Links 7/18/19

Notre-Dame came far closer to collapsing than people knew. This is how it was saved. NYT. Looks like the MCAS team has international reach:

The fire warning system at Notre-Dame took dozens of experts six years to put together, and in the end involved thousands of pages of diagrams, maps, spreadsheets and contracts, according to archival documents found in a suburban Paris library by The Times.

The result was a system so arcane that when it was called upon to do the one thing that mattered — warn “fire!” and say where — it produced instead a nearly indecipherable message.

Von Der Leyen’s Election Is a Big Moment for Europe Der Spiegel

Madam President-elect, you’ve got mail Politico

Which is worse? Adam Tooze, LRB. German domestic politics. Important!

The French Insurgency: Political Economy of the Gilets Jaunes New Left Review. Heavy on the conceptual apparatus, but rich with information.


House of Lords passes amendment to help prevent no-deal Brexit Guardian

Michel Barnier: Theresa May ‘never’ threatened EU with no-deal Brexit Politico


US preparing to send hundreds of troops to Saudi Arabia amid Iran tensions CNN

Seeking to avoid escalation, ships deploy unarmed guards to navigate Gulf Reuters

Russia throws weight behind EU effort to boost Iran trade FT

Why the S-400 and the F-35 Can’t Get Along Defense One

Five years on, no answers to who felled MH17 Asia Times. The Malaysian view. Part two tomorrow.

The roots of Putin’s power over Russia FT


‘No rioters, only a tyrannical regime’: Thousands of Hong Kong seniors march in support of young extradition law protesters Hong Kong Free Press. About 9,000, but impressive it happened at all.

Another massive march in Hong Kong secures approval despite police earlier asking organisers to postpone over safety concerns South China Morning Post

* * *
Trump and Xi Are Struggling to Find Path Forward in Trade Talks Bloomberg

China Vs. The U.S. Treasury: Why Beijing Won’t Use The ‘Nuclear Option’ Of Selling American Debt SupChina

Puncturing the picture of poverty elimination in China Asia Dialogue

Foreign purchases of American homes plunge 36% as Chinese buyers flee the market CNBC (J-LS).

The Future of China’s Amphibious Assault Fleet The Diplomat

‘Invoking’ defense pact, Duterte calls on US to send fleet to China The Philippine Star


We may not get good monsoon in coming years also: GP Sharma, Skymet India Times (J-LS).

Trump Transition

Effort to force Trump impeachment vote fails in House of Representatives Vox (the resolution).

Senate Approves Tax Treaties for First Time in Decade NYT


Trump administration diverts Central America aid to U.S.-backed opposition in Venezuela Los Angeles Times

Leaked Secret Messages Show Puerto Rico’s Governor & Aides Deriding Many — and Mocking Ricky Martin’s Sexuality USA Today

Thousands call on Puerto Rico’s governor to resign in massive protest CBS

Brasil under Lula & Dilma disrupted US plans for South America, says former ambassador BrasilWire

Investors balk at Mexico’s plan to breathe new life into Pemex FT


The Right and Left Hands of the State — Two Patients at Risk of Deportation New England Journal of Medicine

What we can learn from the revolutionary passport that helped 1920s refugees Quartz


‘Send her back,’ crowd chants at Rep. Omar during Trump campaign rally in NC News and Observer

The 2020 campaign will be more racially divisive than 2016 was The Economist

Bernie Sanders defends Medicare for All plan against ‘misinformation’ as fight with Biden heats up CNN (video of Sanders speech).

Health Care

Democratic lawmakers accuse their own party of proposing ‘deep’ cuts to health centers for poor WaPo. Correctly! And:


House votes to repeal Obamacare’s ‘Cadillac tax’ Modern Healthcare

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Privacy concerns over viral photo apps are totally valid. But they’re also often overblown Vox and FaceApp responds to privacy concerns TechCrunch

I-Team: Florida DMV sells your personal information to private companies, marketing firms WFTS

EFF Hits AT&T With Class Action Lawsuit for Selling Customers’ Location to Bounty Hunters Vice (J-LS).

Police State Watch

Digital Jail: How Electronic Monitoring Drives Defendants Into Debt Pro Publica

The Cash Value of Truth: One Gun Trace Task Force victim’s case will help decide if the City is responsible for the actions of dirty cops Baltimore Beat

Class Warfare

There are 16 million slaves around the world making our stuff Quartz (Re Silc).

Disney calls Abigail Disney’s remarks about workers’ pay ‘gross and unfair’ Los Angeles Times

Why Raising the MInimum Wage is a Critical LGBTQ Issue  Advocate

Corporate tax cuts blocked at least 15,000 affordable homes in California. Here’s how Sacramento Bee

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. PlutoniumKun

    Why the S-400 and the F-35 Can’t Get Along Defense One

    A key point I’ve been wondering about:

    Kofman pointed out that the S-400 that the Russians are selling to Turkey is an export-approved version, slightly different from the one that the Russians are using.

    “Russians are not crying about selling their best tech to a NATO country, despite the obvious implications for technology access. That should make us wonder,” he said.

    The Russians have been happy to sell the S-400 even to the Saudi’s, and this means pretty much guaranteed access by US and Israeli intelligence. Either they are truly desperate for the sales, or more likely they really have two parallel systems – an export one and a ‘real’ one.

    In the 1980’s, the US successfully got an agent into a key department in Moscow who leaked a vast amount of technical information on all export Migs and Sukhoi – this is one reason why for 2 decades or more Soviet built aircraft had little or no success against US or Israeli attack in the Middle East. I wonder if a response to this was to build parallel systems, meaning they can safely export slightly degraded weapons systems without fear of compromising their domestic systems. Either that, or they are super confident about creating hack-proof software.

    This of course is yet another problem with over-designed systems like the F-35. They are in effect too smart – allowing all customers too much access to fundamental systems. This makes them extremely vulnerable – if the Chinese or Russians managed to get full access to their software (for example, if a customer decided just to sell one), then the entire system is completely compromised and essentially useless.

    1. vlade

      There’s another, slightly different angle to this. Weapons these days are really parts of ecosystems.

      I don’t really know how much of the S400 ecosystem was sold to Turkey or Saudis. But the more of the ecosystem you sell, the harder it is to have parallel HW systems (still allows you to have dumb SW vs full-feature SW, but even that is a bit harder as you sell more of the ecosystem).

      1. PlutoniumKun

        That’s true of course, but it does seem that the Turks have a specific objective for the S-400 which would allow it to more or less stand alone – i.e. its to provide protection to Erdogan in the event of another coup which may well have Nato backing.

        As a broader point though, I think the fact that weapons systems are ecosystems these days may be recognised as their achilles heel. Countries like Iran seem to be going the other way – by deliberate fragmentation of their defences they make them a little less effective, but far more robust in the event of an all spectrum attack by a larger enemy.

        1. vlade

          TBH, that’s for me just a different ecosystem :). The main point is that you have to get the various parts working together in some reasonable way, and not get in the way.

          I do agree that a lot of states go for the ‘sexy’ solution, but those are inherently more complex, which is a weakness on its own.

          An example for me are crewless turrets. It sounds like a great idea, but in practice makes the tank commander having to rely on indirect inputs way more than ever before And that wasn’t really ever tested in proper battlefield conditions before (military exercises cannot ever replicate the chaos and fear IMO). Works for Navy, because there’s no real alternative. May work for air combat, but land combat will be IMO always up-close-and-personal (especially urban), so I have my doubts how well it can work there.

          So there’s a lot of money spent on solution that the armies hope will work as advertised, but have no real idea.

          1. ambrit

            My favourite example of the “keep it simple” philosophy in weaponry are all those Syrian tanks with welded cages full of big rocks hanging on the sides of the turrets to defeat armour piercing shells and rockets. When it comes to survival, the man or woman ‘on the spot’ can be relied upon to become very creative.
            A literal form of Darwinian Selection.

              1. ambrit

                I think I was trying to say that the Syrian “Rock Cages” were a poor man’s solution to the problem. No one ever has everything he or she needs when confronting adversity. Adaptability is the key.
                Man, I never thought it through about Army bulldozers. That IDF version, with a machine gun on the roof! That suggests that the Palestinians are shooting back at the Israeli teams that come in to do the “collective punishment” building demolitions. Funny how we don’t hear much about that.

                1. Bill Smith

                  Not sure they are very effective and I wouldn’t want to be an infantryman walking nearby.

                  Often these are more to make the tank crew feel better than actual work.

        2. JohnnyGL

          “but it does seem that the Turks have a specific objective for the S-400 which would allow it to more or less stand alone – i.e. its to provide protection to Erdogan in the event of another coup which may well have Nato backing.”

          Yeah, that would seem to rule out the Libyan-style operation with NATO air-cover helping localized ground forces.

      2. redleg

        What if high-tech weapons systems are meant to generate revenue instead of fight contested wars?
        What if one of the players decided to strategically design weapons systems explicitly to fight the (adversaries’) high-tech, revenue generating weapons, as well as developing tactics to go along with the systems, and then keep them off the market?
        In my professional opinion (as a former Army officer), the former appears to be the hubris-saturated US, and the latter Russia.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Makes you wonder if the older S-300 system that the Russians sold the Iranians is a stock standard export model or whether a few tweaks and upgrades have been snuck through over time.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you and well said, Gentlemen.

        With regard to a real one and an export one, it’s not dissimilar to training at British military academies. Cadets from certain countries, even if friendly for the moment, are excluded from some classes.

        1. Synoia

          I was a civilian student at a UK military university, and excluded from some lectures.

          Colonel, I will be in the uk in september. Can you send me your email address to dh at so we can meet for a pint?

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Many thanks, Synoia. I will e-mail this evening and look forward to meeting you.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        There are so many variants of those Russian systems around that the names hardly mean anything anymore. The Russians of course will be cautious considering the Iranian skill in copycatting nearly everything they get their hands on. But I’ve no doubt that the Iranians would have requested quite a high price for access to those US stealth drones they got their hands on.

    3. Bill Smith

      The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal by David Hoffman

      The source was a walk in.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    There are 16 million slaves around the world making our stuff Quartz

    Odd how the article neglected to mention that the one country in the world where slave labour is in fact legal – i.e. within the US penal system, which by almost every internationally recognised definition, constitutes slavery.

    1. TroyIA

      Kanye West was saying how the 13th amendment to the constitution allowed slavery in the U. S. I thought he was ridiculous until I actually read it for myself.

      Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

      If you are convicted of a crime you can be forced into slavery or involuntary servitude.

      1. neo-realist

        During the reconstruction period, lawmen in some southern states would arrest free blacks for vagrancy if they could not show proof of employment and serve them up to white employers to work like dogs for peanuts. The “slavery by another name”.

      2. Geo

        Ava DuVerney’s documentary “The 13th” goes into detail on the subject and Eugene Jarecki’s documentary “The House I Live In” explores both the history and its wider social impacts in the current system.

        I highly recommend both. Especially Jarecki’s doc which is stunningly well made and emotionally gripping.

    2. Softie

      The US Corporate Prisons have about 25% the world’s inmate population. And on average US inmates make less than $1 an hour, and are forced to pay exorbitant fines imposed by court, and high prices for basic necessities inside jail. If they don’t have enough funds, they are forced to take out loans charging high interest. If they can’t make the payment on time after they are released from jail, they will be thrown back again.

      Chris Hedges writes in his America – The Farewell Tour,

      Prisoners are ideal employees. They do not receive benefits or pensions. They earn under a dollar an hour. Some are forced to work for free. They are not paid overtime. They are forbidden to organize and strike. They must show up on time. They are not paid for sick days or granted vacations. They cannot alter working conditions or complain about safety hazards. If they are disobedient, or attempt to protest their pitiful wages and working conditions, they lose their jobs and are often segregated in isolation cells. The roughly one million prisoners who work for corporations and government industries in the American prison system are a blueprint for what the corporate state expects us all to become. And corporations have no intention of permitting prison reforms to reduce the size of their bonded workforce. In fact, they are seeking to replicate these conditions throughout the society.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Just to underline the point, when Kamala Harris was in California as Attorney General, she sought to keep prisoners in prison even though they should have been released. The reason was that those prisoners were needed as “cheap” workers for the economy. Tough luck if you happened to be one of those prisoners due for release.

      2. Procopius

        IIRC that’s why Kamala Harris opposed prison reform in California — it would reduce the available (cheap) labor supply. I believe she has not apologized for that, nor tried to justify it, nor explained it. I will have a very hard time voting for Harris as the Lesser Of Two Evils candidate if the DNC chooses her. Maybe I’ll write Chthulhu in.

    3. Tom Doak

      Just the other day, I was staying in a hotel, which placed a card to proudly note that the floral displays were provided by a local prison rehabilitation program. It was presented as a charitable endeavor, though in fact it was likely done at rock bottom prices to take advantage of the laborers. Sadly, the presence of the sign means that most guests of the hotel are oblivious to the reality.

      1. Oh

        I’ll betcha that there’s a middleman nursery that’s making a sizable profit on this “charitable endeavor”.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    ‘No rioters, only a tyrannical regime’: Thousands of Hong Kong seniors march in support of young extradition law protesters Hong Kong Free Press. About 9,000, but impressive it happened at all.

    Another massive march in Hong Kong secures approval despite police earlier asking organisers to postpone over safety concerns South China Morning Post

    A small anecdote: I was chatting online to the friend of a friend, a HKer with family roots in the mainland. She lives in HK, works for a major financial institution. Like most Chinese (as opposed to ‘real’ HKers) she keeps her political views to herself. She brought up without prompting that the situation in HK is terrible (I was surprised, as its well known that these online chats are monitored and censored, I never ask Chinese friends their views when using WeChat, etc).

    She mentioned that the had just moved her elderly parents to an apartment she owns in Shenzen. I tried to extract from her what exactly her fear was – i.e. a fear of riots or something else. It was pretty clear that her fear is that when it all cools down, Beijing will have its revenge, and it will not be particularly tightly focused.

    1. Louis Fyne

      To be cynical, if I was Beijing, I’d want a student/mass protest movement (even covertly foster one)…to legitimatize a “emergency” and “temporary (wink)” in HK or a change to the current constitutional regime.

      And of course the US public is not going to want war over the constitutional status of HK.

      Make any mass movement scary enough and the neo-gentry will be begging for law and order.

      1. Olga

        It is instructive to watch the differences in reporting about Gilets Jaunes and HK protests. Not a whiff of hypocrisy, none at all!

      2. John k

        They could at any time take over hk, but it’s not so simple. Beijing still hopes to persuade Taiwan to come back to China, presumably with the two systems carrot. Taiwan is divided on this issue…
        The problem is not to fool the us, it’s to fool the Taiwanese regarding the pretext of restoring order.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Trust no one, suspect everyone…Beijing, DC, Taibei, Moscow, etc.

          All have something to gain, or something to lose there in HK.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            I continue to believe that a quasi-unintegrated HK is very useful to Beijing. Still plenty of Red Army generals rocking up to jewelers in HK with suitcases of cash buying gold bars. And Shanghai fin markets will not overtake HK for global connectivity anytime soon.

    2. Jeff W

      …her fear is that when it all cools down, Beijing will have its revenge, and it will not be particularly tightly focused.

      Well, there’s this report from the SCMP today, which is not inconsistent with your friend’s view: “China scrambles to deliver new Hong Kong strategy –but military response not an option.”

      There’s all this chatter in the piece about “a strategy” to keep Hong Kong “stable” and “prevent the unrest from spreading” but probably the easiest, most effective strategy is acceeding to at least some of the protesters’ demands: formally withdraw the extradition bill (which Chief Executive Carrie Lam already concedes is “dead,” at least when she speaks English), have Lam resign, and carry out an official inquiry into the police violence.

      None of this is particularly radical—it’s what would happen in normal civil society—but Hong Kong is, apparently, not that—which is kind of what the protests are about. (The unamed pro-Beijing source says removing Lam “would only create confusion, undermine the local government’s authority and split the pro-establishment camp” but that just seems to be a lot of hand-waving to me—”because reasons”; basically, Beijing doesn’t want to have that happen.)

      And then there’s this disquieting passage:

      While the restraint on the use of force by police has prevented tensions from escalating, it has also had an impact on officers’ morale. The key now, [“sources”] say, is to strike a balance.

      What does that even mean? The police’s morale suffers unless they can be less restrained? Let them spray some tear gas and crack a few heads and they’ll be happier? There has to be some “balance struck”—we need some police restraint but not too much? (And this “balance” is in the context of Hong Kong protests where the crowds are notably orderly and clear the way for ambulances.) And even though the entire article is about “prevent[ing] tensions from escalating,” if there’s “an impact on officers’ morale,” by all means, let’s “strike a balance.”

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It was pretty clear that her fear is that when it all cools down, Beijing will have its revenge, and it will not be particularly tightly focused.

      I don’t see what the endgame is for either the protesters or the Mainland.

  4. Pat

    It will be interesting to see whether the repeal of the Cadillac tax gets through the Senate. On one hand it targets healthcare benefits largely held by unions members (and in the C suite, although the HSA finagles protect them), on the other hand it reduces a beloved tax break. We will ignore that the tax has an inadequate inflation structure and with the sky high premium increases, it won’t only be so called Cadillac plans effected over time, since I am not sure how many of our esteemed Senators get that.
    The article mentions how busy the Senate is, so the logical thing for McConnell is to just put it at the back and ignore it. We’ll see.

    1. ambrit

      Repealing that tax must be an ideological touchstone for conservatives. McConnell knows who supplies the butter slathered on his toast. Instead of putting ‘it’ “at the back,” he will probably tell the “rest of us” to just “lay back and enjoy it.”

      1. Pat

        The peons have to lie back and enjoy it regardless of whether the Cadillac tax is repealed or not. It is all fan fare and flourishes. Unless and until single payer or a highly enforced deeply restrictive regulation system for insurance, pharma, private medicine is passed, healthcare will continue to be more expensive than most Americans can afford for anything but self care.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Trump administration diverts Central America aid to U.S.-backed opposition in Venezuela”

    It may sound tough taking money away from programs meant for children in poor South American nations and giving it to Greedo and his henchmen but all those hookers and blow aren’t going to pay for themselves, are they now?

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Reverend.

      That is not as facetious as it sounds as escort “donations”, or the elite ones catering for that market, are going up in London. Dunno about blow, through.

  6. Wukchumni

    Visitation to all National Parks was down for first time in many years in 2018, and i’m hearing tales of less business within the confines of Sequoia NP here from a few sources this summer. Something like a 10-20% drop in numbers from last year.

    English tends to be a second language in Sequoia & Yosemite NP’s, as many foreign visitors come to visit. There have been times on the free shuttle bus within the park here, where i’ve heard conversations in 6 or 7 different languages on board.

    I wonder if our guests from overseas are staying away, in droves?

    I’m not seeing as many this year…

      1. Pat

        Anecdotal but most Broadway shows that make it through the First quarter slump make it through to Labor Day. There are always a couple that hope for a Tony bump and close if it doesn’t significantly increase their box office, but they usually close in the two weeks following the telecast. This season has seen multiple shoes that should have had a tourism boost close or announce closings in the next few weeks. The shoes that are doing well are really doing well, but…

        Expect more short term expensive concert “events” versus even limited run shows now that shows starring Adam Driver, Kerri Russell, and BRoadway legend Audra McDonald have to close early. (Both of those shows should have had no problem completing their announced runs if tourism was normal.)

    1. Bugs Bunny

      This rabbit went through the US immigration and TSA kabuki a few times this past year and I would be very reluctant to put a family through that nightmare just to do some tourism. The food is also getting much worse for the 90%. Spend your money elsewhere.

    2. tongorad

      The places I wanted to go in Colorado this summer were booked months in advance. Ganja tourism?

  7. PlutoniumKun

    The Right and Left Hands of the State — Two Patients at Risk of Deportation New England Journal of Medicine

    I haven’t listened to the full audio, but the introduction says that an ED nurse reported an illegal immigrant – is this normal in the US? I’m a little shocked if it is, certainly every medical person I know on this side of the Atlantic would not even consider asking a patient for their personal status, even if they were pretty sure they were illegal, it would be considered highly unethical. Even if the patient volunteered the information they would never report it to the authorities.

    1. divadab

      I suspect the nurse was acting on personal motivations rather than any employment-based procedures. Freelancing, in the vernacular.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Actually, the incident happened in London.

      In the ED, Nurse M. took down Ms. Z.’s details, noting that her immigration status was ambiguous. The ED doctor explained to Ms. Z. that her symptoms resulted from panic and trauma. He provided instructions on registering for a full assessment and ongoing National Health Service (NHS) care at the local family medicine clinic, emphasizing that the care is free regardless of patients’ immigration or financial status. But as Ms. Z. left the ED, she was arrested. She spent a month in detention until a lawyer specializing in human trafficking arranged for her release.

      It was later revealed that Ms. Z. had been arrested because Nurse M. had called the police, believing that undocumented immigrants were “illegal” and did not deserve care. The nurse’s action was a direct response to recent training she’d attended about a new NHS Visitor and Migrant Cost Recovery Programme that restricts free access to hospital care for migrants. Nurse M. felt responsible for protecting the health service from abuse by migrants who were said to be attracted to the United Kingdom because of its health and welfare system.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        That’s quite an eye opener – the NHS has always been quite firm that sick peoples immigration status is not its business. It goes to show how things are degrading.

  8. PlutoniumKun

    Which is worse? Adam Tooze, LRB. German domestic politics. Important!

    Dense reading, but it really is very informative. So much foreign reporting of German politics sees Merkel as a sort of benign maternal all seeing figure, wisely guiding her country through fraught times. The truth is far more complex. She may well have managed to destroy the existing system through the ruthless shoring up of her own personal base.

    The SPD of course has paid the price for buying into neoliberalism. But it seems that almost by accident it set the stage for a far more progressive left politics. The worry I would have though is that the left (as usual) gets wrapped up in gestural politics and faction fighting and the CDU decides to keep its power by wooing the far right. I need hardly mention the historic precedents.

    1. Mike

      Astute observation, and reminds me of the fall of Mitterand in France (i.e., the epic battle between Mitterand and the Banque de France). The specifics of his failure represented an early version of neo-liberal austerity, AFAIK. As for setting the stage for Left advances, it would seem it was more an international challenge to the Left to devise a new, more centrally focused platform and opposition to such “market” forces. Showed, instead, the fractured nature of Left politics and the weakness it had when both the Euro-Communist and Socialist parties had been brought to heel. A weakness continuing today, to the detriment of progressive policy enforcement anywhere.

    2. Old Jake

      How different is this “left” from any other human clade? Only partly a rhetorical question; it seems to me we all want to think we are exceptional and our perceived strengths and weaknesses are not a mirror of the opposition or the rest of the world. Some are, some aren’t and they may only be different when examined at close range. I suspect a psycho-historian (ours as well as Mr. Azimov’s) and maybe one John Michael Greer would say we are an ergodic system.

      We tend to look closely at ourselves, and leftists may be more introspective than the conservative right, who have been accused of being anti-intellectual with notable exceptions.

      I started on the SPD review, got bogged down, and then had to pay attention to mundane activities, perhaps I’ll take another pass at it. If the SPD or an improved social democrat movement could rise again like the phoenix, perhaps we can do the same when our Democrat edifice finds a way to melt down completely. I wish I knew how to hurry it along, I’m getting old and wish I could see the end if not the new beginning.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I guess I see it much more simply than all this. I can recall when I was a political science student in Paris, it wasn’t good enough to declare you were “a communist”, you had to specify whether you were a “neo-Trotskyite”, a “Menshivik” or some other diced up flavor. Of course these factions all spent themselves arguing how many (communist) angels would fit on the head of a pin. All strategy and no tactics.

        No. Let’s cast it very simply: Us versus Them. Them is the 10,000 or so globalist billionaires and the political leaders they bought and paid for. Us: the 7,999,990,000 rest of us. “They” have common cause: unbridled theft from the poor and the building of giant untaxed empires sequestered from public view, oversight, regulation and taxation. To state the obvious: “we” have common cause too. From the llama herder high in the Andes to the factory worker in China to the call center worker in India to the guy slinging KFC in Nashville, Tennessee.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > To state the obvious: “we” have common cause too. From the llama herder high in the Andes to the factory worker in China to the call center worker in India to the guy slinging KFC in Nashville, Tennessee.

          ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished…

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > How different is this “left” from any other human clade?

        “Clade” is “a taxonomic group of organisms classified together on the basis of homologous features traced to a common ancestor.” Is that really the word you want?

  9. PlutoniumKun

    The Future of China’s Amphibious Assault Fleet The Diplomat

    Very military nerdy, but important. Via the old cliché that you judge people from what they say, not what they do, its always best to judge a countries intentions (malign or benign) from what they spend their military budget on. The Chinese are investing huge sums in medium range amphibious assault vessels. Its no wonder the Taiwanese are worried.

    1. ambrit

      Watch Washington “sell” Taipei a shipload of anti-ship missiles. And not even trying to disguise it by selling the items through a third party. This is going to be an “Interesting Times” trigger item.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The Taiwanese already have their own anti-ship missiles. They even accidentally tested one on one of their own fishing boats.

        I think the Taiwanese are too cautious to try to purchase anything that would be seen as very obviously ‘anti-Chinese’, their US purchases are generic weapons. But they do really want the VSTOL version of the F-35 as its the only advanced aircraft that could operate if its runways were knocked out (these would of course be China’s prime target). This would definitely be a ‘trigger’ for the Chinese.

        1. ambrit

          What about aircraft sales from South Korea and or Japan? Home made Taiwanese aircraft? America isn’t the only nation with a military aircraft industry. Why, even Brasil, through Embraer makes quite useful and versatile light aircraft suitable for military uses. In defending a fixed position, the biggest and “best” isn’t necessarily the optimal tool for the job. A Taiwanese version of the venerable A-10 would be a fearsome threat to any sea borne invader. The A-10 is also somewhat versatile, witness this of some A-10s using a dirt runway!
          On a side note, I wonder if the Taiwanese military has learned any useful lessons from the Japanese stay behinds who fought against the Americans in the Pacific? An amphibious invasion of Taiwan would be similar to those campaigns, just different in scale.
          If the Mainland Chinese do try an amphibious invasion of the island, it will make the Normandy landings look like a practice run.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            China puts enormous pressure on nearly all nations not to sell weapons to Taiwan, that includes Japan and South Korea. Taiwan does have its own indigenous combat aircraft, the Ching-kuo along with its own quite high quality missiles. But it wouldn’t be up for combat with the latest generation Chinese aircraft.

            Taiwan has long planned for an invasion, there was a link here a few months ago featuring a speech from their armed forces head – they have a large indigenous weapons industry and their army is almost entirely designed for one purpose only – stopping an amphibious invasion.

            1. Kurt Sperry

              If your country is an island — almost irrespective of the specific threat environment — stopping an amphibious invasion will be defense priority one by default.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                How relevant is the debate at the time of Normandy invastion by the Germans about whether to fight at the beach or further inland?

                In Guadacanal, I think, the Imperial Japanse Army made the decsion, for whatever reason (manpower? firepower?) to not oppose the Marines at the beach.

                This relates to the recent news about Taiwa wanting to buy US tanks.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Invading an island…

            Beijing had been trying to capture, and Taibei defending, Quemoy (Kinmen) for decades, until the tiny island is now a tourist attraction.

            Will Taiwan become the new Quemoy, and can we expect something like the 823 Artillery Bombardment?

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > But they do really want the VSTOL version of the F-35 as its the only advanced aircraft

          Hmm. And I had thought the VSTOL was due to the idiocy of the Marines. Hmm….

    2. bwilli123

      I suspect the Amphibious craft are more likely to be used on the various sand bars of the Spratly’s and the many contested islands in the South China Sea.
      In the event of hostilities, an invasion force crossing a contested Taiwan Strait would suffer enormous casualties. It’s not like the Islanders would not see them coming, or be diverted like at Normandy.
      Attacking an island is like attacking a Castle. Far easier to eventually choke it into submission by restricting the external trade it depends upon , via a Submarine blockade for example, or even merely the threat of one.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Militarily, you are right of course that a blockade would be much more sensible, but the problem with that for the Chinese is that it could last for months or even years, and so give the US/Japan/South Korea the time and space to respond. Maybe with a Berlin style airlift, or maybe a declaration that they would attack any submarine attacking a Taiwanese vessel. Not to mention counter-sanctions. So this is a case where political considerations would outweigh military considerations.

        So I think the Chinese probably believe that a short term knockout blow – a complete fait accompli – is the only guarantee of victory. When you look at the sheer number of landing vessels they’ve built, its hard to avoid the conclusion that this is part of their strategy.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          My guess is the Chinese defense position isn’t dissimilar to the Soviet one. Its not about attack but about making wunder weapons destroy blunder weapons at a one to one rate, then have weapons and vehicles capable of being reorganized on the fly on a less than stellar communication system, preventing surgical strikes and occupation, while presenting an option to retaliate.

          Could the modern U.S. Warrior copy right U.S. Regular Army have done what soldiers of the Army of the United States (which is defunct at the moment) did in Normandy after being shot to hell which was to reorganize and achieve objectives on the fly? With EMP warfare, Central Command and airlift operations to individual targets won’t be possible.

          There are other issues like how long can the U.S. aviation fleet sustain activity before engines have to be rebuilt. What if the U.S. doesn’t knock out everything airborne in the first two weeks? Does the U.S. have the planes or pilots to continue the kind of suppressive actions which have allowed U.S. ground forces to move unfettered?

          Taiwanese reunification likely isn’t a concern to Beijing in any real way, but the U.S. launching strikes from a Florida against people it has agreements with is.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Reunification concerns the legitimacy of Beijing.

            It should be a top concern – now, as far as public pronouncements go, and at some time in the near future, If I recall vaguely what Xi had said recently.

      2. ambrit

        I dunno bout that. The Generals of past regimes have shown scant concern for casualty figures. Witness the horrific casualty figures for the Western Front of WW-1. That was between two essentially independent and different countries. China though is a special case of a Civil War that has dragged on for decades. The “reunification” of China is probably an article of faith to most patriotic Chinese. The casualties China absorbed during the Korean Police Action, not even in China proper, display a resolve and ‘courage of their convictions’ the West would be wise to take into account in their planning.
        I suspect that the primary unexpected outcome of the West’s “Engagement Doctrine” with China has been to reintroduce a form of the Confucian Mandarinate into the governing system there.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          China’s courage of conviction.

          When two Chinas oppose each other, then is this: An immovable object vs. an unstoppable force?

  10. PlutoniumKun



    House of Lords passes amendment to help prevent no-deal Brexit Guardian

    Michel Barnier: Theresa May ‘never’ threatened EU with no-deal Brexit Politico

    Weirdly, one Irish left-leaning thinktank has identified no Brexit as an economic threat to Ireland – the big danger now is overheating and its suggesting that if Brexit is stopped or postponed then the economy will be in trouble. I can’t access the main report, but it seems to be implying that a lot of companies are front-loading purchasing and investments due to uncertainty, and if this keeps going it will overheat:

    “The economy will be overheating by the end of our forecast horizon, and perhaps even by the end of this year, assuming a benign, or at least delayed, outcome to the Brexit crisis,” the report said.

    It just goes to show I think that Brexit has become like a malign brain infection, destroying everything it touches. Nobody seems to have any idea what it means anymore. Perfect times for a PM Johnson.

    1. Anonymous2

      Well I have seen it all now. It is being reported that serious consideration is being given to asking the Queen to go the next Council of Ministers meeting in Brussels as it is feared Johnson may be too unreliable to represent the UK, You could not make it up.

  11. PlutoniumKun

    Puncturing the picture of poverty elimination in China Asia Dialogue

    This article gives quite a good summary of the ‘real’ impact of Chinese growth. While the living standards of most Chinese has undoubtedly raised, its not in any way unambiguous that most people have really benefited.

    A new pension system created to provide for those without any provision (i.e. urban-registered people whose enterprises were unable to compensate them or supply them with a pension when they went out of business; those who had worked in collective firms and were not entitled to enterprise-funded pensions; and city residents who had never worked) recently raised the level of its hand-out to a mere 88 Chinese dollars per month. This is far, far below the sum accorded by the Minimum Livelihood Guarantee.

    It would thus seem that there could be a more robust interpretation for the collapse in funds and their beneficiaries: weakened by their meagre diet and without any hope of change, the recipients of this allowance have become muted and are no longer to be found protesting on municipal streets. Stability has therefore been achieved, and the government can be oblivious to their existence.

    One of the great ‘what ifs’ of recent history is the question of whether China could have achieved its growth while also building on the basic ‘iron ricebowl’ of communism days – in other words, if it could have gone in a more social democratic direction, by building up welfare systems in synch with its growing economy. Sadly, there seems little appetite within China for stepping back in that direction.

    1. ImmigrantWorker

      I’m currently working in Beijing. Even where individuals are out of “poverty”, expectations for their living and working are hardly what I’d call dignified.

    1. Lynne

      They’ve just got to slice and dice the population, don’t they? Goodness knows, we wouldn’t want anyone supporting a proposal because it was good for everyone

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        I’m beginning to think that linking important, necessary national policy change proposals to more controversial issues is a way to stealthily sabotage them while pretending to support them.

        Insisting Medicare for All, or whatever you want to call a desperately needed national healthcare program, cover all illegal aliens is another example. Suggesting that a proposal already under scathing attack for being too expensive, socialist, and “choice” and job-killing should be extended to every person here illegally at a time when many americans, rightly or wrongly, feel that the country is being besieged by foreigners would seem to be a sure way to defeat what should otherwise be seen as rational, beneficial and desirable.

        1. Monty

          I have long suspected that the current social justice movement was devised as a fiendish psi-op, actually aiming to prevent it’s stated goals.

        2. a different chris

          Seriously. There is obviously good case for covering everybody, as disease certainly doesn’t check citizenship papers.

          But I would have just been careful to describe Medicare for All as “a person just needs to show up & etc”… never mentioning that they won’t have to be a citizen. Just somebody with something that needs to be fixed. Probably nobody would actually notice, they’d be too busy foaming at the mouth about their neighbors being covered.

          We can afford it. Heck, with our tourism issues maybe we need people to come here for free healthcare!

      2. Dan

        “Why Raising the MInimum Wage is a Critical LGBTQ Issue”

        Probably because most gender, women’s and queer studies majors are working minimum wage jobs?

        There just aren’t enough identarian non-profits to hire them, even in the Bay Area.

  12. Eclair

    Re: LA Times on Abigail Disney’s report.

    Back in the 90’s, I worked for a time in Los Alamitos, CA, next to Anaheim. I rode the bus (usually the only ‘white’ person on it) down to Costa Mesa at night, after 9 PM. It picked up the Disney workers; almost all were Hispanic. Not the ‘cast members,’ probably. I remember wondering how much Disney paid its workers … the ones that were ‘invisible’ during the day. Maintenance, housekeepers, dishwashers, janitors.

    1. Craig H.

      I read this and find it very confusing. I cannot afford to patronize Disneyland-world and categorize the business as entertainment for upper-class children. It seems to me most like a television program I saw a long time ago, Forsyte Saga or Upstairs Downstairs or some such and one rich character was correcting some other rich character with the admonition “never involve yourself in the servants’ money”. It’s a show about a fantasy land and I can’t take any lesson from it. Just point and gawk.

      The real people I know who patronize Disneyland-world seem like they can’t afford to patronize it either. I know only one exception to this and he is definitely above my pay grade.

      1. Wukchumni

        I see a frightening amount of Disney annual pass holders on the road when i’m in SoCal, as they have stickers on the rear echelon of their cars that state so much…

        To be fair, a season pass @ Mammoth costs about the same amount, and the ‘Matterhorns’ there are a wee bit more impressive.

      2. jrs

        It’s white collar middle class people with kids, that live in Socal and go to Disneyland, heck they have season passes sometimes. The cost always struck me as exorbitant.

        1. Procopius

          I went to Disneyland once when I was living in LA. I guess about 1963. It was exorbitant then, too.

    2. Carolinian

      They are invisible. I knew someone who had been allowed the “backstage” view of Disney World and there’s an entire underground city beneath that not very big property.

      People who work at these theme parks do get extra privileges like comp admissions and it used to be–similar to fast food restaurants–the realm of teen employment. But now it seems, like fast food, to be the realm of desperate poor people. The middle class teens are all on their iPhones.

      1. newcatty

        Another anecdotal story: Some years ago I was acquainted with a woman who had a teenage daughter. She told me how her daughter learned about a ” leadership internship” (Something along those lines) for teens. Her daughter thought it sounded exciting and fun. This one was at Disneyworld in FL. Think the kids had to pay for transportation to the park and then home. They were housed somewhere in that underground city and fed meals. This was an unpaid “internship”. They did provide some ” leadership training ” with a couple of class team building activities. All of the kids found out the job activities were working the rides, the food stands, the custodial duties, etc. Disney got some 6 weeks in the busy summer season of free labor. Ugh.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Notre-Dame came far closer to collapsing than people knew. This is how it was saved.”

    And the question arises about why they did not set up simple monitoring cameras in difficult to watch places like all those attics at the Notre Dame complex. A quick glance at some screens in a security station would have identified just where the fire was and how extensive it had become. Perhaps they could have had gaseous fire suppression units in such difficult places to reach using argon or some other gases. They considered water sprinklers but rejected that because of damage that it might do but maybe an argon system might have slowed down those flames. I’m sure that if all those experts had bothered to ask someone like Master Cpl. Myriam Chudzinski that she could have made some clear planning choices for them. And how difficult would have it have been to have had those messages display actual words and not just codes. And people wonder why experts have come into such disrepute these days.

    1. vidimi

      as someone who walks by notre dame somewhat regularly, i can tell you that the souther wall is leaning at a disquieting angle. there were some heavy winds here about a month ago and the structure survived, but the cathedral is not out of the woods yet.

    2. Cal2

      My experience with anything technical, or mechanical, designed or built in France, is that it is a disaster. The last great French invention was the guillotine.

      They excel at food, philosophy, love, beauty and art, but not anything mechanical.
      That’s what Germany is for.

      1. MichaelSF

        I’ve got friends who own French toolroom lathes and they are very nice machine tools. Another friend very much likes his Citroen SM. Germany certainly makes some fine tools too, but so do the Czech Republic, Poland, Japan, Korea etc etc.

        My experience is that good things come from lots of places, and often those places also make some horrible junk too.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Excellent trains (all the way back to the days of steam). I don’t think this particular national stereotype holds up.

          Also, my father’s electric coffee grinder. Still working after 2019 – 1964 = 55 years of constant use.

    3. larry

      You need a gas like halon or halon substitute. All these gasses are, of course, dangerous. The Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale used to use a halon system to protect its rare manuscripts. The building design resembles that of the twin towers. I don’t see how this sort of flame retardant system would work for ND, though.

  14. Bugs Bunny

    Re: “Leaked Secret Messages Show Puerto Rico’s Governor & Aides Deriding Many — and Mocking Ricky Martin’s Sexuality”

    The link goes to People Magazine not USA TODAY

    My thought is that the conversation itself was anodyne macho homophobic jerkiness but read in combination with the government’s overt corruption and the indifferent mismanagement of the hurricane response, people are truly fed up. The video in the Guardian this morning is worth looking at – a very violent police action to put down a peaceful protest.

    I would be interested in knowing what anyone from Puerto Rico thinks about it.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Note that the article makes no mention at all of political party. Rosselló is a Democrat.

      1. newcatty

        I admit I did not keep track of Puerto Rico that much after the heavy coverage right after the devastating hurricane. But IDR that the mayor of San Juan seemed remarkable in her response to leading her city. Didn’t the governor deride her quite openly and, also, in those secret messages?

      2. pasha

        despite its name, rossello’s “new progressive party” sides with the mainland republican party and the corporate oligarchy that really runs puerto rico. real progressives on the island oppose statehood as a sellout to american capitalism.

  15. Tom Stone

    The article on Baltimore’s gun trace task force is a must read.
    Thousands of false arrests are attributed just to the officers of this one task force, and it appears that the entire BPD knew what was going on.
    It’s not an exception, this is a problem in every major police force.
    The LA County Sherriff’s department has a number of uniformed criminal gangs, the best known is the “Bandito’s”.
    I suspect that civil asset forfeiture ($5 Billion in 2014) has encouraged more outright criminal behaviour by law enforcement agencies, as has the militarization of US Law enforcement.

    1. JBird4049

      The same with Chicago, and IIRC Detroit, and people wonder why the police don’t get much cooperation in some places.

    2. Dan

      Some connection to Kamala “The Cop” Harris moving her presidential campaign from Oakland, “her homies”, to Baltimore, of all places, as far away from black people who know her?
      Is Chicago too far west?

      1. John k

        Maybe at that time she was running for Biden’s veep, but changed her mind and now shoots for the top spot.

  16. dk

    Privacy concerns over viral photo apps are totally valid. But they’re also often overblown Vox and FaceApp responds to privacy concerns TechCrunch

    Privacy concerns are generally overblown in as much as the storage and processing required to leverage the data against everybody or a large number of people is physically prohibitive. However the risk for specific individuals can be much higher. For example both Trump and Biden are hounded (rightly or pointlessly) with pictures of casual “PDA” towards young women.

    I have no great problem with inviting my neighbors to my home, or to them observing things about me by simple proximity that affect my threat profile. That’s part of being in a community, and I get to observe and understand them as well, it’s mutual and reciprocal. We can find differences, but also have increased opportunities for settlement, along with constructive cooperation and more efficient resource use. There are risks, there are net mutual gains. Evolution has shown that local cooperation can work.

    But when the agents are remote and my access to them is asymmetrical to theirs to me, it’s a bigger risk for me no matter what other factors are in play. Opportunists seek these kinds of asymmetries. Minimal use of apps, as the first article suggests, is simple prudence, but it’s not a resolution. Risk management for individuals has reached global scale. And community is impacted as well, even when the average individual risk is (or seems) low. At this point my brain presents me models that linear language can’t render, I hope some of the conclusions are obvious enough.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe the big deal about this story is that it is a Russian company doing it. If it had been one based out of Silicon Valley, would it even be a story? People worry about the wrong stuff. As an example, people upload their images to Flickr but I read a story years ago where a teenage girl was told her image was being used to sell mobiles with. Turned out that this young Asian-American girl had her photo taken at a Christian camp and it was uploaded to Flickr. Flickr grabbed the image, cropped the background, reversed it and flogged it off to some company without telling that young girl.
      Then it really got interesting. Turns out that then (and perhaps still) that if you upload your images to Flickr, they then own the copyright on those images. Not you. Flickr. There were commercial photographers that had their portfolios uploaded to Flickr which freaked them to hell out.It seems that whether you upload your images to a commercial site like Flickr or a government site like mentioned in today’s story in Links about the Florida DMV, that you will be sold out relentlessly in the name of commercial gain. As for that FaceApp, I could never use it myself. I would be too worried that if I had my image taken for aging, that the result might come out as a plot of grass.

      1. a different chris

        >that the result might come out as a plot of grass.

        haha yeah nobody wants to get old but nobody wants to not get old, either.

  17. vidimi

    love those goats. each has its own personality when making the jump. some hesitate, others look back…

  18. yelladog

    Ursula Von Der Leyen, nee Albrecht, aka Rose Ladson


    Also, look into her family. Comes from old money. Lived as Rose Ladson to ‘avoid detection’ from communist terrorist groups. Avoid detection by using a very old name in South Carolina/Charleston lore whom she happened to be related to…

    As an aside, shouldn’t it be Madame President-Elect? As in, My Lady (ma dame) President-Elect? Madam can also constitute a leader of a house of prostitution…but maybe I’m repeating myself?

    1. Louis Fyne

      the EU technocrats keep re-upping the same pool of people into positions of leadership. But hey, the people who drove you into a ditch already know the best way out, right?

      The pitchforks will be coming to Brussels soon….and if Leyen is lucky, not on her watch.

  19. Rod

    Digital Jail: How Electronic Monitoring Drives Defendants Into Debt Pro Publica

    the article raises very good concerns across the board about how ‘minor’ criminality(like just getting caught driving a stolen car) is being grappled with as well as some very large questions about contemporary parenting, family values and human motivation.

    imo, ProPublica highlights a contentious issue using a very noxious example that leaves many questions for me, but not about ankle monitors.

  20. JohnnyGL

    Stoller’s got this exactly right. The Tapper thread is interesting. It’s crazy that these centrist dem reps and staffers are given a platform to basically whine about how difficult it is to find media space between Trump and the Squad. And why does CNN grant them anonymity to cover up their complaining?

    This kind of stuff reminds me of the emails from Podesta when they got leaked. It was just loads and loads of mundane discussions about posturing and image-management and frighteningly little about substantive policy discussions. It was just all spin, all the time. This bunch is about as deep as a typical daytime soap opera. Again, really hammers home the point about Team Dem not wanting to wield power, they just want to manage their image, acting as figureheads.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      Managing their image is wielding power. The better they can play their role in the pro-wrestling league known as American political culture the more they are rewarded by the bosses. While concern with the public good had once been an important concern (among many others) it has now pretty much disappeared in our system. That’s just the way it is and will be unless the American people demand something different from the Democratic Party. They have an opportunity during this election season. We will have to see how it goes. But if it is to go anywhere the struggle has to contend with an even more centralized and hostile to reform mainstream media.

  21. Lee

    ‘Send her back,’ crowd chants at Rep. Omar during Trump campaign rally in NC News and Observer

    Hell, send me back. If they sent me to any one of the 5 countries my ancestors came from, I’d be living in a country with universal healthcare, a better social safety net, and other benefits unavailable in the U.S. Unfortunately, none of those countries want me as a permanent resident or citizen. It seems they have immigration restrictions based on specific criteria. How beastly of them! According to Canadian immigration administration, for example, the principal drawback is essentially that I’m not rich, young, or skilled enough to make a significant contribution to their economy.

    1. John k

      Not the worst criteria, seems reasonable to look first at those that will help the country… though the skilled may take jobs from existing residents, while the rich will drive up already real estate even as they also boost demand for services.

  22. JohnnyGL

    Another good comment from Stoller…

    It’s weird pollsters don’t understand whiteness is a social construct. Solution for nativist party is, here, formerly non-white group, you are now white. We’ve done this for hundreds of years.

    Yvette Carnell, founder of ADOS, whom I link to regularly, has often made the same point. Racial categories are flexible….always have been.

    If you picked up a modern dem pollster and dropped them into the political universe of a hundred years ago….they’d say things like, “WASP majority shrinking due to Polish and Italian immigration in major urban strongholds”. Yet by the 1950s, their transformation was underway into white Republican suburbanites.

    1. Carolinian

      MLK wanted a “colorblind” society–the opposite of now at least when it comes to the politicians on both sides.

      In the real world where I live deplorables mix freely with POC although admittedly I don’t seem to see as many interracial couples during the Trump regime as during the Obama.

    2. mle in detroit

      Fifty years ago, I worked at a rock radio station in southern New England. The new program director, from Michigan, told his young protege, also from Michigan, that the kid should not use his birth name, Nadolski, on air. It was “too ethnic.” Instead, call himself “Kennedy.” For this WASP, lol.

    3. anonymous

      If you are unemployed — Black or White or unidentified — the one identity you would love to have is—- taxpayer.

      (almost typed sitting home unemployed but many unemployed don’t have a home to sit in.)

  23. David

    The NLR article on the gilets jaunes is indeed not bad (although it should have been about 20% shorter) if you allow for the verbiage and the conceptualising. It falls down in two areas, both of which are traceable to the particular origins of the piece (neatly demonstrating the author’s point that all analysis of the GJs varies depending on where you start!)
    The firsts the idea of violent repression. This did not happen and was anyway never feasible given the numbers. The authorities were aware that they would not be able to cope if even quite small numbers (in the low hundreds) were to storm the Elysée. (On 1 December there was a helicopter deployed to lift Macron out should that have been necessary.) The authorities stood back from direct conflict, and let the demonstrators have free rein as long as life was not in danger. They were heavenly criticised, but it was hard to see what else they could’ve done. They did not have the numbers and the police were not willing to die for Macron.
    The second is the embarrassed discussion of the national flag and the Marseillaise. The situation is actually quite simple: these are part of the iconography of republicanism, they are popular symbols of cohesion and popular struggle. They reflect the fact that, unlike the traditional Right, republicans and leftists have always seen France as an open country into which anyone can be assimilated if they follow the rules. This should be uncontroversial (and it was part of the thinking of the Left until very recently). These days, though, the Left has been taken over by Anglo-Saxon style communitarianism, and its leaders argue that immigrants, who are welcome from everywhere under any circumstances, should not be under any pressure to obey local customs, or even obey laws if they don’t like them.To insist on such things is racist. Macron, by contrast, is not Bonaparte, rather he is a throwback to the age of Louis XIV, surrounding himself with royalist iconography.

    1. The Rev Kev

      France may be getting away with this demonstrations cheap. Had to go digging into a bit of 19th century French history this week which was an eye opener. They went through very violent episodes in 1830, in 1848 and in 1871 especially with the Paris commune. You are not just talking about street fights but actual military battles going from street to street. Real grinding stuff. I had no idea it got so bad. The stuff seen now is mild by comparison but perhaps that is because the French have learned that flexible mobility is better than traditional barricades-'attaque,_25_juin_1848._Apr%C3%A8s_l%E2%80%99attaque,_26_juin_1848_(Original).jpg

  24. dearieme

    The fire warning system at Notre-Dame took dozens of experts six years to put together, and in the end involved thousands of pages of diagrams, maps, spreadsheets and contracts … The result was a system so arcane that when it was called upon to do the one thing that mattered — warn “fire!” and say where — it produced instead a nearly indecipherable message.

    Remind me again why we must let the government run everything.

      1. dearieme

        Outsourced by the government: remind me again why we must let the government run everything.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Notre-Dame de Paris was entirely under the control of the Archdiocese of Paris, the government only nominally owns the structure. Security and maintenance was entirely the responsibility of the Archdiocese.

          1. dearieme

            So the government outsourced the running of the building to the Roman Church, and it outsourced the fire precautions. The government failed to ensure that the work was done in a way that protected the building for which it was responsible. And you somehow thinks this absolves the government of responsibility? Goodness me.

            1. ambrit

              The trouble here is that, if I read you aright, you are therefore advocating for a more ‘robust’ socialism for France. I’m not sure, but I imagine the people of France would support such a policy.

              1. Plenue

                His default stance on everything is ‘government r bahd’, so he’s just going to keep contriving ways to make this the government’s fault, even though they outsourced to the private sector.

                1. dearieme

                  On the contrary I’m merely pointing out that if it’s the government that must fund the repairs it’s fatuous to blame the Roman Church. Dereliction of duty by the government, I’d say, by failure to supervise.

                  Not that it matters all that much; there are tons more Gothic piles in Western Europe.

        2. Plenue

          You are insufferably obtuse. The government abrogated its responsibility by outsourcing the problem. Which is literally what you want, since you hate government and don’t think it can run anything. This is like some twisted version of socialism for the rich: the private sector can never fail, when it does it’s somehow still the government’s fault.

        3. JEHR

          Why do you complain about what the government does when it is you and the other people who elect the people who make up your government. Do you see the ambiguity in your statement?

    1. skippy

      What part about the dominate market based ideology perplexes you, per se if government is beholden to the market its just a reflection of the latter.

      I don’t think what De Soto said was confusing when overlaid on the recent NC post –

      Banging on about government after 50 odd years of institutionalization, forwarding a PR effort by those seeking to advance self interest above all other things …. and then cracking a fat … wellie that would seem to question the product …

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The fire warning system at Notre-Dame took dozens of experts six years to put together… Remind me again why we must let the government run everything.

      You need to get that knee seen to.

  25. DJG

    Kouvelakis in the New Left Review. Yes, worth reading for the nuances and for the democratic mindset of the Gilets Jaunes. In the U S of A, natch, they are being portrayed as a bunch of terrorists with no demands. (Quelle surprise.)

    There is also a similar analysis in the new August issue of Harper’s Magazine, which is only available on paper right now. (Harper’s doens’t open its current issue on line, only giving the TofC.)

    Salient paragaph from the article, which applies very much to U.S. conditions:

    The concept of the organic crisis, formulated by Gramsci in the 1930s, has served to orient a number of analyses of the recent conjuncture. Here it will suffice to recall that Gramsci was referring to a radical rupture in the links between representatives and the represented. A collapse in support for the traditional parties may be the most visible symptom of an organic crisis, but it extends throughout the mediating organizations of civil society. Though its expressions will vary, it essentially involves a crisis of hegemony of the dominant class, the breakdown of its ability to maintain its leading role within the social formation—in other words, a generalized failure of consent.footnote4

    1. Oregoncharles

      God, I hate language like that quote. I’m a very facile reader, but I have to work really hard just to figure out what they’re trying to say – which turns out to be pretty ordinary. And read Gramsci, too.

      As it happens, most of the message is in one of the few clear phrases: “a generalized failure of consent.” Far from eloquent, but at least not written in code.

      If that’s typical Left writing, no wonder we make no headway.

      I just took a quick look at the Harpers article: vastly more readable. The lead article and photo essay about the “homesteaders” of the San Luis Valley in Colorado is worth seeing, too.

      1. Carey

        Hear, hear. It might not be the most important thing, but language like that tripe is off-putting to almost everyone, so hardly solidarity-building. Say it simply if you really want to win, and it could very much be said simply, as you point out.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        I could wish for the language to be more penetrable, but I can work through it. I don’t blame the author for writing in the language of the tradition they understand. I think it’s down to today’s left to come out with a fresh translation. So far, that hasn’t happened.

      3. Procopius

        Didn’t George Orwell point that out in his “Politics and the English Language?” I have found Marx unreadable. I have been advised to start Capital Volume I at Chapter 10 and then go back to Chapter 1 after several other chapters. I decided not to bother, since he has three volumes in all and at the end it turned out his whole premise is wrong. I want to read it anyway, though, for the references and examples.

  26. The Rev Kev

    “The roots of Putin’s power over Russia”: ‘The biggest and boldest of the oligarchs, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, challenged Putin face-to-face at a meeting in the Kremlin in February 19, 2003: he had compiled a report on high-level corruption that strayed into the forbidden area of shady dealing by the state oil company Rosneft. He was arrested some months later, put on trial and given a 10-year sentence for fraud and tax evasion (he has since gone into exile).’

    Yeah, about that. For some mysterious reason, the author forgot to mention the bit about how through Yukos, Khodorkovsky owned key Siberian oil fields and was about to sell them all to Western corporate interests back in 2003 in an auction. The direct result would be that Washington would have have their hands on the petrol pump for the Russian economy. That was why Khodorkovsky was thrown into the slammer. The auction went ahead but it passed into Russian control. George Bush had some judge in Texas try to stop that auction going ahead but the Russians, after consulting an Atlas, found that Texas had no jurisdiction in the Russian Federation and went ahead with the successful auction.

    1. Mike

      There’s this economy, lying dead in the desert…Vultures circle overhead, licking their chops.

      How do stop the obvious resulting meal from occurring? Why, bringing the dead back to life.

      — To be literal, nationalization, or its current concomitant, oligarchic buyout to “friends” of the state, allows the corpse limited movement. At least, enough to make the vultures look elsewhere. That breathing room was all Putin wanted until some further recovery was possible. Energy, military manufacturing, important parts of finance – the basis for making a semi-capitalist Russia that would ward off the vultures until the corpse could stand on two legs.

    2. Oh

      Bush the “not so bright” George wouldn’t know what an Atlas is if you hit him with one!

  27. Wukchumni

    A neat place in New Mexico, kinda looks like Area 51.1
    The land is full of geologic eye candy like otherworldly spires, mushroom-shaped hoodoos, and prehistoric fossils.

    This area is rich in fossils. Regarding collecting, BLM regulations apply. Common invertebrate fossils such as plants, mollusks, and trilobites may be collected for personal use in reasonable quantities. Interestingly, petrified wood up to 25 pounds per person per day may be collected. Cultural artifacts and vertebrate fossils, including dinosaur bones, cannot be taken under any circumstances and must be left in place.

  28. The Rev Kev

    “Five years on, no answers to who felled MH17”

    There is nothing simple about this crash because of what happened since then but let us say that like the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, a constant stream of facts contradicts the official narrative. I have noticed on TV and the net here stories on this crash the past two days with some relatives trying to shame the Russian Embassy people with demonstrations and the like. You can see that it is all being encouraged. Four years ago a memorial was unveiled to Flight MH17 – at Parliament House in Canberra just so people would know that it was not political or anything.
    Read a story yesterday by a Federal policewoman who went to go for the bodies at the crash site and was shocked that the bodies had been moved when she got there. Terrible that. Except that it was high summer at the crash site and the bodies were already starting to rot. One of the bodies even fell through a roof into a woman’s kitchen. I remember clearly that nobody in the west was keen to go in and retrieve the bodies as a matter of urgency so the Novarussians collected the bodies and put them into refrigerated railway cars for transport – and then were accused of looting and mistreating the bodies.
    So now we have a show trial in preparation for four men who have been accused of this crime. It would be interesting to see what would happen if legal representation showed up (like it did to Meuller) and offered to do testimony through Skype like they do for prisoners in jail nowadays. Then this legal representation may be able to do some cross-examination as well as discovery. Which is preciosity why it will never be allowed.

  29. Wukchumni

    The Kaweah Colony posed a political and economic challenge to the dominance of capital in general, and to Southern Pacific in particular. With the support of Southern Pacific, the act that created Yosemite National Park was amended in secret at the last minute to expand the newly created Sequoia National Park, in order to expropriate lands that the Kaweah Colony had settled.

    Southern Pacific had its way, and the days of the Kaweah Colony were numbered. The road that the colonists had hacked out of the wilderness with their collective labor was stolen by the park service, without compensation, and served as the main route into Sequoia National Park for decades. The giant sequoia that the Kaweah colonists had named the Karl Marx Tree, by volume the largest known living tree in the world, was renamed the General Sherman Tree.

    In 1884, Laurence Gronlund published a popular book, The Co-Operative Commonwealth: An Exposition of Modern Socialism. Gronlund, a Danish immigrant to the US, addressed his book specifically to Americans, attempted to put socialism on a scientific basis, and argued that creating socialist colonies was “one way to bring a State to the threshold of Socialism.” Gronlund helped inspire Edward Ballamy’s 1888 utopian science fiction novel, Looking Backward: 2000-1887. By the end of the century, Bellamy’s book reportedly sold more copies than any other book published in the US, with the single exception of Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

    Gronlund’s book attracted Haskell’s attention. Never one to let the grass grow under his feet, Haskell jumped into the colonization movement headfirst. He founded a new organization, the Co-Operative Land Purchase and Colonization Association, and the search was on for someplace to colonize.

    One of the members of Haskell’s colonization organization was Charles Keller. He was on a train in 1885, and happened to hear two men discussing “the most magnificent forest of giant redwoods… opened for sale” east of Visalia. Keller investigated, was impressed, and reported what he had learned to Haskell’s colonization group. The game was on.

    1. Carolinian

      Toldja that General Sherman name was a mistake.

      Here’s the key para to my mind.

      Yet the lumber operation did not prove economically successful. The area had already been nearly logged out of pine and fir, and the colonists resorted to logging some of the remaining sequoias. They learned what many lumbermen had already discovered – giant sequoias make poor timber. Cutting them down is very labor-intensive, and as often as not, the wood shatters and splinters when the tree falls. On top of the lack of useable timber, the road was in poor shape, making transport of the lumber difficult. After a few months, the operation was abandoned.

      So you could say the socialists paved the way to ecocide, if not socialism. I’ve been to your park and there’s an area showing felled Sequoias that were left on the ground and will never rot.

      BTW there’s a highly fictionalized Kirk Douglas film about all this called The Big Trees.

      1. Wukchumni

        One of the few uses for Giant Sequoia trees that made sense, was when the wood that doesn’t rot was utilized to make an elevated flume some 5 miles long or so, in one of the first hydroelectric projects in California that brought the water of the east fork of the Kaweah river to the generating plant in Three Rivers in 1899.

        Up from Mineral King road extending around 3/4’s of a mile up a steep slope for about a mile are around 100 Sequoia stumps, but no trunks laying around.

        They reckoned it took 2 men 5-6 days to cut down a decent sized tree, and then a ‘steam donkey’ far below would winch the trunk down, chained up.

        Usually the big fellows ended up being grape stakes or fence posts. I read one account of a 12 year old working in Atwell Mill around 1910, and they were turning Brobdingnagians into pencils, for export to France.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Gawd, that last bit was awful. Reminds me of an old cartoon – Chip and Dale I think – where a huge mechanical claw would grasp a huge section of tree trunk into a sort of grinder and it would pull back out with a finished toothpick which would be dropped into a box full of toothpicks to go out for sale.

          1. Wukchumni

            Luckily, nothing really made sense from a making money standpoint and 99% of the aged upright citizens are still around.

            A research team from UC Davis is coming up this weekend to sample a few of the bigger and higher altitude trees (the highest altitude Giant Sequoia is @ 9,000 feet in the Atwell Grove, about 3,000 feet above where they usually are) for genotyping in their Redwood Genome Project. Ought to be fun to hang around some experts in their field and see what makes them tick, and show them the 19th, 23rd & 30th largest living trees in the world, and the Touchdown Jesus tree, which is nothing special from a size standpoint (it’s merely 13 feet wide @ eye level) but where it gets its name is from the main trunk being hit by lightning-which killed the upper body, so the 2 lower branches which are about 35 feet above the ground, both have 25 foot vertical trees that go up from the ends of both tips of horizontal branches, making the tree look like a field goal in appearance, pretty cool looking.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            I remember that cartoon too. Memory may fail me, but I think I remember it being a Warner Brothers cartoon starring Mac and Tosh the Goofy Gophers rather than a Disney Cartoon featuring Chip and Dale the two chipmunks. I found a little clip of Mac and Tosh so you could see if they seem familiar . . .

  30. Matthew G. Saroff

    I have said it before, and I will say it again: There is no information that a Turkish S-400 can get about the F-35 that one in Syria, or Kalaningrad, or Belarus cannot.

    There is no additional security risk, except for the possibility of Russian personnel on the ground in Turkey hacking the Turkish defense establishment, which is worrying, but not enough to justify this hysteria.

    Turkey bought the system because it is half the price, more capable, and they will get information allowing them to maintain and upgrade it on their own.

    The freakout is because US defense contractors are not getting their Vigorish, which they spend on things like comfortable sinecures for general officers who bought their overpriced crap in the first place.

  31. Carey

    ‘Sick Children Among Cancer Victims Suing Monsanto Over Roundup’:

    “..The addition of children to the mass litigation comes as Bayer is exploring whether or not to try to settle the cases. The company’s shares have been battered by the repeated losses in court, and by the revelations of questionable Monsanto conduct with respect to scientific and public scrutiny of its products.

    In his court ruling reducing the damages awarded in the Hardeman case, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said that Monsanto’s actions were “reprehensible.” He said evidence showed “Monsanto employees crassly attempting to combat, undermine or explain away challenges to Roundup’s safety.”

    He said the company showed a “lack of concern about the risk that its product might be carcinogenic..”

    1. cripes

      Strangely, the “wait person” which gave us various iterations of the occupational Wait name, derives from the role of walking around the castle, Baronial residence or cathedral lighting the wall lanterns, checking the locks and just seeing that nothing was amiss; like huge fires.

      It does seem like a night watchman or dog could’ve done a better job. So much for “technology.”

  32. cuibono

    Pelosi and team Dem show their true colors by cutting funding to Americas Health Centers.
    As usual they start from a weak position hoping to negotiate to an even weaker position pretending this was the only way to do business ” our hands are tied”…

    So called moderates really are the problem

  33. John k

    Trump proposing m4a, guarantee reelection…
    Maybe riskless, too, if he doesn’t actually like it.
    Would a majority of the house dems support, given pelosi oppo? Would they Support the odious trump? Delicious irony.
    Or a majority of house reps?
    Ditto senate with Mitch oppo… plus all the pharma and insurance oppo…
    But he tried, couldn’t get it past the Corp dems might be the story.
    Same with 15/hr.

    1. jrs

      So what is Trump going to say: “I liked the Sanders bill, but I have been told it has loopholes, so now I support the Jayapal bill, it’s the best bill I’ve seen. I’m going to fight to get it passed!”

      Not in this universe, no drugs strong enough to believe that would ever happen, not even smoking the local Jimson weed. Next Trump will be all “I’ve been thinking about the environmental crisis and AOC’s GND proposal, and it’s really making a lot of sense, and you know could even make America great again, let’s pass it”.

      Meanwhile Sanders will be “I think that what this country really needs to encourage growth and trickling down of wealth is a billionaire tax cut”

    2. False Solace

      Trump can get M4A done just like he got the Wall built.

      Now, which do you think would be harder to get through Congress.

  34. Tomonthebeach

    Big Brother Is Watching – And Making Government More Transparent

    “…Mocking Ricky Martin’s Sexuality” likely was very embarrassing to Puerto Rican pols when this hit the media. Gee, our elected officials are not only homophobes but they also mocked a local celebrity icon. As annoying as the loss of our privacy has been, it seems that the impact of divulged “private communications” has been most notably on elected and appointed public officials. Ironic, is it not, that these victims have not pushed for digital privacy laws.

  35. Oregoncharles

    “US preparing to send hundreds of troops to Saudi Arabia amid Iran tensions CNN

    Seeking to avoid escalation, ships deploy unarmed guards to navigate Gulf Reuters”

    Nothingburgers, not at all proportional to the potential threats. “Hundreds” of troops? “Unarmed guards”? Those are kayfabe. Is anything really going on there?

    1. anonymous

      Sometimes it seems like a headfake to gin up oil prices– like a go fund me — so citizens united types can afford to buy the 2020 elections — have consumers and taxpayers pay for it of course.

  36. ewmayer

    o “US preparing to send hundreds of troops to Saudi Arabia amid Iran tensions | CNN” — Corrected headline: “US preparing to send hundreds of troops to Saudi Arabia amid US-Saudi-Israel-fomented Iran tensions”

    o “What we can learn from the revolutionary passport that helped 1920s refugees | Quartz” — Uh, that Fridtjof-Nansen-like figures, whose integrity, fame and international respect are so great that they are able to mediate directly, bypassing world powers and their vested interests, are alas incredibly rare, historically speaking? IOW, no Nansenpass without a Nansen to stand behind it.

    o “Foreign purchases of American homes plunge 36% as Chinese buyers flee the market | CNBC (J-LS)” — Wolf Richter also has a piece up on this today:

    US Home Purchases by Chinese, Other Foreigners Plunge Below 2012 Level. And the (for me) Chilling “Chinese Reaction” to it from the Largest Chinese Portal for US Homes for Sale | Wolf Street

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Instead of homes, I wonder if Chinese antiques are being bought instead.

      In one of the auction places I follow, I have noticed a higher trend pricwise recently.

  37. Cripes

    Hey, did I just see Elijah Cummings fulminating at a congressional hearing about children lying in feces and how terrible it was in the Migrant detention centers?

    Is there any reason to think these conditions were any different during 8 years of Obama’s deportation spree? Or even worse considering the six million people he succeeded in sending back.

    Or the conditions in every County jail and every Juvenile Detention Facility in this country which are notoriously primitive and brutal.

    This kind of phony outrage from the Crooked Democrats wether Bush’s Wars or Trump’s immigration policy, is pure grandstanding and fools no one except the pussy-hat wearing zealots. Who were nowhere to be found during 8 years of Obama’s Foreign Wars, Banker bailouts, deportations and presiding over the biggest destruction of black American wealth since reconstruction.

    God they’re puke-worthy.

  38. flora

    re Antidote du jour:

    as William Blake did not exactly write:

    Little Goat who made thee
    Dost thou know who made thee
    Gave thee life & bid thee feed.
    By the stream & o’er the mead;
    Gave thee clothing of delight,
    Softest clothing wooly bright;
    Gave thee such a tender voice,
    Making all the vales rejoice!
    Little Goat who made thee
    Dost thou know who made thee

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