Links 9/20/19

Citizens need to know numbers aeon (Micael)

Astronomers Chase a Very Eccentric Interstellar Object Atlantic (UserFriendly)

Global climate strike: how you can get involved Guardian (furzy) v. Just Say No to Fake Action Wrong Kind of Green (TH)

Only a Global Green New Deal Can Save the Planet Nation. Resilc: “As everyone drives to the strikes today in their cars.”

Here’s The Best Place To Move If You’re Worried About Climate Change FiveThirtyEight. Haha, the UP!

Vaping Criminal Probe Announced By FDA As Illnesses Rise To 530 CDNet

Veterinarians Face Unique Issues That Make Suicide One of the Profession’s Big Worries Time


The story of China’s great corporate sell-off Financial Times (David L)

UK police chiefs train elite Hong Kong officers: Asian city’s force subject to fierce criticism over handling of protests


Brexit will happen’ and UK ‘can get a deal’, says EU boss Jean-Claude Juncker after Boris Johnson sends him ideas for a draft deal The Sun. Which Juncker has yet to read…

People’s Vote campaign tells Labour MPs not to back a Johnson Brexit deal Guardian

Johnson should enjoy this moment. It may be as good as it gets. Richard Murphy. LibDems ahead of Labour?!?


China’s Giant $400 Billion Iran Investment Complicates U.S. Options Forbes. Kevin W: Check out the author’s bio at bottom.

Saudi Oil Attacks Put U.S. Commitments to the Test LobeLog (resilc)

Why Evidence of Iran’s Role in Attack Doesn’t Matter American Conservative (resilc)

The Imperial Debris of War: Why Ending the Afghan War Won’t End the Killing Tomgram

Do Not Listen To Israel’s Lawyer Current Affairs (UserFriendly)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Silicon Valley is terrified of California’s privacy law. Good. TechCrunch (UserFriendly)

UK worsens Julian Assange’s persecution as US seeks extradition Aaron Mate, YouTube

YouTube Is About to Demote a Wide Swath of Its Creators New York Times. Kevin W: Alternate good link at

Imperial Collapse Watch

Immigrants as a Weapon: Global Nationalism and American Power Yasha Levine. Important.

When Big Business Won’t Let the Troops Repair Their Equipment American Prospect (resilc)

Trump Transition

Whistleblower complaint about President Trump involves Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the matter MSN (Kevin C)

“It Won’t End Well”: Trump and His Obscure New National-Security Chief New Yorker. Resilc: “Career or appointed personnel at the top are all the same now.”

HUD Secretary Ben Carson makes dismissive comments about transgender people, angering agency staff Washington Post. They can’t help themselves, now can they?

Trump’s Moscow Deal Is Exactly What the Framers Worried About Politico (Chuck L)

Trump Retweets False Video of Rep. Ilhan Omar Time (furzy)

Will Trump Pull the U.S. Out of the Universal Postal Union? Time (furzy)

Barack Obama’s Biggest Mistake New York Times (UserFriendly). Cites Stoller’s new book Goliath!


Why college students could draw new attention in 2020: Their turnout doubled for the midterms, study finds Washington Post (UserFriendly)

2020 and the Party We’re Building Together Working Families Party. UserFriendly: “LOL our super delegates aren’t like the Democrats’ super delegates.”

Pete Buttigieg’s Health Care Plan Is the Worst Yet New Republic (resilc)


Colt will stop making AR-15s for civilian sale, says there’s already plenty on market NBC (furzy)

Australian Aboriginal Flag Mess Is Getting Worse — All Thanks To Copyright Techdirt (Chuck L)

Not a free speech platform: Facebook declares it’s a ‘publisher’ & can censor whomever if wants, walking into legal trap RT (Kevin W). Wowsers, this sounds as if Zuck is giving himself legal advice. A web publisher is liable for reader-provided content if it doesn’t act like a chat board and let everything through.

Authorities Consider Taking Legal Action Against Facebook Over Storm Area 51 Event Gizmodo

Could Ultra-Low Interest Rates Be Contractionary? Project Syndicate (UserFriendly). I’ve been saying this for years. 1. Takes low-risk interest income away from savers, leading them to cut spending and try to save more or at least not deplete capital. 2. Signals deflationary expectations. 3. Encourages borrowing only by those for whom the cost of money is their biggest expense item, ie, banks and leveraged speculators, aka rentiers, who are also bad for productive activity.

Guillotine Watch

Bugatti Is Building a $33,000 Car for Kids Popular Mechanics (resilc)

Class Warfare

Populism Will Probably Just Go Away Soon, So Relax Bloomberg. UserFriendly: “Dear god this is so bad it’s funny.”

Los Angeles: Why tens of thousands of people sleep rough BBC (resilc)

‘We’re targeted:’ Duluth confronts issue of missing Native women as state task force meets MPR News (Chuck L) :-(

Morning Coffee: Just be thankful banks don’t fire people like this. And, bankers are turning into management consultants efinancial (Kevin W). Moar WeWork

Antidote du jour. Oguk: “This hive was loading up on pollen last weekend”:

And a bonus (Dan K):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    “Global climate strike: how you can get involved”

    Gee, go to a global climate strike to try to save the planet from catastrophic changes or go to Area 51 to break in and try see ET. Now that’s a tough one.

    Loved the cat video clips. Cats do insist in mocking us.

  2. dearieme

    Harvard. Only 43%? I wonder whether Ron Unz would agree.

    On the other hand, here from Mr Unz’s website is a bloke who approves of racial discrimination. As long as it’s the right sort.

    Anyway, as I understand the state of play – corrections welcome:

    Whites are overrepresented because of the “legacy” system, because of a lively anticipation of money infusions, and for reasons of ethno-religious bias. None of these effects seem likely to help bright white children from modest homes in, for instance, Christian flyover country. Is this the sort of “class” issue that annoys people around here?

    Blacks are over-represented because of race privilege accorded by law. (The fact that many of the blacks ushered into Harvard are not descendants of American slaves is just one of life’s rich ironies.)

    Yellows are underrepresented because (i) nobody expects them to give big donations later in life, and (ii) anyway, they won’t burn down parts of cities to show their displeasure.

    It’s the sort of place that thought Larry Summers a suitable boss. Therefore nothing much would surprise me about it.

    On rereading that does seem a bit downbeat. Is it too harsh? Would anyone like to speak up for Harvard and its policies on student admissions?


    1. L M44 E

      Just regular east coast corruption. Nuttin knew!

      Here in flyover lands, we have Univ. of Michigan, Indiana University, Northwestern, Penn State, Michigan State Univ., Northern Michigan, and hundreds more.

      Harvard, Yale no longer impressive because they dominate DC and just what governance quality do we live with ??

      We are the forgotten, victims of Nafta. Second in region volunteering for military service – southeast is first. New England and west coast are too good to serve. Bunch of snooties.

    2. johnnygl

      Blacks are over-represented because of race privilege accorded by law. (The fact that many of the blacks ushered into Harvard are not descendants of American slaves is just one of life’s rich ironies.)

      Blacks are underrepresented because of school policy, not law. The Bakke case before the Supreme Court in 1978 said schools can use race as a factor in order to foster ‘diversity’. That helped set in motion the whole PR industry around fostering ‘diversity’. Viewed from today’s standpoint, it looks like it was an attempt to airbrush discrimination against poor, black Americans and bring in high rolling foreign students, because…diversity.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The first thing elite universities should commit themselves to do, in order to better the world, is to make sure, or try to ensure, that we have equality in credentialism.

      That is, one credential from an affordable university should be as equal as one from an expensive one.

      That’s a virtuous aim, I believe.

      1. Anon

        Well, it really isn’t the credential that matters. What matters is all the network buddies and galpals that one can make over the four to six year education journey. Being an Honors grad without having developed important connections can make job advancement difficult.

  3. Eudora Welty

    Re: veterinary suicides: Another factor is observing the fact that our companion animals get human-type disorders such as anxiety. I’m not anything like a veterinarian, but I feel distressed when I see neurotic animals amongst my social group. I even felt the need to change dentists partially because my dentist brought her dog to work (2 consecutive dogs), and they both held their bodies in weird submissive ways, and – while she took good care of my teeth – I didn’t want to think about or see the dogs anymore. Depressing.

    1. Krystyn Walentka

      If we want to treat suicides and mood disorders we have to get serious about treating trauma WHEN it happens, not 20 years later.

      These vets are subject to more trauma than doctors. I wonder how many animals they probably euthanize a month…

      Mood disorders are environmental diseases with a strong genetic component. And trauma is environmental and may be one of the leading factors contributing to mood disorders.

    2. cripes

      The way people treat their animals is very revealing in the animal’s behavior, excepting prior abuse and congenital factors not of their doing, and tells me if being around this person is wise.

      What irks me is how often I see people thoughtlessly walking big, shaggy and dark-haired dogs in the hot sun, or tied to parking meters as they struggle and pant to keep up. I’m not averse to stopping and informing them, with mixed results, that canine heat exhaustion and stroke can be life-threatening.

      I think many just don’t know and aren’t observant; tell them when you have the chance. Sometimes I think pet ownership should be regulated like cars and babies, with some proof of competency.

      1. MichaelSF

        Where do you see competency tests for parenthood? There appear to be plenty of people who become parents who don’t even approach the level of being potentially competent to care for a pet.

        Any fool can become a parent (or a pet owner), and often does (which is not saying that all parents or pet owners are fools as that is clearly not the case).

        1. cripes

          Mic for haelSF:

          I abbreviated the word-count to make the point,

          There are competency requirements for operating cars, planes, guns, infant and elder services and security canines, such as they are.

          In theory anyway, misconduct with infants and animals is regulated after an incident, not prior, but us still subject to law.

          I’m not holding my breath, Just wish people with empathy-deficit disorder would get teddy bears or something they can’t break.

  4. Jesper

    About the cat-video: I’ve had jobs where my job was made more and more difficult for (as far as I can tell) no good reason. In the end I did similar to what the cat did: Ignored how my ‘better’ wanted me to do things and just got the job done :)

  5. nobody

    THANK YOU for the “Wrong Kind of Green” link. Everybody, *please*… read Cory Morningstar’s magisterial piece:


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Can that best place hold all of the world?

      Seems like it is saying, once you get your ticket on the ark, you can forget others….let them eat climate change.

  6. ilpalazzo

    If you are a beekeeper, you don’t want your bees to work hard late in the season. Worker bees that work at peak season live for only about two weeks, while late season bees are the ones that are supposed to hibernate through winter so you want to keep them as relaxed as possible to increase survivability. That’s why beekepers are reluctant to harvest late blooming plants like heather (and one of the reasons for high prices for honey made from these plants).

    1. The Rev Kev

      Is that the reason why that 17th century beekeeper’s saying-

      Swarm in May is worth a load of hay; a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon; but a swarm in July is not worth a fly.

      1. ilpalazzo

        A swarm is a new hive looking for settlement so the latter it swarms the smaller the chance for it to grow strong enough to survive winter.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Of course. Thanks for that correction. I had that mention of a swarm confused with an established colony.

          1. ambrit

            Good to know, but, here, I have seen almost no honey bees this year. Most of the pollination I have observed has been by the small variety of bumble bee, and a few butterflies. I probably don’t notice the mosquitoes pollinating; too busy keeping the females from biting me.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Don’t know if it’s just me, but recently I ran across a few terrifying articles about mosquito bites.

              1. ambrit

                Oh yes to that. We had a few cases of West Nile virus here in Hattiesburg last year. Information for this year is “strangely” difficult to find. We’re hoping that the pantheon of tropical mosquito borne diseases doesn’t become endemic here as the climate warms up. Where you are, on the lower West Coast is vulnerable too. Sadly, the invasive maladys do not give advance warning. With the global reach of transportation now, something from anywhere can pop up in our back yards.

                1. Off The Street

                  Right you are, as there have been West Nile Virus mosquitos found in parts of Los Angeles, among other places. Mosquitos are fairly rare in SoCal so that is another reason for vigilance.

        2. polecat

          A swarm is a portion of the original colony (including the old queen) looking to set up in a new abode (hive). This scenario would also pertain to ‘afterswarms’.

          On a personal note, the denizens of our 2 hives are still bring in pollen, and with that I assume nectar, as well. Very active, when not raining. There are, however, some bees on the ground, having succumbed to Curly-wing virus ..
          of which Varroa mites are the vector. I’m considering treating next year’s colonies with acidic-vapor treatment, in order to break the mite life-cycle. I have, to date, not resorted to any treatment, in hopes that my colonies can ‘evolve’ physiological defenses against what has become an epidemic among domestic honeybees, worldwide.

          If mankind where to suddenly decline, or go out of the picture entirely, the bees would have to biologically sort things out on their own, or perish. Anyway, I hope my bees can survive the coming winter ….

    2. Phacops

      Hadn’t seen a lot of bumblebees until our late blooming plants in the rock garden opened up. Now have a few hundred visiting the flowers and of several different species from the small, black and yellow ones to the large, furry, orange bumble bees. Love to sit on the porch with a brew and watch them.

      Earlier this summer had a swarm of honeybees descend near the house. Contacted some beekeepers who came over to get them and got some nice honey in trade.

  7. Henry Moon Pie

    Re: Global Green New Deal–

    Relevant to Lambert’s discursus of a few days ago and the Degrowth post of today is an interview of Naomi Klein about her new book:

    The Moral Crisis Is Inextricable from the Ecological Crisis

    Lambert’s characterization of the Green New Deal as a “deal” between the elites and the rest of us that addresses social and economic injustices at the same time as the ecological crisis presents one possible narrative underpinning that might propel the GND forward, at least in this country, but the “deal” analogy fails to address the essential moral values component of our problem.

    Beginning a century ago, we in the First World have been molded into “consumers.” With the advent of mass communications, especially television, and now with the omnipresent smart phone, we are inundated with imagery and words purposely designed to make us buy, consume and buy some more. While we Boomers were glued to our TVs watching Mickey, Bugs and Howdy, we were also being to taught to want our Maypo:

    As we became adults, the object of our desire was changed by the Madmen to houses in the ‘burbs, SUVs and trips to exotic corners of the globe, but all of that lust for consumption was based on the foundation of a “right to consume” that had been built in our minds by a nearly incessant message bombarding us from TV, radio, movies, magazines and newspapers: to buy is to be happy and your right to pursue happiness is a right to consume. That “right to consume” spread as far and wide as American culture, inundating western Europe, penetrating the Iron Curtain, invading Muslim lands and seducing the Chinese. Now 7 billion people, more or less, want their Maypo.

    People around the world, rich and poor, have been de-skilled, stripped of older moral systems that curbed materialistic tendencies and turned into passive consuming machines that happily pile up debt and debris as they accumulate more and more necessities that they could do without. Even those without the means to acquire the newest bauble accept these un-values, reacting to their own penury with violent anger or despair. In the urban setting, many of the young are determined to acquire the bling and the Escalade by whatever means necessary. In Appalachia and the Ozarks, people who had lived for generations requiring very little cash traded in their independence for four-door pickups and riding lawn mowers, and when the jobs disappeared, most didn’t go back to living off the land but fell into despair over their failure to live the cursed American dream.

    If degrowth, as necessary as it is, is ever to become a reality, more than a “deal” is required. Even before negotiations over a deal can truly begin, all the parties must reject the values that have brought us to this crisis point. Otherwise, the “right to consume” will block the willingness to sacrifice that is the sine qua non of any Green New Deal.

    1. Chris S

      Thanks for this comment. One upshot of this total penetration of the growth/consumption “un-values” – great term – is that, if you’re an average person who’s not already all-in on radical environmentalism, you’re faced with the prospect of losing your growth-invested social network if you want to make a wholesale change in lifestyle. Does not bode well for radical change….

    2. Krystyn Walentka

      (As a continuation from my other comment above about veterinarian suicides) Consumerism is in part sustained by trauma. Have you ever seen the show “Hoarders”? You’ll find that nearly every person began hoarding after a traumatic event.

      For people to stop consuming something in them needs to be healed or dealt with or understood.

    3. Karla

      I’m voting for Bernie in the California primary.

      “But, Sanders points out, much of the Green New Deal’s cost would not be paid by directly taxing ordinary Americans; it would come from “making the fossil fuel industry pay for their pollution, through litigation, fees, and taxes, and eliminating federal fossil fuel subsidies.”

      The problem with that is that marginal producers and shitty gas station brands would probably go out of business. The cost of gasoline will go to say, ten or more dollars a gallon.
      You think the Yellow Vests were upset? What about the tens of millions of Americans who must drive long distances to their jobs, doctors or grocery stores? Thereore, free mass transit and an improved intercity and inter suburban rail system must be part of TGND.

      The California Democratic Party’s favorite shibboleth, Transit oriented development is bullshit. It’s just an excuse to build, grow and attract yet more third world people to an American fossil fueled lifestyle.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Yes, what they call Pigovian taxes, which are meant to reduce bad activity, or else price the “externality” to reflect its actual cost to everyone, are meant to reduce the amount of the bad activity. They are not designed to raise revenue. That may happen but economists see that as an unintended side effect.

        Plus MMT.

    4. Judith

      Henry, I fear homo sapiens will require a serious reboot in order to change. Even in Port William, there were people who wanted more than they needed.

      My parents made me try Maypo and I hated it. Now I love hot cereal and had oatmeal with brown sugar for breakfast just this morning.

  8. mnm

    Vape lung disease

    Do you have a theory of what might be causing the lipoid pneumonia cases?

    We need a strong multidisciplinary team to understand the real etiology and cause of lung injury from inhalation. I think it could be any number of components in the mixtures. Lungs don’t like oil in general, and probably the most specific agent that’s been studied recently is diacetyl, which was studied in popcorn-flavoring lung disease.

    Popcorn lung-disease in workers who create that flavored microwave popcorn

    Buyer beware, we are back to the days when Heinz pushed for food safety.

    1. bwilli123

      “The patients had switched from regular retailers to the pop-up shops,” elaborated Nancy Gerking, the county’s assistant director of public health. The patients “found a difference between the potency of the products,” she added. “They had to use twice as much, so they were taking twice as much of the product into their lungs.”
      Those sickened often suffer gradual breathing difficulties, coughing, fatigue, chest pain, and weight loss, which leads to hospitalization. Some have also experienced vomiting and diarrhea.
      Many cases seem linked to vaping liquids containing THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Investigators say that they’re also looking into suspect nicotine-containing liquids.
      Shady THC-containing liquids seem to be the primary suspects in investigations in several states, including Utah, Pennsylvania, and California.
      We suspect adulterated or contaminated products, because these [marijuana] products have been out there for some time, and we’ve not seen these cases until this summer,” Phillip Lamberty, a pulmonologist and critical care specialist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), told the Post. Lamberty treated three vaping-linked cases recently, at least two of which were linked to THC-containing products. One was bought online and the other from an illicit drug dealer.”

      1. mnm

        E-cigs have been known to have chemicals added that cause respiratory illnesses, like popcorn lung.

        Flavoring Chemicals in E-Cigarettes: Diacetyl, 2,3-Pentanedione, and Acetoin in a Sample of 51 Products, Including Fruit-, Candy-, and Cocktail-Flavored E-Cigarettes
        Published:1 June 2016

        Chronic MJ use has already been linked with severe N/V (nothing to do with the vapes):

        best comment in one of the reference articles:
        “Golly. Who could ever have imagined that letting a drug-delivery device for nicotine and THC onto the over-the-counter market and without adequate FDA regulation and governmental supervision of the industry would cause problems …”

        Buyer Beware

        1. pricklyone

          There is no “vape lung disease”. There is a “fake cannibis product” problem.
          The current “epidemic” is not among those vaping nicotine products, but among (statistically) young seekers of a THC high.
          Neither is it anything to do with “e-cigarettes”, a class of device that went extinct years ago, mostly.
          Seems they can’t keep the stories straight.

          The majority of cases are linked to street sales or internet sales by individuals of cartridges to THC/cannibis seekers.
          An e-cigarette was a product which had a similar form factor to a real cigarette, usually with a little red light on the end to simulate a glowing ash. These were totally inadequate for purpose, which was to provide an alternative experience to cigarette smokers.

    2. curlydan

      I’d first heard of lipoid pneumonia when I read about oil pulling for better oral/gum health. I frankly got a little worried about it then even though you’d have to do some work to get the sunflower/castor/whatever oil in your lungs.

      1. pricklyone

        You won” t get it from vaping nicotine replacement vaping liquids available commercially, either.
        These are all based on Propylene glycol (no it’s not ethylene glycol,the antifreeze that kills your pets) and vegetable glycerine. PG is used as a carrier in athsma drug studies for inhaled drugs. So much for the FDA great desire to protect you flrom the evil vape solution.
        Please be as skeptical of these press distortions in this area, as you are in others…I beg of you.

  9. DJG

    Immigrants as a Weapon: Yasha Levine has many interesting things to say about the uses of immigration / migration in geopolitics and the undesirability of letting many of these skeezy people return to their home countries.

    A further cultural/political aspect of immigration when the migrants came to the U S of A was immigration of the right kind to help Republicans get votes. I recall reading about ten years ago a very salty article in a little lefty magazine here in Chicago in which a woman wrote about how she hated her embarrassing Russian-Jewish refugee relatives, who kept lecturing her on the dangers of socialism (as in such horrors as Medicare and Social Security). The Cuban exiles in Miami are another example: Rightwingers imported their own voters to the U S of A.

    1. Alex

      Not necessarily Republican votes. Can’t find statistics on all immigrants’ voting patterns but most of Hispanics vote for Democrats so more immigrants and easier path to citizenship would mostly favour Democrats.

      Is there someone naive enough *not* to realise that supporting Soviet Jews was aligned with the US interests during the cold war? As a result the Soviet Union looked bad and the US got a lot of well-educated and loyal citizens.

    2. Alex

      (while my first comment is awaiting moderation)

      Sounds a bit condescending to people who actually experienced socialism first-hand.

        1. ambrit

          I’m with Tito on this question. The governing system used in post Lenin Russia and the spin offs is State Socialism.
          Real Communism would be something very similar to First Century AD Christianity.
          I’m an immigrant myself, from England, and the biggest cultural adjustment my parents had to endure was the enchantment and subsequent disenchantment with Free Market Capitalism.
          Whenever I hear someone trot out the ‘Superiority of Free Markets’ argument, I think of Burke and the later Austrian School. (My thanks to ‘skippy’ for hipping me to the Austrian Menace. Which leads me to wonder, oh my, have I been reading and commenting here ‘that long?’ It makes me feel old. *Sigh*)

          1. Monty

            As you know, England had some nice socialist policies through the years. Subsidised housing, free healthcare, cultural investment and free higher education. When I was studying in the 90s, university wasn’t just free, I got paid a grant to attend. Good times! So that’s what I think of as Socialism: The government using it’s clout to try to improve life for everybody. Not the government controlling every aspect of life.

            1. Alex

              That’s of course true, my point was that it’s worth listening to people who experienced some of these admirable policies are taken too far.

              1. Off The Street

                So much of the discussion about this or that system gets bogged down in semantics while real live humans, and their descendants, continue to pay for the excesses of those things taken too far. There is an element of scholasticism and devils dancing on the head of a pin for many.

          2. mpalomar

            One of the great questions discussed by the various factions of Russian communists around the 1917 revolution was whether agrarian Russia required a capitalist phase.

            I have read somewhere recently post- Lenin, post 1936 purge Russia described as ‘state capitalism’; the means of production were owned not by the workers but by the politburo.

            Paradoxically in the US and the EU it’s socialism for the corporations.

            1. JBird4049

              The Soviet Union government’s tools became the goal and not the means of creating communism, or even socialism. The Russian Empire in 1917 was backward, very agrarian, with a centralized power and its supposedly effective secret police the Okhrana. In many ways, the Communist Party once it overthrew the democratic government that had replace the Czar, just imposed itself onto of the whole governing apparatus. New head, same body.

              One of the reasons why the Soviet Union ultimately failed was its early emphasis on modernizing now, now, now especially after Stalin’s coup and him being a paranoid control freak who was quite happy using a vast police state that used such tactics as political trials, mass murder, and the gulags; the earlier attempts at some reforms starting from the bottom up, power from the people as it was, was too threatening to Stalin and the successors in the Politburo as anything like actually democracy and the free exchange of anything including ideas or potatoes or music had to be controlled, if not stopped outright.

              1. mpalomar

                Interesting and sadly not only were the 1917 revolutionaries confounded by the need for a capitalist phase, they also couldn’t figure out what to do about the existing communal agrarian peasant farming communities that were an ongoing, indigenous socialism but lacking theory.

                1. JBird4049

                  Well yes, too many leftists of any variety get stuck into what is the right theory instead of what works in getting to the goal. It becomes more important to have the right theory, doctrine, or dogma, than being successful, which means chucking out the heretics and blasphemers from the Righteous. But then too many of the religious as well as economists turn inward away from the goal with the tools becoming the goal instead of the actual and original goals.

                  A better world, which is what the adherents of a particular economic system or religion are ideally trying to create, burns instead because of the disagreements over the tools, and often very small disagreements at that.

          3. skippy

            The thing about it is a Mister Toads wild ride adventure, how a small group found a sympathetic ear [horse cart conundrum] and then a feed back loop between funding and outcomes giving us the car and house as an expression of freedoms [that word again] and then the non State market [see maw no hands(human agency)] rewards and distributes as a matter of fact – regardless of other outcomes.

            To make matters worse is whatever the classical’s could teach us got so bastardized and Jefferson’s bible treatment [see old Galbraith] that vast swaths of believers’ make any attempt as setting the record straight an arduous task due to demand pull.

            Now that the whole thing is looking late bronze age and its time to batten down the hatches – shutters until Cecil B. DeMille’s light shines down ….

        2. Alex

          I don’t want to argue about the terms, the point is that these people came from a place which took seriously a lot of left-wing policies like state control of the economy and safety net, so they might have some insights about them that someone who has lived all his life in the West most likely lacks.

          This is not to say that some measure of socialist (preferably democratic socialist a la Bernie Sanders) policies would not be helpful in the modern-day US, after the three decades of neoliberalism.

          1. Monty

            Yes. The problem is, after generations of dumbing down and brainwashing in the US, this is far too nuanced for some to understand.

        3. Olga

          We’ve never had communism on this earth – at least not in the last 1000 yrs (maybe Tabor, in the Hussite Bohemia could qualify, but it was too short). Let’s please keep these terms straight.

        1. ambrit

          The ‘real’ question is, “who has the ear of the King?”
          The recent past shows that a well organized minority can gain control of the means of governing and run the show, no matter what the ‘masses’ think.
          The Left in America needs to organize, have our own “Apalachin Meeting.”

      1. jefemt

        I’m not convinced anyone on the face of the earth in post-Columbian time has yet experienced self-directed socialism any where in history, yet.

        Might be beyond ‘human nature’ — sharing, doing no harm, cooperating, no more war.

        Seems to be the MO of ‘humanity’ to see reversion to the mean of wealth and power aggregation.

        Here are some amazing quotes from one of the most well- known Socialists. If one ponders what he was promoting, I am on-board. He died before the “Great” Depression.

    3. Joel

      Cubans in Miami because of republicans importing them? Castro having nothing to do with creating a climate people would want to leave.

      1. ambrit

        Sort of true. Castro won a civil war in Cuba and ended up being a “true believer” in Marxism. Taking the sweep of Latin American history as our guide, what did the losers of the myriad civil wars, coups, golpes, et cetera do? They left, post haste, to preserve their lives. (Civil wars are the worst kind. No ‘milk of human kindness’ to be found there.) The Cuban losers of that civil war just happened to be lucky enough to have political worth to the ruling elites of America of that time. They prospered in Florida partly due to the economic subsidies the government in Washington showered on them. To the American elites, the Cuban exiles constituted a “Cuba in Exile” to be exploited for political gain on both the domestic and world stages. Do notice that many Latin American states recognized and happily dealt with Cuba during the “dark times” subsequent to the original Cuban Revolution.

        1. Olga

          From what I know, Castro did not start out as a Marxist. He was appalled by the oppression of a brutal dictatorship in his country. He wanted (naively) US help, by was rebuffed by Eisenhower’s administration. Under constant attack, he then turned to USSR – where the decision-makers spent one year wondering about this far-away revolutionary. They did not take him seriously at first. (It is too bad that an unbiased evaluation of Cuba’s revolution is not possible in today’s USA, USA.)

          1. skippy

            At all above …

            As discussed long ago here at NC: Cuban locals eventually took exception to being an extraction point with meager share of its earnings, compounded by the best vistas becoming a playground for predominantly U.S. Capitalists engaging in excess.

            In my experiences – ideology in a can – is just a convenient means to rally downtrodden – Cuba, Vietnam, SWAPO, et al. What its administrators real goals are and future plans are post conflict is probably more a case of unfolding events than it is of the list of ingredients on the can holding true.

            Per se the doco Fog of War highlights this issue with McNamara’s dining experience, with his Vietnamese contemporaries. Same seems to apply to Castro’s first visit to D.C. and being told open trade was dead on arrive, previous property owners had legal claims, but were fine with him governing in whatever guise as long as they got their way, Castro declined. Always curious how that would have played out had things gone differently, all the time, energy, resources, and money thrown at it used for different objectives.

            Ambrit …

            Funnily enough I’m working on a Queenslander for an retired economist, life’s work, during a few quick chats he acknowledged special interests influence in the field and its effects. Even mentioned the recent passing of one of the Koches without prompting. Yet on the other hand seems to affix everything to the devaluing of money and state spending, I did not push the topic further. Its been my experience that the older the they and fellow travelers are, the more uncomfortable they are in discussing the finer – contentious points on the topic.

            This is juxtaposed by meeting a successful business mans son, just capped from University econ whilst finishing off the last big remodel on his Queenslander, 6 months ago, just a stones throw from the one I’m working on now. With in the first 10 minutes we were having a ball and laughing out loud about a great many things talked about here on NC. Everyone including dad that were present looked like stunned mullets, completely puzzled about what we were banging on about and why were were so animated with exclamation points of laughter. Afterwards dad kept saying he needed to work in the “real” market to learn how things were, to which I replied that post GFC the field need an infusion of new blood badly to challenge the orthodox, son liked it, dad not so much.

            Per up thread comment, have been accused by Austrians – Libertarian coat tail remora affix bolt-ons – too other ideology’s, in a can, that its a known among them – that I’m at ***WAR*** with them. Then I have to burst their bubble ands inform them that neoclassical is just a mathsy – physics smokescreen for the same stuff they sell – sans the gold bug.

            Anywho … what a strange place I’ve ended up at at 59, in demand full spectrum coatings and chippy professional, working in a niche market, sorting out grand old Queenslanders. All whilst trying to educate staff in both the trade, ethical long term greedy approach to clientele, and stuff we bang on NC et al about, too them and clients as circumstances permit.

    4. GramSci

      Yasha Levine seems to think the post-war powers-that-be have exploited immigration by design, but on my reading of history, it’s just a case of dumb luck: Ante WWII neither the Republicans (eg Prescott Bush) nor the Democrats (eg Averell Harriman, cf Union Banking Corporation) gave a rat’s ass about the Jews Hitler was killing. But when the US Army was welcomed into Auschwitz as some kind of Messiah, the nazis social Darwinists discovered a role very much to their liking. There were plenty of other lesser and unChosen “races” to be eliminated. “Communism” and “socialism” had long been–and remain–the principle impediments to this larger plan.

        1. ambrit

          I knew a woman who was in Auschwitz and ‘liberated’ by the Red Army from there. Even after living in America for decades, and prospering, she would not allow any ‘trash talk’ in her house about her liberators. Her husband fought in the Warsaw Uprising and escaped to America later. He was less enthusiastic about the Red Army. Especially when the Russians stopped their advance on Warsaw just short, and stayed still long enough for the Germans to reduce the ghetto to rubble. Then the Red Army advanced. He was not at all happy about that.

          1. Olga

            Why put liberated in parenthesis in the first sentence? Either they did or did not. Are you casting doubt on the effort? Or do you think it was an easy thing to do?
            As for pausing before Varshava – first of all, it is an old trope, repeated frequently, with little truth as to the motivation. The Red Army owed nothing to the Poles – given the atrocious behaviour of the Polish govt in the 1930s (this may be of interest to – as a bit of necessary education – ).
            Even wikipedia has a more nuanced explanation for what may have happened (given that we were not there) – so it may be better to learn something new, rather than repeat useless propaganda.

  10. ptb

    Re: Yasha Levine article – yes, quite correct.

    Immigrants from the former eastern bloc during the 80s (like myself) certainly got a good deal out of it, but one of the motivations was to undermine the communist governments. Of course there was an excellent camose to be made for getting rid of communism, and most are fine with that. The typical problem was what followed: a varying combination of right-wing governments and klepto-privatization + austerity (billed to naiive publics as market reform). Latin America is the other great pile of this story repeating again and again.

    The lesson learned is under no circumstances should a population allow the country it lives in to become a proxy battleground – neither military nor political. From the point of view of the imperial powers, we should understand that claims of delivering a beneficial transformation are unrealistic most of the time.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      In reading the article, two names came immediately to mind–zbigniew brzezinski and madeline albright.

      Having somehow insinuated themselves into the highest levels of american governance, they proceeded to leverage their Eastern European immigrant “sensibilities” into some of the most egregious, destructive and enduring american foreign “policies,” to the undeniable, decades-long detriment of the country that took them in.

      In the vernacular, I’d imagine they were considered “good gets.”

  11. DJG

    Big Business Won’t Let the Military Repair: We’re back once again to capitalists wanting the rope to hang themselves. So the U.S. military, which already has a dubious record indeed these last seventy years, now can’t repair its own equipment, wash its own clothes, or feed its own troops. This should become a Harvard B-School Case Study: How to loot the military of a nation for profits while pretending to be concerned about national security.

    Note the references in the article to the Clinton regime. The Clintons are the incompetents who just keep on making things worse, now aren’t they? And reinventing government to make government less effective was bad enough, but wrecking the military is truly wondrous. We should be setting up statues to Monica Lewinsky, who managed inadvertently to slow down some of this wastefulness by allowing Bill to loot the interns.

    I suppose that when we send the U.S. military to Iran imminently so as fight for the interests of the Saudis and the Israelis, the Iranians can meet the troops in the streets and offer some warm blankets, clean clothes, and a dinner of shirin polo instead of the glories of Taco Bell.

    1. divadab

      @DJG : ” The Clintons are the incompetents who just keep on making things worse”

      Really? I would say rather they were very competent – at lining their own pockets. Ten for you, one for me for 8 years really adds up – neither Clinton ever had other than a government job*, and now they’re net worth is pushing $100 million. Seems pretty competent to me.

      *not counting HRC’s legal work, generally regarded as complementary to BJC’s Governor work, and the Clinton Foundation is nothing but a vehicle for graft…..

    2. The Rev Kev

      When I read in that article how the Clinton Defense officials demanded that contractors grow bigger and fewer so that 107 contractors merged into just 5, I could not help but remember that was it not the same with media companies in America so that a lush ecology of media companies became only the present six? And that it was the Clinton administration that was responsible for this?

    3. Stephen Gardner

      Gee, when confronted with questions like this I like to ask myself: WWRD, what would Russia do or WWCD What would China do? My guess is they don’t have this problem. And that if someone in their defense industry ever had the gall to try it, they would have the facts explained to them in short order. The purpose of their defense industry is to defend their nation. Ours is to keep the Carlyle group returns up where they “belong”. Capitalism truly has jumped the shark.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Los Angeles: Why tens of thousands of people sleep rough”

    In another quantum reality, Neoliberalism never took hold but was mocked mercilessly to extinction while Milton Friedman died in obscurity and was regarded as a economic crank. In that reality, most of those people in this article are ordinary working people or are going to college, dating or are married and raising families, paying off mortgages and generally taking part in community life and who donate generously to charities.

    1. Off The Street

      Los Angeles has a few key features that support the growing homeless population.

      I: the climate. If you have a choice, and quite a few do, why not move somewhere that doesn’t have rain and cold.
      II: there is a lot of sidewalk space, along with what those Angelenos might call riverbank space, and underpass space around the ubiquitous freeways and viaducts.
      III: the City, County and State governments together generally provide more support than the typical combination in other locales.
      IV: mortgage fraud, phony valuations, sketchy escrows and all the other Great Crash supporting cast help produce the Los Angeles story.
      V: the promise or premise of another boom leads people to want to try to make a go of it in Los Angeles, notwithstanding the clear evidence of inhospitable economics and out-migration for the lower parts of the socioeconomic spectrum.
      VI: there are scores of old RVs available and even semi-suitable for curb-side camping.
      VII: family support networks that might have worked more effectively in past generations are not as robust, leading back to item I above.

  13. Samuel Conner

    re: the Ukrainian sauce for goose and gander, me thinks it was a bit boneheaded to do this through a direct representative of POTUS. DJT surely wants to “elevate” JB, and I would think that would call for concealment of the dirt until one is ready to unload it in October 2020.

    From my perspective, this makes them both look bad, so I take encouragement.

    1. JohnnyGL

      I was kicking this around with colleagues at work. The 2.5 year Trump-Russia flop has inoculated Trump against corruption charges. Well done, team dem!!!

      I think the fact that Ukraine is in headlines probably inevitably nets out badly for Biden, overall. Anyone who tunes into the story is going to find themselves thinking about unasked questions, like:

      “Why the F was Hunter Biden on the Board of Directors of a Ukrainian gas company?”

      That’s going to get paired with a lot of ridiculous news anchors/pundits/panelists insisting the Bidens did NOTHING inappropriate and weren’t corrupt. It starts to get shades of the idiocy of 2016 all over again.

      Part of me also thinks Trump’s team has seen Biden’s persistence at the top of polls and would like to knock him down a bit….they may be looking to maximize the amount of infighting amongst team dem players.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        There is video of biden bragging to the cfr about quashing an ivestigation into corruption at Burisma and, by extension, his son’s position on the board. In true biden fashion:

        “I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion.’ I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Biden recalled telling Poroshenko.

        The prosecutor was fired.

        This whole thing smells like the clinton / podesta / dnc email issue. Instead of concentrating on the actual substance, which is undisputed as well as damning, the issue is how the information gets discovered.

        One thing seems certain, though. By making such a big deal about this, the dems are bringing an issue of which many were unaware front and center. They may come to rue the day. Or maybe, having decided that biden is too heavy a lift, they’re looking for a guilt-free way to dump him.

  14. Carolinian

    Thanks for the blast aimed at Epstein’s pal Dershowitz (“Israel’s lawyer”). Shakespeare had him in mind I think. Dersh is the poster boy for the view that the law is often less about justice and more about power conferred to those who make the laws or those who know how to wield them. He is truly the king of sophistry.

  15. John

    The original New Deal only came about after three years of obvious widespread financial collapse and inept response from the conservative Republican Hoover administration. Clear, obvious collapse being the operative word.
    It will take such clear obvious collapse to actually get serious about a New Green Deal.
    The arc of rise and collapse of German delusions from 1933 to 1945 are instructive. Even with the red army at the gates of Berlin in April 1945, the enforcers of the Third Reich would not let go.
    The enforcers of Bitter End Groaf Capitalism will likewise hold on.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Gosh! The Green New Deal is a swell idea. When I get tired of toasting to “World Peace” I’ll make a toast to the Green New Deal.

      As I understand it, the GND is written as resolution. I need to brush up on my history, wasn’t the original New Deal just a catchy rubric for many bills and actions undertaken by the government to quell growing unrest approaching open revolt? The National Guard was called out to fire on Veterans, a Marine Corps general testified about being approached by a group determined to stage a coup d’état to depose FDR, sit-down strikes, wildcat strikes, and work slowdowns were squeezing Industry. FDR had an effective and energetic Vice President actively working to build a the New Deal — a Vice President sufficiently left leaning to compel party bosses to quash his candidacy and potential accession to the Presidency in favor of their dark horse Harry Truman. The GND is a catchy rubric — for what exactly?

      The New Deal is framed as a deal between the Elites and the populace. Domhoff makes a convincing case that the New Deal — at least Social Security — resulted through the agency of a faction of the Elite willing to make some compromises to their notions of Capitalism in return for a more comfortable relationship with an increasingly rebellious populace. The losing faction of the Elites spent considerable effort and money working to undo the New Deal, finally succeeding in establishing a transition to their agenda in the 1970s and 1980s and now the world is going to hell in a handcart — there is no alternative.

      If the US populace cannot compel our Elites to stop a few pointless wars, or execute existing law to halt and reverse the growing consolidations of Corporate Cartels, or control the predations of the Medical Industrial Complex or Education Industrial Complex, or rebuild basic Industry in this country while halting the wholesale labor arbitrage sending the populace to the streets as homeless, or … how will a resolution like the GND get passed or have any real effect if it does pass? What prevents some Elite faction from commandeering the process to get public monies for their “green” projects — possibly including some of the cool ideas for geoengineering. I wonder who put some of the goodies into the Energy Policy Act Of 2005 — goodies like the Sec. 1231 Open nondiscriminatory access: ‘(b) TRANSMISSION OPERATION SERVICES .—Subject to section 212(h), the Commission may, by rule or order, require an unregulated transmitting utility to provide transmission services—
      ‘‘(1) at rates that are comparable to those that the unregulated transmitting utility charges itself; and
      ‘‘(2) on terms and conditions (not relating to rates) that are comparable to those under which the unregulated transmitting utility provides transmission services to itself and that are not unduly discriminatory or preferential.

      I doubt the utility companies — the unregulated transmitting utilities — favored this section which is slowly driving the utility companies out of business. [I am not a fan of unregulated utility companies but I am also not happy with the ways they have cut back on maintaining the GRID’s transmission lines to cut costs.] Either the utilities were sleeping while the bill was hammered together or there is some Elite faction with more ‘umpf’ than they could muster. How “green” or “green$$$” committed is that faction?

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Agree with your thumbnail sketch of the original New Deal but wanted to add a point: there was a LOT of concern that if the government didn’t Do Something to alleviate the distress, the US would move toward or even adopt Communist policies. Perceived vulnerability to the USSR was a big driver. The rise of the then-radical CIO stoked those concerns. So this was as much an economic self-preservation move by the better informed and/or more nervous elites than just a fear of 1968 level disorder.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Thank you for your augment to my comment. I remain struck by the peculiar replacement of Wallace by the unknown Truman and the subsequent ascent of the National ‘Security’ State and the Cold War as World War II came to an end.

          1. Anonymous

            The Social Security Act of 1935

            National Security Act of 1947

            No Pentagon until ’41–’43.

            The Secretary of Labor in The New Deal was considered an important cabinet post.

  16. NotThatMichaelScott

    I’ve been a long time reader here. I smoked for 20 years a pack a day. I tried gum, I tried patches, I tried Chantix (who knew dreams could be so vivid and strange), the only thing that has worked for me was vaporizing nicotine containing e liquid, with flavors. Let me be clear, if you have never smoked you shouldn’t do this, especially kids.

    I know how we here like to dig into corruption of the financial variety, so here is my tinfoil hat observations about what is going on regarding vaping.

    In 1998 the state attorneys general of 46 states and territories reached a settlement with big tobacco manufacturers, called the Master Settlement Agreement.The short story of the MSA is that big tobacco pays each participating state an amount for each pack of cigarettes sold establishing a value on the health cost represented by that product. At the same time tobacco companies made it illegal to ban their products. They also made the states complicit in their business of pushing a product with many harms, because they would become dependent on funds from this and would have an incentive to do nothing to reduce smoking rates. Many states were in financial trouble at the time and saw this as a lifeline, but only if they got large up front payments. They lost that and get a regular payment in smaller amounts. Enter Wall Street and bond traders. Some states issued bonds against the revenue from this.

    I find it extremely interesting that the states that are banning flavored vapor products now are the ones that fell for this bond scam the hardest.

    Never mind that banning flavors will have no effect on youth vaping, kids do it for the buzz from the high concentration nicotine in devices like Juul. Never mind that the CDC is responsible for public health malpractice by obfuscating that the cause of lung problems lately is due to illicit THC cartridges.Never mind that pharma is making money selling things to the tobacco industry on the front end and then making money selling cancer treatments on the back end. Never mind that poor and middle class people smoke and vape, Bloomberg’s wife runs PAVE an anti-vaping group, Pfizer and J&J materially support Truth and Tobacco Free Kids. Never mind that Public Health England expects to have that nation smoke free by 2030 using these products. Never mind that the same organization that first publicly told us that smoking caused cancer, Royal Council of Physicians states these products are 95% safer than smoking.

    Please help us that were dumb enough to start smoking, but smart enough to know a better choice when we see it, this impacts the whole world.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Why is the first answer to the vaping disease a move to ban vaping? Isn’t there some way we might test the vaping liquids for the substances causing the vaping disease and ban those companies adulterating their products with harmful substances — other than the nicotine and possibly the flavorings?

      1. Monty

        “Why is the first answer to the vaping disease a move to ban vaping? ”

        Did you read NotThatMichaelScott’s post, to which you replied? It is full of possible reasons.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I believe my question is rhetorical. It were my intention to suggest other possible reasons by alluding to the recently explored problem of adulterated generic medicines coming from China and India. The moment vaping became popular concerns spread about its potential as a means for getting high without a telltale burnt rope smell, and using sources other than those state controlled and taxed, and benefiting the pockets of Big Pharma. I also believe cigarette companies have decidedly mixed feelings about a vaping.

      2. ambrit

        Reminiscent of the tryptophan ban back in 1990. The source of the disease related to the ban was traced back to a contaminated batch from a manufacturer in Japan. The CT of the time was that tryptophan was cutting into the profits of the sleeping pill makers. A lot of us ‘on the fringes’ were using l-tryptophan as a natural sleep aid. Cheaper too, since no doctors visit was required to acquire the substance.

  17. Tom Stone

    I laughed myself silly when I saw that the Zuke is now a publisher, he should ask Assange how well that worked out for him.

    As to Dershowitz, he’s a litigator of a particular type.
    For them it’s all about the “WIN” and the more vile the client and the more egregious their conduct the bigger the win when you get them off.
    Dominance, pure and simple.

  18. cnchal

    > Will Trump Pull the U.S. Out of the Universal Postal Union? Time (furzy)

    . . .depending on the results of an obscure international meeting scheduled to take place in Geneva on Sept. 24-25. If the Trump Administration doesn’t get what it wants at that summit, the United States is set to withdraw from an arcane treaty that governs global mail delivery . . .


    That’s thanks to the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a 144-year-old organization that sets technical and security standards to keep international mail and small packages moving around the globe. Now part of the U.N., it’s the second oldest ­international organization in the world, and not typically ­involved in high-profile disputes. But one main part of the arrangement has drawn President Donald Trump’s ire: “terminal dues,” the rates the 192 member countries pay one another to deliver mail across borders. Because the fees were developed in the 1960s based on factors including a nation’s economic development at that point, countries like China, whose economy has grown enormously since then, still pay heavily subsidized rates while the U.S. pays much more. That means it can sometimes be cheaper to send a package from China to the United States than it is for Americans to send packages between states.

    “What’s really made this a disastrous system is that in the last 10 years or so, international document volume has plummeted and international e-commerce has boomed,” says James Campbell, a lawyer and UPU expert who consults for international shipping companies. “The United States and the Europeans have been flooded with e-commerce goods that come from China and other countries. We are delivering those goods at terminal dues rates that are substantially less than what the Postal Service charges domestic mailers for the same service.”

    This could be part of the GND. The crapola being flown over from China sold by the biggest boy in the warehouse, delivery and spy business, stops. Wonder what that will do to the stawk price?

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      It’s said that most of the illegal fentanyl that’s coming into the country from china comes through the postal service. I don’t know if that’s true, it’s a claim often made by open borders supporters in response to Trump’s claim that illegal immigrants are bringing in drugs.

      Whatever. I’d support a refusal to deliver ANY mailed packages from china.

      1. wittters

        American drug use issues? Its the Chinese! So a measured response addressed to the heart of the matter?

        Whatever. I’d support a refusal to deliver ANY mailed packages from china.

        A War on Packages from China!

    2. turtle

      Interestingly enough, there may be enough US companies upset with this current Chinese mail arrangement to help kill it. The reason is this: you and I can now go buy directly from Chinese vendors through sites like Ali Express and buy super-ultra-cheap stuff (think $10 [ten dollar] business suits – seriously, this is for real). This means we can completely cut out the traditional middle-men in the US. And why wouldn’t your average consumer take advantage of this when it’s available? The only obvious downside is inconvenience (forget the environmental, human rights, labor damage, but most people don’t usually think about those anyway).

      The middle-men (i.e. US corporations that decided to increase their profits by moving manufacturing to China) cannot be too happy with the possibility of this situation really taking off, because it would completely kill them. Essentially, Dr. Frankenstein is now facing possible death at the hands of the monster he created, so they are apt to try to at least restrain the monster before this happens.

    1. Olga

      Have you seen this? From a former CIA agent, Michael Scheuer:

      “The Taleban’s leaders also knew the U.S. did not intend to win in Afghanistan because they had watched Bill Clinton refuse to even attempt one of the ten chances CIA gave him to kill or capture Osama bin Laden. Always recall, Mr. President, there would have been no Afghan War or Iraq War if Clinton had removed bin Laden from the scene in 1998 or 1999.”

  19. dcblogger

    “As everyone drives to the strikes today in their cars”
    based on what? here in DC demonstrators are taking the subway. Personally I plan to take part in at least some of the actions.

    1. juliania

      Good for you, dcblogger. If the message is good, why kill the messenger? It’s going to take everyone to lick this problem. I’m not convinced that we can do it on our own without those we’d rather disdain . If they see the urgency, let them organize towards fixing it. I don’t care to be rich; I do care to survive.

    1. Off The Street

      In foilier moments, I suspect that numerous computer and cell phone apps, smart televisions, appliances, IoT and other software initiatives are actively mining through each and every website, contact, package and other data source, meta and otherwise, to construct or concoct a portrait of users. After all, when there are dark pattern forces optimizing those search engines and video games, would it be much of a leap to enable a few more features for a select group of inquirers? I await some proof issuing from a disgruntled former coder, although the likelihood of that person having been bought or otherwise encouraged into silence seems on the increase.

  20. semiconscious

    Barack Obama’s Biggest Mistake:

    But that’s exactly why I found Stoller’s book so insightful. The long history of Democratic populism is unknown to most liberals today. Only now, in the age of Sanders and Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are we beginning to relearn the lessons of the past. For at least three decades, neoliberalism has brought the left economic half-measures and political despair. It’s time to demand more.

    no, no, farhad manjoo, the long history of democratic populism may’ve been unknown to you, personally, until recently, but it’s something that most of us liberals have always known. we’ve simply all been disenfranchised by the party’s leadership. welcome to the club…

    1. JBird4049

      Let’s not get too harsh. The democratic populism formerly in the Democratic Party was zombified by the late 1980s, which almost forty years ago.

      The decaying corpse has been decreasingly pulled out of the closet whenever the Democrats want non-whites, the poor, the middle class, anyone really not of the Credentialed 10% or the wealthy 0.01%.

      Has any of the media bothered to explain this or have they all been parroting the neoliberal flim-flam?

  21. notabanktoadie

    re Could Ultra-Low Interest Rates Be Contractionary?:

    From an ethical viewpoint, our finance system is an abomination:

    1) Only depository institutions may use a Nation’s fiat in inherently risk-free account form at the Central Bank. Why not the non-bank private sector too?

    2) When this results in interest rates in fiat being deemed too low, one form or another of welfare proportional to account balance is used to raise them such as:
    a) Interest on Reserves (IOR)
    b) the selling of inherently risk-free sovereign debt at positive yields by the Treasury or Central Bank.

    3) During a financial crisis, when interest rates in fiat soar, the Central Bank will lend to or buy assets from private depository institutions, aka “the banks”. This is the creation of fiat for the private welfare of the banks themselves and for the rich, the most so-called “credit worthy” of what is currently, in essence, the public’s credit but for private gain. But fiat should only be created for the general welfare of a nation, not private interests.

  22. Grant

    “Populism will probably just go away soon, so relax”

    From the article, “So don’t panic about of populism. And don’t overreact. The left shouldn’t weaponize the tax code to punish the rich. The right shouldn’t retreat from its long-held commitments to free trade, free markets, personal responsibility and openness to the world. The populist threat just requires a more mundane response: patience.”

    How is taxing the rich “weaponizing the tax code”? What a mindless thing to say. What a stupid and deluded article. There is upheaval because political and economic systems the world over are corrupted by capital, don’t represent and benefit working people and the poor, the dominant institutions are failing and people don’t see that their political and economic systems cannot be reformed. The elites forgot about making sure the system works for enough people that calls for radical change can be held at bay. What do they offer, if they are unwilling to change the system? To think that this is going away, doubly while we are staring down an environmental crisis that could cause societal collapse, is bonkers. It reminds me of Irving Fisher arguing that everything was fine right up to, literally, the crash in 1929. The elites have no solutions to societal problems that they created. People are pushing to replace systems that don’t work, so the only way to make it go away is to either have this system work for most people or to replace it with one that will. Given the environmental crisis, this system cannot work as is going forward. So, what alternative system do the elites offer? I think the answer is in Brazil. Their response to the environmental crisis will probably result in a bunch of Bolsonaro-like politicians, which will be forced on populations at the barrel of a gun. Most of the elites seem to have a deep hatred of democracy anyway.

    You will notice in articles like that, the author has to ignore decades-long macroeconomic trends, and would refuse to touch the issue of class. As a result, it says nothing and is cut off from objective reality.

    1. notabanktoadie

      The elites forgot about making sure the system works for enough people that calls for radical change can be held at bay. Grant

      When there was no escaping the need for human labor, the current system of welfare for the banks and the rich worked well* enough to offer enough people hope for the future.

      But now that the “job creators” are increasingly, via unethically financed automation, net job destroyers, what excuse remains for a finance system that was never ethical to begin with?

      *Discounting, for examples, the Great Depression which is the fault of the finance system as Ben Bernanke admitted and World War II, a major cause of which was the Great Depression.

      1. Grant

        I don’t see any justification for the present system. But, the present system is not sustainable and cannot realistically deal with the environmental crisis. If we are serious about trying to survive and have civilization not utterly collapse, this system will have to go. What takes its place is where the debate should be. Given the hatred of democracy among the elites, they will try to put in place a pretty brutal and authoritarian system, with them in control. People like Warren, that want to salvage this system, to me represent a last dich effort to rescue capitalism. Given what we are facing, I find it to be utterly deluded. If she won, what she would put in place would fall well short of what is needed, and unlike Bernie, I don’t think it would lead to larger structural changes thereafter. I, in fact, think that since we don’t have much time, it could effectively doom us.

        In December of 2016, on the way out the door, the Obama administration created a report on AI and automation. It said that a large percentage of jobs could be lost via automation. It didn’t mention that this isn’t a problem unique to the US, it is a key feature of the global capitalist system. Automation in China is just as intense as the US. That report mentioned the ownership of enterprises once, only briefly noting that if current trends continue, the conflict between capital and labor will intensify. If we propose alternative institutions and ownership structures, will it be cooperatives or public enterprises that dominate, or a mixture of some kind (likely)? Where in the system would those institutions fit, what would be their role, if we acknowledge the need for more comprehensive planning?

        If anyone can show how the present system can deal effectively with the environmental crisis, I am all ears. I don’t see how it realistically could. Those machines would also need lots of energy, and I wonder where that energy would come from if we have to shrink the size of the economy relative to the ecosystem. If machine are to take the place of people, not only is ownership and control an issue, but so is the energy needed for those machines to work.

        1. notabanktoadie

          I don’t see the energy problem as insurmountable, i.e. the heat generated by human activity in a year is on the order of what the Sun produces on Earth in a few hours. So carbon-neutral energy solutions are not doomed from the outset but offer real hope.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            The sun produces a lot of energy on Earth — no question. The problem is how to convert that energy to a form useful for our purposes. I too believe carbon neutral solutions are not inherently doomed, but so far we lack those carbon neutral solutions. The fall-back for now is to make do with less.

            However, I’m not sure how your comment addresses Grant’s comment best summarized as: “If machines are to take the place of people, not only is ownership and control an issue, but so is the energy needed for those machines to work.” And do you believe the best use of the carbon neutral energy you suggest might be possible — some day — would be powering machines to take work away from humans?

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              A photon is both a particle and a wave. I read that the sunlight falling on one acre in one hour weighs four pounds. Of course that mass converts to energy upon contacting the grass.

              And the futurists I’ve read insist THE battle is between flesh and silicon, and the sooner we start acting accordingly the better. Suggest we establish a religion (the only form of institution that can endure long enough) and then control AI the way we (attempt to) control nuclear weapons. DO NOT under any circumstances allow the stuff to escape tha lab.

          2. Grant

            The economy needs to shrink relative to the eco system in regards to taking resources from the environment and using it as a sink for wastes. The notion that we can have a fully automated system does beg the question as to where this energy will come from. These decisions are made right now based on what is in the interests of the owners of private institutions, not society. If we are going to have machines do the work that people do now, and given the need to reduce our carbon and ecofootprint, I do think energy will be an issue. There is a conflict between what is good for the monopolistic owners of enterprises and society. If society and workers had a say, there would be radically different decisions on these matters. Different institutions, say worker owned cooperatives or public enterprises, would make radically different decisions. If non-market social and environmental impacts are taken into account, then automation like it is assumed by that Obama report make a lot less sense. Unless, of course, there are radically different ownership structures. Then, you are in Marx’s territory, where the productive forces are used by workers to produce society’s needs, while allowing people to work less hours.

  23. Annieb

    Re: LA: Why tens of thousands of people sleep rough. I believe these statistics are approximate at best. The methods used to count the homeless are inadequate to include those who sleep in their cars and work jobs, which are many. They know where and how to park at night so they won’t be noticed. The article says that the cars that people sleep in are mostly decrepit. That would not be the case for those who must commute to their jobs (part-time, sometimes two part-time, or gig jobs).

    1. JBird4049

      I also want to add that most of the homeless are natives. That is they were born in California, but have been forced into homelessness because of the cost of housing, which is just astronomical and is rising much faster than inflation and certainly faster than the average income. That is not to say that many are immigrants attracted by the weather especially along the southern cost, but thinking tens of thousands are moving thousands of miles across the Rockies and the Great Plains just to plop down on a sidewalk in Los Angeles or San Francisco is just plain silly.

      There is also the reality that over 1% of the total population of just San Francisco is homeless with the City being just one of a number of cities in the Bay Area.

      1. Carey

        >I also want to add that most of the homeless are natives. That is they were born in California, but have been forced into homelessness because of the cost of housing

        Like me. I was lucky, and was only homeless for a short time (knock on wood!), but this scenario is as common as dirt, here in the Golden State. All according to plan, as one of our hosts says.

        1. JBird4049

          There but the grace of God (and family) go I too. I wonder just how bad it is going to get before it gets better.

          At some point blaming all the homeless as lazy is just silly and reminds me of how everything and everyone to the left of the John Birch Society or Senator Mitch McConnell has been denounced as communism if not Stalinism. Until Senator Sanders came along. He is not a socialist but he is moving the window.

  24. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    Between the UP as an escape from Climate Change and Soldiers not being able to maintain their equipment, I feel like these links were tailored just for me!

    Long live Nakedcapitalism

  25. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Citizens need to know numbers

    One of my best friends was a high school math teacher and like many high school teachers, she frequently received the “Why do I need to learn this?” question.

    I had a standing offer to come in to explain to any of her students who asked that if you do not learn at least the basics of math now, when you are an adult those who do understand it will be ripping you off for the rest of your life. See: US mortgage industry circa 2008.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      How does algebra fit in? Does algebra teach about compound interest? How does solving algebra word problems help protect people from being fleeced?

  26. EoH

    I believe that Colt’s suspension of the manufacture of the AR-15 is temporary. Presumably, the halt is a way to ride out the current news cycle in hopes of better weather ahead.

    1. inode_buddha

      I had understood that they are dropping the civilian-legal (semi-auto) models. The military still gets selective-fire full-auto, as expected. IMHO this is a good thing, take little bits of good news wherever you can find them.

      1. JBird4049

        Anyone noticed that that

        ‘Veilleux said his company will continue to make and sell AR-15s for “our warfighters and law enforcement personnel” who “continue to demand Colt rifles and we are fortunate enough to have been awarded significant military and law enforcement contracts.”‘

        but just not to civilians? Silly me, I thought the police were civilians, or at least that is what they were when I was growing up. The lumping together of them into one is disturbing.

  27. Summer

    RE:”Now, the channel must not only belong to the real creator, artist, public figure or company it claims to represent, but it must also represent a well-known creator, artist, public figure or company that is “widely recognized” outside of YouTube or has a strong presence online…”

    So much for the “long tail…”
    In other words, that anti-establishment hype from the market populism nineties was a load of crap. This is now VERIFIED.

    And don’t discount the change is only until after the election. Then there could be more leeway allowed.
    So much for the “democratic” internet. Another boldface lie.
    It’s a political decision affecting a lot of viewers that don’t think they are “political.”

  28. Summer

    RE: Warfare

    “Populism Will Probably Just Go Away Soon, So Relax” Bloomberg.

    “Pretty soon the world will only be populated by people used to crawling through sh – – and saying ‘thank you, massa…”
    Is thay the argument?

  29. ewmayer

    “Trump’s Moscow Deal Is Exactly What the Framers Worried About | Politico (Chuck L)” — From last December, by a “former FBI agent and lawyer”. A litany of the by-now-well-worn Clintonite & establishment strawmen, hysterical “Kremlin puppet” allegations and deliberate conflation of the Norms Fairy with the actual applicable statutes:

    Candidate Trump’s secret attempt to enrich himself through a business deal with a hostile foreign adversary is the embodiment of the twin evils the Constitution seeks to prevent. That the deal didn’t materialize is immaterial from a constitutional point of view: They may still have influenced Trump’s weirdly favorable view of Russia, or the inexplicable change in the Republican Party platform on Ukraine. And by keeping it secret, President Vladimir Putin’s ability to expose Trump, at any time, gave the Russian government leverage over the highest public office in the country even after the deal fizzled out. Even if Trump began these negotiations while he was a private citizen, its impact on our relations with Russia has continued into the presidency—making it a matter of public concern that required transparency from the outset.

    This is the most egregious instance of Trump’s self-dealing and of him being beholden to a foreign power, but only because it’s the only one that we know about for sure. The public still hasn’t seen Trump’s tax returns, and what other liabilities he might have in Russia or elsewhere. The president is also facing three lawsuits—from members of Congress, the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia, and the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington—over potential violations of the emoluments clause. And without knowing what financial interests Trump has in Saudi Arabia, the public is in the dark regarding the United States’ failure to take action—at Trump’s direction—over the murder in October of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul.

    Looking to the Constitution, rather than the criminal code, to determine whether Trump is fit to remain in office makes sense. After all, federal crimes are by definition a narrower category of offenses than state crimes. Because of state resistance to a national police force, most of the crimes in the current U.S. code didn’t even emerge until the 20th century. Most important, what makes Trump’s actions egregious is not just what he did, but the position he was running for—and now holds—while doing it. For example, Trump’s business entanglements in Saudi Arabia matter because as president, he holds almost sole authority over the Unites States’ foreign policy decisions with that country. Congress can’t be expected to imagine and criminalize every possible abuse of power that would ultimately only apply to one person. There’s a reason that impeachment isn’t just reserved for “offenses against the United States” (the language used in the pardon power) but for a broader class of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

    No mention of the Clinton Foundation’s foreign-influence-peddling-for-profit in this fellow’s screed – odd, that.

  30. JBird4049

    ‘We’re targeted:’ Duluth confronts issue of missing Native women as state task force meets

    Oh, somebody is actually trying to do something?

    Native American communities have been the poorest, most addicted, most preyed upon, and have just the worse of any social metric of any other large group of Americans since forever. Heck, there have been (probably non-Indian) serial murders and serial rapists waltzing through those communities for decades, but that is ignored by the police, the government, and the news media for some reason.

  31. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

    Re Military equipment repairs*:

    There is something about administrative incompetence that really tickles my funny bone. I suppose the Pentagon’s brightest have never watched Monty Python. I laughed my bleep off.

    Thank you for the pleasure this gave.

    *File under “General Collapse”

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