Links 10/12/19

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Tokyo eerily quiet, bracing for worst typhoon in 6 decades Associated Press (David L)

Climate change: Big lifestyle changes are the only answer BBC (David L)

This Is What Adapting to Climate Change Looks Like Atlantic (David L). As recently as 20 years ago, multi-day power outages due to ice storms ever year or two were normal in Birmingham, AL in areas with trees (as in the nicer and even not-so-nice suburbs). The neighbors would come sleep over because our house was one of the few with fireplaces (actually 2, back to back in the living room and den). This sort of thing is about to become the new normal. David L said yesterday in the PM: “Power still out here (we’re in a rural area). Wind here never more the 6 mph.”

An Analysis Of California’s Decision To Ban The Chlorpyrifos Pesticide Forbes (David L)

A Code Glitch May Have Caused Errors In More Than 100 Published Studies Vice. Resilc: “You can’t spell shIT without IT.”


Trump says the US has come to a substantial phase one deal with China CNBC

China makes few concessions in trade truce with US Financial Times

Trump may have secured re-election today Asia Times (Kevin W). Help me. This election is the Democrat’s to lose much more than Trump’s to win.

Trump’s China Financial Decoupling Move Has Roots in Enron Saga Bloomberg (Troy P)

“It’s a lovefest!’ Trump announces ‘substantial’ partial US-China trade deal on agriculture, intellectual property, & finance RT (Kevin W)

For Xi Jinping, the biggest danger to the Communist Party is itself South China Morning Post (furzy)

Hong Kong Protesters Debate Halting Vandalism on LIHKG Bloomberg (furzy)

Brexit. We should have an idea late Sunday UK time as to whether the crunch negotiations mentioned below have borne fruit. EU diplomats are to be briefed Sunday at 5:00 PM in Brussels, and you can be sure press leaks will fly fast after that.

Johnson’s major U-turn sets up 48 hours to clinch Brexit deal Guardian (furzy)

Constitutional integrity of UK must be respected in Brexit deal – DUP Reuters

MPs must oppose the PM’s Brexit plans – or workers will pay the price LabourList

Donald Tusk: No workable Brexit deal yet, but let’s keep talking Politico

Johnson will ask MPs to choose deal or delay on Super Saturday The Times

From guurst:

Mexico mayor tied to car and dragged along by angry locals BBC (resilc)


100,000 flee as Turkey steps up Syria offensive BBC

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Smart TVs Are Data-Collecting Machines, New Study Shows The Verge. I am amazed that this is seen as news.

How Photos of Your Kids Are Powering Surveillance Technology New York Times (David L)

Trump Transition

The Memo: Bad polls for Trump shake GOP The Hill

Trump loses appeal over House subpoena for financial records NBC (furzy)

How the Roberts Court’s ‘Citizens United’ allowed Parnas and Fruman to Buy influence in America Juan Cole

One of the ‘Largest Radical Anti-Government Groups’ in U.S. Will Escort Republicans at Trump Minneapolis Rally Newsweek

Fired EPA scientists to release air pollution report they say agency unqualified to issue NBC (furzy)

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner made as much as $135m last year Guardian. Resilc: “Hunter Byedone is a slacker.”

President Trump, Ivanka, Jared And Dignitaries To Visit Louis Vuitton Plant In Johnson County CBS Dallas/Fort Worth

Republican Control In The States Hasn’t Stopped The Growth Of Government FiveThirtyEight (resilc)

Why Barack Obama was particularly unsuited to live up to the ideals of the Nobel Peace Prize The Conversation


We’re in a permanent coup Matt Taibbi. Came up in comments in yesterday’s Water Cooler. A must read.

Why We Must Impeach Donald Trump Rolling Stone (resilc)

Read Marie Yovanovitch’s prepared deposition statement Washington Post (furzy)

AT&T raises prices 7% by making its customers pay AT&T’s property taxes ars technica (resilc)

Boeing and FAA Faulted In Damaging Report On 737 Max Certification New York Times


Elizabeth Warren trolls Facebook with ‘false’ Zuckerberg ad Guardian

BREAKING: Tulsi Is Now Top 4 In Wisconsin..Without Campaigning In Wisconsin? YouTube (furzy)

Why so many companies bailed on Facebook’s Libra project at once Verge (Kevin W). As we said, they were not on board. They made no real commitment, had no contract, paid no $. They were just letting their names be used to have a better look-see. They were dopes to go even that far given how ludicrous the Libra rollout doc was. I am surprised it took this long for them to distance themselves, but they are doing so visibly and decisively (which is the striking part) because Facebook starting muscling them to show more support.

The climate crisis and the failure of economics Vox (David L)

California governor signs ban on private prisons, setting up fight with Trump Guardian

CalPERS in settlement talks in $1 billion long-term care insurance lawsuit Sacramento Bee. This verges on misreporting, or just taking CalPERS propaganda in lieu of actual reporting. The state is not going to do any bailout of these funds. The “talks” might be more accurately depicted as “CalPERS officially groveling with the state so as to tell the judge it tried so he won’t be mad at CalPERS.” Not only would Newsom have to approve any bailout, but he’d then have to get the legislature to agree. The judge at least figured out if the bailout fantasy were to happen, it would go well into 2020 since it would need to be approved with the state budget, so he kicked the trial date back.

This chart shows the biggest driver for the Dow and it’s not Trump or China trade war MarketWatch

Class Warfare

How to Tax Our Way Back to Justice New York Times. By Saez and Zucman.

Is Amazon Unstoppable? New Yorker (resilc). JP Morgan looked like he was until he wasn’t.

Amazon Cuts Contracts With Delivery Companies Linked to Deaths Propublica. Furzy: “problem solved!!! /s”

Trump’s Trillion-Dollar Hit to Homeowners ProPublica. Misses the story entirely. This tax was intended to hit the affluent Dem donor base, which when you read into the story, appears to happened based on the list of counties most affected. However, there was tons of collateral damage to wealthy Republicans in moderate to high tax states.

Antidote du jour (the Guardian a while back via MGL). The elephants are playing but the one on the bottom looks like it might not be so sure about this game.

And a bonus (Dan K):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. MK

    Does a president get to pick his ambassadors or not? Everything I’ve seen dances around that question and implies the Secretary of State makes those decisions.

    1. marym

      See John @ 9:26 am below.

      Adding to that: There are political appointees (with campaign contributors and political cronies in the mix) and career professionals. The ambassador to Ukraine currently in the news was the latter and had been an ambassador since 2005. While they all serve “at the pleasure of the president,” from Wikipedia

      In most cases, career foreign service officers serve a tour of approximately three years per ambassadorship whereas political appointees customarily tender their resignations upon the inauguration of a new president.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        While this may be true historically, Tillerson sought to radically downsize the Department of State and he got rid of many long-standing career appointees. And the Ambassador had been an Obama appointee to Ukraine. Admittedly, it’s not clear if any big donor would want to go to Kiev.

      2. dearieme

        they all serve “at the pleasure of the president”

        Your Constitution includes an elected monarch with monarchical powers that, I suspect, were already obsolete in Britain at that time. I’m not sure what period in British history they were meant to reflect: some time in the 17th century, perhaps. Is your President by design a sort of James VII & II?

        I suppose it’s a sort of Divine Right of the Electoral College principle. Still, at least your House of Lords is elected, though I understand that it was not originally elected by the populace.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Broken brains on one hand, and for the most part, Trump’s policies aren’t the source of outrage for the courtier class but the up ending of establishment order. Years even decades of toadyism to the Bush and Clinton crime families wereally wasted. Shep Smith was fired. The courtiers are more outraged by a multi millionaire not carrying water for the radical right than they are by the shut down of Splinter.

      1. Wukchumni

        The emperor has no close friends, and eerily similar to Anthony Fremont, can wish people into the scorned field.

    3. kiwi

      No. The president does not have any presidential powers at all, according to the dims.

      So, no he doesn’t have powers to appoint diplomats or talk to foreign countries’ leaders or anything else typically associated with presidential powers. The president answers to the dims in Congress, and no one else.

          1. Procopius

            Proves my point that conservatives (I assume only a conservative would think that was irony) do not understand humor. The term “conservative comedian” is an oxymoron.

            1. ObjectiveFunction

              Interesting. You may wish to consult the wit and wisdom of Scott Adams, PJ O’Rourke, James Lileks, Iowahawk, HL Mencken, Winston Churchill, Samuel Johnson and many many others before persisting in that sad generalization.

              It is liberals whom I find humorless, prickly, judgy and instantly groping for the ad hominem these days. But I don’t draw universal conclusions from that.

    4. David

      As far as I can gather from my conversations with US diplomats over the years, the career officers (who are generally pretty good by the way) greatly resent the fact that many of the best jobs are given to political appointees, often on a crudely ideological or favour-seeking basis. We all remember that that great Asian expert and linguist Chelsea Clinton was Ambassador to Tokyo. My impression is that this has become more an issue in recent times. In addition, of course, US Presidents frequently promote and nurture career officials with whom they are comfortable. Kiev has been a massively important Embassy for most western countries for several decades, and the ideal figure as Ambassador would be a career official with the confidence of the President. But in any political system the head of state or government has to be happy with Ambassadors in important posts, or they are changed: it’s a professional hazard.

      1. Another Rev

        Sorry David, not Chelsea Clinton. Perhaps you’re thinking of Obama’s appointment of Caroline Kennedy, who I think was pretty well received (by the Japanese, anyway, if not the diplomatic corps).

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          US Ambassadors Shirley Temple and Pamela Harriman, whose claim to fame was having had five famous, and after Randolph Churchill, also rich, husbands and being a monster Democratic fundraiser when married to her last husband, Averell Harriman, also prove the point.

          1. ambrit

            At least, when Lindy Boggs was appointed Ambassadress to the Holy See by none other than Bill Clinton, she was Catholic.

          2. ChrisPacific

            Barack Obama gave us David Huebner, who was excellent, then followed him up with Mark Gilbert, a former pro baseball player with no diplomatic or political experience who was known mostly for his vast fundraising prowess. I can find no record of any accomplishments of any kind during his tenure, but he did have a fine supply of “Me and my good buddy Barack” stories.

            Trump has sent us Scott Brown, who at least has some political experience (he’s a former Senator). He was one of the first at his level to endorse Trump, and we all know how Trump feels about loyalty.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Why Barack Obama was particularly unsuited to live up to the ideals of the Nobel Peace Prize”

    What I remember most about Obama receiving his Nobel Peace prize was his speech in that it amounted to a pro-war speech in front of a peace committee-

    The first warning signal I had what Obama was like was his political campaign winning several top advertising awards. Madison Avenue loved him. The second warning was this speech.

    1. Farragut

      I vividly recall the moment I heard the news of his winning. It was such a non-sequitur, out-of-the-blue, WTF moment that I sat there with what I’m certain was a very puzzled look on my face. “He’s only been president for what, 5 minutes?! Something is wrong here.”

      1. Wukchumni

        I thought it was a stroke of brilliance on the Nobel committees part, force his hand into getting out of the war business by labeling him a dove.

        Only thing is, it didn’t work.

        1. pjay

          At the time I thought it was absurd but funny as hell because I knew it would drive the right-wingers crazy.

          My sense of humor has changed some over the last 10 years.

          1. norm de plume

            Disappointment is the word I would use if I was limited to one to describe his presidency. That’s if I was feeling generous; otherwise betrayal.

            He is like a master criminal who has committed the perfect crime, and knows it. The self satisfied purr of his careful cadences are the mocking soundtrack to his historic grift.

            He got away with it. He parlayed his caramel charm onto the Beltway and was conveyed at high speed into the presidency on a ticket of change, only to turn on a dime and reveal himself as the ultimate insider, a willing tool of The Owners. And yet he managed to hold on to the bulk of the liberal hive-mind’s affection, if not adoration. He has rocketed into the elite he helped to save from the masses and his family will remain there for the foreseeable future, appearing at events and in the society pages. Grateful scions of old money will line up to marry his daughters while he gracefully grows old, uttering a stream of content free platitudes, at $400,000 per hour.

            He got away with it.

            The epitaph on the gravestone? Mine is ‘The Greatest Disappointment in History’

              1. norm de plume

                Could be Rev. Putin behind the whole thing, stroking a cat all the while. He took power in 2000, and after that the Obama ascent steepens considerably. Obama-gate. Has BO ever been seen playing solitaire?

                ‘He got away with it’ would also do on the stone, though he would be unlikely to author that himself. More like ‘Mission Accomplished’!

                1. The Rev Kev

                  The late Justin Raimondo used to say that there was not really an independent Republican Party and Democratic party but behind both that there was a War party which cashed in on a bipartisan basis. You see this when both parties will for example pass an extra $60 billion for the Pentagon instantaneously or will get a tax cut for the rich passed without a real debate. This was Obama’s real party of constituents. And as you say, ‘Mission Accomplished’!

    2. Dan

      The day of his inauguration, when he announced that Rahm Emanuel would be his chief of staff, I knew that once again, we had been had.

      At least we knew we were lied to right away, unlike the election of L.B.J. which took months of escalation of Vietnam and federal troops staging a coup stateside.

      1. LifelongLib

        My doubts began when Obama threw Jeremiah Wright under the bus, grew with the milque toast inaugural speech, and were confirmed by the ACA.

        1. curlydan

          I can up the ante. My doubts began on November 21, 2008 when reports came out that Geithner would be appointed Sec of Treasury. The Dow closed up 500 points that day to $8,046. Within a week, it closed at $8,829.

          1. WheresOurTeddy

            I lost my “hope” in anything resembling “change” when it became obvious every cabinet meeting would be a Goldman Sachs alumni gathering,

            Sanders 2020: Because The Rich Hate Him (Even More Than They Hate You)!

        2. Geo

          Let’s not forget his flip-flop on telecom immunity. Had my doubts before that but his flip on that sealed the case for me.

        3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          For me it was encapsulated by the screen name of an eminent NC commenter: NotTimGeithner.

          As soon as I saw that appointment I knew the fix was in.

          Boy I had to swim against the tide at the time, when one and all were completely deceived by The Mellifluous Melanoderm.

          1. Bernard

            Obama gave a speech from Chicago and showered the name of Ronald Reagan with such praise. i felt a shiver, a strange sense of being “sold down the River” once again. The whole Trickle Down Scam. Signed, sold and delivered, America to the Highest Bidder.

            the Republicans have chosen to sell everything, even the planet, for what they can. As usual the “little people” pay the price.

      2. pretzelattack

        i think it was when he backtracked on voting against the surveillance court; greenwald did some articles on it and it was a flashing warning light.

      1. The Rev Kev

        He actually spoke of Alexander Hamilton’s greatness? That was one big dog whistle. No wonder that they eventually came out with a musical about this mutt. And how songs and the like were tested out in the White House with Obama before it had its premier on stage.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I am willing to bet that if you asked the average American what his historical heroes are, that they would bring up names like Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington and Paine. If you asked the Washington establishment who their historical hero was, then it would be Alexander Hamilton which is why it was such a success with them and how it became a thing for them to see on Broadway. And how paying up to $1,000 a ticket was not a problem for them.

    3. Cuibono

      IMO the first warning was those who knew him in Chicago. The second was when he threw his pastor under the bus.

    4. Big Tap

      I know I was fooled by Obama when in December 2008 he began doing press conferences as the president elect. Even had his own seal in front of his podium. Even Trump didn’t do that. He sounded different than only weeks earlier when he was campaigning to be president. No hope and change at all. See his advisors behind him and we now know who they looked out for. His concern for the economy at that time was the corporate economy not much else. Mentioned Iran too as a neoliberal would.

    5. Darius

      Not doing omnibus reconciliation. Procedural arcana, but any president who means business has a reconciliation package. Which in practice means Republicans use it with gusto. Democrats shy away from it.

  3. Phacops

    Like those Ascidians. Early in vertebrate evolution we shared a common ancestor with Ascidians, retaining their mobile larval stage.

  4. Wukchumni

    Tokyo eerily quiet, bracing for worst typhoon in 6 decades Associated Press
    I was in Hong Kong when Typhoon Ike came calling 35 years ago, after laying waste to the Philippines in the 2nd worst typhoon there in the 20th century.

    By the time it got to HK it had weakened, but was no slouch and a Force 10. I was on the 17th floor of the Holiday Inn, torn between watching its fury from a window, or cowering in the bathtub with no water in it, and the bathroom door locked down tight. The latter won out. For about an hour it felt like a continual 4.2 temblor, the only thing an Angeleno like me could relate to, in Mother Nature’s tour de force.

    The next morning it was a bright & sunny day and I went on a walkabout and bamboo scaffolding was shredded all over any construction areas, and junks were 200 to 300 feet inland, now dry-docked.

    1. Wukchumni


      Always follow the money was a given in my line of work-my mannatra, and the reason I was in HK was to buy newly unearthed 1870’s Trade Dollars from enterprising Hong Kongers, who had met up with equally enterprising types from the PRC somewhere on the South China Coast. The way it worked was a small ship would be loaded with consumer items (fridge-washer/dryer-in window a/c-tv-etc) and they’d meet up clandestinely somewhere and a deal was struck, and the ship went back to HK, where the coins were cleaned (these had been in the ground for 30+ years, enough time to damage some of them, but not long enough to really wreck them) and got ready to sell back into the home market from whence they came.

      Trade Dollars were an early attempt to get rid of the amazing amount of silver extracted from the Comstock Lode in Virginia City, Nv. So much silver was found that the biblical standard of 16 ounces of silver = 1 ounce of gold was shattered after a few thousand years (it’s now 85-1, the ratio in terms of value) of working just fine in every bi-metallic economy that used coins in commerce.

      Silver always exists underfoot in its natural state, and every Mao and then, it returns down under, if the circumstances are ripe with rife.

      In China, silver was the dominant money in the era of minted coins in the 19th century & early 20th century, there’s only a handful of gold coins that were issued, versus say thousands of varieties/different years of silver coins.

      So, it wasn’t just Trade Dollars, it was every conceivable silver coin in existence in China that got buried, when it became deadly to be holding capitalist trappings.

      Back then, nobody really cared all that much about the Chinese silver coins being resurrected, a good many of them were just melted down, there was scant interest in the west, and no money in China to buy them with, but that was then and this is now, and presently would be worth a small fortune, and the much coveted western consumer goods received for the booty, are now made there.

      …things change

      1. polecat

        I’d gladly pay you a hobo nickle, someday .. for a non-beyond meat burger today !


  5. JB

    Regarding using smart TVs with voice assistants (Noah Horowitz, NRDC)…

    “However, we also found that linking a smart speaker to some of the 2018 model year televisions in order to wake and control them without a remote caused the TV’s standby power use to skyrocket from less than 1 watt to around 20 watts continuously. This can cause a TV’s overall annual energy use to more than double, with an increase from 106 kilowatt-hours per year (kWh/yr) to 248 kWh/yr. Over the 10-year life of the TV, this adds up to almost $200 in extra electricity costs.”

    1. Ignacio

      Oh my! That’s why a GND is urgently needed. Corps play business without any consideration on CC.

      1. Fraibert

        The very nature of linking a smart speaker to a TV requires some processor in the TV to be ready to handle commands at all times. Inevitably, the consequence is going to be (on a relative basis) more power draw than a baseline standby mode. There are undoubtedly techniques to reduce this power usage, but the bottom line is that the most energy efficient solution entails not linking devices so that they have to listen all the time (AKA get a universal remote and turn on the TV yourself).

        I personally find this push for a “connected home” or “smart home” (or whatever other buzzwords are used now) silly.

    2. Dan

      JB, Is there a website that lists by manufacturer, and model, WHERE the microphones and cameras are located so that they can be taped over? Everything I have found talks about settings and privacy configurations. Need the physical location(s) to place physical barriers.

      Macs has a camera mounted top dead center on screen. Lay down a little piece of toilet paper over the lens and microphone to keep tape glue off it.
      Then a decent sized piece of light and soundproof aluminum tape to cover both, then scotch tape to hold aluminum tape in place. If it’s good enough for the FBI director, it’s good enough for me.

      Internal software can track what and when you watch on TVs, that’s a different issue.

      1. Fraibert

        If one is never going to use the webcam and microphone (and I suspect that’s a decent number of laptop users), the absolute best solution is simply to disconnect those devices physically (whether at a connection point or simply by snipping the relevant wires). Unfortunately, that requires opening the unit, but no remote attacker can defeat the lack of a physical connection.

        1. polecat

          Probably more efficacious to have a home FX kit at your disposal, should Incognito mode be warrented. More fun too.

        2. Procopius

          I saw an article three or four years ago about how to disconnect your Smart TV from the internet by removing an integrated circuit chip. There are probably DIY clips on YouTube. That’s my goto for everything, including how to fold fitted sheets (easy-peasy).

      2. GF

        If you don’t have a smart TV then your DVR/router/Wi-Fi serve the same function with the data transmitted to the cable company/ISP instead of Amazon.

  6. John

    An ambassadorship is a presidential appointment. The Secretary of State and others may make recommendations, but the actual appointment is by the President.

  7. pjay

    Re: ‘Why We Must Impeach Donald Trump’

    Well, I guess Rolling Stone had to “balance” out Matt Taibbi.

    As with journalist Jane Mayer, historian Sean Wilentz used to be one of my favorites. Here is the subhead to the article: ‘The president’s abuse of power has surpassed any we’ve seen in our history — and Congress must act.’ He probably didn’t write it, but he says as much in the article in a sweeping history lesson.

    I have read the Trump conversation carefully three times now. I admit Trump does kind of sound like a Mafia Don in places, and Zelensky’s obsequiousness adds to the effect. But the greatest abuse of Presidential power in history?? Are you f***ing kidding me? I find it interesting that Wilentz’s sweeping historical review starts with John Adams and ends with the Clinton impeachment — which he waves off as partisan entrapment. The monumental crimes of Bush II and Cheney are somehow left out of the story, as are the extensions of Bush’s foreign and national security policy in the Obama administration.

    I am starting to believe I woke up a few years ago into one of those episodes of the Twilight Zone, where the bizarre is treated as normal by everyone else (at least everyone in my former lefty academic/media world). War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. This really isn’t funny anymore.

    1. anon in so cal

      So many people seem to have lost their moorings and connection to reality.
      Does it attest to the power of brainwashing? Or people’s inability to read up and keep up?
      How many people died as a result of Obama-authorized regime change ops in Ukraine, Libya, Syria?
      The US-supported coup in Honduras?

      1. jsn

        Neoliberalism keeps most of the people educated enough to critique it to busy and insecure to deploy their critical capacities on it.

        This is the real genius of Hayeck and Director’s Chicago School project.

        Turbocharged with George Mason University’s antihistory, those who have not actively kept up are systematically confused to the point that accurate critique becomes a threat to constructed identity. One must be gentle to present the appalling truth or risk immediate alienation.

            1. Procopius

              I prefer to refer to him as “von Hayek,” to remind people he’s a child of the Austrian hereditary aristocracy. Kind of similar to wealthy Cuban “refugees.”

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          At the turn of the 20th century the savings rate rose sharply: standards of living were rising and people started putting away a little money.

          The corporate powers of the day saw this as a threat. They needed people to stay in debt so they would show up for work. And having some money gave the plebes power.

          So Sears Roebuck, Proctor & Gamble and a few others got together and basically invented merchandising. The idea was to get people to want a bunch of stuff they didn’t actually need.

          Similar mechanism today, neoliberalism requires war and a distracted populace who aren’t clamoring for justice and freedom. So they manufacture fear and bloodlust in the citizenry. If we didn’t have Boogiemen Others about to violate our children, people would start noticing the scam.

    2. foghorn longhorn

      “This really isn’t funny anymore.”

      Have had a running thought since I was a wee lad, now keep in mind my religious beliefs are pretty much agnostic, but what if there really is a heaven and hell.
      What if we were all less than holy in a previous life and were banished to
      h e double matchsticks. And it turns out the third rock from the sun is that place.
      That would go a long way toward explaining the avarice, greed, and wars of the last couple of thousand years.
      Like I said, just a thought. Donning asbestos long johns now.

      1. Pat

        My mother swore from the day we first really discussed h e double matchsticks to the day she died that we were already there. I do believe a convincing case could be made. I know I couldn’t discount that idea after studying history.

          1. foghorn longhorn

            Prison planet.
            Yeah, more or less.
            Not a big sci-fi guy, but that seems an apt comparison.

            It seems to be headed on a Mad Max trajectory.

      2. Geo

        “Crowley had found it increasingly difficult to find anything demonic to do which showed up against the natural background of generalized nastiness. There had been times, over the past millennium, when he’d felt like sending a message back Below saying, Look, we may as well give up right now, we might as well shut down Dis and Pandemonium and everywhere and move up here, there’s nothing we can do to them that they don’t do themselves and they do things we’ve never even thought of, often involving electrodes. They’ve got what we lack. They’ve got imagination.”

        – Terry Pratchett, Good Omens

    3. kiwi

      I agree.

      The thought of this coup succeeding scares me to death.

      I used to be a lefty, but now, I see mostly fascism from that side.

      People call Trump a dictator and a fascist. I don’t see him jailing journalists or his political opposition (or spying on them); I don’t see him dismissing congress or the courts; I don’t seem him taking over assets using the military; I don’t see him shutting down news organizations or the internet, etc.

      The people who believe that Trump is a dictator/fascist are crazy – there simply is no other word for these sick people. There has truly been some sort of mass hysteria event in the US. And I really hate hyperbole, as I constantly criticize the dems for hyperbole. But in these times, something is way off, and I don’t believe I am being hyperbolic in using words like sick and crazy.

      I thought the same of the repubs who went after Clinton, that they were unhinged. Example: a coworker of mine announced that Clinton should be impeached the day after he won (who cares about the Constitutional requirements for impeachment – her dislike of him was sufficient in itself to remove him, she believed).

      1. Pat

        There is an almost elegant bookend that the unhinged reaction to The man who denied the Clintons their triumphant return to the White House is from people who were appalled at the identical emotional and irrational response to Bill Clinton being in the White House.

        The fact that none of those three principal targets should have been anywhere near the White House other than as tourists aside, the real high crime of the last thirty years never got more than lip service from our political class. That alone makes the point that none of this is about the good of the country, but for something else regardless of public demand, probably a distraction.

            1. JBird4049

              He does, and Bush the Shrub started an unnecessary war destroying two countries, approved spying on everyone, and torture-is-just-enhanced-interrogation, while Obama just continued with those policies and started to ramp up immigration roundups and deportations.

              Trump is slime, a stain on the Oval Office, and a disgrace as an American, all true, but he is merely following the path laid out by the previous administrations.

              1. flora

                re Trump: we still don’t have TPP – NAFTA on steriods, we don’t have TPIP, we are not sending more US technology to China, and we aren’t in a shooting war with Russia.
                Those are good things, imo.
                The current Dem estab really pushed for TPP and TPIP, increased trade with China, and was saber rattling in Ukraine.

                Leaving personalities out of the last election, the outcome was a net positive in terms of avoiding NAFTA on steriods and more wars, imo.

                My preference was for Bernie, but the Dem super delegates made that impossible.

                  1. JBird4049

                    So it’s not TDS or Trump Derangement Syndrome, but TPPDS or Trans-Pacific Partnership Derangement Syndrome? Also known as Bleep the 90% I want to have more money!

                    Makes sense as the Feinstein and Pelosi families made bank looting San Francisco, then the Bay Area. Mostly legally using connections and backroom dealings. Which is what the TPP and TPIP are. Legal methods to loot without hindrance.

            2. Yves Smith Post author

              I don’t know if it extended to babies, but Obama incarcerated immigrant children:

              During Obama’s presidency, unaccompanied migrant children were housed at the Army base for around four months, according to The Washington Post.


              And recall the video clip of someone asking for sympathy for illegal immigrant children and Obama lectured the reporter and said parents had no business taking their children on trips like this, they were dangerous.

              1. marym

                Obama: Children in cages
                These were mostly unaccompanied minors

                It’s not that no family was ever separated at the border under the Obama administration. But former Obama administration officials specify that families were separated only in particular circumstances — for instance, if a father was carrying drugs — that went above and beyond a typical case of illegal entry.

                We don’t know how often that happened, but we know it was not a widespread or standard practice.


                Obama: Other issues with detained children
                Obama did try keeping (unseparated) families in extended detention, but lost a court challenge as being in violation of the Flores agreement regarding how long migrant children can be detained. (Above link)

                During the Obama administration there were insufficient controls for screening sponsors, resulting in at least one case of unaccompanied children handed over to traffickers. (Link)

                The process of separating children along with disappearing them with inadequate records having been kept for reuniting them with their parents “as a deterrent” was Trump’s contribution to the caging.

                The administration has recently proposed trying again for indefinite family detention. (Link)

                1. lambert strether

                  As usual, Obama installed the knob. Then Trump turned it up to 11. Did they really think they’d be in power forever?

            3. The Rev Kev

              Obama built the cages that Trump is using too for those babies. So I guess here that Obama can actually say that He Built That.

      2. Massinissa

        “I used to be a lefty, but now, I see mostly fascism from that side.”

        The people trying to impeach Trump are Liberals, not Leftists.

        1. kiwi

          Sorry, I can’t keep up with all of the finer points of labeling. Lefties support Trump being drawn and quartered as much as liberals do… or progressives…or socialist democrats…or anti-fa….

          1. jsn

            1% Republicans
            9% Liberals
            90% Left
            To the extent that neither Republicans nor Liberals (Democrats) give a rats a** about them, the powerless are a class: deplorables and anarchists have more in common than either do with Republicans or Liberals. The “Liberal” vs “Left” distinction isn’t a subtly, it’s essential: without it, nice people without sophisticated politics can’t talk to each other. Nice people without sophisticated political views are the vast majority of the disenfranchised.

            This is why corporate media actively suppress the distinction.

            1. kiwi

              Anarchists and the deplorables, as referenced by HRC, do not have much in common at all. I don’t know what your definition of deplorables mean, though.

              At any rate, it is very frustrating to come up with an accurate label when so many people across a spectrum, from socialist democrats, democratic socialists, lefties, progressives, liberals, democrats, and so on support impeaching the president.

              So, maybe I should say – something like ‘people who tend to be on the left side of the spectrum.’

              1. hunkerdown

                Then, just maybe, the left-right paradigm as marketed (and no mistake, it is nothing but marketing) is an exercise in divide-and-rule. Hard-leftists, the ones who reject the sales narrative of idpol, detest the entire republican (i.e. aristocratic) model and simply judge Trump by the blows he lands against the empire and against absentee ownership as a notion. Good on killing TPP, mediocre on China, as bad as usual on the Middle East, terrible on anything that doesn’t need or want to be privately owned.

                Just as the Republic was originally designed by the oligarch Framers, there are insiders and there are outsiders. The insiders would rather you identify with them and try to get some of your ideas head (Warren) rather than throw them out of helicopters (hasn’t happened yet), join up with an outsider yet elite (Trump), or simply reject their need to immiserate the many and derive superiority from it (Sanders). The best strategy is to pointedly ignore rich people and their imaginary friends and their assertions of their interests whenever they try to sell you things and narratives and how to feel about them.

          2. pjay

            Some “lefties” would. Paul Street’s Counterpunch article was brought up here a few times the other day. Street certainly considers himself a “leftist.” His article was a “left-wing” version of Wilentz: Trump is the worst Evil in the history of the universe, anyone who “defends” him is a fascist enabler, etc., etc. In my view, Street’s essay was dangerous for the same reason as that of Wilentz. Yet I consider myself a “leftist” (in the traditional class-oriented sense of the word), as, I imagine, do most of the commentators on this thread. And in this discussion, “liberal” has a fairly specific referent.

            I’m not sure how useful these labels are these days. And where does the CIA fit on this spectrum? Are they “liberal” now, like their new BFFs?

            1. Carey

              >In my view, Street’s essay was dangerous for the same reason as that of Wilentz.

              Yes- Mister Street’s list of Approved Positions- the only acceptable ones, according to him- was frightening as hell.

              made man

          3. JBird4049

            Americans tend to conflate everything from (starting at the left) hard communism to socialism to Social Democratic to Democratic Socialism (which is Bernie Sanders position) all of which are on the left and then adding the current Democratic Party’s pseudo left but actually center-right to the political left. Both political parties then claim Sanders and AOC as communism which they ain’t, but this allows the Democrats to claim an ostensibly moderate left position and the Republicans as true moderate conservatives instead of reactionary, or under Trump flirting with fascism.

            Restated, both major political parties are rightwing lying liars. The only politically leftist parties of any real size are the DSA which is edging towards being a functional political party, and the Greens, which seems more like a vanity project of Jill Stein. Perhaps it’s a stalking horse, decoy, or false operation.

            It has been a project since at least the end of World War 2 of the American political establishment to amputate the American left starting with the American communist parties, then the socialist one, then squeezing out the leftist wing of Democrats and the moderate, even leftist, wing of the Republicans. This making the at the time conservative Republican President Richard Nixon, the creator of the racist Southern Strategy, which changed the South from Democratic to Republican, a hard leftist by today’s American political standards. His presidency was from 1969 to 1974. He would be too liberal for the Democratic Party today.

            1. Oregoncharles

              ” the Greens, which seems more like a vanity project of Jill Stein. Perhaps it’s a stalking horse, decoy, or false operation.” Absurd, followed by slander. Jill Stein isn’t running this year – she’s done enough. Somebody else’s turn.

              At this point, the Green Party is all the electoral left there is in tthis counry. That’s because a lot of people spent a lot of effort (and very little money) keeping it alive. DSA is not a political party.

              Maybe you should be grateful, rather than throwing mud.

              1. JBird4049

                I do not want to offend anyone, and God knows I have a talent for idiocy at times. Trust me. Still, why should I be grateful?

                The Greens are the largest functional American leftist party left true, and for that they really should be praised; beyond that I don’t see any there there. Just some empty rhetoric that gets what’s left of the American left all a flitter. Going at great speed to nowhere and it has been happening for decades.

                I know that the DSA is not really a party and I already said that. They keep flirting with the idea of the possibility of maybe being a political party. Someday.

                So how many decades have this been going on? Words, words, and more words. Often dealing more with identity than hunger or homelessness. I hear nice words, beautiful pictures painted by words, but actions?

                So far Sanders seems like the real thing. So there’s that’s.

    4. polecat

      The Pignoses are on the verge of winning ! – look forward to enforced dogmatic surgeries for all you disfigured miscreants …

      Sincerly ….. well, not really,
      the Hou$e & $enate

    5. Annieb

      “I am starting to believe I woke up a few years ago into one of those episodes of Twilight Zone where the bizarre is treated as normal by everyone else . .” Agree, not funny anymore

      This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco
      This ain’t no fooling around
      —Talking Heads, Life During Wartime

    6. Epatmd

      Albeit from Wikipedia…
      “Wilentz has prominently engaged in current political debate. He is reportedly a long-time family friend of the Clintons.[10] He has appeared in public venues as a staunch defender of Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton: he appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on December 8, 1998 to argue against the Clinton impeachment”

    7. Skip in DC

      Just a thought on Nixon, often mentioned in impeachment comparisons. When his probable impeachment is discussed, I never see any mention of the visceral hatred of Nixon that rapidly evolved, including throughout much of the press and its editorial staffs, for his and Kissinger’s con job of a secret plan to end the Vietnam war, resulting in a huge expansion of the Indochina wars. And this without widespread knowledge they derailed LBJ’s peace talks prior to Nixon’s election. By the time impeachment gears were grinding, there was widespread anger at Nixon for the discord the war fomented throughout country and throughout many families.

      I have often thought that but for his expansion of the tragic Vietnam fiasco, Nixon would not have been impeached.

      Alas, since the days of Cronkite calling out the falsehoods of Vietnam, many editorial writers, including at WaPo and the NY Times, initially embrace fresh wars as peachy.

      1. VietnamVet

        In the last decade, I became convinced that Dick Nixon was forced to resign because he withdrew the troops from Vietnam. He hid the withdrawal behind the “Peace with Honor” air campaign. During the 1972 Christmas Bombings, 15 B-52s were shot down over Hanoi. But I was already back at OSU for over a year with an early out because there were so many draftees at Fort Lewis that we weren’t needed any more.

        The media and five-eyes community continue to try to get Donald Trump to resign because he keeps saying that he is going to withdraw the troops from the 5 trillion-dollar endless wars. However, the President is a Mafia Don. He knows there is no retirement from the job for him. Democrats getting on the impeachment bandwagon is insane. There are not enough votes for it in the Senate. They could easily win the election next year if they just supported peace and rebuilding America’s middle class and its infrastructure.

        Corporate-state debacles at Boeing or PG&E, Brexit and the Syrian occupation are all indications of societal collapse due to unregulated financialization.

  8. Waatt4Bob

    As concerns Oaf Keepers, Trump rallies, and protests…

    The following quotes are from the St. Cloud Times;

    MINNEAPOLIS — Trump supporters and protesters clashed Thursday night outside the Target Center in Minneapolis after a rally for President Donald Trump.

    Some threw urine in the streets and a small fire was quickly extinguished by police.


    Reminds me of Mayor Daley going on local TV, (I was there) to sell the lie that anti-war protesters were throwing bags of feces at police in 1968.

    More from the St. Cloud Times;

    And after the rally, a St. Cloud Times reporter confirmed urine had been thrown and police used pepper spray to manage the crowd. Trump supporters and protesters clashed at corners near Target Center, and protesters dismantled part of the police barricade.


    It may help to keep in mind that St. Cloud Minnesota is Michelle Bachmann territory, hot-bed of evangelical support for everything Trump.

    I’m also reminded of Faux news anchor Greta Van Susteren’s behavior covering a campaign rally in Chicago back in 2016;

    Please note, the following quote contains my (W4B’s) observations upon watching live Fox News coverage from Chicago, which were included in the NC article, linked above, at the time.

    All the while Faux’s live commentator on the ground kept reporting the peacefulness on the scene, Greta Van Susteren kept up a constant stream of comments that went counter to the pictures on the screen, and implored the camera team to find conflict which eventually was accomplished by one camera pulling in very tightly to frame small disturbances as if they represented the situation in general.

    We were very lucky that the production team is so enamored of helicopter shots from over head because it resulted in hours of accurate pictures of generally civil behavior on both sides.

    Trump supporters were frustrated, but did not go crazy, and the protesters, although they had some rude signs, were well behaved.


    My favorite local TV station here in Minneapolis seemed to purposely limit any ability to assess the size of the protest turn-out by avoiding any wide shots of the crowd, all realtime coverage consisted of tight close-ups of reporters with the crowd in the background, a noticeable lack of any overhead shots which would have been easily accomplished because of the many tall, public buildings that surround the area occupied by protestors.

    My friends who attended reported most ‘tension‘ consisted of a bit of verbal give and take between protestors and Trump supporters.

    Notable to me was lack of any report, by media or friends, of Oath Keepers activity?

    And BTW, as compared to Chicago in 2016, where police were relatively scarce and dressed in standard, everyday blue uniforms, Minneapolis polices were present in full-on riot gear,* horse mounted, and bicycle powered contingents.

    *Linked pictures are from The St. Cloud Times.

  9. Dita

    What if Trump wants to be impeached now. It would be a way for him to get off the hook while blaming everyone else. Impeachment preserves Trump, he would probably be given immunity as well.

    My tinfoil hat is gorgeous!

    1. jefemt

      Methinks that hat looks terrific on you- really complements your eye color.

      But, dearie, mealsothinks that Trump desiring or triangulating on Impeachement as a strategy seems implausible with his ego and apparently prideful nature.

      1. kiwi

        Is it really impossible for you to believe that Trump has programs/policies that he was elected to implement and he wants to implement them because he believes they are what is best for the US? He had talked about some of the issues years before he became president.

        You should have watched him talk about signing letters to the parents of soldiers who have died and his experiences meeting the parents when the bodies of the soldiers arrive in the US. It was a horribly sobering moment for the rally.

        Maybe you wouldn’t be so egotistical and prideful in judging his character if you bothered to see this side of Trump once in a while.

        1. Geo

          No one has to judge his character. We can just take his word for it. The guy openly spoke about “using revenge as the best motivating factor”, advocated killing families of suspected terrorists as a candidate, and speaks positively about using nukes. He was a longtime conman who refused to pay for labor numerous times, he’s a serial harasser of women an brags about it. He’s a shameless self promoter who pretended to be his own publicist spreading fake rumors about famous women he was hooking up with. And he insulted the parents of a slain soldier because they were Muslim.

          Just because he sold you on his con at some rally doesn’t mean he is a good person just as George W. Bush doing paintings of war vets and giving Michelle Obama’s a mint doesn’t make him a good person.

          Please, try to be a bit more critical in your take on things. There’s a reason Trump was so successful as a TV game show host and “brand name”. He’s a terrific showman. A modern day PT Barnum for the celebrity obsessed tabloid era.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Hear hear! By all means, let’s get “a good person” in there. How about a handsome African-American one-term State Senator? He can preside over the largest transfer of wealth in history from African-Americans and Latinos by siding with bailed out banks. He can instruct his Attorney General to make sure not a single bank criminal ever goes to jail (unlike his predecessor’s father, who sent >1,000 white collar bankers straight to jail). He can instruct his Justice Department to enshrine as law the memos from his predecessor eviscerating Constitutional civil liberty protections. He can increase the number of troops in Afghanistan and increase the number of countries being drone bombed from 2 to 7. He can ensure that single payer is completely off the table from Day One of his health care insurance scam. His Secretary of State can flatten the richest country in Africa and turn it into an Islamist hellhole and channel for refugees to the Med. He can be sure CIA cells are positioned in Idlib to ensure 500,000 Syrians die as he funnels ratlines of arms to Al-Qaeda. He can send the FBI to the homes of people in Occupy Wall Street to make sure that fizzles out.

            But what a good person! No rude Tweets here. Decorum and lovely state dinners. Shooting hoops, he’s such a man of the people. And those lovely speeches!

            Brett: “Oh, Jake, we could have had such a damned good time together.”

            Jake: “Yes, isn’t it pretty to think so?”

            1. polecat

              With regard to the Legacy Parties, we’re all just fiddles to be played.

              I finally had enough and broke my bow !

              1. David Carl Grimes

                Obama is the ultimate con man. Until now many people still don’t know they’ve been conned.

                1. Late Introvert

                  >Obama is the ultimate con man.

                  He fooled me. I hate admitting it as it makes me question everything else I thought I knew. It’s all turtles, all the way down.

            2. Geo

              Are you new here? Most Naked Capitalism readers are well aware of that. Do we all need to post a disclaimer any time we say anything bad about Trump that alerts you guys that we’re also aware that Obama, the Clintons, LBJ, Jefferson, King James II, Ceasar, and King Tut did bad stuff too?

              It’s possible for someone to spot the Obama con and still notice Trump is a conman too. Please don’t make us have to list off every bad person each time we want to discuss the fact that Trump is doing bad stuff too. If you don’t believe me you can scroll up a few comments and see where I clearly state I lost interest in Obama when he flipped on Telecom Immunity as a senator. I voted third party in ’08. Is that good enough for you? Am I allowed to criticize Trump now?

              Instead of pretending like I’m some deluded Obama-bot, please, enlighten me:

              Why I should admire Trump’s character?

              What has Trump done I should be grateful for?

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                Your tone is utterly out of line. And playing moderator is a fast track to losing your comment privileges.

                On top of that, OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL is a long-estasblished member of the commentariat, so you are either no where near as familiar with what goes on here as you pretend to be, or you do know that and are choosing to be even more of a jerk.

          2. kiwi

            Oh good grief.

            Who actually killed families of terrorists? Didn’t Obama kill some of those?

            OMG!! A shameless self promoter!!! He insulted someone??? Anything but that! Get me my smelling salts!

            You may want to take a look at some of the stuff he has actually done instead of being wrapped up in all the flak sent up by the TDS crowd.

            And who exactly is a “good” person? Bill Clinton? Biden? Romney? Bush (any of them)? HRC?

            1. Geo

              Why are you bringing up Obama in this? You can read just a few comments up this thread where I mention I was against Obama from his senatorial days when he flipped on Telecom Immunity. So, that’s just a deflection. Few here hold the Obamas, Clintons, or any of those people in high esteem and that’s not what any of us were talking about.

              Back to the point: You criticized someone for being “so egotistical and prideful in judging his character” and swooned over Trump because he talked about families of dead soldiers as if that means he cares.

              So, again, what is your point above in defending Trump’s character? What about his character do you admire and feel we should too?

              Stuff he’s done? What has he actually accomplished? Tax cuts for billionaires? Arming and giving soldiers to the Saudis? Destroying the few environmental and health regulatory agencies and policies we had? Tearing up the Iran agreement? Venezuela?

              Please, enlighten us.

            2. WheresOurTeddy

              “And who exactly is a “good” person?”

              Jimmy Carter is the closest thing in the last 75 years. Every president since 1981 should have been in prison for war crimes, crimes against humanity, or both.

  10. Carey

    ‘Trump Executive Order will drive up people’s Medicare costs’:

    “Watch out, older Americans and people with disabilities! President Trump just announced a plan to give corporate health insurers even more control over your health care. His new executive order also calls for “market-based” pricing, which would drive up costs for everyone with Medicare, eviscerate traditional Medicare, and steer more people into for-profit “Medicare Advantage” plans..”

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Constitutional integrity of UK must be respected in Brexit deal – DUP”

    I can think of one possible partial solution here. The population of Northern Ireland is about 1.8 million people. Call the number of voting age people residing there then to be about 800,000. Surely for that number of people it would not take that much an effort to organize a referendum.
    That being the case, how about organizing one where the question is whether the people of Northern Ireland prefer to stick with the EU rules – as in nearly everything stays the same – or pay all the hundreds of millions of pounds in costs and damages so that they can stick with the UK – who won’t care what really happens to them in any case. Sounds like a totally legit question to me.

    1. Watt4Bob


      I’m surprised myself.

      Viewing this is not going to result rising blood-pressure, it’s not going to make you reach for the TDS repellent spray.

      It’s a lot people, evidently not enamored of our president, gathering together to enjoy each other’s company as they poke energetic, and, for the most part, a good-natured, if bawdy fun at the man.

      Yes, there is ‘protest’, but it’s not ‘Debby-downer’ sort of stuff, the sort the MSM seems to cover obsessively.

      In short, even for me, with my high, “Get off my lawn!” quotient, this is a ‘Feel Good!‘ vid.

      Bonus, no shots of angry MAGA hat wearing at all.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “100,000 flee as Turkey steps up Syria offensive”

    Most strange this. It was not that long ago that the US, UK and France were threatening to rain death and destruction from the air on the Syrians as they were trying to take back their country from the Jihadists. The reason given was to protect those fleeing from them. Now that a foreign country – Turkey – is invading Syria and attacking those darlings of the US, UK & France – the Kurds – there is absolutely no mention of the possibility of air attacks on Turkish forces now that you have larger numbers of people fleeing. Most strange.

    1. xkeyscored

      In My Gloomy And Unrelenting World-weariness – IMGAUW – it’s hardly strange, more like consistent(ly inconsistent) and predictable.
      Libya – we must bomb for humanitarian reasons, to protect civilians.
      Raqqa – ditto. The jihadis must be stopped, whatever the collateral damage.
      Aleppo – the evil Assad and Putin are killing civilians in their fight against jihadis!
      Yemen – we’ll help the Saudis bomb and blockade the country while they use famine and cholera as weapons of war.

      I wonder, since Turkey is a NATO member, are the rest of NATO obliged to come to its defence if anyone counter-attacks? Any ideas, please?

      1. Bugs Bunny

        The absurdity of it all is right there.

        NATO comes to the defense of Turkey immediately by attacking its own member troops supporting the Kurds who are threatening Turkey. NATO can launch the sorties from their base in Turkey, make a circle and attack the base itself. To save time, they could even just set explosives under the planes on the ground.

        Put a Turkish general second in command.

        (apologies to Joseph Heller)

    2. rowlf

      Why did the Kurds keep Jihadi fighters in a prison instead of turning them over to the Syrian government for processing? Were the Kurds protecting them for deployment elsewhere?

      1. polecat

        100,000 CIsisA arrows loosed upon the Middle East & Europe as Turkey steps up it’s offensive endeavors at the extortion of the West !

        1. Geo

          For a long time I thought the CIA and our foreign policy establishment were really bad at their job with all the failed wars and blowback from botched operations. Then it dawned on me: They’re really good at their job. They intentionally sow instability and strife to perpetually balloon their budgets and create job security for themselves.

          Of course, reading Gore Vidal’s “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace” helped aid me in that realization. That, and reading up on the Iran Contras scandal and noticing many of the same cretins behind that were either brought into the GWB administration and gave us the fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan, or got hired at Fox News.

          They are a protection racket and nothing more. “Pay us to protect you or we guarantee you’ll be in danger”.

      2. wilroncanada

        Because they weren’t running the place. The US was. The Kurds were merely the cannon fodder.

    3. Oregoncharles

      Not strange; Turkey is an important member of NATO (very strategic location), so direct hostilities would break the whole alliance. Of course, NATO is now obsolete, but one purpose of recreating the Cold War is to revive it. Don’t ask me why. One of those rice bowl things.

      Also, they have NATO air defenses, plus some Russian ones, so no telling how it would go. Having made the mistake of withdrawing the American tripwire – I wonder what Erdogan said to him? – Trump is probably doing the best he can by threatening sanctions (of a NATO member – wowsers). Which have already proven ineffectual.

      “Mistake” – because it did not get US troops out of Syria, but did cause war to break out where it hadn’t been. Erdogan couldn’t really attack US troops (see first para), so al lhe could do was posture. Which is better than killing people.

      Personally, I hope he gets his rear end handed to him, but the YPG are equipped for fighting ISIS, not a NATO army and air force. However, this is not an isolated outpost, like Afrin.

  13. Donald

    I just read the article about economics and climate change. Bernstein thinks he is being helpful but when I read that GDP might be lowered by 5 percent forever, it leaves me both confused about what he means and not very terrified. I don’t mean that I really feel that way. My point is that his numbers don’t seem scary at all. People at NC talk about a possible massive population drop and one reads warnings of a sixth mass extinction and that is terrifying, possibly like global nuclear war if the worst happens. From what I have read, that worst case scenario isn’t necessarily going to happen, but it is a strong possibility and that is what should motivate us. Bernstein says there might be 200 billion dollars of damage in the US per year and global GDP might be 5 percent lower with poorer countries being hit hardest and it sounds like a slightly worse version of the miseries and injustices of the current world.

    Maybe even well intentioned mainstream economists should just stop commenting on this issue until they read about what a mass extinction could be like.

    1. xkeyscored

      I just read it, and I think its logic is all over the place.
      Right at the start: “The first intro-to-economics class often starts with the question: why are diamonds expensive and water cheap? … The answer, of course, is scarcity, a concept at the core of economics.”
      And soon after that : “Fossil fuels are severely underpriced. … I mean that fossil fuels are imposing costs on our environment, our economy, and our future that are not being captured by their price.”
      Why on earth would the real costs of fossil fuels be captured by their price, if price is determined by a good’s scarcity? Bernstein spends the rest of the article floundering around trying to square the circle, but all I can really take away from it is that mainstream economics, both academic and real-world, got us into this mess, and mainstream economics isn’t about to get us out of it.
      “One recent study put the gap between what fossil fuels (not just gas, of course) do cost and what they should cost, given the environmental damage they inflict, at over $5 trillion, or more than 6 percent of global GDP, per year.” In other words, let’s look at the money. The real, human cost of climate change is still an externality or something. GDP is obviously what we should be considering, so if X million Bangladeshis die, that’s only Y% of global GDP vs. $Z trillion more GDP from fossil fuels, so that’s OK.
      My guess is that if Bernstein and like-minded priests of economic orthodoxy knew more about mass extinctions, they’d be proposing extinction caps and taxes and credits. One zoo = 100 extinctions, one DNA bank = 1000, …? (Humans can be discounted as we’re not there yet.*)
      IMO, their so-called science is little more than a hodge-podge of justifications and suggestions for the existing order. The real world is external to their wonderful model of scarcity and prices, supply and demand, so the former should be ignored until it impinges on the latter.

      *admittedly a willful distortion of Bernstein’s particular take on discounting!

  14. .Tom

    > A Code Glitch May Have Caused Errors In More Than 100 Published Studies

    Reminds me of this article, written for SW devs, about distributing malicious code in open source packages.

    Today’s linked article shows the practicality of distributing deliberate errors in scientific and numeric software.

  15. Christy

    “China makes few concessions in trade deal with US”–lol except they NO LONGER have control of the second busiest port in Long Beach (that BHO GAVE them) and they’ve ‘redefined’ $14T in ‘assets’…..MSM crickets.

  16. Tom Stone

    Thanks for the link to the Taibibi essay.
    I made the mistake of expressing doubt that Trump is a Russian asset and found myself subject to a verbal assault.
    It was over the top.
    And this from people who identify as liberal and who are “Well educated”.
    The people who are pushing this are doing the equivalent of playing catch with sweating sticks of dynamite.
    Yes, it scares me, “It” can happen here.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      I’m less scared, IRL, than i was post-911….but I live cheek by jowell with republicans, or at least those who lean that way. they were an obvious clear and present danger all during Bush2.(even got strangled in the back hall at the bar and grill i worked at for answering a question honestly(ie” well, i think lil george should be brought to the hague in chains, of course”)
      I don’t encounter Team Blue that much out here, or i’d probably be more afrighted…although they are, afaik, less likely to assault me for disagreeing with them.
      and i’m prolly already on a bunch of lists,lol.

      1. Pat

        I wish I thought that anymore. The longer this goes on the deeper the fear and righteous anger becomes. More and more violence is being seen in this Team Blue area.

      1. Schmoe

        I am truly amazed at how many “liberals” I know do not recognize that they are being successfully propogandized (likely made up word). The constant drumbeat of editorial-like content in news articles is overwhelming. I did not know that “Bashar” was not Assad’s first name, it is actually “Brutal dictator”, nor that Syria is inhabited not by civilians, but by “Assad Loyalists”, who surely deserve extermination (a recent Youtube video by Max Blumenthal “Inside the hell of jihadist Syria” made the latter observation).

        MSNBC seems to be leading the charge on this, but the NYT is rarely better although based on the comments section of the NYT, some readers retain critical thinking skills. I wonder how long the elites / MSM can keep this charade going.

    2. shinola

      Taibbi’s essay is in stark contrast to the Rolling Stone article just below it. The author of the RS piece seems to be afflicted with a severe case of TDS.

      The dark machinations of the “Intelligence” Community are much more dangerous than any of Trump’s buffoonery.

      1. pjay

        My earlier comment on the RS article is apparently still in moderation. But I have since read it again. It is much worse the second time, and in my view extremely dishonest for a “distinguished” historian like Wilentz. It is very hard to accept that he actually believes what he is writing — but I know from experience that TDS can be vicious in its effects.

    3. petal

      “Well educated” doesn’t mean they can think. I’m surrounded by this day in and day out, and it gets rewarded and promoted. It is frustrating, and one learns very quickly to keep one’s mouth shut and/or play along or else be labeled and targeted. You want to not have to live out of your car and be able to eat, right? It’s like a mob, a firestorm being blown and whipped up by the wind. The last 20+ years have been a real eye-opener.

      1. anon in so cal

        This, exactly. My entire workplace appeared to be pro-Clinton and continues to experience massive TDS and virulent anti-Russia and anti-Putin sentiment.

        1. inode_buddha

          I have family like that. It boils down to IdPol more than anything — the *only* issue on their radar is identity politics and its about time a woman held office. It causes friction whenever I bring up *actual policy*.

          The other half of my family is lifelong far rightwing nuts of various flavors, usually PaleoCon and contractual Libertarians.

        2. notabanker

          I live in flyover country (midwest) and work with educated professionals and can tell you it’s not like that here. The folks I’ve interacted with are pretty savvy and not falling for this nonsense.

          1. ObjectiveFunction

            I am pretty sure Taibbi lurks here; keep up the good fight, Matt, and watch your back.

            I keep thinking back to a disquieting prophesy made by the Archdruid some time ago: if the Establishment succeeds in unseating duly elected populist leaders, the next crop may well have a taste for roadside bombs.

            That might suit the MIC Organs of State Security just fine: bring it! After all, they’ve had the Islamic Crescent to practice on since the 1990s, and Latin America since well, forever….

            But the small crumbling industrial cities of Deploristan described in the Industry Week WC link of a couple days back could furnish such people quite a ‘sea’ (in Maoist terms) of active and passive support, even against a well-equipped and aggressive surveillance state. McVeigh was a native of Buffalo, one of the Rust Belt cities that fell hardest in the 1965-1985 period, and he ended up with the Michigan ‘militias’ in the frontiers of Rust Belt ground zero.

            It will also not surprise most comrades here that there is ample precedent for this kind of domestic conflict in America: notice those thick walled red brick armouries, usually housing Nat Guard units, that stand at the core of many US cities? Monuments to the socialist/anarchist* scares that swept the bible clutching Protestant establishment in the 1880s-1900s.

            * with scary names like Leon Csolgz

            For avoidance of doubt, these observations bring me no pleasure. Having seen a lot of places wracked by civil conflict, an FDR solution would be vastly preferable, even to this small gov Burkean conservative.

        1. Craig H.

          OK I read the whole thing. I did not find it wonderful. The writer seemed to me like a nattering nabob of negativism.

    4. JTMcPhee

      So we have think pieces on what life is likely to be like after a few more stumbles down the slope of climate collapse, in terms of middle class expected conveniences and such. Anyone giving any thought to what daily life will be like after “it” happens, assuming “it” is the long-deferred completion of the Businessmen’s Plot? This recitation of the “alleged” plot starts with noting that Donald Trump tweeted, after Obama’s 2012 election, that people should take to the streets and have a revolution. Makes interesting reading, this piece from Military History published in 2013:

      DONALD TRUMP ADDED a touch of levity to the [2012] U.S. Presidential election last November, albeit unintentionally.

      As the major news networks declared an Obama victory the night of Nov. 6, the notorious billionaire and one-time White House wannabe took to Twitter to register his outrage over the result.

      “We should have a revolution in this country!” Trump thundered.

      “We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty!” he tweeted moments later.

      While the outbursts were roundly mocked in the days following the vote, Trump isn’t the only American one-percenter to have advocated the overthrow of a democratically-elected president. In the early 1930s, a coalition of America’s wealthiest industrial magnates allegedly hatched a scheme to topple the Roosevelt Administration and replace it with a fascist dictatorship.

      Known as the Business Plot, the plan was supposedly dreamed up by a prominent tycoons and Wall Street big shots who controlled many of the country’s major corporations like Chase Bank, Maxwell House, General Motors, Goodyear, Standard Oil, Dupont, Heinz, as well as other noted Americans, including Prescott Bush, grandfather of former U.S. president George W. Bush. [1] [2]

      Like Trump in 2012, the conspirators were fuming over the 1932 election victory of Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt. Once in office, FDR pledged a raft of measures to alleviate the effects of the Great Depression, which were known collectively as the New Deal. America’s 32nd president was also an advocate for the abandonment of the gold standard, something that horrified many elites. Critics condemned the White House for placing the country on what they saw as a slippery slope to outright Bolshevism.

      In 1933, the conspirators planned to recruit 500,000 military veterans from the First World War through various American Legion branches. They even pledged $3 million to buy weapons for their half-million man army so the troops could capture and hold the American capital. Once the seat of power was theirs, the plotters would install an ultra-nationalist and business-friendly regime modelled after Mussolini’s Italy. (Many conspirators were also admirers of Hitler even before the Nazis came to power, largely because of his ardent anti-communism).[3]….

      Looks like the oligarchists have grabbed the tiger by the tail, in whatever is happening in DC and the outlands these days. Looks like you don’t need a 500,000 man army to overthrow “democratic government in America” (sic), just ownership of the media and intimate surveillance and algos and CIA and other security state assets to make what they hope will be a business-friendly fascist coup.

      We here spend a lot of time and thought on nitty-gritty bits of the Great Crapification and the continued demonstrations that Everything Is CalPERS. Anyone know what really is the Grand Plan in the mind(s) of whoever is driving the Big Red White and Blue Bus these days? What is “it” going to look like? The Heritage Foundation has put forth its blueprints for good-sized bits of this, in its “Mandate for Leadership” serial manuals for demolishing all elements of “socialism” and instituting the full neoliberal programs. Does the CIA have its own Big Picture Plan? The military is all set up already to put down any kind of “civil unrest, and/or “insurrection,” its plan is freely available on the intertubes, in Wiki and in sources like this:

      Here’s what Los Angeles civil authorities, working their joint “fusion” with the military and federal “enforcement” entities, has come up with: “ Operation Garden Plot
      JTF-LA Joint Task Force Los Angeles,” Ain’t nobody going to “Occupy” this here country!

      “It” can’t happen here, now can it? After all, this is America, Land of the Free and Home of the Brave…

      Careful what you wish for, Donald… and which end of the gun is closest to you…

    5. Jeremy Grimm

      Ignoring other considerations — why do we need the FBI, CIA, DIA, Homeland ‘security’ and all the many other ‘intelligence’ agencies? They burn a lot of federal budget dollars and black budget dollars but what have they produced worth a shiny penny, to say nothing of what they cost us in our freedom, peace of mind, and in the security of our nation? I think it’s time to cut their budgets, dump their help, and close their doors.

        1. sammie

          And who exactly will cut those budgets? The acronym soup just happens to run USA, USA – so I don’t see how they can be undone, short of storming the Bastille. The establishment is all interconnected, each part supporting the other. It’s not enough to undo one, the entire edifice has to fall – and that is not easy (or likely). How many usa-ians are really willing to get off their comfy couches and (wo)man the barricades?
          Kinda like what is now going on in Equador – in protests which, I assume, MSM are ignoring.

          1. John Wright

            Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer will not be leading those anxious to cut the NSA/CIA/FBI budgets.

            “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.


            The budgets of the three agencies total about $35 billion, which is about the 57% of the size of the Russian defense budget ($61.4 billion). (CIA = $15 billion, NSA estimated at $10.8 billion and FBI at $9.6 billion).

            Add in the TSA is about $7.6 billion and one is up to around $43 billion annually for USA “security”, getting even closer to the Russia defense spend.

            $43 billion helps employ a lot of people who will fight to preserve their jobs.

            Yet the distant Russians are the people to fear, which helps justify the agencies (and their employees).

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        aside from the fbi…which is
        it’s own mess of fish…
        every foreign “threat” i can think of, since at least the end of WW2, is a threat because of those “intelligence” agencies’ machinations.
        why does Iran hate us? Operation Ajax.
        Nixon in China…own goal in spades.(not a cia op, i don’t think, but a screw up, nevertheless)
        Russia? from the White Army to Yeltsin, we’ve been there mucking things up. Al Quaeda? Saddam Hussein…soon Saudi Arabia…Libya…the “invaders” from down south…MS-13? our fault.
        CIA especially should be ended immediately, all the books opened and let the heads roll where they must.
        it’s like their mandate is to gin up bogeymen for us to fear and loathe, so the MIC can justify it’s existence.
        us foreign policy for an hundred years has been a giant misallocation of resources, who’s only result(aside from fat bank accounts for a select few) is blowback.
        and yet a “Department of Peace” is always laughed right out of the room.

      2. xkeyscored

        cut their budgets, dump their help, and close their doors
        Easier said than done? Some say Pres. Kennedy was bumped off for considering this.

        1. inode_buddha

          last time I said that out loud the comment got deleted. I was under the impression they fessed up to it not too long ago

        2. HotFlash

          It is believable, and I read fear in Chuck Schumer’s face when he said, “… six ways from Sunday.” But I would surely like to see the CIA, NSA, and all those ‘seventeen agencies’ get de-fanged like the IRS has been.

          1. JTMcPhee

            “Like the IRS has been.” Well of course the IRS’s brief (like EPA and SEC and NPS and the few others that are supposed to be “doing public good” is nothing like the portfolios of those other alpha-bite-us thingies. Which all cooperate in raising up the power and wealth of the Very Few. In fact the “doing-good-ers” are Enemies of the Very Rich People, and their institutions and preferences and demands. So of course you gonna have to look long and hard to find a Heracles to kill the Hydra,

      3. LifelongLib

        Truman supposedly created the CIA because he didn’t trust the various military intelligence outfits to provide unbiased info — they were all furthering the aims of their own services. But shortly after its creation the CIA was taken over by a bunch of OSS types. IIRC Truman later said that if he’d known how the CIA would turn out he wouldn’t have set it up.

        1. mpalomar

          Yes, Truman sent a letter to the editor of the Washington Post. Note the date.
          Alan Dulles who got himself posted to the Warren Commission where he should never have been also expended some effort to undermine Truman’s on-the-record change of heart about the CIA’s mission.

    6. .Tom

      Taibbi’s other recent book on substack “Hate Inc.” is all about this. He is very thorough in setting it out. A memorable line, for me, from Adam Curtis’ Hypernormalization was “Angry people click,” iirc. Same principle. There’s profit in driving this hate. Another failure of capitalism. Make the moral choice to not participate.

      1. Carey

        That’s another excellent piece from Rob Urie; not to be missed in my opinion.
        An excerpt:

        “..So, what do the Democrats hope to accomplish with impeachment? Their best case scenario is that Joe Biden emerges unscathed and goes on to defeat Donald Trump in the general election. However, this leaves all of the political and economic issues that led to the election of Donald Trump unresolved. Plus, the environmental problems that can only be addressed by disempowering their patrons and passing far-reaching and well planned legislation aren’t going away. In this case, winning will look a whole lot like losing.

        A quick bet: Lunch Bucket [Biden] is toast. He looks way too much like Donald Trump to get out of this alive. Second, Donald Trump won’t be impeached. The Senate won’t impeach him and the idea that moral suasion regarding Trump’s crimes will bring them over is delusional. Third, the impeachment process will harden political divisions while chasing away unaffiliated voters. Fourth, while this would in theory benefit the establishment candidates, with Lunch Bucket out of the running, that leaves Donald Trump..”

        1. JTMcPhee

          Pelosi and Company are now saying they can and sill impeach and convict “if the majority of the public is behind us.” Wonderfully ripe substance in that phrase. And of course the Organs of the Wurlitzer Chorus are grinding out, basso profundo to high C over C, “Trump must GO!” And the forking dopes and Vichy types are marching along with their P___y Hats and other class markers on display, not thinking apparently about what happens when Mike “Don’t look at me, I’m invisible” Pence assumes the throne. A little Cracked look at this stealth mullah:

          Amazing to me how many of my fellow mopes have internalized “IMPEACHMENT” as some kind of cleansing action, some exorcism maybe, that will dispel the horrors they see all around them and have folded into a single focus for their anger and despair: “GET TRUMP!”

          He’s bad, but his predecessors and the rest at his pay grade are bad and worse. Gina Haspel, and hundreds of others.

        2. polecat

          Shouldn’t that be ‘Brunch Bucket’* joe … ??

          Bucket, as in sloshing with regurgitated nonsensical word salad ?

        3. integer

          A quick bet: Lunch Bucket [Biden] is toast.

          A few days ago I placed a small wager on Biden becoming the Dem nominee (+400). It’s win-win – I’ll be happy if he loses and if he wins I’ll use the profits to buy a case of beer with which to drown my sorrows lol. I also put down a few dollars on Clinton (+1200) as a hedge. Can’t see Sanders winning and the finance industry doesn’t want Warren.

      2. dcrane

        Important to highlight that that article exposes another ethically questionable lobbying job in Hunter Biden’s past:

        The Delaware credit card company MBNA was Joe Biden’s largest campaign contributor when he promoted and passed the 2005 bankruptcy ‘reform’ bill that made it virtually impossible to discharge credit card debt in bankruptcy. Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter, was a paid lobbyist for MBNA at the time of the bill’s passage. While lawyers can parse explicit from implicit quid pro quo, 1) the company hired Hunter Biden, 2) its executives were Joe Biden’s largest campaign contributors, and 3) it got what it wanted in terms of legislative outcomes.

    7. Rod

      Taibbi has been a gift of clarification for me for years, and I always look at the comments for more insight.
      Go with the devil you know or the devil you don’t know was my take away.
      I was surprised by the pushback, also.
      this is all complicated–like a minefield
      this is what the Army tells you to do when discovering you are in a minefield and do not want to become a casualty:

      The acronym for stop, assess, note, draw back, inform (SANDI) is used to remember the sequence of events for extraction. • Stop immediately and gain control of yourself and the patrol. Warn other elements operating in the area, and advise higher elements of the situation for possible support with extraction. • Assess the situation. Determine the nearest safe area not containing mines, the shortest route to the safe area, and whether you are in the middle of a mined area. • Note the situation. Make notes for future reference about any mines that you see. Note the number, size, material type, and location of the mines. • Draw back to the last known safe area. The situation will determine the extraction technique for self or patrol. Maintain a 25-meter distance between soldiers during extraction for safety control measures. Draw back is also referred to as self-extraction. • Inform higher headquarters of the situation.
      from USAF FM 20-32WCH
      that first step is pretty important–like the “hole rule”
      and “Gain control of yourself…” is battle tested truth all could pay attention to, imo.
      and that “Draw Back” is a crux move, also.

      1. a different chris

        Totally off the actual topic, but:

        That was pretty good except for the mines part? I’m not a soldier at all, nor is my family, so excuse my likely ignorance but I thought the whole idea behind a land mine was that it was buried so you couldn’t see it?


        >Determine the nearest safe area not containing mines,

        >whether you are in the middle of a mined area. •

        >Make notes for future reference about any mines that you see.

        >Note the number, size, material type, and location of the mines.

        …. all seems impossible by definition?

    8. Dan

      Mister Stone,
      “expressing doubt that Trump is a Russian asset.”

      IMHO you are setting yourself up within their playbook.

      I have found, that when one speaks with people about politics, don’t defend Trump or attack “Russiagate,” instead, ask your interlocutor details on exactly how it worked, when and who did what?

      Most people rebleat the MSM mantra and cannot explain, nor break anything down beyond headlines they have memorized. Answering questions about a chimera strips it of any power.

      “…That has been debunked–unless you have newer information from credible independent sources…” or, “Where did you hear (read) that!?”
      strips any adamant answers they might have of legitimacy.
      Listen to people and make allies.

      Perfect opportunity to say:
      “You deserve a more sophisticated source of information. Naked is where you can join the grown-ups.”

      Write down the URL on pieces of paper that you ‘just happen to have in your pocket’.

    9. xkeyscored

      I noticed this in a comment by Sean H., liked by Taibibi: “My guess is that the commentariat opposing Trump believe the Russia nonsense was valid.” I don’t believe, trust or support either of them.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Climate change: Big lifestyle changes are the only answer”

    The only way that this will work if everybody shares the same sacrifices but we all know that that won’t happen. Any cut subsidies and carbon taxes will overwhelmingly affect average people while our elites will suffer no change at all. This will lead to revolts and we have seen this before.
    It was not that long ago that the Parisian elites decided to impose diesel fuel hikes which did not effect them much but overwhelmingly effected working class people. The result of that was the Yellow Vest movement. In the Netherlands the government was scapegoating the farmers on nitrogen pollution so the farmers clogged up major highways with their tractors as a protest. In Australia we had a carbon tax which shot electricity bills through the roof until a change in government led to it being dumped.
    As an example from this article, look at the issue of aviation. The report calls for an “Air Miles Levy” to discourage what it calls “excessive flying” to penalize frequent flyers, while not raising prices for people taking an annual holiday. What is the bet that a trading scheme will arise on Wall Street where people can swap and sell unused air kilometers? Will this Levy apply to those with private jets? How about government jets?
    Will countries build out their public transport infrastructure so that people will have an alternative? Will they drop fares on public transport to encourage people to leave their cars behind? Will governments help pay to have people’s homes insulated to save long term energy requirements? I seriously doubt that most governments will do any of this. They will depend on public-private partnerships and corporations will seek to hijack these schemes to cash in big time. And it will be like this until things turn to ka-ka.

    1. xkeyscored

      Big lifestyle changes are the only answer
      But the changes proposed in the report seem minor and feeble to me.
      For example, “It says subsidies for fossil fuels have to go … It also urges the government to consider introducing a carbon tax, increasing the prices of carbon-intensive products and activities.”
      I’d say fossil fuels have to go, and soon.
      And the report, at least according to this article, has nothing to say about the carbon footprint of UK imports. I haven’t read the report itself, but it sounds like this Net Zero emissions thing is an accounting trick whereby all that CO2 counts against other countries’ carbon budgets. I guess that’s how they manage “These changes need not be expensive or reduce well-being.” No need to worry, a bit of education and encouragement, with a few tweaks to taxes, vegeburgers instead of cowburgers, and everything’ll be hunky dory. If only.

      1. xkeyscored

        I’ve just skimmed the report itself. It does mention emissions associated with food imports, which is supposedly why it focuses on UK food consumption rather than production.
        I didn’t notice anything about the rest of the UK’s imports.

    2. Jesper

      I read that article and few writings are perfect but this stood out:

      Home heating is the single biggest challenge in terms of reducing UK emissions, according to Chris Stark of the Committee on Climate Change. It accounts for 21% of a household’s carbon footprint and it will be costly to bring it down.

      if it is the single biggest challenge then I would have expected the text to be most accurate, but:

      in particular air-source heat pumps, which extract heat from air outside the home and remove cold air from inside.

      it is not accurate. Hopefully it was a mistake in editing, not an actual belief that air-source heat pumps removes cold air from inside.
      Ireland and its housing, possibly similar to UK:

      According to the Department of Housing, the majority of existing houses are energy inefficient – with 78% having a C2 BER or worse.

      The dfifference between an A and a C in BER:
      In Ireland I’ve heard someone state that the most important to insulate is the floor…. Doing so does makes it more likely to have problems with mold underneath the floor and does not do much for energy-efficiency. The BER are now more than a decade old, they are still not commonly understood and I suspect that legislation currently in place prioritise aestetics of the building more than energy-efficiency – air-source heatpumps for apartments might not look nice so inefficient electric heating will remain in place and the heat-pumps disallowed.

      1. Ignacio

        No, the most important thing to insulate is not the floor, it is the ceiling. You can insulate the floor simply with peripheral insulation (horizontal or vertical). Avoiding infiltrations from soils and molds depends on proper impermeabilization from the terrain, not on thermal isolation. A different issue is condensation from air humidity in wall surfaces. In this case, thermal insulation, which is associated with higher resistance to vapour water entry-exit plays a role. As long as the architect or engineer does the calculations properly condensation and molds can be safely avoided.

        1. Jesper

          Well yes, anyone with even a tiny bit of understanding of physics will know that as heat rises and you want to keep the heat then the place to insulate is the ceiling and not the floor. Was that the bit you attempted to help me clarify?
          & the best way to get rid of damp is ventilation and insulating the floor hinders air (with humidity) from being ventilated and that might increase the risk of problems with mold underneath the floor so it seems we’re in agreement on that as well?

          As long as the architect or engineer does the calculations properly condensation and molds can be safely avoided.

          is the reason why I consider Ireland to be 20-25 years behind, if the calculations were made for housing older than 10 years then, judging by the outcome of problems with damp, then the calculations were not done correctly.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            I don’t understand why you are getting annoyed (the “tiny bit” bit is a show of talking down). Ignacio was addressing the mold point and also saying that insulation is not an either/or of floor v. ceiling and that floors can be insulated cheaply and pretty easily.

            The DoE recommends insulating floors in addition to ceilings in quite a few specific cases, as you can see here:


            The house I am in is “slab floors built directly above the ground” and because it was built in the 50s when electricity was cheap, isn’t well insulated overall. I can tell you the floors here get damned cold in the winter. The entire house had to have rugs/carpeting to mitigate the effect. And this is in the deep South.

            1. Jesper

              My apologogies. Thank you for calling it out. The reason why I got annoyed was that his reply started with: ‘No’ – a disagreement/correction.
              If his reply had started with a ‘yes’ then it would be an acknowledgment of value in what I wrote and building on what I wrote. Starting it with ‘No’ does the opposite. It came across to me as if I was being told/educated something that I consider very trivial – that the most cost effective (both in monetary and EROI) is to start from the top and work down. Insulating the floor might be cost-effective, I am not convinced that it is always a good investment. I agree with the recommendation in the site you linked to:

              For optimal energy efficiency, your home should be properly insulated from the roof down to its foundation.

              I too have carpets (&thick socks or slippers) to avoid stepping on cold floors. In some cases it would simply cost too much to heat enough so that the floors were not cold and what might be worse for me is that by trying to heat enough to make the floors not freezing might make the room-temperature too warm for me.
              Under-floor heating is great, the floors are not cold and the room is not too warm :) But the investment to get under-floor heating can often be prohibitive.

        2. lambert strether

          > No, the most important thing to insulate is not the floor, it is the ceiling

          Engineers may clarify, but I completed my ginormous and year’s-long home insulation project in Maine working on the general principle that my house was like a chimney: Sucking in cold air at the bottom, and spewing it out, warmed, at the top (which is why a good sign of a well-insulated house is snow on the roof, it not having been melted off).

          So it was necessary not only to insulate the attic (“ceiling”), but also the basement, the doors, the windows, etc. Any place air could be sucked in. A vapor barrier was needed (against mold and also against water infiltration) for the basement, but not in the attic. I think this probably varies by the house; for example, many of my walls are horsehair and lath; no vapor issues there!

          Most of the amateur work I did proved ineffective; in fact, the only trick that worked was from permaculture: Garbage bags of leaves whereever the basement brick was exposed! So, for work at scale, one should either do a lot more reading than I did — and I did a lot — have expertise, or hire a professional (which in my case paid for itself many times over).p

          1. Steve H.

            > like a chimney

            Masonry chimneys are a conduit for heat transfer.

            Our furnace vented out the chimney, in a house designed for a wood stove. Our back yard smelled nasty so we turned off the gas and went with space heaters (copper-wrapped infrared tubes). A couple years ago, we put on a white metal roof, with a bubble-wrap type insulation under, after I knocked off the chimney below roof level.

            Our total energy bill has never been what we paid with gas and electric. In addition, this last month, with lots of days in the 90’s, the electric bill was $63! In truth, probably because it was just Janet and I, and we got by well with one large window AC and a fan in the bedroom. 900 sq ft.

          2. Ignacio

            Of gourse, good insulation is needed in all the elements of the envelope. What I tried to say is that, althougth the distribution of heat gains/losses will depend on the shape of the house, the ceiling has in many cases the highest potential for heat losses and gains. The building code in Spain stablishes transmitance limits for every building element (walls, ceilings, floors, windows…) that vary depending on the climate of the region. It is always the case that the transmitance (watts gained/lost per surface unit and per unit of thermal gap in your preferred temperature scale) limits are lowest for the ceilings.

            As you have experienced, each house is a particular case that has to be studied in detail.

          3. Ignacio

            You are correct that if roof snow doesn’t melt easily is good insulation signal. There is a way to analyse where are you loosing heat and it is by renting a thermal camera and make lots of thermal pictures in a cold day (with heating system ON) both from outside the house and inside of each room. It is a bit costly. Another cheaper way is to use and infrared thermometer (for instance in amazon for about 20-30$) and measure in a cold nigth, with your heating system on, surface temperatures inside the rooms. Floor, walls, ceilings, pillars, window frames (the more points measured the better) to make a map of surface temperatures for every room. The colder points will indicate heat losses. This is more time demanding compared with the graphic output of the camera.

            If you want an opinion I can do something (for free of course) if you send me:
            – Pictures of your house
            – Architect plans with heated areas signalled
            – Google earth image showing orientation and location
            – All information available you have on the materials used, their thickness and density depths of walls into terrain… Including all elements and specially windows and doors.
            -Information on heating system (and pictures).

    3. Oregoncharles

      The buses in our small city are free, explicitly as an environmental measure.

      I’ve been trying to get them to consider trams on the EXISTING tracks through town and over to the Amtrak station. They run right past the downtown bus station. Ideal. Real problem is they’re privately owned freight lines. Something local to work on.

  18. Ignim Brites

    “We’re in a permanent coup”
    Really we already have to wonder where the army is. If it looks like Trump will be successfully impeached might the army feel it has to move to maintain public order? And wouldn’t a national military government and cancellation of the 2020 elections be supported by the people? Maybe not. Maybe the military coup would bog down over questions of whether or not state elections would have to be cancelled too, for example.

    Fortunately, this frenzy is likely to be over in a month. If Pelosi really wanted the impeachment “inquiry” to produce articles of impeachment that would be voted on by the full House the week before Thanksgiving would she have put Adam Schiff in charge? Doubtful. Isn’t the more likely calculation that Orange County Democrats will distance themselves from him as though he had ebola? Does anyone seriously think this guy inspires confidence in his leadership?

    After Thanksgiving the focus will shift to the elections. And the rule is, for both parties, it is more important to win the party than win the election. One reason why Biden is toast.

    1. Daryl

      I agree, I’m not quite as downcast as Taibbi on this. The Democrats are picking a fight that they don’t really have the werewithal or ability to follow through on. They will find another distraction to bleat over soon enough, hopefully one that does not involve deep questions about the eroded and still-shrinking Constitution.

      1. Carey

        I hope y’all are right. From my POV, it looks like the Dem elites are trying to instigate another civil war, by creating as much division as possible.

        1. Carey

          Adding: for the past two or three years it’s become virtually impossible to
          talk to the comfortable liberals in my region, other than exchanging pleasantries; those on the right, on the other hand, I can find some
          common ground with.
          They don’t call them “salt of the earth” for nothing.

            1. Chris

              Ditto. I go all sorts of places and what I see consistently is the people who lament all the brunches they’re not having being impossible to talk to about anything. Politics, economics, religion, history, it’s all off the table if you want to be polite.

    2. Fraibert

      I don’t think the military is inclined to act–which is why the intelligence agencies appear to be the main operators to date. My belief is that both the senior enlisted and the officer corps in the main respect their oath to uphold the Constitution and so it would take much more for any military intervention to occur.

      Now, if it were to become patently obvious that certain parts of the government were acting in an uncontrollably seditious manner, things could get very messy, as the people who do take their oath seriously would then have to consider acting.

      1. Ignim Brites

        I agree the military is unlikely to act. But there will possibly be some violence if Trump is impeached. From antifa is the Senate fails to convict. From militias if Trump is removed. Who knows if there is a Caesar among the officer corp?

        But I think that Pelosi is just giving the impeachers enough rope to hang themselves. If she was serious, Jerry Nadler would be leading the charge.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Nancy Pelosi may want to tread carefully in this impeachment process as it centers around the Ukraine. Her son, Paul Pelosi Jr, may also have ties with that country in connection with Viscoil and NRGLab. Nancy helpfully appeared in a video featuring the later. Thing is, I have heard of other kids of US politicians going for jobs in that country and guess what – it is all bipartisan.

  19. steve h

    Re: election interference
    Is irony completely, stone cold dead? The US has a long and flagrant history of “interfering” in other countries’ elections. As in staging coups, forming, arming and training opposition armies. I’m guessing Allende would have been grateful to just have his emails hacked and some noise pushed out on FB. What’s baffling to me is that I’ve seen absolutely no mention of this history/current policy in any of the reporting or commentating.

    1. xkeyscored

      They have a name for it: US exceptionalism.
      People should be happy and grateful to be bombed by the USA. If they are not, they obviously deserve to be bombed by the USA. Perfectly simple and logical.

  20. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    So news from New Orleans.

    The Hard Rock Hotel being built across from the Saenger, where i was supposed to go into work today for Wicked, COLLAPSED!!! One of our barbacks was on Rampart St when he heard it collapsing and luckily ran inside. He said it sounded like a Tornado. Another worker actually lives in apartments above the Saenger and she said she could hear Construction Workers screaming for help. As of yet no ones died thank Jove. Theres a video at

    It sucks that this happened and ill miss a double of work (~300$) but at at least ill be able to watch LSU kick Floridas ass! GEAUX TIGERS (fingers crossed)

    1. richard

      Sorry to hear about the building collapse jhb, and for anyone injured by that.
      On a different front:
      Isn’t Judy Gemstone the pimpest faildaughter of all time?
      I can’t believe the satanist got thrown out, the only truly decent human among them
      baby billy and toothless child bride rolling on stolen church $!
      I may have imagined this, and won’t go back to double check, but i think executed sadist stunt man did not get shot through the brain, but rather through the cheek, and despite the seemingly grisly end, will come back to get messed up again
      it wasn’t seemingly grisly, you understand, only seemingly the end

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Spoiler alert lol! I bet the stuntman lived! Judy is a fn badass!!! The way she destroyed that womans car in the parking lot trying to get her man back! And the Satanist passed right by the van too in the swamp!

        And Danny McBride got shot in the ass by his sniper wife as payback for smokin crack!

    2. ambrit

      I looked at some ‘local’ videos of the scene there, and there was one post after the collapse where workers from the job site were standing or sitting around on what looked to be Rampart Street. The video’s audio stream was picking up almost exclusively Spansh language conversations.
      Sorry to say so, but right there is one of Trump’s biggest political assets. It’s no wonder he picked up so much of the “Rust Belt” the last time around.
      Sorry to say also, but someone did die.
      Having been in commercial construction for so long, my ‘corruption’ antennae started vibrating. A competently built reinforced concrete structure like that does not fall down. The video and some commentary suggests that the upper floors on one side of the structure collapsed onto the parking garage level, which comprises the first six floors. That section did not collapse. So, something about those upper ‘residential’ floors was not up to snuff. (Since the parking garage levels did not collapse, ground subsidence can be ruled out.)
      The eastern Swiss crane is leaning, towards the Saenger! Let us hope mightily that it does not fall. The Saenger would be well nigh impossible to replace.
      Oh, and Wicked performances today at the Saenger have been cancelled.
      LSU beat Florida??? I wouldn’t bet either way on this match up. (Of course now, the game is being played in Baton Rouge, so, home field advantage to LSU.)

      1. skippy

        “The video’s audio stream was picking up almost exclusively Spanish language conversations.”

        On a big job in Colorado springs a cough … labour stepped through a hole in the flat warehouse roof after the plywood cover was left off for a spell.

        Died on the scene.

        You never seen a dirt parking lot clear out so fast …..

        1. ambrit

          I was on a job, here in Hattiesburg no less, much before moving here, when Immigration raided. Not a nice bunch of people even back then.

          1. skippy

            If you look at Kailas Companies, long dynamic history with the site before and after breaking ground – for the project, wellie tripwires everywhere you look.

            “In a statement released Saturday, Hard Rock International said the contractor on the project, Citadel Builders LLC, was hired by the project’s owner, Kailas Companies, and that Hard Rock “has had no involvement in the construction of the project.””

            Start from there and read down –

            1. ambrit

              Thanks for that link. Local corruption is never truly local.
              My Dad and I had a conversation in 1981 about a similar sort of collapse up the coast of Florida from Miami, a medium sized condo project. He said that the ‘backroom chatter’ was that not only had the builders ‘pushed the envelope’ of design too far, but the support forms were consistently removed too soon. This was to rush the schedule and have the condo units available quickly so as to satisfy demand for units. The raw concrete did not have long enough to ‘cure’ between pours. At some point, the accumulated weight of the superseding concrete decks overwhelmed the still somewhat ‘green’ lower decks and the whole building pancaked.
              The Wiki:

              1. skippy

                Hay that pretty much sums up years of high density building here in Oz … chortle …


                Wrap it in some flammable cladding along with some random non compliance due to progress payment demand pull whilst cramming down every trade [literally a mosh pit] and sell on to yield seekers – absentee international preferred.

                Hence why I only do residential in a niche market, ethical forbearance with a side of direct service to client.

                1. ambrit

                  Ah yes. I used to chat with the Quality Control man on a Federal project I was working at.
                  He had a panoply of stories about all the skullduggery he encountered over the years. One remark he made one afternoon has stayed with me. “I wish for the return of the Pharaohs. On their jobs, if you were caught cheating, it was off to the mines with you.” Real accountability.
                  Niche market is nice, but around here somewhat sparse. Even the college students are cutting back on discretionary outlays. In point of fact, the two major ‘niche markets’ I can think of around here that are doing well are No-Tell Motels and Thrift Stores.

                  1. skippy

                    In my market its just a case of time and space E.g. Brisbane compared to say Sydney or Melbourne [most livable city syndrome] lagged the stampede and with it prices, let alone density or subdividing lots. Hence we still have heaps of old Queenslanders within and just off the intercity rings at less than ludicrous prices.

                    This is accentuated by olds passing on and ex rentals getting hoovered up for starter families with income seeking proximity to schools, work, goods and services. The other aspect is near or recently retired spiffing up the joint for later sale or just to facilitate the latter part of their lives.

                    The curious part is there is not to much competition because the industry has deskilled labour so bad with a side of so many just looking for a quick buck – bad long term dynamics due to references and word of mouth in a narrow market with strong networking effects.

                    On the labour side its just a non starter, imagine someone saying they have 6 years painting experience only to hand them some sort of sander and they have no clue. 6 years of only cutting and rolling walls E.g. no depth of skill – knowledge or manual arts, everyone was educated as a cog to replicate just one task – over and over – because it was more efficient [tm].

                    Akin to watching the library of Alexandria burn down – sigh ….

  21. Synapsid

    When I opened the home page of BBC online news the ad in the upper right corner was for the CIA. The Agency is recruiting new agents. The ad wasn’t there a few moments later but ads do rotate at that spot.

    The full-column version of the same ad runs sometimes in The Economist.

    I received no commission from the Agency for this post.

    1. ambrit

      I would not find it outside the humour of ‘Cousin’ Vlad Vladimirovitch to run an ad next week “recruiting” for the Russian SVR. (Originally part of the old KGB.)

  22. xkeyscored

    Boeing and FAA Faulted In Damaging Report On 737 Max Certification New York Times
    Other news sources and websites have emphasised the FAA’s role in this much more than this article does.
    In this case, it was all arguably very technical and hard to understand, what with MCAS and AoA sensors and trim wheels.
    I can’t help thinking of the role of the regulators in the Oxycontin business. It’s been, with ample reason, a very basic piece of received wisdom for ages that pain killing opioids are addictive. When Purdue et al. proposed that their product wouldn’t be addictive, that should have raised alarm bells immediately. Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, not a half-baked study of thirty-odd hospital patients basically conducted by the pharma industry. In this case there were no obscure technicalities for the regulators to get their heads round, it was simple and straightforward. It would have been easy, if not entirely ethical, to test Oxycontin on junkies, to see if they were happy to forego their heroin or fentanyl given access to Oxys. Yet I continually see Purdue demonised as amoral money makers with no regard for the social costs of their profits, while the regulators get scarcely a mention.
    Aren’t corporations more or less obliged to maximise shareholder value? And aren’t regulators supposedly there to rein in their worst excesses? I for one would like to know more about them. Are they living beyond their incomes? Are they a bunch of unqualified unemployable morons with no background whatsoever in what they’re regulating? How on earth did they miss this, if indeed they missed it and didn’t just turn a blind eye? Why is so little attention being focused on them?

      1. xkeyscored

        I’m sure that’s a part of it, though I can’t help wondering if plain outright corruption came into it. I could have told you thirty years ago that oxycodone’s addictive, and it’s in chapter one of any textbook dealing with opioids that they’re addictive if they kill pain, hardly obscure technical stuff tucked away in academic papers.
        Either way, it doesn’t explain the lack of calls for the regulators – FDA? – to be sued, bankrupted and imprisoned. Why, I wonder, is that?

        1. skippy

          Bush Jr was informed by the FBI of endemic mortgage fraud, advised there was a war on and sorting it could jeopardize the outcome, not to mention contractor gravy train – I know who my base is …..

          GDP should be Greshams Determinate Predictive …

        2. VietnamVet

          Eric Holder made a conscious decision not to prosecute Wall Street criminals. The last CEO convicted and jailed was Jeff Skilling of Enron. This policy is still in effect and has spread to all CEOs including Perdue Pharma and Boeing. At least, Elizabeth Warren wants to jail CEOs and Tulsi Gabbard is the peace candidate. Just maybe, the Democrat’s Impeachment fiasco will scuttle Joe Biden; who is for neither.

    1. notabanktoadie

      Aren’t corporations more or less obliged to maximise shareholder value? xkeyscored

      If the shareholders are the joint OWNERS of a corporation, then logically the corporation should be obliged to do the WILL of a majority of the shareholders and that may or may not be to maximize shareholder value at, say, the expense of the environment they have to live in.

      Logically then the more broadly and equally owned the shares of a corporation are, the more that corporation would behave on behalf of the general welfare and not that of private interests.

      Then note that government privileges for depository institutions allow corporations to bypass the need to issue more shares in equity and, worse, allow corporations to buy back their shares in equity at unethically suppressed interest rates.

      1. Oregoncharles

        “If the shareholders are the joint OWNERS of a corporation”
        That’s the theory, but it’s a good question whether it’s the reality. Define “owner.” That’s actually a huge legal question.

    2. polecat

      What’s a ‘regulator’ …. ??

      …oh, that’s right .. as a conduit for $$$, influenza, and kickbacks .. facilitating a one-way grift-trip to ___________ (pick the benefactor of regulator’s choice), whilst sticking penurous $hiv$ into the pleb’s vitals !

  23. cnchal

    > Is Amazon Unstoppable? New Yorker

    Lots of talk in that article about flywheels.

    When flywheels spin too fast, they fracture and shred themselves, taking the bellhousing out and wrecking the rest of the engine and the transmission as a bonus, and if you are lucky, not your feet.

    Amazon is spinning out of control, ceding the platform to scammers, growing like an aggressive cancer, abuses employees as standard practice, steals vendors products and AWS, it’s money maker due to government subsidies, is crapping the bed.

    Amazon Elasticsearch Operation

    As has happened before, Amazon took the open-source side of Elasticsearch, did a hard fork, and has been selling it as a hosted service, slowly implementing their own versions of features that have been available in one form or fashion in mainline Elasticsearch for years.

    Amazon passes off open source software as their own, and forks it up.

    This flywheel is spinning too fast, and we are all in line for some shrapnel when it blows.

    1. cnchal

      The shrapnel is already flying!

      >Amazon Cuts Contracts With Delivery Companies Linked to Deaths Propublica. Furzy: “problem solved!!! /s”

      Amazon has abruptly canceled its contracts with three major delivery firms, a move that will put more than 2,000 people out of work and may signal a shift in how the online retail giant plans to deliver millions of packages to homes across the country every day.

      Ok, 2000 delivery drivers get the boot, so how will Amazon deliver packages now? Is Bezos gonna fly around in his helicopter dropping them at your doorstep, one every 10 seconds?

      Amazon has relied on established logistics firms like Inpax — with large fleets operating in multiple locations — to deliver many of its packages. But in the past year, the company has shifted toward smaller firms working out of just one or two delivery stations. Often, the owners of those newer companies have no experience in delivery or as business owners, and some rely on loans from Amazon to start their new companies

      I would characterize those budding delivery entrepreneurs as gazelles, meat for the Amazon lion.

      Inpax’s owner, Leonard Wright, has run various companies in the logistics and shipping business since the 1990s. Inpax began delivering packages for Amazon in 2015, and Wright has said that contract brings in 70% of the company’s revenue. His firm has shown signs of growing financial strain for some time. In the past several years, Inpax has been sued by employees, lenders and even its own law firm, all of whom claim they were not properly paid.
      – – – – – – – –
      One driver who recently worked for Inpax said there was “a lot of sadness” surrounding the announcement because “most of the employees have families and bills.” But two other drivers familiar with Inpax said many laid off employees are already in conversations to be rehired by other Amazon delivery contractors operating out of the same warehouses. According to one Inpax employee in North Carolina, there’s already a new contractor poised to take over Inpax’s routes. The employees spoke on the condition of anonymity because they have either found work with Amazon or one of its contractors or hope to, and feared retribution if they were named

      No insider dare speak ill of Amazon, otherwise retribution. My advice? Quit, give Bezos the middle finger and learn to code. Oh shit, that won’t work. You might have Bezos as your only employer. Forget what I wrote.

      This next section really takes the cake.

      This is not the first time Amazon has elected to cut off established delivery firms on short notice.

      In early 2016, it severed ties with a Florida-based firm, VHU Logistics, less than a year after awarding the company its first routes. The firm had complained that Amazon was not paying its invoices on time, leading it to miss payroll for its drivers. That sparked a federal Department of Labor investigation that found Amazon bore responsibility for nearly 200 workplace violations. After canceling its contract with VHU, Amazon sued the delivery company in a bid to recover the back wages the Labor Department ordered the online retailer to pay and was awarded $296,906 in damages by the court. The two parties ultimately settled the matter.

      There is a name for that kind of court. Kangaroo springs to mind.

      The moral of these stories is that Amazon is a hot mess and will eat you alive if you have any dealings with them. And get out of the way of any white van being driven with complete carelessness. I can pick them out of traffic just by the way they move.

      For those that buy your crapola off Amazon, please think of the children that have a good chance of getting run over in front of your house.

  24. Dan

    Tulsi coming in fourth in Wisconsin, without ever even having campaigned there, must really be worrying the Democratic National Corporation.

    The CIA agitprop, Neo-con artist, toilet paper of record, The New York Times, regurgitated every already discredited rumor and smear they could cough up against Tulsi yesterday.

    Spurred me to send another donation to her campaign today.

    From her official campaign website

    Please send a personal check made payable to:

    Tulsi Now
    PO Box 75255
    Kapolei, HI 96707

    1. UserFriendly

      FWIW I did email that poll in. It also shows Biden winning Millennials so probably not all that accurate.

  25. marym

    Other than in early dreams of the tweeted Resistance™ of a magical nullification of the election and ushering in of Her Turn, I still don’t understand the situation as a “coup.”

    The Mueller (FBI heritage) investigation didn’t result in anything for Dems to act on. And the CIA did what? Media leaks? Wait 2 1/2 years for someone to hear that Trump had a recent phone conversation possibly attempting a campaign finance violation? The substance of which Trump promptly confirmed on camera and with a written record. It’s not as though they entrapped him!

    Impeachment is a legal process. It’s occurred twice in my lifetime. Pelosi has been criticized for taking it “off the table” in 2007. Are the PR deluge, and any investigations any more an attempt to delegitimize a duly elected president, or (if limited to Russiakrainegate) any less substantial, than what influential politicians and media directed at the Clinton and Obama presidencies? Is the “unitary executive” increasingly unbound by law or precedent not itself a multi-administration rolling coup? With an AG functioning as advocate for the executive in the courts and a Republican Senate is Taibbi right that there’s a question of who will be president “by nightfall”?

    I’m not claiming qualifications to be right on this, or that Dems have chosen a responsible means of pushing back on Trump excesses, just still don’t understand it as a coup.

    1. Monty

      Should the President and Vice President be given Carte Blanche immunity to do as they wish whilst in office? If Trump works with foreign agents to nefariously damage the next President in 2020 or 2024, would it be beyond the pale to look into what he had been up to?

      Trump thinks that Biden and others in the Obama administration used their newly installed puppets in Ukraine to damage his candidacy and then his presidency. He would like to know the truth, but our law enforcement agencies don’t have the jurisdiction to properly investigate in other countries. Asking the new Ukrainian administration to look into it seems entirely logical and appropriate to me.

      1. marym

        There is a process for inter-country law enforcement investigations, including a US/Ukraine treaty. Trump didn’t follow its process. In general, I don’t see why Congress or the DOJ wouldn’t have the right and obligation to investigate actions by the current or previous administration, though somehow neither “side” has produced much of substance through the years. Whether investigating and/or obstructing investigations are coups is what I don’t know.

      2. Duck1

        Quick Google brings this squib, which indicates LEO can investigate. Not an expert.

        the FBI is authorized to operate in foreign countries. … Agents will work out of the US embassy and coordinate any FBI investigations or partnerships with the State Department, as well as the host nation’s law enforcement, counterterrorism and/or intelligence agencies.

        1. Monty

          What if you had seen that these organizations were being run by partisans and could not be trusted to do a good job?

          It’s a bit like the Twitter use vs. MSN reportage. If you want a job doing properly, and not buried or distorted by partisans, do it yourself.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Here’s the “coup,” from Taibbi’s article: “The leak of the January, 2017 “meeting” between the four chiefs and Trump – which without question damaged both the presidency and America’s standing abroad – was an unprecedented act of insubordination. ”

      Clear back BEFORE the inauguration. The rest is the rushing around and jockeying for power that follows one – a rather partial one, in this case. Will there be another crux? Probably. I’m a little more radical than Taibbi: I hope all this discredits the PTB to the point of disempowering them. We might still see the “scepter rolling in the gutter.”

      1. marym

        Trump’s presidency has consisted almost entirely of self-dealing, hurting people, dismantling the structures and relationships of governance. and fomenting one of the most hate-filled versions of id politics.

        So for 2 years, the IC, to delegitimize and replace him, gets to have one of their own, ex-FBI big guy on the case for Russiagate. It results in nothing. So they reveal Ukrainegate, which seems a little more overtly sleazy, but unlikely to get him actually removed from office.

        I’m not saying what they’re doing isn’t bad for our country. I just don’t see how it’s an on-going coup,
        or even a more likely project to discredit him for 2020 than the self-inflicted self-dealing, hurting, dismantling, and hate would be if his would-be discreditors cared enough about it.

  26. Summer

    RE: “Trump’s Trillion-Dollar Hit to Homeowners” ProPublica.

    People are just fine with housing market being a speculative venture as long as prices are always going up.
    If you are just fine with something as important as housing being a speculative venture, don’t cry for a bailout when prices fall.

    1. rd

      What I find interesting is that nobody talks about the impacts of having the $10k state/local tax exemption applying equally to singles and married couples. Effectively it is a bit of the return of the marriage penalty. We live in an inexpensive area in NYS but our Federal income tax bill went up when we couldn’t deduct our local/state taxes beyond $10k for the two of us. Our standard deduction went up to $24k which is what we ended up claiming, so that helped but if we had started with a $20k deduction and added mortgage interest and charitable contributions we would have ended up itemizing and actually got a small tax cut.

      A single homeowner will almost certainly be itemizing in our area as they start with $10k in state/local tax deductions and then add interest and charitable contributions and you end up way over the $12k standard deduction.

      So there is a better tax case made for a single owning a house than a married couple today. Not quite sure if that is what the tax bill writers had in mind.

  27. Chauncey Gardiner

    Regarding today’s link from MarketWatch regarding the historically positive effect on equity prices of Fed purchases of Treasury debt, it would be helpful if Fed officials were to be more forthcoming regarding their specific objectives in implementing particular policies and the metrics they use to assess their efficacy.

    Setting aside underlying questions about the lack of efficacy of monetary policy, this week’s decision by the Fed to purchase up to $60 billion per month of short-term Treasury bills for an indefinite time period could, for example, be framed as a funding response to federal budget deficits designed to both suppress interest rates and steepen the yield curve in order to enable community and regional banks to maintain positive net interest margins in lending to small and medium-sized businesses who lack access to capital markets. The intent is to thereby encourage lending for constructive economic activity, job formation and mortgage loans for home purchase and household formation.

    Alternatively, it can be framed as a blatant in-your-face effort to inject massive amounts of additional liquidity into the primary dealers in order to enable speculation in financial markets, to cover hidden speculative losses, to propel equity and bond markets higher for trading gains, and to further punish savers. There may also be other unstated policy objectives, including addressing political pressure from an incumbent. I may be naive and poorly informed, but even as an elderly American of limited means who is ill equipped to participate in today’s frothy and volatile financial markets, I prefer to default to the former view until shown otherwise.

  28. barrisj

    As a followup to the Taibbi/Permanent Coup article —which led to much spirited exchanges!— here is a piece by TA Frank further exploring much of the origins of “Russiagate”, with specific scrutiny of the George Papadopoulos/Joseph Mifsud nexus, one that has been steeped in both contradictory and speculative assessments. Frank does find that there were rather questionable actions by the FBI and Mueller’s investigations surrounding the alleged “collusion”, and concludes his article thusly:

    I spent several months investigating the claim, now accepted by many Republicans, that the Trump campaign was set up. But after interviewing Papadopoulos and dozens of sources from around the world, I uncovered a more prosaic truth.
    Now, none of this is to give a pass to Donald Trump. He deserves to be investigated, and possibly impeached, for his behavior toward Ukraine over the past several months, and if you want to get a sense of how much power the president has to turn the screws on weaker parties, few recent stories have been better reported than a recent one from The Wall Street Journal showing how things looked from the Ukrainian side. Sending a henchman like Giuliani over to Kiev and dropping strong hints to Ukraine’s leaders of what you’re hoping to find is a recipe for lies and corruption.

    But probing Trump’s misbehavior cannot be an underhanded instrument for shutting down investigations into what happened in 2016. Uncovering that part of the story may be unhelpful to the impeachment narrative in the coming months, but it is no less important than investigating this president. Trump represents the flouting of rules by one man, but the origins of Russiagate represent the potential flouting of rules by many people. If the FBI and the intelligence community can overstep their bounds in pursuit of a president many of us hate today, they can do so against a president we like tomorrow. So, no, Trump’s or Giuliani’s pet theories won’t bear fruit. No, there’s no DNC server in Ukraine, or whatever the hell Trump believes. No, Joe Biden didn’t try to fire a prosecutor for going after Biden’s son. No, George Papadopoulos isn’t the key to an international anti-Trump conspiracy. But the belief that Russiagate grew out of partisans overstepping their bounds—well, that’s still awaiting the jury. With or without Trump in office, we owe it to ourselves to figure out whether it’s true.

    And within his article there is a link to the HK-based legal blogger, Hans Mahnecke, who does a heroic effort in unpacking Papadopoulos’ activities before and after joining Trump’s 2016 campaign, and yet again notes the appearance of the mysterious Mifsud:

    Untangling the Papadopoulos Puzzle
    It is sometimes difficult to keep track of all the things that are going in the world of Trump-Russia. Of course, the main reason for this is that the world of Trump-Russia has very little left in common with what it supposedly started off as. There is no collusion anywhere to be found but there are Manafort’s taxes, Cohen’s taxis, a few internet trolls, and of course George Papadopoulos.

    I have to admit I did not take a particular interest in the Papadopoulos case until I saw Papadopoulos’ wife, Simona, on a TV show talking about his case. What struck me was how crude and unpolished her points were. I don’t mean to take anything away from Simona’s efforts, she was clearly trying to help her husband, but I realized that there was literally no one helping these two young people. It was painfully evident that she and her husband did not have an effective legal or PR strategy. In fact, in view of the recently released sentencing memo drafted by Papadopoulos’ own lawyers, whatever legal and PR strategy they might have had, they stood in direct contradiction. While Simona insisted her husband was not a coffee boy, the entire legal argument is premised on Papadopoulos having been a coffee boy who was totally out of his depth.
    Telling the FBI the wrong date is what Papadopoulos was convicted of when he signed the plea. Technically, he also pleaded guilty to falsely telling the FBI that his communications with Mifsud and the Russian student were inconsequential but I don’t think Mueller could have proved that in Court. In fact, the evidence suggests that they were, in fact, inconsequential. This part was just something that Mueller put in the plea deal to spice it up (similar to what happened in the Michael Cohen case). Thus, we are effectively left with the one charge of lying about a date, a charge that is likely provable in Court. There is no doubt that Papadopoulos gave different dates and that he likely did so on purpose. Thus, legally, this is a fairly safe conviction.

    Ironically, when all is said and done, the exact date makes little difference to the overall picture for the FBI as both dates would have suggested that Mifsud knew something that may not yet have been in the public domain.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        You think comments are the only way I hear about things? Have you managed to miss how many attributions I make, which are all due to things I get in my inbox? I had gotten the piece and read it before you commented on it.

  29. Oregoncharles

    ” Help me. This election is the Democrat’s to lose much more than Trump’s to win. ”
    Two full terms at a time. It’s still the Republicans’ turn – even if the Dems have to try really, really hard to lose.

    And a footnote: I’ve posted this openly conspiratorial theory a number of times here on NC, and AFAIK, no one has responded. It’s only half a joke (and really, not funny at all), because it fits the facts. Both parties have appeared to throw elections since Clinton’s re-election.

    It does imply that 2nd-term elections are a gigantic waste of time.

    1. ambrit

      I share your sense of impending Doom. The aphorism you propound really suggests that all elections today are a waste of time. If a pre-set pattern of rotating governance has become the status quo, then it becomes irrefutable that both “parties” are exercising a co-dominion. Their similarities are significantly greater than their differences. Under such a set up, the driving motive of governance ceases to be the Public good, and becomes, instead, a series of Private goods.

      1. Oregoncharles


        Given my priors, I blame a lot of it on peoples’ attachment to the 2-Party. If you lock yourself in, you’re easy prey.

      2. notabanker

        It is beyond me how anyone could have confidence that e-ballot machines are corruption free. The chances of that are as close to zero as it gets. The chances that they all have backdoors and are easily manipulated are near 100%. If you think otherwise, you just have not been paying attention.

        1. ambrit

          I love that locution, “..e-ballot machines..” It conjures up images of mechanical people teleprescencing to the voting “booth” and casting their votes. If ‘Corporations’ are now legally people, it is only fair that we now give ‘Incorporates’ the same rights and duties. Can we be too far away from AI “persons” holding public office?

  30. Summer

    RE: “We’re in a permanent coup” Matt Taibbi read.

    “Instead, it was a story about an infamously corrupt individual, Donald Trump…”

    Who has never spent a day in jail and probably has stayed out over the years the same way other criminals with long records stay out of jail. Well known to the FBI…

    The story has more angles than can be imagined…

    1. ambrit

      I’d go out on a Lovecraftian limb, tentacle, or pseudopodium and call it: “Tesseract: The ‘House’ That Bernays Built.”

  31. ChrisPacific

    Interesting article in the local news about online voting and why it will never work:

    Rickerby says he was surprised by Ardern’s comments this week.

    “Anyone with an understanding of operational security will look at [online voting] and go: ‘This isn’t going to work’.”

    His main concerns echo Parry’s; namely, protocol design problems.

    “People need to recognise, the entire foundation of modern computing is insecure.”

    Society appears to view technology with unfounded optimism, he says. “We have to stop this thinking that technology is progress. There’s nothing inherently progressive about it. Old systems can be better than new systems.

    “We can do something worse now than we have done in the past. We seem to have this assumption things get better and that’s not always how they work.”

  32. show_me

    “AT&T raises prices 7% by making its customers pay AT&T’s property taxes”

    This is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. So now every one of their customers will be acutely aware of any changes to property taxes in their state (yeah, I know it doesn’t affect everyone but it will affect enough).

    But let’s follow this a little further into the future. How about other taxes/fees/levies which are normally considered the cost of doing business ? So you want income taxes on corporations increased? We have an additional charge for that.

    How many of their customers will be happy about increasing taxes in any form no matter what the wider implications are ?

    If AT&T gets away with this it’s impossible to believe there won’t be a stream of corporations following suit.

  33. The Rev Kev

    “Why We Must Impeach Donald Trump”

    I put this article through a semantic analyzer and what came out was the statement “Orange Man Bad!”

  34. anon in so cal

    NYT attack on Tulsi Gabbard:

    Glenn Greenwald @ggreenwald
    “This NYT article about @TulsiGabbard is perfect. It belongs in a museum to show how the NYT & DNC smear anyone who expresses any dissenting views: accuse them of serving RUSSIA & white nationalists, quote Neera Tanden & Laura McCarthy Rosenberg, etc.”

    New York Times:

    “What, Exactly, Is Tulsi Gabbard Up To?

    As she injects chaos into the 2020 Democratic primary by accusing her own party of “rigging” the election, an array of alt-right internet stars, white nationalists and Russians have praised her.”

    Separately, it would be great if Tulsi Gabbard did participate in the upcoming Dem debates and called Biden out for his collusion with Victoria Nuland and the rest of the Ukraine regime change choreographers.

    The thing is, though, that Ukraine may be Gabbard’s one weak spot. She apparently completely toes the Obama Nuland CIA line about Russia and Ukraine, including Crimea, the eastern provinces of Donbass and Donetsk, and MH17.

    “”Russia must face serious consequences…the US must consider options that truly isolate #Russia economically & diplomatically…We must offer direct military assistance—defensive weapons, military supplies & training—to Ukraine..”

    I support Gabbard but these are disappointing shortcomings.

    It seems that neither the Dems nor the GOP will touch the US regime change op in February 2014 in Ukraine.

    1. Tom Denman

      The Times’ hysterical hit piece on Tulsi Gabbard is bad even by that paper’s ever declining standards (for instance the article offers no substantiation for its claim that Ms. Gabbard has “repeatedly defended the brutal Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad”). [1]

      But the story’s theme, that political pros find Congresswoman Gabbard’s views to be enigmatic, illustrates why she seems to so terrify the establishment: she has shown that she a mind of her own.

      Politics, oft called the team sport for people who don’t like team sports, is about hewing to the prescribed template set by the leadership of one’s party (the coach). Any Democratic politician who deviates from such a putative consensus is considered not to be on ‘our team’ and risks being labeled an extremist who panders to hate groups. This phenomenon goes a long way to explaining why American politicians are so bad.

      Thinking for one’s self is not a habit that will get you far in today’s America, least of all in politics. It is a shame that the minds of so few of our political leaders and journalists have grown since they graduated from high school.


      1. polecat

        See, that’s just the thing … for many of them, they Haven’t graduated, At All !! For those that haven’t advanced, it’s still playground bully time … and that thing you think is a dodgeball .. is a spiked partisan mine.

  35. Late Introvert

    Hard time over here caring about folks who have to stop deducting taxes after 10 grand when my straight A’s daughter won’t get into her chosen credential factory that costs twice that per year. Boo family blogging hoo.

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