Links 8/2/19

Curving – Dog Body Language Silent Conversations

Just 10% of fossil fuel subsidy cash ‘could pay for green transition’ Guardian (original).

Greenland Is Melting Away Before Our Eyes Rolling Stone

The Bizarre, Peaty Science of Arctic Wildfires Wired (Re Silc).

Hawaii Extends Thirty Meter Telescope Permit Amid Protests NPR

Syraqistan

U.S. preparing to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan in initial deal with Taliban WaPo

Brexit

UK faces potential ‘consumer panic’ and ‘security gaps’ under no-deal Brexit, says government document Sky News. With handy, hitherto unpublished chart prepared for the May government.

Gilets Jaunes gather for third “Assembly of Assemblies” ROAR

Emmanuel Macron’s Place in French History? Are You a Yellow Vest? This seems to be the only English-language site focusing exclusively on the gilets jaunes; I’d be interested to know what local readers think of it. (The contrast between coverage of the Hong Kong protesters and coverage of the yellow vests and is remarkable, considering that the latter are at “Acte 37.”)

Inside the Yellow Vests: What the Western media will not report (Part 3) The Saker

China?

Trump says Hong Kong ‘riots’ are a matter for China FT

Hong Kong government warns employees to remain neutral or face consequences on eve of civil servant rally over extradition bill crisis South China Morning Post

Nudge theory:

On the question of whether the Hong Kong protests are a US-sponsored “color revolution,” alert NC reader MsExPat threw this over the transom:

The line about foreign interference is Beijing boilerplate. Everyone here knows it’s bullshit. Laughable. Beijing is parroting it over and over again for two reasons:

1) It diminishes the agency of and infantilizes Hong Kong people. They are misguided and deluded poor children that couldn’t possibly challenge China unless they had outside help.

2) It’s aimed at the domestic China audience, to pump up China nationalism, which is what the CPC does to keep itself in power. You know, economy slumps, let’s start Japanese bashing.

Is there any chance that there could be some truth in it? It’s a ridiculous thought, but let’s assume it isn’t for the sake of argument. Well, I do live here. We (I mean the US) really are not that good as Lambert has pointed out. On the ground what that means is that we don’t have the kind of deep bench that would give us any ability to maneuver inside the protest movement. The US (and certainly not the CIA) doesn’t have enough young, colloquial Cantonese speakers for one thing. Canada would have a much easier time “directing” the pro dem movement just because their links to Hong Kong are much more recent and stronger! So let’s blame the Canadians haha.

Let’s look at some other evidence: Just before he left for a new post in June, the US Counsel in Hong Kong, Kurt Tong, planned to give a farewell speech highly critical of the current HK government. He was throttled by Trump and ended up having to place his speech somewhere as an op ed instead. That hardly speaks to US involvement in the protests!

The only US connections that the protest movement has consistently been able to count on are a handful of principled anti-Communists in the House and Senate, led by Marco Rubio, who has been a champion for Hong Kong for years now. I respect him for that. He may be a turd in other ways, but he clearly has one or two unwavering principles that don’t relate to donor money or votes. I’m sure supporting Hong Kong is not going to get him any votes in Florida.

The only place that “foreign influence” might be helping Hong Kong protesters is through financial support. But it would not be much $ and it would be funneled through Hong Kong anti-Beijing businessmen like Jimmy Lai, who donates to the pan-Dems generously anyway.

The biggest source of foreign money involved in the protests, though, is coming from Beijing. It’s Beijing who pays for the triads, pays for the cooperation of Hong Kong’s business tycoons, pays for the propaganda and dirty tricks of the DAB (the proxy Beijing party in Hong Kong), pays for the propaganda on TVB (the top broadcast station) pays to control the print media (although Jack Ma bought the SCMP, he’s just their puppet). Any tiny trickle of money that might be going to protesters from small US or UK donations is a piss in the ocean compared to the floods of cash that Beijing pumps in to get its way in Hong Kong. And yet still the Hong Kong people are fighting, and successfully. Doesn’t that tell you something?

* * *

What China’s defence paper tells us about Beijing’s regional ambition The Interpreter

Trump says he’ll put 10% tariffs on remaining China imports AP

K-Pop’s Big China Problem Foreign Policy

Puerto Rico

Trump administration to place new restrictions on billions in aid for Puerto Rico amid island’s political crisis WaPo

Leading indicators. Thread:

New Cold War

Trump Calls Putin To Offer Help Battling Siberian Fires Radio Free Europe

Has a Color Revolution Come to Russia? Probably Not. The National Interest

Landmark US-Russia arms control treaty is dead AP

Pillars of nuclear arms control are teetering FT

RussiaGate

The rise and fall of superhero Robert Mueller Matt Taibbi, UntitledGate. “The whole narrative is the brainchild of Clinton hacks, a handful of overzealous intelligence nuts, and a subset of the Democratic Party’s weakest elected minds, in particular murine ex-prosecutor Schiff, a man who should be selling Buicks back in his hometown Burbank.” You hate to see it.

Here Are 5 Big Holes in Mueller’s Work Aaron Maté, RealClearInvestigations

Justice Department Declines to Prosecute Comey Over Leaked Memo Bloomberg. Of course they did.

Trump Transition

Divided Senate passes 2-year budget deal with military boost Defense News (Re Silc).

Pentagon puts $10B contract on hold after Trump swipe at Amazon Politico

Hacked Emails Show GOP Demands on Border Security Were Crafted by Industry Lobbyists The Intercept

Border Patrol Detained a 9-Year-Old American Girl on Her Way to School for 32 Hours GQ. She had her passport with her.

Opinion: Trump’s cuts to food stamps are indefensible, economically and morally MarketWatch

‘Should Send Shockwaves Across the Nation’: Grave Warnings as McConnell Accelerates Right-Wing Takeover of US Courts Common Dreams (DK).

Democrats in Disarray

Democrats: ‘Moscow Mitch’ would take blame for clearing Trump of impeachment charges McClatchy. “Moscow Mitch,” ffs [puts head in hands].

Demography and the Populists’ Destiny The American Conservative

2020

Imagining a Warren-Buttigieg, or Buttigieg-Warren, Ticket Nicholas Kristof, NYT

Tim Ryan told Bernie Sanders that Medicare-for-all would be bad for unions. Major union leaders disagree. Vox

Canadians worried by plan to let Americans import drugs Business Insider (Re Silc).

Our Famously Free Press

In Rejecting DNC Lawsuit Against Wikileaks, Judge Strongly Defended First Amendment Rights of Journalists Shadowproof (Furzy Mouse).

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

AI lie detector developed for airport security FT. “One challenge is false positives: a machine might register as suspicious a microexpression if someone is in pain or confused.” Highly unlikely in airports.

Cops Are Giving Amazon’s Ring Your Real-Time 911 Caller Data Gizmodo

L’affaire Joffrey Epstein

Jeffrey Epstein Shows No Sign Of Injuries, Could Spend A Year In Jail Before Trial Forbes

Real Hedge-Fund Managers Have Some Thoughts on What Epstein Was Actually Doing New York Magazine. From two weeks ago, still germane. Not sure the hedgies are right, though!

America’s DIY Phone Farmers Vice

Class Warfare

California’s largest teachers union spent $1 million a month to restrict charter schools Sacramento Bee

High Profile Labor Leader Has a New Gig Fighting Against Teacher’s Unions Portside. Andy Stern. Of course. I remember how hard Stern’s SEIU fought against single payer in 2009-2010.

Weaponized Interdependence: How Global Economic Networks Shape State Coercion International Security

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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

263 comments

  1. The Rev Kev

    “The rise and fall of superhero Robert Mueller”: “Mueller didn’t fail. The country did,” wrote Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post

    It was only three years ago but I am pretty sure that the same was said of Hillary Clinton when she lost the 2016 election. These same pundits were saying that she did not lose the election but that the country had “failed” her and so everybody should hang their head in shame.

    Reply
    1. jeremyharrison

      When the Dem nominee finally emerges, maybe their first campaign T-shirts can be hair shirts, which we can all wear to atone for our 2016 failures and sins.

      Reply
      1. EoH

        Maybe Cohen, Flynn, Gates, Manafort, Stone, and company can set up a prison garment factory and churn them out faster.

        Reply
      2. John

        Since Russia! Russia! Russia! was a steaming load from the start just how did the country fail? I live in New York. I do not watch TV and I do not use social media. I observed 2016 from afar as it were. Hillary ran one of the worst campaigns ever. Campaigning is about soliciting votes; it is about presenting goals that people desire and it is decidedly not about a stately progress to a coronation, which is yours by right. That was the Clinton campaign as I saw it.

        If you want to keep litigating the 2016 election, invite the like minded to a party at which you can all cry into your white wine and blame everyone but yourself.

        As certain unbeloved persons in my past would say: Shut up and soldier.

        Reply
        1. Nordberg

          Great line

          Mueller’s silence turned out to be more genuinely Labrador-like than Barnett and everyone else was led to believe.

          Reply
        2. Carey

          We outside the 10% “failed” by not going along fully enough with the narrative-of-the-day; one day the Few
          are screaming “impeach!”, the next “vote him out!!!”;
          tomorrow, who knows?

          feelin tired

          Reply
      3. ambrit

        I can imagine the 2020 Hillary t-shirts would be the 2016 shirts with the 16 x-ed out and 20 crudely painted in just below.
        Or, instead of something like ‘Hillary 2.0,’ something like ‘Hillary 1.2.’

        Reply
        1. jeremyharrison

          I imagine a photo of a crazed, knife-wielding Hillary, with the words, “You’ve got one more chance, and this time I mean it.”

          Reply
        2. ewmayer

          No, no, no, it’s got to be something as condescending as it is phonily uplifting. Ooh, I got it:

          “2020 Vision”.

          I’ve applied for a trademark on that, but if team HRC – or anybody else – wants to use it they just need to send me a mere $500,000, which is surely chump change for the The Most Qualified Candidate Evah.

          Reply
    2. Geo

      The buck stops at the bottom for these people. The ones at the top bare no responsibility for their actions.

      Reply
    3. WheresOurTeddy

      Jennifer Rubin thinks John Delaney won the debate the other night, so take her opinions for what they’re worth: not much.

      Reply
      1. paulownia

        Rubin is a despicably dishonest Bernie basher. She defended that other one that said Bernie made her skin crawl, and more (check her twitter).. Tells you all you need to know about her.

        Reply
  2. Jim A.

    Nudge Theory. Of course Beijing wishes to infantalize the residents of HK and deny them agency. They wish to deny agency for the masses in the mainland as well. It’s all part of the “one Chin a,” agenda.

    Reply
    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      I sincerely doubt that Beijing will do anything aside from jawboning, funding triad proxies, and thought (media) control. HK is very useful to them as a gateway to Western finance (that Shanghai will never be due to currency controls and the unfortunate fact that the mainland is still very much a Communist country). Plus, Beijing have their hands full these days, and will so even more, with domestic unrest. Tech has completely rolled over, trade sanctions are disrupting, and the VC/unicorn funding circle jerk has completely dried up (metaphor?). You heard it here first: TienAnMen 2 is off the cards.

      Reply
    2. Skip Intro

      I think what’s really interesting is that the clumsy, almost overt involvement of the US in various ‘color revolutions’ has made it impossible to dismiss Beijing’s claims of foreign/US involvement out of hand. In what is either cunningly evil authoritarian strategy, or a severe case of blowback, US deployment of ‘popular movements’ has served to delegitimize any popular rebellion against any regime. Of course this dovetails nicely with the Russiarussiarussia theory of the 2016 election and the revolting deplorables. The (re-)addition of faux-popular uprisings to the US regime-change arsenal has normalized the concept of popular dissent as foreign influence and is, even as I type, being deployed against Tulsi Gabbard, enemy of the regime-change clique.

      Reply
  3. Frenchguy

    Re: Emmanuel Macron’s Place in French History?

    The contrast between coverage of the Hong Kong protesters and coverage of the yellow vests is completely understandable given that in the first case its millions of people in the streets and in the second its down to a few hundreds, a few thousands at the most. As a mass popular movement, the yellow vests are over (and they got what they wanted initially but “Macron is Satan” is a much more lucrative message to broadcast for certain people…).

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Not so fast there. We do not know the long term effects of the yellow vests and I think that the next election in 2022 will show some changes working their way through the body politic. Imagine this. It is the 2022 election and you have a series of ads appear all over the place of all those people who had lost eyes and had damaged faces. Each of them say that they lost an eye and it was all due to Macron and it was his violent response to their protests that caused it. You think that that might have an effect on the polls?
      Here is another point. If you deny people a voice and you do not listen to them, if you shut down all their conversations & protests and silence them, if you deny their legitimacy because you label them as racist or ignorant, if you run roughshod over them because you can, then do not be surprised that when they have a chance that they will deliver you an overwhelming shock. And that is how you get a Trump or a Brexit.

      Reply
    2. urblintz

      Millions vs. hundreds? Can you provide links to support that assertion please. The information I have suggests there were hundreds of thousands of protesters in the beginning of both protest movements. I’ve not seen any mention of “millions” in Honk Kong (not that I don’t wish there had been). The few reports on the French protests which I can find suggest that up to 10,000 protesters were still engaged as of a month ago as opposed to the “few hundred” you assert. And I’m not sure one can speak of a contrast between the coverage of the two. I’m generalizing but the Hong Kong protests were broadcast here. The yellow vest protests were not. I would be happy if you can demonstrate that this is not the case

      Reply
      1. Frenchguy

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_Hong_Kong_anti-extradition_bill_protests

        16 June March: “Early in the afternoon, Radio France Internationale reported that Stand News, an independent online news agency, had used big data analysis to predict that at most 1.44 million would have participated in the protest.” “up to two million according to organisers”

        https://www.francebleu.fr/infos/faits-divers-justice/300-gilets-jaunes-a-perpignan-la-permanence-du-depute-romain-grau-prise-pour-cible-1564224481

        “It was in Perpignan that the yellow vests from all over the country had made an appointment this weekend. The rally was scheduled for Saturday at 10am, in front of the convention center. About 300 protesters answered the call,” (google translate)

        Obviously organisers in HK will over-estimate and obviously there were yellow vests demonstrations in other parts of France. Nevertheless, I think the order of magnitudes I presented are roughly correct (and keep in mind that France has roughly 10 times the population of HK).

        Reply
        1. urblintz

          Thanks for the links.

          Your final point about the difference in populations is important and pertinent. And I am not questioning for a moment that the yellow vest protests have decreased dramatically in number. However, I do not consider wikipedia a credible source even with the disclaimer that organizers would inevitably over-estimate the numbers. Wikipedia has been overtly politicized.

          And it is well established that the media uses dodgy estimates to prop up its preferred perspective.

          I guess I am pushing back a bit against what seems to me is your preferred perspective that the yellow vest protests were somehow unimportant in the long run. Apologies if I have misinterpreted your position.

          Reply
          1. Frenchguy

            No worries, I won’t say the yellow vest were unimportant. I think they forced the government to alter some of its policies and, in my view, that was for the better (also, they deflated a bit of Macron’s ego). But I do think that, as a mass popular movement, they are over now and it would be very misleading to view them as representative of the general French population…

            Reply
            1. zagonostra

              Yes, the movement may be over for now, but like the OWS of a couple of years ago, the anger and discontent still seethes just below the surface ready to erupt when the right catalyst or confluence of events sets it off…and so the ruling elite will continue expanding it’s surveillance and tools of repression.

              Reply
            2. urblintz

              Thanks again for your reply. I have no reason to doubt your perspective that the yellow vest protests have declined significantly and that, nonetheless, they accomplished some good.

              Reply
      2. Frenchguy

        You’re right that there were hundreds of thousands of protesters at the start of the yellow vests movements but that was last year. The initial demands of the protesters were met (the main one being not the overthrow of capitalism but canceling the planned increase in gas taxes).

        Reply
      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A few possible reasons.

        1. 10,000 (a month ago, per your comment) over the country of France vs hundreds of thousands) in much smaller and less populous HK. Visually, it could be quite contrasting.

        2 HK began more recently. Yellow vests started way back (for modern news consumers conditioned to new shows). Maybe an ‘old celebrities vs new stars’ thing. ‘What’s the new kid got that I ain’t got?’

        Reply
    3. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, French Guy.

      Have you and other French based commentators any thoughts on the disappearance of Steve Maia Canico, http://steve-nantes.org/. I have just caught snippets on state owned media.

      I will be in Normandy at the end of August and Provence in mid September, so looking forward to observing how it’s going across la Manche.

      Reply
      1. Frenchguy

        Hi Colonel ! I don’t have strong opinions there… It looks like a tragic “fait divers” to me and I haven’t read anything to make me think it’s more than that.

        Reply
        1. David

          I’m inclined to agree. There’s been a huge amount of fuss in the media, and when I was in Nantes a few days ago, there were a lot of posters saying ´where is Steve?´ But there’s little sign of it becoming a popular cause. It amounts to festivities , lots of alcohol, some violence, a river nearby …..
          I did chip in on Macron earlier but the comment disappeared into moderation and has just emerged down the page.

          Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I will be in Normandy at the end of August and Provence in mid September, so looking forward to observing how it’s going across la Manche.

        I will look forward to your report. Since the coverage of the gilets jaunes was so poor as to amount to censorship, it will be good to get a report from a trusted correspondent.

        Reply
    4. Craig H.

      The yellow vests are over?

      There is not much coverage but that does not mean little action. The linked article (Inside the Yellow Vests: What the Western media will not report (Part 3); July 17, 2019; Ollie Richardson; The Saker Blog) is not the style of journalism I prefer. It was pretty boring for five minutes and then:

      I can quickly summarise the day as follows: wild protest at 9am outside Moulin Rouge, the police gas and disperse it; after Macron’s pathetic parade, the Yellow Vests manage to penetrate the Champs-Elysees and occupy the upper part of it; the police gas the entire avenue and struggle to keep the Yellow Vests away; the Yellow Vests encircle the Arc de Triomphe, the police are unable to disperse them and resort to gassing everyone, including tourists; the police groundlessly detain some Yellow Vests to intimidate the others, and thus manage to freeze the situation; the whole avenue is flooded with Algerians at 11pm, the police use violence all the night to prevent the avenue from being completely swamped.

      I had no idea this had happened on Bastille Day and I wonder how I missed it.

      Reply
      1. Cal2

        This caught my eye in that coverage:

        “Essentially, everything of value has been sucked dry by the American imperialistic project known as the “EU”. The middle class has been demolished and replaced by a working class living on credit. The youth are being robbed of their future, and pensioners are being robbed of their legacy.”

        Substitute “economy” for “imperialistic project known as the “EU” and there you have it. That phrase applies to our country as well.

        Paraphrasing Von Clausewitz and combining it with biology:

        The first step in defeating and eliminating parasites is to identify them.

        Reply
      2. Olga

        We all likely missed it (until Ollie’s reporting) because the western press ignore the protests. Unlike those (much smaller and shorter ones) in HK and Moscow. Simple explanation.

        Reply
  4. PlutoniumKun

    The Bizarre, Peaty Science of Arctic Wildfires Wired (Re Silc).

    Very good article, its rare to have a generalist article that gets peat ‘right’. Its complex stuff, and its absolutely vital to stopping runaway climate change.

    I’ve had a bit of an insight to this on my regular sunday cycles up the mountains. Last year in Ireland was very dry and there were repeated fires on the degraded upland peats of the Wicklow Mountains. Light fires are not a big problem – they just burn off dry bracken and furze and it all grows back quite quickly. But some of the fires last year were very intense and burnt right down to the peat. It led to the phenomenon of dark grey sheep wandering around everywhere as they scratched themselves by rolling around in the sooty dust. I was very worried that one more dry year would lead to the entire upland peat area get washed away in the first big storm – but fortunately its been damp, and slowly but surely the vegetation is recovering.

    The topic of tree planting and management is also a very complex one.

    This persistence is particularly dangerous if a peat fire runs into an unhealthy forest. Here, the soil carries more oxygen, helping trees grow taller. “As those trees get bigger, the shading is essentially the kryptonite of the super mosses,” says Waddington. “They stop growing and they stop storing carbon. So not only do you have more fuel in the trees, but you lose that resistant moss at the surface.” It’s a recipe for a runaway wildfire.

    And if mosses aren’t storing carbon, they aren’t helping us get out of this mess we’ve created. So the solution here is an odd one. “It seems counterintuitive that you could cut down trees and store more carbon, but that’s exactly what can happen,” says Waddington. “You get the mosses to grow, and you not only store carbon but you reduce the risk of future fires.” (In other words, planting trees can sometimes do more harm than good.) That, though, would require forest management across swaths of the Arctic, a kind of management we in the US can’t even do right on a small scale.

    For years, the planting of conifers on upland peat has been controversial in Ireland and Scotland. The latest research does indicate that the moss does survive under the trees, so when they are cropped it recovers quickly, leading to a carbon bonus (trees grown then used for timber, without releases from the peat). But there is a lot of uncertainty about this. But peat is certainly a great carbon store for trees if you simply crop them and leave them in the peat – they are preserved for thousands of years – its very common to find 5 thousand year old pines, more or less intact in peat (dating to the last dry period when they established naturally on peat). They make great sculptures as the wood is hard, dense, and black.

    It does raise the possibility that light tree planting and felling in situ could be a significant carbon store. But if drying climates make the peat too prone to fire, then it could just make things much worse.

    Reply
    1. shtove

      What an interesting comment. Thank you. The only thing I can add is Tommy Tiernen’s description of conifer plantations in the west of Ireland: “Like pubic hair on the landscape.”

      Reply
  5. b

    I call bullshit on MsExPat.

    The Hong Kong stuff is clearly a U.S. instigated “color revolution” just like the Umbrella movement 2014.

    From a piece I wrote back then:
    (https://www.moonofalabama.org/2014/09/the-ned-hong-kong-riots.html)

    The 2012 annual report of the U.S. government financed National Endowment of Democracy, aka the CCA – Central Color-Revolution Agency, includes three grants for Hong Kong one of which is new for 2012 and not mentioned in earlier annual reports:

    National Democratic Institute for International Affairs – $460,000

    “To foster awareness regarding Hong Kong’s political institutions and constitutional reform process and to develop the capacity of citizens – particularly university students – to more effectively participate in the public debate on political reform, NDI will work with civil society organizations on parliamentary monitoring, a survey, and development of an Internet portal, allowing students and citizens to explore possible reforms leading to universal suffrage.”

    So the U.S. government in 2012 (2013 numbers are not yet available) hands over nearly half a million to “develop the capacity” of “university students” related to the issue of “universal suffrage” in the election of Hong Kong’s chief executive.

    Two years after the money starts to flow from the U.S. government university students in Hong Kong provoke street riots with demands exactly on the issue the U.S. government money wanted to highlight.

    That is just some curious coincidence – right?

    The NED no longer publishes who it pays.

    The same people and organizations that led the Umbrella movement in 2014 are now leading the “leaderless” black shirt riots. Just a few month ago some of them visited the State Department.

    Also consider that the NYT had 16 opinion pieces on Hong Kong within 37 days. Many from said leaders of the current ruckus. That must be because the U.S. has no interest in the issue. Right?
    (https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/07/violent-color-revolution-in-hong-kong-fails-despite-strong-nyt-support.html)

    The owner of the Hong Kong daily Apple, which supports the protests, met with Pompeo just weeks ago. The U.S. consulate in Hong Kong is btw the biggest in the world and many Hong Konger, especially students, are well versed in English.

    Reply
    1. MsExPat

      I call bullshit back on you. Have you even been to Hong Kong?

      Your arguments, if you can call them that, are years out of date and betray a complete lack of on the ground knowledge. The National Endowment for Democracy funding is old news, consistently trotted out by pro-China trolls as a smoking gun. But NED donated to the pan-Democratic old school parties, not to the independent Civil Human Rights front, which is the only large organization that has been involved in these protests from day one (and btw I should mention that in super-pricey Hong Kong, a half million USD donation amounts to nothing–it won’t even buy you a parking space.) The Jimmy Lai thing is also very old news, like more than a decade. I mentioned him already in my wrap up. Lai’s an easy target for the pro-China hacks who want to tar the movement as a US CIA op–he’s a larger than life character, a multi millionaire, an anti-communist, and he has ties to the US Republican right wing that he’s had for 20 years or more. Sure he contributes to the movement.

      Bottom line: China is hell bent on making the case to the world that the Hong Kong protests are foreign funded. (They’ve been playing this violin for years, and in 2014 the Chief Exec CY Leung even said he had “evidence of foreign interference” that he would reveal when the “time was right.” Ahem, we are still waiting. Right now China’s trotting out ever single puppet spokesperson they can muster behind this meme, to pump it out 24/7. Most of the time these people don’t even bother with backing up the claim, but when they do, it is with is this NED + Jimmy Lai crap that’s been out there for years. You can be sure that if the Chinese government had any solid evidence or proof of foreign collusion that it would be out there, front and center.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Well since you are on the ground would you say that the majority of Hong Kong’s population supports your demands?

        Because the US has quite a history of supporting minority movement rebellions against the will of the majority. For example while Assad in Syria is clearly no angel there was a credible poll after that rebellion began that said he still held majority support due to the multi-ethnic population’s fear of the fanatically religious rebels. In Ukraine we supported a revolt against a government that had been democratically elected which is what we also did long ago in Iran and Guatemala. Before Iraq there were many claims that the population secretly wanted us to overthrow Saddam but never any proof.

        Perhaps rather than US policy constantly calling for “democracy”–by which they mean the sort of corporate or elite controlled democracy that we have–we should instead support the will of the people. Admittedly this may be a hard thing to know. Does your movement represent that will for most of those in Hong Kong?

        Reply
        1. MsExPat

          Yes, it does. Please see the figures from the latest report of the independent Hong Kong Public Interest Research Institute (this is the only independent polling company in Hong Kong, with solid academic credentials)

          1.70% of Hong Kong people are dissatisfied with the HKSAR government (net satisfaction at negative 51 points)

          2. Popularity of the Chief Executive at a record low of 30% (lower than Donald Trump haha!)

          Let’s look at demonstrations–the number of people in Hong Kong who have gone out to protest. The author/human rights activist Kong Tsung-gan has been keeping count, and at the moment his tally is 5,138,800 Hong Kong people have shown up at 31 separate protests. (Our population is abour 7.2 million). Now I realize that protest crowd numbers are a hotly contested issue so let’s for the sake of argument say that attendance figures have been exaggerated by double, and cut them by half (which is, I think, an extremely generous assumption. ) That means at the very least, we’re looking at 2.6 million protesters out of 7.2 million population who have given up their free time to come out on the streets and march for miles in hot, sweaty July to publicly express their dissatisfaction. There have been some attempts to gin up pro-government, pro-police demonstrations, and they have not succeeded in bringing out more than 100,000 people (that is the police estimate of the crowd at the pro-police march, so I think that’s a pretty reliable figure).

          So yes, this is a broad based and majority movement, which continues to surprise every day. For instance, yesterday the bankers came out to protest, and tonight we had 30-40,000 civil servants. A mass strike is planned on Monday. I urge you to follow the Hong Kong news as it unfolds, not from third hand punditry, but from the many excellent reporters on the ground. The Hong Kong Free Press is a good place to start for English language coverage. The South China Morning Post, of course, belongs to Jack Ma, but their reporters independently post great, uncensored coverage on Twitter, where much of the live coverage of the action is to be found. If people want some Twitter accounts to follow I’ll be happy to cobble up a list.

          Reply
        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Sometimes I find myself imagining a just world, where we get to see what really happened in Idlib during Arab Spring. Instead of running a quick course (Tunisia) or fizzling out (most of the rest of the Arab world) in Syria it festered and grew and 500,000 died. My taxpayer dollars, with CIA spooks on the ground in Idlib to pass them (and small arms) around, seem to have played a critical sustaining role. Saint Hero McCain glad handing and photo ops with the “freedom fighters” aside…

          Reply
      2. b

        American Gov’t, NGOs Fuel and Fund Hong Kong Anti-Extradition Protests

        Through its NDI and SC branches, NED has had close relations with other groups in Hong Kong. NDI has worked with the Hong Kong Journalist Association, the Civic Party, the Labour Party, and the (Hong Kong) Democratic Party. It isn’t clear whether these organizations have received funding from the NED. SC has, however, given $540,000 to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions in the course of just seven years.

        The coalition cited by Hong Kong media, including the South China Morning Post and the Hong Kong Free Press, as organizers of the anti-extradition law demonstrations is called the Civil Human Rights Front. That organization’s website lists the NED-funded HKHRM, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Civic Party, the Labour Party, and the Democratic Party as members of the coalition.

        It is inconceivable that the organizers of the protests are unaware of the NED ties to some of its members. During the 2014 Occupy protests, Beijing made a big deal out of NED influence in the protests and the foreign influence they said it represented. The NED official, Greve, even told the U.S. government’s Voice of America outlet that “activists know the risks of working with NED partners” in Hong Kong, but do it anyway.

        Reply
      3. RubyDog

        As someone who has been trying to learn more about Chinese history (a subject of which most of us Westerners are woefully ignorant), I’d like to add a few salient points.

        1. Rebellion, protest, and internal turmoil are as Chinese as chopsticks! Examples abound across millennia. Foreign influence is not necessary.

        2. Blaming “foreigners” is a time honored propaganda strategy across all governments and societies as a way to deflect attention away from any inconvenient truths and internal root causes of the strife. We do it, they do it, everybody does it.

        Having said that, it’s not hard to believe that the West and the CIA, etc, have their mitts in there trying to gain some supposed advantage from the situation. But that’s a far cry from the claim that they are controlling and manipulating the situation to the extent that is claimed. I agree with MsExPat that “It diminishes the agency of and infantilizes Hong Kong people. They are misguided and deluded poor children that couldn’t possibly challenge China unless they had outside help.” I believe there is a lot more discontent within China than we know about, because the CCP keeps such a tight lid on things.

        Reply
    2. MsExPat

      Tonight there was a massive demonstration in Central HK by that oh-so-vulnerable-to-foreign-influence group of Hong Kongers: Civil Servants. Yes, that’s right–the largest and best paid civil service bureaucracy in the world is out on the streets protesting the government that pays their salaries. What a coup for the CIA! Really we Americans rock so hard I can’t even….

      https://twitter.com/loubedana/status/1157260953978753024?s=20

      Reply
      1. LuRenJia

        1. One’s physical presence at a place does not necessarily mean that person’s opinion is correct.

        2. HK was under British rule for 150+ years. How long is it under China- about 22 years so far. And what does China change in the 20 years? To British’s credits, it does know how to rule it colonies except the one in north America.

        3. The factors related to HK is not just one or two.

        4. If the same behavior of those protesters did such as destroying government office occur in US or UK, would you expect the same as you do to HK government? Do you think the authorities in US or UK would respond the same? The same standards must be held.

        5. People can be manipulated with a stimulating agenda and some planning. It would be naive that the external factors just decided to do it now. Whoever it is, it must have started years ago or even earlier.

        6. Can you tell me if people in HK could do the same or have the same rights under British rules as they do now? The last 5-10 years under British rule may not count because we may not know why British did it then but not say 10 or 20 years earlier if British is true to it.

        The bottom line is that one must behave per the conscience regardless where he/she comes from. That is, one does not intentionally to hurt others in any form or means.

        You can believe what you believe and say what you want to say. At the end, one reaps what he/she sows.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > People can be manipulated with a stimulating agenda and some planning. It would be naive that the external factors just decided to do it now. Whoever it is, it must have started years ago or even earlier.

          Not impressed with vague generalities. In any case, surely the Mainland has both the budget and the muscle for a “stimulating agenda” all its own?

          Reply
    3. shtove

      First time, I’d say, there’s been a divergence between NC and moonofalabama. I don’t know what to think!

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That’s the Crying Wolf problem.

        With RussiaRussiaRussia making Putin a victim (to many readers here, not necessarily to the wider public), Vladimir now has the advantage of being able to doing something while still maintaining his credibility (to many readers here).

        And it raise the possibility that those pushing RussiaRussiaRussia actually work for Ptuin. Is this as credible as the RussiaRussiaRussia and Moscow Mitch narrative? Perhaps not as credible. Perhaps it’s more along of the line of ‘as incredible.’

        Similarly, with the US being in on so many color revolutions, it has become, for not a few people, the default assumption.

        I believe that is inductive thinking in both cases (it has always been like that before, so it must the so now and in the future), with all the problems associated with that.

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I don’t know what to think!

        Look at the evidence and reasoning. For example, “The US (and certainly not the CIA) doesn’t have enough young, colloquial Cantonese speakers for one thing.” That seems like a strong argument, to me. And it’s not refuted by dropping, say, a Mint Press link into the mix. I mean, come on.

        Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            It’s hard to refute a non-existing something (the lack of a Mint Press link, for example).

            In comparison, ‘I mean, come on’ is more than non-existing.

            Reply
          2. richard

            not to speak for Lambert, but….
            an example of evidence was the lack of young, colloquial Cantonese speakers – “I mean, come on” was the exhortation to consider that rather f*&^ing huge piece of evidence.

            Reply
        1. pjay

          A strong argument?? The “US” or “CIA” does not have to supply the bulk of “young, colloquial Cantonese speakers.” There are plenty of those already in HK who oppose the mainland for one reason or another (and there are many reasons — some of them divergent). To create turmoil, all they have to do is piggyback on the discontent with some well-chosen funding, logistical support, and propaganda to leaders, spokespersons, criminal gangs to bust up a few offices, etc. The CIA has done this since its inception! And creating turmoil does not require James Bond-like competence. As for the Mint Press link, well, that depends on the content. The article makes a number of *specific* connections that seem pretty relevant to me. Do I believe Mint Press or the New York Times? I mean, come on.

          Do I *have* to make the obligatory statement that I am not a China/Xi/authoritarian/etc “apologist” to say that there is *something* amiss in the MSM version of these events?

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > There are plenty of those already in HK who oppose the mainland for one reason or another (and there are many reasons — some of them divergent).

            Yes, so that’s organic in origin (given that “plenty” means “millions”).

            > To create turmoil, all they have to do is piggyback on the discontent with some well-chosen funding, logistical support, and propaganda to leaders, spokespersons, criminal gangs to bust up a few office

            This is just silly:

            1) The protests are not mere “turmoil.” To the contrary, they are extraordinarily creative and well-organized

            2) Did you read the part about “diminishes the agency of and infantilizes Hong Kong people. They are misguided and deluded poor children that couldn’t possibly challenge China unless they had outside help.” Because that’s exactly what your comment does.

            Reply
    4. Christopher Fay

      CIA spends $500,000 and gets Putin levels of efficiency out of that spending. Gee, that’s exceptional. The students themselves, or the entire population of H. K., well educated, motivated, have no agency at all. I think the younger HKers can be influenced by the student protests in Taiwan, the Sunflower Movement and subsequent draft protests, which reached 300,000 to 500,000 people out of a population of 23 million.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That’s a good point, that if we want to look at China, it’s always useful to include Hong Kong and Taiwan.

        Reply
        1. LuRenJia

          Well, that makes sense since both TW and HK are parts of China.

          The majority of the youth in Taiwan is basically brainwashed by the regimes in almost past 3 decades. And it is done systematically. It has to have some effect, doesn’t it? A Chinese saying goes, “To destroy a country, destroy its history first!”. That’s what happened in Taiwan since mid 1990s.

          Taiwan started to use what it had accumulated in 1970-1990 since the late years of Lee regime. I’d say the majority of the youth in Taiwan today can’t think objectively and a lot of them are down to the very primitive tribalism in politics. As a consequence, Taiwan’s future is quite dim from the dumb-down young generations. The so-called democracy makes it worse. In a “democracy, 5001 idiots can screw the other 4999 in a group of 10000. Often times, 3334 probably can win it.

          What happens in Taiwan with respect to political evolution leads US about 10 years.

          As for what happened in HK since the umbrella thing. one is delusional or blind to say there is no external interference. Do you know whom the leaders of these met with? Two comments at b’s site are worth a read:

          https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/07/violent-color-revolution-in-hong-kong-fails-despite-strong-nyt-support.html?cid=6a00d8341c640e53ef0240a471f580200c#comment-6a00d8341c640e53ef0240a471f580200c

          https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/07/violent-color-revolution-in-hong-kong-fails-despite-strong-nyt-support.html?cid=6a00d8341c640e53ef0240a4bff970200b#comment-6a00d8341c640e53ef0240a4bff970200b

          Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Just a general question – If it comes from Taibei, is it considered ‘external interference?’

            Or would that be ‘internal?’

            Reply
          2. Oregoncharles

            Yeah, Tibet and Sinkiang are “part of China”, too. They’re also colonial horror shows with deep history – a nightmare from my youth that hangs over Hong Kong now.

            Those, and Tiananmen Square.

            I hope I’m wrong, but a wren flying in the face of the dragon is taking a big chance.

            I don’t think US influence has much to do with it, because I remember that history. that and the Hungarian uprising against the Soviets, also in 1956.

            Reply
      2. PlutoniumKun

        Yup, 500,000 is peanuts, its not evidence of anything at all. This is similar to saying the Russians stole the election for Trump because a few FB trolls were traced to Moscow. Its meaningless as evidence.

        Reply
        1. Butch In Waukegan

          “$500,000 is peanuts.”

          But that was for 1 year, 7 years ago.We don’t know how much has been funneled there since then. The NYT’s (a known conduit for the US intelligence) 16 opinion pieces indicates there is a plan to stir the pot. Was Judith Miller a one-off?

          As for agency, I am sure the are legitimate and serious popular grievances in Hong Kong. There were in the Ukraine too. The US is using these grievances as a wedge to advance US interests.

          (I can’t help laughing out loud at “Marco Rubio is a freedom fighter”.)

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > there is a plan to stir the pot

            Whatever that means. Frankly, I find it a little disheartening to see CT-style thinking removing agency from (vast majority of) the people of Hong Kong.

            The Blob is big and well-funded. It’s also very stupid, lacks basic local knowledge, and constantly fucks up. There are all sorts of plans out there. But we can’t even foment a coup in our own backyard in Venezuela.

            Reply
  6. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Nudge theory

    I’ve been on the fence about this, but on balance I think MoA and others promulgating the notion that this is an intelligence led color revolution are wrong for all the reasons MsExPat sets out.

    I can’t claim great insights into HK, but I’ve known enough HKers over the years to know that they absolutely loath the ‘Mainland’ (to an almost racist extent) and consider themselves a separate nation and culture. And they are also very determined and stubborn individuals when pushed beyond their limits (an angry HKer is a very scary sight indeed). The notion that somehow it takes the CIA and Soros to rile them up against Beijing is simply wrong and a complete misunderstanding of Hong Kong. This isn’t to say they haven’t tried, but it is a bit of an insult to HKers to say that they need some outsiders to provoke them to stand up to Beijing.

    Its also not really credible that either US intelligence or western foundations would have the ability to operate within HK that they had in the Ukraine or other satellites. We know the Chinese have rolled up the main CIA intelligence gathering operation and HK is an intensely surveilled country. There is simply no way that a completely de novo color revolution could have been organised without China knowing about it, and stopping it.

    This isn’t to say that there haven’t been attempts to stir up trouble there – I’m quite sure there are plenty of Western elements (official intelligence agencies and others) who would love to do it. But the simplest explanation is usually best, and in this case there really isn’t any need to imagine some sort of malign anti-Chinese plot. This really is an organic anti-Chinese movement within HK. One that will no doubt be snuffed out with extreme prejudice by Beijing when the time is right.

    Reply
    1. RabidGandhi

      Reading your post, in my brain I substituted “HKer” with “Venezuelan aristocrat” and “Mainland” with “Chavistas” and the fit was striking.

      I think we’d all do well to remember that every case of external subversion in history has involved a more than willing native element.

      While it would be foolhardy to say that without Uncle Sam there would be no protests in HK, it is just as implausible to say that the US– given its recent aggressive pattern in Iran, Ukraine, Syria, Venezuela, etc.– is just sitting this one out and letting the natives decide for themselves.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Good to see you back commenting here RB, sorry to say I have to disagree with your argument. They are entirely different situations. South/Central American is riddled with the lackeys of the US, HK/China simply is not. Its an entirely different culture and political situation. There is simply no evidence that even if they tried, the US would have been able to drive this without the Chinese being able to stop it.

        Reply
        1. RabidGandhi

          To repeat my potentially confusing double negative, it would be foolhardy to say that without Uncle Sam there would be no protests in HK.

          I do not think the US is “driving” the rebellion in Venezuela either, but they are certainly riding it and getting out to push every time it stalls. As I believe my comment made clear, subversion is always a [mixed metaphor alert] twin engine affair, with at least some locals working hand-in-glove with the outside power. This is not just the case in Latin America, but also where the Empire has a less intimate relationship… Ukraine, Vietnam, Australia, Burkina Faso… you name it.

          And Likewise PK, always great to read your comments, you help make this a great blog.

          Reply
          1. lyman alpha blob

            I agree RG – the protests in HK may have started organically but once started, I find it hard to believe the US hasn’t gotten involved in some manner.

            Reply
            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > in some manner

              I’m seeing a lot of vague hand-waving, redolent of appeals to fixed ideas rather than analysis of the material situation. See “a plan,” above.

              Reply
            2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Of course the US are “involved”. But they completely suck at the “hearts and minds” game, apart from the usual agitprop about American “freedom and democracy”. H&M grows organically and yes it feels like old people, civil servants, middle classers completely priced out, not just uppity students, are the sustaining forces.

              (Yes I’ve traveled to HK many times over many decades and lived there for a year, agree with RevKev that it’s surprising how “non-mainland” the people there identify.)

              Reply
              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Mao, compared to other early CCP leaders, were home grown.

                He didn’t go to France, like Deng or Zhou (in the 1920’s, after the October Revolution), nor to that communist paradise, USSR.

                Later, though, he did receive help from Moscow, before, years/decades subsequently, growing to oppose them.

                So, Beijing knows all about outside influence.

                Reply
          2. PlutoniumKun

            Sorry if I misunderstood what you wrote. I agree that there probably is a US hand in there somewhere stirring away – but my guess – and its just a semi-informed guess – is that these protests are organic and genuine (even if not always arising from the best of motives), and at best (or worst) western interference just a minor element.

            Sometimes seeing the hand of the CIA (or Soros) everywhere is just the flip side of reds under the beds. It concerns me that people on the left have become so paranoid about colour revolutions and false flags that they don’t recognise genuine popular movements any more unless they are directly aimed against the US.

            Reply
            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > It concerns me that people on the left have become so paranoid about colour revolutions and false flags that they don’t recognise genuine popular movements any more unless they are directly aimed against the US.

              Bingo.

              Reply
            2. RabidGandhi

              And I would add that the left’s CIA obsession you mention also often blinds us to the deep work performed by native aristocracies whose interests coincidentally align with Washington’s.

              Reply
              1. Jessica

                I take it for granted that the US would be _trying_ to turn the protests in Hong Kong to its own advantage, but I doubt that the US is having much impact.
                Hong Kong people have been concerned about how Beijing would treat them since the run up to the handover. Meanwhile, the Beijing government has been evolving toward more repression not more democracy. That makes it easy to believe that people in Hong Kong would protest on their own initiative.

                Reply
  7. pretzelattack

    marco rubio is a principled anti communist? naw he’s just another cold warrior, who’s political support and donations depend vitally on being a red baiter. what else would he do in florida? i’d like to hear from some more people that live in hong kong.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Don’t know much about Hong Kong but when it comes to the sincerity and agency of the protestors versus US meddling both could be true. For sure praising Rubio does not help one’s case.

      Reply
    2. MsExPat

      This is one of the things that drives me crazy about Americans: They can only see foreign affairs through a US frame. From a Hong Kong based perspective, Rubio is one of our only friends in the US. His support of Demosisto’s Joshua Wong and Nathan Law (he led a group of congresspeople that nominated them for a Nobel Prize) helped them get international attention and has made a difference in the way they are treated by the Hong Kong authorities, who are now blatantly dispensing “justice” weighted by politics. Rubio is also the ONLY member of Congress who is speaking out about the horrible fate of the Uighurs, the ethnic cleansing horror show unfolding now in real time that so few are aware of in the US. How is this gonna get Rubio votes in Florida? I disagree with 95% of what Rubio stands for domestically, but on the issue of China he’s light years ahead of our our neo-lib Democrats–and the, ahem “left”–who have been crickets about China for the last 8-10 years. That has now come back to bite us big time. The Chinese government wants to shift the definition of human rights globally, to align with their vision of authoritarianism and they are building a coalition of petty despots in the UN to make that so. Go ahead and hate Rubio, but he’s out there fighting a battle that no one else has the guts to take up. Certainly not Trump, who just threw Hong Kong under the bus yesterday.

      Reply
      1. taunger

        US pols don’t need votes, they just need $$$ to supress opposing votes. Rubio is not worried about elections, he is worried about his own.

        Reply
      2. The Rev Kev

        Yeah. Mark Rubio. I am sure that they appreciate his love of democracy in places like Venezuela. Look, I am no fan of the Chinese government but it does not take much to work out why they do certain stuff. The Uighurs for example. They have that whole region locked down pretty tight, right? Consider this then.
        Several thousands Uighurs have gone to Syria where they have received advanced military training, have gotten both equipment and battle experience, and likely they have received training in sabotage and guerrilla warfare as well. They are a serious force to contend with.
        Now just where do you think that corps will go to as Syria winds down and what do you think that they will do when they get there? Do you not think that the CIA will not send them money, arms and equipment like they did with the Chechens in the first Chechen war against Russia? Would not Rubio like to see a guerrilla war break out in China’s west to tie down the Chinese military instead of pushing towards the east? Sure, tens of thousands of Uighurs would die but I am sure that Rubio would consider that a price worth paying.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          Tibet, only Muslim. Bad memories.

          This is why colonialism is always and forever evil.

          And something else: the old Silk Road runs through Sinkiang. The new one will, too. And it’s a simmering pot of trouble.

          Reply
        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Few appreciate what an unbelievable bloodbath Chechnya was. China/Uighurs, Putin/Chechnya…I wonder what Trump would do if, say, California decided to secede due to “ideological differences”? But I do think HK will not provoke a similar Beijing response: it’s geographically tiny and they have waaay too many problems simmering at home.

          Reply
        3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          I also consider the Uighurs situation with Chinas ability to set up their New Silk Road.

          Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The Mongol invaded along the Silk Road.

            Without it, it’s doubtful they knew the way to Poland.

            Reply
      3. Carolinian

        Why do you assume your cause is America’s cause? R2P is at the bottom of every horrible thing the US has done over the past couple of decades and Rubio is at the forefront of that. We who live in America can only view this in terms of what’s best for us just as you are willing to overlook Rubio’s terrible influence on Latin America policy because you seem him as an ally to you personally.

        Your fundamental error is in asserting that US politicians can be trusted to fight “petty despotism” when they are at the bottom of much of it. Doubtless the Chinese government is using the US “pivot to China” and Pentagon fantasies of a military rivalry to help justify any domestic repression and US ambitions will always give such excuses some weight.

        We thank you for your perspective but as commenters above say there are other views that need to be heard. The blog Moon of Alabama asserts that the majority in Hong Kong do not support your cause and resent attacks on the police.

        Reply
        1. barefoot charley

          We who contain multitudes surely can accept that useless idiots like Marco Rubio may sometimes be useful idiots, if only by accident. Further, that our understandings needn’t be binary just because arguments are. I learn from this range of views, and appreciate Yves’ insistence that we not personalize our disagreements. Let’s be smarter than the Democrats!

          Reply
          1. pretzelattack

            he may well be a useful idiot in this instance, but he is not a principled useful idiot, nor a courageous one.

            Reply
      4. urblintz

        My comment was meant to encourage more comments. I am willing to accept that on this Rubio is right. But I’m skeptical that his motives are as pure as you suggest and, as a resident of Florida, I do not believe his stand against the mainland is without personal political calculation. Then again, that’s what politicians do so its really a moot point. And I fully agree with you about the pathetic neo-lib Democrats as well as what I call the faux left. Curiously “benign neglect” – which has been going on for a lot longer than 8-10 years – is a concept popularized by a Democrat (Patrick Moynihan) who at the time was domestic adviser to President Ronald Reagan. It’s a bi-partisan affliction. Wasn’t the hope of Tian An Men Square effectively neutralized by most western nations? Trade has always been more important than human rights even as the two are usually conflated as supportive of each other. Is liberal/humanitarian interventionism, the Carter Doctrine, actually working now in the way it was originally imagined?

        Reply
        1. barefoot charley

          Worse–Moynihan was Nixon’s token Democrat when he advocated benign neglect for black people, way back in 1970. And as you say, it’s been generalized on everyone and everything since. Blacks truly are our cultural canaries in the coal mine.

          Reply
        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I’m skeptical that his motives are as pure as you suggest

          I don’t care about motives nearly as much as I do about outcomes:

          His support of Demosisto’s Joshua Wong and Nathan Law (he led a group of congresspeople that nominated them for a Nobel Prize) helped them get international attention and has made a difference in the way they are treated by the Hong Kong authorities, who are now blatantly dispensing “justice” weighted by politics.

          I hold no brief for Rubio whatever, but why is it so hard to admit that in this instance he did the right thing?

          Reply
          1. urblintz

            My second sentence says clearly that “I am willing to accept Rubio is right on this.”

            I know you hold no brief w Rubio. Why is it so hard to admit that he may have political motives as well?

            Reply
          2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

            Beware of Rubios bearing gifts?

            Im down with the Hong Kong Working Class and making their Economic Conditions better, whatever that may be! Plus seeing HK in conjunction with Ukraines new President, Puerto Ricans kicking their corrupt DEMOCRAT gov out of office, the Gilets Jaunes, Modis anti globalization in India, and the Kentucky Coal Miners Civil Disobedience!

            GOOD THINGS!

            Reply
      5. pretzelattacks

        rubio is not a freedom fighter. on the issue of central america he has been terrible. that is not based on ignorance of the world, it is a fact. for rubio to oppose china takes no guts at all. is there a large expat chinese vote in florida? as far as am aware, the virulently anti leftist cubans are the base of rubio’s support, and this costs him nothing.

        Reply
      6. pjay

        “This is one of the things that drives me crazy about Americans: They can only see foreign affairs through a US frame.”

        This is certainly true of most Americans — and in fact most of us. We *all* see foreign (or domestic) affairs through our particular framework of experience, interest, ideology, occupation, social position, etc. I would like to know a little more about yours, MsExPat, before evaluating your assessment. The fact that you live in HK does not necessarily privilege your insight; it could well limit it (see RabidGhandi on Venezuela above). This is certainly the case for most Americans when trying to describe events in their own society. Some of your comments raise red flags for me (e.g. on Rubio and the Uighur issue), even if your general account of the protest movement is correct.

        PK’s comment above strikes me as a reasonable position on this issue. However, given the entirety of US postwar history up to the present, I think it is naive, at the very least, to treat Chinese fears of foreign influence as mere propaganda. And mainstream media coverage of China is about as distorted as can be. I claim no special expertise or insight on China. But I know enough people who do to recognize that one-sided demonization is unhelpful.

        Reply
      7. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Trump who just threw Hong Kong under the bus yesterday.

        Thank heavens. It would be an utter debacle of Trump got involved, since it would validate everything Beijing is saying (at least inside the PRC).

        Reply
    3. georgieboy

      Rubio is a Cuban-American. He is anti-Communist.

      MsExPat is absolutely correct about tendency for Americans to ‘misunderestimate’ the personal and family experiences that motivate many people.

      If you can access it, see the 7/21/19 piece by Sean McMeekin regarding the difference between what outsiders see about WW II and what the Polish see.

      Reply
      1. pretzelattack

        he’s a cuban american politician that as far as i know has backed every single u.s. intervention in the region, and supported every lie used to justify those interventions. I appreciate the range of views on hong kong, but rubio, from the standpoint of the damage he has supported and contributed, is not a principled anything, other than pandering.

        Reply
    4. Kelvin

      I am a regular reader from HK. Although I usually enjoy reading MoA articles, for this time I think b had give too much credit to US and PlutoniumKuns’ view is closer to the truth. The situation on ground is actually much more complicated and cannot be attributed to a single factor.

      The mixed feelings toward China are surly play an important part. The extradition bill hit the nerve of Hong Kong people because of the distrust of the mainland government. Most who are old enough still remember what happened in Beijing on June 4, 1989 and held commemorating event annually in Hong Kong. For the younger generation, many do believed democracy as a universal value and the current political structure has stripped their right.

      Being the world’s freest economy doesn’t help either, it just translated to more neoliberalism and higher social inequality. How can you live happily in world’s most expensive housing market? At the same time the government has mismanaged China individual visitor scheme.The growth of visitors have lead to conflicts between tourists and local residents over the use of public facilities and bidding up price of household goods.

      The trouble was baked in the cake, all it takes is just one bad bill. The situation became worse as police has been accused of using excessive violent and misconduct (I happened to live in the place where the armed mob indiscriminately attacked protester and civilians, people are furious of the police’s respond). Groups of citizen have started attacking police stations. To many they are attacking an illegitimate political system and it is not about the extradition bill any more.

      But I am sure US would happily fan the fire. It was like Pompeo was here for a free gift.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It reminds of the Feb. 28 Incident in Taiwan shortly after the ROC’s arrival and Japan’s departure from that island.

        In both cases, people ruled previoulsy under a different culture clashed with those newly arrived and their different ruling culture.

        Reply
      2. MsExPat

        Actually Kelvin, the US is doing the opposite of fanning the fire. As I link in my previous post, Trump yesterday threw Hong Kongers under the bus, and said China was doing a good job putting down the “riots”. As I’m sure you know, a “riot” in Hong Kong carries a jail sentence of up to 10 years, and one of the tactics the government is now using is to define all demos as “riots” so they can sweep up a bunch of kids and prosecute them–and scare anyone else from coming out to demonstrate the next time. So Trump just basically handed a huge gift to China, and to the Chinese government.

        Let’s talk about Pompeo. Our outgoing US Counsel, Kurt Tong, was about to give his valedictory speech last month, criticizing the HK government’s response to the extradition protests (it seems like years ago not just a month, things have moved so fast here). Anyway Tong didn’t give that speech because Pompeo reached out and muffled him. Oh, but perhaps this is the genius CIA playing 11th dimensional chess!

        Waving to you in Yuen Long. Stay safe.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Actually Kelvin, the US is doing the opposite of fanning the fire.

          Trump could well be doing one thing, and some faction within the intelligence community another. Trump is using acquiescence on HK as a bargaining chip on trade. That doesn’t mean some sort of operation he wasn’t told about isn’t going on.

          And presumably, if some such operation exists, the PRC will crack it; their counter-intelligence operation is very efficient.* The fact that the PRC hasn’t paraded some US spies already is strong evidence they don’t exist.

          NOTE * It also occurs to me that it would be madness for the spooks to get involved, since a lot of our agents had their cover blown in 2018. Hard to rebuild those networks in 2018, even harder to know whether the networks we (presumably) have in HK aren’t blown to.

          Reply
          1. juliania

            I would add to the above conversation that b at MofA doesn’t mind admitting it if events prove him wrong. He does on occasion post threads explaining and apologizing for his errors. That is rare in the blogosphere.

            It seems to me that on many points, the two views are not in opposition, and I do not worry that some are very skeptical about the ‘help’ that is being given by certain members of the US body politic. In light of clear malfeasance in so many areas of the world that goes unreported or misleadingly reported by mainstream press, it is prudent to be very suspicious of what the US government in whatever branch of it being contemplated has caused or influenced. That’s why we attend to what is said on both these excellent blogs, by both the leadership there and the commentariat.

            Time will tell. And I hope that the legitimate concerns of the people of Hong Kong, whatever they be, can be met peacefully by the Chinese government, just as I hope that government’s multipolarity stance is a genuine one. I’m very sorry that I have lost faith in the US government’s stance on democracy. There’s far too much blood in the water on that issue. But that doesn’t mean it cannot some day become part of the vision for a multipolarized world, and I hope the Chinese government is genuine in that commitment. Then perhaps the Hong Kongese will be proud to be a part of China.

            Reply
        2. Kelvin

          Thank you, MsExPat.

          I have a complicated feeling toward the protesters charged with ‘riot’. Revolution is a heavy word. It might be OK if is only empty talk, but no government would tolerate a group of citizen shown up armed at unauthorized protests, started attacking police stations while crying for revolution. Some extremists have started building bomb. You can’t expect there will not be any consequence.

          (As reported here, the writing on police station was translated to “Revolution of our time”, but I think a more accurate translation is “Era Revolution”)

          On the other hand, it is a very powerful charge and might subject to abuse for political mean. It can be used against the peaceful protester (which might already happened ). It will also scare others to execute their right to protest.

          As for Pompeo, his reputation precedes him. I sincerely wish that he just came here for a drink because of problems at home.

          Reply
  8. Antifa

    Regarding the news about the FDA considering the reimportation of drugs . . .

    This is not really anything new. While it is officially illegal to bring foreign drugs into America, or order them online from a foreign pharmacy, both the FDA and HHS have allowed such importing for decades, if it meets one or more of these exceptions:

    * It’s a drug not yet approved in America, but is prescribed for a serious condition for which there is no equivalent in the USA,

    * You are bringing back/receiving in the mail an amount that is no more than a three-month supply of your medicines,

    * The meds are declared at Customs with the appropriate prescription or documentation.

    A million or more Americans have enjoyed 90% savings on their routine medicines by this method. Every three months, they get a little box with the appropriate Customs tags taped on the outside.

    Reply
    1. wilroncanada

      Per statements of approval by D Trump, A million patients going around the grossly unfair US medical system is not the same as an officially promoted mass raid on the drug supply of a particular widely- used drug in Canada. The cross-border caravans led by Bernie Sanders notify in advance the stores they are going to purchase from in order that sufficient quantities are available without draining the supply available to local patients. Even so, one incident did occur, but the patient had not exhausted his supply, and more was available the following day. Canada too faces shortages of certain drugs, most often rare meds for particular diseases that are universally limited in availability, perhaps from patent monopoly.
      Sanders has said that he does not lead these caravans because he wants US patients to en masse buy Canadian supplies, but to highlight the lack of decent healthcare in the US, including pharmaceuticals. There is no excuse for US mismanagement.

      Reply
    2. Yves Smith

      These are good points but the rules are even more specific. What is limited (as you point out) is reimportation, not “bringing foreign drugs into America.” The official FDA position is written in a way that looks to be intentionally misleading:

      This is because drugs from other countries that are available for purchase by individuals often have not been approved by FDA for use and sale in the United States. For example, if a drug is approved by Health Canada (FDA’s counterpart in Canada) but has not been approved by FDA, it is an unapproved drug in the United States and, therefore, illegal to import. FDA cannot ensure the safety and effectiveness of drugs that it has not approved.

      I get one old off patent medication from Australia. It’s not made in the US and hence not reimported but the same generic is sold in the US at ridiculous prices.

      Reply
  9. zagonostra

    >Tulsi Gabbard

    I have to revise my opinion of Debate#2. My first impression was that Tulsi was weak and should have been more forceful, going after Biden. But that would have been a mistake. Toppling an old man in his decline, especially when he is liked by many people of a non-political nature would have been a mistake.

    Going after, Harris, who was the aggressor in the prior debate worked brilliantly, as is evidenced by all the appearances on the corporate media I watched last night, and even though the Chris Comos and Anderson Coopers tried to taint her with Assad, she got the exposure she needed.

    I don’t know if it was planned that way, to lay off Biden and go after Harris, or if it unfolded naturally, or a combination, but I’m glad of the result it seems to have achieved.

    Reply
    1. Mark Gisleson

      Gabbard’s calculated assault was almost militarily precise. She had a cold start (I tweeted that she looked like she was impersonating herself smiling), and the early issues weren’t good for her but her value isn’t in her take on the issues so much as it is TULSI’S ABSOLUTE INTOLERANCE FOR BS POLICIES.

      I love her for that so much. I’d like her to be Bernie’s Veep (best insurance policy to protect Bernie from a Deep State executive staffing adjustment).

      Reply
      1. Cal2

        +1,000

        I wonder what is her support among returning veterans and active duty personnel?

        The returning WWII veterans got The G.I. Bill, loans, free education, free medical care and the 1950s.

        Can you imagine them getting ripped off by payday loans, being replaced with cheap labor immigrants, as they are cursed for their ‘white privileges’, and their kids being disenfranchised, like today’s veterans are?

        Tulsi could be a powerful force to mobilize the millions of Middle Eastern veterans and their families to get involved in politics and correct the past mistakes that cost them years, limbs and lives. She’s was the only veteran on that stage.

        “A majority of veterans say they believe the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the military engagement in Syria were not worth it, a new Pew survey found.
        The Iraq War “was not worth fighting,” according to 64% of the veterans surveyed, compared with 33% who say it was worth fighting. Fifty-eight percent say the war in Afghanistan wasn’t worth it compared with 38% who say it was, according to the Pew Research Center survey released Wednesday.”

        https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/07/10/middle-east-military-campaigns-not-worth-it-say-majority-veterans/1682510001/

        5.9 TRILLION$ for what?
        https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/14/us-has-spent-5point9-trillion-on-middle-east-asia-wars-since-2001-study.html

        This is probably why the establishment must attempt to thwart her at all costs and she is a great opportunity for the Real Democrats to overthrow the Business Industrial Complex.

        Rumor is, she goes Third Party, if ignored.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          What party (there is only one peace party), and where did you get those rumors?

          Because, of course, she WILL be ignored.

          Reply
        2. ObjectiveFunction

          The returning WWII veterans got The G.I. Bill, loans, free education, free medical care and the 1950s.

          Can you imagine them getting ripped off by payday loans, being replaced with cheap labor immigrants, as they are cursed for their ‘white privileges’, and their kids being disenfranchised, like today’s veterans are?

          Well said!

          Reply
      2. Katniss Everdeen

        My personal opinion is that, after all is said and done, a Bernie-Tulsi ticket would walk away with it, and the american people would be far and away the better for it.

        Reply
    2. ewmayer

      The problem Gabbard faces is that the PTB are working hard to disappear her by way of gerrymandering the rules to qualify for the next rounds of debates – load yesterday’s 2pmwc and search for ‘only 7 candidates’ … Gabbard needs her poll numbers to rise dramatically to qualify, and of course the DNC/MSM have their thumbs on the scales of a lot of the polls, or at least the “key ones” conveniently defined as to be used for debate-qualification. And of course the PTB are further working hard to keep that from happening, by way of manipulating the Big Data platforms … during/after the first debate Google rigged their searches so ‘Gabbard’ would not show up, and now Twitter is doing similarly in an attempt to curb any enthusiasm that might be builidng for her out there amongst its user base.

      So, yeah, the best shot of getting her near the reins of power would appear for one of the older progressives – Sanders or Warren – to get the nom. and pick her as their running mate.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        Given her age and level of qualification, I assume that’s what she’s campaigning for; or maybe enough clout to go for the Senate – but that would happen anyway

        The problem is that VP is a dead-end job of little inherent importance; though both Bernie and Warren are old enough that it might lead to the Presidency. Former VPs are rarely elected Pres, and I don’t think it’s going to happen this time, either, even if he gets the nom.

        If she doesn’t pick up speed soon, she’ll be forced to drop out so she can campaign for her House seat.

        Reply
    3. Levi

      I agree, I was a little hard on her as well. She is so well-spoken and her opinions more encompassing and part of a whole sort of ethos that to see her walk out the abridged, edited-for-content-and-to-fit-your-TV-screen version of herself at the debates can be a little disappointing. Nonetheless she is clearly provoking a reaction. Beyond the last few days news, I noticed in these debates vs the first two that more candidates are taking on an anti-war stance. Is this the case of democrats being the anti-war party whenever they are up for election and out of power – probably. But maybe she and Bernie have shifted the foreign policy debate.

      I also have heard she polls well with some conservatives or is at least respected by them and have seen some of that born out in my conversations with conservative coworkers – when they know who she is – which in the general election might be relevant.

      She might be too inexperienced to be chosen VP for a Bernie ticket, but she should be. He needs some serious softening. I agree with him on probably 90% of policy and I’m sick of listening to him. Stop yelling at me Bernie, I get it. Maybe save some energy for improving your potentially seriously flawed M4A bill.
      I think his outrage / tone may only go so far in some parts of the country and with some people, who will just tune him out because they think he’s too negative, and find his yelling grating. If a VP candidate actually sways any votes in an election is up for debate.

      Reply
      1. Chef

        Personally, I like the yelling. It’s the infinite schmoozing and false congeniality of politicians I could do without.

        Reply
    4. Yves Smith

      Her opener and closing statement were weak but as noted, she was very effective with the little time given her. If she gets into the next debate, she needs to do better with her set pieces.

      Reply
  10. Otis B Driftwood

    For me, this is the money quote from the Taibbi article:

    Russiagate isn’t just about bad reporting. It was and is a dangerous political story about rallying the public behind authoritarian maneuvers in an effort to achieve a political outcome.

    I would also point out that the same “fourth-rate” DNC players behind the Russiagate fiasco had the same ridiculous reflexive reaction to Tulsi Gabbard’s takedown of Kamala Harris on Wednesday night, kicked off by this hard-to-imagine-in-any-sane-world tweet from Ian Sams, who is not just some random nut, but is actually (remarkably, still) employed as Kamala Harris’ national press secretary:

    Yo, you love Assad!

    see https://twitter.com/IanSams/status/1156738628535689218

    Reply
    1. tegnost

      What strikes me re RRRgate, in personal interactions and in the twittersphere et al. is the school yard bully tone of it’s elite bro supporters…funny to listen in on tech bro’s talking about how the worst thing about the new world of self driving cars would be having to share them with “others”, you know, dirty poor people transitioning to all poors are racists for not loving hillary…no need for moral consistency, just sneer and snarl…

      Reply
    2. richard

      Twitter looks like it has had its way with Mr. Sams.
      Those 4 stupid words sum up all the guilt by association reasoning that an entire class has become lost in
      they will be shaken awake and mocked
      then will immediately resume their somnambulant activities
      with no memory that the rest of us hate their senseless bullshit

      Reply
    3. flora

      +1. The lengths the Machine went to, is still going to, to insure their candidate wins is Joe McCarthy, red scare-level stuff.

      At least Rachel Maddow’s rating are falling, from 1st to 5th place since April.

      Reply
      1. JCC

        Too true. I think this article from the Strategic Culture Foundation spells out pretty clearly what, and why, Ms. Gabbard is facing severe pushback based on what the Macine believes in.

        Tulsi Gabbard is admittedly a work in progress. But what I see in her is something that has the potential to be very special. She’s young enough to be both passionately brave and willing to go where the truth takes her.

        And that truth has taken her where Democrats have feared to tread for more than forty years: the US Empire.

        The entire time I was growing up the prevailing wisdom was Social Security was the third rail of US politics. That, like so many other pearls of wisdom, was nonsense.

        The true third rail of US politics is empire. Any candidate that is publicly against the empire is the enemy of not only the state, it’s quislings in the media, the corporations who profit from it and the party machines of both the GOP and the DNC.

        That is Gabbard’s crime. And it’s the only crime that matters.

        Reply
  11. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Tim Ryan told Bernie Sanders that Medicare-for-all would be bad for unions. Major union leaders disagree. Vox

    But even so, Ryan was hellbent on making the case that Medicare-for-all would undo union work.

    Is this the stupidest “reasoning” EVER or what? It uses the same “logic” as justifying keeping “wars” going because so many people have already died.

    And this really does deserve a replay:

    Sanders: Medicare For All is comprehensive and covers all health care needs. For senior citizens, it will finally include dental care, hearing AIDS and eyeglasses. Second of all —

    Ryan: You don’t know that, Bernie.

    Sanders: I do know that. I wrote the damn bill.

    And they’re seriously trying to tell us that most like Barack Biden better????

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      So Ryan is fine with a multi-tier (starting with “haha go die!”) health system? Um, Ok. Thought we had that?

      Reply
    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Ryan: You don’t know that, Bernie.

      Sanders: I do know that. I wrote the damn bill.

      But, but, you can’t know what the lobbyists put into the bill until after you vote for it!

      Seems like a bit of a culture clash about how legislation is done. Reminds me of front end users telling me how incredibly complicated something is. ‘Not once I take a look under the hood, be fixed in a jiffy.’

      Reply
    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Great article that should put paid the myth that Canadians are soooo dissatisfied with their national healthcare system that they are flocking to the u.s. to get some of that extra-special good american stuff.

      According to the author, america could use some of that tough love it so famously dishes out to other countries that don’t act right:

      The U.S. health-care system is the most expensive, least equitable, least efficient in the industrial world. Giving Americans greater access to Canadian prescription medications would not change this. Such access might actually reduce grassroots pressure for fundamental reforms to U.S. health care generally, not just for pharmaceuticals, and that’s certainly not the same as a solution.

      Even at our lower prices there would still be millions of U.S. citizens unable to afford the medications they require. And remember: More than 26 million U.S. citizens have no health insurance at all, thus nobody to write their prescriptions. The cost of U.S. health care, including pharmaceuticals – even for those with health plans – remains the single greatest reason for personal bankruptcies in the U.S.

      Commenters agree:

      Agree 100% with the article. The Yanks should leave our drugstores and our supplies alone.

      Maybe they could have a Boston Tea party type ceremony throwing their overpriced medicine into the harbour.

      Ouch.

      Reply
  12. David

    The Yellow Vests article suffers from the same weakness as a number of other recent ones in the English media. It paints the picture of a diabolic Macron trying to crush the movement with violence. In fact, Macron did not expect the crisis, had no idea how to handle it, and tried desperately to bring it to a non-violent conclusion. He still hasn’t really got a way out, as the protests move more and more to guerilla tactics, stretching the exhausted police even further. Already police recruitment is down by 25% this year’ ’ whilst petty crime is increasing exponentially because the police are tied up elsewhere: there’s a two-thirds increase in robberies on the Metro for example. The authorities are well aware that if things get serious again in the autumn, they may not be able to retain control of the streets: they almost lost it last December.
    So it’s silly to talk about giving the police a ´free hand.´ They were under very strict political control, as is always the case in France, and the authorities were bitterly criticized for allowing widespread damage to property without police intervention. Some statistics may help. More than a million people took part in these demonstrations which often turned rough’ if not always violent. You have to be very naive in France to take part in a demonstration where windows are smashed and property stolen and not expect a response. So far there have been about 250 complaints made through the online system, some of which, at least, do seem to show excessive violence. But the police don’t see themselves there to defend Macron, and many were very unhappy with what they were asked to do. It’s not sure they’ll be prepared to do it again. The problem is in the process of mutating, but it’s not over.

    Reply
  13. The Rev Kev

    “Imagining a Warren-Buttigieg, or Buttigieg-Warren, Ticket”

    Never happen from what I can see. Like has happened with Kamala Harris in the debates, Buttigieg’s past will catch up with him and he will be nailed for it. As for Warren, whatever her good points I have heard it suggested that she is being helped in her campaign so that she can undercut support for Bernie Sanders. And that when he is eventually forced to exit, then the DNC will turn on Warren and kneecap her. On the other hand, a Sanders-Warren ticket would not be so bad from what I can see.
    For those who enjoy a touch of irony, in 2000 Buttigieg “won first prize in the JFK Profiles in Courage essay contest awarded by the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. He traveled to Boston to accept the award and met Caroline Kennedy and other members of President Kennedy’s family. Buttigieg’s winning subject was the integrity and political courage demonstrated by U.S. Congressman Bernie Sanders of Vermont.” You just can’t make this stuff up.

    Reply
      1. SamM

        There is a not insignificant number of extremely religious African Americans, particularly above the age of 60, that would have serious concerns about voting for an openly gay candidate. Not in any way they would vote for Trump, but they might not pull that presidential lever if Buttigieg is the top of the ticket.

        Reply
        1. Alfred

          Correct. However, I would say, a much larger number of extremely religious white Americans who would, under no circumstances, vote for a ticket that included an openly gay candidate. And a still larger number of extremely religious white Americans who would vote the other ticket for no reason other than spite.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            Hmmm. You just made me wonder. Hillary in 2016 attracted a lot of women voters who wanted to finally see a female President but she may have been the wrong candidate for them. Her staffers were once toying around with the phrase ‘because it’s her turn’ as a campaign rallying cry when a real women candidate would have used a rallying cry of ‘because it’s OUR turn’. Anyway, your thoughts made me wonder how many of Hillary’s voters would go to a Warren or a Gabbard because she is female and whether this will be a big a factor in 2020 as it was in 2016.

            Reply
      2. Avery T

        For the record, that was a Season 3 episode, where Bart ran against Martin for the fourth grade class presidency. Bart’s campaign for anarchy and to line the classrooms with more asbestos was wildly popular, but no one cared enough to vote, leaving Martin to win 2 votes against Bart’s 1.

        Voter disinterest and suppression would generally work in Trump’s favor in an actual election.

        Reply
        1. jeremyharrison

          Yes, after I posted that (and discovered that my link didn’t work right, but found the info on Martin), I discovered that indeed, this match-up had already occurred.

          And yes, sure enough, Bart was wildly popular (just as Trump would be more appealing that Buttigieg), by taking Martin’s promise to get asbestos removed from the school, and turning it on its head, getting the class chanting “More asbestos, more asbestos!!” Perfect Trump.

          And you actually understated the voter disinterest. Bart lost 2-0 – 2 votes by Martin and his running mate, and even Bart didn’t care enough to vote.

          Reply
          1. richard

            That is a fun analogy there, and it’s also useful to help us think about historical change. The classic 90’s simpson’s episodes were written during a period of relative neoliberal consensus – Martin was supposed to win! He was actually the good guy, doing all that boring stuff that the kids would end up appreciating more! C’mon you guys, fun is fun, but…! (I speak with the voice of the consensus now)
            Then if I remember Bart is consoled after losing the election by Homer, who reminds him that he didn’t actually want to do anything or run anything anyway. Exactly what the consensus would like to think of the hoi polloi, and how they would like the hoi polloi to think of themselves. The consensus wins again! Yay!
            I love the simpsons, but i’m also glad that their time is not our time, and that the “consensus” is having more problems…

            Reply
            1. jeremyharrison

              Ah, but in a way, Bart Simpson (and Trump) are a part of the new “consensus” – lovable, disruptive rebellion for its own sake. At least, they’re a 60 million vote consensus….

              They’ve unmasked the old consensus to be part Principal Skinner, and part Montgomery Burns.

              Skinner (the current Dem lineup) has no clue how to deal with it, so just cries “Racism!” and “Russia!”. Bart can skateboard around him and laugh.

              Montgomery (TPTB) might have a few tricks up his sleeve though – you don’t obtain that much power without the ability to be resourceful and cunning. But they need someone as entertaining as Bart to be their front man.

              Maybe they’ll head on down to South Park and start grooming Cartman.

              Reply
            2. NotTimothyGeithner

              I would argue “The Simpsons” writers are not proponents of the neoliberal consensus. In this case, they know being President of the 4th grade is a stupid activity. For Martin, a classic front row kid, its everything despite really just being a chance to polish Mrs Krandle’s apple.

              Martin Prince stands in stark contrast to Lisa despite both being the only graduates of Springfield elementary to read at an adult level. For Lisa, these things are minor things she does to improve the world around her or share it.

              I would even argue Chris Arnade’s recent book is him largely describing his movement from being Martin Prince to becoming Lisa Simpson. The Lisas of the world already knew what Arnade is describing. The writers of The Simpsons identify with Lisa.

              How is Martin going to get rid of asbestos? He clearly has no pull among his classmates. His father is a day trader, not an architect, an environmental lawyer, or even the regional coordinator for the third largest distributor of bunk and trundle beds.

              Reply
              1. richard

                Wow, was there asbestos in that episode too?
                idk really, of course, but that was a tough consensus to get away from in the 90’s (I looked on wiki for the exact year of this episode, but couldn’t find it – wow are there a lot of episodes!)
                Another perspective on Lisa – she is the ray of hope that gives the consensus its legitimacy. Because she cares and persists, the whole sorry enterprise gets a grace note, and an implied pass. In a way, Lisa is the consensus. I imagine there is an entire subset in the liberal part of the 10%, especially in the non profits, who see themselves as “Lisas”.

                Reply
                1. Jessica

                  I was aiming for the NotTimothyGeithner piece that begins “I would argue “The Simpsons” writers are not proponents of the neoliberal consensus”.
                  Lots of other good comments today as always. Thank you to everyone who has nurtured this space of actual intelligence.

                  Reply
    1. Lee

      Buttigieg’s winning subject was the integrity and political courage demonstrated by U.S. Congressman Bernie Sanders of Vermont.” You just can’t make this stuff up.

      I was unaware of this. Has it been widely reported?

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        When I read this a few months ago (its on the wiki), I found this part to be the most amusing:

        and met Caroline Kennedy and other members of President Kennedy’s family.

        Wow, the future mayor of South Bend met American Royalty. How lucky is he? Except for Bobby, I’m pretty sure every Kennedy would have been arrested or a complete nobody is Jack didn’t become President. Who thinks Ted Kennedy wouldn’t have died in prison if he wasn’t able to run for Senator on his last name?

        As far as Caroline, her claim to fame is a creepy Neil Diamond song.

        Reply
        1. Pat

          While I am not Caroline’s biggest fan, she has a fairly decent record. She does seem willing to do the work associated with the public positions she has taken. Despite joining the Boeing board when she resigned as Japanese Ambassador, Chelsea Clinton would probably kill to have a CV half as good.

          Can’t disagree that Teddy could probably thank his last name for being able to avoid jail.

          Reply
          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            She has a fine record, but basically, she is an heiress with a Wikipedia page which twice mentions jobs where she was paid very little. Wow, once Pete met this heiress. Its not a meritocracy but a mediocracy.

            Is it interesting Pete Buttigieg once met a famous person? I saw half the cast of Flight of the Concords on the same day in NYC in different parts of the city. Kristen Schaal was at the MOMA with who I assume were her grandparents in the gift shop on the top floor.

            The idea of Mark Twain and Jack London crossing paths in San Francisco is neat, but this line is so absurd. Would it change much if we swapped out Caroline Kennedy with Henry Charles Albert David? The answer is no because there is no odd coincidence or story about fate there.

            Reply
    2. edmondo

      Why anyone still reads the New York Times is one of the great mysteries of American journalism. And reading Kristof in particular is a practice that comes close to sado-masochism. The man is insufferable. I urge everyone to read this link and afterwards tell me why you would ever read another NYT column again.

      Reply
      1. Baby Gerald

        +1000. On top of this wonderful neoliberal pipe dream from Kristof, we also get an opinion piece from Ezekiel Emanuel (yeah, that’s Rahm’s brother) telling us Democrats Are Having the Wrong Health Care Debate with the telling subhead, “They should skip the argument over Medicare for All and find the best ways to tackle affordability.”

        Propagandists gotta propagandize.

        Reply
      2. neo-realist

        Book, theater, and film review sections, as well as the discovery section for a bit of science. The empire’s hand isn’t as heavy with the arts and sciences.

        Reply
        1. Chef

          As Ed Bernays relayed in his book Propaganda:

          “Page one of the New York Times on the day these paragraphs are written contains eight important news stories. Four of them, or one-half, are propaganda.”

          And that was in 1928; can’t imagine it’s any better these days.

          Reply
    3. dearieme

      the JFK Profiles in Courage essay

      Golly, a prize named after a book that the purported author didn’t write. And people say that Americans don’t do irony.

      Reply
  14. Katniss Everdeen

    “MoscowMitch”

    If the victory laps being taken this morning on MSNBS are any indication, joe scarborough is taking “credit” for the MoscowMitch moniker. Ofjoe Brzez… is delighted and proud that this cleverness has gone GLOBAL.

    Neither one seems to have noticed that “joe” goes better with mccarthy than scarborough.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      It’s even worse than the first Cold War where at least there was a genuine dispute over Eastern Europe and atomic bombs were very much on everyone’s mind. The current fixation on Russia as arbitrary but necessary enemy makes Orwell seem like a seer.

      Blame it on Hillary and her minions for starting this Russiagate nonsense? Works for me.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It predates the second HRC Presidential Debacle. Accusations were hurled about Putin sponsoring anti-fracking protests by the powers that be. After the Brown Danger post 9/11, it was obvious “Turror” was running out of steam, and a new enemy was needed. Switching to the Yellow Peril so quickly to justify deranged MIC spending was a bit on the nose and would have been noticed. Given the New Democrats and much of officialdom are basically 50 years old now, they just went back to a golden oldie.

        Reply
  15. Tom Doak

    Is there a single potential Democratic ticket which would alienate black voters more than Warren-Buttigieg? Not that Nick Kristoff cares. I guess he figures they have nowhere else to go.

    The good news is, floating trial balloons like that in the NYT is a good indication that Biden’s weakness is now apparent to the MSM.

    Reply
    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Is there a single potential Democratic ticket which would alienate black voters more than Warren-Buttigieg?

      Probably Buttigieg-Warren, which might piss off a few women as well.

      Reply
    1. pjay

      But… how can two people who *both* live in Hong Kong view events so differently?

      (I started that as a sarcastic comment, but it should actually be a serious question.)

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Polin is quite a stylist, if nothing else:

      Entrenched anti-China, pro-”democracy” forces in Hong Kong control three critical areas: education, the legal system and media. The legions of local youth imbued with a toxic hatred of the Chinese Communist Party and clueless about international geopolitics, testify to the stunning success of the anti-Communists in the schools.

      Swap the labels and one could be reading Pat Buchanan. In any case, Asiaweek was once owned by Time. More to the point, Polin also writes for Global Times, “an English-language Chinese newspaper under the People’s Daily.” Perhaps that has something to do with the source of the differing views. It’s not clear to me why Counterpunch needs to reinforce the CCCP line, but it’s a complex world.

      Reply
  16. a different chris

    >Just 10% of fossil fuel subsidy cash ‘could pay for green transition’ Guardian

    What’s comical is that the fossil fools of the world get a bunch of tax breaks, yet at the pump we pay several different taxes.

    This is one of many reasons why deep down, although I try to fight thru it, I think it’s over. That is, we won’t “change our behavior” – mostly because it’s such a complex mess we won’t even be able to figure out what that actually means let alone do anything.

    Reply
  17. Steve H.

    A perspective on Epstein’s impregnation ranch:

    I was looking into the mathematics of cooperative networks, in which Martin Nowak is a central figure. He co-wrote “Unifying Evolutionary Dynamics” with Karen M. Page, and his book on the topic gives closing thanks to Epstein in the Preface.

    Long story short, Epstein paid for Nowak to be the Director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard University. Follow the money. Judging from Nowak’s account of conversations, Epstein is seeking validation for himself being the fittest individual, an ubermensch. Nowak’s equations transcribe f from r; fitness is equal to reproductive capacity. This follows from models used in ecology. So Genghis Khan, with an estimated 16 million descendants, would be considered singularly fit in these equations.

    A flaw in the model is that r is dependent on R; reproductive capacity is dependent on Resource availability. The Tilman model of competition expresses this. It shows how species competing for the same resources can coexist through specialization in particular shared resources.

    There are non-human examples of species inhibiting competition by decreasing or fouling competitor resources, but nothing salts the soil like humans. Neoliberal support for the Chicago School models to justify policy that benefits the wealthy is a given at NC. Epstein’s soulless ideology is a hall of mirrors, where more copies of himself proves to himself that he is the fittest man.

    He’s just a knob that wants to be Genghis.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      >where more copies of himself proves to himself that he is the fittest man.

      Haha, guess that’s it. Because Epstein is wealthy, but not in the Bezos/Gates class or even within lightyears of that. And nobody seems to know why he is wealthy. Epstein thinks he’s smart, but he hangs around with credentialed idiots like Dershowitz (reading Dershowitz makes me think I’m smart!) not MIT physicists. Finally, has Epstein even won something like a local golf tournament?

      So he’s got money, but don’t know why and far from the stratosphere level.
      He has “smart” conversations over BS fields with people who are idiots
      He has no overwhelming (forget the penis info, even if true) physical abilities

      But the human race would be better if his genes were prominent. Yeah, right.

      Reply
    2. Carolinian

      just a knob that wants to be Genghis

      Perhaps a needed axiom is that if you think you are the ubermensch then by definition you aren’t. Real smart people have a lot more humility.

      Reply
    3. Henry Moon Pie

      “Long story short, Epstein paid for Nowak to be the Director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard University”

      Maybe one day that statue of Johnny in the Yard will stand up and demand that his name be taken off that den of iniquity.

      Reply
      1. Polar Donkey

        Well, in 1980 Epstein was named most eligible bachelor in Cosmo magazine. So he had that going for him.

        Reply
    4. Oregoncharles

      But if Epstein tried that with underage girls, he’d get in trouble really fast. Nothing like a pregnancy to tattle.

      However, he’s right: last I heard, “evolutionary fitness” = number of descendants. We know how Genghis did it; Epstein wouldn’t have those means. $100,000 might be pretty persuasive, though. Is he going to take drugs, to inseminate that many women?

      Reply
      1. Steve H.

        He’s known for single-donor businesses. Think cuckoo, stealing resources by putting eggs in other birds nests.

        “The best way to rob a [sperm] bank is to own one.”

        Reply
  18. The Rev Kev

    “Has a Color Revolution Come to Russia? Probably Not.”

    No, probably not. They already had their their takeover back in the 90s and after a few million Russians died prematurely, they decided not to repeat the experiment again. At this point they are pretty colour revolution-proof and are helping other countries to defeat such tactics. In Russia itself, they are in the process of kicking out the neocon Atlantic Council right now as “the activities of this organization pose a threat to the fundamentals of the constitutional system and the security of the Russian Federation”. Good move that and we in the west should do the same.
    In the end, if there are changes to be made, it will be made by the 145 million people that actually live there.

    Reply
    1. pjay

      Booting the NGOs, of course, is held up as a prime example of Russian “authoritarianism” by Western pundits.

      Reply
  19. Lee

    For your consideration:

    Recently impressed by an interview with soldier and author Elliot Ackerman on Christiane Amanpour and Company, I’m reading his first novel, Darkness at the Crossing. Although the discussion was focused on his most recent book, a memoir, Places and Names: On War, Revolution, and Returning, I prefer reading an author’s works in the order they were written.

    He has some interesting ideas on the mistakes we’ve made since 911 and how best to end our “forever wars”. He also discusses the social alienation and other challenges faced by individuals serving in a professional military and subjected to multiple deployments and combat time far exceeding what has been historically typical, before we ended the draft.

    Imagine in this country, we just finished a few months ago the furor over this college admissions scandal where we saw what, elite families, in this country would be willing to do the lengths they would be willing to go to to get their children into college. Imagine if those same families of elites had a child who’s eligible for the draft. Even in those 1 in 20 chance that that child would be draft into the U.S. military, do you think we would still be fighting an 18-year war in Afghanistan, or do you think we would be flirting with the idea of going to war in Iran? It would be far more difficult to continue these forever wars and to engage in wars in the future. So when I say I support a draft, I don’t support a draft for the militarization of America, I support it for the demilitarization of American society.

    Reply
    1. Henry Moon Pie

      “willing to do the lengths they would be willing to go to to get their children into college. Imagine if those same families of elites had a child who’s eligible for the draft”

      How does the author possibly believe that “the lengths” that the affluent will go to in order to keep their kids from the choice of becoming a trained killer, going to jail or fleeing into exile will be political pressure to stay out of war? That is naive in the extreme and completely contrary to the historical precedent in the 60s. Did George Bush or Donald Trump to go to Vietnam? Did those with college deferments go to Vietnam? The affluent will go to the same sort of lengths they went to in order to get their little darlings into the “right” school: bribing; hiring lawyers to find loopholes; buying their way into cushy Reserve and National Guard units.

      Re-instituting the draft will not stop our nation’s war madness. It will only force every young person of conscience to make that terrible choice among bad alternatives. Getting rid of the draft was one thing of value that was accomplished in the 60s along with the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. Let’s not fall into the trap set by the warmongers who would love to take advantage of our near despair over our failure to stop the wars.

      Reply
      1. Lee

        I inferred from his manner when saying this that the elites should be given special treatment of a negative sort.

        Although I was a draft resister during the Vietnam war, his points about the draft and the problems with a professional all volunteer army are not without merit. The anti-war movement was not all about morality. The concrete material benefit of stay alive or not getting your balls blown off on the battlefield, or driven mad in the face of the carnage (as was a good friend of mine) was certainly a strong motivating force animating the movement.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I look at the duration and scope of Korea and Vietnam, and I’m not particularly impressed with the anti-war efforts. It wasn’t 18 years, Afghanistan, but they were much larger in comparison.

          As for the wealthy elite, I’m not sure a draft would work, even removing exemptions. The monsters would love a dead kid to hold over. It might not be as nice as bragging about getting a kid out of the draft through displays of power, but it would be accolade.

          I would put a $40k cap on incomes for five years for anyone employed in the defense industry. We can match it soldiers pay, and then have a capital gains tax on wealth from the period of conflict. We need to remove the financial encouragement for perma-war. Demand these so-called patriots pay their fair share. George Washington funded the Continental army.

          Reply
          1. Levi

            > I would put a $40k cap on incomes for five years for anyone employed in the defense industry. We can match it soldiers pay, and then have a capital gains tax on wealth from the period of conflict. We need to remove the financial encouragement for perma-war. Demand these so-called patriots pay their fair share. George Washington funded the Continental army.

            I think this is a good idea. Also how about this, with inspiration from N.N. Taleb – If you vote for a war authorization or to go to war, you or your most able-bodied heir must be placed on active duty and posted to the front. I think this is the kind of policy that would be easy to sell to the american people, and easy call out any war-mongering politician who didn’t support it.

            I do think a draft or national service of some kind might be a good idea in addition to these. If we’re going to fight wars, we need to stop feeding only our lower classes and those with no other options into the meat grinder.

            Reply
            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Psychopaths don’t care about their kids except what kind of honors those kids can bring them. Getting them out of service is about showing their power over the system, not their kids. If they don’t have a choice, they won’t care if they die. It will just be a noble sacrifice. The Pentagon will probably pay to bring them to the Super Bowl and demand the teams take a knee to rich parent of dead kids. And for the psychopaths, it will be worth it.

              Removing the power over the system which is war profiteering is the only solution.

              Reply
              1. neo-realist

                I believe the Psychopath elites do care about keeping their spawn alive: They’re bred, primarily, to be the next generation of psychopath elites. If they have to fly them out of the country for the foreseeable future to protect them from a meat grinder war, they will do so.

                A noble sacrifice of an elite is giving a grass fed steak to member of the housekeeping staff.

                Reply
      2. Oregoncharles

        @ Henry M P: yes, many times over. I remember those days, too.

        However, I have to say that my personal experience doesn’t quite agree. I dodged the draft, got a 1-Y (we don’t really want you); but my brother dropped out of college (personal issues) and let himself be drafted. My father’s tune changed very quickly once he had a son in Vietnam (my brother made it back). And yes, he was on the fringes of the elite, then. N = 1, but it does make a difference.

        But you’re also right: most of the focus was on ways to dodge the draft, and privilege made a huge difference. As we see from people like Cheny or Bush II. The elites were profiting from the war, too.

        Reply
    2. curlydan

      I think he’s right. A draft without restrictions and with the addition of audits or something to make sure the wealthy are gaining no advantages would be a huge help to ending the forever wars. People can say that won’t happen, but you can’t prove that until you try it. And what do we have without a draft?…a terribly militarized society.

      The draft and the anti-war movement appeared to have a symbiotic relationship. As noted in this article from a few years ago, “Nixon thought ending the draft could be an effective political weapon against the burgeoning anti-war movement. He believed middle-class youths would lose interest in protesting the war once it became clear that they would not have to fight, and possibly die, in Vietnam.”

      https://www.politico.com/story/2012/01/us-military-draft-ends-jan-27-1973-072085

      Reply
      1. Henry Moon Pie`

        “A draft without restrictions and with the addition of audits or something to make sure the wealthy are gaining no advantages would be a huge help to ending the forever wars.”

        You’re talking about a world that is completely different from the one we’re living in. If a U. S. political system could produce a draft without restrictions and favoritism, it would be a system so much better than the one we have that it would solve the problem of PermaWar without needing to resort to a draft.

        Rather than trying to resurrect the immoral system of forcing people to kill upon the order of another, why don’t we do all we can to discourage enlistment, with both material carrot and moral stick, so that the Death Industry will have to pay premium wages to all their mercenaries?

        Reply
  20. Phillip Allen

    With regard to MsExPat’s comments from Hong Kong, she seems to be operating on the common fallacy that there is anything whatever communist about the state capitalist enterprise that is the current Chinese government. That they call their state and party ‘communist’ is nothing but legacy branding at this point. Indulging in this fallacy serves no purpose but mobilizing anachronistic anti-communist rhetoric in service to the unfolding great power struggle.

    Reply
    1. urblintz

      good point. authoritarian capitalism is what some might call it, although capitalism is authoritarian in and of itself, imho, and many western nations seem to be more willing than ever to show that side of their preferred doctrine.

      “The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.” – Frank Zappa

      Reply
    2. MsExPat

      No, in fact I totally agree with you there. There’s nothing communist about China’s government at this point. They are an authoritarian, oligarchic state.

      But the legacy of the “communist” brand lingers on with the anti-Communist cabal in Washington.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Disagree, and it’s why I think HK will continue to be a useful safety valve in its current form to Beijing.

        The Party (5% of the population) own 100% of the nation’s land. You are allowed to operate and “own” a business on top of that land in the form of a long-term lease. If for whatever dreamed-up reason The Party no longer finds that convenient they have unlimited mechanisms (“laws” on the books) to take that property away from you, as an estimated 100 M people discovered when “their” farmland was in the way of housing and infrastructure development. Once in “the courts”, prosecutors have a 99% conviction rate.

        This is all not lost on international investors. Look at the restrictions in place for Shanghai investors, even inside the free trade zones. Repatriating your capital can be exceedingly difficult, and with the spectre of outright confiscation due to a lack of actual property rights it’s a far cry from what one would call a “capitalist” system.

        If you stay in the good graces you might be OK, and can even wink wink nudge nudge get funds over to HK. This has been true for a long time, back in the day in the full-on Communist 1980’s my father (international banker) had HK dealings with a Red Army general. He was a billionaire.

        Reply
  21. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. preparing to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan in initial deal with Taliban”

    After some 4,000 dead American soldiers and contractors, the Pentagon finally learns what every other power has discovered. You can invade Afghanistan but you can never conquer it. The Pentagon always wanted a series of bases to keep a presence in this part of the world for intelligence gathering, raids, bombing missions, foreign troop training, etc. but the Taliban will never allow even one US base to remain and any other country that has troops in Afghanistan will also find their position untenable.
    I have two predictions. After the west withdraws, there will be the usual infighting in that country as well as against the ISIS groups imported into that country. Second, after a short order of time, America will develop amnesia as far as Afghanistan is concerned and it will be like the twenty years there never happened.
    Just for a bit of historical context, here is an article showing previous occupations of Afghanistan as well as the present-

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/29/world/asia/afghanistan-graveyard-empires-historical-pictures.html

    Reply
    1. Inode_buddha

      They got their asses whooped by a bunch of rice farmers in black pajamas a while back, I don’t think they learned much from that either.

      Reply
    2. Olga

      Unfortunately, I think you’ll be proven right, RK.
      Including that the empire will not learn even from this latest defeat.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        That’s OldThink, Afghanistan is so far in the “Win” column it’s not even funny: 15 years of unlimited money flow straight from chump taxpayer wallets into military inventory. It’s an incredible business model: charge taxpayers $2 million for a single, highly-complex flying robot (Hellfire missile under a drone) that is destroyed the first time it is used. #Winning !

        They just need a new country to host the festivities. Yemen is perfect: non-strategic, faraway, and full of brown people. Venezuela is still promising; so is Iran. Africa is a gold mine. Trump knows HK doesn’t fit the bill so under the bus they go.

        Reply
    3. Briny

      They’ve a track record dating back to Alexander the Great. I wouldn’t have ever messed with them, personally, although we don’t get a choice while wearing the uniform.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Was the Mongol invasion of Afghanistan a long lasting one, counting Timur and Babur and his descendents (all could trace ancestry to Genghis)?

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          I don’t know how long their occupation lasted, but their descendants are the Hazara,one of the many ethnic groups there. They live mostly in the mountainous center, are Shia, and apparently are discriminated against.

          A map of the ethnic groups of Afghanistan explains a lot: there are many and they’re intertwined.

          Reply
    4. Oh

      Rev,
      The only place the US Army has any semblance of control is in Kabul. Therefore, I daresay that the withdrawal is symbolic and a Trump ploy.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Fully agree. Not for nothing did the former Afghanistan President – Hamid Karzai – was nicknamed the Mayor of Kabul.

        Reply
  22. DJG

    Inside the Yellow Vests by Ollie Richardson. A powerful report about the treatment of citizens in our lands of austerity. Much detail–so it will take a while to read. But I recommend it. The “practice” concentration camps are also in use in the US of A, now aren’t they.

    I agree with Richardson’s diagnosis:

    I’m sure that I will receive abuse from so-called “libertarians” and the like, but the process is capitalism. And the stage of the process I refer to is one that is relatively new to us – when the exploitation of labour reaches a critical level. A deadly cocktail of the consequences of colonisation, an oligarchic system, a tribalistic society, a total lack of sovereignty, a frighteningly ugly population pyramid, etc have resulted in what we are now seeing: the derailment of the train of “modernity”.

    Essentially, everything of value has been sucked dry by the American imperialistic project known as the “EU”. The middle class has been demolished and replaced by a working class living on credit. The youth are being robbed of their future, and pensioners are being robbed of their legacy. The Macron regime’s ethos is simple: work more; be paid less. Starve infrastructure, but make timely investments into personal offshores. Privatise everything in the interests of pals, present it as “reforms”. In general, it’s a classic neoliberal hit job.

    Note that the exploitation of the U.S. worker arguable is much worse, yet we haven’t reached an inflection point here.

    However, and the big however, I don’t see Americans as willing to engage in demonstrations and disruptions. As brutal as the French police have been, U.S. police are worse, which is what the citizenry here fears–being treated like a black person, whose police murders are exemplary. Also, I recall that at the pink-knit-hat march here in Chicago, on Inauguration Day, there was some hesitancy even to march. So a large group hived off and went to brunch. I demonstrated, and I don’t consider myself particularly brave. But for many Americans, oh, the choice is the Bill of Rights or Brunch? Well, we’ll have the kale omelette.

    Reply
  23. Monty

    re hong kong

    I thought this was an interesting take on the HK protests.

    https://www.quora.com/In-your-opinion-are-Hong-Kong-protests-a-U-S-funded-operation-to-make-China-look-bad

    The writer explains that the extradition law would effect HK billionaire class who have gotten exceedingly fat from years of ruling the roost. e.g. Top 10 richest men have 35% of HK wealth and they are everyone’s landlords and employers.

    The extradition law could see them jailed and their fortunes get frozen. So, if anyone is trying to rustle up an inorganic protest, it is these fellows. They are using their fortunes and influence to stave of a potential existential threat to themselves.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I understand the current situation in HK evolved from an obscured murder case in Taiwan involving a person from Hong Kong.

      And I read that Taibei most likely will not sign an extradition treaty with Hong Kong impairing the former’s sovereignty status.

      The billionaire angle is one possible one. There seem to be many factors here though, among them, ‘foreign influence’ from Taiwan?

      I think if the US wanted to do something, they’d involved Taibie’s intelligence assets in Hong Kong..

      Reply
      1. Christopher Fay

        The abilities of Taiwan don’t include influencing politics in Hong Kong, the door step of China, other than the example of the student protests in Taiwan.

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I have heard that Taibei has maintained agents in Hong Kong, and Mainland China, ever since the civil war, just like Beijing has, in Taiwan, presumably.

          Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > So, if anyone is trying to rustle up an inorganic protest

      I’m sort of amazed to see so many people holding so tightly to the notion that protests must be inorganic.

      “Robin Daverman, world traveler” writes:

      The super rich have the money to put up demonstrations and launch private armies[1]. Professors in the University of Chicago has been paying $45 a person to have them go to Hong Kong demonstrations for years, that’s how cheap they are[2].

      [1] Daverman says the HK billionaires’ motivation for this is to avoid having their assets frozen. Wouldn’t bribery or the standard forms of corruption be cheaper and simpler?

      [2] No evidence.

      Reply
  24. Rosie Klein

    I am here to express myself on how xxxx saved my marriage from divorce. Myself and my husband were having some misunderstanding and it was tearing our marriage apart to the extend my husband was seeking for a divorce. So i have no option than to go to the internet to seek for solution to my problem it was there i came across xxxxx details and about how he has helped a lot of people by restoring there relationship. I contact xxxxxx and in less than 48 hours my husband cancelled the divorce papers. Now myself and my husband live together in peace and harmony all thanks to xxxxx for saving my marriage from breaking up.

    Reply
    1. JacobiteInTraining

      I wouldn’t recommend a xxxx. While certainly light and easy to carry on ones belt along with a main-gauche and sidesword in everyday life, we must be honest with ourselves – the skills it takes to successfully defend with a buckler are beyond the capabilities of most of us.

      Truly, how many of you have the money and time (not to mention physical abilities) to truly learn, practice, and implement what is written in the Fechtbuch I.33 treatise?

      I’m going to have to go on record as saying that despite its weight and bulkiness MOST individuals would be far better served with a scutum, or at least a heater shield, then a xxxx.

      And honestly…in most maritital duels I have spectated….the shields are dropped rather quickly anyway and close quarter blows do the deed.

      Boy, this is why I love NC so gosh darn much….where ELSE can I get into a shield debate about the relative merits of xxxxx et al in maritial duels! :) ( https://www.fscclub.com/history/mduel-e.shtml )

      Reply
      1. Polar Socialist

        Considering that defending oneself with xxxxx is rather easy compared to attacking properly while holding one, it certainly is advisable to not use one in marital duel is one aims to win.

        So definitely, instead of investing time to learn I.33, one should embrace the modern and go directly to basket-hilt sword for steady and slashing arguments with good chance of defence. Those with more eloquent and yet efficient ambitions should try sabre de cavalerie légère modèle 1822, that unbeatable zenith of sword design — everything after it is either inferior or a copy — which is as good in delivering a point as cutting trough the argument while still perfect for deflecting adversary’s attempts of the same. It works even if you get down from your high horse.

        Reply
        1. a different chris

          >one should embrace the modern and go directly to basket-hilt sword for steady

          “The modern”…. ROTFLMAO, thanks to both of you!

          Reply
          1. JacobiteInTraining

            I have no personal experience with basket-hilted swords, and frankly I feel like millenials are ruining sword fighting with their insistence to moving to such newfangled contraptions, ‘just because they are new’.

            And another thing – I don’t know if youve noticed, but where *my* generation would have a nice disciplined training and usage regimen with our trusty and time-tested scutum/gladius outfit, kids these days just wander around the streets….oblivious….staring – as if mesmerized – by the shiny steel and fooferaw of their fancy new basket-hilted swords.

            Harumph. I’d like to see what happens when *they* need to fight some gauls or dacians!!!!

            Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Trump has a history of pointing to Europe to excuse his nativism. A$AP Rocky’s case presents both an opportunity to parrot foreign laws while extending protection to a wealthy person as you can clearly tell by the $ sign.

      The GOP has always tried to blame immigrants for problems with urban America. “No, its not structural racism and a parasite class at the top…its the immigrants.”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwdghkwQCIw (I should note Mayor Quimby is a Democrat).

      Elements of the GOP always entertain these dreams they will win black voters by bashing gays and immigrants. Next to Democrats who offer nothing, this might be sufficient to depress voting.

      Reply
      1. GF

        OK. That makes some sense. He doesn’t care at all about “common” people being arrested and jailed in other countries. It just seems he’s really going all in for this guy. Could be more to the story??

        Reply
        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Kanyes advising Trump on winning…Ugh i hate how poli sci breaks voters into sub categories like ‘Black Voters.’ Seeing it done in real time by the Louisiana GOP Redistricting Committee in 2009 is enough for me.

          Reply
    2. ewmayer

      I think it’s ’cause some swashbuckling dude named Robinson Buckler saved them from a messy Bromance divorce; DJT and A$AP Rocky were having some misunderstanding and it was tearing their bromance apart to the extend that Donald was seeking for a Bro-vorce. So A$AP Rocky have no option than to go to the internet to seek for solution to his problem it was there he came across Robinson buckler details and about how he has helped a lot of people by restoring there relationship. So A$AP Rocky contact Robinsonbuckler@ ( bromail ). com and in less than 48 hours Mr. Trump cancelled the bro-vorce papers. Now himself and A$AP Rocky live together in peace and bro-harmony all thanks to Robinson buckler for saving their bromance from breaking up.

      Reply
  25. barrisj

    Update on the Boeing/MAX software fix(es) from the ST:

    Newly stringent FAA tests spur a fundamental software redesign of Boeing’s 737 MAX flight controls

    While conducting newly stringent tests on the Boeing 737 MAX flight control system, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in June uncovered a potential flaw that now has spurred Boeing to make a fundamental software-design change.

    Boeing is changing the MAX’s automated flight-control system’s software so that it will take input from both flight-control computers at once instead of using only one on each flight. That might seem simple and obvious, but in the architecture that has been in place on the 737 for decades, the automated systems take input from only one computer on a flight, switching to use the other computer on the next flight.
    […]
    After two deadly crashes of Boeing’s 737 MAX and the ensuing heavy criticism of the FAA for its limited oversight of the jet’s original certification, the agency has been reevaluating and recertifying Boeing’s updated flight-control systems.

    It has specifically rejected Boeing’s assumption that the plane’s pilots can be relied upon as the backstop safeguard in scenarios such as the uncommanded movement of the horizontal tail involved in both the Indonesian and Ethiopian crashes. That notion was ruled out by FAA pilots in June when, during testing of the effect of a glitch in the computer hardware, one out of three pilots in a simulation failed to save the aircraft.

    […]
    In sessions in a Boeing flight simulator in Seattle, two FAA engineering test pilots, typically ex-military test pilots, and a pilot from the FAA’s Flight Standards Aircraft Evaluation Group (AEG), typically an ex-airline pilot, set up a session to test 33 different scenarios that might be sparked by a rare, random microprocessor fault in the jet’s flight-control computer.
    […]
    Describing what was tested in June as “a particular failure that was extremely remote,” Bahrami said “several of our pilots were able to recover. But there was one or so that could not recover successfully.”

    According to a second FAA source, it was the AEG pilot, representing a typical U.S. airline captain, who failed to recover the jet.

    That outcome changed everything for Boeing.
    […]
    https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/newly-stringent-faa-tests-spur-a-fundamental-software-redesign-of-737-max-flight-controls/

    Essentially, Boeing is adding a second flight computer, which will take independent in-flight data from different set of sensors and have the computer microprocessors compare the respective readouts…if they agree, the aircraft remains in autopilot status; if they disagree in any aspect of the sensor output, the aircraft returns to manual control.

    Interestingly enough, what grabbed Boeing’s attention during the simulated test- failure scenarios was that the AEG pilot, representing a “typical US airline pilot”, was the one of three test pilots failing to bring the aircraft under control, resulting in a catastrophic situation. Cannot any longer try to claim that foreign pilots are endemically inferior to US-based pilots, and that under the most trying of flight-control failure scenarios, any qualified pilot can be wrong-footed.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > in the architecture that has been in place on the 737 for decades, the automated systems take input from only one computer on a flight, switching to use the other computer on the next flight

      Anyone know the rationale for this? Surely not overheating. Testing?

      Reply
  26. barrisj

    Markets tanking again, as trade-war issues overwhelming Fed action on lowered interest rates…difficult not to believe that Trump is using his tariffs not only to punish the Chinese economy, but also to put huge pressure on the Fed to reduce even more dramatically rates later this year in order to blow more air into asset bubbles. However, there’s a crossover point coming up fast where tariff costs to US businesses and consumers will hammer down corporate profits, that even corporate borrowing at deeply discounted rates for the sole purpose of stock buybacks will fail to stem a market collapse…MAGA!

    Reply
  27. CarlH

    The comments under the article in MarketWatch about foodstamps are truly ugly. I really wonder how many of our fellow citizens are so cold hearted. Is it just a case of a loud few or are there as many as it sometimes seems?

    Reply
    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Before even the web, the internet made me realize that there are a lot of people in our world who you wouldn’t meet otherwise because they are basically Vogons. Kind of the inverse of the Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon character who was a great guy, but too funny looking to have in the same room and the problem was solved by him typing into a terminal. [Thanks Google. Not.] One way or another, there are a lot of people who literally can’t be taken anywhere, because the thing will happen. So the internet has always been an outlet for those who scored really, really poorly on ‘Works and Plays Well with Others.’ I’ve been wondering recently if there are still some retro poison pen writers out there, kind of like vinyl for cranks.

      Also too, just as XKCD points out that every day on the internet is someone’s first time that they learned something, likewise every day on the internet someone finds out that their casual assumption is offensively wrong. ‘Obama is basically looking out for the commonwealth.’ ‘I’m a Cherokee.’ ‘Welfare is a free ride.’ ‘Welfare still exists.’ etc.

      I’d like a UBI that starts at like $60K to get a lot of idiots out of management. If we did it as a Harris proposal, it could start as a tax rebate to every Ivy League MBA who promises to go out and drink themselves to death.

      Reply
  28. softie

    The HK protest all got started with a murder in Feb 2018 when a HK couple took a vacation in TW. The man returned to HK after having murdered the woman there. TW and HK signed their extradition law since there wasn’t one in place before. The man got extradited to TW to face his trial.

    There isn’t any extradition law between HK and China. So the bill was put in place.

    Financially HK’s working class has deep resentment, frustrations and anger.
    They have seen their ever declining standards of living. In 1980 HK had about 45% of China’s GDP, and today about 3%. More than 1 million wealthy Chinese have relocated to HK and they have pushed already expensive housing into super expensive level, which has made the life very difficult for HK’s working class.

    Since 1980, many jobs have permanently relocated to China, including many white-collar jobs. Many HKers feel they are worse-off today than they were decades ago. To them, the contrast between the rising income and prosperity of China’s working class and that of HK’s is very disheartening. And HK’s younger generation including recent college grads have real hard time to find jobs in the field of their studies. In general there’s a deep resentment in HK.

    The Deep State’s decided to exploit this opportunity and instigate the protest for its own gain. There’s no doubt this is a color revolution made possible by your hard earned tax dollars.

    Here’s a short video:

    https://youtu.be/6_RdnVtfZPY

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If I remember my earlier James Bond 007 films, Hong Kong had been the place for the world to do business with China for a long time.

      It seems every nation-player was there – France, Taiwan, USSR, etc.

      If anything, the British would have been more connected there, than tha Americans.

      But to be sure, Moscow, Taibei, London, etc, all have assets there as of today, and could benefit in some way, a bit like the Eight-Nation Alliance (Russia, Japan, France, Italy, German, US, Britain, Austria-Hungary), during the Boxer Rebellion.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The Deep State’s decided to exploit this opportunity and instigate the protest for its own gain. There’s no doubt this is a color revolution made possible by your hard earned tax dollars.

      Surely dropping a bare link to a video implies that the link supports your (quasi-religious, CT) “deep state” thesis. In fact, the link does not. That’s disingenuous at best. Good-bye.

      Reply
  29. Camp Lo

    Heung Gong Yahn believe the CCP will not kill the goose that laid the golden egg. But they also know there is a biological momentum larger than Beijing, mainland masses yearning to exist, a force described with derision as “locusts” [harsh] on the Heung Gong street. Heung Gongers negotiated with the British Empire as equals, so to them, this is just more stigmergic slap-and-tickle with the rubes. The rest of the world is acutely aware the future will bring this type of conflict to an ultra-modern city near them. Thus, the intrigue is captivating on a sub-conscious plane. Of course, Allies thought the Soviets were posturing before tank-treading the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and hosing those crushed hopes down the gutter.

    Reply
    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      It’s Mitch McConnell’s job to be awful. Poring over lists of how your enemy is a doody-head changes nothing in the real world.* That’s why the DNC leadership encourages such demonology. I’d prefer it if instead Pelosi, et al., would treat Trump graciously as the fellow slime-ball politician that he is and just start actually voting to block his damned policies.

      *Now Tumblr activists will be out for my hide.

      Reply
  30. @pe

    Anyone offer the theory that Epstein functioned as a shaman/cult leader? All indications point to charisma, whacky beliefs that would attract the ultra-rich, and fuzzy magical money.

    One could imagine that his climb was by magic — that he flimflammed and bamboozled people for his teaching job, pulled the wool over a Bear-Sterns partner, made a few good guesses and used that as evidence of his super-magical abilities, and continued with sex-cult/magician/Crowleyite style shamanism that seems to always suck in the ultra powerful.

    The background scams would have been secondary to his ability to project an image and manipulate the emotions of billionaires — not a huge challenge once you’ve made the in.

    Reply

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