Links 6/14/19

Yes, Saturn’s Rings Are Awesome — NASA’s Cassini Showed Us Just HOW Awesome. Space.com

‘Giants Of The Monsoon Forest’ Explores The Lives Of Working Elephants In Asia NPR

Empire of Meat The Baffler

Rising methane: A new climate challenge Science

Exxon, Saudis Bet on Plastics Growth in Giant Gulf Coast Plant Bloomberg

Answering Questions About Nuclear Power Neurologica Blog (TP).

Hundreds Of U.S. Flights Canceled As GPS-Based Aircraft Navigation System Fails Forbes. From last week, still germane.

Syraqistan

Pompeo Blames Tanker Attacks On Iran, Offers No Evidence Defense One (!) but U.S. releases video purporting to show Iranians removing mine before ship explosions WaPo

The Latest: Iran urges regional dialogue to ease tensions AP

Iran Has Little to Gain From Oman Tanker Attacks Bloomberg

Today’s Attacks On Ships In The Gulf Of Oman Are Not In Iran’s Interest – Or Are They? (Updated) Moon of Alabama

Senate Democrats will seek to force vote on Trump authority for Iran war Roll Call

China?

Hong Kong mood darkens as hard hats replace yellow umbrellas FT

Surveillance-savvy Hong Kong protesters go digitally dark Agence France Presse

How Trump Could Suddenly Amplify the Hong Kong Protests Bloomberg

If the extradition bill is not withdrawn, Carrie Lam must resign for the sake of Hong Kong and its people South China Morning Post

As a Hong Kong-Canadian, I am afraid I could be arrested for speaking out. This is why I am doing it anyway Toronto Star

American Gov’t, NGOs Fuel and Fund Hong Kong Anti-Extradition Protests Mint Press. I’m skeptical on the impact. We can’t even foment a coup in Venezuela; there’s no way we could bring a million people into the streets of Hong Kong.

* * *

U.S. denies Tesla, GM, Uber 25% Chinese tariff relief Reuters

Wal-Mart and Hundreds of Other Companies Call on Trump to Drop China Tariffs Bloomberg

Disclose or leave: US bill vows to delist even biggest Chinese players Nikkei Asian Review

Chinese vessel sinks Philippine boat in West PH Sea ‘collision’ The Rappler

Baby milk and tantrums after Chinese ships show the flag in Sydney The Interpreter

Brexit

Boris Johnson heads Tory leadership contest after first round vote FT

Steely Women in a World of Wobbly Men LRB. Maggie Thatcher.

Jeremy Corbyn, “Imperialism”, and Labour’s Antisemitism Problem History Workshop

UK signs Assange extradition papers to US Politico

Trump Transition

The faux outrage over Trump’s comments on opposition research WaPo

Memo to Democrats: Stop Talking About Prosecuting Trump Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare

Owned by Prince Charles:

Maybe this will force @jack to add an edit button?

Federal agency recommends White House aide Conway be fired Federal Times

Hundreds of USDA jobs headed to KC after ‘united effort’ by Kansas and Missouri McClatchy

Trump wants to start charging stores to accept food stamps CNBC

Maine shakes up debate with tough internet privacy law The Hill

2020

Here Are the 20 Candidates Who Qualified for the 2020 Democratic Debates Time

As Democratic voters warm to free trade, White House candidates struggle for positions Reuters (EM: Typical LOL-worthy neolib propaganda, starting with the headline. “‘Democrats have done a poor job making the liberal case for trade,’ said Christina Davis, a professor at Harvard who specializes in trade and foreign relations.” No, four decades of broken promises about the lift-all-boats effects of such policies have done a poor job making the (neo)liberal case for trade).

Warren, Sanders Lead Calls for Immediate Impeachment Hearings After Trump Says He Would Welcome Dirt From Foreign Power in 2020 Common Dreams. Rachel’s moderating the first debate….

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Pentagon is battling the clock to fix serious, unreported F-35 problems Defense News

Pentagon Fuel Use, Climate Change, and the Costs of War (PDF) Neta C. Crawford, Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs (EJ).

Amy Chua and the big little lies of US meritocracy FT

Class Warfare

Volkswagen Declares War against Works Council and German Union Labor Notes

US flight attendants speak out over uniforms that cause illness WSWS (JB).

Seniors were sold a risk-free retirement with reverse mortgages. Now they face foreclosure. USA Today. It never ends…

The radical plan to change how Harvard teaches economics Vox (FM). From May, still highly germane.

The Standard Errors of Persistence (PDF) Morgan Kelly, Centre for Economic Policy Research. Important?

Change Agent: Gene Sharp’s Neoliberal Nonviolence (Part One) Marcie Smith, Nonsite.org. Today’s must-read.

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterdays Links and Antidote du Jour here

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About Lambert Strether

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

165 comments

  1. Isotope_C14

    Love how Time orders the candidates for the debates.

    Bernie of course in 2nd place.

    The lack of Gravel is deeply saddening.

    Wonder if they are going to spend the whole time talking to Buttigeg and ignoring Gabbard?

    Reply
      1. Brindle

        If they did reverse-alphabetical it would read: Yang, Williamson, Sanders–rather than always having Biden first. So obvious the MSM in the tank for Biden.

        Reply
  2. PlutoniumKun

    Amy Chua and the big little lies of US meritocracy FT

    It has come to something when even the FT can’t ignore this issue.

    On pure arithmetic, the average American’s chances of entering a top university are tiny if they are born into the wrong home. Studies show that an eighth grade (14-year-old) child from a lower income bracket who achieves maths results in the top quarter is less likely to graduate than a kid in the upper income bracket scored in the bottom quarter. This is the reverse of how meritocracy should work. Children from the wealthiest 1 per cent take more Ivy League places than the bottom 60 per cent combined. Being born under a roof like Ms Chua’s — with two high-achieving parents obsessed with your success — is almost impossible to match. That is how most of the world works.

    The US has erected three additional barriers. The first is legacy places. In contrast to most other democracies, America’s top universities credit an applicant if a parent, or grandparent, went to the school. A better name for this would be “hereditary preference”, which is antithetical to America’s creed. Roughly one in six Ivy League places are taken by children of alumni. This sharply reduces the places available to children of talent from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    I said this in a previous thread, but I think we all need to thank Amy Chua for her service, in leaving naked the reality of how elites perpetuate themselves.

    Reply
    1. Henry Moon Pie`

      And remember that legacy admissions are really about money since an elite university degree is a very strong class indicator. If Johnny’s daddy graduated from Harvard, and especially if Johnny’s granddaddy graduated from Harvard too, chances are there’s money in that family and plenty of it. If daddy and granddaddy were faithful contributors through the years, it’s a done deal.

      The modern American university’s need for money is insatiable since they’ve become real estate developers more than educators. The same is true for hospitals.

      Reply
    2. Craig H.

      I could not access the article so thank you for the excerpt. Meritocracy is not a word that everybody uses with the same meaning and it is a skunked word. Do you think that Amy Chua’s daughter is not capable of performing the duties of this job? I am confident (P ~ .95) that she would not be getting the job if she wasn’t able to perform it adequately and I think it’s better than an even bet that she can perform it very well. The idea that there might be another candidate or fifty other candidates who are even better does not necessarily mean that she is without merit. If you believe that then you have been jived by people using the word meritocracy without carefully defining what exactly they mean by the term. It does not preclude nepotism or corruption or favoritism at all. It just means the chosen possesses merit. No merit, no job.

      Meritocracy does not necessarily imply the single best candidate gets the job. In the real world the single best candidate rarely gets the job.

      Being born under a roof like Ms Chua’s — with two high-achieving parents obsessed with your success — is almost impossible to match.

      Having known some of these people it sure does not seem anything to envy. Amy Chua’s daughter is extremely unlikely to be anything other than a complete piece of sh*t.

      Reply
      1. a different chris

        Don’t get how your next-to-last and last sentence jibe? The funny Family Guy (I think) where the poor asian teenagers’s Dad tells him in of course non-PC terms “You doctor yet? Don’t talk to me if not doctor yet!” may, or may not, apply.

        I wouldn’t like to come home and tell my parents, the Chuas, that the last thing I want to do is go suffer under that dumb (family blog) Supreme Court “Justice”.

        Reply
      2. Amfortas the hippie

        i knew some of them in high school and college, as well(I had the band for their parties, and was the crazy hippie genius guy version of slumming it)
        faceborg surveillance(and word of mouth from the 4 people from those days who even know i’m alive) indicates that prolly 90% of them are doing just fine, and busy handing the silver spoons down to their own little darlings.( i grew up north of houston, where there was a lot of oil money sloshing around)
        I get handing it off to one’s kids…don’t we all want that?
        still, from looking up and “stalking” these 20-30 folks, it goes beyond a “leg up”. they inhabit a totally different dimension of the world than i do, and therefore have a totally different lens.
        ergo, these are the people i’m thinking of when i say that Wharton and Harvard and the like should include a semester in the trailer park, living on the dole, with a big weight attached to one leg.
        a large part of the problem is mere ignorance of “how the other half(sic: 80%)” live, reproduced by the fact that they simply don’t encounter poor or middle class people except as the Help.
        in the same way that the rwnj homophobe can be at least mollified(if not cured) by their brother coming out as gay, i reckon exposure is indicated.

        Reply
        1. Chef

          “…with a big weight attached to one leg.”

          As disconnected as the silver spoons are, that suggestion is a little to Harrison Bergeron for my tastes.

          Reply
      1. a different chris

        I am not a fan of Ms Chua, but that’s not what she presents in your link at all.

        But over time I have also had glimpses of how the vast majority of Filipinos, especially someone like Abique, must see the Chinese: as exploiters, foreign intruders, their wealth inexplicable, their superiority intolerable.

        But in your, um defense I guess none of the commenters seem to have read to the end, either. Lord no wonder the world is so screwed up.

        God I so did not get up this morning expecting to find myself defending Amy Chua, of all people, twice on this blog.

        Reply
    3. Odysseus

      how elites perpetuate themselves

      For every action, ensure an equal and opposite reaction.

      What are you doing to ensure that the best opportunities are filled before the elites get their chance? People almost always have a lot more control over their future success than they care to admit.

      Reply
  3. Wukchumni

    Seniors were sold a risk-free retirement with reverse mortgages. Now they face foreclosure. USA Today
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    But, but, but…

    Fonzie & Magnum PI said it was the greatest thing since sliced bread, and they know what they’re talking about, experts.

    Tom Selleck comparing furniture to a reverse mortgage using 4 legs good-3 legs bad:

    “Most people thought the three “legs” of retirement – pension, social security and savings…would be enough to get by but it’s kinda like this three-legged stool ….a little wobbly.

    But, I think I might have a solution.

    What many people don’t realize is your biggest asset might be your home, and using your home’s equity with a reverse mortgage loan from AAG could play a vital part in funding your retirement. Not to mention, give you the cash to cover all those bills that seem to come out of nowhere.

    A reverse mortgage loan could add a fourth leg to your retirement plan.

    Not a three-legged stool, but a reverse mortgage Chair…four legs…more stable.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5ILMby4pGg

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      One of my elderly friends took out a reverse mortgage. It was back in 2006, and the lender was Wells Fargo.

      To put it politely, my friend was not of sound mind, and she shouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near that Wells Fargo contract. But she signed it.

      She proceeded to go on one of the most baffling spending sprees I’ve ever seen. Yes, she did use some of the reverse mortgage money to fix up her house. And the place needed it. She also bought clothes that she never word, and she signed up for things like a monthly coffee bean club. My friend she didn’t even drink coffee.

      In late 2007, she fell and broke her left fermur in two places. It took her three hours to crawl to her landline phone to summon help. When the paramedics arrived, they had to break through the door to get to my friend.

      After surgery and a five-week stay in a rehab center, my friend couldn’t return to that house. One of her four children took her up to his place, which was in northern Arizona, and that’s where she wound up living.

      Once Wells Fargo saw that the mail was no longer being received at the reverse mortgaged house, the bank demanded repayment of the loan.

      Here’s the sad part: That house was reverse mortgaged for something like $275k. No way was it worth that much. My friend’s family kept the fixup work going during the spring of 2008, and then they listed the house for sale.

      They couldn’t sell it.

      In the summer of 2009, Wells Fargo foreclosed, and the place was eventually sold. ISTR that was in early 2010. Selling price for the foreclosure: Around $80k.

      So, there you have it. Wells Fargo took quite a haircut. And my friend lost her house.

      Reply
      1. Doug SJ

        That article was so full of heart strings and so lite on details…. so people sell their houses while still alive. She didn’t lose her house, she spent it as you say.

        Not to say these companies aren’t scuzzy, they are. But children upset that mom sold the house instead of giving it to them? Mad at the evil people who gave mom $275k? You take a 5 or 6 figure check from a bank and think they don’t expect to be repaid with interest? You forgot to pay property taxes or didn’t bother with insurance (or couldn’t afford it for reason 1-100)??? Geez. The world is awash on financially illiterate people. Sad.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Even on here, there’s a number of people that blame Obama for losing their home, with scant details on how they got to that point, but the road to HELOC was played with the best intentions i’m sure.

          Reply
          1. aletheia33

            i’m surprised by the level of contempt implied, in some of the above remarks, for victims of reverse and other mortgage lending schemes/scams.

            i thought the “people who are too stupid to not sign loans when they can’t afford to repay them”/”how clueless (financially illiterate) can you get?” take on indebtedness was kinda passe around here by how, if it was ever in vogue. but blaming the victim is apparently an endlessly recurring human failing. hmmm. sad…

            remarkable how “exploitation illiteracy” can make people say silly things that if they only had taken the trouble/responsibility to inform themselves better, they would not say.

            Reply
            1. kareninca

              I have the sort of degree that should make me able to read reverse mortgage contracts if anyone can. Admittedly the degree is really old and I’ve never used it, but still. But what it really leads me to understand is that I should never get that sort of mortgage. Since I can admit to myself that I could read the contract and still not understand it.

              These arrangements are traps, pure and simple. The vast majority of people who make fun of people who sign onto them, could not understand the contracts themselves if they actually tried. They just avoid the problem by not signing on.

              Lots of people are innocent enough to believe that there are no such traps, or that they could avoid them by assessing the decency of the person who presents them. So we live in a world of traps. I don’t blame the victims because of their inability to avoid traps. At the same time I know a few people who took out reverse mortgages and blew the money on stupid selfish things; yes that did happen sometimes and yes I do blame them.

              Reply
              1. aletheia33

                i probably shouldn’t volunteer this info, but the truth is that i can imagine myself, or i can believe myself, in certain circumstances (and certainly if/when no longer of sound mind), capable of taking out a reverse mortgage and blowing the money on things other people would consider stupid and selfish.

                in the context of a whole possible range of deeds that are generally considered stupid and selfish, from minor rudenesses to killing brown babies for oil, i find it difficult to see just where spending money attained by borrowing, on whatever one wants to spend it on, falls.

                most people in USA are deeply in debt. not all of that is for stuff that they “really needed.” in a consumer society, where the brainwashing is relentless, who does not succumb sometimes? and who is better armed against it? perhaps worth considering.

                in a society where trust is breaking down, now, further every day, what does accountability even mean?

                Reply
                1. kareninca

                  Just curious, if the money had been borrowed from you personally, would you feel that way? So for instance, I belong to a credit union. If someone borrows money from it and blows it and doesn’t repay it, it does affect the other members. I feel accountable to the other members, and I hope they do to me. It is not blowing up brown people, but it is making one’s neighbor’s life worse. I don’t see what’s wrong with that sort of accountability.

                  Anyway, your perspective is definitely an interesting one; I will be keeping it in mind when deciding whether to trust other people. I can see that extrapolating from my own beliefs and actions is not a good idea.

                  Reply
                  1. aletheia33

                    thank you kareninca.
                    your credit union example is a great one!
                    quite different from the exploitative lending that the majority of indebted people in the USA are prey to.

                    perhaps a distinction worth keeping in mind when considering assigning blame and practicing and seeking accountability.

                    one might want also to consider the interest rate(s) involved.
                    do credit unions lend at high interest to their members that is likely to render them unable to repay? nor do they seek to immiserate them in any way, as that would be to cut off one’s own foot. so the accountability is mutual, on both sides. it would be interesting to know how credit union loan default rates compare to those of their ruthless noncooperative counterparts.

                    years ago, some wise person told me: never lend money unless you can be at peace with never seeing that money again.
                    i’ve found it a helpful guide, and notice that i have never hesitated to lend to a friend when asked.

                    lending, giving, paying back, expecting payback with interest, giving and then taking back–i see all these activities as simply very prone to human vacillations in intention, and humans very frequent failure to follow through on good intentions. people mess up. they fail, and they can’t save themselves. so often it is really not a moral

                    Reply
                    1. aletheia33

                      issue but one of compassion.

                      not to say that accountability is not greatly important. all the banksters who ripped off millions in the mortgage meltdown surely should be in jail right now. they’re not, and because of that, in part, we are all living now in a world in which expecting institutions like hospitals, banks, universities, governments, etc. to act in good faith, as one is used to doing in the course of one’s life, as you say, may not be quite as good an extrapolation from one’s own standards as one would hope.

                      i don’t disagree with anything you say here. thanks for engaging!

        2. pretzelattack

          it wasn’t worth 275k. it was worth maybe 80. she wasn’t of sound mind. wells fargo representative presumably are.

          Reply
            1. Arizona Slim

              And I second the thank you.

              I’d like to add that I met this friend nine years before she signed that Wells Fargo contract. It was obvious to me — and her other friends in this neighborhood — that her mental faculties were slipping.

              One of the other neighbor-friends was a retired attorney. I seem to recall that she took a look at that reverse mortgage contract and advised against it. I never saw the contract, but I thought that the whole thing smelled fishy.

              My friend had four children, but she only had a close relationship with one of them. At the time, he worked for …

              … Wells Fargo.

              That son wasn’t in the reverse mortgage division — he was an IT guy. But he may have had some influence on his mother. We’ll never know.

              Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Who can forget Fred Thompson? One of those fine, upstanding pre-Trump Republicans. Oh for the golden days when Joe Biden had so many more like minded friends!

      Reply
    3. Tom Bradford

      In real life a three-legged stool is far more stable than a four-legged chair. Three points of contact will adjust equally to any surface plane although the ‘seat’ may not be horizontal. Four legs, though, requires a totally flat surface to have four points of contact. With any irregularities in the surface plane only three legs will make contact giving rise to a wobbling ‘seat’ with at times only two points of contact – and only two legs bearing the weight.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        With 2 legs, one more leg looks good.

        At 3 legs, to go one more is to get less.

        Life is not always straight forward, and we can always remind ourselves of this particular insight.

        For example, for China, to go with what has worked to the last 30 or 40 years, more of the same, may or may not be a good idea.

        Reply
    4. MichaelSF

      this three-legged stool ….a little wobbly

      That’s a dumb analogy. 3 points define a plane so there won’t be any wobble. Add the 4th leg and if it isn’t pefectly aligned with the plane defined by the other three legs, you’ll have a wobble. That’s why you’ll see tables with a shim under just one leg.

      I don’t think Mr. Selleck has ever sat upon a three-legged stool.

      Reply
  4. Ignacio

    Answering Questions About Nuclear Power Neurologica Blog (TP).

    Fast answer. In the US do whatever you can to reduce carbon emissions. Think of nuclear as “clean” and “safe” if you wish, although both are illusory. I don’t want more nukes in my country and we can do it with renewables. A second answer: go an expand nukes to 160 countries in the world. What could go wrong?

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      The article is one of a long line which claims to be based on rational assessment, while taking a highly selective choice of variables. It pretty much admits that current nuclear reactors are a failure when he says:

      Further, next generation nuclear power plant designs could be ready as early as 2030. These are the plants we should be building, not 20th century designs. These new plants could even burn the spent fuel from older plants, and they would produce less waste themselves. There are also thorium reactors, which have a different set of strengths and weaknesses but produce less long-term waste.

      Which is the energy equivalent of calling up unicorns. Yes, they could be ready as soon as 2030. But then again, on past record, the answer is probably not. You need only look at the travails of the EPR to see just how these timescales seem to keep slipping. I’ve been reading about the incredible potential of molten salt reactors, pebble bed reactors, thorium fueled reactors, etc., etc., since the 1980’s. They’ve been 10-20 years away from being workable back then, and have continued to be 10-20 years away according to their promoters since then. I’ve no doubt that they’ll still be 10-20 years away in 2030. Maybe there will be a huge breakthrough soon which will make them viable. I hope so, because we need them. However, until then, they are not, and should not be held up as a ‘solution’.

      This paragraph indicates that the author has no clue about how power grid networks operate:

      I am a big fan of solar and wind energy, and do expect they will play an increasing role in our energy infrastructure. I have solar panels on my roof. They are also getting progressively cheaper. But here’s the thing – nuclear vs renewables is not really the current choice we are facing. Nuclear power is baseload energy – consistent production of large amounts of power but below the minimum demand. (Future reactors may be more scalable, but that is a separate point.) Renewable energy is not baseload. It is also not on-demand. It is intermittent. This means that we need energy storage in order to make use of intermittent sources, like wind and solar.

      All energy sources, including nuclear are ‘intermittent’ in the sense that they do not provide guaranteed energy on demand and can drop out of use unexpectedly (for any number of environmental or technical reasons). Nuclear (like any thermal energy source) is best at providing a constant background level of energy, but even then there must be backup and it does not solve the problem of supplying peak demand power. Its terrible at meeting energy spikes (as are all thermal sources). Renewable energy sources (with the exception of hydro and some geothermal) generally do not match demand profiles, but only gas CCGT and hydroelectric are generally good at this. Nuclear energy is terrible for smaller grids – for example, Ireland dropped its proposals for nuclear power in the 1980’s precisely because it was too risky for a grid where demand moved from about 1.5 to 4 GW trough to peaks to be dependent on two co-dependent large 800MW power plants (as was proposed) – if they both went down (for example, because of issues with cooling water), then the country would have brown-outs for weeks.

      Network management is about juggling all these variables (including cost issues). Unless you have the good fortune to have some very large hydroelectric sources, you always have to deal with mismatches of demand and supply. Sometimes renewables are the solution, not part of the problem – e.g. solar for providing daily peak supply in hot dry climates (solar power peaks when aircon demand peaks), or wind power during unsettled weather in northern climes. In sort, matching supply and demand is a very complex issue, as much for nukes as it is for renewables – the problems are just different.

      I’m not anti-nuclear in principle – I think shutting down existing nuclear plants early is stupid in the face of climate change, and it is such an emergency that we need every single option. But nuclear power is only viable for rapid scaling up if you are either willing to invest in the existing, uneconomic technology, or to believe in the unicorns of untested Gen IV reactors. The former makes no economic sense with the massive drops in price for renewables, the latter only if you are willing to take a huge risk on untested technology. The whole issue of ‘storage’ is a red herring up until we get to the point where very large scale storage is needed – and we are nowhere near this level on any grid (and storage is also needed if nuclear power capacity goes beyond minimum baseline loads).

      Reply
      1. Olga

        This definitely needs correcting, PK:
        “All energy sources, including nuclear are ‘intermittent’ in the sense that they do not provide guaranteed energy on demand and can drop out of use unexpectedly (for any number of environmental or technical reasons). Nuclear (like any thermal energy source) is best at providing a constant background level of energy, but even then there must be backup and it does not solve the problem of supplying peak demand power. It’s terrible at meeting energy spikes (as are all thermal sources). Renewable energy sources (with the exception of hydro and some geothermal) generally do not match demand profiles, but only gas CCGT and hydroelectric are generally good at this.”
        The concept of intermittency is generally used for renewable power only, based on the fact that wind can stop blowing without notice, and the same goes for solar, when clouds cover the sky/sun (and output drops). The amount of power one gets from renewables is also more difficult to forecast (although forecasting has been improved greatly in the last few years).
        This is very different from “outages” – planned (for maintenance) or unplanned (if a sudden problem occurs) – that can happen with any generation unit. Thus, outages (sometimes taken to repair a unit) and intermittency (as it is used in the power industry) have different causes, and really should not be used interchangeably. Otherwise, it’d be difficult to address the problem (e.g., an FF unit may take a shorter maintenance outage to prevent a longer, forced one vs using energy storage for renewables to store power and discharge it later, when weather conditions change).
        In the future, we’ll be using renewables, backed by energy storage, as FF units get gradually retired. In the US, coal plants are not being built anymore, and it is close to impossible to build a nuclear plant – mainly for cost reasons. (This may differ for other parts of the world.) So, that leaves natural gas… and renewables.
        Nuclear is used to cover baseload power requirements – but that is not because it is somehow “best.” It is mostly because it takes a while to start-up these plants, and once started, they must run for a long time to make the output economic. For a nuclear unit to go offline is kinda a big deal. But yes, these plants can suffer outages – sometimes extended ones. (France runs mostly on nuclear power, and has somehow managed for well over 40 years.)
        There also seems to be some confusion between “having sufficient capacity” vs “providing power at peak.”
        Any area – ideally – should have enough capacity to cover power needs up to a projected peak, plus additional reserves. In the US, the typical reserve margin (power to be available above the peak load in an area) is suggested at 13.75%. The actual number fluctuates in time and for different regions.
        Demand rarely spikes all of a sudden (and I am referring to significant “spikes”) – typically, grid operators plan at least a week ahead to have sufficient power to serve projected load. But yes, weather can change, and units can go offline. Reserves (including procured Ancillary Services) are then called on to cover unexpected drop in online generation capacity. This reserve power can come from any generation source – in fact, the quickest ones are storage units, as they can discharge power in a matter of seconds (it’s just that we do not yet have enough storage capacity). There are thermal units that can provide power quickly – they are called quick-start units (so the claim that all “thermal sources” are terrible at “meeting energy spikes” is incorrect). (I think PK confuses capacity with being able to come online quickly.)
        Additionally, to claim that renewables to do match “demand profiles” is a serious over-simplification. Demand varies by region, so such a broad claim cannot be made at all. Let’s take a warm-weather state, where power goes up significantly in the afternoon, as ACs crank up – in this case, solar power quite well matches demand. Coastal wind is also good at matching such demand. Onshore wind differs – depending on the region (often, it does blow more at night or in the morning – another reason why it’ll be paired with storage in years to come).
        The provision of electric power is one of the most complex undertakings, and simplifying it too much can easily lead to misinformation. (I could go on, but his is already probably too boring for most.)

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          I don’t consider that it requires correcting. The point I was trying to make is that the author is engaged in a form of linguistic ‘bait and switch’ by using different terminology to apply to different energy sources. He talks about ‘baseline’ power provided by nuclear and then applies the term ‘intermittent’ to renewables. On a technical issue like the provision of power to grids if you don’t address all power sources using the same terminology and comparing the same variables, then you are probably pushing an agenda – as the author of that article clearly is.

          Yes, the term ‘intermittent’ is generally applied to renewables, but its meaningless if only applied to them. No power source is 100% reliable – all need some type of backup, whether in the form of additional power sources or storage. The types of unreliability vary – it can apply to energy supplies, costs, technical issues, planned outages, unplanned outages, weather conditions (nuclear plants are not immune to these, droughts can lead to shut downs due to a lack of cooling water) and so on. Wind and solar are less consistently reliable in the short to medium term than other sources (but are actually very reliable on an annual basis, its kind of unlikely you will get a full year without wind or sun). Wind and solar are also far more resilient in the event of events such as earthquakes, as was proven in Japan in 2011.

          Any planning for grid supply has to take all this into account – which is why no energy planner would ever just put in place X amount of generating capacity where X is the predicted maximum amount of power needed. All functional grids need a mix of power supplies for baseline, peak, backup and emergency. Probably the only two power sources that can alone supply the entire needs of any particular grid are gas CCGT (for example, in somewhere like Qatar), or hydroelectric (in somewhere like Bhutan) and even then they would need to overbuild capacity to allow for outages.

          The author of that piece, as indicated by his choice of words and arguments either does not understand this, or is engaging in a form of false argumentation, something that seems very common with nuclear advocates. Its almost like they can’t justify it with the facts alone.

          Reply
          1. Olga

            I suppose it is your prerogative not to want to correct erroneous statements. The point you say you were trying to make gets lost precisely because of certain mixing up of concepts in your comment (which I tried to explain/correct – and which is similar to what you say the author is doing).
            Now this author may have an agenda – he does seem to be pushing nuclear energy. But the article could have been better attacked for other reasons – e.g., goofy statements about the “safety” of nuclear units (yes, they are safe, until they are not … and then, bye-bye life). Also, on nuclear waste – he minimises the issue, but it is big one, particularly in the US, which still lacks a permanent disposal place. Costs are a big deal too, as nuclear plants are just too expensive (in the US, I mean).
            But if the author uses “baseline” (baseload is more commonly used) for nuclear power and then intermittent for renewables – it is probably because these are specific terms used in the power industry. I am not a fan of nuclear power – but it is the case that because of characteristics of nuclear units, they typically serve as baseload units (no agenda needs to be present to make that statement).
            (To be a baseload unit simply means that it runs most of the time, serving load without seasonal considerations (load in some regions can double in the summer or winter (peak seasons), depending on geography/weather, as compared to shoulder seasons (fall and spring)).
            Additionally, very little of what humans do is ever 100%, without fail, reliable. So complaining about a resource not running 100% of the time is not saying much (even humans check out – as they sleep). Generation resources prefer to run (that is how they make money), but sometimes they must take an outage. A fact of life – that in itself does not make them unreliable. Grid operators work around this aspect – as the planned outages are scheduled and approved. Capacity from the outaged resource is then replaced by capacity (or energy, depending on whether we’re talking day-ahead or real-time) from another unit.
            Moreover, when you say “[a]ll functional grids need a mix of power supplies for baseline, peak, backup and emergency,” I think you confuse fuel types with daily operations and planning. A combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) also takes outages – and so a system, using only gas plants, would still need to do the same amount of planning and maintaining reserves. Many gas units in Texas failed in Feb. 2011, as they were unprepared for the unexpectedly low temperatures (they prepared for the summer – but not winter, a practice that was changed after 2011).
            The fact is that planning ahead, forecasting load, and having sufficient reserves are some of the most important aspects in the provision of electric energy – when talking about generation. But let’s remember that without a robust transmission system, it would not matter how much generation one has or what fuel type is used. But that is a whole other discussion.

            Reply
        2. Lepton1

          “The provision of electric power is one of the most complex undertakings, and simplifying it too much can easily lead to misinformation.”
          Amen, amen.

          One problem with nuclear power is that the path we’ve chosen to go down involves massive, expensive power plants that take decades to finance, design, permit and build.

          We are building a new home. We will put 6kW of solar cells (Sun Power) on the roof and a battery inside to store some of that. We haven’t decided between 10kWh and 14kWh. The battery is rated for 10,000 cycles so this can be used for time shifting power from afternoon to evening as well as for emergencies when the main power is cut.

          The house will be all electric, no gas. Heat pumps for HVAC and hot water.

          This is hard to budget but near as I can tell with better insulation, heat pumps, LED lighting we will be net zero or maybe even a producer of energy.

          The point is that it doesn’t take decades of preparation to make this happen. You call the contractor and it happens.

          Costs are a thorny issue. Yes, this costs more than a solar array out in the desert, but we are using our roof top, not taking over natural land, and we put less stress on the grid.

          Personally, I’d rather not have a battery. This should be handled by the electric utility on a neighborhood basis. If every house had maybe 4 to 8 kW of solar then a big battery at the end of each block could store enough power to time shift from afternoon to evening and to tide us over during blackouts. A big battery under the street could be large and heavy (not Li) and cheap and safe.

          Reply
          1. Olga

            Yeah, good for you! And yes, what you’re describing at the end would be one type of a micro-grid – which I believe is part of our future (if we – the humans – live long enough to have a future). But it is also OK to have a battery in-house.
            There is a reason all this new technology spells more flexible units – to which the larger grid will have to adjust.

            Reply
          2. Wukchumni

            Friends have a beautiful off-the-grid home powered by a solar array, batteries & diesel generator that kicks in when needed. They built the home and have lived that way for almost 20 years with no issues…

            They been trying to sell it for a few years now, nobody will write a mortgage on such a home, and it just sits, a white elephant.

            Reply
            1. Oregoncharles

              So the banks are part of the problem, and a “solar bank” that specializes in such homes would help a lot. Could be one function of a State Bank – California, one of the largest economies in the world, could do this easily.

              Reply
    2. Svante

      Since (PA) fracked gas conversion is NYC’s “green” way of moving our carbon footprint way across the Delaware, then wait for Governor Chelsea to unleash Freedum Molecules throughout the borscht belt… it do occur to me, a small reactor adjacent to the Jackie O reservoir in Central Park could co-gen electricity & replace ancient oil-fired boilers, while Pittsburgh’s Beaver Power Stations (and a hastily rebuilt Rosatom breeder reactor, at Shippingport) could easily steam-frack wet-gas sufficient to keep Manhattan’s elite in steam heat, air-conditioning, water pumps, personal jet-skis, lifelike sex-robots, rocket packs, Uber choppers and Zabar’s bags throughout Princess Ivanka’s reign?

      Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          My dad was the unlucky holder of stock in the utility that ran TMI, and was duly punished after the partial meltdown, with the stock almost completely melting down as well…

          I think it dropped 85% in the days following the incident~

          Reply
          1. Svante

            I later inspected for GPU (Penelec, NO, not there!) I did work with one of Moody’s finest, who DID indeed grab his family and drove across the lovely Susquehanna well over 110mph, all the way back to Pgh. My girlfriend and I were trying to find places at my mom’s for her (huge) West Philly family. Would’ve made a swell ABC sitcom, huh? PARTIAL meltdown?

            Reply
            1. Arizona Slim

              After Three Mile Island’s 1979 “incident,” a friend of the family had to make a decision. He was a corporate pilot for Hershey and he also owned a private plane.

              The decision: Get his wife and family outta there. And he did. Flew them away from the region until he thought it was safe to go back.

              Some years later, I heard that our friend had developed Alzheimers. Now, I don’t have any proof that it had anything to do with TMI, but he was awfully young.

              I can’t help but wonder.

              Reply
    3. Gareth MacLeod

      Any comparison of deaths between power sources that doesn’t take into account catastrophe risks is fatally flawed. No single coal plant on earth could drastically alter human civilization, but at least two nuclear plants have come close to doing just that in only the last 40 years.

      Reply
  5. PlutoniumKun

    The Standard Errors of Persistence (PDF) Morgan Kelly, Centre for Economic Policy Research. Important?

    Its beyond my pay grade to comment on the significance of the article, but I’d just say that Morgan Kelly is something of an economics hero – he was the first academic economist to publicly and accurately predict the demise of the Celtic Tiger in Ireland (and was at the time mocked by many of his colleagues for this) and subsequently proved a dry and acerbic critic of mainstream economists, including his own ex students (he commented one time implying, if I recall correctly, that many were only of use for working in public relations for banks). He seemed to dislike the limelight, preferring to leave public comment to his less capable colleagues. His speciality was studying medieval urban economics, which apparently led him to be more qualified in calling out a modern property boom and bust than most economists.

    Reply
    1. Susan the other`

      I couldn’t even scan that one. What point was made? That the more things change the more they stay the same?

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        I don’t know enough about the topic to say – its like butting in half way through a very complex conversation – but my understanding from scanning through is that he’s saying that a lot of studies that purport to show consistent historical trends over time in geographic areas over long time periods are confusing statistical noise for signal. Kelly is a specialist on the economics of medieval Europe.

        This has serious implications for various theories about how various types of immigration or mixes of people or policies influence economic development over time.

        Reply
  6. bwilli123

    Previous attempt at posting swallowed by the Internets.
    re: Pompeo Blames Tanker Attacks On Iran, Offers No Evidence
    from the Daily Beast via FT
    …”Yukaka Katada, the owner of one of the stricken oil tankers crippled in explosions in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, says the U.S. is wrong about the way the attack was carried out. Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo on Friday, he contradicted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the U.S. Navy, which released a video that purports to show an Iranian patrol boat removing a limpet mine from the port side of the Kokuka Courageous. Katada said his ship was attacked on the starboard side by a flying object, not by a mine. “It seems that something flew towards them. That created the hole, is the report I’ve received,” Katada said, according to the Financial Times. “It seems there was a high chance they were attacked by a flying object. The impact was well above the water. I don’t think it was a torpedo.” The Japanese ship owner did not say who might be responsible for the attack. Iran has vehemently denied it was involved.”

    Reply
    1. dearieme

      I assume that the US must have supplied many “flying objects” to the various terrorist groups it supported in Syria. Then there are presumably also Chinese, Russian, Israeli, and God knows how many other types around in the Middle East.

      By the way, who would choose to attach a limpet mine above the waterline? Somebody who wanted headlines but didn’t want to do too much damage? Or is the limpet mine referred to a figment of someone’s imagination?

      Reply
      1. Sharkleberry Fin

        “Limpet mine above the waterline?” — If the detonation is radio-controlled, the device has to be above the water line. EM radiation does not go through water or liquids [no mobile service underwater *sorry Aqua-man*]. Further, electronic devices, in general, have an antipathy toward salt water. –I’d call this escalation “Phase 2” in the plan to discourage the use of sanctions as a tool to destabilize the regime before some nuclear devices, fashioned from spun uranium, can prop up the Ayatollahs and Pasdaran. It’s performance art: “Dialogue in Plastique No. 4” [2019] in the tradition of the Beirut School.

        Reply
    2. Chris Cosmos

      In terms of videos or photos or even voices: nothing can be trusted all media can be manipulated. While it is still possible to take stab and finding whether or not something is fake it is getting increasingly hard and expensive to do so. Unless I see it with my own eyes, I don’t trust it particularly when the stakes are high. As the Syrian gas attacks show, much of intel work today is show business.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        Those photos look rather ‘granular’ after all …. a fine example of bad blackhole mic money going to waste .. they can’t even do a proper ‘Inquirer’ cut and paste !

        If one squints really, really hard, one can almost make out the ‘white snorkels’ …

        Reply
      2. Synoia

        much of intel work today is show business

        True, as are the claimed achievements by various groups armed people. Many of the limpet mines are those attached to the truth.

        Reply
  7. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Senate Democrats will seek to force vote on Trump authority for Iran war

    Oh for crying out loud.

    From the article:

    If some key Democrats get their way, the Senate will have to vote on the limits of President Donald Trump’s ability to go to war with Iran.

    From Artile 1 Section 8 of the US Constitution:

    The Congress shall have Power To….To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

    So maybe some key Senate Democrats should trying growing a spine instead of sniveling that Trump ought to ask their permission first.

    Reply
    1. polecat

      l a b,
      Kinda hard to demand of such demeaner from the likes of quivering jellyfish, don’t ya think ? They can’t even sting right, for HeyZeus sake !

      Reply
    2. lordkoos

      I have read that the reason congress no longer declares war (when was the last time, WWII?) is because with an official declaration of war there are strict rules and stiff penalties for profiteering, and where’s the fun in that…

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Yes. Also, when war is ‘officially’ declared, there is generally a subsequent point where the Nation is required to make sacrifices. Out in the open.
        On the bright side, this would be perfect cover for imposing domestic restrictions and economies to effect a secondary purpose, like Green anything.
        Then, as did the Reich, to pick up on an earlier National Socialist theme, the institution of propaganda and then legislation to “purge” the population of “useless eaters,” “unproductive deplorables,” and “various shades of Un-Americans” can proceed apace. A “purified” American Race will guarantee our Cultures continued advancement. Etc. etc.

        Reply
    3. Procopius

      In the execrable Bret Stephens’s story in the New York Fishwrap, he says that the Navy claims to have seen Iranian Revolutionary Guard patrol boats “in the vicinity” of the tankers. They do not mention what other ships and boats they observed “in the vicinity” of the tankers. It is theoretically possible that the Iranians would want to conduct a deniable attack like this, which would warn KSA, UAE, and Oman how vulnerable their shipping facilities and oil fields are, while doing little real damage. On the other hand it seems more likely to be a “false flag” by KSA, UAE, or Israel to drag the U.S. into an invasion. I possible actor I haven’t seen mentioned yet is Mujaheddin e Khalk, the Iranian terrorist group which was lavishly paying lots of neocons back during the Bush II administration when it was actually illegal for them to receive the money, but who was paying attention? Anyway, they are known to give John Bolton a lot of money to help promote declaring war on Iran. They probably have bomb makers in their ranks. Would they be so incompetent? They were reputed to be very capable at murdering nuclear scientists.

      Reply
  8. zagonostra

    >Capitalism Versus Democracy

    Good summary of U.S. party politics in below article by Robert Urie

    Democratic establishment would rather lose with establishment candidates and retrograde policies than loosen its grip on its service to the oligarchs.

    Phrased differently, if Democrats cared about ‘defeating Trump,’ they would offer programs that people want. But they are so firmly in the grip of corporate interests and the oligarchs that they won’t do so. The Republicans are just as beholden, but they offer fewer (manufactured) illusions. They represent the interests of capital. This transparency provides political clarity for those who oppose their policies.

    …there are no circumstances short of revolution that will move the Democrats from service to their rich patrons.

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/06/14/capitalism-versus-democracy/

    Reply
    1. Chris Cosmos

      Yes, of course. This is why I would never, ever vote for a mainstream Democrat for President. In the past I had hopes–now, it’s way too late for that.

      Reply
    2. Carey

      Thanks for the Urie link. From the piece:

      “..While confusion has been sown around the meaning of ‘corporatism’ that stood at the center of (Benito) Mussolini’s vision of the good life, a defining characteristic of both Italian and German fascism was capitalist-state alliances where state power was used for the benefit of select capitalists and select state actors. Labor unions were systematically disempowered, and the interests of powerful economic and state actors were put forward as those of the polity..”

      Nothing like that going on now, of course..

      Reply
  9. Roger Smith

    The top two non-Biden Democrat contenders, and they are both drawn into the the Mueller smokescreen. Last election was interesting, this so far is a complete farce and what looks to be amount to a race to who can lose to Trump first (which in an honest world would be extremely hard to do this time around). What are these two easily distracted fools going to do to solve real problems when they are surrounded constantly by people trying to throw them off the scent of actual governance? Bernie specifically had a good shot of courting conservative voters based on actual policy, we saw that in 2016. He has completely blown that this year by repeating this partisan trash ad naseum.

    If they do know better, how can they expect to beat these empty sidetracks by playing into them? It will never work that way. Trump Derangement Syndrome has infected and helped radicalize even people who knew it was a fraud (and there are many pieces that are a part of this, or play into it such as social media). Part of it is because these politicians sat their and entertained the notion because “politics”. Now we have extremely divisive politicians entering the scene like AOC, who intermix reasonable important messages with irrational, self-righteous attitude that does no one any favors.

    Meanwhile, Tulsi Gabbard is in the back, pounding away that the same message she’s had for at least the last 4 years, unwavering, and even though people are quick to talk about how she is purposefully buried by establishment machination, every one still ignores her because “Sanders and Warren”. There is no way casual dishonesty (or ignorance) will win or produce tangible results. The guy who honestly says, “Yea, I’d probably listen to see what the dirt was.”, does win.

    Side note: Did Sanders ever comment about Assange?

    Reply
    1. jrs

      people ignore her because she’s polling low, other politicians polling low are ignored as well and yes of course it’s a vicious circle (at least they haven’t forced someone like Frackenlooper on us, small mercies), a few had an inexplicable rise it’s true but some have intangibles like charisma. The media isn’t out there to cover content with politicians. 4 years, ok nice, Sanders has decades though.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Gabbard’s also from a small state, and her most ardent supporters are running her as a VP candidate. Its not like she’s working the Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York media which gets covered in national media. This is actually an advantage for Biden now. When he was most awful, he was really just a Senator from a suburb or major city and didn’t get covered. Obama had this advantage over Sanders, simply because Obama could stay in the news by virtue of major media access.

        AOC matters because she is from Brooklyn. When Ralph Northam’s blackface picture was made known, it ate up national headlines for a few days, but I saw a good observation about how the msm was particularly engrossed versus problems other governors had brought upon themselves because Richmond is accessible and much the DC msm lives in Virginia.

        Reply
        1. jrs

          Yes another thing I’ve wondered is Gabbard even running much of a campaign? Many people might be too unknown for huge rallies. But they get involved in other things, meet and greets, forums, make appearances etc.. Gabbard mostly has cache because she backed Sanders before. Her signature issue foreign policy I doubt determines elections. I understand the righteous rage about U.S. foreign policy and how the horror can make one ready to fight the bast@rds and support anyone who will, but can you 1) win on it 2) actually implement it? GND seems more likely to be actually implementable actually. Meanwhile Sanders has the DSA and other campaigning hard for him ever week.

          BTW Sanders good shot at courting conservative voters, I don’t even know what that means, Republicans, polls (with a grain of salt) show otherwise. R’s are going 90% for Trump no matter who the Dems run, if anyone Biden does slightly better (because he is a Republican maybe). Independents maybe.

          Reply
  10. Braden

    Nuclear energy can be accurately described as a safe and clean energy source when plants are operated using industry best practices. Unfortunately, our current regulatory framework permits most plants to operate well below the standard of best practice. Due to restrictions on the movement and storage of high-level radioactive waste, many plants store highly radioactive spent fuel rods on-site, creating a potentially catastrophic risk if the plant ever does suffer a serious radiological event. Some plants even store substantial amounts of spent fuel in containers located above the reactor vessel, which is similar to the configuration at Fukushima. Such storage is frankly negligent given the severe consequences that could arise during a partial or full meltdown.

    Furthermore, best practices require shutting down older reactors and building newer, safer reactors with better safeguards. Instead, the US allows older reactors to continue operating well beyond their intended shutdown date, the plants are permitted to mishandle lower-level waste, and pile up high-level waste in hastily constructed on-site storage facilities. Even when plants are de-commissioned, the site still poses a huge risk of contamination if the site is inundated. As sea levels rise, there will be hundreds of sites around the world in the direct path of rising salt water. To properly address this threat, we should be shutting down existing coastal plants and removing waste and remediating the sites now. We won’t have decades to plan and remediate by 2030.

    I’ll agree that nuclear power COULD have been an important solution in the 1960s if we had rapidly used it to replace oil and gas, but now the sites are simply catastrophes waiting to happen as humanity’s attention turns from regulation to survival. Those plants will become one more thing to worry about as our social and economic systems collapse.

    Reply
    1. jefemt

      Waste and contamination have not and will not be handled properly. The nature of capitalism, or authoritarianism– run by humans.
      Anywhere in the world. We are so beyond needing to stop the Nuke path and trajectory.

      Not helpful, but I feel its a fair and honest assessment..

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Yes. Any industry where mistakes have 10,000 year consequences is not compatible with an economic system where mistakes often have zero consequences for the executives who commit them. Nuclear energy–a technology dependent on no mistakes–was always a bad bet on human nature.

        Reply
    2. Wukchumni

      When I was almost an adult driving down to SD or Tijuana, we’d always snicker when passing the ‘grand tetons’ on the coast, it’s a fixation thing-mothers milk of energy.

      I sure wouldn’t want to be living anywhere near the hastily closed down plant…

      “In May 2013, Senator Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said the modifications had proved to be “unsafe and posed a danger to the eight million people living within 50 miles of the plant,” and she called for a criminal investigation.

      In June 2013, Southern California Edison announced the permanent retirement of Unit 2 and Unit 3, citing “continuing uncertainty about when or if SONGS might return to service” and noting that ongoing regulatory and “administrative processes and appeals” would likely cause any tentative restart plans to be delayed for “more than a year”.

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

      Reply
  11. The Rev Kev

    “Disclose or leave: US bill vows to delist even biggest Chinese players”

    OK, so the the bill states that ‘foreign companies will face delisting from U.S. exchanges unless they grant American inspectors full access to their audit reports’. They would be nuts to go along with that. All that is is a blank cheque for the US to find any major or minor misdeed to punish that company with and demand changes of management and impose close supervision of their affairs. No US corporation would tolerate such a situation overseas. No wonder that the Chinese companies are deciding to bail. The big picture is that Trump is trying to break off China from its economic and financial transactions with the US and this is just one example of this. That is a very good way to establish a hostile relationship that as well.

    Reply
    1. Olga

      I think the big picture is that DT (and whoever is in the background) is trying to unmoor China from the economic foundation the country has built over the last 30 years. In other words, to eliminate China as a peer competitor – on the assumption (likely not an incorrect one) that economic power leads to political power. Methinks good luck with that – the train has left the station and/or too little, too late. But the US will persist – and all of us will pay the price.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        An advice from a very-well known Chinese work, Three Six Strategems (quote is from Wikipedia):

        If all else fails, retreat
        (走為上計/走为上计, Zǒu wéi shàng jì)
        If it becomes obvious that your current course of action will lead to defeat, then retreat and regroup. When your side is losing, there are only three choices remaining: surrender, compromise, or escape. Surrender is complete defeat, compromise is half defeat, but escape is not defeat. As long as you are not defeated, you still have a chance. This is the most famous of the stratagems, immortalized in the form of a Chinese idiom: “Of the Thirty-Six Stratagems, fleeing is best” (三十六計,走為上計/三十六计,走为上计, Sānshíliù jì, zǒu wéi shàng jì).

        Here, even if you are not losing, but merely not winning, escaping (to fight another day) is the best option.

        And this idea is very typically Chinese, in that in Dao De Jing, it is said, that water, being soft, will wear away the rock.

        Another strategy is similar (again, from the same Wikipedia article):

        In order to capture, one must let loose
        (欲擒故縱/欲擒故纵, Yù qín gū zòng)
        Cornered prey will often mount a final desperate attack. To prevent this you let the enemy believe he still has a chance for freedom. His will to fight is thus dampened by his desire to escape. When in the end the freedom is proven a falsehood the enemy’s morale will be defeated and he will surrender without a fight.

        Again, the idea is to remain flexible, so one can, arrive at the east by going west, or arrive in one direction, by heading the other way.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          I have always been impressed by the wisdom behind that last strategy. When I think about it, I wonder if this is what Trump is trying to do to China. Press it on all sides and only offer his big deal as a safe way out. But if they take it, it will turn out to be a false option and will land the Chinese into a permanent subservient role to whatever Washington demands.

          Reply
        2. Procopius

          I’m thinking of a story that Sun Tzu used that strategem in one of his wars. He purposely maneuvered his army into a position where they were certain to be defeated and annihilated. They won, because when you put troops in the “death ground” they will (at least sometimes) find superhuman strength and skills. It’s an old observation, I think even Clausewitz was familiar with it. So closing off their last chance of escape might not result in surrender. Look at Bolton and Pompeo’s idiotic approach to Iran.

          Reply
          1. ObjectiveFunction

            Or the great victory of Belisarius over the Medes at Dara (Daras), which made his reputation (as you yourself chronicled. ;-)

            Great Homeric reading btw:

            “And both the two men, falling very close to each other, made great haste to rise to their feet, but the Persian was not able to do this easily because his size was against him, while Andreas, anticipating him (for his practice in the wrestling school gave him this advantage), smote him as he was rising on his knee, and as he fell again to the ground dispatched him.”

            Reply
            1. ObjectiveFunction

              … Ha it gets better!

              When the [Persian] mirranes saw this letter [of Belisarius] brought to him, he replied as follows: “I should have been persuaded by what you write, and should have done what you demand, were the letter not, as it happens, from Romans, for whom the making of promises is easy, but the fulfilment of the promises in deed most difficult and beyond hope, especially if you sanction the agreement by any oaths.

              We, therefore, despairing in view of your deception, have been compelled to come before you in arms, and as for you, my dear Romans, consider that from now on you will be obliged to do nothing else than make war against the Persians. For here we shall be compelled either to die or grow old until you accord to us justice in deed.”

              A distant mirror? (John Bolton, to the white irony phone please)

              Reply
  12. Wukchumni

    Empire of Meat The Baffler
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    You rarely see range cattle around these parts as it simply doesn’t pay. The few ranches where you’ll see them, tend to be hobby on the hoof affairs. Go into the bowels of the Central Valley though, and there’s more CAFO’d bessies than you can shake a stick at, all crass fed with nary a blade of green in their dirt confines.

    According to the numbers, there are 40 million cows/milk cows in the USA now, down from the peak in 1975 when there was 132 million head.

    ‘Empire’ isn’t the word that comes to mind.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      the Texas Hill Country, and points west and north, still run a lot of cattle.
      lots of rangeland that’s “not good for anything else”, but yes…”legacy” ranchers are struggling, and the biggest operators appear to have money to begin with.
      last big drought(’13?) really kicked the land rich/cash poor old settler family ranchers where it hurt.
      a simple change to the meat inspection rules would do wonders for this, I think(currently, slaughter/butchering is extremely consolidated due to usda rules. i couldn’t open an abattoir if i wanted to)

      Reply
  13. a different chris

    Wow – I swear I remember the story was VW trying to sound very reasonable about unionization in Tennessee when they were breaking ground but the righttard Governor of the time was having none of it.

    Well, I re-edited that first sentence to use the world “story”, because maybe that was all it was. Now I wonder if it was actually a behind-closed-doors scheme, where VW would look good to the outside world, the Guv would strengthen his base, and both would get what they really wanted.

    Reply
      1. newcatty

        Yes. I can’t recall where I read this, but someone wrote that mother’s love was one of the reason the world still exists. It’s natural in almost every species. But, with the sadness and emotional, and often physical , toil on many women in the world, mothers are sometimes incapable of loving their children. But, there are many who do and that high and incomparable spiritual energy keeps the beat going on. When we honor and respect women, and their rights to have agency over their own lives, it will be a sign that humans are becoming spiritually awakened.

        Reply
        1. aletheia33

          nice newcatty. i don’t know about spiritual awakening, but i do think that doing what you say here may be humanity’s only hope of survival as the family blog hits the fan across the planet. too bad no one seems to be noticing that. thank you.

          also let’s note that as westerners (i assume you are one too) let’s be very cautious about how we go about being sure that a non-western mother loves or does not love her child, since, as i’m sure you know, the choices such mothers may face are often truly inaccessible to the western mind to even conceive of–just the dilemmas, let alone the life/death tradeoffs they force parents to make.

          Reply
          1. newcatty

            Thank you, Aletheia. Yes, I am a westerner. I agree that mothers in other cultures face many choices, often between life and death, or dilemmas, that most westerners , can’t imagine. I would never presume to judge if those women love their child or not. I was referring to the fact that some women are in such emotional and/ or physical distress that they are not capable of loving others. This is not to blame the victim, it is to point out that , at least in our American society, that some children are neglected or abused due to the emotional illness ( for lack of a better term) of their mother( and, of course, often their father or other care givers). It would open up a deeper and wider discussion of the causations of this situation in this country.

            Reply
            1. aletheia33

              thanks newcatty for your clarification. i meant no admonishment of you at all for victim blaming or any other opinion. i confess it makes me uncomfortable to see “not capable of loving others.” yes there are many such. at the same time, some who have not been capable, or not perceived as capable, of love do at some point become capable of it. sometimes long after their children have grown up.

              and where do you draw the line? many people whom others have decided are incapable of love do care in some way for some other living thing.

              the repetition of abuse and neglect from generation to generation is a terrible human problem. i think that how we think about love, what actions can be known to arise from love, or not, is very tricky to try to understand.

              i do think (based on experience) that many parents who abuse their children do also, simultaneously, love them and suffer terribly over their own inability to enact that love.
              and many children whose parents abuse and neglect them seem never to stop loving those parents even as they learn to hate them.
              and we know that love and hate can often be mingled in our feelings toward those closest to us–our family members, or anyone we have had difficulty living with.

              none of which contradicts anything you said. causation of the type of emotional illness you mention, deeper and wider discussion of that, does seem urgent. the most common understandings of how these things happen are woefully shallow. yet we do know a fair amount about what conditions can drive many people to despair, depression, rage, and the like.

              thank you for your thoughts.

              Reply
  14. a different chris

    >The Pentagon is battling the clock

    The one battle in the world they can win, as they can just paper over the F-35’s defects and fix them whenever. If fixing them is even possible, and if not well c’est la vie.

    I saw the word “expensive” in the story and I almost fell off my chair laughing. The money will magically appear, MMT does have its adherents just not where you wish they were.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      F-Edsel
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Edsel is an automobile marque that was planned, developed, and manufactured by the Ford Motor Company for model years 1958 through 1960. With the Edsel brand, Ford had expected to make significant inroads into the market share of both General Motors and Chrysler and close the gap between itself and GM in the domestic American automotive market. Ford invested heavily in a yearlong teaser campaign leading consumers to believe that Edsels were the cars of the future – an expectation they failed to meet. After being unveiled to the public, they were considered to be unattractive, overpriced, and overhyped. Edsels never gained popularity with contemporary American car buyers and sold poorly. The Ford Motor Company lost $250 million on Edsel development, manufacturing, and marketing.

      The very name “Edsel” became a popular symbol for a commercial failure.

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

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        p.s.

        Nearly as troubled as the F-35 and ‘scheduled’ to be released a little over a year from now, the sequel to Top Gun has had amazing access to military sites in showcasing the fighter plane, which looks good when it flies, i’ll admit. And ask anyone, it’s better to look good than to feel good about the jet.

        Preliminary production on the film officially started on May 30, 2018, in San Diego, California. During late August a 15-person film crew from Paramount and Bruckheimer Films were aboard the Norfolk-based aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to shoot flight deck operations. In mid February 2019, Cruise and the production crew were sighted on board USS Theodore Roosevelt in the NAS North Island. In March, filming was completed at NAS Whidbey Island in Oak Harbor, Washington. Principal photography was scheduled until April 15, 2019, in San Diego California, Lemoore California, Lake Tahoe California, Seattle Washington, Patuxent River Maryland.

        Top Gun: Maverick is scheduled to be released on June 26, 2020, by Paramount Pictures. It was originally scheduled to be released on July 12, 2019, but was moved back a year in August 2018

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_Gun:_Maverick

        Reply
        1. newcatty

          Heaven help us! Thanks Cruise! Remember they had propaganda short films at every movie theater during WW11? This is an example of them on high tech steroids.

          Reply
        2. The Rev Kev

          Be funny if they made that film true to life. I can imagine the following lines-

          “Damn! My plane won’t boot up! Does yours?”

          “Cough! Cough! Hack! Wheeze! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!”

          Sorry sir. F-35s can’t use that carrier to take off from till 2026 at earliest”

          What do you mean the spare parts from the F-35B won’t fit on my F-35C?”

          “Did that Russian Sukhoi Su-35 just give us the finger?”

          “With our stealth ability, they will never know we are here” Beeeeep!

          Reply
  15. Carolinian

    Re Harris and the question of prosecuting Trump should he lose the next election–Surely Wittes is right that this would be entirely political if the prosecution was for things he did before becoming president (and not the farcical “obstruction” charge). After all our peerless Federal and NY State law enforcement had plenty of chances to go after him–and the hundreds of other financial manipulators–pre 2016 and declined to do so. By so declining the specter of selective prosecution is going to hang over almost any choice to prosecute someone for the same crimes that others have freely committed. Politicizing the law would be the next step in turning the US into, oh say, Brazil.

    The Trump haters have always been “out there” in their ends justify the means mentality. The Dems need to drop the TDS and start concentrating on things ordinary people really care about. Trump behind bars is not one of those.things.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      There are two obvious problems:

      -Trump commits crimes and should be impeached.
      -Pelosi and Team Blue elites accused Trump of treason and promised Bob Mueller would get his man, despite Trump not being a muslim teenager.

      The first problem can’t be ignored, but the second problem has created a situation where an element wants blood and the people who were supposed to rally for civility simply won’t because Pelosi and friends have inured Trump against most attacks.

      I actually liked Sanders directing responsibility to the House (it is theirs), but this a creation of Pelosi and helping to shine the spot light on what a god awful leader she is matters too. My guess is Pelosi knows the White Flight Republicans she and other Team Blue elites crave aren’t going to come over for emolument violations after treason didn’t pan out. I saw a point made about Nixon and Watergate, but the narrative with Nixon was that Nixon’s crimes/involvement kept getting worse. You can’t get worse than treason. Its the ninth layer of hell reserved for the angel who betrayed heaven, Judas Iscariot, and Brutus and Cassius. Who is the great villain of the United States? Benedict Arnold, traitor.

      Then there are plenty of voters who have been brainwashed into believing this garbage, so they have to be acknowledged especially since Trump has committed sufficient offenses.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Harris is likely just playing to Dem voters and wouldn’t do what she says. After all if they start prosecuting Trump for enriching himself in office it casts an unfavorable light on all our politicians including the Clintons and the sainted Obamas.

        Reply
    2. Todde

      We will debate whether or not to prosecute him until the statute of limitations runs out.

      Then there will simply be TINA, and nothing will happen.

      The purpose of this debate is to talk big and do little, like always.

      Reply
    3. VietnamVet

      Kamala Harris has opened Pandora’s Box. Democracy’s biggest selling point besides periodic resets is that its power transfers are peaceful. Donald Trump knows the legal system better than most and realizes that the one sure way to avoid indictment is getting re-elected. Being around during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, he no doubt knows that starting a war in Iran will assure that he loses his second term. If they really want the Presidency, the Democrats need to give him away out. Perhaps agreeing beforehand that they will look the other way after the election if he resigns and Mike Pence pardons him for all crimes and misdemeanors. But then will the earth survive if Mike Pence is President for even a day with his Rapture beckoning?

      Reply
  16. Wukchumni

    It could have been worse, imagine fearless leader addressing his royal highness as: King Crab of Canute

    Reply
  17. Chris Cosmos

    The article in Science is sobering:

    Coincident with the 2014 acceleration, Nisbet et al. find a source shift to the southern tropics, where wetlands are concentrated (2). They hypothesize that record high temperatures in 2014 and the following years spiked wetland CH4 production. Such a wetland climate feedback challenges the commonly held view that wetland area rather than temperature is the main control of wetland CH4 emissions (although some wetland CH4 models are more temperature driven) (10). If natural wetlands, or changes in atmospheric chemistry, indeed accelerated the CH4 rise, it may be a climate feedback that humans have little hope of slowing. Although studies have demonstrated the potential for substantial CH4-climate feedbacks, they were expected to occur gradually, not reaching the magnitude observed by Nisbet et al. for decades (12).

    Nature, as many of us here know but unfortunately most other people don’t know, does not operate in a linear fashion. If wetland emissions indicate that we may be in a positive feedback loop with those systems then this could be the straw that breaks the camels back or at least may stimulate that proverbial straw once chaos comes to other systems and then we have general environmental collapse and who knows when we will achieve some new homeostasis.

    I see no hope, at present, for anything to be done. Some years back (more than ten years for sure) James Lovelock (co-creator of the Gaia hypothesis) said it was too late to do anything about climate change, maybe it is. I don’t think it is too late to actually do something if we agreed to making fairly radical changes in our social arrangements. But I don’t see any hope that the major players, mainly the oligarchs but also the public, would have any intention of doing anything about it. The West, as a civilization, to my regret and sorrow has failed.

    Reply
    1. Steve H.

      > “ruminant emissions began to rise steeply around 2002 and can account for about half of the CH4 increase since 2007”

      Ruminant emissions…

      Reply
  18. Watt4Bob

    Change Agent: Gene Sharp’s Neoliberal Nonviolence

    Absolutely agree, today’s must read.

    Seems to me a definitive historical roadmap of how we got where we find ourselves today.

    Fills in all the details necessary to understanding the very wide difference between
    reality and the lies perpetrated by the MSM in service to New World Order.

    Even if you’ve been paying attention since the 1973 USA-backed, neoliberal coup in Chile, you’ll be surprised how precisely crafted the regime-change formula was, and how incessently it has been applied ever since.

    Sharp invented the ‘Color Revolution’ used recently to take over Ukraine, and now being applied in Venezuela.

    Reply
    1. dearieme

      I once read a persuasive article to the effect that Allende’s coup wasn’t the CIA’s doing. But they had organised an earlier unsuccessful attempt at a coup. I thought that quite a revealing tale about the CIA’s competence.

      Reply
    2. Shonde

      Absolutely agree this is a must read. After reading the article, I finally understood we have had an ongoing “color revolution” in the United States which, as Watt4Bob said, is a “definitive historical roadmap of how we got where we find ourselves today.”

      Reply
    3. pjay

      I also agree absolutely, and not just for today. This is an extraordinarily useful history, linking many of *the* major players in the postwar foreign policy/intelligence/propaganda network. But it also provides insight into two categories of “liberals”: (1) true believers like Sharp himself and the elites around him who fully understood what they were doing and why; and (2) the useful idiots who discuss Sharp’s strategies in the context of Gandhi or MLK, providing cover for the CIA’s various applications all over the world.

      Please bookmark this piece. It’s long, but well worth studying (and apparently the first of two parts). As Watt4Bob indicates, it is a very valuable source for anyone who wants to know why some of us rant about “color revolutions.”

      Reply
      1. Bernalkid

        I’ve read about half of it, but was getting quite a headache from all the Bundy, Rostow, Kissinger, Rockefeller, Dillon, Ford Foundation, advocates of nuclear strike on Japan, carpet bombing SE Asia, defoliation, vs. compliments from Zimm and Chomsky. The company you keep?
        Will carry on later during cocktail hour.

        Reply
    4. Susan the other`

      mind boggling. Nonsite.org is an interesting place – I’m amazed that stuff got published. And it’s astonishing how an ideologue can compartmentalize. Neoliberal non-violence violence is a curious beast. Like passive-aggressive – there’s nothing passive about it. I’ve never run into any mention of Gene Sharp, neoliberal guru of nonviolence. It didn’t surprise me to learn that Mac Bundy was a pusher of carpet bombing, however. The whole article left me saddened by now what clearly seems like wasted time. The misunderstanding of the “entropics” of foreign relations. Of social democracy. Of capital itself – because capital hasn’t survived all this disruption very well. The effect of entropy on capital itself diminishes its usefulness, increases its wastefulness. Like entropy squared.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > any mention of Gene Sharp

        Sharp has a taxonomy, “198 METHODS OF NONVIOLENT ACTION,” with the methods sorted into buckets like “Public Assemblies” (Occupy), “Processions” (Hong Kong), and “Symbolic Public Acts” (pink pussy hats). However, the methods and the taxonomy have always seemed weirdly atheoretical and ad hoc to me. And now I understand why: The real theory was elsewhere, and the guiding principles were necessarily not visible.

        NOTE This is a must-read, not least the principles and tactics absolutely permeate the NGO world of domestic politics.

        Reply
        1. flora

          This article is a must read.

          Since you’ve mentioned recent actions that could fit taxonomy, I’ll mention that reading this made me reflect on the SJW movements on campus in the recent past. Almost all of them that I’m aware of aimed their complaints at faculty members who were/are doing the most to bridge divides among students in the classroom, or against faculty members active in faculty pay/benefit/rights negotiations with the uni admin, imo.

          I wonder now if one traced the sudden SJW and woke movements back far enough one would find something like a ‘CIA at Harvard’ guiding hand to discredit unions, etc. ?

          Reply
          1. taunger

            Not foily at all. I’ve been in uni with people that were clearly subverted to larger agendas through the promise of success. There was certainly a predeliction to begin, but also plenty of carrot given to act on it.

            Reply
          2. Jeremy Grimm

            SJW: Social Justice Warrior? As someone out-of-the-loop and ignorant of many acronyms I would greatly appreciate if the first use might be a form like — Social Justice Warrior (SJW). Our government, including agencies other than the CIA, has a long history of planting provocateurs. Remember Tommy-the-Traveler or the many cases where a government agency was the sponsor for terrorism and encouraged “terrorists” so that they might be arrested later. Why not SJW-types too as you suggest? They work the purpose with a certain elegance — not unlike the elegance of government web-work on the social media.

            Reply
    5. Jeremy Grimm

      Gene Sharp’s affiliations and ties to the CIA definitely give a foul smell to his work. On the other hand, the techniques he describes, perhaps with additional contributions not described, or certain deliberate violations of his techniques, appear to have proven effective in practice. This would not be the first time our government crafted a weapon with two-edges. The origins of Sharp’s writings suggest they receive careful reading and review of their reasoning, combined with a scan of how the ideas were actually practiced to identify violations or omissions.

      The nine reasons to abstain from sabotage strike me as odd and dated. The IWW and many ages of strikers made effective use of sabotage in many strike actions. The harm done was harm to the owners bottom line. The advent of computers and hacking adds a dimension to sabotage where great financial damage can be done with no risk of physical harm to persons or physical property. The long narrow supply lines of current industry make them especially vulnerable to sabotage at many points. Did Sharp reason against sabotage in an effort to dull a tool which might be particularly effective against Cartels in the US?

      Reply
  19. The Rev Kev

    “Trump wants to start charging stores to accept food stamps”

    Well all those tax cuts for the nation’s billionaires aren’t going to pay for themselves. It’s still a disgusting story this as Trump is putting the boot into those most in need of help by punishing stores that accept those stamps. Gratuitous cruelty that. Maybe he should consider a massive jobs program instead. That would get them off food stamps and have them paying taxes as well with their new jobs.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      When I was a kid, you could always tell who was a player, for they weren’t really ‘food stamps’, but an alt-a currency that came in a booklet that kind of resembled a Disneyland booklet full of coupons. Unlike boring Federal Reserve Notes, the currency came in different colors, based on denomination.

      https://www.ebay.com/itm/FOOD-STAMP-COUPON-USDA-Currency-Paper-Money-Script-Welfare-3-Piece-Lot-Of-Old/173909991064?hash=item287dd7de98:g:xmIAAOSwmUhc5GW2

      Now it’s all done via a credit card like instrument.

      Reply
      1. newcatty

        Agree, Rev Kev. Gratuitous cruelty, indeed. Also, an absolutely perfect example of punishing the poor people in our country. A nice counter example. Our local farmer’s marketing not only accepts “food stamps”, but doubles their value up to their face value of $20.00. Walking the talk of community support and kindness.

        Reply
    2. pasha

      it is important to keep in mind that:

      1. most s.n.a.p. recipients are children, under legal working age.

      2. over the past couple decades, 30 to 40 percent of adult recipients do work, just don’t make enough to beat the poverty level.

      3. an increasing number of adult recipients are legally disabled and cannot work.

      Reply
  20. dearieme

    The reverse mortgages link didn’t work for me.

    Ahaaaa! It turns out to be the racist patriarchy at work because I’m in the EU. Roll on Brexit!

    Reply
  21. The Rev Kev

    “Hundreds Of U.S. Flights Canceled As GPS-Based Aircraft Navigation System Fails”

    I wonder if it would be viable to have GPS-Based Aircraft Navigation Systems that in case of failure, could switch over to either Europe’s Galileo System or maybe Russia’s GLONASS system instead. A form of redundancy if you will.

    Reply
  22. BoulderMike

    FDR:
    I just finished watching Bernie Sanders speech from earlier this week on Democratic Socialism and I struggle to understand how any reasonable, non-oligarch could not see how much it makes sense and how well it was presented. I realize that the MSM did not and will not cover it and as a result most people won’t even see it. Sad.
    I have studied extensively on the rise of dictators from the 20th century like Hitler and Stalin but confess to being a bit light in my reading on FDR. For that matter, I should probably also read more on Mao.
    My question to all here is whether anyone has any recommendations on good books on FDR and the social and political climate in which he existed? It would be good to understand how he was able to succeed when it seems to me that the odds of Bernie succeeding are rather low.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. dearieme

      The best short and revealing thing I ever read about FDR was Keynes’s famous open letter to him. Here’s a translation I made of it. Scroll down to: dearieme November 9, 2014 at 11:14 am.
      https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/11/links-11914-2.html#comment-2350232

      The best slightly longer thing was a passage in The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, describing the British government’s desperate efforts to get FDR’s attention onto the issue. Eventually they succeeded partly by getting Szilard to persuade Einstein to write to FDR. As an insight into what I take it is pretty usual levels of incompetence in fedgov it was rather enlightening. (Megan McArdle once suggested that Europeans trust their national governments a bit more than Americans do because US fedgov is unusually incompetent. Maybe she’s right.)

      Reply
      1. Plenue

        Nice conservative meme there. Ah yes, ‘federal government incompetence’. Because they were so incompetent getting us out of the Great Deprrssion, and later so incompetent at running WW2.

        Reply
        1. skippy

          Pretty epic levels of cog dis are required to ignore the foundational members of FEE et al, which set neoliberalism rolling over everything in its path, lest we forget the visceral hatred of democracy.

          Reply
    2. jrs

      Read about half the speech so far, didn’t even find it that far left. But I imagine it comes across that way in non-textual form in part because of how fiery Bernie’s delivery can be (probably a good thing for actually having a shot at winning).

      I do like to reduce politicians a lot to the textual, but it’s why I miss the appeal of a Trump even initially, or a Buttigieg. It’s the cult of personality. I’ve read a bit about the era but not much about FDR, there was a radical active left then.

      Reply
    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I realize that the MSM did not and will not cover it and as a result most people won’t even see it.

      That is why the Sanders campaign has a standalone video distribution component.

      Reply
    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      Sanders asks one thing people hate: He asks them too think. This is a sharp contrast from Obama asking us to pray. His promise is people working together can overcome obstacles, but that requires individuals choosing to participate. Obama’s was “Obama’s got this” and as a result no more hard work is needed.

      Reply
    5. voteforno6

      I’ve been waiting for someone to frame these policies from the standpoint of freedom & liberty – that could really resonate with a lot of people.

      As for book recommendations, Cass Sunstein, of all people, wrote a pretty good book on FDR’s Second Bill of Rights.

      Reply
    6. Jeremy Grimm

      You might start by reading G. William Domhoff’s analysis of the origins of the Social Security Act: [https://whorulesamerica.ucsc.edu/power/social_security.html]

      I haven’t read this book — “Class and Power in the New Deal Corporate Moderates, Southern Democrats, and the Liberal-Labor Coalition” by G. William Domhoff and Michael J. Webber (Stanford University Press, 2011).
      “Class and Power in the New Deal provides a new perspective on the origins and implementation of the three most important policies that emerged during the New Deal — the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Social Security Act. It reveals how Northern corporate moderates, representing some of the largest fortunes and biggest companies of that era, proposed all three major initiatives and explores why there were no viable alternatives put forward by the opposition.”
      I have read other books by G. William Domhoff. His writing can be dense and difficult but always insightful.

      Rather than wonder how FDR might have been elected after Hoover I think I wonder more about what happened to Henry Wallace’s bid to be nominated for Vice President joining the ailing FDR’s in his last run for President, and what happened to Wallace’s campaign for President in 1948.

      Reply
      1. BoulderMike

        Thanks for the recommendations. I will check them out. And to davidgmillsatty below, I certainly don’t hold them up as role models, I absolutely want to understand what was behind their rise to power so as to understand how such horrible things can happen, towards the objective of understanding history in the hopes of not repeating it.

        Reply
    7. davidgmillsatty

      Mao is responsible for killing about 75 million people, way more than Stalin’s 50 million and Hitler’s twenty five million.

      I don’t know that it makes a lot of sense holding him up as some role model to emulate.

      Reply
  23. dearieme

    The Standard Errors of Persistence This reminds me of a fresher stats lecture. “Now we turn to the Standard Error, which in neither an error nor standard.” This was followed by the familiar allusion to the Holy Roman Empire. Them wuz the days.

    Anyway, the paper seems to me to be an Awful Warning, a reminder that all regression work is eventually justified by assumptions made about the error structure in the data. Assumption wrong => conclusion wrong, or at least that’s the way to bet.

    In my own, possibly atypical experience, ignoring possible autocorrelation between errors when the variables change through time is (or was in my day) all too common. My impression is that economists were, on the whole, more alert to the problem than, say, chemists.

    In this case he seems not only to have the time component (now vs then) but the spatial component (here vs there). He thinks that these chaps – shall we call them social scientists or economic historians, or whatever – have made a right royal cock-up methodologically. I shouldn’t be at all surprised. Publish or perish, don’cha know.

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      (Shrug) Really? And sooo? Why the surprise? Why the shock?

      Dude, it is just another tightening of the screws over the decades from the creation of the Constitution free 100 mile wide border zones in 1953 to Bush’s enemy combatants at Gitmo to Obama’s denying lawyers access to their clients and then Congress members access to ICE facilities to ultimately these actions by Trump.

      Blog posts, magazine and newspaper articles, whole books have been written over the decades as even our increasingly supine, co-opted, and corrupt news media has occasionally reported on all this. Indeed, if you want to get more sick, just read up on the conditions in many of our prisons, and especially jails, which often are little better than a Hell on Earth and just stuffed with Americans of all types, but often whose main crime is than of poverty.

      It just keeps getting a little worse each year, each decade, under the various administrations and governments of both parties from the municipal to the state to the federal levels.

      All blessedly ignored by their fellow Americans. Just like the crowds of the homeless and the vagabonds in their cars here in the Paradise that once was California where we’ve gone from the yellow of gold in the mountains to the gold of urine on the streets.

      Welcome to Earth. Pardon me, I need more coffee.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        disgusting.
        even more disgusting since it appears to be absent from tv news.
        and yes, this should come as no surprise…and shouldn’t be blamed only on trump. this sort of thing has been on the right’s wish list forever, but we were supposed to reach across the aisle, and actually pass much of their agenda, so they wouldn’t say mean things(and the Bond Market would be happy), and avoid doing anything to either strengthen democracy, or rein in numerous and ongoing abuses of power, or say anything about forever war, and overthrowing governments or being the world’s biggest bully, ever(having actually and on purpose created the very hellscape situations many of these folks fled in the first damned place.)
        goptea and the right own this…but the supine “opposition” party “of the little guy” has the next biggest share.
        it couldn’t have gotten this far without their tacit agreement.(“we must look forward and not behind”)
        Fie! Fie! Fie on them all.
        “First, they came for the brown toddlers…”

        Reply
  24. Wukchumni

    We’re fortunate to have some very talented young classical musicians from or formerly from the Colburn School in L.A. that come and play concerts for us here. Yesterday’s ‘house concert’ was literally that-held in a large living room, with about 1/40th of the town’s population in attendance, rapt up by string theory.

    A sampler of a similar string quartet, with piano.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaxD7j5YkMI

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

    Reply
  25. Grant

    “As Democratic voters warm to free trade, White House candidates struggle for positions”

    This article is maddening. NAFTA covers far more than trade. Investor-state disputes (which Trump seems to have lessened the scope of a bit), government procurement, intellectual property, among many other things. The deal impacts the formation of unions in the US, our democracy and the environment. It impacts domestic power differentials. The original NAFTA had next to nothing on the environment or labor (scandalous if you ask me) and so side agreements had to be signed thereafter, which had no teeth and haven’t done tons.

    The US did in fact develop behind the highest average industrial tariffs of any major country from about the War of 1812 to roughly WWII, had high industrial tariffs thereafter and still has a highly protectionist agricultural system. Overall, average industrial tariffs have declined, but there is still targeted protectionism. When the left (which isn’t most Democrats) critiques “free trade”, they are critiquing far more than things like tariffs. There are lots of things about the WTO to critique from a leftist perspective that has nothing to do with trade alone. Adam Smith and David Ricardo explicitly assumed that factories would stay put. Ricardo said that when he gave his argument in regards to comparative advantage, factories staying put was actually central to Smith’s “invisible hand” reference (only mentioned once in the Wealth of Nations). Labor arbitrage, inequality and weakening unions are huge issues when capital is increasingly mobile (but labor is increasingly not), and when capital is mobile “free trade” is no longer a national developmental strategy as much as it sets up a completion to give away the most goodies to private capital. I also wonder what freeing up financial capital does to the arguments in regards to free trade, since it would seem that the capacity of financial capital to take money in and out of countries with ease would make investments in things like factories much riskier. Is there not a conflict there? Wouldn’t capitalists that invest in things like factories want stability?

    I also wonder why using the state to be involved in trade is out of the question when private interests often make profits in the modern economy by creating and externalizing a massive amount of environmental and social costs. Exploited labor is a social cost. Those things we like to buy are cheap in large part because the labor that went into making the components in the end products, and the assembly of those products, was cheap. Private interests can make things at a low cost because the social costs of producing those things are increased and effectively socialized. There are also non-market environmental impacts. If a company makes something in a place that allows private interests to create costs and to externalize those costs off on to the environment and future generations in ways they wouldn’t be able to if they produced that stuff here, would an environmental tariff (lack of a better word) not be justified? How exactly can production of this kind continue on indefinitely given the environmental crisis and given how much carbon it takes to transfer things around the vast supply chains these companies have created?

    The Democrats are collectively a bit ridiculous. I remember that during the 2016 election, especially when Bernie was still in the race and the TPP was being critiqued, support for NAFTA-like deals was very low. Bernie bowed out, Trump won the nomination and since he was critiquing deals like NAFTA, Democratic support immediately flipped. Did something radically change during that time? Did facts emerge that got people to re-think those horrible deals? Of course not, it was partisan, mindless group think. Team Democrat. How many Democrats know what the hell is in NAFTA? It isn’t like the media educates them on the matter. What exactly are the principles of the Democratic Party on any major economic issue? Anyone know? If so, how did you find out? I always hear people critique Bernie because he isn’t a Democrat. I always respond with, of course he isn’t, he actually stands for something outside of his own personal gain.

    Reply
  26. Carolinian

    Re History Workshop and “Labour’s antisemitism problem”–there are no scare quotes in the headline and presumably we are supposed to take it as a given that Labour really does have an antisemitism problem. The author doesn’t spend much time making that case other than to say that Corbyn once wrote a preface to a 1902 book that may have tinges, or more than tinges, of antisemitism while now being insufficiently apologetic for having done so. The objection is always to potential thought crimes rather than to any actions that Labour under Corbyn may have performed that would have any impact on the state of Israel itself, much less the Jewish religion in general.

    Given that Jews have a strong history as liberals, radicals and socialists–not just financiers–and of persecution under the US McCarthy movement, it seems rarther ironic that some in Britain are now taking up the cudgel against inappropriate thinking–even when it may not in fact exist. But of course this isn’t about history at all but about current power relationships. Arguments about morality are little more than a cloaking device when some of the facts are kept under wraps.

    Reply
  27. Oregoncharles

    “The Standard Errors of Persistence”
    Is there someone who understood the jargon in that abstract? I’m not sure that’s English. I’m certain I didn’t understand it, except that they think the statistical analysis in “persistence” studies is badly flawed.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i glanced at it, decided that i would rather cut brush, and…while doing that…contemplated the death of the Humanities. it’s as if the author has never read a novel, or even spoken to another human…like some secret cia program raising savants in bright white rooms.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        Cutting brush is forever; around here it’s mainly blackberries. They bribe us with tasty fruit, and are a main source of honey, but extract a blood sacrifice in return. Time to start disciplining them, which means I shouldn’t be sitting here.

        There are some partial translations of the study farther up. I guess my gist was pretty close.

        Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      The full paper isn’t any better at achieving clarity. I scanned it and came away wondering … noise in spatial data for data about people … people live in clusters not scatters so I wonder about this result … but then I don’t understand this result or the arguments supporting it. This babble-jargon is not a problem with the humanities or with mathematics or the sciences. It is ubiquitous to academic writing. I cannot believe clear communication is its intent nor has any argument for the need to use jargon convinced me of its value for specialists. It best serves to occult the work of one specialty from other specialties and protect its ‘wisdom’ from the un-washed and un-annointed.

      Reply
  28. Susan Mulloy

    Importance of landlord/tenant struggles: In my area and California in general, this conflict will have major impacts on our civic future. Thank you to Lambert for your links. I am based in the Bay Area but keep a watchful eye on LA. It seems to me that the LA Times and the LA County Health Department are leading the way on dealing with the suffering that is resulting. As a result of the Times’ recent stories and editorials,the LA mayor is now taking some responsibility for the problem. The county health department is telling the city that it has to supply toilets, hand washing stations, garbage services, and rat control to the thousands living in tents and shanties. Some LA supervisors and the LA Times are saying that preventing tenants from losing their homes is the only way to stop a catastrophe from occurring. Still the real estate class is focused on getting as much surplus as is possible from a hostage population. Some numbers: 59,000 are now homeless in LA County (36.3 k in the City of LA), 700,000 facing homelessness in the county due to major mismatch between income and rent. In my Bay Area, government response has been to evict campers and to pass new restrictions on overnight parking of RV’s and cars. To say the least, it will be interesting to see how this evolves.

    Reply
  29. laughingsong

    “Prince of Whales”

    It seems Mr. President can’t spell the name of any country in which he doesn’t own an effin’ golf course.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      In Pavlovegas, a ‘whale’ is a term of endowment for denizens of the deep pocket, often in need of reinforcement.

      “A high roller, also referred to as a whale, is a gambler who consistently wagers large amounts of money. High rollers often receive lavish “comps” from casinos to lure them onto the gambling floors, such as free private jet transfers, limousine use and use of the casinos’ best suites.”

      Reply
    2. BobWhite

      Maybe it was just some misogynistic attack on Camilla?
      (that would be in his wheel house)
      Then there is the minor issue that the royal family is not really “government”…

      Reply
  30. JBird4049

    Some LA supervisors and the LA Times are saying that preventing tenants from losing their homes is the only way to stop a catastrophe from occurring. Still the real estate class is focused on getting as much surplus as is possible from a hostage population. Some numbers: 59,000 are now homeless in LA County (36.3 k in the City of LA), 700,000 facing homelessness in the county due to major mismatch between income and rent. In my Bay Area, government response has been to evict campers and to pass new restrictions on overnight parking of RV’s and cars. To say the least, it will be interesting to see how this evolves.

    I am always just baffled at the refusal to see all the homeless or to note the increasing difference between housing costs and income. It is just common sense, but many say that “they” refuse to work or want to live out on the streets for some reason. As if the homeless were some of beast.

    It used to be normal to rent an apartment, even if it was skeezy, or a working couple a house on a very modest, even near minimum wage, income. Those days are long, long gone, and yet the reality of $15 per jobs and $2,500 per month studios is ignored. It has been a real problem and getting worse for at least thirty years. Just what will it take to get just started on solving this disaster?

    Reply
  31. Tomonthebeach

    The faux outrage over Trump’s comments on opposition research

    I found this article to be disturbing on the heels of Trump and Conway laughing like 2-bit scoff-laws at her Hatch Act violations and later on Trump’s televised encouragement of foreign meddling in US elections.
    Conway was even defiant to the point of asserting that her violations will continue. That the WAPO article laughed off the collusion invitation as fake outrage (like fake news?) is flabergasting.

    Ignoring the crimes of the President and high officials is exactly how Germans reacted to Hitler’s outrageous support for events like Kristallnacht and many other Nazi atrocities – no big deal. Then one day they woke up to Nazi Germany and WW-II.

    If Pelosi blocks impeachment, then she too is in collusion with this lawless administration.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Compared to what is an unsuccessful attempt at a “soft coup” against a duly elected President, the “impeachment” imbroglio is small stuff. Indeed, they are part of the same institutional rottenness.
      Comparing Trump to the Nazis is quite a stretch. I’d rather compare the Intell Agencies to those thugs of yesteryear, because, they included many of the former thugs in their growing fiefdoms via “Operation Paperclip.”
      Somehow, I think that you have it all backwards.

      Reply
  32. davidgmillsatty

    The beef article. What a ludicrous crock of $$hit.

    I wonder if these people ever stop to comprehend what our ancestors, especially those who lived in harsh northern climates, ate to survive and what their bodies adapted to? Hint. It was meat. Now maybe if your ancestors had five or ten or more millennia of eating carbohydrates, they adapted to eating carbs and carbs work for you.

    But it is such a stupid notion that every human can thrive on carbs when so many societies of the ancient and recent past lived primarily on meat or were hunter gatherers.

    But then again, most people who write these articles are clueless when it comes to matters of real science, not pseudo social science.

    If your ancestors lived in the frozen north, basic Darwinian theory predicts they were meat eaters or they didn’t survive. So how good is a diet for you going to be, when your ancestors never had the chance to adapt to it?

    Reply

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