Links 10/27/19

Maine is home to hundreds of spider species. Here’s a guide to the ones you might find. Bangor Daily News

Wilderness areas could reduce extinction risks by more than half Anthropocene

Economics’ Biggest Success Story Is a Cautionary Tale Foreign Policy. More on faux Nobelists Duflo and Banerjee.

WeWork, Neil Woodford and the modern ‘bezzle’ FT. A word with which NC readers will be familiar…

Amazon’s facial recognition misidentified Boston athletes as criminals Daily Dot

Indigenous elder slams ‘hollow and tokenistic’ consultation by Sidewalk Labs Toronto Star

Oil sands found to be a leading source of air pollution in North America Globe and Mail

AOC v. Exxon:


Brexit: French threaten no‑deal in five days by blocking delay The Times. Although The Times is often wrong.

SNP and Lib Dems write to EU chief calling for long Brexit extension Isle of Wight County Press

Labour MPs on why they backed Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill Guardian

Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal poses a rules-of-origin conundrum FT

UK PM Johnson’s Conservatives hold 16-point poll lead ahead of election decision Reuters. If I had volunteered for Momentum, I would not be a happy camper right now.

The most worrying thing about the Withdrawal Agreement Bill? What it doesn’t say Prospect. From last week, still germane.

John le Carré’s Scathing Tale of Brexit Britain The Atlantic


Trump Approves Special Ops Raid Targeting Isis Leader Baghdadi, Military Says He’s Dead Newsweek. Donald Trump became President today.

The Bombers Have Landed: B-1s Arrive in Saudi Arabia as Part of US Buildup (Re Silc).

The Weapons America Is Leaving Behind in Syria The New Republic. “Distributing arms in industrial quantities to questionable actors is a unique strength of the United States, even if counterinsurgency is not.”

The Syrian Tug of War Is Still War Against Syria, and Russians Trust the Army More Than President Putin to Wage It John Helmer

Ben Rhodes’ False Atonement for the Yemen War In These Times


Kashmir: Bipartisan consensus in US is in meltdown Indian Punchline

Coffee Prices Have Collapsed, Threatening the Livelihood of Millions Across the Global South The Nation (Re Silc).


How China’s mystery author called its economic slowdown Financial Times

Pay with your face: 100m Chinese switch from smartphones Nikkei Asian Review

Interpretation on Several Questions on the Application of Law in Handling Criminal Cases Such as Criminal Use of Information Networks, and Assisting in Criminal Information Network Activities China Law Translate

New Cold War

$500,000 of Russian Cheese, Wasted? Matt Bivens, Medium. By the former editor of the Moscow Times. (This one is good, too.)

Russia Will Test Its Ability to Disconnect from the Internet Defense One

America Sponsors Far-Right Holocaust Revisionist Exhibit in Kiev, Part I Yasha Levine


Thanks, Whistle-Blower, Your Work Is Done Editorial Board, NYT

Frat Boy Thermopylae Rod Dreher, The American Conservative

Trump Transition

Unprecedented: The Trump NLRB’s attack on workers’ rights Economic Policy Institute


Billionaire George Soros says Elizabeth Warren ‘is the most qualified to be president’ CNBC (Krystyn Walentka).

Biden throws his campaign a lifeline Politico. Michael Adler, a Miami developer and Biden donor: ” $5 contributors shouldn’t determine the whole election.”

The Clintons surprise visit to a literacy program at po-boy shop, laundry about to go big Times-Picayune

Hillary Clinton Spoils the Party Jacob Bacharach, Truthdig

Our Famously Free Press

Media amnesia and the Facebook News Tab Columbia Journalism Review. All the controversy is about Breitbart, but I’m also concerned that only large venues (like Murdoch’s properties) will be paid to appear on the “news tab,” and smaller venues won’t. There should be a sliding scale. Otherwise, all we have is monopolists mutually reinforcing their market power.

Boeing 737 MAX

On Malfunctioning Max, Captain Had the Flu and Copilot Was a Sub Bloomberg. From the report by Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee.

Sports Desk

Advertisers flood World Series for D.C. opinion leaders Axios. One more reason not to root for The Nationals.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Do the Public and ‘the Blob’ Want the Same Things? The American Conservative

UK, US Enter New Era: ‘Unprecedented’ Carrier-Sharing Plan Breaking Defense. What’s the big deal about sharing the UK’s aircraft carrier deck space when we can turn to whole island into Airstrip One after Brexit?

PG&E connection to Kincade Fire could deepen utility’s jeopardy San Francisco Chronicle. Who missed the “enterprise risk” here?

A Utility Company Is Scheduled To Shut Off Power To Nearly 3 Million Californians As A Massive Fire Grows Buzzfeed. The utility being PG&E. Handy map. “The company warned that outages could last more than 48 hours, and suggested customers should prepare for outages lasting several days.” What, the day before?

Guillotine Watch

While California Fires Rage, the Rich Hire Private Firefighters NYT (PR).

Class Warfare

Bernie Sanders compares the ultra-wealthy to drug addicts: “I need more, more, more” CBS

Teamsters won’t deliver across Chicago Teachers Union picket lines: ‘Today it’s them, tomorrow it’s us’ Chicago Tribune

The Twilight of Autopia Places Journal

Repressed Memories Are Back, Baby! The Stranger

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Lee

    Maine is home to hundreds of spider species. Here’s a guide to the ones you might find. Bangor Daily News

    More on spiders from the most recent Science Friday:
    The Tangled Lives Of Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider

    Like many, I seem to have an innate fear of spiders, most of which are harmless and none of even the more venomous few I’ve encountered have ever harmed me. But they are at the same time fascinating and useful creatures. We now let them spin their webs in our kitchen and elsewhere in the house to keep down the winged pest population. As grateful as I am for their utility and admiring of their capabilities, I have yet to develop a desire to pet them.

    1. Ignacio

      Long ago in a trip to Oklahoma, to visit a colleague we were collaborating with, I was hosted in a guest residence property of the scientific institution where she was doing her research. It was a wooden lovely place in the middle of nowhere. I entered my room, spacious and charming, and after a while opened the wooden terrace door to enjoy the beautiful view of a lake populated with herons and ducks. To my surprise the whole door gap was occupied by a perfectly buildt spiderweb with an enormous specimen in the middle. I coudn’t enjoy the gorgeous landscape from the terrace but the spider in his web was itself a nice view.

    2. chuck roast

      I have a bunch of spiders on my small craft. I call them my fellow travelers. Amazing to spend the day cruising in a 20+ knot wind and seeing their webs intact at the end of the day.

    3. Oregoncharles

      Lee – I doubt they would appreciate it.

      We did feed one, an orb weaver that had somehow made its home over the bathroom sink. The most intriguing of spiders, and one you don’t see inside. Clearly was not going to make it through the winter without help, so my son started catching insects and tossing them into the web. Not so easy to find, in the dead of winter.

      We released it outside in the spring, since it clearly wasn’t going to find a mate in our house, either. Just hope it made it.

  2. Steve H.

    > Economics’ Biggest Success Story Is a Cautionary Tale

    Retrospection: Duflo and Banerjee seemed amazing, back in the day when Freakonomics and Gladwell seemed cutting edge. Google ran it’s first A/B test in 2000, which may have had a greater impact in the real. (See Scott Adams’ writings on Trump techniques in front of crowds.)

    “Ultimately, the randomistas tested what they thought was worth testing, and this revealed their own preoccupations and suppositions”

    1. diptherio

      We got into a little discussion of RCT over on the other day and I kinda went off. Reproduced here for your edification:

      Here’s my problem with using an RCT approach to problems that, from a macro perspective, require fundamental change in the relevant social systems:

      The RCT approach, istm, basically implies incrementalism as a theory of social change. “We’re going to try a number of different tweaks or changes to the system, and the ones that lead to improvements in whatever metric we’re concerned with, we’ll propagate.” It sounds reasonable, but…if the problem we’re concerned with isn’t just a bug in the system, but rather a feature built into the fundamentals of the system, then incremental approaches are actually harmful.

      So, with economic development work, the problem isn’t that ppl in the “developing world” aren’t thriving in the modern global economy, it’s that the modern global economy is specifically designed to dispossess them for the benefit of the capitalists.
      When what is needed is a radically different way of doing things, oriented towards a radically different set of values, the RCT approach becomes just ethical cover for maintaining the status quo (whether or not that’s the intention of the researchers).

      By analogy, imagine some good-hearted social researcher in the American South, circa 1850. Let’s imagine they want to improve the conditions of the enslaved populace. So they design a little RCT where they allow some of the enslaved people a full 30 minutes to have lunch, rather than the conventional no lunch break at all.

      They find that, low and behold, the people who got a 30 minute lunch break are both happier and more productive than the people who didn’t. So they write up their findings, convince the plantation owner to implement lunch breaks, and go happily on their way.

      So you see why I’m not a huge fan of this approach to things when it comes to issues of fixing the problems created by our economic system.

          1. Olga

            Yes, excellent point. Fighting ‘poverty’ (or whatever is defined as poverty) is futile within a system that is designed to have exploiters and exploited. It is like tilting at windmills.
            Two observations from own experience – once, I headed an effort to implement a discount for Medicaid/food stamp recipients (i.e., ‘poor’). In talking to many of them, it became clear that Tolstoy was right in Anna Karenina – to paraphrase “rich families are all alike; every poor family is poor in its own way.” There seemed to be so many different reasons for why people were (or were considered) poor that I very quickly understood why it is so very difficult to design effective programs to ‘fight’ poverty. No single program could address all causes… and if underlying causes were not addressed, it would eventually fail.
            The second observation is from the socialist world (that was) – entire societies were lifted out of poverty because – two things: education and an economy that gave everybody a job, without opportunities for undue exploitation (pls no rotten tomatoes – there was a certain degree of stratification, but mostly because that is how we, the human beings, choose to operate, and not because exploitation was built into the system – a crucial difference).
            And don’t get me started on the ‘international aid’ (and organisations) racket! All those do-goodie NGOs, created to dispense ‘aid’ to poor countries are there mostly to provide jobs for some of the more tender-hearted westerners and subsidize their travel lust. (And then – measuring their ‘success’ provides other westerners with opportunities to earn pries, even if faux! A lovely circle of smoke and mirrors!)

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              The incredible accomplishment of the Chinese is airbrushed and ignored, they brought something like 600M people from sleeping next to the pig on a mud floor to a reasonable existence with maybe a TV and a washing machine. Yes, WTO, yes labor arbitrage, Yes currency and banking games, Yes mercantilism, Yes corruption. But look at cui bono’ed in the end. Amazing.

              But Oh No, our system where one guy named Bezos gets one-hundred-and-sixty-thousand-million Benjamins while 40% can’t pay a $400 debt and 60% live one paycheck away from disaster is, of course, the superior way

              1. judy2shoes

                Bezos, like most of the obscenely wealthy, wants to maintain his stranglehold on our *democratic* system. Not sure if this link has been posted before; apologies if it has. From the article:

                “The way Amazon conducts itself in its hometown is a perfect example of the out-of-control corporate greed we are going to end,” came a defiant statement this week from presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Elizabeth Warren also spoke out, as did Seattle congressional Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who said she was “extremely disturbed” by Amazon putting “not just a thumb, but a fistful of cash, on the scales of democracy.”


        1. Ignacio

          Though I don’t know for what “RCT” stands, the following phrase got my attention:

          “it’s that the modern global economy is specifically designed to dispossess them for the benefit of the capitalists”

          It holds a lot of truth and one can only think of debt traps just in case someone asks how does it work by design.

      1. Steve H.

        I think you nailed something with this, diptherio. As I was writing the comment, the word ‘nudge’ came to mind, and I dismissed is as a Gladwell residual. But there’s a texture to it…

        Samantha Power spoke at my son’s commencement with a message that, ex-posto, reads ‘just do some little thing that makes you feel good, since you’re powerless to make systemic change.’ Stuck in my craw, coming from a warmonger. Little nudges of dopamine burst, a coffee mug that makes you happy, don’t pay attention to the black hole growing at the center of the hollow state…

        All I’m sayin’ is, incrementalism lead us to a hair’s breadth of the ISDS rivet being put the the shackle. Poundstone wrote his book on the Kelly Criteria before the crash. And I am very glad to have Naked Capitalism, an island in a stormy sea. Thanks for your comment, well said.

      2. Cuibono

        Great comment!
        “but…if the problem we’re concerned with isn’t just a bug in the system, but rather a feature built into the fundamentals of the system, then incremental approaches are actually harmful. ”
        Moreover, if the problems are features, it is unlikely that this way of doing science will be able to even see them. Kuhn said as much.

        1. diptherio

          You can get ahold of me through the contact page. If you’re ever in the Flathead we should meet up. It would be my third one-on-one in person meet-up from NC. I’ve had one in NY, and one in Nepal so far…which is kinda crazy, honestly…

    2. Tomonthebeach

      The rather poor track record of macroeconomics in predicting much of anything useful might be the motivation for slamming a research design that is a more valid method for testing hypotheses. However, in doing so, it also rejects basic scientific method. RCTs are the gold standard in medicine. Your drug does not go to market without several RCTs.

      Criticisms of RCTs as useless for determining causality is flabbergasting. Often RCTs compare not just the null hypothesis but also several competing ones which often does enable effect-size quantification that clarifies whether or not COL Mustard did kill the victim in the library with the candlestick. Yes, RCTs cost more than exploiting whatever database is at hand – appropriate or not, representative or not, validly collected or not. That is why results are relatively more definitive.

      Criticisms that RCTs validate common sense are specious and also betray a disrespect for scientific method. It is actually rare that a study validates common sense. When it is a cost-benefit study, and the intervention is not cost-effective, then stopping support for it frees resources for exploring a different approach.

      Lastly, hammering RCTs because science costs more than the secondary analysis of junk data is an intellectual obscenity. Of course, quality costs more than junk. Such criticisms reflect more on the criticizer willing to settle for junk than it does on the method capable of getting definitive results. Back when I worked for NIH, RCTs funded in my portfolio always had a Harold Pollack, or a Mike French, or a Jody Sindelar analyzing costs to answer the question that comes after “Does it work?” and that is “Is it worth the price?”

      [Disclaimer – I am a long-time fan of Banerjee’s and have found his work highly informing.]

      1. Steve H.

        This is a good comment, Tomonthebeach. What I see in both diptherio’s comment and your own is exception to ‘macro’ or ‘macroeconomics.’ If you’re going to randomly control a variable in an experiment, you can’t have a lot of other random variables sloshing around, or your number of trials goes through the roof.

        My understanding is, in a drug trial you need lab conditions or a high sample size. In epidemiology, you can get a lockdown in quarantine conditions, or get a high sample size with a cheap program like needle exchange. Banerjee could have very tight controls on the front end assumptions, but the technique can get sloppily applied as the context goes towards a macro level.

        Please forgive my imprecision, I’m trying to hone in on something. This case may illustrate: amyloid plaques are associated with cognitive degradation. RCT’s are an excellent method of determining a drug to break down amyloid plaques. But there are recent indications the plaques may be protective against the underlying causal factor. The symptom is taken as a cause, and a cure is misapplied. In a small case situation like a particular disease, the technique is excellent; errors can be quickly identified and measures taken. But applied at a macro level, it can have paradoxical consequences.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I know, let’s set up a holy priesthood whose job it is to constantly monitor the activity of a system with an infinite number of changing variables based on human preferences (the economy) and have them then divine the exact optimal price of the most critical input to said system: the price of money.

          Then the major dealers in said “money” can assemble when the priests emerge from their conclave to see if the smoke from the chimney is white or black. Million thrive or starve, depending on whether the Head Priest’s incantation said “many” or “several” shakes of the chicken’s foot would be required.

          Wish I was making this up.

      2. Ignacio

        I found a similar commentary on the original post on Banerjee. I find it striking that one can believe that the same methodology applies equally to such different research objectives that are governed by different rules. When you do medical research you are asking yourself about human pathology/physiology and whatabout the cellular and biochemical mechanisms, for instance, of cancer development. When you study social-ecomomic mechanisms the “laws” governing those are arbitrary human developments which change in time, geography, culture, microambient or just personal biases and your results will depend very much on too many variables to give wide validity to the “medicines” you find.

      3. Yves Smith

        You are really misusing nomenclature.

        RCTs here have absolutely nothing to do with medicine. You are propagating the con used by these economists in adopting a name that sounds like “clinical trials”.

        These are “randomized control trials”. They are NOT double blind placebo controlled. The researchers try “randomizing” the investigation. But this methodology is bollocks because the results from one study are almost never reproducible. No joke. The veneer of science clearly breaks down with the inability to replicate results.

        1. Tomonthebeach

          Everybody makes some solid points. RCTs do dominate FDA pharma approvals. However RCTs are applicable to any experiment examining efficacy and effectiveness – even cost-effectiveness. Another approach is to analyze many RCTs and other conceptual replications of past studies using meta-analysis (MA). John Ioannidis at Stanford has used MA to disprove common practices in general medicine, many of which are based on Small-N RCTs, poorly designed studies “to prove,” and shotgun epidemiology database snoops – a similar paradigm used in many macroeconomics studies.

          There is nothing flawed in meta-analytics or RCTs when applied to nonmedical topics. In any study, start with a large number of subjects per comparison group; randomize who gets into which group; precisely, reliably and accurately measure outcome variables and intervention costs; continue for a reasonable period of time to allow for the detection of adverse effects and/or the washout of positive ones; analyze and report.

          Shucks! Good science costs money! Thus we have secondary data analysis. In medicine or any other intervention, the aim of secondary analysis is to predict future outcomes from past evidence – heavily relying on Big-N to harvest p<.01's. Secondary data analysis is where macroeconomics seems to thrive. Macro validity, hinges on a) reliability, b) measure validity and precision, and c) the appropriateness of the variables examined. Hinge "c" is where most macro (aka epidemiological) studies often seem to miss their intended target. RCTs afford more control over design and measures.

          These same methods can be applied to any social intervention. The issue is effectiveness vs efficacy. A no-treatment control gets a read on efficacy, but that still leaves unaddressed whether the amount of efficacy is justified or even effective, much less superior to competing alternatives such as doing nothing. Banerjee often tries to do that. Yes, his data are at times variable in reliability, so he often uses Big-N to ratchet up power. He does, however, seem adept at finding appropriate variables. Of course, Big-N risks coming full circle back to the risk of what might be humorously characterized as a macroeconomic RCT :-).

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Frat Boy Thermopylae”: ‘GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz compared the House Republicans storming the Intelligence Committee today to the Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae.’

    Umm, Matt Gaetz does realize that the Spartans got slaughtered at Thermopylae, doesn’t he? Gaetz may find inspiration in that idiotic move “300” but I hope that nobody tells him that Spartans preferred gay relationships. The shock may be too much for him.

    1. Lee

      Beware of Greeks bearing grifts?

      I am getting a horrible sinking feeling— not due to the likelihood of the paranoid nightmare scenario put forth by many neo-liberal normies being realized, whereby Trump seizes power as dictator for life— but that the outcome of current D.C antics will see Trump will removed from office, sans election, and that the Democrats will win the Presidential election with whatever slouching beast their nomenkaltura deems fit. Neoliberal normieness will then be restored and guerrilla warfare will ensue.

      1. JohnnyGL

        In order for the Senate Republicans to break ranks you’d need to see at least one of these two things, probably both…

        1) A LOT of general election polls showing a) Trump approval plummeting and Trump losing against all prospective opponents AND b) Pence and other generic Republicans winning against them. Basically, it would have to be a situation where Trump was an electoral albatross for the Republican Party. He’s not, he still outperforms establishment republicans pretty much everywhere.

        2) Big Problems with fundraising. It’s not getting a ton of attention, but Trump’s raised an ABSOLUTE TON of money. He’s got like $150M on hand, vs. Obama at this stage in 2011 had around $70M.

        Since neither of these things are even close to true, Trump is going nowhere fast.

        Another thing separate thing to keep in mind, it’s possible Biden’s fundraising problems and Trump’s monster haul are related. Business class doesn’t believe in establishment Dems, anymore, minus the small segment that loves Buttigieg. On the whole, business seems to be riding the Trump train.

        1. Lee

          That’s a good point you raise on the donor class lack of faith in the mainstream Democrats. This could produce a whole lot of interesting developments going forward, particularly as it could sound the death knell for the current Democrat establishment. It would be satisfyingly ironic if in the era of Citizens United, the small donor fundraising model were to become electorally dominant.

          The impression I’m getting from recent news is that the general election may again depend heavily on the 206 counties that flipped from Obama to Trump and that Trump still enjoys a lot of support there. If so, things may go the way they did in 2016 with the Democrat winning the popular vote and losing the election.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Meantime the Dems hand a Doomsday Weapon to the Repubs.

            Headline November 2020: Joe Biden Wins The Presidency

            Headline January 2021: Republicans Begin Impeachment Proceedings Against President Biden for Ukraine Corruption

        2. Drake

          > Business class doesn’t believe in establishment Dems, anymore, minus the small segment that loves Buttigieg.

          The business class is a lot of separate interests, and while it seems to me they will likely come down on the side of Trump, they can always find some slightly less volatile billionaire to get behind and raise a few hundred million for them pretty much overnight if there’s a reason to prefer him/her to Trump.

          I think the tech billionaires would turn on Trump in a heartbeat, if they haven’t already, and maybe the big money in agriculture. Fossil fuel billionaires, definitely not. Wall St and medical/pharma, likely not, especially if Sanders or Warren is the front-runner. Defense billionaires, probably playing both sides, as always. Of course they’re all playing both sides, just in case.

        3. dcrane

          Agree with these points, esp. the fundraising.

          I wonder about a Scenario 3 as well: What if Trump actually threatens real billionaire power (e.g., opposition to forever wars or Russia confrontation)? It is sometimes suggested here that the corporate Dems would rather lose to Trump than win with Sanders, the logic being that they ultimately serve their donors, and in doing so they would preserve the political system they feed on. Wouldn’t the same logic apply to the Republicans? Wouldn’t they impeach and remove Trump even at the cost of losing to the Dems, if their donors needed them to do so? The Democrats are, after all, well positioned to retake the reins as the party of the CIA and Wall Street.

          My guess is that this won’t matter because Trump needs only to appear as if he’s threatening the war machine. It’s not like much has really changed yet. One other area to think about, however, is Trump’s apparent head-on confrontation with the CIA and FBI.

          This scenario assumes that the Dems ultimately nominate a corporate candidate. I suppose that as long as Bernie is a real threat, the GOP can’t risk deposing Trump. Oddly, although Sanders may be the only Democrat who can beat Trump, Trump may also be the Republican with the best chance of beating Bernie.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Spartan soldiers typically preferred to spend the night in the barracks rather than with their wives. Spartan society was weird seven ways to Sunday in a lot of ways. You must be thinking of that military unit – the Sacred Band of Thebes – which was made up of 150 pairs of male lovers. Even that movie “Meet the Spartans” joked about this aspect of the Spartans in their film-

      2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        I believe that preferred is the wrong word for both & would change it to something like accepted asjust another flavour of sexuality & does it anyway have anything to do with preference ? The Thebans had the sacred band of Thebes which formed a 300 of 150 same sex couples, but they were only a small part of the army that was defeated by Philip & a young Alexander – Philip built a monument to the bravery of the 300 which still exists.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Pretty much all the Greeks (and probably other ancient societies too) had very different views of sexuality than we do today. It was quite common for mature men to have teenage males as lovers even though they might also be married. It was considered a rite of passage. I believe Mary Renault dramatizes this in her historical fiction on ancient Greece. And it’s also in the Iliad. Achilles, who was pouting in his tent about his female concubine being taken away, only jumps back into the fray once Patroclus is killed. I don’t believe they were best pals just because they were in a bowling league together.

          But even widespread bisexuality didn’t come without prejudice. The southern ancient Greeks didn’t consider Phillip and Alexander’s Macedonians to be real Greeks at all. One criticism thrown at them by an ancient writer was that their men slept with other men with beards! That was just a step too far.

          1. Alex morfesis

            To the victor go the history books….or is that the histeria books…or might it be “his-story” vs “her-facts”….the notion the most published and approved noise becomes the “accepted” narrative ??

            What will archeologist imagine is real about our lives a few thousand years from now ? That “Chryslerism” was the most accepted religion of “our times” if somehow that building in Manhattan survives once again since no one wanted to pay to have it demolished(as happened in the 70’s for those who want to forget how bad nyc real estate collpsed) ??

            From the morganatic coup commonly known as the assassination in Sarajevo to the hero warship of that truly honest blobber looking at homes in new zealand whose grandfather was a very dirty cop in yonkers during prohibition…what is “truth” exactly ?

            There is very little in respects to depictions on artifacts to suggest the fairly preposterous notion non cys lifestyles were “the norm” or even acceptable…but it helps trying to convert the confused or unwashed….

            1. lyman alpha blob

              Well the Greeks were often the victors and they wrote the first histories. And sure, archaeologists may misinterpret a lot – I personally worked on Greek archaeological sites and saw it happen myself – but the fact remains that there is ample evidence of “non cys” lifestyles in the archaeological and historical record.

              Your comment did make me do a little research though. I found this one, where a modern scholar tries to argue that all that “non cys” erotic artwork produced in Greece was really intended for foreign audiences:

              And then there is this one where the author, after a rather lengthy caveat that statistical analysis on this topic is likely to be very flawed, goes ahead and does it anyway and concludes that all the depictions of “non cys” eroticism in ancient Greek pottery wasn’t that big of a percentage of the total pottery produced.

              So all these modern historians surely have a better grasp of what was really going on and all that actual evidence we have from the ancients themselves should be taken with a grain of salt. I’m sure the ancients were all as straight as Mike Pence.

              But yes, I get your point that we weren’t there and can never really know for sure, but I’d tend take the ancients word for it over moderns looking at things from a 2500 year remove.

            2. lyman alpha blob

              My other reply hasn’t appeared yet, but although I disagree somewhat with the above, I’m glad to see you commenting. I’d noticed you hadn’t been commenting as much but I’ve always enjoyed reading what you have to say, even if I don’t always understand what you’re getting at sometimes ;)

      1. kiwi

        What thuggish behavior?

        The repubs walked down some staircase, went into a room where the dems were, ordered some pizza, and had a party. I couldn’t even figure out why news headlines used the word “stormed.”

    2. Craig H.


      Google image search had no shots on the first page which revealed how his physique would measure up. My guess is that if he worked out like Jeff Bezos or Joel Osteen he would use their tailors and we could tell.

  4. upstater

    Regulatory capture of the FAA:

    Boeing Shaped a Law to Its Liking. Weeks Later, a 737 Max Crashed (NYT)

    Mandating that the FAA cede even more certification control to Boeing:

    The Max was certified under the old rules. The new law, the F.A.A. Reauthorization Act of 2018, makes it even more difficult for the government to review manufacturers’ work.

    They also helped persuade Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington State, where Boeing has its manufacturing hub, to introduce language that requires the F.A.A. to relinquish control of many parts of the certification process.

    Cantwell was certainly responsive to her benefactors!

  5. Jeff W

    “A Utility Company Is Scheduled To Shut Off Power To Nearly 3 Million Californians As A Massive Fire Grows” Buzzfeed

    I’m one of those nearly three million Californians who have had their power cut by PG&E. (I’m in South San Francisco, about nine minutes by car west of the San Francisco airport—I’m not sure what the high wind/fire risk is here.)

    The power went off at 8:45 pm last night, after a few text message alerts from PG&E saying that the power would not go off.

    You can check the status of the outage by address on the PG&E site at the “Outage Center” (a different page, of course, than the “Potential PSPS [Public Safety Power Shutoff] address-lookup tool” that tells you if the power at a specific address “might” go off). A little while ago the “estimated restoration” for my address was “not available” but now it says my address has “no known outage”—although I’m sitting here with no power.

    For decades, during routine storms, we’d have blackouts as often as not. That always felt pretty Third World. These “PSPSs” push everything to a whole new level.

      1. Lee

        Yes! They burned down my house and a number of others here in ’94. We don’t live in a wildfire zone. It was due to a major natural gas valve failure that served about 2,000 residences, causing an increase of pressure in the lines, that produced leaks and started fires all over town. We barely got out with our lives and the pajamas on our backs.

      2. JBird4049

        What, the day before?

        Well, yeah. I got mine like an hour before they shut off the power.

        Also, the people in the affected areas probably have less knowledge of what is happening than anyone else. Almost no electricity and almost no internet. Yes, people with bullhorns will come by if a fire is coming and text messages are usually possible. But it took me several minutes, with the pictures blocked, to load NC. It almost timed out again. So keep that in mind. Fortunately for me I have a hybrid that can easily charge my IPhone and a landline that works. Too many people don’t have those things. They are just in the metaphorical dark.

    1. Lee

      So far, so good over here in Alameda. Our electric is municipalized, but I assume we are still dependent on the same grid as everyone else.

      How windy has it gotten where you are? Based on local news reports, I was expecting much worse than we’ve gotten here.

      1. jo6pac

        In Tracy the wind is from 5 to 17 mph out of the west and that’s almost your normal for the afternoon. This is ag world so the forest are almond trees mostly.

        1. Lee

          Our winds similar speedwise but from the north, where the Kincaid fire is. I have with age become sensitive to wood smoke. Gone are the days of sitting around a campfire drinking whisky (I quit drinking some years ago). I’ve been going to air quality websites to see if I have to hold my breath while outside but they seem to be providing contradictory info. The map show “hazardous” but the chart on the right indicates “good”. Maybe I’m reading them wrong. How’s your air?

        2. MichaelSF

          It is windy here near the beach in SF, 20-30mph per the NWS. In the fire area early this morning a 93mph gust was reported.

      2. Fiery Hunt

        Drove thru Geyserville twice yesterday to funeral (unassociated).

        101 was open and smokey. The text alerts for immediate evacuation of Healdsburg and Windsor at 11am caused a great deal of anxiety for locals we met. Driving back thru at dark the fire was glowing just over the Ridgeline about 2 miles from the freeway and towns. Very little wind at 9pm.
        Saw 4 military police Humvees with mounted machine guns pull into a total packed gas station in far north Santa Rosa.

        Fear and chaos were palpable.
        Several people commented that it felt “manipulated”.

        1. Lee

          Fire at Carquinez bridge now. Evidently it started on the east side and wind driven embers jumped the strait (about 1/2 mile). Lot’s of dry grassy hillsides, and suburbs for miles ‘n miles on the west side. If it climbs the hillsides, which fires like to do, into the wooded areas, it could travel the ridges through fairly densely populated East Bay hills.

    2. anon in so cal

      There was a column on PG&E a few weeks ago, so apologies if any of this is a repeat.

      Kamala Harris apparently exercised weak oversight of PG&E, starting with its culpability for the San Bruno gas explosions. Harris’ former consort, former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, was a board member of PG&E.

      “Did Kamala Harris Spike PUC Investigation To Help Her Democratic Friends?”

      “Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s new chief executive will receive $6 million a year in salary and stock, plus a $3 million signing bonus, the bankrupt utility announced Tuesday in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission.

      William D. Johnson, 65, also would be entitled to $2.5 million severance pay if he is terminated for reasons other than cause.

      Johnson just retired from the Tennessee Valley Authority. He was eligible for a $12.8 million retirement package from the Tennessee utility, the San Francisco Chronicle notes.

      PG&E spokesman Andy Castagnola: “More than half of Mr. Johnson’s incentive compensation will be directly tied to safety performance and metrics, which PG&E believes significantly exceeds industry standards.”

    3. Craig H.

      The LA Times link shows 948,576 customers currently without power.

      Here is one detail that is essential to the California Ideology* which seems to be missing in most of the material authored by not-Californians. Whereas in most of the world it is the rich people who live in the center and the poor people who live out in the boondocks, in the state of California this convention is largely turned upside down like Hegel standing on his head. Here the poor are clustered in the center and the rich live out in the boondocks.

      Many of these 948,576 customers without power (supplied by PG&E–George Lucas and Larry Ellison have their own power plants and those without their own postmodern systems are running their Honda gasoline generators 24/7) are one percenters. Running a Honda gasoline generator requires hearing protection although they leave that out of their advertising copy.

      Here in the flatlands (where the Chronicle reports the school system is deplorable) it is sunny, breezy, smokeless and my lights and my computers are running fine. Thank goodness I don’t work for PG&E. Any mobile professionals there are no doubt looking at the exits.

      * The California Ideology you find on the internet was written by humorless detractors.

      1. Yves Smith

        One customer is estimated to = 2.5 people. And there are readers I know personally who are without power who don’t even remotely fit your stereotype.

    4. dearieme

      The Governor seems to be reduced to spouting gibberish: But a society as industrious and entrepreneurial and innovative as ours should not have to face a choice between public safety and public blackouts. We can do both together.

    5. eg

      I’m old enough to remember when the big thing to fear about moving to California was the earthquakes. Then later on added to that was the likelihood of droughts.

      I never expected to see the day when massive fires and attendant electrical grid compromise would pile on …

  6. inode_buddha

    Biden throws his campaign a lifeline Politico. Michael Adler, a Miami developer and Biden donor: ” $5 contributors shouldn’t determine the whole election.”

    Oh, ho ho ho. Who does he think has been determining the whole election since at least the 1960’s? He didn’t have any problem with that, did he? I swear, double standards are the tell of corruption.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Best quote was from some rich guy named Morgan who said “he didn’t like to pay commissions” to campaign consultants (ouch!), that Sanders wouldn’t quit “even if he was in the ICU” and that “we all have obsolescence issues”.

      Pretty rich coming from a supporter of a candidate one year younger than Sanders but with obviously worse health and mental acuity.

  7. Drake

    Trump Approves Special Ops Raid Targeting Isis Leader Baghdadi, Military Says He’s Dead Newsweek.

    >Donald Trump became President today.

    Are we sure he wasn’t just playing Call of Duty: Black Ops? It’s sometimes a deep fake for our foreign policy.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Doesn’t matter that Baghdadi is dead or not. Like Bin Laden, he was more a figurehead so his passing is of little military consequence. But in the same way that Bin Laden’s death gave Obama a big surge of popularity, Baghdadi’s death may short-circuit a lot of the criticisms that Trump was been getting the past week. If it eventually came out that the Turks told the US where they could get him, I would not be surprised as it may be a way that Erdogan could pay back Trump for letting him advance into Syria. The only thing that surprises me was that he was in Idlib province which is mostly run by al Qaeda who have their own disputes with ISIS.

      1. TroyIA

        Who knows what the actual truth is but the Kurds are claiming that they have been tracking al-Bagdadi for 5 months before the joint operation to take him out.

        Mazloum Abdî

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Hasn’t Uncle Sugar killed that guy a few times already?!? Sounds like Trump is pulling one out of Bush’s old bag of tricks where the same “terrorist” would be reported killed multiple times. He probably sees how much the Democrat party loves them some W these days and figures maybe it will get him some sympathy too…

      1. chuckster

        Maybe Mr. Trump is just signaling to the boys at Langley that he is willing to play their game if they leave him in place.

    3. Wukchumni

      Its kind of similar to Ali La Pointe’s life & ending, as he was bombed by French paratroopers who were informed of his whereabouts on a tip-off. By killing them well after they’ve become household names such as him & Che Guevara, martyrdom comes with the territory.

      The Battle of Algiers from 1966 is one hellova film by the way. Almost seems like a newsreel of archival footage @ times, so convincing of an effort, shot in black & white.

      Ali Ammar (Arabic: علي عمار‎‎; 14 May 1930 – 8 October 1957), better known by his nickname Ali la Pointe, was a revolutionary fighter and guerrilla leader of the National Liberation Front who fought for Algerian independence against the French occupation, during the Battle of Algiers.

      Ali lived a life of petty crime and was serving a two-year prison sentence when war broke out in Algeria in 1954. Recruited in the notorious Barberousse prison by FLN militants, he became one of the FLN’s most trusted and loyal lieutenants in Algiers. On 28 December 1956, he is suspected of killing the Mayor of Boufarik, Amédée Froger.

      In 1957 French paratroopers led by Colonel Yves Godard systematically isolated and eliminated the FLN leadership in Algiers. Godard’s counter-terrorism methods included interrogation with torture. In June, la Pointe led teams in setting explosives in street lights near public transportation stops and bombing a dance club that killed 17.

      Saadi Yacef ordered the leadership to hide in separate addresses within the Casbah. After Yacef’s capture, la Pointe and three companions, Hassiba Ben Bouali, Mahmoud “Hamid” Bouhamidi and ‘Petit Omar’, held out in hiding until 8 October. Tracked down by paras acting on a tip-off from an informer, Ali La Pointe was given the chance to surrender but refused, whereupon he, his companions, and the house in which he was hiding were bombed by French paratroopers. In all, 20 Algerians were killed in the blas.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Hillary Clinton Spoils the Party”

    In reading this article, I suddenly had a revelation. I now know who Hillary Clinton is here. She has become America’s psycho ex-girlfriend. No, seriously, look at the signs.

    She has never gotten over the shock of being dumped by you back in 2016.
    She tries to break up relations between you and new people.
    She is in complete denial (We aren’t over yet!).
    She shows up out of nowhere and starts doing crazy stuff (Just ask Tulsi Gabbard).
    She won’t go away.
    She keeps on sending you messages – in her books like “What Happened?”
    She is devising plans to get back together again.
    Everyone is sick from hearing from her.
    She still tries to control your life and who your friends can be.

    If that is not the signs of a psycho ex-girlfriend, then I don’t know what is.

    1. Lee

      Even Bill Maher, who in spite of his self-styled “politically incorrect” posturing, but in fact reliably pro-intelligence community and political centrist on stuff that matters, wishes the Clintons would just go away.

      1. ambrit

        Until he calls for the Clintons to be sent to prison, he will continue to be an American Reactionary.

    2. inode_buddha

      I said in a comment yesterday that the trouble with Clinton is that it’s all about Her. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

      Think about it: first her hubby cheats on her, then years later (2016) she gets upstaged by a buffoon in spite of rigging the entire thing.

      I think she just needs a new boyfriend, and go enjoy retirement.

    3. Stephen V.

      Maybe the voters will finally put a restraining order on #TheQueenoftheWarmongers. Doesn’t appear the courts are going to do it!

    4. T

      And she’s following AOC into the washateria, because everybody thinks AOC is cool. Surprised she’s not quoted as saying she was into Laundromats first.

      (But not paying for it, I guess. 86 mentions of Clinton Foundation founding, one ref to what I’m betting is the major driver and a comment about other partners who are in the “industry.”)

      1. Craig H.

        The newspaper article is pigeon crap.

        1. look at Elysian Fields X North Claiborne on google satellite view. These are the two largest streets for miles. There are lots of empty lots and many of the buildings which aren’t knocked down are boarded up. The difference with Detroit is quantity only, not quality.

        2. you would sign anything to keep your children out of the schools in that neighborhood.

        3. if we ever were to get serious about making America great again what we would do with that location is to put it at the bottom of the list as probably hopeless.

        4. it is a one-party community but I won’t mention which one. I am a non-partisan party pooper.

    5. Drake

      Can we get a restraining order? Can we actually put her in restraints? Is there some airport under sniper fire where she can land? Maybe rendition her to Libya?

    6. polecat

      She certainly seems to hold a kind of fatal attraction amoungst her acolytes .. even more so where her enemies are concerned.

      1. Olga

        No doubt her foundation was a way to provide ‘jobs’ to those hordes of acolytes. Kinda like ‘ladies in waiting’ (and lads) at the royal court. If she won, they’d be deployed to the many federal ‘appointment’ jobs. I guess it’s just hard to give up on a collective dream (of smany).

    7. Katniss Everdeen

      The endless msm “round table discussions,” replete with snotty young female “reporters,” have always reminded me of dinner at the sorority house with all the girls picking at their salads and dissing the popular frat boy for taking his pin back from everybody’s favorite “sister.”

    8. Steve H.

      I like this. I did have a comforting thought, as Janet and I were having breakfast.

      Hillary cannot be allowed to get in a situation like a debate or where a hard question can be asked. The DNC cannot stand it. The last time she ran, Epstein and his friends were not in the broad public consciousness. That is no longer the case.

      A study on charisma showed that virility can be a strong component for voters. In the U.S. we’ve certainly shown a knack for overlooking the occasional (what would now be called) sexual assault and rape: not just Trump and Bill, but Johnson, Kennedy… But pedophilia is a different deal. Pedophilia is weak, and I know of no one with more documented rides on the Lolita Express than Bill.

      So have no fear. Hillary can get a speech at the convention. But the disruption of the moral dimension of the DNC would be too great to actually have a such a deep public challenge to a living Democratic president. Na ga happen.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Thanks, Whistle-Blower, Your Work Is Done”

    No, it’s not! I don’t care if it is Trump here being accused. He may talk and tweet in word salads but this article is a word salad of partial documents itself. There are centuries of legal doctrine that say that when someone accuses you of something, then you meet your accuser in a court of law and have your peers decide the truth of the accusations based on hard evidence. Unless the legal system is going to accept the idea of a secret witness to bring down a sitting President, then it is going to have to go through the legal system.
    If this is passed, then it is only a matter of time until this filters down into the general legal system and becomes part of it. Who here wants to find themselves on trial for a crime with the evidence provided by a secret witness? That would be a frightening society to live in that. It might be someone that has a grudge against you. Or someone that will get a reward for having you tried. Or someone that wants you removed because you are opposing what they are doing. Maybe a District Attorney that wants to bump his conviction rate to make him look good. The possibilities are endless.

    1. The Historian

      I think you are missing a salient point here. The only impeachment that is actually happening right now in this country is what is going on in main stream media. There is no impeachment trial as yet in Congress.

      What the House is actually doing – although not very competently – is an investigation. And during the investigative process, the person being investigated does not have the right to question witnesses or even know who they are or what evidence the investigators are gathering. It is only once the investigators decide that they have enough evidence to make a charge and go to trial, and then and only then, does the person being prosecuted have the right to see all the evidence and know who is making claims against him. And there are very strong reasons for this to make sure that the evidence is not tainted or changed, for example, that person being investigated doesn’t hire “Joey the Knife” to go after possible witnesses during the investigative process and completely screw up the investigation. There is absolutely no reason why Trump should know who the witnesses are at this point.

      Trump is trying to circumvent the normal way investigations are done in this country and he is using the MSM to blur the boundaries between what is allowed during an investigation and what is allowed during a trial. Just keep in mind that Trump is not being impeached right now, he is only being investigated and who knows whether there is actually enough evidence for the investigation to lead to an impeachment trial. And, in fact, no one except the investigators should know at this point. What is in the MSM is mostly drama on both sides and should be ignored.

      My authority to speak on this? I’m a former federal investigator.

      1. notabanker

        I can’t believe I just read this. And it’s serious. jeezus. So much for the US Constitution.

        Back in the USSR, you don’t know how lucky you are boy……

        1. inode_buddha

          sounds like standard police work to me. after all, you don’t want witnesses getting knocked off. (Seth Rich) And yes, I’m old enough to recall vietnam and the moon landings.

        2. The Historian

          I think you need to reread the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. An investigation is not a trial – no one can be deprived of his/her rights just based on the fact that they are being investigated. And many investigations lead nowhere. A trial is where you get to face your accusers.

          I am curious as to how you think people are charged and come up for trial if there is no investigation beforehand.

          1. Fiery Hunt

            I accept your point, completely.
            My problem is that your framing assumes good faith on the part of the “investigators”, i.e. Democrats in Congress.

            I don’t.

            I think we’re long past the rule of law and we’re into a full “no good guys” knife fight.

              1. pretzelattack

                they would be some of the “no good guys” carrying knives, yes. whatever happens is not likely to uphold the rule of law.

                1. marym

                  There are no good guys on either side, and there are serious threats against the rule of law on both, but a few closed-door bi-partisan interviews doesn’t seem to be the most effective situation on which to build that case.

                  1. Fiery Hunt

                    Except you seem to accept “bipartisan ” as a synonym for “good guys”

                    There is nothing in this knife fight for 99.9% of us. No outcome solves anything (particularly concrete material benefits ) for anyone except the partisans who want nothing good for the rest of us.


                    1. marym

                      No, I usually use bi-partisan in reference to issues where I’m opining that both sides are bad. In this particular case it’s just a reference to R’s who are entitled to participate in the interviews, but choose to whine and eat pizza in protest of non-existent exclusion from the process.

              2. JTMcPhee

                Are the Republicans, you know, actually investigating?

                Or sandbagging?

                Anybody think we live in a Republic?

                It is interesting, how the insinuendo game plays out — I get endless emails with “surveys,” from something called the “National Democratic Training Committee.” Many are supposedly to gauge sentiment on pursuing impeachment against Trump. They all include listing of things Trump has done or been accused of that are touted as “crimes” worthy of removal from office. I don’t see any on the list that are actually any of the crimes I learned about in law school and as an enforcement attorney with the US EPA. But of course the Big Lies are sold by repetition, that “insinuendo” tactic, and outright misrepresentation.

                The big question, for me, is whether the Might Wurllitzer And its Mockingbird registers will gin p enough of a public groundswell to push the main-chance-seekers in the Legislature, that bought-and-paid-for travesty, to buy into actual impeachment, and conviction by the Senate, made up of similar grasping souls. That would indeed be a coup, accomplished with tools that our Secret Squirrels apply so assiduously in their regime change actions in other countries.

                Are people so stupid, so conditioned by the media Skinner Box, or so ignorant, that they forget that Pence is likely to be a lot worse a deal for the Mopery that is being Bezzle and inflamed? And Does Nancy Pelosi dream of the subsequent impeachment of Pence, which would then pt her on the imperial throne? Of course if she became disabled, then we got Chuck Grassley as The Man.

          2. Burr

            Except that the so-called “impeachment inquiry” does not exist. Constitutionally the power to impeach is in the House of Representatives–which has loudly, demonstratively, NOT voted to authorize and conduct such an inquiry. Committees may have standing authority to investigate whatever they choose to investigate. But such inquiries are merely that–inquiries into something of interest to the committee’s majority members. Without formal House authorization they are in no way “*impeachment* investigations.”

          3. pretzelattack

            how did that happen during the original mccarthy witch hunts? what kind of procedural safeguards were in place?

            this looks far more like a political circus than an investigation.

            1. Olga

              This is from 2017, but it is as if the author foresaw what was to come:
              “No one needs to support the vile Trump to understand that the United States is undergoing a fundamental shift wherein tens of millions of Americans who say they believe in democracy support the activities of gangsters who operate out in the open with their efforts to oust an elected president.”

            2. marym

              Here are a few snippets from a US historian’s twitter threads on secret or open hearings. Links are for the start of the thread, not the specific tweet quoted.

              The eventual hearings were televised but during his years of prominence
              “McCarthy never shared the “evidence,” but he got his headlines and secured the political spotlight. He then held it for four long years. /4 (Link)

              Nixon impeachment process:
              “As House Republicans complain that the informal impeachment hearings against Trump aren’t “transparent,” it’s worth remembering that the *formal* impeachment hearings against Nixon largely unfolded in closed-door sessions. ” (Link)

              Clinton impeachment process:
              “In the House Judiciary Committee — where @LindseyGrahamSC served — Republicans had Ken Starr testify publicly but took depositions from several Clinton associates in private.” (Link)

              1. pretzelattack

                this seems more similar to the mccarthy campaign, then, superficially. my memory of the nixon impeachment is a bit hazy, but i vaguely recall john dean (who actually had evidence, as a participant) being identified prior to the start of the formal impeachment process. some fairly close nixon associates at least discussed whacking jack anderson, so the joey the knife scenario was probably a more realistic fear at that point (as far as we know).

              2. dearieme

                Watching from afar, I remember wondering at the apparent incompetence of Ken Starr. Now I wonder whether the whole charade was intended to weaken Clinton, and rein him in, rather than bring him down.

          4. notabanker

            I just whipped out my copy. I can’t find anything in it about the FBI, CIA or NSA. And nothing about the House ordering secret partisan investigations of the sitting President. Mine must be out of date.

            1. hunkerdown

              “Continuity of government” per se is conspicuously missing as well. I believe the Declaration of Independence, non-binding though it is, did speak to it in a roundabout way.

          5. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            I am curious as to how you think people are charged and come up for trial if there is no investigation beforehand.

            The same way they started FBI/RussiaGate. Bass-ackwards.

            Posit that a crime was committed. Obtain a verdict in the court of public opinion. Then begin a two-year comprehensive “investigation” that evidence for said crime exists.

            Upon inability to do so, slither out of the mainstream consciousness with obfuscations, misdirections, and lies. Regroup. Select another non-electoral avenue to persecute your political enemy.

            But what did the president know and when did he know it?. Per Clapper’s statement yesterday The Mellifluous Melanoderm gave the order. And now on MSNBC, covering the criminal investigation into RussiaGate, we get to hear analysis of the investigation by the very people being investigated. But I’m sure Clapper will find himself innocent so all is well.

        3. Oregoncharles

          I’m not defending the Democrats and wouldn’t, but I see some misunderstandings here.

          First: impeachment is not a criminal trial. It’s a job action. All they can do is fire him (and ban him from the job for life, if they care to). Granted, it’s an especially important job action, but that’s what it is. Also granted, the Constitution refers to “high crimes and misdemeanors,” but it doesn’t define them. It leaves that to Congress, making the whole process essentially political.

          2nd: consequently, nothing going on here threatens the Constitution. Congress is proceeding more or less as envisioned. Yes, the charges may be made up out of whole cloth or otherwise corrupt; removing a president on that basis would be a threat to the rule of law. But it has to get through the Senate, controlled by his own party. Which means it’s mostly kayfabe.

          It’s possible their real intent is to throw enough mud on him to make it impossible to get re-elected. That would be cheating and I wouldn’t put it past them. It happens he’s pretty dirty, so it might be easy. At that point, we have to trust to the people to see through a gimmick. A lot to ask, but it’s supposed to be a democracy. And his voters did know who he was when they elected him.

          3rd: My purpose here is to defend impeachment itself, because it’s a necessary safeguard, usually used to remove crooked judges and the like.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        It is only once the investigators decide that they have enough evidence to make a charge and go to trial, and then and only then, does the person being prosecuted have the right to see all the evidence and know who is making claims against him.

        Except that everyone DOES know “who is making claims against him” as they are paraded relentlessly in front of the public in the media as they enter and leave the “scif,” and the credentials and selfless “honesty” of these previously unknown career bureaucrats are polished to a high shine.

        And everyone DOES know pieces of their “testimony,” the most damning ones anyway, as they are leaked and then discussed endlessly by “pundits” and “experts” who have honed their innuendo-generating skills over the last 3 years without consequence. (If schiff and his minions are not rephrasing what was actually said, as is their wont.)

        As for this “Joey the Knife” cartoon mafia fantasy crap, I gotta say, if one of these people turned up floating in a river, my first thought would be that the desperate deep state bumped him or her off because they needed to juice their pathetic “investigation” with a murder charge against Trump.

        And last but not least, the idea that Trump is using the msm to circumvent or blur anything to his benefit has got to be the joke of the century.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Not now. Either it was down for a while (happens to the best of them), or there’s a problem with your browser.

  10. anon in so cal

    Re: John Helmer

    From Helmer: re: Fiona Hill

    “This month, a few days before her NSC staff appointment was announced, Hill gave an interview to a New York periodical in which she declared war on Russia. “I think we are in a hot war with Russia, not a cold war. But we have to be careful about the analogy. It’s a more complex world. There is no set-piece confrontation. This is no holds barred. The Cold War was a more disciplined competition, aside from the near blowups in Berlin and Cuba, where we walked back from the brink. The Kremlin now is willing to jump over the abyss. They want to play for the asymmetry. They see themselves in a period of hot kinetic war. Also, this is not just two-way superpower. There is China, the rising powers. I almost see it as like the great power competition from the time before the Second World War.”

    Hill’s work in stoking Kremlin regime change schemes during the Obama Administration and at Brookings with Strobe Talbott, Clifford Gaddy, and Robert Kagan (husband of Victoria Nuland), was reported here…”

  11. dearieme

    Although The Times is often wrong.

    Which sage said that if you don’t read the media you are under-informed and if you do read it you are misinformed?

    P.S. It seems to be unknown: it wasn’t Twain.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Billionaire George Soros says Elizabeth Warren ‘is the most qualified to be president’”

    Well it was Obama that once said that “There has never been a man or a woman, not me, not Bill, nobody more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as President of the United States of America” but if Soros wants to pin this description on Warren, then yeah, whatever. ‘Qualified’ to me means that they will sell out their principles at the drop of a hat but whatever floats Soros’s boat.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      Fellow progressives: this is just the latest in a long line of blaring sirens and bright red flags that she is acceptable to the establishment as the alternative to real, structural change that involves the rich actually being governed.

      She will likely lose to Trump if she gets the nomination, and govern as another Obama if she wins. So we all lose either way.

      Sanders 2020.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Hard to know what to make of this.

        Is there some constituency, somewhere, for which a billionaire globalist henchman’s endorsement is valuable?

        Surely soros is aware that, for Trump’s “base,” he is public enemy number one. And surely, if he is sending a message to others of his financial ilk, his feelings could have been communicated privately. I’m certain they all have private email.

        What’s next? harvey weinstein “endorsing” Tulsi Gabbard?

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Hilary was all AOK with Harvey so I’m sure she already has that endorsement locked up.

          (Hey: I used the words “Hilary” and “locked up” in the same sentence. Just one question: would she be locked up in a padded room for being untethered from accepted reality, or just a standard orange jumpsuit for destruction of evidence under subpoena?)

    2. Pelham


      But then I wonder what does amount to qualification. In the last New York governor’s primary, Cynthia Nixon went up against Andrew Cuomo in a televised debate that I think any objective observer would have said Cuomo won handily. He had tons of facts and figures at his fingertips, he clearly knew every nook and cranny of state government. Nixon wasn’t bad but clearly didn’t have anywhere near that command of substantive information.

      So it would be easy to argue that Cuomo was more qualified. However, I’d disagree. I’d say that topping the list of a candidate’s qualifications — and perhaps dominating the list — should be a will and determination to accomplish something, to state a bold program and then have the backbone to at least try like hell to follow through. Detailed, functional knowledge of government is important, but less so than this.

      A lack of such determination is why Obama was such a disappointment, and why I suspect Elizabeth Warren would prove likewise.

      1. pretzelattack

        a lack of determination would still be preferable to a determination to subvert a bold program for change, as i suspect obama and warren share. yay capitalism.

  13. TMoney

    Michael Adler, a Miami developer and Biden donor: ” $5 contributors shouldn’t determine the whole election.”
    –> He means voters doesn’t he !

    Bernie, this is a gift from heaven. “Determine the whole election, give $5”

    1. pretzelattack

      it’s obvious, if you can’t afford to donate a million or so, or even a paltry 100k, you shouldn’t have a vote.

    2. Baby Gerald

      Thanks for the idea, TMoney! I just went to his site and donated $5. That’ll be my fourth donation so far and second this month. Since I’m nowhere close to the limit yet, I have a lot of room for symbolic cash surges like this.

      Another way to help is to volunteer to phone bank. It’s a rather well-organized on-the-ground effort and anyone can volunteer from the comfort of their own home or go to a phone bank party to see what is involved. There are some technical requirements [wifi/phone/laptop or tablet] but anyone can do it on their own schedule. I went to my first phone bank party yesterday and the focus was calling South Carolina. Turned out my laptop is too old to allow connection to the phone bank server. All the details are in the link.

  14. tegnost

    “[They] want to own the moon
    trade for the options on June,
    and sell them all back to you
    for a million billion,
    or TWO Ha Ha Ha!”

    The epilogue of one of my dystopian rock songs regarding greedy f@*k$ who think that robots are cooler than childbirth, a point with which I have “issues”. The general idea, which may be lost in translation, is that if wall street cold charge each time you looked at the moon, they would, and if they could securitize the days of the month of june, and charge you for being alive on those days, they would, and they’d do it in a way that would involve zero risk to themselves, versus the risk of your life for everyone else. This country has some serious problems that have nothing to do with russia is all I’m saying

  15. WheresOurTeddy

    Bernie Sanders compares the ultra-wealthy to drug addicts: “I need more, more, more” CBS

    Call them what they are: mentally ill hoarders. Every billionaire is mentally ill and in need of an intervention.

    1. inode_buddha

      I’ve been preaching this for years. The mental processes involved are remarkably similar.

      I always want to remind people, there is a *world* of difference between a guy at the top wanting more, and a guy on the bottom wanting more.

      And also: The only ones that knows the value of a dollar is the ones thats got to work for it. I mean directly with their time and labor for wages.

  16. Robert Hahl

    John le Carré’s promotional netwrk never quits. I usually put him down for good at around page 75, due to the tedium and lack of real human complexity in any of the characters. Worse than average science fiction.

  17. Olga

    From the Atlantic on J le Carré:
    “If in John le Carré’s novels the British intelligence service stands as a microcosm for the state of the nation herself, then bad news: In 2019, we’re looking less at a major global power than at a leaky, pusillanimous, perennially cash-strapped institution.”
    I’d say that is actually very good news! Let’s hope another useless, ‘intelligence’ service disappears down the drain hole of history. Couldn’t have happened to nicer guys…
    (though, I fear, it’ll reinvent itself like Hydra).

  18. Jeremy Grimm

    Today is “Thank you Vasili Arkhipov Day”.
    Considering all the Russia paranoia and ongoing flirtations with potential nuclear conflicts and hearing so few praises of true heroes for our times — our Gotham needs a true hero and reminder of how close we have come and might come to true MADness. (I don’t recall the year or which of the links below Yves or Lambert pointed us to — but I never forgot reading that link.)

    [ ]
    “And an order to launch a nuclear missile against Americans was actually given by the commander and political officer of a Soviet nuclear submarine.”

    ” The launch of the B-59’s nuclear torpedo required the consent of all three senior officers aboard. Arkhipov was alone in refusing permission.”

    [ ]

    So raise a glass today to say “Thank you Vasili Arkhipov!”

    1. Olga

      (It must be vodka to count?!)
      (Wonder how would it have played out if the situation were reversed? Would we be toasting Joe 6Pack Submarine chap?)

  19. Former Corporate Employee

    “Adam Neumann, WeWork’s co-founder, gets to leave with huge amounts of money (up to $1.7bn, an obscene number that includes a $185m consulting fee). Four thousand of his employees will lose their jobs instead.”

    If I was him, I would really be scared for my life. Some of those four thousand employees–I think–are just not going to passively take that. I mean, he doesn’t have his own army or country to hide out in. If he has $1.7b, he could take $1b of that and divide it between his 4000 employees. They would each get $250,000 each! It’s the least he could do, and good “protection money.” Otherwise . . .

  20. Expat2uruguay

    Today (Sunday!!) is election day in Uruguay. Voting is compulsory, and non-voters will be fined and unable to do certain interactions such as buy and sell property or register for classes at University until the fine is paid. A person can cast a null vote if they desire. Also, no-one can buy alcohol anywhere in the country on this day, including pubs and grocery stores. Uruguay uses an unusual system of voting for parties and not directly electing the candidates, even though they do vote for a list of candidates. It’s call the double simultaneous vote method and it is really hard to explain…
    These elections are for the 99 member Chamber of Representatives, the 30 member Senate, and the presidency and vice presidency. If any of those categories don’t get 50% plus one vote then there will be a runoff in late November. That will most likely be the case for the presidency. There is never an incumbent for president, as the prior president is barred from running in the next election, but can have unlimited terms in non back-to-back administrations. These elections are held every 5 years and there is a seperate election in another year that elects local politicians.
    Uruguay also uses the plebiscite, which is like the referendum process in California. This year there is only one plebiscite and it concerns police and security. The country will decide whether or not to institute a 2000 member National Guard to respond to increased drug trafficking across the border with Brazil. (Since the fall of the military dictatorship in the 1980s the military has been constrained in its size and authorities.)
    Earlier this year a new far-right party (by Uruguayan standards, not comparable to Bolsonaro in Brazil, Trump in the US, or other far-right political leaders in the world) formed under the leadership of the top military General, who was removed from his post by the president. The new party is anti immigrants and pro-military and is polling at around 10%. For those who are interested in more information on the current political situation in Uruguay…

  21. Summer

    RE: California Fires/Rich/Private Firefighters…

    Yeah, right…they’ll live in a protected “gated” community or something like it while surrounded by a burnt out dystopia as other fire fighting services can no longer be funded? Not a long term solution if fires increase in number and intensity.

    1. Geo

      They have no problem living in guilded mansions within gated communities surrounded by dystopian tent villages of homeless people. Doubt they would even notice if the world outside them was a charred hellscape beyond complaining to the city about the need to plant some flowers to make it look nicer.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Really ugly that. And of course such a building would have to have its own security detail with screening of visitors in the main lobby. Think modern airport but without the promise of actually going anywhere – which makes it an appropriate memorial for Obama.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      It’s perfect really.

      Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

      Completely unreadable, if form follows function then this building is perfection since it’s not discernible what the function is. It’s not a library. Apparently it’s supposed to be a place where people meet to think about and discuss a previous president who was a cipher.

      Some randomly-placed openings chiselled near the top, could be used to pour boiling oil down on the masses below. The escalators up the middle can shuttle Praetorians up to the upper part of the keep for last-stage defense, the whole edifice is designed vertically which would make that easy

      1. Hana M

        Haha! Today and tomorrow, the Obamas will host an invitation-only summit entitled, with unconscious irony, “Places Reveal Our Purpose”. The announcement was full of the usual globalist goodthink gobbledygook:

        “Consistent with the Foundation’s mission to inspire, empower, and connect people to change their world, the Summit will highlight the growing network of leaders who are taking up the mantle of change to build the world they want to see.

        “Summit participants will include representatives from across Foundation programming around the United States and the world, including emerging leaders from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe, as well as members of the Chicago community.”

        Notice that Chicago is an afterthought!

        Reading further on Jackson Park Watch I also learned that, true to the Obamas’ elitist instincts, they plan a major expansion of two existing golf courses that will largely destroy this priceless bit of nature:

        Changing the world, indeed. Thank you, Obama!

        1. Hana M

          Correction and amplification: The PGA golf course is not officially an Obama Monument project…but we all know how that works….

          “In August 2016 Park District CEO Michael Kelly sent an email to the private account of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, describing the project in full and stressing that it was important that it seem as if the community had requested the work though at that point the community had no inkling of the plan.

          In summer 2016, there was more action behind the scenes. President Obama privately affirmed his support for the initiative to bring major golf tournaments to Jackson Park by 2021 to coincide with the planned opening of the Obama Center. He became personally involved in the project when he placed a call to Tiger Woods, encouraging him to serve as lead designer. Even so. the Obama Foundation has repeatedly asserted that the golf project is a separate initiative, totally unrelated to the OPC.” From

  22. Tomonthebeach

    Autopia or Automania?

    This article entitled Autopia was a very interesting retrospective of what might more properly be called Automania. Aside from our radical shift away from gas guzzlers to gas sippers, there seems to be a fading enthusiasm for cars. Some of my Boomer peers revel in driving their 57 Chevy convertible and T-Birds, others are showing off wealth in their Stutzes and Packards. However, my cousin just sold off his antique car collection, all 100+ of them, because values were starting to slide. Fewer people are interested in collecting and/or driving gas-guzzling oldies these days.

    Is it real? Are gas auto’s fading? That appears to be the case. Nobody at GM was whining about the strike because it was a self-imposed layoff. Car sales are stagnant. Several months ago, the local Caddy dealer started barraging me with emails and snailmails offering deep discounts on a 2019 version of our 3-year-old SUV even though I have made it crystal clear that we are waiting for their EVs to hit the market. Perhaps I am not the only one?

  23. Fíréan

    Your ” cousin just sold off his antique car collection, all 100+ . . . ” .

    He found a market for them ? Did he have buys or a single buyer ? And did they sell quickly ? And if all were sold quickly did he sell below market value to achieve a quick sale ?

    I ask as I’m curious that he successfully sold 100+ antique vehicles in what is implied as a declining market.

    Thank you in advance, should you reply.

  24. Geo

    My tinfoil hat picked up a new transmission on the impeachment proceedings conspiracy: Last night I watched Brian Williams for a bit and one of his guests commented that given the current timetable for the hearings it would mean the current Dem candidates in the senate would have to stop their campaigning in Iowa in the lead-up to the first few primaries which could be a huge blow to their chances in those early states.

    Senators Sanders and Warren would have to return to the senate to take part in the kabuki theater of impeachment hearings an be taken away from campaigning at the most critical time while the others (Biden, Mayo Pete) would be soaking up press and taking advantage of the absence of the senators.

    Is this a wild eyed conspiracy theory. Yeah. Would I put it past Pelosi and the Dems to sabotage the two progressive candidates this way? Nope.

    Looks like it’s an idea gaining some attention. Here’s an article in Time discussing the situation:

  25. Fíréan

    The Marshall article at Prospect magazine is an interesting read. Thank You for posting. I’ll bookmark article and homepage .
    There are very good reasons for pro-Brexit supporters to not support the WAB, yet little coverage in the media has been given to the Agreement in its draft forms, which have been avaiable for public scrutiny (Though Marshall seems to be of the impression that the availability was limited or non existant).

    The most discussion which I have read online has been, unfortunatley, about the people and parties involved. Not about papers of which those persons were debating or voting. (‘Iĺl only give passing reference to Buckle quotation )

    Here, for example, is a link to a draft of last years WAB, circa 18 november :

    and the october 2019 WAB :

    ( and a summary there of : ) .

    I understand the ease with which one can critique the players is preferable to many than to read the substance , which is , of course, why we delegate the job of the politicians and for which they must be allowed ample time. Yet to take the time to read the detail gives one a greater understanding of what is at stake here, the point which Marshall makes.

    Though of little importance to the topic here, i wish Marshall would find other words instead of the usage of “thing ” . My englsih language and literature teacher taught to me, many years ago, that the over usage of the word denotes a lack of vocabulary by the writer.

  26. skippy

    PG&E – I know its just me … but I would think it reasonable that those responsible for the years of neglect which has heighten both risk factors and the destruction – due too it …. should be out fighting the results of it …

    1. JBird4049

      They should, but once you reach the level where you can and do destroy whole counties, your punishment will less than that for a jaywalker or a petty thief.

  27. Wukchumni

    ‘Hazardous’ air in Fresno as winds kick up dust, increase fire danger throughout state

    Driving back from a kayak trip on the Colorado River, on the descent into the Central Valley, the air quality had the look of late 60’s L.A. smog, the airborne dust heavily laden with a cornucopia of nasty Ag chemicals. I’ll be content to savor the great indoors for a few days~

    1. skippy

      It was interesting to see some doco on TVeee, not long ago in the Southern region of the States, only to watch a couple of old boys with a camera crew on their flat bottom boat talk about how they would not touch the waters. This is after a flood and the water had receded, including talk about its effect on any land or property it touched.

      This is largely replicated by fires consuming C/I/RE, the rest is just a lotto due to location.

  28. The Rev Kev

    “Amazon’s facial recognition misidentified Boston athletes as criminals”

    Facial recognition technology is kinda like self-driving cars, isn’t it? The technology is not there yet, is not fit for purpose, would have dangerous consequences if deployed but because it is so potentially lucrative, it is being pushed to be introduced – consequences be damned. You wonder how the Chinese can deploy a payment system for 100 million people using their smartphone though.

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