced with additional modifiers like the White Working Class or when talking about poverty connected it to only Blacks and Latinos as if the largest group of poor people are not White and that an overly large numbers of Blacks are not in the working class.

          I am annoyed that when I say that I am an American nationalist the alt-rightist bastards try to claim me as a White nationalist and White Supremacist and perhaps I am a Republican; when “Liberal” Democrats realize that I am poor and have been a working class White, I get the White Privilege BS and the Deplorable in the White Working Class framing especially if those tools find out I voted for Bernie Sanders. I must be a crazy BernieBro who hates women or an alt-right deplorable who hates the Clintons and all non whites.

          The current political establishment tears me apart, discards the inconvenient bits of socialism and civil rights for all whoever and wherever they are, and mutates the poor, white American bits into some uber privileged hate monger as if it is a quality of my blood. Somehow the content of my character is being determined by the color of my skin just as my not being a member of the Meritocracy is due to some innate defects instead of my circumstances.

          Martin Luther King Jr. was right to talk about a check due to all poor Americans and the worry that he was bringing his (Black) people into the burning house called America.

          Reply
          1. Chad boudreau

            It is not odd at all that the alt right lexicon encompasses the words of the right and left, as taking and redefining words is one of their rhetorical parlor tricks. Hence the gentle notice that the alt-right is using the word.

            Also, the alt right is the interection of many of the various groups you mentioned, not the entirety of those groups.

            Lastly, the alt right would badly, badly, BADLY love to be falsely equated with groups on the liberal side of things, please don’t do their work for them.

            P.s. I do wonder how far the guillotine watch people would have to progress down the rabbit hole before they became an actual equivalent to the vile excess of the alt-right

            Reply
      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        Here is something I have copied off the first of Ian Welsh’s re-running of Tony Wickrent’s “weekend roundup” features.

        * * * * * * * * *

        Black Agenda [ADOS – American Descendants of Slavery, via Naked Capitalism 3-4-19]

        We demand a New Deal for Black America which includes, but is not limited to:

        We need set asides for American descendants of slavery, not “minorities”, a throw-away category which includes all groups except white men. That categorization has allowed Democrats to use programs like affirmative actions as “giveaways” to all groups in exchange for votes. The bribery must end. That begins with a new designation on the Census with ADOS and another for Black immigrants. Black immigrants should be barred from accessing affirmative action and other set asides intended for ADOS, as should Asians, Latinos, white women, and other “minority” groups. In addition, ADOS hiring and employment data must be demanded for all businesses receiving tax credits, incentives, and governmental support. As well as all governmental agencies national, state and local. It is our belief that this will show that there are minimal if any ADOS professionals in fields including but not limited to engineering, medical, legal and tech.

        * * * * * * * *

        Aside from noting how this came from NaCap to Wikrent to Ian Welsh and back to NaCap . . . read what it says. For example, this . . .

        “We need set asides for American descendants of slavery, not “minorities”, a throw-away category which includes all groups except white men. That categorization has allowed Democrats to use programs like affirmative actions as “giveaways” to all groups in exchange for votes. The bribery must end.”

        Do the blacck racisst piggs who wrote this think that they are the only minority group who suffered? That the Latinos of Conquered Mexico lost nothing? That the American Indian Nations lost nothing?

        This is blacck racisst pigg extortionism at its lowest and vilest and filthiest. This so called “ADOS” group should be studied to see how many Clintonite rattfucckers are hidden among its founders and members. This is strictly and only invented to accuse Sanders of not being “racially sensitive” and “not being able to talk to black people”. It is also used to try to extort Sanders into supporting blacck racisst pigg “reparations” extortionism so as to lose support elsewhere among people of all sorts who have drawn the line.

        Never! Never! No more. This will not pass. No reparations. No more Blacck Racisst Pigg Extortionism. Never. Ever.

        Reply
        1. JBird4049

          We should be careful with our anger, of it becoming rage and then hatred, and finally nihilistic violence upon our “enemy.”

          In some ways I am even angrier than you are, but always, always try, not always successfully it’s true, to remember the humanity of those I loathe so intensely; if I forget that those… people are people, or that they might be sincere and perhaps honestly mistaken, I become what I am trying to repudiate.

          I am pretty sure that I am right and that they are mistaken, but I would think that wouldn’t I? I have seen too many of us armor ourselves in righteous wrath and convinced that they, whoever they are, are monsters deserving what ever we do to them.

          Reply
    2. nothing but the truth

      This “signal” seems more likely a result of the sudden Fed decision to stop increasing (and likely decrease) rates.

      The Fed did this because of the S&P massacre in December.

      The chicken are coming home to roost. By insisting on an asset (only) boom, the people who got the money don’t know what to do with it, and the ones who need it dont have it. The result is a lost millennial generation, a minimum wage class that has to smoke pot regularly to forget the real world, and a retail apocalypse because people have nothing to spend as rising utilities and non discretionary spend is leaving them with nothing.

      Add insult to injury “the mystery of the missing inflation”. Yeah right. Just keep calculating CPI based on Chinese TV sets and computers.

      Reply
      1. divadab

        “a minimum wage class that has to smoke pot regularly to forget the real world”

        Here’s where you’re wrong. The people who smoke pot aka “hippies” were right in the sixties and seventies about a lot – such as the absurd and terrible fouling of our own nest, our lovely blue jewel of a living planet – and it was the yuppies who were totally, catastrophically, and utterly submissively wrong. Smoking pot does have memory effects but if you think pot-smokers don’t have a pretty good handle on reality, just go back to watching CNN or whatever mind control programming told you to think that.

        Reply
        1. Anon

          Umm… I think you missed the thrust of NBTTruth’s comment. It’s not about pot, it’s about TPB destroying the financial prospects of a generation.

          (And I’m one of those 60’s Hippies.)

          Reply
            1. Lambert Strether

              I don’t think it’s controversial to say that recreation and self-medication are both reasons to smoke weed. I assume NBTTruth had the latter use case in mind (and if one must self-medicate, weed is far preferable to alchohol, pills, and white powders).

              Reply
        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          I smoked pot and I liked it a lot.

          Marijuana saved my life. Marijuana made me a genius. Marijuana strengthened my memory to the point that people are still impressed with my powers of recall all these many decades later. Marijuana was very very good to me.

          Reply
      2. Oh

        Yup. When you calculate inflation only based on select items (Chinese TV sets and computers and the like) you ignore the real inflation that’s cause by QE++++ where asset prices have doubled and tripled (i.e. stocks and bonds, real estate etc.). I believe in the fundamentals of MMT but QE is really semi MMT and inflation’s been evident with the unbridled increase in money supply and lower interest rates over a long period of time. I gues the key difference in MMT is that it doesn’t manipulate interest rates but leaves it alone.

        I welcme comments on this.

        Reply
      3. Massinissa

        Better to smoke pot than to kill oneself with opioids. Pot is less damaging than more legal drugs like alcohol. Hell, in some ways it might be better to smoke pot to ‘forget the real world’ than to use television to do the same thing.

        Reply
        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Smoking weed rn in between two doubles.

          Yayyyy weekends….

          I smoke specifically to help me focus and be happy doing real world stuff.

          Reply
            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Presumably legalizing cannabis would include legalizing the weaker legacy strains from the good old days.

              And if skunk is so much stronger, then keeping it illegal would favor skunk taking over the market altogether, because it would take less space and therefor be easier to move a given amount of THCs compressed into high-density skunk than to move that same amount of THCs in a larger volume of the lower concentration legacy varieties.

              And if skunk is ten times stronger, the intelligent user could smoke ten times less of it per use.

              Reply
              1. JBird4049

                And if skunk is ten times stronger, the intelligent user could smoke ten times less of it per use.

                True, but I’ve known some potheads who would just use juiced up Skunk to permanently fry their minds into mellowness. I can just hear those aging hippies I’ve known “I can get ten times the mellow? Cool man!”

                It’s just like how some drinkers used ripple to more effectively deep six their livers rather than more cheaply get that buzz.

                Is there anyone developing nicer as opposed to stronger stuff? More Pinot than malt liquor?

                Reply
            2. Procopius

              I don’t have any way to measure it, but I have long believed that claim is a lie because the general population learned through experience that they had been told lies. “Wait a minute, I’ve smoked pot and nothing bad happened to me.” “Yeah, but the pot they grow now is SOOOO much stronger than what you smoked. It’s really, really dangerous. Besides, it’s a gateway drug. You’re really lucky you didn’t get hooked.”

              Reply
      4. David Carl Grimes

        This yield inversion is not exactly market driven. The Fed has a very heavy foot in the fixed income markets because of QE. So, it could be a false positive.

        Reply
    3. Ignacio

      Some times in the past it has occured to me to have some desire for an outcome that is no good but could be particularly worrisome for a government I dislike very much. The same way as you put it. Thinking of it, I believe that these ideas are the result of anger and not vey good ideas indeed. Somehow one has to avoid that anger becomes a main driver of one’s own thinking. Thank you for sharing your thougths. I think these are very common but at the same time should be avoided.

      Reply
    4. Krystyn Walentka

      Anecdotally, I have friends trying to sell houses in three markets; Raleigh, Portland. and Indianapolis. All are over 500k and they are having a hard time even getting people in to see them. The one in Raleigh had a neighbor who dropped their price dramatically for a sale. Based on that and endless hours of watching people in coffee shops in rich and poor towns, now the yield curve, I can feel a recession in my bones.

      But I like recessions, they lower CO2.

      On reparations, I saw first for the former slaves, and next, for the wage slaves!

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        What if stocks were as hard to sell as homes presently are…

        Why is there always a buyer for every seller, on the former?

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          That’s why ‘Financial Manipulators’ are referred to as “Market Makers.”
          I would seriously look for signs in the next year of trial balloons arising from the “Territory of the Federal Reserve” concerning the Fed buying blocks of equities, no, make that “accepting as collateral” equities, from banks and financial entities in order to “maintain stability” in The Markets.
          QE on steroids, with an admixture of ketamine.

          Reply
          1. urblintz

            Didn’t Powell recently introduce the possibility of negative interest rates as a cure for our woes?

            … such a cure!

            Reply
            1. JBird4049

              So these negative interest rates means the little money I might somehow scrape together will automatically lose value if I put in a savings account? Any good reason to not put that tiny wad of bills under the mattress?

              Reply
        2. Oregoncharles

          I wish Ignim Brites would flesh out their comment, but I think it’s because:

          1) “market makers” undertake to guarantee it;
          2) prices are much more flexible – it’s a bidding system;
          3) the process is much easier and cheaper.

          Reply
      2. Arizona Slim

        Here in Tucson, I’m noticing a huge increase in resale inventory. And it’s just sitting there. Why? Well, to avoid any misunderstanding, I’ll spell out the reason:

        P-R-I-C-E

        As in, way too high.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Price can’t fix that sinking feeling in most homeowner throats, that the psychology of markets on the downswing makes their domicile seem more similar to a leper colony with dichondra.

          Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Those people who regard their house as a thing to live in rather than an “asset” to “sell” at some future point should not be feeling so bad.

            Especially if they have developed the house they live in to the point where it is a credible Survival Doomstead semi-fortress of semi-subsistence.

            Reply
        2. Shonde

          Here in balmy Minnesota (the snow is finally melting and the temp is 75 degrees higher than in February), housing has increased in value by 6% year over year per the local rag. The market is so tight that first time buyers have to bid over list price and then still don’t often get the house. The difference: very low unemployment with entry level at or close to $15/hr.?

          Reply
      3. Kurtismayfield

        500k a house? I think the problem is right there.. no one wants to pay that price/sq foot. We had a house that went up for an absurd price in the neighborhood, like $50 more a square foot than the houses around it.. people just laughed and the seller took it off the market. What the house is worth to you is not necessarily what the house is worth to the buyer.

        Reply
    5. JohnnyGL

      “For example, out of nowhere reparations for the descendants of slaves has come up as an issue”

      The way the reparations issue has come into public debate looks a little like the way the BLM protestors got into public view. An organic movement sprung up, pressuring all sides/parties, issuing demands to resolve a specific grievance. Then, the establishment wing of team dem tried to weaponize this movement against Sanders, even though the movement is pressuring and attacking a bunch of politicians.

      The ADOS group, led by Yvette Carnell and Antonio Moore has probably been harder on Kamala Harris more than anyone, really. Their pushback seems borne out of the legacy of Obama’s failure. Obama got massive hauls of black votes and gave them NOTHING in return. There’s a bitterness about that, rightly so.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether

        > Their pushback seems borne out of the legacy of Obama’s failure

        It does. That’s the implication of replacing melanin (ascriptive identity) with “lineage” (ancestry).

        As it turns out, ascriptive identity does not provide a direct readout of a candidate’s views, as so many liberals discovered after 2008. ADOS has discovered the same. (But since melanin-based views of discrimination are embedded in countless liberal Democrat NGOs, as well as legislation, turning this tanker is going to take time.)

        Reply
        1. JohnnyGL

          Having listened to Carnell, Moore and Irami Osei-Frimpong for awhile now, I think they help to emphasize valid, under-discussed issues about class in America and the intersection of class and race.

          If you look at inequality and want to minimize the problem….you shift the discussion away from ‘wealth’ and towards ‘income’ as that makes things look less ominous. Then, after that, you shift again from ‘outcomes’ to ‘opportunity’ and you’ve made a couple of important moves to glide past the problem.

          What Moore and Carnell do is point out that the left fails to talk about wealth inequality to a sufficient degree, and when you look at wealth inequality, the racial gap looks MASSIVE and becomes completely impossible to ignore if you’re acting in good faith. Even when you carve off the rich whites from the rest of whites, the poorest white Americans are still much wealthier than the poorest black Americans. Poor whites are often even wealthier than many of the upper income brackets of black Americans.

          For a left that wants to create more solidarity among races and classes, it’s hard to say, “everyone gets to take 10 steps forward, no more, no less” while blowing off the fact that one group of Americans is 50 yards back.

          Carnell specifically points to ‘blackness’ being created as a specific underclass in American society. It goes beyond slavery, through Jim Crow, convict leasing, red-lining, and the recent subprime crisis absolutely crushed black home-ownership. When she assembles lots of stories and data and combines them, it’s hard to say she’s wrong.

          It may actually make sense to just say being black is a separate social class unto itself. I didn’t used to think that way, but the data seem to say so.

          Bringing it back to ‘lineage’ vs. ‘melanin’, lineage is useful because it conveys a legacy of inherited wealth/poverty across families and neighborhoods.

          Reply
          1. JBird4049

            Blacks as a class are, aside from the Native Americans, the most abused and unfortunate group of Americans, which does not change the fact that their suffering is used to gloss over the increasing suffering of all Americans including the melanin deficient ones. Some of them have been considered trash before and since their arrival.

            We have three true facts here. Firstly, the horrific experiences of Blacks and secondly, the almost as bad at times experiences of many Whites presently and in the past. Thirdly, the suffering of each group has been used to minimize, excuse, or even deny the suffering of the other for political gain.

            I would be as careful of telling one of the many White homeless that because, as a group, they have more wealth as I would of telling a Black person that the police officer who just killed their unarmed relative had honestly fear for his life which he did only because the dead person was black not white.

            When does stop being a contest of the most victimized? I am tired of reading about the Victim Olympics

            Reply
          2. Odysseus

            What Moore and Carnell do is point out that the left fails to talk about wealth inequality to a sufficient degree, and when you look at wealth inequality, the racial gap looks MASSIVE and becomes completely impossible to ignore if you’re acting in good faith.

            It’s still true that many people don’t pursue all of their options, or even their best options. I honestly don’t know how to square the fact that people could make their own lives less onerous even in the face of a rigged system.

            I watched my own (white) parents struggle on food stamps in the 1980s. Their example drove me to live well below my means, to the point where I had six figures in retirement accounts by the time I was 35. I can’t imagine how much worse my life would have been if authority figures had regularly kicked over the anthill, but there really do have to be better paths to choose.

            Maybe Shawshank got it right. “Hope is a dangerous thing.”

            Reply
            1. JBird4049

              Maybe Shawshank got it right. “Hope is a dangerous thing.”

              True that. Having hope or the dreams it can provide can be a most painful thing. Some feel a drink or a hit of whatever is the best choice in this life as it will make the pain all go away. It’s not of course, but I cannot blame someone for feeling that way.

              As for those options, they can act like a mirage. Seemingly real. Maybe even real, but always, always juuuuust out of reach. One needs hope that eventually one of those opportunities will be caught, but each time they are not a little part of that hope goes away. So yeah keeping hope is necessary, but doing so can you feel like a fool, but without it…

              Reply
  2. The Rev Kev

    “Dashcam video shows Tesla steering toward lane divider—again”

    In further news – Tesla today announced that they are severing their link with Boeing in the development of their Autopilot software.

    Reply
    1. marieann

      “Tesla’s position has long been that Autopilot is merely a driver assistance system, not a technology for full autonomy. Drivers are expected to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road at all times. If drivers are paying attention, Autopilot defects shouldn’t lead to crashes.”

      So I already have a driverless car….I just call it “cruise control”

      Reply
  3. pretzelattack

    another good caitlin johnstone piece at rogue journalist, on the cf that is russiagate.
    what in incredible waste of time and money while congress got little done, but oh that was part of the point. it was a great way to get donations, try to fend off the actual democrats, and please their masters and mistresses by not doing anything substantive.

    Reply
    1. Shonde

      Already have received two emails from Bernie’s crew with, what is described as, a petition to sign for the full release of the investigation results. Of course, the real intent is to ask for another donation. Bernie’s Russia, Russia, Russia disgusts me but won’t throw out the baby with the bath water but certainly no donation resulted.

      Reply
      1. Otis B Driftwood

        Contrast this to Tulsi Gabbard (who happened to be the subject of another recent Johnstone article), who has been vilified for calling out the folly of the Russiagate investigations. While I strongly support Sanders despite a few blind spots, Gabbard has been consistent in her criticism of our MIC. She needs 20,000 individual donations to participate in the upcoming primary debates. I’m going to donate a few times at $1 increments to help out.

        Reply
        1. integer

          She needs 20k more individual donors to qualify for the debates. Donors who donate multiple times still only count as one donor.

          Reply
          1. Hamford

            The thought that she has only collected 45k individual donations thus far is perplexing to me. Perhaps my assessment is a mental sampling error, biased by the high support she garners in online environments I frequent. Regardless, best perhaps to send a check than trust the act blue gatekeeper. Who knows what is happening under that blue hood.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Tell that to ‘K’ Street and see the reaction you get.
              Corruption has been ‘normalized’ within the American political system. Not that it hasn’t been around forever, but that corruption is no longer viewed as stigmatic.

              Reply
              1. marym

                There’s a lot about big money/corporate contributions that’s legal, though many of us think it shouldn’t be. But if you check on an Act Blue contribution page for a candidate you see that the individual donor is asked to confirm they are using their own funds.

                Reply
        2. o4amuse

          OK, try this, friends. I agree Bernie fundraising is annoying but/and I will contribute to him again when I feel like it not when he begs for it, but when I tried to contribute to Tulsi (who does need it now but doesn’t beg) I get this:

          https://runtulsirun.net/contribute/

          If you contributed to the Gabbard campaign in hopes of helping her meet the Demos debate threshold, how the heck did you do it?

          Reply
            1. marym

              Yes tulsi2020.com is her website for the presidential campaign. The link is in her personal twitter account. The contribution tab routes to Act Blue.

              Reply
      2. Carla

        Does anybody from “Our Revolution” read us here? The daily Bernie Beg is not wearing well.

        Y’all had a good thing goin’ — don’t blow it now!

        Once every two weeks, shorter and much more thoughtfully targeted emails would produce better results, IMHO.

        Reply
        1. patD

          Agreed. I send $ to both OR and the campaign. The unrelenting begs won’t change my choice, but they are annoying.

          Reply
        2. jhallc

          I agree completely. I donated multiple times to Bernie in 2015/2016 and never remember it being this much of a send more $$ campaign. I’m planning on sending Gabbard some $$.

          Reply
        3. notabanker

          The Russiagate solicitation has me really wondering if they know what they are doing. This is really poor judgement and may be indicative of the ultimate wisdom to run as a Democrat.

          Reply
          1. Arizona Slim

            I just got that solicitation too. It died a quick death beneath my delete key.

            As for the begging, I’m noticing a lot more of it this time around. Like jhallc, I don’t recall that the 2015-16 Bernie campaign was like this.

            Reply
            1. JohnnyGL

              I wonder if there’s a kind of insecurity seeping in, since Beto’s deep-pocketed buddies splashed out so much. Plus, Biden’s going to probably jump in, soon.

              I would guess they’d like to build a war-chest to intimidate the others and to be ready for a long haul.

              As compared to the last cycle….I don’t think they believed they had a shot at winning until 2016 got really rolling and the big fundraising totals were a little unexpected. Now, they’re trying to get that started much sooner and building out the campaign apparatus much earlier.

              Different kind of mentality, I figure. Keep in mind, no one’s actually WON a major office with this fundraising model, so I’m sure they really want to make it work.

              Reply
              1. notabanker

                Again, it makes me wonder what they are thinking.

                They aren’t going to win a big money contest, it’s the wrong game to play. Wearing out the donor base this early on is poor strategy. Alienating them with NotTrump Russiagate fundraising is even worse.

                They need to differentiate on more than just policy. It needs to include fundraising as well. Every single online contact with the campaign ends with a donation request. It’s like they have some former McKinsey person feeding them statistical fundraising powerpoints rather than using some common sense. It makes me question their moral compass.

                Reply
                1. Carla

                  I know we’re talking about Bernie here, but even so, I’m not sure a “moral compass” is something we can expect of any kind of political campaign. Maybe individuals have one, maybe even the candidate does, but the campaign? Huh-uh.

                  But I agree with you when you say “it’s the wrong game to play. Wearing out the donor base this early on is poor strategy.”

                  Reply
                2. NotTimothyGeithner

                  Polling indicates the second choice of Biden voters is Sanders. This tells me name recognition is the game. When Hillary ran, her campaign ran with the narrative she and Sanders agreed on everything. Like narratives about Obama being feckless or defending us against Republicans hordes, they aren’t true, but many believe them.

                  Not all (I would guess 75% at least) of Hillary voters aren’t neoliberals. They are just low information, especially ones who are inured from more decayed conditions.

                  The other issue is people who are new to politics because Trump won and broke their minds. I didn’t think that particular email was awful, but we just saw the Sirota smear. Team Clinton will call Sanders a KGB plant as soon as they think they can get away with it.

                  Reply
                  1. Shonde

                    “Team Clinton will call Sanders a KGB plant as soon as they think they can get away with it.”

                    My thought also. Which is my way of rationalizing away Bernie’s Russia Russia Russia. Maybe felt he needed to accept this narrative just to prevent being called a “KGB plant”? I hope that is true but also accept no candidate is perfect.

                    Reply
              2. a different chris

                Agree with your post, but have to point out that somebody has won a “major office” with this model – Bernie Sanders.

                Since they don’t do s(family blog)t besides grandstanding and ramming in right wing judges, it’s hard to see the Senate as a “major office”, but according to the Constitution it really, really is. :) Even if it’s one of Vermonts…

                Reply
                1. JohnnyGL

                  VT has around 500K people. It’s more like running for Mayor in a medium sized city.

                  That’s not to say it’s not important, it is. And Sanders has made great use of it. But small donations gets harder to scale….at least it has proved harder thus far. That doesn’t mean it can’t. But it’s a lot of work to make it happen.

                  Reply
    2. Svante Arrhenius

      Distracting the glazed doe eyed Librul boomer part of the 9.99%, selling them bad dope hallucinations is hardly a waste of money. All the mob ever did was sell “protection,” why would our tag team kleptocracy change the only game they’ve comfortable with or needed? It and debt are the last US export anybody’s buying. Ask Robby, Debbie, John, David Brock and, and…

      Reply
  4. cnchal

    > Dashcam Video Shows Tesla Steering Toward Lane Divider – Again arstechnica

    Tesla has built Autopilot by training complex neural networks. This makes it difficult to test because no one fully understands how these networks work or can predict how their behavior might change.

    The black swan in the AI soup.

    Gigantic disasters are inevitable, and there is no way to put the AI chip on the stand to give evidence on how it screwed up, and how to prevent the next one.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      Actually you can see how they worked. It’s all logged, or should be. All the inputs, all the weights, every node output.

      WTF you are supposed to do with that, I dunno. It’s like mapping a snowflake. But it should keep juries busy.

      Reply
  5. Svante Arrhenius

    I’d read the one headline as, “Owning a Car Will Soon Be as Quaint as Owning a HOUSE?” Funny, how acute caffeine deprivation effects cognition? We’re gonna schlep to Fairway & Zabar’s before the Saturday onslaught (while my ancient car’s garaged 200 miles west, by 3 Mile Island). This article will doubtless encourage silly deplorables across the Hudson to walk 22 miles through exploding pipelines, blown-out wells and burning chemical plants, since they’ll simply move to Chelsea or Hell’s Kitchen and download e-scooter apps, since evolution into didactic hipsters beats the heck outa juggling three 1099 gigs once deisel hits $6? I’m not sure, but this whole speciously oblivious liberal yuppie trope (providing the knuckle-dragging untermenschen with dead eyed, frequently despicable millenial nudge stereotypes) has ulterior motives?

    Reply
      1. Svante Arrhenius

        We’re doubtless attributing a whole bunch more astute, savvy presciece to our betters’ jackals than befits folks who moved here from Cleveland, thinking it’d be like Seinfeld only to get toxoplasmosis, Chlamydia and NPD/ BPD and move to Greenpoint for Polish food and ukulele stores? But, yes, I’m betting we’ll be constantly besot by stereotypical, formerly rich punks pontificating all the wrong talking points (strawmen, redherrings and outright BS) so the masses will equate “Green New Deal” “Medicare For All” “Black Lives Matter” “Regenerative Agriculture” “Peace” “Love” and “Inspect Airliners,” with god-awful, entitled, obdurate neckbeard chillins. Just like the hippys co-opting the anti-war, civil rights, feminist and ecology, acquiring a taste for cocaine and electing Reagan?

        Reply
        1. Shonde

          It wasn’t the real “hippies” who co-opted those things you outlined. It was the PTB who marketed the outward embellishments of the hippie movement to the middle class. Marketing made it trendy to have the look and the sound without inner core ideal changes.

          Reply
          1. Svante Arrhenius

            The Powerz Wut Am were their parents, trying to figure how to sell Mustangs and Hi Karate to kids discovering LSD, THC and miscegenation’s effects on their reticular activating system; simultaneous with Vietnam, Mississippi and further appropriation of Black, Latino, Native, Asian, LGBT culture (affordable education, with GREAT teachers and diverse perspectives). We weren’t invited to play the whole hippie thing, but after Sputnik, we interacted with them under a glib facade of meritocracy, until graduation day? It was OK, if you were white & male?

            https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/donna-brazile-explains-why-she-is-working-for-fox-news

            Reply
      2. Summer

        Lyft and Uber IPOs.
        And they don’t become “Amazonian” with cheap, easy, access to public transportation either.
        Or with human drivers.

        Reply
    1. Jim A.

      Those with power and money ARE trying to push the idea that ownership, whether of real, intellectual, or personal property is old fashioned and not “cool.” They don’t want you to pay off your house, they want you to stream your media and lease your car. Because ownership is power and they don’t want you to have any.

      Reply
      1. Svante Arrhenius

        I’m in a fight with Bitdefender right now: they sell overlapping licenses at discount. You opt out of auto-renew scams on the agreement page you can see; then PayPal denies the disputed payment to their “partner.” Everybody’s dumping PayPal for BS scamming. Welcome to the rest of our lives, peons indentured servitude, renting our lives from criminals.

        Reply
  6. The Rev Kev

    “The toilet seat that could save millions of lives: New gadget can detect early signs of heart failure by picking up blood pressure, oxygen levels and heart rate”

    Actually this is not so bad an idea. The number of people that die on a toilet is so high that online they will give you top-ten of famous people that have died there. I knew a guy years ago whose wife died on a toilet. He went looking for her when she did not return to bed and found her there. Sometimes the ambulance crew will quickly clean up to save stress on the surviving partner. Speaking to the ambulance officers after, he was told that it happens from time to time and often the death is not found out until the morning when the partner wakes up and goes looking. I found the following explanation online-

    Why people die on the toilet (version 0.1):
    Although it doesn’t get much press (for obvious reasons), a disproportionately high number of people (usually older men who are in high risk categories for heart disease) die on the toilet. This is at least partly due to problems some older men have with constipation. Although this causes them to generally spend longer on the toilet, that’s not the problem. The problem is that people in this situation tend to “push” harder and longer than they should in what is effectively Valsalva’s maneuver. This added pressure on the intestines and colon corresponds to an added pressure in the abdominal and thoraic cavities. The vena cava (major veins leading back to the heart) are normally “held open” by the “negative pressure” (lower than atmospheric… the same reason a hole in the chest wall (pneumothorax or hemothorax) can kill you so quickly). When the pressure increases it pinches the vena cava closed and the blood can no longer go back to the heart. Consequently, the barroreceptors which measure blood pressure on the arterial side of the heart, notice a drop in pressure (due to the fact that blood is no longer being pumped) and so they trigger a “sympathetic response” that causes blood pressure to spike. The combination of blood pressure spiking (which can lead to stroke or other problems) and lack of blood being pumped to the heart (which starves the heart for oxygen and eventually can trigger a heart attack and/or heart failure).

    Reply
    1. human

      My youngest was born on the toilet! This is not uncommon among planned home births I was told by the midwife.

      Ahhhh :-)

      Reply
      1. Harold

        An acquaintance had her baby in the bathroom (it was spontaneous labor). She described it as the most exhilarating experience of her life.

        Reply
      2. Michael Fiorillo

        “…like shittin’ a watermelon.” according to one of the (female, just gave birth) characters in Hubert Selby’s “Last Exit to Brooklyn.”

        And on the topic of Selby and how Time is a Mother(family blog), it’s as if that book is set in an alternate universe from contemporary Brooklyn and NYC, a reminder of the many disguises Time assumes…

        Reply
        1. Harold

          My own residence is not too far from the former fleshpots of Bush Terminal, now rechristened Industry City and reinvented as a hipster shopping mall. We used to see the longshoremen, now retired and waiting for their weekly checks, when we took our children to the public school bus stop on Fourth Avenue in the mornings. Speaking of mothers, I met Adelin Selby, Hubert Selby’s mother, and visited her pleasant house several times when she was president of the Friends of the Bay Ridge Public Library.

          Reply
    2. jhallc

      The only time I’ve ever called 911 was when a neighbor collapsed in our 1/2 bath. Its very small and she’s lucky she didn’t hit her head on the sink on the way down. She’s was OK by the time the medics arrived.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I never eat a fried peanut butter, bacon & banana sandwich on the throne, for if I perished-perish the thought, all i’d be remembered as, was dying like Elvis.

        Reply
    3. Susan the other`

      Can’t resist this comment. Let toilets diagnose everything. Let toilets be our primary care providers; they can send us off to specialists, or research facilities; recommend further lab tests, imaging, possible surgeries… you get the idea. In fact toilets could, fittingly, take over all the paperwork.

      Reply
        1. fajensen

          Oh, people here does that every Sunday morning; They even promise that, should they somehow live, they will definitely clean up their ways and never-ever drink that much again :)

          Reply
    1. WobblyTelomeres

      DCCC is the incumbents, right? So one has to expect this even if it conflicts with their bromide soup.

      Reply
    2. AC

      DCCC: This is more than stupid. The DCCC has now codified the primary fixing evident in the HRC/Bernie race. The DCCC should be primary neutral. It’s simple democracy. This is purely a corporate power move by those who still control the Party. Is it time for a 3rd party aka the Whigs in the 19th century? If the Party does not bend (new deal) it will break.

      Reply
      1. voteforno6

        If Bernie is actually nominated, and wins the general election, he’ll still have an infrastructure in place that can fight this, I think. I don’t think he would unilaterally disarm, though, like Obama did.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Obama didn’t disarm his operation. The 50 state strategy operation brought too many little people into politics and the ability of those people to influence politicians was too great. It needed to be shut down and destroyed. There were mechanisms to control the agenda.

          Pelosi and the DCCC are threatening firms who work for primary challengers for the same reason.

          Reply
        2. Eureka Springs

          Well he unilaterally disarmed when strong-armed and robbed in the run up to and during the last convention. He unilaterally disarmed at possibly the most powerful moment he ever had in the Senate by not voting against PPACA.

          And what, the D Super Delegates still total 15 percent? Does anyone think Warren would give Sanders her delegates? Hell she didn’t even endorse Sanders last time. Biden wouldn’t either. Beto or Harris, highly doubtful considering their records and owners.

          As for the next congress, hypothetically with Sanders in the Oval… Dems will fight his top issues tooth and nail. Progs are feckless and insincere at best, and new Dems would rather run with their paymasters and Republicans.

          Reply
          1. John k

            But Bernie can threaten to primary them as pres… and get the people riled up with bully pulpit.
            Best, of course, is to bring a wave of progressives with him in2020.
            Much easier if recession hits in 2020, bigger wave, bigger win, kinda like fdr.

            Reply
            1. edmondo

              Did you read the DCCC story? There’s no way Bernie can bring in progressives to Congress in 2020 if they can’t get nominated by the Democrats.

              Reply
              1. Cal2

                edmondo,

                The thought then is that we might as well re-elect Trump to punish the corporate Democrats. That’s probably where a lot of his “mysterious” support came from in 2016, outraged Sanders supporters.

                Ignoring Sanders/Gabbard, a slate that Could and Would defeat Trump, and nominating Beto O’Corporate,
                Clumsy Hands Biden,
                Kamala Embarrass,
                Frau KoBlucher,
                et al, would be reason enough to vote for Trump.

                We don’t need a Third Party in this country, we need a
                Second Political Party.

                I urge every voter to listen to Tulsi Gabbad explain why she’s different than Bernie Sanders. Go to the 30 minute mark in this video:
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VOUuylYHIc

                Reply
              2. John k

                You have to win the primaries, just like AOC and Omar, and many others, did.
                These examples encourages many others to try.
                It took decades to turn from fdr dems to corporatists, it will take time to overcome the resistance of turning back. Bernie’s doing a lot, others have to step up.

                Reply
          2. Svante Arrhenius

            It’s always been their job: to stomp down any candidate who’d change the status quo and inconvenience their true constituents: Massa. Certainly, nothing new. That’s how we GOT the electoral college, appointed judiciary & senate? Our press is free (of dissident dissonance) our militia are free to BYOG to the massacre, riot, protest, strike, lock-out… to protect bossman.

            http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2019/03/reactionary-blue-dogs-and-wall-street.html?m=1

            Reply
    3. mle detroit

      What I thought too, but DH pointed out that it’s their money (they spend half their work week raising it) so why should they fund a competitor? One good side effect will be to limit the damage of same-old-same-old “vendors.” Challengers are like start-ups: they need to find their own angel investors (raises hand).

      Reply
      1. WobblyTelomeres

        AOC terrifies them. Just like Bernie does. The Republicans at least knew who to fellate when Eric Cantor got bounced. The Democrats have no one to blame other than their own electorate (!). Seems to me they need to get to work pleasing their voters…

        Reply
        1. Charger01

          They work for their donors, full stop. Don’t give the D’s a moment of your time or money. They’ll betray you as soon as possible and call it bipartisanship.

          Reply
    4. Oh

      Campaigns are a money game. It’s not winning or losing but who gets to spend the largesse. That’s why you see the same nee’r do wells campaign managers return for more. Anyone remember Donna Brazil?

      Reply
  7. timbers

    Glenn Greenwald:

    “The Mueller investigation is complete and this is a simple fact that will never go away: not one single American was charged, indicted or convicted for conspiring with Russia to influence the 2016 election – not even a low-level volunteer. The number is zero.”

    Or as my Democratic friends would say in response to mentioning this “stop watching FOX News.”

    Team Blue spent more than 3 years on this distraction, which contributed mightily towards ratcheting up military tensions and resulting war and aggression spending….all the while getting Dems off the hook having to explain why they won’t support anything that benefits working people, only their rich donors.

    In other words, it worked just as the Dem Establishment planned. Yet it still amazes me that people I know who saw thru WMD in Iraq, fell hook line and sinker for Russiagate. Their hatred (for Trump) blinded them.

    Yoda was right: “Don’t turn to the dark side….consume you it will. Forever it will dominate your destiny.”

    Reply
    1. Baby Gerald

      You’ve got it right, timbers. This whole investigation served exactly the purpose it was meant to, regardless of the outcome. Take this opinion column in the NY Times from Caroline Fredrickson for instance:

      We Don’t Need to Read the Mueller Report: Even if it is never released, the public already knows enough.

      While there are at least three other headlines in the same outlet begging for the report to be made public and explaining that congress and the American people deserve to see the whole report, Ms. Fredrickson lays it all bare with her column. She proclaims, as the title suggests: ‘we don’t need a peek at the recommendations [Mueller] delivered on Friday to Attorney General William Barr to credibly assess that something unethical and likely illegal went on in 2016.’ Guilt by suspicion and association is her stock and trade. She goes on to list Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, and (incorrectly, I might add) George Papadopoulos as all men serving or about to serve time for lying to the feds. Two-plus years of federal investigations coming up with no further indictments don’t matter.

      Note that Fredrickson is president of the American Constitution Society which, according to their ‘about us’ page was ‘formed as the progressive response after the Supreme Court’s Bush v. Gore decision’ and ‘founded on the principle that the law should be a force to improve the lives of all people.’ I would like to know which section of the Constitution Ms. Fredrickson can cite for her ‘guilty because I think so’ outlook.

      So yeah, timbers, your friends are never going to change their minds. They’ll never apologize for thinking you’re a Fox News nut or Putin apologist. I don’t expect mine to do so and neither should you. They’re convinced and they’ve got people like Fredrickson backing them up.

      Reply
      1. notabanker

        Just a few weeks ago I watched Quinn Slobodian give a talk on his Neoliberalism book to the Watson Institute on YT. In response to a questions he gave this example, and I’m paraphrasing here, but you’ll get the drift.

        As Yanis was trying to plead his case with the EU on how destructive austerity would be to the Greek citizens, Schauble didn’t even try to advance the political courtesy of listening to him. The message was completely ignored as he went on to further business. The message sent was clear. It is not a choice, but rather on obligation of the State to maintain the ideology even in the face of what could have potentially destructive consequences. It simply must be that way.

        I have been constantly reminded of this example across American politics, whether AIPAC, Venezuela, MMT, Russian interference etc… Arguing with these people is useful in the sense of calling out the fallacy of the ideology, but there should be no expectation that they will ‘change their minds’, nor their message.

        These problems are about core ideology. The people deeply embedded in it, whose very existence depends on it, simply do not have a choice. They have an obligation.

        Reply
        1. Mark Gisleson

          And this all falls on the Clintons. She risked nuclear war so she could push a lame excuse for having run the worst campaign in US Electoral College history.

          From a strategy and campaign perspective, Hillary Clinton has now run the two worst campaigns I’ve witnessed. She has deliberately built a cult around herself that feeds her Kissinger-sized ego.

          She and her husband have used the Clinton Foundation to bilk and hustle entire nations.

          And we are still talking about her because The Resistance™ was just a dodge.

          She lost to Donald Trump through sheer ineptitude. Do we finally get to talk about that?

          Reply
          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            It’s important to note HRC’s losses aren’t a series of tactical errors but long term strategic failures too. The good Ole boy structure of the Clinton operation doesn’t work on a national level. Ineptitude allowed her to lose to what should be a regional rump party, but being in that position is the result of not being a populist structure.

            Reply
            1. dcrane

              From discussions here, it has sounded as if some tactical errors were involved, especially regarding the need to win in the electoral college….spending large in California while support in the Midwest sagged.

              (Edit: Noting that you didn’t rule out tactical errors in your post.)

              Reply
        2. human

          I seem to recall inmates on death row having been shown to be innocent being put to death anyways because of this.

          Reply
        3. Adam Eran

          You remind me of an apparatchik I heard saying “Just because they get lots of money doesn’t mean money influences policy makers’ decisions.” He said this, reciting by rote as though he were saying the Apostles Creed. It’s a religious belief, and absurdity is a requirement in all religions.

          Jared Diamond says absurdity promotes survival. When you’re on the castle wall, facing a horde of barbarians, you need to know your fellow defenders are willing to go to unreasonable lengths to have your back. Sure, you may have some crazy genital mutilation, but everyone on the wall has that… They’re like Luca Brazzi. Sure, they’re insane psychopaths, but they’re *our* psychopaths.

          Reply
        4. Susan the other`

          In the case of Schaeuble and Greece and Yanis trying to talk sense to the EU – the reason Greece was so ruthlessly sacrificed was that Germany blamed Greece for fudging it books. Germany had a Sophie’s choice – It could let the EU disintegrate or corral Greece to control the stampede. It was DeutscheBank or Greece back then and DB won because to let it go would have tanked Germany which in turn would have tanked the EU. As it was Germany (Merkel herself) surreptitiously scurried off to Beijing and sold Bunds, which money (I’m assuming as this is what then happened) was given to the ECB under the table and against Maastricht rules, funneled to Greece for the sole purpose of being sent without delay straight back to DB. All it did was buy time. It did nothing to actually fix the system. As we can see DB today is basically gone. Changing the system is still on the table. And I don’t think it is impossible simply because people in power are protecting the old system. I think we are looking at evolution at its finest. Things will change.

          Reply
        5. Chris Cosmos

          In fact Schauble agreed with Varoufakis in theory but refused to budge even an inch in that direction. Varoufakis came to the same conclusion I reached some time ago–the system runs the politicians and even the CEOs which is why I’m always saying the system is “systemically” corrupt because it runs on algorithms whether the algo is run by flesh or electronic computers–doesn’t matter.

          Reply
      2. chuck roast

        I watched a bunch of FOX news last night for the first time ever. They pretty much had it right with the exception of the occasional nut-job. They were all onto the Muller FISA warrant and how it was, based upon the resultant “no Russia-collusion indictments”, completely bogus and fabricated. Good call there. Unfortunately, the Star Chamber nature of the FISA court entirely escaped them all.

        Then I watched Fart Breath Maddow for the first time ever.
        Surprisingly, she did an excellent intro into the mechanics of the Barr letter and Muller’s requirements under law. Then, she spent about 5 seconds (well, maybe 3 seconds) on the “no Russia-collusion indictments”. As Greenwald points out, that was what the entire thing was about.

        It was too funny. At the intro of her show Maddow explained that she was broadcasting from a TV station in Tennessee because she had been trout fishing there. And in a hilarious bit of unintended irony she actually said about the submission of the Mueller Report, “This is a reason to stop fishing, and go to work!”

        Indeed, you can’t make this stuff up.

        Reply
      3. Michael Fiorillo

        A less petty person wouldn’t say to Russiagate Truthers “Bwa-Ha-Ha, I told you so,” but I am not that person.

        Oh, wait, that’s OK, Manafort will bring Trump down (even if his indictments had nothing to do with Russia, and were basically tax evasion charges)!

        Oh, wait, that’s OK, Flynn will bring Trump down (even if the only country he was found colluding with was Israel)!

        Oh, wait, that’s OK, Papadopoulos (he of the pimply face and high school Model UN on his resume) will bring Trump down!

        Oh, wait, that’s OK, Manafort met with Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy (even though no evidence was ever presented, and it’s probably the most heavily surveilled place on earth)!

        Oh, wait, that’s OK, Stone was in touch with Assange about the stolen emails (even though Mueller never claimed that in his indictments, and previous news reports on the topic allowed Stone to troll with the story)!

        Oh, wait, that’s OK, Cohen will bring Trump down (even though his testimony contradicted the Collusion narrative)!

        Oh, wait, THAT’S ALL OK, LET’S WAIT FOR THE MUELLER REPORT!! (although, realizing in recent weeks that their narrative was collapsing, Russiagate Truthers have changed it from “It’s The Beginning of the End,” to “It’s The End of the Beginning”)

        And on, and on…

        Meanwhile, what actually did happen?

        Over two years were squandered on collective hysteria and magical thinking, based on charges for which no evidence was ever presented, and by childish fantasies that somehow those ever-moving goalposts would lead to Trump’s impeachment. That time could have been spent actually fighting Trump, based on policies directing universal material benefits toward the working class.

        A new, needless and dangerous Cold War with Russia was begun.

        The inexcusable ineptitude of the Clinton campaign was masked (a major reason for this whole sorry episode), helping them to continue controlling the Democratic Party and smearing Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard .

        Journalists and citizens with basic common sense and skepticism, or who merely asked to see some evidence, were slandered as Russian agents and/or Trump supporters.

        The Neocons and Chicken Hawks who got us into Iraq have been rehabilitated….

        Trump has been partially inoculated by all the hysteria, his claims of “Fake News” vindicated, and is in a stronger position for re-election than he would have been. In other words, inexcusably BAD POLITICS…

        Intelligent, educated people, who should have known better, refused to reason… and let themselves be conned by the most disgraceful and preposterous propaganda campaign (with the possible exception of Trump’s 2016 campaign itself, which received billions in free media from the same corporate entities that have been pushing Russiagate) since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and convinced themselves the Republic would be saved by the political police (aka FBI) and spy agencies…

        It’s also time to say that anyone who insists on pushing Russiagate should be seen as the contemporary equivalent of a 9/11 Truther…

        See Also: “Well, That Was Anticlimactic”
        “Fox News For Liberals”
        “Jesus, Aren’t You Embarrassed?!”
        “Wait, You Mean People Actually Thought This Would Lead to Trump’s Impeachment?”
        “Wow, You Mean Those People Really Demonstrated to Protest Jeff Sessions Getting Fired?
        Jeff Sessions?”

        Reply
        1. dcrane

          Good summary rant.

          I’d add that TrumpRussia served not just to cover for the Dems losing to Trump, but to cover for the largely uncritical, emperor’s-new-clothes performance that the mainstream media put on around Hillary Clinton for 18 months leading up to the election. I’m not saying that she didn’t get any critical mainline press. But what there was, was always contained within a framework of unspoken agreement that Trump must not become the US president, so never presented in a way that might suggest serious weakness. (Contrast this to Sanders, who received precisely the opposite treatment.) And Trump’s election following more than a year’s worth of coverage simply ridiculing the idea that he might win, certainly put the prognosticators in a poor position.

          Plenty of “twilight of the elites” material.

          Reply
        2. DJG

          Thanks, Michael Fiorillo: What sort-a burns me is the number of people I’m seeing on Facebook who thought that Trump would have been impeached and removed by now. I saw the comment, “I guess we’ll have to vote him out.” You have large numbers of the supposedly educated liberal-ish mainstream Democrats who don’t even know the basics of the Constitution. But impeachment should have happened sometime before Sunday brunch, eh?

          I am reminded of the people who didn’t know about the Electoral College till the morning after the presidential election and started posting about what it is (cluelessly) and how to make every elector into a “faithless” elector.

          And these are the bright shining fearless self-congratulatory multiculturally vanguardish core of the Democratic Party + Clinton Fan Club.

          As we say in Chicago, “They could screw up a two-car funeral.”

          And yet it is now all Beto all the time from the same group of geniuses.

          Reply
      1. shtove

        Crikey! That was a distressing read, until you get further down the thread and the sane respondents came out in force. Makes me think the first respondents were funded.

        Reply
    2. Ignim Brites

      “…worked just as the Dem Establishment planned.” May have worked as the Dem Establishment planned, but the deep state plan is to ratchet confrontation up with Russia to the point of a tactical nuclear exchange, so that tactical nukes can be used against Iran. This has not been accomplished. Therefore, more fireworks to come.

      Reply
    3. Hepativore

      Now with the Mueller investigation finding no evidence of Russian collusion, the anti-Russia peddlers in the establishment and media are going to claim that Mueller was either bowing to political pressure or in on the conspiracy the whole time.

      Having learned nothing, establishment Democrats will pick another prosecutor to launch another investigation ad nauseum until they get a conclusion they like or Trump leaves office at the end of his term.

      Reply
      1. a different chris

        >he anti-Russia peddlers in the establishment and media are going to claim that Mueller was

        That’s what I expected, but did you read the Tulsi tweet-thread pointed out by Shonde? Those commenters don’t even seem to realize that Mueller didn’t do a thing they said he was going to do. Not. One. Thing. They are so beyond delusional at this point it’s scary.

        So back to your point, I am now, instead of insisting they say “we were wrong”, just simply hoping the “establishment and media” just move on to something else. Lordy.

        Reply
    4. Oregoncharles

      Remember that self-avowed Democrats are only about 30% of the electorate. There are far more independents (everybody else), about 42%. So both the Dems and Reps are minor parties masquerading as major ones. No wonder they’re so frantic, and so desperate for an excuse.

      Reply
  8. Baby Gerald

    Re: Someone Challenges People To Google ‘Florida Man’ Plus Their Birthday, Here Are 30 Hilarious Responses

    Now before you start trying this yourself and get a few easy laughs, we have a scold named Adam H. Johnson from FAIR who proclaims from atop his moral high horse:

    ‘Florida Man’ Jokes Are an Excuse to Laugh at the Poor

    Silly me. I just thought it was an excuse to laugh at stupid people being stupid.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Florida Man makes poor judgement calls to our amusement and if only Nebraska Man or Oregon Man were as funny-stupid, we’d talk about them too.

      I wonder how this one went, doesn’t the Sunshine State have a ‘Stand Your Ground Meat’ statute?

      “Florida Man attacks gas station clerk with hot dogs, corn dog stick over beer, cops say.”

      Reply
      1. Svante Arrhenius

        Two totally unbelievable, but perfectly true apocryphal internet urban myths happened within several miles of each other on the western verges of Pennsyltucky: Wife Crazy-Glues Errant Husband’s Penis (before kicking him out onto snowy US 22 naked in the snow) and Urine Filled Rubber Penis Ecplodes in Convenience Store Microwave still cheer us Pixboig jagoffs. Florida deserves their proud heritage, at least while above water?

        Reply
          1. Svante Arrhenius

            I’m guessing that’s how I’d written “ecplodes?” I’d wished not to enrage my Panama City pals. I spent lots of time working in the Panhandle, so was very concerned about friends in Mexico Beach, PC and Wewahitckka. But, yeah… they nutz alrighty!

            Reply
    2. Louis Fyne

      as being guilty of laughing at florida too…

      to be semi-serious about Florida—my out-of-my-butt unscientific hypothesis is that the vast majority of people in Florida have shallow family/social networks (given most people have moved their fairly recently).

      no real government safety net + no real social/family/community safety net + atomized/car-centric society = when people face personal/mental hardship or minor infraction with the law that triggers a downward spiral of substance abuse, more legal troubles, etc.

      Reply
    3. Donald

      The article was actually worth reading. I suspect if you go through all the examples case by case some might possibly be harmless but others are probably cruel in the way Adam Johnson says they are. Or maybe all are cruel.

      There are plenty of internet videos involving animals doing silly things without getting hurt. I get my daily need to be entertained with those. Or one could read a Thomas Friedman column, where one laughs at someone with more influence and less sense than any “ Florida man”. But I suppose a scold could say it isn’t funny that a stupid warmonger has such a megaphone.

      Reply
      1. Donald

        I admit, though, that Adam Johnson is a bit of a scold. He says so himself. But I read his twitter feed and his articles (he takes frequent months long hiatuses on Twitter) and he is one of the best analysts of media hypocrisy out there, so whatever you think of his Florida man article I would generally recommend him.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I believe the point is more to not revel in this kind of humor. Bill Maher’s act is just punching down. And Adam Johnson has even critiqued ST:TNG as an ode to middle management where are problems are solved in meetings, but he clearly enjoys the show.

          Reply
          1. Donald

            I agree. That’s why I suggested reading Tom Friedman columns instead, and one could also read those who parody him. I think there is a Friedman column generator online too, but I am too lazy to look.

            Reply
            1. Hopelb

              Tim Dorsey’s Florida based series, featuring Serge Storms, a crazy and brilliant vigilante/murderer is often hilarious. Serge targets corrupt politicians, environment destroying developers and thugs and is also obsessed with Floridian history so often the plot involves Serge’s historical research. Cadillac Beach might be the best.

              Reply
    4. Cal2

      And a reason for stupid people to give Google their birthday to add to their data trove for sale.
      If you are going to stoop to this National Enquirer level junk culture,
      at least use a fake birthday.

      Reply
      1. Craig H.

        They know your birthday. Any date you type in there accurate or false supplies data they will incorporate into their Cal2-bot they update with your every input in real time + a few milliseconds of computing lag.

        Their resources are supplied by the MIC. They are really really HUGE.

        Reply
        1. Cal2

          OK then, My Birthday is February 30th.
          I’m an African American female,
          I live in a trailer,
          My income is over 500,000 a year,
          I am a registered Republican,
          I consider myself to be extremely conservative,
          I have 21 children,
          Any other questions?
          Those are answers I gave to an unsolicited robopinion poll that autodialed me today.

          Reply
  9. The Rev Kev

    “Dunford to meet with Google for ‘debate’ on Chinese ties”

    It seems that with the Pentagon, that how much officers like Durnford will attack you depends on your political cover and your ins with the political establishment. As an example, keeping that story about Boeing going into China in mind, you could re-write this whole article, substitute the word “Boeing” with “Google”, change a few details and the story would come out the same. The outfit that build the US military’s aircraft going into China? Wouldn’t that be doing “long-term damage to America’s security”? And isn’t that “assisting the Chinese military in advancing technologically (that is) not in U.S. national interests”? And when Durnford say ” if a company does business in China, they are automatically going to be required to have a cell of the Communist Party in that company”, would that be not more of a worry for a corporation that builds so many planes for the US military? Don’t hear of any scheduled meetings between Durnford and Boeing however.

    Reply
  10. human

    Eldest daughter just gave us our third grandchild. Baby and mother are fine. She has worked for Disney in Orlando for about ten years. As a matter of fact, she is a shop steward for her unit.

    Disney does not provide _any_ paid maternity leave. My daughter has banked her paid sick leave, vacation and holiday time in order to be able to take three weeks off.

    When another daughter gave us our second grandchild, our son (who worked at Starbucks) had longer paternity leave than she did as a store manager for Goodwill (badwill) Industries who eventually offered her none.

    USA, USA (grrrrr)

    Reply
    1. marieann

      Can a mother go on unemployment insurance in order to take more time off?

      I can’t really understand how a woman can go back to work 3 weeks after giving birth

      Reply
      1. human

        Voluntarily leave a job? Are you kidding??? Living in a cardboard box is not an option. Mrs human has stepped in for however long it takes. Who knows. I may have to leave my palatial existence and life in the lap of luxury ($1500/month 1200sqft apt) here in New England (there’s an apt name for you) in order assist our next generatons.

        Reply
        1. marieann

          As a Canadian…to me this sounds medieval.

          When my oldest son was born in 1973 we “only” got 6 weeks maternity leave.

          Congrats on the new baby….and I’m very glad he/she has a grandma that can help

          Reply
      2. Eclair

        “Relatedly, countries with higher rates of wealth inequality in this meta-analysis also tended to have a higher percentage of women of childbearing age working full-time (Coef. = 0.553, SE = 0.126, p = 0.001, CI: = 0.250 to 856, R2 = 36.9%). This fact may partially explain why countries in which higher proportions of women of childbearing age work full-time have a higher prevalence of PPD. Working full-time while caring for young children can place multiple demands on new mothers (310, 311), causing stress and family discord linked to PPD. These findings militate for PPD intervention efforts focusing on providing support for working mothers.”
        (Economic and Health Predictors of National Postpartum Depression Incidence. NIH)

        Postpartum depression has been on the news lately, with the release of a new ‘miracle drug’ that can make new mothers feel better within hours. After shelling out $20,000.

        So, Section M of the Great Game Plan is for the wealthy to suction off even more of the planet’s bounty, raising wealth/income inequality to insane levels, encouraging mothers (and fathers) to take even more and more demanding jobs outside the home. Who could have predicted that under these circumstances, new mothers (and fathers), already under stress due to the natural sleep deprivation demanded by new-borns, and due to the wildly fluctuating hormone levels (dads get ’em too), will suffer increased levels of depression. OMG! What a market opportunity!

        My spouse worked with a colleague who, as had his wife, had come from South Korea as a child, but lived in the large Korean community in LA. After the birth of their first child, we visited them, and I was amazed as the new mother told me she was following the traditional Korean after-birth prescriptions. She did not leave the house for the first month, family and friends brought in all their meals. She drank gallons of warm barley tea to ‘recover her strength.’ She breast-fed the baby, had time with her husband, slept, ate nourishing food and was surrounded by supportive family and friends. She was fortunate in her job as a teacher in the LA School District and was able to take a leave-of-absence.

        Reply
    2. Pat

      Congratulations!

      Love how family friendly the supposed family friendly corporation is. And yes paid vacation and paid family leave should be legally required of all businesses of a certain size. But then unpaid internships should also be a fast route to prison time for top management.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Americans feel guilty taking time off for frivolous things such as vacations and the immediate care of newborns, and employers feed off of that sentiment.

        Reply
      2. Cal2

        Brings up an interesting idea;

        perhaps the larger the income/profit/number of employees a corporation has, the larger and longer the benefit package would be pro-rated be federal law.
        Make it part of the tax code so that they couldn’t challenge as an aggrieved “person.”

        The Republicans would love it as it would help all the “small businesses that they claim to love.”

        Reply
  11. mrsyk

    From the Gaurdian pice on Brexit:

    “The most important decisions in response to any potential crisis will be taken by the little-known European Union exit and trade (preparedness) subcommittee, which was set up in January, and is chaired by the prime minister.

    That will have sweeping powers to intervene and order emergency measures, including mobilising the military, and getting rid of regulations if necessary, the document suggests.”

    Yowsers.

    Reply
    1. Craig H.

      I couldn’t find the complete text of the Uri Geller letter in five tries. The part about Theresa May and Churchill’s spoon is hilarious. Did the Prime Minister comment on the Geller letter?

      Reply
    2. ChristopherJ

      The J Pie youtube clip is worth seeing

      You got Brexit because ‘they’ broke the contract (to spend money on the people). Instead we got austerity

      Explains it in four words, they broke the contract

      Reply
  12. The Rev Kev

    “Democratic Hopefuls Reject AIPAC”

    I think that my spidey-sense is tingling. The names that I read in that article are mostly establishment figures like Pence and Harris. It could be pre-arranged their non-appearance as it does not really hurt AIPAC but makes the candidates look good. The billions will still flow of course. Of course Netanyahu is going to AIPAC to speak there as well so I wonder if they are going to keep away for that.
    Maybe they do not want to be in a position where they will have to answer embarrassing questions about the US-Israeli relations. More so since the UN rights council found against Israel’s shootings on the borders a few days ago by accusing them of war crimes. Change that – that’s not my spidey-sense tingling, that’s my bs detector.
    I would love for reporters to ask the candidates what they would do if Trump unilaterally decided to hand over Temple Mount in Jerusalem to Israel and provide them with the billions to remove the Al-Aqsa Mosque and build the Third Temple in it’s place. Just like the one Proconsul Pompeo saw yesterday as a model and which he featured in his video of his visit at https://twitter.com/SecPompeo

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Just like the one Proconsul Pompeo saw yesterday as a model and which he featured in his video of his visit at

      Is it pronounced: ‘Pompey’?

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Nah! Can’t be. The Romans came to know Pompey as Pompey the Great because of a long string of solid achievements. As Pompeo is proving to be such a disastrous SecState, perhaps they should name him after a Roman disaster – like Pompeii.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Pompeo the Unready.

          I enjoy puns and word play, but “the unready” will always reign as the greatest burn in history.

          Reply
          1. Phil

            “The Unready” is a mistranslation of the Old English “unraed,” a nickname applied posthumously to 10th-century English King Aethelred. Its actual meaning is closer to “badly advised,” which fits Pompeo and others of Trump’s inner circle perfectly. Trump, of course, is the bigger fool for assembling these evil cretins around himself.

            Reply
        2. Wukchumni

          Indeed, Pompey took Judean conquered lands in Syria away from them, restoring them to Syrian rule.

          And besides, there was no money in building condos on disputed territory of the West Bank back then.

          Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              Moon of Alabama has an article that includes the following section-

              Trump’s move though might have some standing in U.S. courts. That will become important when law suites are filed against Genie Energy Ltd., an oil company in Newark New Jersey that wants to drill for oil in the Golan Heights area:

              Genie Energy is no “penny stock” run-of-the-mill oil company. Its board of Advisors includes Dick Cheney. It includes former CIA head and chairman of the above-mentioned Foundation for Defense of Democracies, James Woolsey. It includes Jacob Lord Rothschild of the London banking dynasty and a former business partner of convicted Russian oil oligarch, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Before his arrest Khodorkovsky secretly transferred his shares in Yukos Oil to Rothschild.

              Further this little-known Newark, New Jersey oil company board includes former US Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, pro-Israel media mogul and owner of Trump’s favorite Fox News TV, Rupert Murdoch. Also on the board are former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and hedge fund billionaire Michael Steinhardt. Steinhardt, a philanthropic friend of Israel and of Marc Rich, is also a board member of Woolsey’s neo-con Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, which advises Trump among other things that it would be good for Washington to recognize Israel as legitimate owner of the Golan Heights lands taken by Dayan in the 1967 War.

              It is always the usual suspects, isn’t it?

              https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/03/trumps-golan-move-is-designed-to-guarantee-netanyahoos-reelection.html

              Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Based on what happened with Omar, there was clearly a period where AIPAC expected displays of fealty. Hickenlooper is particularly tone deaf. I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries for a speaking slot.

      Reply
    3. Baby Gerald

      But wait! Here’s another fine opinion column in yesterday’s Grey Lady that should calm the fears of any candidate worried about the optics of associating with AIPAC:

      The Case for Aipac: Critics say that the pro-Israel group is too powerful and too far to the right. Neither is true.

      It strikes me as odd that the author, Mark Horowitz from Tablet Magazine*, doesn’t capitalize all the letters in the organization’s name, like the organization itself does. Just look at the photo in the article. It’s annoying as hell to read it as Aipac.

      It is wholly less odd and just a bit ironic to see him regurgitate the old trope that ‘several new members of Congress, have resurrected the anti-Semitic canard that American Jews have too much power’ when smearing those who have criticized Israel and its most obvious lobbying arm.

      What follows is more whataboutist nonsense regarding the proportion of AIPAC spending in an apples/oranges comparison to other lobbies (but look- realtors spent $72.8million!) and claiming that AIPAC is actually a centrist lobby situating itself between the supposedly leftist J-Street and Adelson’s more extreme Israeli American Council.

      Somehow Mr. Horowitz neglects to point his readers to this page about the Foreign Agent Registration Act which discloses that Israel ranks as the number 2 foreign country lobbying the United States, outspent only by South Korea. Why is that, I wonder? Oh, it’s because Israeli lobbies spent a total of $63.5million since 2017 peddling influence. While AIPAC might account for a small fraction of that total, the unified message of all the lobbying done on Israel’s behalf cannot be denied and the total spent completely undoes his claims.

      * For a sampling of Tablet’s agenda, their top headline article right now is How Dare Chelsea Clinton Defend the Jews? A run-in at NYU reveals the unavoidable truth: The war for the soul of the left will be fought over anti-Semitism. followed by a recipe for rugelach and a third about China’s quest for ‘global supremacy’.

      Reply
      1. integer

        AIPAC doesn’t actually contribute to candidates. It’s more like a dating service that connects a pool of wealthy pro-Israel Jewish donors – who trust AIPAC to do the research for them and make recommendations – with candidates who pledge to support Israel. AIPAC is therefore able to exert a lot more power and influence than the sum it spends on lobbying would suggest.

        Reply
    4. Shonde

      “The progressive advocacy group MoveOn is calling on all candidates for Democratic presidential nomination to boycott the 2019 AIPAC conference, which will take place in Washington, D.C. this weekend.”

      I have been ignoring MoveOn for years now. Does this mean MoveOn is moving left and could once again be relevant? Anybody know?

      Reply
  13. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    Further to the Brexit link, one wonders if David Henig is aware of the irony. When May fired Osborne, she suggested that he “learn some emotional intelligence”.

    With regard to Jolyon Maugham, perhaps remainers could find a less obnoxious and arrogant adviser and avoid alienating brexiteers further.

    Reply
    1. larry

      CS, how could he be more arrogant than Blair or Mandelson? While I have noticed he is a tad arrogant, I haven’t noticed him being obnoxious. But maybe you have seen some stuff I haven’t.

      Reply
      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Larry.

        Just for starters, saying that Labour MPs under Corbyn use the Commons library less is a sign of their ignorance and volunteering his services for Grenfell victims when he is happy to support Red Toryism.

        Reply
        1. boz

          Thank you, Colonel Smithers.

          Could you unpack the comment about Red Toryism?

          I think I have a vague understanding of Red toryism (social conservative, economic conservative?) but I couldn’t join the dots.

          Reply
          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, Larry.

            Short hand for Blairism, but not to be confused with Philip Blond’s Respublica thinkers or Tory Wets.

            Reply
    2. Susan the other`

      Thanks to Yves for Jonathan Pie once again. The greatest orator in Britain. Honestly, my grandmother couldn’t have said it better. And I know that profound sadness myself, living here in the heart of neoliberal denialism. It would be nice if we could all get on our bikes like Boris and ride away.

      Reply
  14. PlutoniumKun

    How to green the world’s deserts and reverse climate change Allan Savory , YouTube (furzy). From 2013.

    I’d love to believe this, but a few years ago George Monbiot did a demolition of his claims. I’ve read a few counterclaims by supporters of Savory, but I haven’t found them very impressive, most are based on anecdote rather than real scientific evidence.

    Reply
    1. larry

      Irrespective of climate change, there is a way of ensuring unlimited fresh water and electricity, along with some minerals — deep sea volcanic vents. Very expensive to set up, but any sovereign government running a fiat currency system can do it. The technology is known and not much different from deep sea well extraction. It helps to be in certain locations. There is one relatively close to the Saudi Arabian coast. There is another one off Iceland, though probably in Icelandic waters. Iceland itself uses a valcanic vent that is close to the surface for their water and electricity. They could sell any extras to the UK. Of course, it would likely have to go via northern Scotland. There is a down side, of course — destruction of a certain anerobic microbial ecosystem. Is this worse than what we are already doing?

      Reply
      1. Henry Moon Pie

        “Is this worse than what we are already doing?”

        We have no way of knowing, and given the track record, it’s foolish to assume that unintended consequences are ready to bite down hard. The complexity of Earth’s ecology is so great that we are likely to turn our slow-motion end of civilization into something quick.

        I have a proposal:

        Instead of trying to think up ways we can maim the Earth to save our asses from our own mistakes, maybe we should concentrate on changing ourselves and the way we live. Let’s mold ourselves into beings that can live in harmony with each other and our planet and quit trying to mold the planet into some kind of Disneyworld.

        Reply
        1. Judith

          And practice an extreme version of the precautionary principle. (Instead of its opposite, which seems to be the human default.)

          Reply
        2. Shonde

          Thank you HMP. I feel we have already maimed our earth home enough. Time for all of us to become Luddites.

          Reply
          1. Henry Moon Pie

            Wendell Berry is often accused of being a Luddite, but he just seems to possess common sense to me:

            We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.

            -from The Long-Legged House by Wendell Berry

            Reply
        1. Sunday Susan

          There are a number of permaculture activists who have been proving their theories about saving and restoring damaged ecosystems. Geoff Lawton and John Liu provide much good information through their websites and video presentations.

          Reply
    2. Susan the other`

      I’m inclined to believe Savory because he starts with the premise that there is rainfall. That rainfall, if it falls sparsely on long established deserts will quickly evaporate and that’s that. But that’s not what Savory is talking about. He’s talking about saving our grasslands from becoming deserts. On those lands, his prescription of managed herd grazing could work. There is enough soil left to create a new culture. I think his advice should be followed and not nitpicked to death by people who have never set foot on his hands-on laboratory. I was very impressed with him and I certainly do not believe he made up those impressive results out of some fantasy. He is talking reality. Not Monsanto. Not giant “feedlots”. Savory is talking the whole cycle of the ecosystem.

      Reply
      1. Montanamaven

        We tried a modified version of Savory’s intensive grazing with our 200 head of beef cattle and it improved the grass . My husband used to split the herd up into separate pastures all summer. Then he went to a Savory workshop. He then moved the entire herd from pasture to pasture. Much better for the grass and the cows.

        Reply
        1. Henry Moon Pie

          I have a vegan daughter who argues that veganism is necessary from an environmental standpoint, but I keep sending her articles about the benefits of proper pasture.

          Thanks for this “citizen science” you and your husband are doing.

          Reply
          1. Carla

            Even so, we probably should eat more the way your daughter does, and less the way I do, and treat meat more as a “condiment” or “garnish” rather than the centerpiece of a meal. Sigh. I love meat.

            Reply
    3. Cal2

      Plutonium,

      You will appreciate this book:

      Bill Mollison, The Permaculture Manual-section on deserts

      Liman or Valley Catchment in Israel

      Also,
      “Linman is an ancient and, more recently, widely used method of patch reforestation in Israel successful in growing a wide variety of trees. It is essentially a bund of earth about 2m (6ft) high and 4-6m (13-20ft) through at the base which is carefully sculpted across the valley flood-flow.

      Rainfall of 70-100mm (3-4ins) and floods two of three times a year, yield enough water in perhaps 10% of the landscape to fill small fields – up to 4 acres (1.6ha) – with floodwater. Any surplus can be split to another liman.

      At Wadi Mashash, Professor Area Rogel – who worked with Michael Evenari in the Negev – grows olives, grapes, figs, acacia, eucalyptus, leucaena, carob, oaks, stone fruits and almonds in a succession of liman. Crops or intercrops comprise sorghum, wheat, adapted maize and legumes…”

      Here’s a different video for those who like to watch:

      https://www.geofflawtononline.com/videos/video/6-greening-the-desert-updated/

      Reply
    4. Oregoncharles

      Anecdotes, if true, do prove possibility. “It works, because there it is working.” Only experiment will show whether it works in other contexts.

      Reply
  15. Wukchumni

    Houston’s tried to kill me on numerous occasions via heat & humidity, but I bear no malice to a place where you can take a shower outside in the summer just walking a block. It’s been a rough patch with Hurricane Michael, and now a chemical fire that looks to be a breeding ground for lies to be refined into making everybody in the immediate area, feel as if they aren’t in ‘that’ much danger.

    Here’s your song, Screwston

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-L7c3Vk0Bg

    Reply
    1. richard

      In the first version of the houston news story, Deer Park mayor Mouton was quoted as saying he didn’t like to be hypothetical about the potential impact of the disaster. And that we’re all exposed to benzene at some level all the time.
      These quotes were mercifully cut from future versions. Otherwise one might think some dumbass working for the chemical company runs the city.

      Reply
      1. richard

        my bad, these were 2 different stories, the chronicle and click2houston.com. They only seemed like versions of the same story.
        Same goddamn mayor in both stories though.

        Reply
        1. aletheia33

          does he run the city? or does the industry run him? seems pretty clear from what he said–he has no idea how to run a city on his own.

          Reply
          1. curlydan

            isn’t Deer Park a fairly well to do suburb of Houston? If it is, I suspect the population (in Texas at least) is highly conservative, so I would not be surprised if the industry does run him.

            Reply
  16. David

    The Irish Border issue looks like now becoming the Dog That Barked in the Night But Nobody Took any Notice. Clive and others have done a great job in pointing out the economic and trade consequences of a crash-out in that area, but it’s worth saying a word about the purely political crisis that may be about to erupt – in Brussels more than anywhere else.
    In the story from Le Monde that I linked to yesterday, Macron was quoted as saying that, in the event of a crash-out, the EU would be confronted “within the hour” with the choice of either imposing a hard border in Ireland, or allowing a gaping hole in the single market which could lead to a Eurozone crisis. We can assume that the French are not the only nation to have realised this. Remember that, for the EU “defending the border” is not just an abstract concept to do with trade and customs, there is a European border guard force, responding to a real sense of “us versus the others.” The UK is about to become an “other.”
    So how will the EU deal with this, even with a managed soft Brexit later this year? For a start, the EU is bad at crisis management, as all large international organisations are. Midnight meetings to agree communiqués are one thing: midnight meetings to agree operational instructions for sealing borders or defending the Euro are quite different. The choice Macron identified is a binary one. You can’t fudge it or remit it to a working group.
    Say the decision is taken to seal the border. Ignoring the local political effects, are the Irish actually capable and willing to do it? Do they have the personnel? Would they deploy enough police and troops to the border? With what legal authority and in defence of which laws that would, one imagines, have been passed the day before? And if the Irish couldn’t control the border, would they be prepared to accept reinforcements from other EU nations? Swedish customs officers? German GSG? If they wouldn’t accept them how much political and economic damage would the EU suffer before putting the screws on Dublin? Etcetera.

    Reply
    1. larry

      David, I have been told that Irish cultoms officials will not go to any Irish border station without police or military protection. No matter what. So, it is protection of officials or no customs checks at the border, anywhere on land.

      Reply
      1. notabanker

        This is a really good episode from them. They put a lot of ‘in the weeds’ context around the major issues that are commonly discussed at a high level in the NC Brexit threads. Some of the episodes are tough to listen to because they talk over each other too much. The Irish guy on this one does a great job of shutting that down and finishing his points. If you don’t have a nuanced understanding of the Irish Brexit border issues, this will definitely cure that.

        My only trip to Ireland was in the mid 90’s before the Good Friday agreement and we crossed the border by car twice. The second time was on our way to Sligo and within a couple miles of the border we started seeing camouflaged soldiers popping out of the weeds on the roadsides and military helicopters in the distance. The border crossing had about six heavily armed military personnel with military vehicles at the ready to block the road if needed. It was a pretty intimidating experience, which was a shame because the people we spent time with on both sides of the border treated us like long lost family coming over for a visit.

        Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      In the ‘bad old days’ at any one time around one third of the Irish police force and army were on border duty – usually in a much more low key manner than the British Army across the way. But it was hugely expensive. This was in addition to customs of course. I doubt if they have the manpower now to do it – but they just announced the hiring of 400 new customs officers, although they say they’ll need that number alone for the ports and airports.

      The border is more or less sealable I think in terms of ‘important things’. While there are numerous crossings, there are maybe a dozen or so major roads that require a major presence. The issue of meat and dairy and foods is crucial, but I think mostly this can be managed at factory gate, not at the border. No doubt the French will step up their checks when Irish ferries arrive in Roscoff, etc., so they can be at least partly protected that way.

      The Irish government will most certainly not shut off most minor roads – it is too politically sensitive. They will probably just use random checks and harassment to deal with small time smugglers, and most of this smuggling will be to deal with things cheaper because of VAT and currency differences, not so much duty. In the 1970’s there was only a tiny handful of shops selling TV’s in Dublin, for example – nearly everyone bought theirs in Belfast, it was so much cheaper. Every now and again they’d crack down on a few unfortunates who timed it badly.

      They may have to come to some sort of agreement with the ferry companies on phytosanitary arrangements (things like shipping pallets). It will be impossible to regulate this at a local level – there are numerous businesses along both sides of the border shifting things one way or another.

      As for foreign customs officers, I don’t think there would be any objection to that on an emergency basis. Border businesses might actually like it as it will fill all the hotels and restaurants. The Irish tend not to get upset about this sort of thing. But they’d be used away from the border – at road checkpoints well into the Republic, for example.

      Of course, if the UK doesn’t co-operate, things may also happen in reverse. A lot of refugees from Calais may find themselves on a ferry to Ireland, with a map showing them how to get over the border and into northern Ireland. They can of course try to block this by putting up immigration controls on the Irish Sea ferries between Belfast and Scotland, but apparently this is unacceptable to the DUP….

      Reply
      1. Clive

        Which is all true but, almost perversely, then is grist to the unionists’ and ERG’s mill that a backstop isn’t required. As the NY Times somewhat speculatively mused last week, Merkel (“a Merkel ally”) is now seen to be coming round to how this might then prompt a rethink of the entire EU27 negotiations approach. This was seemingly confirmed by the left-field decision of the Council on Thursday, to grant the U.K. an extension on the basis of not much more than the U.K. turning in a napkin doodle to get things started.

        Assuming sufficient time can be created to do this, which is, cutting to the chase, the U.K. participating in the European Parliament election then asking for an extension ‘til the end of 2020.

        Lucky U.K. Lucky EU as well.

        Oh, and U.K. politics would have to be able to participate in any such revised negotiations in a sensible way. That has to be the biggest impediment. Varadkar is apparently set against any watering down of the need to impose a backstop, so we’re going to have to see how that pans out, too.

        Reply
      2. shtove

        Once upon a time there were
        UK ways and UK laws,
        villages of UK blood,
        waking to the morning,
        waking to the morning
        Then the EU came around …

        Reply
    3. shtove

      And what if unionists start complaining that those EU officials are encroaching on UK territory? They have in the past pulled off their own daft “invasion” of the south. With the idiot Gavin Williamson in charge of the Department of Defence, backed up by a colonel in 77th Brigade, anything can happen.

      Reply
      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you.

        If current and former service personnel sentiment is any guide, Williamson will be among the first to be fragged. He may not even make it to Dundalk or Smolensk.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Hmmm…..
          Smolensk by way of Dundalk. Now there’s an example of ‘Outflanking the EU.’ I wonder if Bolton put them up to this idea. “Kill 28 birds with one stone.”

          Reply
    4. carycat

      What recourse does the rest of the EU have if Ireland refuses (either outright or via passive-aggressive behavior) to police the border? People along the border is going to look to what works for them first, so there will be plenty of non-compliance. Can Ireland be kicked out of the EU by the E26?

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        The real recourse the EU has is to start inspecting shipments from Ireland, effectively creating a softish border between Ireland and the rest. Given the extreme porosity of the Irish border, they’ll probably have to do that anyway.

        Technical question: how much in the way of goods actually moves between Ireland and the 26? The big item is likely to be dairy.

        And a thought: if NI could get their devolved government working again, IT could pass and enforce the necessary regulations – remember, they’re already following EU rules. No idea whether that would pass muster with the EU, who have a reputation for rigidity, but it would be a solution that actually already exists. There might still be some smuggling, but it could be kept to a bearable minimum without creating an international stink.

        Reply
      2. PlutoniumKun

        There is no situation whereby Ireland refuses to police the border. The agriculture industry is far too important to Ireland and it can only maintain its integrity by ensuring everything stays within EU regulatory requirements. This isn’t as hard as it seems as the ‘border’ will be at the factory gate, not so much on the border itself.

        There would be a blind eye no doubt thrown to products that will not be re-exported. As an example, while Ireland is a major cement producer, most pre-cast concrete products used in the Republic are imported from Northern Ireland. Those are essential for the Irish construction industry. But precast pipes aren’t going to be exported to France so its simply not a big issue.

        Ireland will also have to police the border to prevent a retail collapse as in general sales taxes are lower in the North, so it needs to prevent wholesale purchasing in Northern Ireland. It can’t stop this, but it can at least make life difficult for smugglers.

        Ireland has definitively thrown its lot in with the EU. It has zero interest in doing anything to benefit the UK if it annoys the EU. It will do what is necessary.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          Don’t they have the sales tax problem already? There is a similar situation between Washington State and Oregon – high taxes in the former, none in the latter.

          I’d guess there isn’t a lot of retail business near the border.

          Reply
    5. Oregoncharles

      David, Yeah, I asked that question ages ago. I suggested one possible solution way below (NI to have its own rules, that just happen to be EU rules – but NI would first have to have a functional government); but I suspect that the EU will not send German border guards to Ireland (are there EU border guards that speak Gaelic?), and that there will be a lot of pretense along that border in any case short of canceling Brexit.

      Reply
        1. Synapsid

          Rev Kev,

          Gaelic is spoken in the Hebrides and Highlands of Scotland, so there would be a potential source. Breton is close to Cornish and Welsh. They are Celtic but they would be foreign languages in Ireland.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            Gaelic was once so widely spoken in Scotland that even in the mid-19th century, travelers would report that in British Regiments composed of Scottish soldiers, that the commands would be given in Gaelic instead of English. That was not that many generations ago.

            Reply
    6. David

      What worries me is the quasi-religious attitude that some countries, and parts of the Commission have about the “European Space”, the haven of peace, tranquility and the rule of law in an anarchic and dangerous world. The EU in its original conception was the Holy Roman Empire 2.0, defending its frontiers against the barbarians outside. Whilst few Europeans would put it in those terms today, it’s ultimately behind a lot of the worries being increasingly expressed in Brussels. The idea of an unguarded frontier is going to be anathema to many of the EU27, especially recalling that it was the UK that for so many years frustrated the construction of an actual European Defence capability, and has now shoved off to leave them with the consequences. It might be rather uncomfortable being Ireland in such circumstances.

      Reply
    7. Avidremainer

      I am far more worried about what we will do when we are the “other” The EU will do what they will do according to their interests. That is an appalling thought.
      The EU has been ahead of Mrs May from the get go. I have no evidence for the following. I believe that they have planned for every eventuality that will ameliorate the Republic’s problems post any form of Brexit. We on the other hand are in a full blown tizzy over the preliminaries. God knows what will happen when the Brits find out that there are years more of this. Our problems will dwarf Ireland’s.

      Reply
    1. edmondo

      I’ve watched videos from the Brooklyn, Chicago and now San Diego. Other than the audience sitting on the dais – who are selected for their diversity more than their dedication – I am struck by the lack of African-Americans in the audience. I know you all are going to come down hard on me for mentioning this but go watch the videos. While it might be viewed as an opportunity, I think this could be a real issue come 2020.

      Reply
  17. Wukchumni

    Loved the ‘Bend it like Uri’ missive, obviously destined to be a key player in the you Brexit-you broke it, drama.

    Reply
  18. richard

    I’ve just been through a clarifying moment; I usually have these with the dems (you know, where their moves are like this super slow motion tai chi of which you are the master). This time it was with trump. I realized (maybe that has occured to others), that he intentionally moves the dems right. He knows where their losing sweet spot is (“I support Nancy Pelosi!”), regardless of what the corporate media say, he knows. Even if FOX tells him that these far left loons are destroying the dem party, he knows better.
    I observed his recent comments about John McCain through this lense. They may have otherwise seemed mysterious and weird to me. Why is he attacking a dead man? Sure, because he has no moral compass, but also because it was a strategic attempt to move the dem leadership right, forcing them to reflexively worship at the altar of the Desert God of War. They have no choice; they painted themselves into a rhetorical corner at the funeral. He knows: I say “this”, it makes the lizard brains say “that”. I think he’s worked that much out, and plays it to his advantage. He wants to run “left” again, god help us.

    Reply
    1. Eclair

      Good observation, richard. I think that Trump’s huge strength is his terrifyingly acute and totally intuitive sense of where his opponent’s weak spot lies. He more resembles a single-celled organism than an vertebrate with a highly developed and rational brain.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether

      > They have no choice; they painted themselves into a rhetorical corner at the funeral. He knows: I say “this”, it makes the lizard brains say “that”. I think he’s worked that much out, and plays it to his advantage. He wants to run “left” again, god help us.

      Good point. Sad but true, Trump is inside the liberal Democrat OODA loop.

      Reply
  19. Summer

    Much more natural position for pushing something out of your stomach.
    Lying a woman down to have a baby seems like a torture position.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      There are special seatless stools for the purpose; of course, a toilet seat qualifies, thought it might be good to separate it from the toilet.

      Reply
  20. Wukchumni

    Loved the anecdote kindle of cow-cats, a couple of our hair’m have the same look.

    …how often do you milk them?

    Reply
  21. pjay

    Re: ‘How the Press That Sold the Iraq War Got Away With It’ Matt Taibbi

    I realize that this is old news to most NC readers. But this is a good and timely article, written in typical Taibbi style. For those of us who have been stunned at the Russiagate phenomenon, we need only recall how unified the “liberal” media was in their support for the Bush/Cheney Apocalypse. A useful review, and a reminder that subservience to the MIC is the default mode of our MSM. Exposing its lies is the exception.

    Reply
  22. DJG

    Jonathan Pie video: Brilliant as commentary. If you are offended by the constant f-bombing, maybe you should be offended more often.

    Also brilliant as a piece of theater, which is what it is. Watch all the way to the end for an elegant emotional turn.

    And lucky for us Americans!!!: The broken contract that Pie describes is exactly what has gone wrong in the U S of A. Quelle surprise.

    Back in my Cato mode (although Cato isn’t exactly a laff riot): Anglo-American elite delenda est.

    Reply
    1. edmondo

      I was thinking that all they have to do is use a Southern accent, trade “Brexit” for “Trump’s election” and you have a Bernie Sanders video that can go viral.

      Reply
    2. BlueMoose

      That was my first taste of Pie. Epic rant. Can’t say I disagree with anything he said. And I agree that the same level of ‘twatness’ is on full display in the US. It seems we are fast approaching the ‘everyman for himself’ mode of existence.

      Reply
    3. Eclair

      I agree, DJG. What JP said describes the situation in the US as well.

      We discussed with my husband’s Swedish cousins late last year the difference between the situation here and in Sweden. They observed that most Swedes (not all, there is a growing contingent of working class Swedes who feel they are being pushed out by immigrants) still trust their government.

      Left or Right, here in the US, we have lost that trust. And, even more critical, we are beginning to feel that the all-important ‘social contract,’ that we give you our tax money (ok, ok we MMT-ers know that’s not how it really works), and you give us decent education, water mains, public health, transportation systems, clean air, jobs (!!!), has been broken.

      It is a ‘holding the breath for what comes next’ moment.

      Reply
      1. Carla

        Let’s pinpoint the moment that it broke: I think it was the moment at which Obama chose Wall Street over Main Street.

        Reply
        1. Eclair

          You may be correct, Carla. But there had been wave action eroding the foundations for a few decades before that. Wall Street over Main Street was the crash of a giant wave. For me, the final tsunami was the give away to the health insurance industry at the expense of the health of citizens.

          Reply
        2. The Rev Kev

          I would judge a lot earlier than that. It was at the point that the 20% knew that they did not need the working class much anymore. So many of their actual jobs had been shipped off to Asia and there was the promise of automation to replace so many of the jobs still present in the US that they felt that they could now get away with cannibalizing the bottom 80% without too many repercussions. Apart from an occasional Trump that is. To them, the social contract is just another contract up for negotiations-

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_contract

          Reply
          1. notabanker

            For me, the modern era tipping point was Clinton, the new Democrat, who signed NAFTA, GLBA and CFMA. That opened the flood gates for globalization. He also cheered about running a budget surplus that led to a recession.

            Reply
          2. VietnamVet

            I am prejudiced but the decline started when the ruling elite lost their fear of the working class. Who’s afraid of loser Vietnam Vets? The military was turned into a cash cow staffed with volunteers and contractors. Deplorables and their families are unneeded except for corporate extraction/extortion schemes. They were replaced with scabs and immigrants as soon as possible. Since 2008 the USA has been running on its embedded wealth. The Democrats restarted the Cold War – blaming Russia for everything. The Western system is now built to take resources and horde the profits. It will crash due to burgeoning debt and resource restraints. Donald Trump, Brexit and Yellow Vests are indications that the system is pushing the nose towards the ground. When the Recession hits, pensions and social security will be gone. Consent of the governed is lost. What was done to the Greeks will be done to the rest of the West. There ls no planning. No course correction.

            Reply
            1. Eclair

              ” … the system is pushing the nose towards the ground. ”

              Vietnam Vet, you have jut chosen the metaphor for our time …. the crashes (and all that led up to them) of the 737-Max.

              Reply
        3. Oregoncharles

          the beginning goes clear back to Carter; I agree with notabanker that Clinton made the big push, confirming Reagan’s impact. But according to a graph that I think Lambert posted, wages quit following productivity back in the late 70s – Carter. The chart is quite dramatic; they fell off the line of productivity increase all of a sudden and have essentially stagnated since.

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether

            > wages quit following productivity back in the late 70s

            That’s the inflection point when the neoliberal era began.

            Carla says:

            > Let’s pinpoint the moment that it broke: I think it was the moment at which Obama chose Wall Street over Main Street.

            And that’s the date the era ended (confirmed by Trump’s election in 2016). Thomas Frank has a great video on this:

            He speaks of the liberal Democrat “betrayal” of the working class and he is 100% right.

            Reply
            1. notabanker

              Thanks for this, very cogent retelling of the political backdrop.

              “The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.”

              The sight of a roomful of 60+ year olds giving him a standing ovation was rather disheartening. In the Q&A, ” I don’t think Sanders will run, his time is past”, “Keith Ellison is the future of the party”, “Tom Perez is a really decent guy”

              No one is talking about reforming this party. Not Sanders, not AOC, not Yang, certainly not the Rainbow Coalition of 2020 candidates. There may be some inferred reform via policies, but no one on the political stage is calling out that the core ideology of the Dems is corrupt and it needs complete house cleaning.

              If it cannot even be discussed, how it will never happen? Secret discussions inside the party in DC? Gimme a break. Is this during or after the craft cocktail event sponsored by Innovative Monolith Inc?

              Not trying to diminish the historical perspective and message here, it is important. But there is still no plan moving forward to address it. Absent that, it seems to me that it either continues to move farther right, or collapses. Either would be pretty horrific.

              Reply
  23. The Rev Kev

    “Russian Army is Radically Upgraded”

    Lots of interesting development with the Russian Armed forces. Their organization is in a state of flux while they experiment with what works for them so they are content with doing things like copying the American brigade structure instead of a divisional structure. I read recently that they made another major change. Back in 2012 they decided to try outsourcing the logistical requirements of the Russian Army (http://thesaker.is/russian-army-and-the-free-market-compatibility-issues/) so as to free up about 65,00 servicemen just like they do in the west. That did not work out at all so they are abandoning the whole concept and bringing all that work back for Russian soldiers to do instead.
    Back when they fought a NATO trained & equipped Georgian force in 2008 and won in only a few days, they found many faults exposed with force structure, equipment, training, etc and decided to undertake major reforms. Even as recently as 2012 they did not have the capacity to mount a foreign expedition. By the time that Crimea came in 2014 the appearance of Russian troops in their new Ratnik gear was a sign that here was a new force. And when they went into Syria, their operational tempo and effectiveness proved a revelation to the west. Since then the Russians have used Syria as a testing ground for hundreds of items of military equipment as well as giving their forces actual battle experience. As NATO are stationing more forces on their border, the Russian military have configured formations to take them on in case things turn hot.
    Of course, Russians being Russians, they do like to boast about some of their new gear-

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

    Reply
    1. barrisj

      The massive upgrades of Russia’s armed forces are largely defensive in nature, no new brigades of tanks, large-calibre field cannon, and the like. I found it more than amusing that Trump and Congress pumping money into yet more Abrams tanks, which would be reduced to rubble in any combat rôle v. Russian anti-tank weaponry. Huge difference in having a country develop a military strategy using effective and efficient planning, versus a Pentagon scattering hundreds of billions into battlefield-obsolete hardware as a result of MIC-driven expenditures, with little or no regard for other countries’ countermeasures.
      Tanks and aircraft carriers notably stand out in this regard…but, because jawbs!

      Reply
      1. Chris Cosmos

        Russia spends one eleventh or maybe less of what we spend and can still achieve strategic balance–in fact they spend the same as the UK. Why is t his? Because, like everything else in the US (and, increasingly in the UK) the military procurement system is the apotheosis of systemic corruption.

        Reply
    1. Shonde

      Looks like Ilhan Omar may be creating another big enemy considering she attended a worker rally in December per the article. Wonder how long it will be before Amazon blames the worker walk outs on Omar to shift the blame from actual working conditions.
      Minnesota’s unemployment rate is very low so Amazon, unless they start bringing workers in from other states, will find it difficult to replace these workers if they try to fire them.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Amazon built a business out of moving things from one place to another. To Amazon, workers are just another class of ‘things.’ So, they will encourage workers to ‘move’ to where the “jobs” are. There is already a class of itinerant worker which lives in tents, vans, cars, and, for the elite among them, camper-wagons. Amazon can, if it feels desperate, set aside sections of the warehouse parking lots for their “itinerant associates” to park their “accommodations” on. Unfortunately, there are enough truly desperate people willing to shift over to anywhere and everywhere for a job to fill Amazon’s needs.
        Globalization ultimately means that the only employment figure that the top corporate planners will pay attention to will be the World figures.
        It’s a race to the bottom and Amazon is leading the way.

        Reply
    2. cnchal

      Rate means productivity, measured in tasks per hour. Stowers are expected to keep up a standard of 240-250 tasks an hour. Any downtime, such as time spent drinking water or using the bathroom, is counted against productive time.

      Works out six cents per standard task at 14.4 seconds. How much would Amazon’s labor expense grow, were the pace humane and survivable? The whip has to crack harder and more often at an increasing frequency, to float Amazon’s boat and maintain the delusion of a near trillion dollar company according to stawk market price.

      Reply
  24. Ape

    Re Uber and such:

    Has anyone considered that one solution to climate change is mass slavery? For example, Uber & Lyft with sufficient servants to drive could replace personal automobiles for an upper/middle class, given sufficiently bad conditions for the working class.

    Washing machines can be replaced with slaves. Refrigerators reduced if we had “servants” to walk every day to the local market. In fact most of our current automation is energy intensive and could be replaced with less energy intensive human beings, given a low enough standard of living for those people.

    Too high of a climate cost for beef? Not a problem if a majority of the population were reduced to serfdom with one Christmas goose each year. Sprawling suburbs? Not a problem with a small aristocracy ruling over the peasants — only the aristocrats move around at fairly low cost, while the peons are tied to their village.

    We can call it the sharing economy! A modest proposal.

    Reply
  25. Lee

    Healthcare interview on Science Friday
    https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/can-ai-make-medicine-more-personal/

    Can AI Make Medicine More Personal?

    When you go to the doctor’s office, it can sometimes seem like wait times are getting longer while facetime with your doctor is getting shorter. In his book, Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again, cardiologist Eric Topol argues that artificial intelligence can make medicine more personal and empathetic. He says that algorithms can free up doctors to focus more time on their patients. Topol also talks about how AI is being used for drug discovery, reading scans, and how data from wearables can be integrated into human healthcare.

    While decrying the current sad state of electronic health record keeping and computer technology in medicine, this doctor envisions a possible brighter future for AI in medicine, which he believes will only be fully realized once we have universal healthcare and everyone is the owner of their own personal data. As it is, and I speak from recent personal experience, getting one’s own health records is an infuriating process.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      Really good foundations, huh? Make your mark on the world?

      Same here. And your feet get bigger as you age; I’ve gone from 12 to 13, myself.

      Reply
  26. Oregoncharles

    From Dunt’s piece on Brexit: “If not, it is extended until April 12th, the last date at which Britain can pass legislation for taking part in those [EU] elections.”

    I don’t know about the notoriously stiff-upper-lip Brits, but in most countries, trying to hold EU elections at this point would lead to rioting in the streets and burnt ballot boxes. Leave did have a majority, and some pretty fanatical supporters.

    I wouldn’t say that lends much clarity to the situation.

    Reply
  27. barrisj

    Re: Mueller Report…what really gets up the nose of those within the Church of The Collusionist Redeemer is that two years of Trump taunts regarding Russian conspiracies apparently have not resulted in a stinging rejoinder (“no more indictments”) from the OSC, and whether the Report addresses “obstruction of justice” and the like, that pales in comparison to the “Putin’s puppet”, the “Steele dossier”, sanctions quid pro quos, “penthouse for Putin”, compromat, Wikileaks co-ordination, etc., all the “evidence” amassed by the Russia-gate conspiracy theorists which represented the Holy Grail of Mueller’s investigations, has seemingly come to naught. However, not to be deterred, the Collusionist Redeemers are floating notions of “incomplete release”, “burying the bodies”, it’s-all-there-but-we’ll-never-see-it, and the like.
    They are quite hopeful of leaks coming from Schiff’s and Nadler’s committees to yet justify the notions of “potential treasonous behaviour”, etc. Shaping up as a “Who Killed Kennedy?” saga, with all the mythology associated therein. Remember how the Warren Report established the conspiracy canon? Possibly the Mueller Report will do the same.

    Reply
    1. Chris Cosmos`

      Difference is that the JFK case has little evidence to support the official conclusions and mountains to prove the opposite. There was never any evidence of “Russian colusion” it was all deliberately and cynically made up by the powers that be and the mainstream propaganda organs.

      Reply
  28. Ignim Brites

    “How to green the world’s deserts and reverse climate change”

    Build those herds!! Any comments on the validity of this core proposition?

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      It’s been around a long time and seems well supported. Plus, it makes sense as reflecting the way nature does it. The biggest disadvantage is that it requires pretty intensive management.

      Reply
    2. rd

      There is solid evidence that good land management at the edge of the deserts can expand the green areas back into many areas that are currently desert. If you look at satellite photos of the island of Hispaniola, you can see a clear example of how dramatic a difference land management can make on green space. The border between Haiti and Dominican Republic is quite clear in many areas due to the deforestation.

      Whether or not it is enough to consume enough carbon to reverse climate change is a second question, but it would certainly improve things and make conditions much better for many troubled populations.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        Haiti had to pay the French for the loss of their “property” which were the formerly enslaved Haitians. With American support, and don’t forget that this started several decades before the American Civil War and the South dominated or even controlled the Federal government, the French navy blockaded Haiti until they agreed to pay some gigantic amount which they finished paying off sometime in the 1940s.

        To make those payments the Haitians logged their forests and did not develop their economy because that requires investment. The occasional American occupation and general meddling that has been ongoing including the deportation of a recent Haitian President by a paid American mercenary force has not helped. (The mercenaries were used to disguise the American government’s overthrowning of yet again a national government.)

        Because of the extreme poverty and lack of resources, whenever attempts are made at reforestation, poor Haitians cut down the trees for firewood and building materials. They have started to use armed guards to prevent the planted trees from being destroyed.

        Reply
    3. meeps

      < Any comments on the validity of his core proposition?

      As to whether the greening of deserts is possible, the answer is yes. As to whether “the only way to do it” as Savory would have us believe, is to remove both the native wildlife and “the drum-playing” (sic!) natives from vast tracts of land, only to replace them with enormous meat monocultures and white ranchers? I say Alan is wrong again.

      Herds of sheep and cattle on the order of 20’s of thousands require enormous quantities of food and water to support. All those lovely green grasses and flowing streams Savory shows in his talk must either exist on site before the herds (or be sourced/mined elsewhere and imported) for the animals to survive, yet he promotes the idea that the herds are the cause of all that green and water. Notice how he doesn’t account for methane emissions either? He poo-poos “government” for failures he precipitated (a dog-whistle to libertarian ranchers), but studiously ignores examples whereby governments did fantastic work greening the desert. The Roosevelt administration (jawbs!) installed swales in AZ that captured enough rain to establish green cover to build topsoil and hold water. More recently farmers have used imprinting machines in deserts to capture water and establish vegetation. Grasses are merely an early phase in an ecological succession that eventually leads to a diversity of vegetation including trees and forests. Unless people keep retarding that process for animal monocultures. Qui bono? Certainly not the displaced people who won’t enjoy those streams. Those will belong to the herds and the displaced peoples will walk miles hauling water in jugs on their heads.

      Bill Mollison’s Global Gardener series, especially the Drylands parts, explore these examples. Savory co-opted valid work on systems that emulate nature, cherry picking what was useful for his purposes, distorting what wasn’t, and discarding the lessons no credible scientist would have tossed.

      Savory’s story fits well, however, with other themes in links of late (Thanks Yves, et al), namely narrative co-option and control. This, from Taibbi today, about the narrative that got us into the Iraq war:
      “The myths had enormous utility to the working press, whose gargantuan errors have been re-cast as honest mistakes of judgment. A lot of the people who made those mistakes are still occupying prominent positions, their credibility undamaged thanks to a new legend best articulated by…” Alan Savory’s career in a nutshell.

      Same playbook, different industry. If people want to grow meat (I’m not here to shame them, I realize there are perfectly fine, dairy peeps here at NC ;). Just dump the story that cattle monocultures are here to save the planet. It isn’t so.

      Reply
    4. Jeff

      Nature has something called ‘hadley cell’, which goes a long way explaining why there are subtropical deserts in the first place.
      These regions will remain very arid for a long time. More savanna and less desert, perhaps, but arid.

      Reply
  29. Shonde

    The line in the link article on going cashless “and hike up the cost of goods to account for credit card fees” made me laugh. Hiking up costs to account for credit card fees happened years ago. Does this mean there will be another hike?
    A service station I used to go to in California offered a 10% discount on gas purchases for cash. Needless to say, I was a regular and paid in cash.

    Reply
    1. Cal2

      Credit card agreements between the parasitic elite that own the CCs and the merchants AFAIK now prohibit cash discounts.
      Relax, the two to six percent fee is just added to the prices that we all pay.

      I wonder how people would react to congress passing an additional federal tax of two to six percent?
      Credit cards? No problem.

      People often ask for and usually get a cash discount in small businesses by splitting the difference.
      i.e. A product costs $1000. If charged that means the merchant gets reimbursed as little as $940 from the credit card company. Customer offers to pay $970. Both parties come out ahead.

      Reply
    2. ambrit

      I try to do the same, because the last time our debit card was hacked, I strongly suspect a local service station of having ‘shadow’ card readers in place. I was not the only individual to complain to the bank about this emporium. Alas, no petrol dealers around here offer cash discounts anymore. Plus, as an extra added bonus; you can never overdraw your pocket of cash. When the ‘hard’ money is gone, you don’t spend.

      Reply
  30. Oregoncharles

    “AMLO Takes a Hard Right Turn in Mexican Banking Conference”

    Oh, family blog. They got to him.

    Reply
  31. rd

    Re: Houston tank farm fire:

    From article:
    Mouton said he didn’t like to speak in hypotheticals. Twice, he referred to the presence of benzene in everyday life. “You’re already being exposed to some level of benzene,” Mouton said.

    The media have not provided the background information that benzene is a major compound in gasoline that the average American interacts with regularly. It is one of the contributors to urban smog from vehicle emissions: https://www.epa.gov/transportation-air-pollution-and-climate-change/smog-soot-and-local-air-pollution

    It is highly carcinogenic and highly volatile. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp3-c6.pdf

    So the benzene on the water is probably not going to be a significant ecological impact as it it will evaporate quickly which will turn it into an urban air pollutant. Benzene in water bio-degrades rapidly, so the dissolved plumes usually do not go far. As in most chemical spills, this is a serious public health condition that indicates that rules were probably not being followed. However, it is not dissimilar to having a gasoline tanker truck fire, albeit on a larger scale.

    By using “benzene” in isolation, it takes it out of context for the average citizenry, making it seem to be equivalent to a military nerve agent. This is similar to the “dihydrogen monoxide” experiment that was done a few years ago where people have wanted it banned as a dangerous toxic chemical: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dihydrogen_monoxide_parody

    Reply
  32. Chris Cosmos

    I’m not very interested in the Brexit saga but I read the odd tidbit. To me, it registers as yet another reason to give an Official Seal of Excellence at incompetence to the entire English speaking world. I’m not sure which population is more insanely stupid, the US or the Brits though, on balance, I’d have to rate the Brits at number one since they don’t seem to enjoy their collective insanity as much as us Americans do so I have the rate us as slightly less insane.

    Here’s a though about T. May–why isn’t anyone calling for new elections after the May’s failures in Parliament?

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Because dong that now would assure a crash out. This is an oversimplification, but:

      14 calendar days for Parliament to change its mind and declare it has confidence. If not, then

      25 business days for new elections

      ~1 week for new government start-up (forming coalition if needed, Queen’s Speech).

      Nothing important is supposed to happen while this is on. During the 25 days of the campaign, gov’t goes into “only essential functions” mode.

      Reply
    1. Shonde

      What is happening to the American Conservative? Another article that speaks to my belief system. Kinda scary since this could mean I might vote for Buchanan if he ran again. Actually the last line of this article, “Whichever candidate admits that we’ve created an apartheid of dollars for all deserves your support.” seems to me to point to Bernie. A Bernie supporting article at the American Conservative?? What does this mean?

      Reply
      1. Hepativore

        Actually, I do find the American Conservative to be pretty reasonable for the most part. It is composed of a near-extinct species of pre-Regean era paleocons. I feel that they actually have more in common with progressives in some aspects than rank-and file Democrats who are mostly neoliberals. The Republican party has largely been taken over by neocons.

        One thing that I do disagree with the American Conservative on is that some of their writers seem to strongly frown on GLBT causes with the articles that they write.

        Reply
  33. Tom

    Response to the “Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU” petition is striking. Probably won’t change much but I’m impressed that many constituencies have well over 10% of constituents signing, and some are over 20%.

    Does anyone know where to find data on how the numbers evolve over time?

    Reply
  34. notabanktoadie

    Lawmakers argue bans on cashless stores could protect tens of millions of Americans without access to credit cards. from Going Cashless Looks More and More Like a Capitalist Scam

    No problem: Just give every American citizen a debit/checking account at the FED – for FREE up to a reasonable account limit. And since those accounts would be inherently risk-free, government-provided deposit insurance and all other privileges for the usury cartel could be justly and responsibly abolished.

    Reply
      1. notabanktoadie

        I don’t think the purpose is to abolish cash but to require the un-banked to purchase pre-paid debit cards from the banks. How would they do that without physical fiat? Also, pre-paid debit cards are anonymous if bought with cash, and that might be a sizable market too.

        So FREE* individual debit/checking accounts for all citizens at the Central Bank would spare the un-banked from having to purchase pre-paid debit cards.

        While the banks would lose the ability to prey on the un-banked they would still have the anonymous pre-paid debit card for cash market and would thus not be eager to have cash banned.

        *up to a reasonable limit, say, the current insured deposit limit, $250,000 in the US.

        Reply
  35. Louis

    With regards to Jim Cramer’s analysis on Lyft in CNBC, many sources, including this site, have questioned the sustainability of Lyft’s business model for awhile.

    However, Cramer has about as much credibility as Donald Trump.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Remember that Trump won, and now is the President of the United States. So, Cramer could be telling the truth, no matter the priors, considering the politico-economic landscape.
      As many, especially here, will tell you; economics cannot be sundered from politics.

      Reply
  36. The Rev Kev

    I have mentioned in the past the website “How many days to Brexit” at http://daystobrexit.co.uk/ which features a countdown clock. In keeping with Brexit, there are now THREE countdown clocks on that page – one for 29th March 2019, one for 12th April 2019 and one for 22th May 2019. So there are either 5 days, 19 days or 55 days until Brexit. This must be very frustrating to May who keeps on trying to fob off things until the final day so that Parliament will be force to go with her plan. So is that Theresa May or TINA May?

    Reply

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