Links 5/3/19

Prawn to be wild: cocaine found in all shrimp tested in rural UK county Guardian (PD).

Complex securities blamed in crisis make comeback FT. CDOs but for corporate debt, not subprime mortgages.

My experience as a whistleblower Slashdot (JB). Interesting Fujifilm-Intel connection.

Kapoor certainly deserves to go to jail, but so do some other pharma execs STAT

How Private Equity Is Turning Public Prisons Into Big Profits The Nation

Venezuela

Pentagon plans for Maduro’s downfall: US military prepares to evacuate Americans and rebuild Venezuelan infrastructure if socialist leader is toppled in coming days Daily Mail

As Guaido admits he needs more military support, Trump warns of worse to come in Venezuela CNN

The Tragedy of Venezuela is the Tragedy of the US Lawrence Wilkerson, Consortium News

Good advice:

‘Coup’ and ‘Revolution’ Are Loaded Words Best Avoided Leonid Bershidy, Bloomberg

The Origins of European Neoliberalism n+1

Brexit

Britain’s two main parties punished in local election for Brexit chaos – partial results Reuters

Bombardier puts Belfast aerospace business up for sale FT

The 11-Minute Phone Call That Sparked Gavin Williamson’s Cabinet Sacking HuffPo. Huawei.

Assange refuses extradition to US; long legal fight expected AP

Syraqistan

What are we there for? LRB (J-LS).

Rep. Ed Royce Read Saudi Talking Points Verbatim in Support of Yemen War The Intercept

India

Cyclone Fani: Odisha to evacuate 8 lakh people; ‘Orange’ alert for West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh Economic Times. Lakh = 100,000.

How the world’s largest democracy casts its ballots Asian Correspondent

China?

China’s population could peak in 2023, here’s why that matters CNBC

What is really going on in China? Econintersect

My way or the Huawei: how US ultimatum over China’s 5G giant fell flat in Southeast Asia South China Morning Post

Data doesn’t support Belt and Road debt trap claims Sidney Morning Herald

China’s Selective Memory Project Syndicate. The May 4 movement.

25 Million Homes Vacant in Rural China Due to Migrant Workforce Sixth Tone

New Cold War

Getting Somewhere With Russia: A Q&A With Angela Stent Russia Matters

Russia’s Democracy: What Happens After Putin? Council on Foreign Relations

Trump Transition

Barr’s Hearing Was A Sneak Peek At The Next Few Months In Washington FiveThirtyEight (Re Silc).

Why Stephen Moore’s Fed Bid Failed The Atlantic

Trump’s Demolition Of Arms Control Lobe Log (Re Silc).

Lawmakers push back on the partisan selection of administrative judges Federal Times

Facebook Bans Alex Jones, Other Extremists—But Not as Planned Wired

MMT

S. RES. 182: A resolution recognizing the duty of the Senate to condemn Modern Monetary Theory and recognizing Modern Monetary Theory would lead to higher deficits and higher inflation. Sen. David Perdue (original).

Dalio Says Something Like MMT Is Coming, Whether We Like It Or Not Bloomberg (DK). Martin Wolf agrees:

Modern Monetary Theory (MMT)—A Response to Henwood Nathan Tankus, Rohan Grey, Scott Ferguson, and Raúl Carrillo, Monthly Review

Health Care

Medicare For All’s Moment Is Here. Don’t Back Down. Bernie Sanders, Buzzfeed

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Left Needs to Stop Crushing on the Generals The American Conservative

“Thank you for your service.” Thread:

As the county executive turns … St Louis American. One local newspaper takes down a local powerbroker …

Baltimore Mayor Pugh resigns after month on leave amid investigation into her business deals Baltimore Sun… as does another.

Class Warfare

Workers in Mexico just won the right to organize real labor unions. Trump helped. Vox. The renegotiated NAFTA.

The Millennialization of American Labor The American Prospect (Re Silc).

Elite gathering reveals anxiety over ‘class war’ and ‘revolution’ FT. “[A]nother financial services executive, who donated to Hillary Clinton’s US presidential campaign in 2016, told the Financial Times: ‘I’d pay 5 per cent more in tax to make the world a slightly less scary place.'” Piker.

Sticky proteins could protect crops more safely than chemical pesticides Science (UserFriendly).

Mathematician’s breakthrough on non-toxic pest control that doesn’t harm bees Phys.org

The Time Has Come for a Global Carbon Emissions Tax Project Syndicate. Oh?

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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About Lambert Strether

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

213 comments

  1. OIFVet

    I am also sick to death of being thanked for my “service.” And in Chicago, no less. What is particularly infuriating is when I can clearly see that the person thanking me does it not out of conviction but because they have been conditioned to. Everything in this effing country is geared toward fetishizing the military and its supposed role in protecting our ever diminishing freedoms.

    Reply
    1. Carla

      OIFVet: thanks for this. Maybe you feel something like I do when I’m told to “Have a blessed day.”

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        “Have a blessed day.”

        Here in the Central Valley Bible Belt I get that a fair amount, and my response is a cheery smile and the words:

        “Thanks, I had other plans though…”

        Reply
        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          Good one! Although I have come to mind that particular expression less since it has become somewhat secularized in usage; I can accept the idea that we would all be fortunate to have the universe deliver a little grace/luck to us most days. No need to bring God into it.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            I was at the Grocery Outlet yesterday being serenaded by contemporary evang music, and i’ve never heard a one of the songs heretofore, so it’s all new to me, and every ditty has to include ‘praise’ or ‘blessed’ at some point, with no deviation allowed, what if Sky Daddy was listening and caught you holding out, where would you be then?

            Reply
        2. MichaelSF

          Or you could try “and may the Goddess/Brigid/Gaia/Krishna/Osiris (use the diety or dieties of your choice) bless your day to” and see how they like that.

          Reply
      2. WheresOurTeddy

        best response to “have a blessed day”:

        you believe in religion? bless your heart…

        Reply
      3. VietnamVet

        I’m now watching the Second Season of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”. I’m fear my involuntary response will be “Praise Be”.

        Reply
    2. pretzelattack

      and the never ending tie ins to sports teams help put a bow on the propaganda. wish the nfl would talk about pat tillman’s service, and what it cost him, instead of just exploiting him.

      Reply
    3. marieann

      This post is so alien to me in Canada. I don’t think I’ve ever thanked a veteran for their service,I could not even imagine why I would. I have never heard of anyone else do it.
      Not that I don’t have an appreciation for the difficult job they do, just that I know many other workers who do difficult jobs. I have a nephew in the US air force, he loves his job and I’m happy for him, but thank him his job??

      When I hear folk talking about vets, I wonder what is wrong with their cat or dog.

      Reply
        1. marieann

          Thank you for this interesting article. I remember the end of that war, I was just glad that they(military folk) were getting out alive.

          Reply
          1. Christopher Fay

            I believe one commentator on here did say he was spat on when he returned from Vietnam.

            We never said “thank you for your service” and “I support the troops” in the past. These phrases just turned up after 9/11. The CIA did the propaganda right there. If you support the troops you definitely can’t question the mission is the reasoning, I think.

            Reply
            1. Gary

              I am a Viet Nam vet. No one spat on me. People were very sympathetic.
              I put it all behind me and never let it be my identity. I was lucky.

              Reply
              1. lordkoos

                Yep, that “thanks for your service” stuff started after 9/11, being preceded by the yellow ribbon bumper stickers which appeared after the first Iraq war. I was 4-F and didn’t go to Vietnam but many of my contemporaries did. I met an old special forces guy a couple of years ago while working at a job in Idaho, a Vietnam vet, late 60s or early 70s. He was very proud of the things he did during the war and told me that he would do it again if he had to. I felt bad for him because even though he seemed superficially happy and successfully retired, from talking with him it appeared that his life was so intertwined with that war that he could never let it go. I know many other vets where that is not the case – although they will never forget their time in ‘nam they aren’t obsessed with it in that kind of way. For this guy the war was a peak moment in his life which seems sad.

                Reply
            2. Plenue

              Millions of US soldiers ultimately passed through Vietnam. It’s entirely possible that some of them were genuinely spat on or called baby killers after returning to the US.

              But there was no epidemic of such incidents. The idea that there was was a quite successful attempt to obscure the fact that veterans themselves were prominent in the anti-war movement, and to drive a wedge between soldiers and civilians. It’s part of the myth that the military was forced by outside interference to be ‘restrained’ in Vietnam, and that that’s why it lost.

              I recently finished a book called The Deaths of Others. The fact is most Americans never cared about the Vietnamese people being killed. The public turned against the war because of mounting US casualties and because they didn’t see the point of it.

              Reply
              1. lordkoos

                They also turned against the war because they were either being drafted themselves, or their sons, husbands, brothers and friends were. The reports of atrocities committed also did have an impact.

                Reply
            3. mistah charley, ph.d.

              from time to time i say ‘i support the troops’ – immediately adding ‘i support them coming home as soon as possible’

              Reply
          1. KB

            Yes, this. Feeling somewhat offended by this thread. My hubby was drafted in Vietnam, so enlisted to chose the branch. He never told anyone he was a veteran until I met him when he was 50 years old. Slowly started to feel “safe” enough to sometimes do so. This trend of people thanking him for his service moves him every time. I once cried only last year tears when an 8 yr old girl on her own with her mother nearby walked up to my hubby and thanked him. I had to take her over when she saw my tears and explain they were happy tears. Many Vietnam Vets suffer to this day with the feelings of shame and remorse for the way they were treated when they came home. Yes, we both wish for no more military interventions but I don’t think my hubby could ever be thanked too much for his service.

            Reply
            1. ChiGal in Carolina

              Good to know that despite the “programmed” quality it has for some, it can also be really meaningful to others. I am glad for the affirmation your husband experiences.

              Reply
            2. Wukchumni

              My Vietnam veteran neighbors had completely different tours of duty, one was @ some hilltop listening post far from harms way, where he told me they were perpetually stoned…

              …and the other reckoned he killed around 150 people in Hue, when ensconced in his tank in the weeks after Tet

              Reply
            3. James

              But no shame or remorse for the things they took part in over there? Seems odd.

              25 year, post-Vietnam enlisted vet here.

              Reply
              1. Wukchumni

                And here we are all those years later, and if I wanted to fly to Hanoi later today out of LAX, i’m sure it would be doable.

                War, what it is good for, absolutely nothing.

                Reply
              2. KB

                If you are referring to my comment, I never said he didn’t…that’s odd to me…drafted vietnam vet..I was clearly responding to the OP and the thread regarding “thanking” our vets…

                Reply
            4. OIFVet

              Look, this is a very personal thing to people and many vets have very complicated feelings about their service. But the fact is this: both Iraq and Vietnam had nothing to do with protecting our “freedom” and everything to do with empire-building. So to thank me for going to the sandpit and doing my part in the empire project, while making the lives of the natives living hell (assuming they managed to survive the aftermath) is offensive to me. What is particularly crazy though is being able to tell that some of the people thanking me know the war was wrong, but feel obligated to mouth the words because our society has forced them to bottle up their opinions. That makes me angry, war for empire should not be be glorified. Some freedom, huh? Sorry but I stand by my post, I neither want nor expect to be thanked for being a veteran of a war of choice, waged for empire and profit.

              Reply
                  1. The Rev Kev

                    Places like Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia honour their Waffen SS veterans from WW2 in annual parades so yes, they do.

                    Reply
              1. lordkoos

                This is my thinking as well, although since I didn’t serve myself, I’m reluctant to talk about America’s wars in that way because the current feeling is that you are unpatriotic if you don’t thank military personnel for their service. It makes more sense to me to thank firemen or cops than veterans of imperialist wars.

                Reply
                1. OIFVet

                  The hypocrisy of thanking those who served for protecting our “freedoms” while castigating those who oppose our imperial wars on the basis that they did not serve is breathtakingly hypocritical.

                  Reply
                  1. Pat

                    I think it is a win win for our overlords. They get to continue and start more wars that have nothing to do with freedom but have to do with economic empire. They get to pay little for actual troops, both in real pay and in supposed benefits (because lets face it they have underfunded the VA and shortchanged every program for veteran’s benefits for most of my lifetime). They have multiple weapons for those who want to change this. And they get to pretend both patriotism and good citizenship.

                    I would also say that as they strip our nation of resources, both human and economic with their policies and their wars they also use faux patriotism and pride to limit discussion of our descent into an authoritarian security state third world nation on the “homefront”.

                    Edited to add: Most of the biggest anti-war/anti-military people I know are huge advocates of Veteran’s groups and activism to make sure that the people who have served get the treatment and benefits they deserve. I cannot say the same for most of those who advocate for intervention.

                    Reply
            5. Charles Paris

              I only feel shame and remorse for what I did and was part of in Vietnam. I do not want to hear ‘Thank You’. Sorry.

              Reply
      1. eg

        The disease is crossing the border — I was at a Toronto Maple Leafs game last year and they made a big deal of singling out some soldier or other in attendance. I thought of my father (ex-RCAF) and how embarrassed he would have been.

        Reply
    4. Arthur Dent

      My goal is to thank our soldiers for their service by making sure they are well trained with good weapons that are used only infrequently in combat on essential missions and that they can live in good housing.

      Similarly, I want to make sure our veterans are thanked by ensuring that they have the necessary support systems, including good VA care to take care of the complex challenges that they face after combat duties. This may be expensive but if we don’t want the expense, we should launch fewer military operations. We should not have veterans lost and adrift with nowhere to turn.

      I think we have been failing our military on these fronts while ensuring that they get big half time shows at games, people wear flag pins, and lots of verbal thank yous.

      Reply
      1. Carla

        Some of us may be able to thank the troops by getting the word about Tulsi Gabbard’s campaign for president.

        Reply
        1. a different chris

          Hmm, never thought of this but: How often does Ms. Gabbard get thanked for her service? Bet not too often.

          Reply
    5. Zagonostra

      Went to Lowe’s and noticed that Vets have their specially designated parking spots, along with pre boarding privileges when flying it seems that there is a new class forming, privileges – private laws in it’s etymological sense-that redound to individuals based on membership to that class as opposed to personal handicaps or achievements.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        The local pot shoppe in Weedlake, er Woodlake, offers a 10% discount to vets, and isn’t it interesting how we’ve come full circle from a good many GI Joes smoking their first Thai Stick in some fetid jungle in Vietnam, to being offered a deal on it back in the world, 50 years later?

        Reply
        1. crittermom

          Only 10%?
          My local dispensary gives 25% off to veterans, I’ve been told.

          I’ve often felt that while over 58,000 of my generation died in Viet Nam, an equal number of them returned home severely affected from it–to this day.
          I’ve met and am friends with far too many still suffering the aftereffects.

          One friend, a gentle soul still hugely affected, built a memorial in his yard in honor of his unit.
          It seems it was his turn to retrieve the mail that fateful day as the others showered and while doing so, the showers took a direct hit and the rest of his unit was killed.
          The survivor’s guilt he still suffers is palpable.

          I have found, however, that there are those (like some where I currently live) who truly appreciate a ‘thank you’ for their service.
          But he is not one I’ve ever said that to.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            The aforementioned non Rx pot shoppe is the only one from north of the LA City Limits to Madera, a few hundred mile swath and they don’t need to be too grandiose with the discounts, as they’re raking in the dough.

            China Peak-our local ski resort, has a better deal for the enlisted ranks, 40% off.

            A civilian lift ticket for the day is $76 for an adult, and just $42 for active military/vets.

            Reply
      2. a different chris

        Seems? Where have you been for the past 20 years? :)

        It seems every 10 minutes now there is a USAA advert on TV. Makes my 3rd generation a$$ feel like somebody who just got off the boat.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Less military personal, smaller customer base. Usually, those veterans freebies strike me as cynical ways of having sales without having sales, but USAA has a smaller population to sell to using their underwriting standards. They are trying to get people to switch their insurance so USAA doesn’t have to change their standards.

          The ads are targeted at older people to switch their car insurance so their kids and grandkids will have USAA as an option without changing the “mission” (I don’t mean to sound cynical; its supposed to be pretty clubby at USAA; its who they are) of the company. They need to grab the Vietnam vets before their drivers licenses are taken away.

          Reply
          1. lordkoos

            I’ve been using USAA for several years now thanks to my dad being a WWII vet, as well as my wife’s father being a career air force guy. I haven’t seen the USAA TV ads as I don’t watch television, but I have to say they are a very good credit union to belong to. I was formerly a member of Boeing’s BECU but USAA is much better IMHO. I’m sure there are many people like myself with no military experience who are USAA members.

            Reply
    6. DJG

      OIFVet. How does it come up in Chicago? I am assuming that you are dressed in civvies these days.

      The subservience of civilians to the military is what is most dangerous here. There is no reason for civilians–unless they are the typically fear-ridden Americans who seem to be the vast majority these days–to thank people in the armed forces for having “protected” the “homeland.” What it implies is that people entering the armed forces have no idea of the consequences of doing so. These days, though, there seems to be little understanding of action and consequence in the U S of A, so it may be that the general public truly thinks that soldiers are surprised at having to use their rifles.

      Further, U.S. foreign policy is a disaster, so that many of the injuries and PTSD are caused by inept use of the military by those who want a “muscular foreign policy.” Are we all expected to thank the armed forces for the soon-to-happen fiasco in Venezuela?

      This servility is all of a piece with people praising the FBI and CIA. It is almost as if civilians are bored with democracy, want to walk around in camo cargo pants, and can’t be bothered to vote, now isn’t it.

      Reply
      1. OIFVet

        What Janie said. I am in the midst of major home improvement and the 10% discount at the big box stores really helps keep the costs down. Plus I still keep my haircut rather short and military. I agree with everything you said, and I am convinced that people thanking vets for their service is a major symptom of what ails the US. Want to thank me? Then make sure that a real Medicare For All is passed. Every human has the right to access quality health care, yet here we are spending insane amounts on waging wars and buying expensive and barely serviceable weapon systems, all the while crying poverty as the reason for not having universal health care. What a sham.

        Reply
        1. Janie

          This. So many better ways to spend money, as you and Arthur Dent say – and as I say at any opportunity.

          Reply
        2. Susan the other`

          Yes. I think it is because we are always fighting the last war, not the next one. If we weren’t such reactionary creatures we would be training our new soldiers to think about the future; we would not frame the future strictly as a question of killing for survival; we would enlighten the entire military with new thinking. Because the old thinking just really isn’t working and it has become offensive to almost everyone.

          Reply
    7. Carolinian

      Here’s suspecting that the people who say that were almost never in the military themselves. They lack the experience to offer up any real empathy so they go with the rote version instead.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        My mom gave me a bunch of photos and there’s one of me marching in my Cub Scout uniform in a parade, and I was only in the Cub Scouts a year, as even being a little kid, you could sense how uncool any sort of uniform was, not that I really knew what was going on in Vietnam, but it was more the last era of the public being listened to via protest, as far as their opinions were concerned, and the long hairs had the short hairs by the curlies for once.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          Of course Baden-Powell’s scouting movement always had a military subtext although in supposedly anti-imperialistic America this was very much downplayed.

          Kids these days are probably more into their iPhones than camping and nature–sadly.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            The very man for whom Baden-Powell used as the epitome of a scout is buried a few miles from where I peck away at. A remarkable fellow who led many lives from being involved in the Pleasant Valley War in Arizona territory, to being in the equivalent of Custer’s Last Stand during the Shangani Patrol in what is now Zimbabwe, to finding vast oil riches, being an early conservationist, etc. etc.

            Frederick Russell Burnham DSO (May 11, 1861 – September 1, 1947) was an American scout and world-traveling adventurer. He is known for his service to the British South Africa Company and to the British Army in colonial Africa, and for teaching woodcraft to Robert Baden-Powell in Rhodesia. He helped inspire the founding of the international Scouting Movement.

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

            Reply
        1. lordkoos

          It wasn’t a mistake as far as the pentagon was concerned — they learned the lessons of Vietnam very well. Nothing sparks protests like a draft for an unpopular war. Now they can coerce low-income people who have few other options to volunteer, who hope they may get an education and some experience out of the deal. A lot of those people end up homeless or dead. There are more suicides among veterans these days than there are casualties of war.

          Reply
    8. Chris Cosmos

      Considering that the US military is a corrupt mess and has few successes since WWII to crow about it’s almost comic that 74% (the trend is for more not less approval in recent years) of the American people approve of the military one of three institutions that rate over 50%. People need to love the military and this is why military spending will continue to go up and up and up no matter which party is in power. Hedges wrote a book about this in his War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. Americans need to believe they are embattled, thus our obsession with guns, with coercion, with tribalism, with fear of “the other” as displayed in both domestic and foreign policy. Diplomacy as such as degenerated into a series of carrots and sticks with the emphasis on sticks not because all our Presidents have been insane but because we are. We ignore real threats to our environment and focus on worrying about the Russians taking over the USA since the Muslim “threat” lost its cachet. Next it will be the Chinese.

      Reply
      1. Plenue

        The US may be just about the least embattled nation in world history. We have 4,000 miles of water on either side, and only share land borders with Canada (to be fair, they did burn down the White House the one time we fought…) and Mexico, a country we pretty effortlessly stole a third of once. We don’t actually need much military beyond a coast guard.

        Reply
      2. lordkoos

        I don’t think it’s so much that Americans need to feel embattled, I think it’s more that politically, America and the pentagon always need a bogeyman. This is useful in many ways – it keeps the defense industries very profitable as well as propagandizing citizens to band together against a common “enemy”. Meanwhile the real enemies are right here at home. It wasn’t the leaders of Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam etc who were responsible for the trashing of the middle class, the busting of unions, the unprincipled greed, etc etc.

        Reply
        1. rob

          This american strategy isn’t new,

          It was machiavelli who wrote,”
          If a nation has no enemy, a leader must create one, so as to control the population” (paraphrased)

          Reply
    9. Deschain

      I think the best thing we could do to thank the military for their service is elect people who won’t send them off to die in stupid wars.

      Reply
    10. JCC

      As a Vet, the Stonekettle twitter post really hit home for me, too.

      As usual, when I read posts like this (and the reaction here) I take a few minutes to listen to the Pogues, and choke up a little.

      The battles in the cause of Empire are tragic, while the people who benefit most stay home, are tragic.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6IhLcnyuN0

      Reply
    11. ButchInWaukegan

      We were at a White Sox game on July 4th, 2011. (The Sox won on a bases-loaded balk.)

      For the 7th inning they had a ceremony with soldiers and sailors at all the bases. They also asked all veterans in the stadium to stand and be applauded. We were in the outfield bleachers. Of the thousands around us I saw less than 20 standing.

      I found out later that these kind of displays are Pentagon financed.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        We were in San Diego for a Bills-Chargers contest between a couple of 6-7 teams going nowhere in 2011, and encircling the stadium were ranks of military and once we got inside, giant C-5 cargo planes were circling overhead along with fighter jet chasers, in what I thought we might be unwilling actors in a sequel to the 1977 movie Black Sunday.

        The aerial display was probably something you would’ve seen in the 1977 Super Bowl, certainly not between a couple of Palookas late in the season.

        Little did I know I was paying for the military dog & pony show until years later.

        Reply
      2. Jeff W

        See this Citations Needed podcast:

        “Episode 59: National Pastimes — Mindless Militarism in American Sports”

        [transcript plus embedded Soundcloud audio]

        Reply
    12. Cal2

      Rejoinders:

      “Yeah, my brother died in Vietnam so this store could sell junk made there.”

      “I lost my father on Guadalcanal so I could press one for English on your helpline?”

      “My Uncle died fighting ‘for our freedom’ in France so Visa could charge me 29% interest?”

      “My nephew died in Iraq so they could sell oil to China?”

      “Never join the military unless the enemy invades our country…”

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        “No, I will not come quietly, Officer class.”
        As the ‘Founding Fathers’ evidently believed, a ‘Professional Army’ eventually becomes a rival with the Domestic Elites for ultimate power. We are seeing just that unfolding now.

        Reply
    13. Lepton1

      It’s not really their fault. It’s how people are. Not just on this issue but almost everything. We mostly act on a kind of instinct or learned behavior. Taking time out to think things through and act in an original fashion is expensive in terms of individual resources. It is much easier to employ learned behaviors when faced with a known stimulus.

      A lot of work has been done studying this. A good entry point is the first book by Robert Cialdini.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Cialdini#Theory_of_influence

      Reply
      1. newcatty

        The moment a draft into the military, again, is the moment I will have any sympathy, support, empathy, regret for enlisted or vets ( after draft ) from our Empire’s racket. I am tired of whinning that the young men and women who choose to join the military do so because of poor economic prospects or opportunities. Joining the military means joining institution of killing other humans and destroying other countries. No amount of” protecting America” will white wash that reality. This is just an anecdote: the Naval officer I personality know, through family connection, is the most arrogant, self satisfied , cynical, hypocrical middle aged person I have ever met. Loves to brag about how, he is going to retire in his early forties. Brags about all of his benefits. Admits it’s all a racket, but so feels entitled to be in the game. He is proud to vote Republican and, yet, thinks all of his benefits and privilege are “earned”. His extended family pride themselves on playing the system: work under the table, so qualify for every federal assistance available: snap, Medicare, etc. They own a home, have numerous vehicles, and eat well and travel often. I just saw on Democracy Now: 13 million American children live under the US poverty line( a low bar, indeed). So not much sympathy for the plebs who join the racket.

        Reply
        1. pretzelattack

          some of those kids will grow up and join the military, because they have no other prospects. they won’t all be officers, most will be cannon fodder.

          Reply
    1. diptherio

      Well actually…standard Hindi to English transliteration would be “laakh,” as the original word is spelled लाख. Lak would be pronounced like ‘luck’…again, using the standard transliteration approach.

      Reply
    1. Susan the other`

      So does this mean it is not your imagination when you get a buzz from eating shrimp?

      Reply
      1. newcatty

        Rather frightening to think of what lurks in the waters. Buzz and downers…anti biotic resistance enhanced. What a cocktail! Remember the old hippy saying: Don’t drink water, drink wine. But, whats in the waters are now being used to irrigate the vines?

        Reply
  2. PlutoniumKun

    Brexit:

    Britain’s two main parties punished in local election for Brexit chaos – partial results Reuters

    Bombardier puts Belfast aerospace business up for sale FT

    First thoughts on the UK local elections so far – a disaster as predicted for the Tories, but pretty bad for Corbyn too. Both sides of the argument will blame him for not taking a firmer stance, but given the huge surge by the LibDems and (to a lesser extent), the Greens indicates that its the Remainers who are right – Labour seems to have leaked a lot of votes to anti-Brexit parties. Given that the pre-election spin was that the Tories had no hope, the media will probably focus more on Labours losses than the Tories, even though losing a quarter of their seats is historically terrible for them.

    Northern Ireland: The Bombadier news is clearly the death knell for this plant – they make wings for the Airbus 220 (its the former Shorts aircraft company). Its hugely important for NI’s economy. With Brexit uncertainty nobody will want to touch it. My guess is that Airbus or one of their subsidiaries will take it over and quietly merge it with plants elsewhere.

    NI is behind England in election counts, so the following is very preliminary: So far
    it looks like no big change. The DUP seem to have lost a little, but not a lot, indicating that they’ve held on to their supporters despite many having misgivings over Brexit. The UUP – the DUP’s main Unionist competition has pretty much imploded, apparently due to infighting. Many of their votes have gone to the Alliance, the most moderate of the Unionist parties. Sinn Fein (Republican, anti-Brexit) are holding their own. A conservative, catholic anti-abortion splittist party from Sinn Fein seems to have flopped. The Greens are doing well – the success of Alliance and Greens is usually a sign that the traditional parties in NI are shedding disenchanted supporters. The left wing PBP Trots (pro-Brexit) seem to have faded to nothingness.

    Reply
    1. Redlife2017

      As a relentlessly pro-Corbyn person, I agree that this isn’t going to go well for him. I think big questions come out of this:
      is it possible to really have a Big Tent party in this situation?
      Was it right to vote against the withdrawal agreement?
      Should we have made a bigger deal of having tabled the 2nd ref twice?
      And how f****d are we in the Euro Elections?

      Well, I can answer that last one: very. I have received literature from the Greens and a neighbour got some from the Brexit Party (ugh). Labour hasn’t sent anything out yet, due to all the kerfuffle over what we were actually running on, so we’re letting everyone walk all over us. Ugh.

      I think Corbyn is safe as Leader (even if the EU elections are crap), but the gods (and the leadership) have decided to make this just bloody painful…the knives will be out that’s for sure.

      Reply
      1. vlade

        I believe it would have been possible to have a big tent party, if it was run from June 27 2016. That is, if the party acknowledged that Leavers had a point, and won, but they didn’t win resoundingly, and that most of them had no idea what it was they actually won.

        The problem for Labour is what I have been shouting here in comments for at least a year. It was (I hope it’s not anymore, otherwise it’s doomed) taking Remain voters for granted. Sure, they “need” to win the leave marginal seats up north. But what use are those, if they lose the remain seats down south?

        “They have nowhere else to go” worked great for one HRC in the US, but Labour didn’t seem to get the message.

        Big tent means you really try to cater to both, and find some middle ground (and I believe that there would have been remainers who could accept softish brexit, and leavers who could accept confirmatory referendum on any “deal”).

        Labour tried not to antagonise either, but not really making a case for either to really vote for them. And how they were sitting on the fence made a number of voters on both sides of Leave/Remain p-off with Labour.

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          +1

          As the old saying goes, sometimes staying middle-of-the-road means you get run over by a truck. Corbyn has been playing political games with Brexit which was always likely to be only a short term balm. He has alienated many supporters with this – I think he assumed that the LibDems were dead and buried, but he may have single handedly revived them. They could cost Labour the next election.

          Reply
          1. vlade

            Oh, and one more thing. Last elections a lot of people voted Labour because they assumed their LD vote would be wasted. This (and if LD does well in EU elections) will put paid to that.

            Reply
            1. PlutoniumKun

              Yes, in all the fear about losing voters to UKIP and the Tories, they forgot all about the LibDems and Greens.

              The Greens may not yet be able to win many seats, but they have the potential to take a lot of votes off Labour in key constituencies.

              Reply
    2. Paul O

      The rise in ‘independents’ (not UKIP) is also interesting. Up +305 to 504 total is a pretty big jump. My home town has had a full sweep of independent (not party aligned) councilors for some time and it has been radiating out somewhat. I think I like this development.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Independents can be good sometimes, but when you have too many, it creates very unstable local governments – in Ireland there is a longer tradition of independents (aided by multi-seat constituencies with PR) and it can be very problematic sometimes. Its fine to have someone elected to save the local hospital or whatever, but its hard to actually do proper governing and decision-making without party discipline backing up the decisions. This, after all, is why the party ‘whip’ was invented.

        Just as an aside on this, I was talking about this very topic with a friend yesterday. We were walking past what are known in Dublin as ‘Gregory’ houses. They are beautiful public housing built in the 1980’s when a random electoral quirk gave Tony Gregory, a left wing city centre Independent the swing vote. He did a deal with the then deeply corrupt PM, Charlie Haughey, to support whatever Haughey wanted in exchange for something like £100million of quality public housing for his constituents. Gregory (now dead) is considered a saint now among many working class Dubliners for this. It changed the face of the city forever (even if it does seem quite odd now to see lovely 2 storey terraced houses now surrounded by modern offices).

        Reply
    3. vlade

      Yeah, I was amused by May saying “it shows voters want Brexit to be delivered”. I guess when you rephrase it as “Voters moved from Tories and even more Labour to anti-Brexit parties like LD and Greens, with UKIP tanking massively, so it shows they want Brexit delivered”, it makes even more sense.

      LD+Green now have approx 70% of Labour councilors and 50% of Tory ones. Number of independents more than doubled.

      Interesting thing is that LD made gains in a number of Leave areas too (East Anglia, South West taking votes from Tories; and areas from Liverpool eastwards – Leeds, York, Hull taking votes from Labour). Now think what they could do with someone charismatic (unlike Cable) as a leader..

      I believe that if a GE was held right now, we’d have another hung parliament, and the only question is whether it would be Tory + Brexit party coalition or Labour + SNP + LD.

      Reply
      1. laughingsong

        There was a leader for Greens in Ireland when I lived there in the noughties named, I think, Trevor Sargent, who I thought was quite good. But then there was an election where I think Fianna Fail wanted to go into coalition with them and he refused. He ended up stepping down and Gormless got in, and the Greens were not the same, at least while I was still there (until December 2009). Had to leave, as I couldn’t buy a job ,, , we (me and Himself) miss it terribly.

        Reply
  3. PlutoniumKun

    25 Million Homes Vacant in Rural China Due to Migrant Workforce Sixth Tone

    The lofty figure is based on a study published Sunday by the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, which sampled 140 rural villages in the country to estimate that, nationwide, 10.7% of homes are vacant in such areas. The occupancy issue, according to the study, stems in part from the long-term absence of migrant laborers, who leave their hometowns to pursue employment elsewhere.

    There are of course also vast numbers of empty properties in Chinese cities empty too, held by people as investments.

    One reason though that there might be so many empty is that having a residential property on land increases the compensation due if the local government decides to take it for whatever mega project they have in mind. There is therefore a huge incentive for Chinese rural people to build and maintain small cheap properties even if they actually live in a nearby town or city. So this could be distorting the figures.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Not just China that has this problem. From a recent Bloomberg article-

      ‘A record 8.46 million Japanese homes are sitting vacant as builders keep adding stock in a country where the population is shrinking. Many of the properties are for future sale or rental or vacation. However, some are abandoned, posing hazards, the news service reported. Vacancy rates were highest in a prefecture that’s home to the northern part of Mount Fuji, which is a popular area for holiday homes. However more people moving from rural areas to metropolitan ones is also driving the increase, according to the news report.’

      I wonder how many other countries have this problem?

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Japan’s problem was exacerbated by huge overbuilding during the boom years, combined with a dropping population. I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit recently following rural roads in southern Japan on google streetview (planning a cycling holiday there), and its striking just how many vacant units there are. Frequently, small local stores are shut down, replaced with a bank of vending machines.

        Its a pretty big problem in many countries. In Spain and Portugal they’ve found one good alternative use for depopulating villages – they turn them into scattered hotels, with each former house a room. Tourism and retirees has been the saviour of a lot of remote European villages (as well as the destroyer of others), but its not a solution everywhere.

        The perception I have of rural US is that people have a more ruthless approach to houses – either demolition or just trucking it away – hence you don’t see so many empty properties, even in dying towns and villages. Plus of course when houses are mostly made of timber, they disappear quite fast when not occupied, unlike stone and concrete dwellings.

        In other countries, its been more a re-ordering of where people want to live. Its very noticeable in some countries that smaller villages are losing out relative to larger towns – a problem I suspect is often precipitated by a big supermarket choosing one location, and undermining the shops and other facilities in smaller surrounding villages. I’ve noticed this in parts of Ireland, where thriving towns can often be surrounded by dying villages. It all depends on things like commuter patterns, the nature of local employment, where shops decide to locate as well as local ‘perceptions’.

        Reply
        1. J7915

          IIRC in the US a residential structure increases the property tax. It is cheaper to lease the farm land and not keep the unoccupied homestead.

          Also avoids vandalism, family farm(house) was vadalised and maybe burned down by meth cookers.

          Reply
        2. polecat

          Just think of all those future ruins to grid off and pick through … assuming it’s not all chipboard, melamie, and funky drywall.

          Reply
        3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That’s a lot of green house gases released from producing all that concrete for those empty houses.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            They reckon the majority of rooms (as many as 400 rooms per building) in the great houses in Chaco Canyon were utilized mainly for storage of really rare stuff like pretty shells, exotic bird feathers and other treasures we might casually throw out in a spring cleaning.

            Can you think of any civilization that wasn’t a prolific builder, who is remembered today?

            Reply
        4. Harry

          Houses in the US are relatively disposable. Not stone or brick build, and often designed to last no more than 60 years. Which means its not so weird to tear down an old house to start again. Much less renovation going on. Especially when the vast bulk of the stock dates from the 50s

          Reply
      2. Cal2

        “I wonder how many other countries have this problem?”

        One Hundred Thousand empty homes in San Francisco, mostly owned by overseas Asians as speculation.

        https://www.sfchronicle.com/realestate/article/An-estimated-100-000-homes-are-sitting-empty-in-13692007.php

        This in the midst of an alleged “housing crisis” . Contributing to this, and never mentioned, at least half a million illegals living in the Sanctuary Cities S.F.Bay Area:

        https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/02/09/san-jose-san-francisco-among-areas-with-largest-undocumented-immigrant-populations/

        and the powerful magnet of social benefits handed to ‘homeless’ people who come by the thousands to San Francisco every year, in spite of Billions spent;

        $45,000 per each homeless person per year, with all benefits added up. With new business homeless funding tax, not yet tallied, approximately $75,000 each per year.

        http://www.ktvu.com/news/san-francisco-s-homeless-population-has-remained-steady-since-2013

        The Democratic Donor’s Development Machine solution? A new state law that forces communities statewide to build Stack and Pack high rises around new rail stations to “solve” the housing crisis and “fight global warming.”

        https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-brown-housing-plan-20160514-snap-story.html

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          There’s a home that’s been empty across the river from us since 2004. The door is not locked* and there’s around $717 worth of eBay goods that could be sold, with the most expensive item being worth $18, so everything has just sat for all this time, nothing out of place, nor nothing taken. The look is that of a 78 year old’s place, who died all of the sudden 15 years ago.

          * how long would a similar house last unmolested in a big city?

          Reply
        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Yet few lament the root cause: the destruction of money by the Fed. When money earns nothing (or below) in real terms all kinds of “proto-money” emerge: houses, art works. The Fed has told us that “time preference” no longer exists: that being paid to temporarily forego consumption is now a moot concept.
          Japan destroyed money years ago, before everyone else.

          Reply
        3. Lepton1

          The article about vacant homes in SF was updated to say that the count of 100,000 vacant homes was for the entire Bay Area, not just SF. The article points out that this is actually a low number compared to counts for other cities. Miami, for example, has over 400,000 vacant homes.

          Reply
    2. Nat

      > There are of course also vast numbers of empty properties in Chinese cities empty too, held by people as investments.

      No doubt, sadly that is the world over. There are few things that quite wrankle me as the concept just holding empty housing off the market as an investment. Its like the most painfully obvious example of market failure, and how supply and demand means nothing in the face of sufficient monetary inequality. I am personally okay with people owning and renting out property, but just holding empty buildings/units off the market maybe with the occasional Air B&B visitor at most drives me nuts.

      Every country really should tax on vacant property if left vacant too long. Something like no tax for the first year of vacancy (to give time to sell or find renters), but then additional tax starts in and goes up every year for each year the property hasn’t had a “permanent” occupant, defined as someone who has lived there consistently for at least a year. The tax goes back to zero when you get a permanent resident in that space for at least a full year. Everyone gets their primary residence without this additional tax as obviously they are the primary resident there so it is “filled,” but any other properties beyond their primary people own should be subjected to this. No corporations despite their corporate personhood get a primary residence to avoid this tax – they can’t live there so someone needs to or they should pay a sufficient tax on holding the property off the market for *ANY* livable property they own.

      This wouldn’t just help with property prices, but it would also greatly reduce rents. Admittedly I don’t have a citation for this, but from what I can tell, developers (especially rental REITS) like to only develop the highest end rental units, because the margins are so large they only need to make sure a few units in every complex are rented to break even or even profit. Because of these margins they can keep prices high and inflexible without being disciplined by the lack of demand at those prices. Suddenly if they start slowly but surely incurring brutal taxes for their mostly empty complexes you are going to see rents coming way down so they can start to fill their complexes. You will also see fewer developers just starting out of the gate by building only luxury apartments as there will suddenly be a concern about actually filling the complex as to avoid the compounding “empty property” taxes.

      Reply
      1. Samuel Conner

        Break out the popcorn. Every Senator who co-sponsors this resolution is going to be exposed, when MMT is more widely understood, as an ignoramus or a sociopath (that “or” is not an “exclusive or”, of course). The growing public awareness will hurt traditional corporatists of both parties.

        An oddity (or not) of the situation is that aggressive fiscal stimulus (within the real resource constraints) would be good for corporations and I expect even for rentiers. But it would be even better for the 90%, which I guess is intolerable to the 10% and above.

        I am looking forward to the humiliation of our political class.

        Reply
        1. Kurt Sperry

          It takes sticks and carrots to control people. The carrot is the middle-class life “as seen on TV”; the stick is dying homeless in the gutter alone. Turns out, sticks are way cheaper than carrots.

          Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its quite exciting to see just how fast the paradigm is changing – MMT is rapidly going mainstream.

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      Next resolution to be proposed in the Senate-

      S. RES. 183: A resolution recognizing the duty of the Senate to condemn Medicare For All and recognizing Medicare For All would lead to higher deficits and higher inflation.

      Reply
    3. Deschain

      We have officially transitioned to the ‘then they fight you’ phase. Sweet! All that’s left is the winning part!

      Reply
        1. ambrit

          They’ll condemn quantum theory because, if one cannot know what is in the box, how can one fix the election?

          Reply
          1. Samuel Conner

            my vote for “best comment of H1 2019”; I don’t need to see the results for May or June.

            :)

            Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think rd above was right to be wary.

        Could this lead to more Reaganomics or more fighting money for the MIC?

        Reply
        1. Samuel Conner

          It certainly could but, realistically, we already have MMT for the MIC. It would be nice to have some for the rest of the economy, and for the well-being of the planet. And, maybe, if we can MMT-wise finance a migration to a lower carbon intensity global economy, we won’t need to use our “best in the history of the human race but surprisingly unable to win wars lately” military to attempt to control the planet for the sake of our energy supply.

          Reply
          1. rd

            Cities and states finance public works projects with long-term bonds as it is an investment in the future, similar to someone buying a house using a mortgage. This is forced on them as they can generally not run a fiscal deficit in a calendar year.

            The US government is odd along those lines where they don’t issue bonds for projects but more for general Treasury use. So there is no differentiation between a T-bond for building a subway with 50+ years of use vs. financing a tax cut for a billionaire.

            I think the fundamental question with MMT is whether or not something will see a payoff down the road in increased productivity of some sort, whether it is increased economic activity or reduced number of people being incarcerated. So far, I have not seen evidence that tax cuts in an economy like ours with relatively low taxes overall produce much long-term change in anything other than increased deficits and inequality, so I don’t believe they should be financed through deficits.

            Rational infrastructure spending financed with 20 to 50 year bonds makes a lot of sense in this low interest rate environment as you get the initial sugar rush of the jobs to build it and then you get the general increased productivity in the economy as it gets used in the following decades. It does require decent life-cycle cost benefit analysis to figure out which projects, but that $2 T in discussion between Trump and Democrats is probably a rational number if good projects are approved.

            Reply
    4. Grant

      I can’t wait to hear these goofballs talk about inflation. Any progressive economists are going to have fun with the arguments that government spending necessarily increases inflation, but it could be illuminating for many. It seems, in the article above about the inevitability of MMT, that they are referring to the Treasury taking over for the Fed, because as many have said, we already “do” MMT.

      But, our society has been built in recent decades on nutty right wing ideas, many of our economic policy discussions are often within a very narrow policy framework, one often well to the right of popular opinion, that is built on reality-less assumptions. Like with single payer, this could be a means to confront those things. Maybe, if we progress enough, we won’t see someone like Pelosi take to the House floor and pay tribute to someone like Pete Peterson.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think the key question is how to measure things.

        For example, people argue over how to measure unemployment.

        The same with inflation.

        And it will be that way too with measuring ‘how close are we to resource limits’ because per MMT, we can create more money always, subject to resource limits.

        What is the limit of a particular resource?

        At what point, at what percent of that limit, does it become an issue?

        How precisely can we measure where the economy is at the resource continuum?

        Reply
        1. Grant

          Resource and productive limits are obviously important. But, where that money goes in the economy is huge as well. For example, if 10,000 dollars is created and given to a poor person versus given to Bill Gates, that will have different impacts on the macroeconomy and inflation than if it went to Gates. If money is created but sits in a tax shelter, if it is used to buy imports, if it is hoarded, if it is used by capitalists to buy up shares in their own companies, if it is used to buy up other companies, or used to play around in the financial markets, it could have next to no impact on inflation even if we are at full productive capacity. Let’s say that we are at full productive capacity, we are at full employment, and the government creates money. If that money goes to someone and just sits in a savings account, even though we are at full productive capacity and full employment, that will not increase inflation.

          The goofballs on the right that make arguments basically saying that government spending will necessarily increase inflation are going to look silly if others know the issue, to say nothing of the fact that the government doesn’t create most of the money in the economy. I welcome these conversations, provided that people are there that can counter their ideas. Can you imagine Kelton, Yves, Wray, Michael Hudson and/or Steve Keen on a panel and countering what that Republican puts forward? Would be a blood bath. I know it wouldn’t happen, but man would that be fun to watch.

          Reply
        2. Susan the other`

          This is a good question because it can be trickier than just resource supply. It can always be an accounting manipulation; a collusion of profiteers, etc. Maintaining prices has always depended on a limited supply of resources/consumer goods. It’s 99% of the value of gold. If it is possible to produce sufficiency without breaking the inflation barrier, it could also be possible to bust price fixing and collusion… and then we’ll hear people screaming even louder about how socialism kills freedom. Even though MMT has nothing to do with socialism. It’s rather the latest iteration of capitalism. It’s going to get interesting.

          Reply
          1. Grant

            I don’t know if MMT is compatible with socialism as a system, maybe yes, maybe no, but these debates aren’t new. I am thinking about Rudolf Hilferding in Germany being opposed to the type of ideas we would normally associate with Keynes because he thought it was basically the state stepping in to bail out capitalism. Some of his socialist comrades were saying that it wasn’t the case, that it could lead to a post-capitalist system, but he actually argued for austerity for some time.

            To me, I think that MMT might or might not lead to socialism and might or might not be compatible with socialism as a system, but it is certainly compatible with more socialization. Whether or not that would lead to a socialist system depends on many factors, including how people define socialism. Personally, I think the environmental crisis will end capitalism as we know it, and in the not too distant future, but that doesn’t necessarily lead to socialism. And, as AC Pigou said, not every planned economy is a socialist economy.

            Reply
          2. JEHR

            Bill Mitchell talks about resources and how they are important to MMT concepts:

            While real resources are transferred from the non-government sector in the form of goods and services that are purchased by government, the motivation to supply these resources is sourced back to the need to acquire fiat currency to extinguish the tax liabilities.

            Further, while real resources are transferred, the taxation provides no additional financial capacity to the government of issue.

            Conceptualising the relationship between the government and non-government sectors in this way makes it clear that it is government spending that provides the paid work which eliminates the unemployment created by the taxes.

            This understanding provides a further insight.

            State spending therefore, is constrained by what is offered for sale in response to tax liabilities.

            But, importantly, spending by such a government is not operationally constrained by revenues.

            Note here that this conclusion does not apply to the 19 Member States of the Eurozone because they surrendered their currency sovereignty and use a foreign currency instead.

            If you look through his blog, you will come across many references to how resources work in MMT. It may take awhile but is well worth the effort.

            Here’s another example:

            If there is a new crisis, then there will be massive fiscal space which will be defined by the idle resources in the non-government sector that have become unemployed because non-government spending collapses.

            That is the only way in which we can talk about ‘fiscal space’. If there are productive resources that are idle and available to be brought back into productive use, then there is fiscal space.

            The fact is that there is no crisis large enough that the government through appropriate fiscal policy implementation cannot respond to.

            There is no non-government spending collapse big enough that the government cannot maintain full employment through appropriate fiscal policy implementation.

            A currency-issuing government can always use that capacity to buy whatever idle resources there are for sale in the currency it issues, and that includes all idle labour.

            I hope this helps.

            What I am finding out is that I need to do an awful lot of reading before I clearly understand a concept. Bill’s blog is a good place to start and not necessarily an easy way to learn.

            Reply
    5. Darius

      The hostility of tankies to MMT needs more discussion. Does MMT conflict with socialism?

      It would be great to see the pompous deficit hawks get the rug pulled unceremoniously out from under them.

      Reply
      1. JEHR

        As I understand it, MMT describes how money really works; socialism is a political ideology that has many variations, such as democratic socialism, social democracy, socialism as practiced by communism, etc.

        Reply
    6. John k

      This will give pelosi ideas… she’s already strong for paygo. And certainly the blue dogs are, too.

      Reply
  4. Mirdif

    With regard to the Saudi-Yemeni situation from a couple of the Saudi dissident accounts on twitter we learn that morale in Saudi forces is very bad. This is because there is no training or experience in the forces and they are deployed without the backlines interfacing with the frontlines properly, lack of logistics and facilities and by far the worst of it is in the case of injury wages are not being paid to soldiers leading to their families being turfed out of their accomodation.

    My own thought is that if this carries on for much longer the Arab spring will arrive to Saudi with the country being split in to at least 2 pieces and possibly more.

    Insanely, one of the more accurate tweeters stated that MBS and MBZ were planning on invading Kuwait last year until a stern telling off from imperial HQ in DC stopped them in their tracks.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      The House of Saud have traditionally kept the military very weak as they saw it as a potential rival for power. That’s why you have Princes buzzing around in F-15’s with western ground support, while the ground forces are a relatively well equipped but quite weak mix of mercenaries, ‘trusted’ officers and general rabble who couldn’t find anything else to do. Its unsurprising they’ve been useless on the ground.

      I think you meant Qatar, not Kuwait? They very much wanted to invade them, but even the most rabid Neocons in Washington I think saw that was a stupid move, even by their standards.

      Reply
      1. Olga

        Pretty sure they had Qatar in their sights, not Kuwait… MbS and MbZ seemed to have forgotten that lil’ matter of a US base in Qatar. Not to mention the overall daftness of the idea.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          I think that Saudi Arabia had their sights on Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, which stands at as least $170 billion, as well as the wealth of their massive off-shore natural gas deposits. They are to be condemned for this idea of course but to be honest, they would probably turn around and say that they are only copying what the west does in countries like Iraq, Libya and now Venezuela. Hard to argue against that point.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            What happens in the ‘Bolivar’d of broken dreams’ is important, for if our nutjobs somehow eke out a win (now, how you define a win is up to conjecture) it’ll give them inspiration to militarily cast aspersions on Iran.

            Of course if Guaido the ersatz Scarlet Pimpernel doesn’t come through and they get stymied, that might not stop them from going to war anyway.

            I’m a little sick of living in interesting times, led by dolts.

            Reply
        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The thing to keep an eye on is if China gets a military base as well there (their closest one is in the Horn of Africa), or if Russia also sets one up in that area.

          Reply
      2. Mirdif

        I meant Kuwait – that is why I said “Insanely”. The twitter account definitely specified Kuwait. The point was to take occupy oil fields and also as Kuwait is seen as being weak against Iran. Such an invasion is not in the interests of the US and that’s why they were told to negotiate and iron out their differences with Kuwait.

        Reply
          1. allan

            The US should not only support KSA in such an invasion, but take part and
            put boots on the ground.
            An Operation Desert Storm, Part Deux, would give the World’s Greatest Military™
            the opportunity to strut its stuff, just like in the good old days.
            Not to mention that in the wake of the original Desert Storm,
            GHWB’s approval ratings were over 90%.

            Reply
          2. Olga

            Well, then there is this:
            https://theintercept.com/2018/08/01/rex-tillerson-qatar-saudi-uae/
            “The Intercept has learned of a previously unreported episode that stoked the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s anger at Tillerson and that may have played a key role in his removal. In the summer of 2017, several months before the Gulf allies started pushing for his ouster, Tillerson intervened to stop a secret Saudi-led, UAE-backed plan to invade and essentially conquer Qatar, according to one current member of the U.S. intelligence community and two former State Department officials, all of whom declined to be named, citing the sensitivity of the matter.”
            So they were aiming for two, previously allied, countries?
            And for some interesting background on the US/UK relationship to the Gulf, don’t miss today’s link to the London Review of Books.

            Reply
            1. PlutoniumKun

              Wow, sometimes when I think I’m getting too cynical, along comes something like this to show I’m not nearly cynical enough…

              I second that about the LRB article, its excellent.

              Reply
              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                So Tulsi’s video the other day, where she said Trump is a Saudi puppet, was accurate.

                Hello Donald? Emir here.
                Yes your majesty.
                That Tillerson fellow? He’s tiresome
                OK emir I will get right on it

                Reply
  5. Krystyn Walnetka

    RE: “Sticky proteins could protect crops more safely than chemical pesticides”

    Please no more techno-fixes! Killing off nematodes with biostimulants? Really? What could go wrong…?

    What is the difference between this and climate change techno-fixes? Do we think the nematode is just another externality we can depopulate without any consequence? Is there no consideration of the fact they are the most prevalent species on the planet? Or that they are responsible for the very health of the plants they are trying to protect?

    Reply
    1. Qrys

      Exactly. Monocrop agriculture is the core problem. It’s just plain evolution. Take a massive population of nematodes/bacteria/virii in a monocrop environment and expose en-masse to a single chemical cocktail and if ANY can survive, then they pass that immunity on to a next generation and we’re worse off than before at great expense to farmers hence the population at large. One step forward, two steps back in the whole agribusiness system – DDT, glyphosate, rinse and repeat. You end up with “Yes, we have no bananas” and MRSA. The model itself is what is broken.

      Reply
  6. PlutoniumKun

    The Origins of European Neoliberalism n+1

    Thanks for the link to this excellent article, a very good antidote to what I find a weird insistence of some on the left of echoing the far right in their criticism of the EU. I’d call it a must-read.

    These left-wing analyses focus on a real problem: the constraints of current EU and Eurozone economic policies, which have deepened and prolonged the continent’s crisis. Yet in their urge to counter the tyranny of the market, left nationalists misread the nature of the neoliberal project in European politics. Contemporary EU neoliberalism is not being orchestrated by a single powerful nation-state, with the rest of bloc as its puppets; nor is it running on tracks laid down by a transnational clique of globalists. What the left confronts today is rooted in the internal transformations that several member states underwent in the 1980s and 1990s, after which a multitude of powerful national elites cooperated to reshape European institutions in their interests.

    While Germany’s indigenous variety of neoliberalism, so-called ordoliberalism, has often been singled out as the source of monetary and fiscal rigor, the EU’s turn to market discipline would never have succeeded without active contribution from the other five founding member states. French, Italian, Dutch, Belgian and Luxembourgish politicians did as much to turn the EU into a collection of “market-conforming” democracies as their German counterparts. Since then, a growing circle of national cabinets outside the core six have made the neoliberal policy consensus their own.

    And also a very good assessment further down the article on how Portugal has managed to escape the austerity trap while remaining within the Euro.

    Reply
    1. Grant

      The question I have is how the EU stays together as it is constructed. I see no way it continues without radical internal changes. How does the ECB keep on functioning as it does? What to do about internal imbalances, and how do you integrate economies together but essentially have an authoritarian political situation with the EC running the thing with little democratic input? Imagine if the states in the US functioned as the countries do in the EU. We would pretty quickly break apart as a country. I mean, look at what they have done to their postal services. Seems to be a good microcosm of all that is wrong with the whole project.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Inertia, and options. Imagine Brexit for each country, and many are less plugged into world commerce to maintain the fantasy that the UK is under. At the same time, addressing these problems becomes difficult because of scale and the lack of Hamilton and Madison-esque figures (they were Washington’s surrogate sons, not random rabble rousers) with the standing to chart a new course. A random EU MP means jack. An overlooked difference between Sanders and Obama is one is from the Chicago media market which will get echoed, and one is from a colony of Boston. No one is Boston reads the Burlington Free Press, but you can get the Boston Globe in Burlington, Essex, or Brattleboro. The EU has this problem. Its not that old as the EU. I feel like Americans were skeptical because we grew up with the Federalist Papers, but Europeans grew up with the scars of World War II.

        What is the new course? Arguably the EU is the greatest construct of civilization or noblest attempt in history. Who is going to argue for change? Who is equipped to see it? And can make that argument? I fear Americans are equipped to see the flaws, but we aren’t the people to fix it. DeGaulle can dump on NATO and overthrow the Fourth Republic, but Macron has to be nice to Trump. Its all about standing.

        Reply
        1. Grant

          I think that the people that designed the EU were radically different than the socialist and social democratic leaders in the mid 20th century that were talking about European integration. From the beginning it was created to undermine the ability of democracies to control capital, and it has forced through very right wing policies. Think they didn’t know what the impact would be if they set limits on state spending as they did and had no real way to transfer the surpluses in places like Germany to the deficit countries? What is going to bring it down is its own internal contradictions, and politically, it is the far right that seems to be gaining power and seems to be channeling anger about how it was constructed. The left could do this, but even when parties like Syriza are elected on a nominally radical platform, there are real limits placed on what it can do (especially when the IMF, the EC and the ECB force horrible policies on it), and leaving is highly problematic. Yanis Varoufakis gave an interview somewhat recently and he said that many of those that designed it realized that it was horribly flawed, but they assumed that the answer to its flaws would be increased integration along traditional capitalist lines and in the same trajectory. Instead, people increasingly seem to want to blow it up.

          Like I said, if we designed the US in the way the EU has been designed, it wouldn’t last long. I often compare the position that, say, Italy is in to a state like Wisconsin here, but that isn’t really accurate. Yes, Wisconsin cannot create a currency that it uses, but it is in an economic system where money and resources are re-distributed. There is a net inflow of money to poor states like Mississippi and a net outflow of money from rich states like California. That represents a transfer of surpluses in California to deficit states, and the state here can create money and give it to states in need through various social programs. The Fed can do things the ECB cannot, and we have the Treasury.

          “At the same time, addressing these problems becomes difficult because of scale and the lack of Hamilton and Madison-esque figures (they were Washington’s surrogate sons, not random rabble rousers) with the standing to chart a new course”

          Well, it is also the case that the EC is the body that creates actual policy. It is a fundamentally undemocratic system. So, even if there were figures to push through changes, how would they do so? By being appointed to the EC? Who would appoint them if so many right now with power are ideologically opposed to structural changes?

          Reply
    2. Susan the other`

      Yes. This is a good synopsis and it makes more sense than top-down consolidation. Instead it is competition between nations. It unifies them as a trading block, but it keeps them in tension as they compete against each other. But the big contradiction is austerity. Technically neoliberalism is the best way to achieve prosperity for all… but it becomes a contradiction when the structure of the EU overrides the national decisions of each country. Neoliberalism is driven by laissez faire economics. So right out of the gate prosperity-for-all is sacrificed to create profit for the few. Elitism and inequality gain power and soon they are gas lighting the whole continent making everyone believe that dysfunction is function. Each country chose to become leaner and meaner to compete in a globalized world; a race to the bottom with externalized costs causing a crisis that only a GND can now address. To the tune of zillions of trillions of euros. But it’s not as if they don’t now have a noble cause. Varoufakis and Streeck and good political compromising a-la Portugal will prevail. About the actual origins of neoliberalism – it was a reaction to communism that didn’t stop to self-correct in 1989 imo. But hindsight isn’t always 20-20.

      Reply
  7. Brindle

    Therapeutic Effects of Microdosing Psilocybin Mushrooms

    Interesting article, although “boosting productivity at work” could also be a negative depending on the “work” involved. Low-dosing mushrooms apparently increases visual acuity and visual edge detection leading to the theory that ancient Hunter-Gatherer cultures used mushrooms to increase the ability to find food and prey.

    –“Over the last 12 months, I have been hearing the same story from a small but increasing number of women. At parties and even at the school gates, they have told me about a new secret weapon that is boosting their productivity at work, improving their parenting and enhancing their relationships. Not clean-eating or mindfulness but microdosing – taking doses of psychedelic drugs so tiny they are considered to be “subperceptual”. In other words, says Rosie: “You don’t feel high, just… better.”–

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/may/03/psychedelic-drugs-women-taking-tiny-doses-hattie-garlick

    Reply
    1. Krystyn Walnetka

      Funny, a shot of vodka does not make me feel high, just…better. Guess what, at low doses both are antidepressants. Psychedelics are serotonin receptor agonists.

      But maybe the problem is we are trying to fix people instead of the environment that makes us feel worse. ‘It makes me enjoy playing with the kids’! Ha! Why should you enjoy that all the time? Kids should play with kids!

      And it is a hippy -hopeful myth that hunter-gathers used mushrooms to help them find food and prey.

      Reply
    2. Susan the other`

      I’m all in favor of mood modifiers. To outlaw the beneficial effects of “drugs” is like outlawing driving cars because if you go too fast and crash into a telephone pole it is really a bummer.

      Reply
      1. skippy

        One has to remember receptors are like wall switches, they have a increasing fail rate with use.

        Reply
      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Nation founded by Calvinists and Puritans. The Europeans were glad to see the backs of the Puritans when they left, they were no fun at all

        Reply
  8. The Rev Kev

    “Assange refuses extradition to US; long legal fight expected”

    Assange also refused to pound iron nails in his head nor did he volunteer to put his privates in a meat-grinder and start to turn the handle. He would be nuts to go along with agreeing to extradition. I believe that the international law says that if you are extradited to another country, that it can be only for the charge stated on the extradition request. Going by previous conduct, I have no doubt that Trump’s Justice Department would ignore this and pile on a coupla dozen charges. Or maybe he would be sent to Cuba or perhaps be turned over to the military which would give them cover to add extra charges in spite of international law.
    The judge in this hearing would be known to Assange. The judge, Michael Snow, told Assange he could consent to his surrender to the US with consenting meant he would lose his right to appeal, but the advantage was that it would expedite matters and could lead to an early resolution of his case. Yeah, I bet it would. This was the same judge that saw Assange when he was pulled out of the Embassy and told who him that his assertion that he has not had a fair hearing was laughable. Going back earlier, this was the judge that in 2016 blocked a private criminal prosecution against the former PM Tony Blair in Westminster magistrates court when he was ruled Blair would have immunity from any criminal charges. I believe that Coriolanus Snow, err I mean Michael Snow is what is known as a “friendly judge”.

    Reply
    1. Pookah Harvey

      Luckily for Assange World Press Freedom Day is upon us. To show their staunch unyielding support for press freedom the NYT is dropping its paywall for 3 days and the Wapo is offering a discount on its digital access for one year. I mean, what more could they do?

      Reply
    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Most U.S. extradition treaties with other nations give the country some latitude to determine whether sending someone to the U.S. would violate their country’s values in some way: torture, death penalty etc.

      But the U.S./U.K. extradition treaty is just a rubber stamp. The U.K. have managed to block one or two extraditions in recent years based on medical grounds. Maybe that’s Julian’s best bet.

      Reply
  9. allan

    Boeing’s Own Test Pilots Lacked Key Details of 737 MAX Flight-Control System [WSJ]

    Boeing Co. limited the role of its own pilots in the final stages of developing the 737 MAX flight-control system implicated in two fatal crashes, departing from a longstanding practice of seeking their detailed input, people familiar with the matter said.

    As a result, Boeing test pilots and senior pilots involved in the MAX’s development didn’t receive detailed briefings about how fast or steeply the automated system known as MCAS could push down a plane’s nose, these people said. Nor were they informed that the system relied on a single sensor—rather than two—to verify the accuracy of incoming data about the angle of a plane’s nose, they added. …

    … over time, an internal restructuring that began in 2009 introduced changes in that process, eventually reducing pilots’ clout, according to people familiar with pilots’ role in the process. Boeing had consolidated its testing and evaluation teams into a companywide group of pilots and labs to streamline operations as it kept a lid on costs. …

    And what are the test pilots going to do about it – go work for Airbus?

    Reply
  10. PlutoniumKun

    What are we there for? LRB (J-LS).

    Another excellent link, it demolishes a lot of misconceptions.

    It is a cliché that the United States and Britain are obsessed with Middle East oil, but the reason for the obsession is often misdiagnosed. Anglo-American interest in the enormous hydrocarbon reserves of the Persian Gulf does not derive from a need to fuel Western consumption. Britain used to import considerable quantities of Saudi oil, but currently gets most of what it needs from the North Sea and hasn’t imported much from the Gulf since the 1980s; Saudi oil currently represents around 3 per cent of UK imports. The US has never imported more than a token amount from the Gulf and for much of the postwar period has been a net oil exporter. Anglo-American involvement in the Middle East has always been principally about the strategic advantage gained from controlling Persian Gulf hydrocarbons, not Western oil needs. In 1945, Gordon Merriam, the head of the State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs division, made this clear: the Saudi oilfields, he said, were first and foremost ‘a stupendous source of strategic power’. The assistant secretary of state, Adolf Berle, sketched out what remains US strategy: the US and Britain would provide Saudi Arabia and other key Gulf monarchies with ‘sufficient military supplies to preserve internal security’ and ensure that they were permanently guarded by Western navies.

    Other parts of the world – the US, Russia, Canada – have large deposits of crude oil, and current estimates suggest Venezuela has more proven reserves than Saudi Arabia. But Gulf oil lies close to the surface, where it is easy to get at by drilling; it is cheap to extract, and is unusually ‘light’ and ‘sweet’ (industry terms for high purity and richness). It is also located near the middle of the Eurasian landmass, yet outside the territory of any global power. Western Middle East policy, as explained by Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was to control the Gulf and stop any Soviet influence over ‘that vital energy resource upon which the economic and political stability both of Western Europe and of Japan depend’, or else the ‘geopolitical balance of power would be tipped’. In a piece for the Atlantic a few months after 9/11, Benjamin Schwarz and Christopher Layne explained that Washington ‘assumes responsibility for stabilising the region’ because China, Japan and Europe will be dependent on its resources for the foreseeable future: ‘America wants to discourage those powers from developing the means to protect that resource for themselves.’ Much of US power is built on the back of the most profitable protection racket in modern history.

    You might say its all ‘location, location, location’, not just the oil.

    US planners seem confused about their own intentions in the Middle East. In 2017, the National Intelligence Council described the sense of neglect felt by the Gulf monarchies when they heard talk of the phantasmagorical Asia pivot. The report’s authors were profoundly negative about the region’s future, predicting ‘large-scale violence, civil wars, authority vacuums and humanitarian crises persisting for many years’. The causes, in the authors’ view, were ‘entrenched elites’ and ‘low oil prices’. They didn’t mention that maintenance of both these things is US policy.

    In an odd way, Trump shows a much better grasp of geopolitical reality than Obama did. Trump knows the Middle East matters. Obama as usual followed fashion in declaring his fondness for a strategic reorientation to the Pacific region.

    Reply
    1. Synapsid

      PlutoniumKun,

      “Light” and “sweet” applied to crude oil refer, respectively, to low viscosity, and low sulfur content.

      The low viscosity results from a relatively high proportion of short-chain hydrocarbons; where long-chain hydrocarbons predominate the oil is called “heavy”, and is more viscous. Lighter crude when refined gives a higher yield of gasoline, heavier crude has a better yield of diesel.

      Low-sulfur crude (“sweet”) is easier to refine than “sour” crude that is higher in sulfur. Sour crudes yield fuels when refined that produce sulfur oxides when burnt, leading to ocean acidification and acid rain.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Just to clarify, those are quotes from the article, I imagine many LRB readers aren’t petroleum chemistry experts.

        Reply
        1. Synapsid

          PlutoniumKun,

          As you say. A properly informed journalist wouldn’t be either but would have done their homework.

          But now YOU know.

          Reply
    2. ewmayer

      Would “for Britain, it’s all about playing at still being an empire” be a fair statement?

      Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      I feel like fashion photo-shoots might be useful as a contrarian indicator. Sort of like sky-scrapers were for E. Asia in the late 90s and Dubai in the mid-2000s.

      If you’re doing fashion shoots, you’re probably not winning, or at least not for long.

      Although, I guess if you’re early in your career, there’s a case to be made for getting your name out there.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Buttigieg is either a Rufio like candidate where a bunch of old rich people believe he’s going to get the kids excited about capitalism, ignoring the keys to Obama’s popularity.

        Or he is an elaborate guerilla style marketing campaign for the next MSDNC host. Chris Hayes tows the company line, but he strikes me as not being a true believer, capable of demonstrating critical thinking skills on occasion. Instead of repeating the mistake of replacing Donahue with Scarborough or their sidelining up Melissa Harris Perry, MSDNC will celebrate their progressive bonafides by hiring a log cabin republican.

        Reply
        1. GramSci

          Except that, from what I’ve read, it is not certain that Mayor Pete is, as a matter of principle, against slavery.

          Reply
  11. Craig H.

    > Baltimore Mayor Pugh resigns after month on leave amid investigation into her business deals

    It’s like The Wire was actually a documentary.

    It was the latest blow to the leadership of a city that’s seen two mayors resign in scandal in less than a decade and a third one decline to seek another term after a riot over police misconduct and a soaring murder rate.

    Davis said he wasn’t involved in her decision. Although Silverman had explained the delay in Pugh taking action on her future by saying his client was not lucid at times, Davis said he was confident she was able to make the decision to resign.

    According to this September 2018 USA Today article the homicide rate in Baltimore is the worst in the nation for a big city.

    Reply
    1. ewmayer

      As it happens I’ve been re-reading Poe’s tale of the macabre and detection these past several weeks. If only there were a real-life version of “C. Auguste Dupin, literature’s most annoyingly smug and lecture-prone fictional detective” we could put on the case!

      Reply
  12. The Rev Kev

    “Getting Somewhere With Russia: A Q&A With Angela Stent”

    I suspect that the author of this piece tends to write what those in Georgetown want to hear rather than what the actual situation actually is though she has some keen insights. Look, I am just a newshound slash jagg-off commenter but I can see a lot of errors in that piece. If I was a teacher I would be taking to that article with a red pen with a note at the bottom to see me after class. She buys into the whole Russiagate idea. When talking about the effect of sanctions on Russia, did anybody else note the section where she says: ‘we know that the Russian countersanctions against European foodstuff imports have actually stimulated the Russian agricultural sector. They’re producing more grain, cheeses, things they didn’t produce before in that quantity. So, it’s had an economic impact certainly’. Real effective sanctions that!
    She also mentions the Minsk agreements and Russia’s behaviour but if I remember correctly, I do not think that Russia is a signatory of it. In any case, it is the Ukraine that has failed to fulfill any part of the Minsk agreements so the wrong country is being sanctioned. She also seems to not like the idea that Russia can talk to basically any group or country but omits the fact that it has a very professional diplomatic service. Just because you are a director on “The Bold & the Beautiful” who can bundle cash does not qualify you for an ambassadorship if you work in Russia. In the US it does. In short, I can see that teacher striking through a lot of sentences in this article and writing a lot of notes in bold red here.

    Reply
    1. Olga

      My thoughts exactly. I was also thinking that if this is the best the US establishment can produce in terms of ‘Russia experts,’ G help us. There is very little sense in the entire interview that Russia is a sovereign country, entitled to have its own interests and security concerns. Oh, and all that meddling in the Ukraine! How dare they?! (What would happen if Russia overthrew Mexico’s government?)
      That no expert – if he/she wants to be accepted by TPTB – can break out of the ‘indispensable” mode is a (potentially) tragic indictment of the US foreign policy establishment. (Look where Stephen Cohen finds himself these days … even though, since the late 1970s, he’s been perhaps the only person in the higher US academia, who’s really made the effort to understand USSR/Russia.)
      And Stent’s diagnosis that Russian diplomacy is so effective because there is no ideology enshrined in its constitution is truly simplistic. Guess what – that diplomacy was pretty effective in the times of the USSR, too – and even during the times of czars. Diplomacy in Russia is conducted with a great degree of professionalism and (mostly) without a sense of superiority (which is one the attitudes that clearly hampers most US diplomatic efforts).

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > My thoughts exactly. I was also thinking that if this is the best the US establishment can produce in terms of ‘Russia experts,’ G help us.

        That’s why I paired with with the CFR piece…

        Reply
      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        There is no such thing anymore as U.S. “diplomacy”. How can you “talk” or “negotiate” if one party just unilaterally violates every prior agreement? Under Hilary the State Dept solidified its role as simply the advance party for arms merchants (with ample side flow of funds to her “Foundation” of course). And look at what Hil did when Sweden threatened to block the flow of Monsanto poisons into Sweden? She immediately threatened them with a cut of $400M in funds.

        It’s all about the Benjamins

        Reply
  13. marym

    The Guardian 05/02/2019

    Officer punched Oscar Grant and lied about facts in 2009 killing, records show

    A police officer involved in the 2009 killing of Oscar Grant on an Oakland train platform repeatedly lied to investigators and had punched the unarmed 22-year-old without justification, according to newly released records.

    The report on the New Year’s Eve killing, which sparked national police accountability protests, was disclosed this week following journalists’ requests under a new California police transparency law.

    …[The report] also reveals Bart’s understanding of the ways Pirone escalated the situation and then lied about Grant’s actions in an effort to paint him as an aggressor.

    Link

    Reply
  14. pjay

    Re: ‘Russia’s Democracy: What Happens After Putin?’

    Thanks for the amusing link. I can’t think of two more reliable sources on “democracy” in Russia than Mikhail Khodorkovsky and The Council on Foreign Relations. (/s) Here is a pretty good overview on Khodorkovsky which explains why the CFR would like him:

    https://consortiumnews.com/2018/08/27/the-real-russian-interference-in-us-politics/

    Suppose we had the Russian people vote, “democratically”, for the leadership of Putin or Khodorkovsky. Is there any question what the outcome would be, or why?

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      I remember the name of Mikhail Khodorkovsky well. He cornered Russian oil reserves and was getting ready to sell them all off to western oil companies which would have crippled that country, like, forever. So Putin had his a** thrown into the slammer for other crimes that he committed and had those oil reserves auctioned off to a Russian company. George Bush had some judge in Texas put an injunction on that auction but as the great State of Texas’s jurisdiction does not extend to Russia, the auction went ahead anyway and those oil reserves and stayed in Russian hands.

      Reply
  15. Summer

    Re: “Pentagon plans for Maduro’s downfall: US military prepares to evacuate Americans and rebuild Venezuelan infrastructure if socialist leader is toppled in coming days..”

    “Rebuild infrastructure” is qualified in the article as “rebuild vital infrastructure.”
    Why don’y they jusy say “repair any damage to oil extraction operations.”
    Because “rebuilding infrastructure” generally I would have to see considering the state of infrastructure in the USA…

    and Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan…..

    Reply
    1. Susan the other`

      Interesting blurb in the news yesterday (NPR I think) was about Guyana and a recent “discovery of oil” and plans afoot to develop it… gee, how timely and convenient.

      Reply
  16. Harry

    “Rep. Ed Royce Read Saudi Talking Points Verbatim in Support of Yemen War”

    And people questioned his literacy!

    Reply
  17. Summer

    Re: MMT

    If it’s inevitable, time for a detailed discussion about the “tax code” where wealth is distributed upward like a fountain projectile vomiting toward the sky.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Loved “C D B!” by William Steig when I was a whee little one, and if you sound out MMT, well it states ‘Am Empty’.

      In CDB’age: lets put it in a sentence:

      O, S N-D! MMT, R T-M S B-N B-10.

      Reply
  18. Summer

    Re: Facebook bans / not as planned

    Happened to slowly with possible peoblems with enforcement? Don’t worry. You’ll be amazed at the swiftness and thoroughness with which they will ban the “lefties.”

    Reply
    1. Craig H.

      They are a threat to Free Speech and they must be silenced!

      (That is not my original but I forget who said it–it came from back in the day when satire and sarcasm were still somewhat distinctive and not the only lenses with which to view the establishment narrative.)

      Reply
      1. GramSci

        Craig, “Free Speech” has been a typo. As we Billionaires for Bush used to say, it’s “Fee Speech” that describes the system.

        Reply
  19. prodigalson

    Anyone remember the link or site that was posted here within the last few months about the black trucks and militarized truck culture? It was in graphic novel form. I critiqued it at the time for being too #resistance heavy, but ever since then I’m seeing those stupid black trucks with their punisher skulls and thin blue lines and blacked out windows everywhere. I’d like to do a re-read…

    Reply
  20. Roger Smith

    That GQ Guaido photo shoot has to be one of the sickest, most psychotic things I have ever seen. Then again, how is it different from say, Obama? Man, this species is in trouble.

    Reply
  21. Dan

    If you’re crushing on generals, spooks, or cops, you’re just not a leftist! All of the above have spent generations figuring out how to ruin, kill, or otherwise destroy us, and they haven’t changed just because many of them object to Trump too.

    Reply
  22. Roy G

    Oh how they loved Tillman when his story hewed to the Heroic Military narrative that the NFL loves to jock sniff. Then, when his real views surfaced along with the real story of how he met his demise, it was laughable how quickly they spun around and covered their ears and pretended not to notice. Pretty sad and old tale how certain authoritarian personalities invest in convenient myths and totally bail on reality when it doesn’t line up with their preferred vision.

    Reply
  23. Kfish

    With respect, it’s the SYDNEY Morning Herald. The city is named SYDNEY. Sidney is an Englishman’s name. This is a recurring issue at Naked Capitalism.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      I sometimes think that it is an in-house joke with people that the NC team know back in Oz. I might have read that fact in the New Yark Times or the Warshington Post.

      Reply
    2. witters

      Well, one can argue that the “mistake” is really accurate:

      Sydney:

      Australian city, founded 1788 and named for British Home Secretary Thomas Townshend, 1st Viscount Sydney (1733-1800). The family name (also Sidney) is literally “dweller by the well-watered land,” from Old English sid “side” + ieg “island.”

      Reply

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