Links 11/19/19

Traffic nightmare: Bizarre fire, crash close I-5 lanes near Lakewood for nearly 13 hours Seattle Times. The best lead I’m seen in a long time:

The morning commute on Interstate 5 near Lakewood was thwarted Monday morning by an unlikely series of events involving shrimp, cheesecake, a burning semitruck, and an SUV that crashed into multiple emergency-response vehicles while fleeing law enforcement.

What dullard wrote that headline, though? Needs to be “CITY’S BIGGEST CAKE MIX-UP!!“-class, and isn’t.

Facebook’s fake numbers problem FT. Addressed by NC back in July. See “Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg’s Fake Accounts Ponzi Scheme.”

Google requested a trove of documents from the Texas attorney general’s antitrust probe CNN

Sydney Air Quality at Hazardous Levels as Wildfires Rage AP

Climate Change Is Coming for Global Trade Foreign Policy

Ghost ships, crop circles, and soft gold: A GPS mystery in Shanghai MIT Technology Review


EU defies Boris Johnson and declares UK will only get a ‘bare-bones’ trade deal or a no-deal Brexit next year Business Insider

Boris Johnson’s Brexit tightrope The Week

Love affairs, Russians and Brexit: what is Boris Johnson hiding? South China Morning Post

An inflexible Brussels is damaging its own interests over Brexit FT

Private Equity Muscles Into Britain’s Booming Retirement Market Bloomberg

Paris police use tear gas, water cannon on ‘yellow vest’ protests anniversary Reuters. We hear remarkably little about a movement that has peristed for a year.

5-Star’s crisis threatens Italian government’s survival Reuters


How Riyadh’s Saudi Aramco ambitions were thwarted FT. Valuation problems. I can’t think why.

US says Israeli settlements are no longer illegal BBC. I wonder what the trade is here….

A Spy Complex Revealed The Intercept (WB).

Mired in a Trump-Fuelled Recession, 20 Iranian Cities erupt with Gasoline Price Protests Juan Cole (Re Silc).

In Bolivia, an interim leader is leaving her conservative mark WaPo. “Interim leader,” forsooth.

The Eighteenth Brumaire of Macho Camacho: Jeffery R. Webber and Forrest Hylton on the Coup in Bolivia Counterpunch. Must-read on Bolivia.

“Beyond Dichotomies”: One Bolivian voice on the present moment Carwil without Borders

Exclusive: Haiti’s president warns of humanitarian crisis, calls for support Reuters


An Inside Look at Kashmir Der Spiegel


NPCSC Legislative Affairs Commissions Criticizes Hong Kong Court’s Mask Ban Ruling, Signals Possible NPCSC Intervention NPC Observer and China says Hong Kong courts have no power to rule on face mask ban Straits Times. So I suppose this fashion tip is still en vogue:


Hong Kong protests: university campus stand-off between radicals and riot squad shows no sign of ending as thousands hit streets in bid to relieve police siege SCMP

Beijing’s tactics are driving spiral of violence in Hong Kong Australian Financial Review

* * *
Embarrassing mistake: Chinese magazine ‘accidentally’ reveals new top secret weapon NY Herald

China Bashes NYT’s Xinjiang Story as Warren, Buttigieg Criticize Bloomberg

New Cold War

The Cold War Ended 30 Years Ago. Why Are Things With Russia So Bad? Defense One. NATO expansion a “historic blunder.” The Blunderers have been on full display in the impeachment hearings.

Meet Ukraine: America’s Newest “Strategic Ally” Counterpunch

25 Times Trump Has Been Dangerously Hawkish On Russia Caitlin Johnstone (JZ).


The key takeaways from Holmes and Hale’s impeachment inquiry testimonies USA Today

Ex-Envoy to Testify He Didn’t Know Ukraine Aid Was Tied to Investigations NYT

The Bad Arguments That Trump Didn’t Commit Bribery LawFare. “Bribery and extortion or, as we called them at school, ‘international relations.'” And murder, too, I mean if you count whacking a U.S. citizen with a drone strike and no due process. Or torture. But if our team does it…

The surprising revelation of Trump’s impeachment hearings Unherd

Jimmy Finkelstein, the owner of The Hill, has flown under the radar. But he’s played a key role in the Ukraine scandal CNN Business (dk).

Impeachment By Secret Ballot Is A Terrible Idea The American Conservative

Trump Transition

Hospitals pledge to fight Trump admin price transparency plan in court Health Care Dive

Pentagon Procurement and the Laws of Physics POGO

A massive scandal: how Assange, his doctors, lawyers and visitors were all spied on for the U.S. La Repubblica (Bugs Bunny). Very good, well worth a read.

Our Famously Free Press

‘No One Believes Anything’: Voters Worn Out by a Fog of Political News NYT. Two words: “Judy Miller.” Everybody know who Judy Miller was?


Boeing 787 Dreamliner: “Hundreds of Defective Parts” Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Sports Desk

Kaepernick called an audible and beat the NFL at its game The Undefeated (Craig H). Sports teams should all be owned by municipalities, like the Packers, and not by rich, racist goons.

Will Astros sign-stealing revelations lead MLB into a bottomless pit of scandals? USA Today. Note: Astros executives are from McKinsey, so a cheating scandal would be unsurprising.

Class Warfare

Undercover investigation reveals evidence of unequal treatment by Long Island real estate agents Newsday. Important.

The Dark Psychology of Social Networks The Atlantic (DL). Come on, man. What’s “dark” about “moral grandstanding”?

What we did to the Bagel Boss guy: His health problems should prompt some self-reflection NY Daily News

Moore on Jerusalem, Eternalism, Anarchy and Herbie! Alan Moore World

Antidote du Jour (via):

Bonus antidote; sadly, I missed World Octopus Day:


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. Olga

    Have to thank LS for posting buncha stuff from unusual sources – a nice break from all those reuters, nyt, ap, cnn, bloombergs, etc. (although sometimes even those guys can be right – mainly, in a way of a broken clock).

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      always helpful to know which way the blob is trying to nudge you.
      this week: towards a silly Mayor Pete dance so you can boogie away from social programs that might make your life better! (black support still at 0%)

        1. D. Fuller

          Deval Patrick The Mitt Romney-Bain Capital Candidate.

          Biden – Status Quo from the 1990s.

          Harris – She’s outta here.

          Bloomer – Billionaire candidate known for switching parties.

          Warren does have her financial platform, yet little else.

          Sanders. Great domestic agenda. It’s the foreign policy agenda – some items – that give some pause. Still the best candidate.

    1. skippy

      Ex Half Life DM and Fort admin here for a top 5 U.S. server – clan, all I can say is the “Cake is a Lie” and what are the chances that the VR unit resembles a Head Crab.

      Accent on the Head Crab and conditioning to feel at home at City 17 ….

  2. Wandering Mind

    Further to the view that seeing the events in Bolivia as “either/or” is unhelpful, the La Paz newspaper Pagina Sieta published an open letter to Camacho, the radical right leader from Santa Cruz.

    In it, the authors reject Camacho and his group as representing them, while at the same time making it clear that they consider Evo Morales to be guilty of sexism, that they believe that there was fraud in the October 20 election and that Morales lacks legitimacy as a candidate because he rejected the results of the 2016 referendum where he sought approval of his running for a fourth term.

    In a phrase with echoes of the Who song, “Won’t get Fooled Again,” they end the letter by saying:

    “We don’t need a caudillo who will not save us, nor guide us nor command us. “Caudilloism” has been a chauvinist sickness throughout Bolivian history. To go from one caudillo to another is like curing a disease with poison and that is what you represent: the poison of caudilloism in the veins of Bolivian society.”

    1. salvo

      hmmm… I’m afraid macho camacho and his friends in washington won’t care much for the needs of some “left”-liberal petty bourgeois in La Paz, which will have to put up with the Bible wielding fascists like camacho and bolsonaro, at least until the washington consensus is fully re-established

    2. Lee

      The article linked above, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Macho Camacho by Jeffery R. Webber and Forrest Hylton, on the Coup in Bolivia, was quite informative and detailed in its analysis and takes a nuanced view of Morales’ successes and missteps from a leftist perspective.

      One of many points of interest was their criticism of Morales’ incorporation into government of previously more independent progressive organizations, thus rendering them less effective as forces for positive change.

      Also of note was the description of the shifting class dynamics resulting from greater shared prosperity as in the rise of the previously impoverished to a petty bourgeoisie status and thus their ideological distancing from more radical social elements.

      It would seem that Morales’ party, The Movement for Socialism (MAS), still has popular electoral support in their favor but are for the moment in a state of shocked disarray. Here’s hoping they pull themselves together post haste in order to deal with the threat posed by the police, the military, and the revanchist goon squads.

    3. pjay

      Yes. Morales was a power-hungry, chauvinistic caudillo who had no legitimacy… BUT, we don’t support a right-wing coup! If only Bolivia had a good, liberal, “rules-based” alternative…

      Where have I seen this type of argument before?

      For the record, the Carwil and Counterpunch articles do strike me as informative and “balanced.” I do support this type of “nuanced” analysis for understanding this complex situation. Morales’ possible errors in judgment or strategy are legitimate questions for discussion.

      And yet… why do I think this narrative will be used instead to justify liberal hand-wringing while a neoliberal regime is reestablished in one of the few remaining “disobedient” Latin American nations?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > And yet… why do I think this narrative will be used instead to justify liberal hand-wringing while a neoliberal regime is reestablished in one of the few remaining “disobedient” Latin American nations?

        Because it will be.

        The reality-based community concept was always quite tenuous, and has now evaporated completely.

        1. TheHoarseWhisperer

          Heh. You should read the first 300 pages (the other 800 are painful to slog through) of the latest Neal Stevenson for a good logical take on the natural evolution of the “reality-based” community vs Ameristan. It might even prompt the addition of “getting Facebooked” metaphor as a variant to “the jackpot”.

  3. Steve H.

    > Pentagon Procurement and the Laws of Physics POGO

    Col. Boyd: “It is not true the Pentagon has no strategy. It has a strategy, and once you understand what that strategy is, everything the Pentagon does makes sense. The strategy is, don’t interrupt the money flow, add to it.”

    1. cnchal

      Everything the Pentagon and military does should be subtracted from GDP. I bet the hole left behind is much bigger than the biggest bomb crater.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Thinking about this one, it is like “the last mile” problem of all transport. You can get to the battlefield in a thin-skinned vehicle but when you get there, you want to be wrapped up in lots of metal. This is like what they had pre-motor vehicles. There was what was called Mounted Infantry who rode to the battlefield on horses but when they got there, dismounted and fought on foot. I think that this might have to be the solution here.
      If they insist on transporting vehicles on choppers, then use light-weight vehicles like all-terrain buggies. Hell, you could use WW2-era Willys Jeeps to get to the fighting. But when they got there, they will have to depend on personal armour for protection and if things went south, then hump it back to their vehicles and bug out of the place as in exit, stage left. They still have to drop in fuel for any vehicles deployed and that is one more point of vulnerability in an era of man-pads.

      1. Steve H.

        That’s a really good insight. Helps explain the Pentagon ‘lilly-pad’ approach to bases, and rolling out motorized vehicles from fortified posts. But the heavier you are, the less off-road you are, so infantry still gets used as bait, whether direct ambush, or having drones enough to track who’s planting IED’s.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > the heavier you are, the less off-road you are

          If I recall S.L.A. Marshall correctly in Military Misfortunes, the US Fifth Army in Korea was destroyed by the PLA exactly because it was road-bound.

          1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money


            Reminds me of Alfred E Neuman “who” was a product of the ’50s. Instead of “What, me worry?”, ” What, me walk?” would have been an appropriate variant that would have encompassed the prevailing ethos.


    3. xkeyscored

      “While the laws of economics have never really applied to the Pentagon”
      What law of economics, even bourgeois/neoliberal economics, states that the military-industrial-congressional complex does not or cannot spend huge sums of money to enrich themselves?
      I’d have thought, on the contrary, the Pentagon has been at the very heart of the US economy for decades.

      1. Sol

        “Never mind the unchangeable laws of reality, this is important!”

        Reminds me of a joke. A contractor was in talks with the city to do some work for them, and the meeting wasn’t going well. The contractor was trying to explain material costs and the limits of what he could accomplish on their budget, but the mayor’s aide was paying more attention to his phone.

        The contractor tried to get him to understand. “Look, I’m talking about the laws of physics here.”

        The aide looked up from his phone. “Well, if it’s a law you’re worried about, we’ll get it changed.”

    4. D. Fuller

      Short primer on Government Contracting.

      Company A is awarded a contract, usually with 10% guaranteed profits. At $X cost.

      Company A sub-contracts to Companies B through Z. Companies B through Z may or may not be subsidiaries or possess special relations with Company A.

      Companies B through Z are guaranteed, usually 10% profit.

      Companies B through Z submit their receipts to Company A.

      Company A (the prime contractor) takes A. $X costs, B. adds in the costs of Companies B through Z + C. 10% guaranteed profits for Companies B through Z D. Take costs from A + B + C and then calculate an additional 10% profits for a final total (until cost overruns) E. Submit bill to Pentagon.

      Costs can include such items as political contributions to appropriate Committee Members.

      Add in such gimmicks as concurrent design – taking technology in its infancy or not even off the drawing board, that results in failed platforms (Zumwalt, Ford, Freedom LCS, F-35, etc) and…

      Complexity in systems. Such as Software. ALICE with the F-35 being the most egregious. By purposefully making shoddy, complex software? Costs are increased. Specifically maintenance costs.

      Software contracts are particular goldmine for private contractors. The same companies getting the same contracts to develop the same system that they failed at developing under the last contract they had with the US Government. On purpose.

      Think that complexity in systems are confined to US government software contracts? Think again. Plumbing in Federal buildings. Private corporate plumbing contractors purposely design plumbing in Federal buildings to fail. More failures = maintenance money through maintenance contracts. How would I know this? I’ve known the plumbers.

      Another trick? Cut the regulators and inspectors from oversight that look into contracting abuses. Congress, more-so Republicans, love cutting oversight in the name of de-regulation. While driving out your experienced contract negotiators from US government agencies.

      And thus you have a military that should cost $400 billion, costing over $900 billion.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “Facebook’s fake numbers problem — Lex in depth”

    This is of no real surprise here. As Mark Zuckerberg once said-

    “With great profits come no responsibility.”

  5. Winston Smith

    I have seen and heard several reports on the Kaepernick/NFL “tryout” situation: it is mostly and dishonestly portrayed as a disagreement between weary parties. It is nothing of the sort. The NFL wants Kaepernick to go away or at the very least control the message. The NFL wanted strict control of any video footage and refused to agree to provide it to Kaepernick after the tryout. He apparently had no idea who was going to throw to etc…no wonder he called off the NFL’s BS

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The NFL wants Kaepernick to go away or at the very least control the message.

      This is the message I took away from the coverage (that was coverage). Two days notice, was it?, and then “You can sign this, it’s our standard contract.” No flies on Kaepernick.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Impeachment By Secret Ballot Is A Terrible Idea”

    Actually I can think of one idea even worse. Have a secret ballot but done by voting computers – and whose security is guaranteed by the CIA, Homeland Security and the Pentagon. But hey, the Democrats want to go with secret witnesses whose testimony cannot be really challenged so why not a secret ballot to make it a complete dog’s breakfast?

    1. Mel

      They could make it better by having a secret impeachment. Have it, just don’t tell anybody. Don’t leave any tracks or commit any rash acts that would blow the cover and reveal that it happened. Let the Trumpster finish his term, have the 2019 election as usual, see who wins …

    2. marym

      Russiagate, Ukrainegate I (Trumpist), and Ukrainegate II (Dem) are all terrible ideas, put forth by terrible people with no interest in the common good, but witnesses at the current hearings are testifying on c-span, and transcripts of the initial set of interviews have been published, challenges included.

    3. Danny

      Secret ballot in the senate?

      If they vote to Impence!
      Trump can just deny the validity of the results.

      “Paper ballots, counted in public…”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Even Popes were elected that way…at least the one election around 1492, when Rodrigo Borgia won (saw that on Borgias) – paper ballot, hand counted publicly in a small, private room.

      2. D. Fuller

        There is no requirement for an open ballot in the Senate.

        This would be Dems olive branch to Senate Republicans who would have to face voters back home if the ballot were public.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          An impeachment ignited by a secret memo from a secret witness and concluding with a secret vote could have, shall we say, optical problems, especially in an election year.

  7. pjay

    ‘No One Believes Anything’: Voters Worn Out by a Fog of Political News NYT. Two words: “Judy Miller.”

    Two more words: “Russiagate” and “Syria.” But there have been a lot more words over the years.

    I really wonder if the Times honchos are aware of how much their credibility has been destroyed. When I see a Times “expose” on China, or Iran (with their “partner” the Intercept), I start by *assuming* its evidence is either manufactured or selectively presented to us for propaganda purposes. I will only accept its “revelations” if they are later supported by more reliable sources. This is based on long experience.

    OTOH, when I read a Wikileaks expose, I start by assuming it is factual. This is also based on long experience. I guess that’s why Assange is rotting in prison, and the NYT wins Pulitzers.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      After sitting on the warrantless wiretapping story for fear influencing the 2004 election, why would the NYT care what “liberals” think? They know they just want a few random art stories and links to imaginary lives. They can print anything and people will buy it.

      The only item I’m shocked by is the owners haven’t figured out they can replace with Tom Friedman and Paul Krugman and replace them with bots and get the same results for much less. The “readers” (I’m assuming the paper is more of an accessory than a daily to read) won’t care. Being a NYT oped writer means you are in the meritocracy.

      Judith Miller and that Liberty plagiarist they had can be explained away, but the decision to protect Shrub from a reporting of a scandal in a close election is so beyond the pall. The NYT is such trash. Except for the young who may not know better, the olds who still read the NYT are there purely for bizarre nostalgia and status.

      1. D. Fuller

        The woman in the initial allegation against Assange stopped pressing for charges not long after the initial report.

        The Swedish police took up the matter themselves to investigate.

        This is the 3rd or 4th time in as many years that Sweden had dropped the investigation, that I’ve heard of. Assange is in British custody. There is no need for Sweden to hold on to false pretenses.

          1. CoryP

            My favourite fiasco in this chain of idiocies is the torn condom that none of the individuals DNA on it.

            Like you’re not even trying that should have been easy to cook up if you were motivated.

            This is a tragic farce.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “How Riyadh’s Saudi Aramco ambitions were thwarted”

    Hard to say what was most responsible for this flop. The greed of the Saudis themselves maybe. Investor’s mistrust in the Saudi legal system in case of a dispute perhaps. The Big Money got nervous when most of the country’s billionaires were grabbed and did time in those hotels as part of a shakedown. That was definitely not a confidence builder that.
    My money is on that attack several weeks ago that took out 50% of Saudi oil production. I think that woke investors up the reality that if there was a general war in the Gulf, that Saudi oil production could drop of the edge of the planet in its entirety. And that they would have no hope of getting their money out of that country as in ever.

    1. Synoia

      Missing: An accurate, independent and believable statement about Saudi Oil Reserves. Otherwise it is a very expensive Pig in a Poke.

      1. VietnamVet

        The situation is getting wildly worse; not to mention, a frustrated, angry, under impeachment, 73 year old President. 3,000 American troops are back in Islam’s birthplace which was the cause of 9/11 in the first place. Today, the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) transited the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf. Yes, the September drone attack proves that Iran and/or its proxies can destroy Aramco’s oil facilities. A bad day and the investment is gone. So is the global economy.

  9. Steve H.

    A question here:

    The standard economic narrative for pensioners is that their gain is the interest on their investment, paradigmatically a tool that can create a product more effectively. But in the finance economy, that interest is from someone’s debt.

    The narrative says failed debt is from weak minded/moraled consumers. But with the primary cause of bankruptcy being medical debt, the credit is being used on necessity. If the person with the credit does not survive to pay, the investment was a failure, but the downside has been heavily discounted by the debtor.

    Less mortally, since the early 1970’s, productive workers have had their futures discounted by decreasing wages, relative to inflation and squillionaire growth.

    My question is, is the narrative of productive investment at root flawed, or has the nature of the equation been changed by the finance economy?

    1. Carey

      >My question is, is the narrative of productive investment at root flawed, or has the nature of the equation been changed by the finance economy?

      I think that’s an •excellent* question, and I’ve been asking myself the first part of it for some time, now.

      1. Sol

        It’s an excellent question. I’m no expert, and yet I’ve been considering this very thing for a while. I’ll relate my ponderings, some of them may be useful.

        The mystery of MMT is that it flies in the face of what “everyone knows” about monetary theory, and yet it seems to work. I think this is because we’ve forgotten what money is. It’s just a counter. It has no inherent value.

        Inflation, we are firmly told, has nowt to do with prices. Its an increase in the supply of money. I was reading a post on Martin Armstrong’s blog about Roman coins and currency, and he neatly laid out in exquisite detail the cycle ancient Rome endured of price inflation and currency inflation. And it occured to me that if inflation truly is only an increase in the money supply, it should have come before the price inflation. But it didnt.

        I suspect the real mechanism at work is that prices rise to the level of a liquidity problem, into which governments print (or mint) new currency to solve. Having a gander at history, that seems to be what we’re really looking at, anyhow.

        Inflation isn’t under the control of anyone, I think. It’s a proxy for arrogance. Its the belief taking hold in people’s heads that “what I have is highly valuable, but what you have is not”. People setting prices not based on costs and labor to produce but on what they think they should get – which is a lot – and raising prices not based on added value or increased function but because they think they should get more.

        This could be the mechanism the old biblical Jubilee was meant to counteract. Into rising prices (inflation/cultural arrogance) the largest subset of people will begin to utilize debt to leverage themselves. This further distorts prices, and sets off a cycle of misallocation of resources and malinvestment. Jubilee – all the lenders knowing they had a hard timeline – made this cycle stop. People wouldn’t lend with Jubilee approaching, they’d lose their investment. Without borrowed money to prop inflated prices, inflation stabilized. A system of Jubilee allows credit for innovation and investment, while preventing arrogance from getting out of hand.

        I know this is a brief sketch in unimpressive language, and yet I’d love to know what y’all think of this.

              1. polecat

                Until the motion stops, that is ….

                .. and I’m having visions, of Fed-up global sabots, however notional, being flung into the gears of Hegemony.

          1. Sol

            Precisely. The petrodollar/world’s currency reserve works as an explanation for our [family blog]ed foreign policy, and yet it’s lackluster at explaining dollar bouyancy (personal opinion). IF inflation is only the increase in the money supply, the ability to print with mad abandon due to being the world’s reserve currency seems maybe plausible, except at these levels it starts to look like quite a stretch.

            MMT must be sound economics once the natural world has come into play.

            This may be why mainstream economists get an unexpected result so often. They have mathematical equations that exist in a vacuum; one must run those equations through the filter of human nature for a more clear analysis. Economics appears to be both math and psychology/anthropology/sociology. All those things together. No wonder it’s so difficult.

            1. eg

              And the orthodox economists threw out all of the “psychology/anthropology/sociology” thus rendering their math a solipsistic nonsense in empirical human terms.

              Their map is most certainly NOT the territory …

            2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Few have remarked that now that the NY Fed is directly monetizing US Government debt (to the tune of $60B per month, plus the repo shenanigans) we have prima facie MMT in action.

              “Monetization” is still a dirty word and its use used to be confined to third-world nations and ridiculed. Real governments were supposed to sell their debt to investors, not just print the funds themselves.

              In one sense you could say the The Fed as simply assumed the Constitutional role of the US Treasury: to issue the currency.

          1. Sol

            If you just want a link to his blog, here.

            I assume you want the one where he talked about Rome and their currency troubles. I’ve been looking. Either his site isn’t very searchable, or I’m very bad at it. It was a 15-20 minute read even for me, but I’m only finding smaller posts that give partial detail. He talks about Rome and currency quite often.


            Here’s one that even refers to the detailed post, and it’s got some good stuff in it too, it’s just not the right one I referred to upthread.

            I’ve noted your name, Goyo. If I find it, I’ll link you the next time I see you in a thread, so you don’t have to keep checking back here.

    2. Danny

      What a thought provoking comment. Is this a typo?
      “Less mortally, since the early 1970’s, productive workers have had their futures discounted by decreasing wages…”

      Did you mean “with less mortality, there are more workers”, or, “less morally?”

      Now if there were just some way to pass the debt onto the corporate generated environmentally caused cancer victim’s children and grandchildren?
      Maybe ALEC can propose some legislation?

      1. JTMcPhee

        De facto, our “legal system” already contains the seeds of that “Family tree of debt:”

        Grieving relatives are not “legally obligated” to pay the medical debts (sick concept) of their ancestors, but that does not stop the shysters and Shylocks in the vast and cruel “collection” system from harassing you to pay off Uncle Teddy’s cancer treatments and “hospice care.” Yah, harassing In certain delimited circumstances is ‘illegal.’ So are a lot of things. If you, the relative, have no remedy, which effectively you do not despite what “the law” may say, you have no right to be free of these vultures and egg-eating snakes.

        And the common wisdom is that personal debts like medical expenses are paid out of the decedent’s estate, and if that is insufficient, the creditor is out of luck. Not so fast, of course — the little worms that are incentivized by greed have been knowing away at that limitation on many fronts. Here’s a summary article:

      2. Steve H.

        Forgive the ambiguity, I was contrasting with the previous paragraph, where if you’re dead you don’t have to pay the bill. It’s stark with medical debt, but for most workers it’s about the debt cycle, which looks like debt servitude when wages go down while interest rates are forever.

    3. xkeyscored

      My question is, is the narrative of productive investment at root flawed, or has the nature of the equation been changed by the finance economy?
      I’d say there’s nothing wrong with productive investment at all, unless you think we should all have remained in the trees millions of years ago. On the contrary, it’s central to our humanity. The modern finance economy, however, especially in the USA, is heavily into unproductive investment, most of which nowadays is in rubbish like stock buybacks and existing real estate.

    4. inode_buddha

      “My question is, is the narrative of productive investment at root flawed, or has the nature of the equation been changed by the finance economy?”

      Looking at the timeline of economic events in the last say, 50 years, I’m inclined to blame financialization.

      Contrary to right-wing tropes, the economy and indeed the planet, are in fact finite. The only thing that can be added or grown, is human labor.

    1. Synoia

      Q. What do Mechanical Engineers build?
      A. Weapons.

      Q. What to Civil Engineers build? (Insert any large structure here)
      A. Targets.

      1. xkeyscored

        I like that one, but for anyone who hasn’t read the article, the new weapon in question seems designed for anti-warship stuff.

        Australian Strategic Policy Institute analyst Malcolm Davis told Flight Global: “That would theoretically match the ground-launched DF-26 anti-ship capable (intermediate ballistic missile), and increase the risk for US aircraft carrier battle groups … the Chinese are clearly trying to make it costlier for the US to project power into the western pacific, to the point where the US simply chooses not to intervene in a crisis.” …
        China has in recent years sought to negate the power of US navy aircraft carrier strike groups by building long-range, ultra-fast guided missiles.
        The idea is to overwhelm the escorts and defences of the nuclear-powered behemoths long before they could deploy their strike aircraft.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Perhaps it’s not the content, but that something became known, when it should have not been revealed (presumably), accidentally or otherwise.

            If it was deliberately leaked, perhaps involving reverse psychology here, then, they can say privately to themselves that there is nothing embarrassing about it.

    1. xkeyscored

      Not much that’s new in ten minutes of video. They’ll try ignoring Sanders, and if that doesn’t work, they’ll kill him.

    1. Krystyn Walentka

      Ha! Love it! Very Daoist! I have seen that look from animals before and it set me right. Differently intelligent is all I am.

      1. JTMcPhee

        I’d note that the banner writers for “Rising” left the characterization of Reed as a “Sanders Surrogate” on display for the largest part of the segment. I’m sure that was just honest inadvertence and all. Not at all aimed at impeaching (courtroom sense, now) Reed’s pronouncements. “We know nothing.”

  10. dearieme

    I find it hard to understand what’s going on in Hong Kong i.e. what the protestors can realistically hope to achieve. But I pass on three bits of gossip.

    A Chinese who lives in London says that all his circle assumes that the violent protestors are regime stooges i.e. the violence is a “false flag” event.

    The friend of a friend who was in HK until last week said that it had all become genuinely frightening. He’s left.

    A friend who was in Singapore last week was asked by his taxi driver what he thought about events in HK. The westerner said he worried for the safety of the HK population. No, said the driver, it was all good news. “The businesses will come to Singapore.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is that Chinese in the first instance a Chinese from mainland China, or a Hong Konger (who has 3 choices – he can say he’s Chinese, or a Hong Konger and also a Chinese, or just a Hong Konger)?

    1. Kurt Sperry

      The La Repubblica link on Assange is must-read stuff. The most astonishing thing to me was that Evo Morales, the putatively anti-US leader of Ecuador, was clearly working closely with US intelligence the whole time Assange was holed up in the Knightsbridge embassy. There’s a hell of a story there somewhere.

        1. pjay

          There was nothing in this story to indicate Correa was knowingly working with US intelligence. The contractor seems to be the key link here. His name happened to be Morales.

      1. xkeyscored

        It’s by no means clear from the article that Ecuador or its leader were (knowingly) working with US intelligence. Indeed, “video and audio footage seen by Repubblica show … the Ecuadorian ambassador Carlos Abad Ortiz and his staff during one of their diplomatic meetings,” hardly something they’d have wanted.
        On June 19, 2012, when the founder of WikiLeaks took refuge in the tiny flat which is the diplomatic outpost of Quito in the United Kingdom, the embassy lacked the most basic security measures: it was not even equipped with cameras. That is why the then Ecuadorian government of Rafael Correa, who had granted asylum to Julian Assange, enlisted UC Global [suggested by whom?], a small security company founded by a former Spanish military man, David Morales, who provided protection for Correa’s family. …
        After the election of Donald Trump, UC Global’s espionage activities registered a true escalation. Inside the embassy, new cameras were installed to gather not just video files, but also to enable recording conversations with built-in microphones which could not be detected “by the naked eye”, as UC Global’s internal emails reveal. David Morales asked his employees to provide such information as the physical composition of the walls of Assange’s room: “brick, masonry, cement”, the “embassy’s wifi data”, and Morales even considered installing microphones that could detect sound through the walls.
        Nothing and no one was spared.

  11. Danny

    “M.S.13 gang murders in the 79% black and Hispanic Long Island community…”Imagine the horrors of life in Brentwood before Open Housing Laws?

    Isn’t one of the jobs of a real estate agent to warn of dangerous conditions and defects in a home or surrounding area? e.g.”Your children will be prisoners in your new home as they will more than likely become targets in the street and your Land Rover will probably be carjacked at the stop sign.”

    Kudos to Sootheby’s that tested positive, for pure greed, fairly and evenly selling to gullible chumps that will discover these things after the escrow papers are signed.

    The elite in their Top of The Heap, 70th floor apartments overlooking Central Park will of course, be immune to all this. The more manufactured outrage crises like this that are covered, the less likely it is that anyone will pay attention to them.
    Too bad there are no “testers” for wealth acquisition.

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      “Imagine the horrors of life in Brentwood before Open Housing Laws?”

      ZOMG! The murderers next door punk’n your kids then woulda been from Sicily! Oh, the Humanity! (Okay, yes. Humanity and suburban Long Island have never been intersecting sets). Still. What’s left of the Sunrise Hwy of my childhood sneers in your general direction sweetie.

  12. Krystyn Walentka

    RE: “What we did to the Bagel Boss guy: His health problems should prompt some self-reflection”

    I mean, didn’t these people see “The Joker”?

    “What do you get when you cross a mentally ill loner with a society that abandons him and treats him like trash? You get what you f**kin’ deserve!”

    People never see agitation as an expression human suffering. Sad.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Anyone for recognizing a lot of the deplorable “random violence” as something long recognized in other cultures, and now by our Psych Geniuses, as “running amok?”

      Running amok, sometimes referred to as simply amok or gone amok,[1] also spelled amuck or amuk, from the Southeast Asian Austronesian languages (especially Malaysian[2] and Indonesian[3]), is “an episode of sudden mass assault against people or objects usually by a single individual following a period of brooding that has traditionally been regarded as occurring especially in Malay culture but is now increasingly viewed as psychopathological behavior”.[4] The syndrome of “Amok” is found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV TR).[…

      Contemporary syndrome[edit]
      “Running amok” is used to refer to the behavior of someone who, in the grip of strong emotion, obtains a weapon and begins attacking people indiscriminately, often with multiple fatalities.[10] An episode of amok may be triggered by a period of depression or highly aggressive behavior. The slang terms going postal or going ballistic are similar in scope. Police describe such an event as a killing spree. If the individual is seeking death an alternate method is often “suicide by cop”.

      Amok is often described as a culture-bound (or culture-specific) syndrome,[14][15] which is a psychological condition whose manifestation is strongly shaped by cultural factors. Other reported culture-bound syndromes are latah and koro. Amok is also sometimes considered one of the subcategories of dissociative disorders (cross-cultural variant).

      Officially classified as a psychiatric condition

      In 1849, amok was officially classified as a psychiatric condition based on numerous reports and case studies that showed the majority of individuals who committed amok were, in some sense, mentally ill.[9] The modern DSM-IV method of classification of mental disorders contains two official types of amok disorder; beramok and amok. Beramok is considered to be the more common of the two and is associated with the depression and sadness resulting from a loss and the subsequent brooding process. Loss includes, but is not limited to, the death of a spouse or loved one, divorce, loss of a job, money, power, etc. Beramok is associated with mental issues of severe depression or other mood disorders. Amok, the rarer form, is believed to stem from rage, insult, or a vendetta against a person, society, or object for a wide variety of reasons. Amok has been more closely associated with psychosis, personality disorders, bipolar disorder, and delusions….

      1. Oregoncharles

        Compare “berserk” – but that one may have been mushroom-induced. How many psychopharmaceuticals can do that?

        As I understand, “amok” was first encountered by Westerners as a battle tactic – they were very difficult to stop. “Berserk” appears in the same context.

        I was calling this sort of thing a “rage break” – evidently there are many terms for it. It’s a common thread in mass killings. To me, this means that the particular pretext – there’ve been many, some more shocking than others – is secondary: it’s all the same thing. Or to put it another way: how far can people take, before they snap?

        1. JTMcPhee

          Amok and beramok are not battle tactics, “berserk” is.

          Amok is the response of an individual to intolerable conditions, I believe. Anomie is likely one of the contributing psych issues that sends people in Malaysia and maybe Las Vegas and smaller venues off to kill as many fungible humans in their vicinity as possible, often or usually dying in the process themselves.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Speaking of Southeast Asia, I am reminded of the word ‘bogeyman,’ and how once upon a time, I was told that it came from the word ‘Bugis’ for pirates from Indonesia.

        But Wikipedia shows its (not always reliably frequent) skepticism about that etymological origin:

        In Southeast Asia, the term is popularly supposed to refer to Bugis[8] or Buganese[9] pirates, ruthless seafarers of southern Sulawesi, Indonesia’s third-largest island. These pirates often plagued early English and Dutch trading ships of the British East India Company and Dutch East India Company. It is popularly believed that this resulted in the European sailors bringing their fear of the “bugi men” back to their home countries. However, etymologists disagree with this, because words relating to bogeyman were in common use centuries before European colonization of Southeast Asia.

  13. xkeyscored

    A Spy Complex Revealed The Intercept

    In interviews, Iranian officials acknowledged that Iran viewed surveillance of American activity in Iraq after the United States invasion as critical to its survival and national security. When American forces toppled Saddam, Iran swiftly moved some of its best officers from both the intelligence ministry and from the Intelligence Organization of the Revolutionary Guards to Iraq, according to the Iranian government advisers and a person affiliated with the Guards. President George W. Bush had declared Iran to be part of an “axis of evil,” and Iranian leaders believed that Tehran would be next on Washington’s list of regime-change capitals after Kabul and Baghdad.
    Not only that, but they’d recently endured a long and barbarous war with Iraq. Seems only sensible and predictable that they’d take an interest in that country.
    And the documents show how Iran, at nearly every turn, has outmaneuvered the United States in the contest for influence.
    This seems to be the crux of it. The US, after killing hundreds of thousands and spending $2 trillion to bend Iraq to its will, was outsmarted by Iran. Not that Iran is necessarily entitled to meddle in other countries, but its negative impacts on Iraq pale in comparison with the USA’s, which not even its most ardent supporters have termed meddling.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Remember Sun Tzu? That text has some great bits on the considerations the Ruler should undertake before launching an idiotic war at the end of a very long supply chain. Silly stuff about having Heaven on your side (“just war”), and how maintaining a huge military in foreign lands bankrupts the Worth reading the first 46 or so paragraphs of that treatise, and matching those with the “wisdom” of our imperial overlords.

      “ There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.” For some definition of “country,” at least — mopery omitted…

      1. xkeyscored

        I’d often heard of Sun Tzu, but never read the ‘original’, except in odd quotes, assuming it to be a huge tome. I think this bit is quite pertinent to the “wisdom” of our imperial overlords:
        In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good.
        US policy, especially this century, seems the exact opposite, in effect if not intention – shatter and destroy, with little or no interest in the aftermath.
        Thanks, I’ll read on.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          US policy…the exact opposite.


          Sunzi wrote for the dukes of the Spring and Autumn period.’ Presumably…as whether he actually lived or not has been debated.

          And because we can’t entirely rely on Wikipedia, though this doubt is mentioned in his entry there, so, we can score on for Wiki.

          Because he wrote for the dukes, we get ‘taking the enemy’s country whole and intact.’

          That was what the British empire did, more or less (comparatively speaking…relative to the Romans treatment of Carthage). Perhaps they learned from the Romans, or perhaps they read Sunzi. In any case, India became the jewel in the crown.

          So, following Sunzi, and not doing the exact opposite, may not be a good thing.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Who did Machiavelli write for?

            The current scholarship seems to indicate that “The Art of War,” as attributed to Sun Tzu, may be a composite of a number of old warriors’ learned wisdom from many “campaigns.” Whatever or whoever, what the text lays out is a lot like what “our” war gamers and Battlespace managers are now calling “hybrid warfare.”

            I’m having a hard time following the double negative in your concluding sentence, but I’m getting older. The exact opposite of Sun Tzu is what? Destroying countries, killing lots of foreigners and trashing their institutions and infrastructure,, as we do, at the ends of massively stretched supply lines, at the cost of the wealth of the nation and decimation of the citizenry at home, including by the means described and decried here in NC as in Bolivia And Venezuela and Iran, etc., as a strategy to facilitate looting of the resources of those other countries for the benefit of a very few with zero loyalty to our nominal country?

            How about MAD as the exact opposite of Sun Tzu’s advice? All of this discourse of course breaks out “war”* as a discreet category, kind of ignoring the nature of human impulses and the experience with how our species applies and effectuates them In the political economies. The subjugation of India by the Brits (actually a pretty loose hold in most of the place, which was made up of principalities and not a “nation” in the Enlightened sense at all, though a chokehold on the points that controlled looting opportunities, I believe) might not be the best example.

            *I note again that the US Imperial military, in its compendious Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, uses the word “war” profligately, but never defines it. Got to look elsewhere in the now likely trillions of words in the Milbabble library of the Pentagram, to extract any kind of meaningful definition, which from my reading boils down to “every human interaction… “

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              The exact opposite may not be a good thing – here, I am thinking of taking ‘the enemy’s country whole and intact.’

              It may not be a good thing. One example, Saddam taking over Kuwait whole and intact by force. Or the British taking over India.

              That does not suggest anyone should take over another country ruined, instead of whole and intact.

              Instead, the way around or to win is ‘to not play’ the game or the great game, as you mentioned below…if possible (at times not, if to avoid being conquered).

              Then, there is no taking ‘the enemy’s country.’ (and the key point of my comment in response to that particular quote from Sunzi…and his intended readers who were dukes).

        2. JTMcPhee

          There’s lots more there of course. A lot of bitter experience distilled to pithy wisdom.

          Not surprisingly, the Chinese, in this new era of “hybrid war” (actually just the usual state of play in the game of the powerful versus the less powerful, given a hoity-toity moniker to justify the MIC’s continued domination of play on “our side”), seem, not surprisingly, adept at taking the parts of the “enemy’s” country without destroying the country. Not true in all places, see Tibet and others, but their version of mercantilism or whatever the current Game might be called seems to be working pretty good. Not that in the context of global climate collapse the US imperium ought to be stealing the Chinese signals and playbook to try to stay in the Game.

          “A strange game. The only way to win is not to play.”

          Not sure what the Chinese equivalent of The Game of RISK! ™ might be, but no doubt some jokers in the various US and NATO and other 5 Eyes War Colleges are at least looking at the question, likely as part of desires to be the ones to write the Grand Strategic Doctrine that will Ensure Victory! (A word that they use liberally but never dare to define, lest results be compared against the selling pitch…) and catapult them up the Chain of Command, to take their place alongside victorious luminaries like Stan McChrystal ( ) and William Westmoreland and Norman Schwarzkopf and of course “Mad Dog” Mattis…

          Not that any thinking along the lines that are approached if not embraced and elucidated through to their endpoints by Andrew Bacevich and others has a snowball’s prayer of deflecting The World’s Greatest Military By Dollars Spent into any different channels than the quest for hegemony in that floating-target notion of “full spectrum dominance.” Everything weaponized, including the weather if “we” can only just figure out how to control it —

          For some definition of “we.”

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The only way to win is not to play.


            A great observation.

            Similarly, animals, including the third ape, kill in order to eat and live. Not so much with plants and photosynthesis. So, ideally, we don’t kill, but practically, we (here, vegetarians and vegans are included) have, unless we live on water (clean water at that) alone.

            So it is with nations. Perhaps, to not perish, a nation has to play the game…defensively

            1. LifelongLib

              OK, but not playing actually means locking in existing borders, however they were arrived at. Had that been done a little over a hundred years ago, it would have meant respecting the British, German, Turkish, Austro-Hungarian, Russian etc. Empires. Were they more just than what we have now? What about the nations (or similar entities) that existed 200, 4000, 50000 years ago? Even the whole indigenous peoples thing is suspect. Why are they necessarily more entitled to a certain space than people who came along later? Are the living to be slaves to the dead?

              1. JTMcPhee

                That’s a rather big stone to drop on this thread.

                Is the argument that the horrors of “human history” ought to just run on the way they have, because what else is right and proper or just inevitable?

                Who has any right to dictate the future, can I ask? Us mopes who mostly (other than sectarian warfare and ethnic cleansing and such) just want to get along?

                Who has the POWER to dictate the future? The best of us? As to deciding borders and “nations” and “peoples,”partition and merger (like “Anschluß”) and Volkerwanderungen happen, have happened, usually via great violence, including ”natural” change like the kind we are experiencing, and moving deeper into, now.

                “Are the living to be slaves to the dead?” Nah, we’re the slaves to the people who take power and decide. Until some of us get it into our heads to be the next little bunch to decide for the rest of us.

        3. Amfortas the hippie

          it’s a slim little pocket book.
          worth reading, but essentially “look before you leap” and “don’t be stupid”.
          it’s really popular with high school football coaches, it turns out.
          wife was encouraged to read it when she was a tennis coach.

          1. Gaianne

            –“look before you leap” and “don’t be stupid”–

            Sounds easy, but history shows exactly how much trouble politicians and generals have putting that into practice!

            Sun Szu is very concise, very coherent, and very good. But it is not a recipe book. You have to think!

            So it does most people who read it no good at all.


    1. pjay

      All potential Warren supporters should watch this (it’s short). And then try to explain it away. This isn’t pragmatic hem-hawing around the issue. She flat out calls Maduro a “horrible dictator” and supports the coup effort and economic sanctions. No wonder she’s getting some Blob love as its favored candidates fall by the wayside.

  14. Mike

    Re: 25 Times Trump Has Been Dangerously Hawkish On Russia Caitlin Johnstone (JZ).

    I think Caitlin, along with many who wish to see black-n-white on these issues, is not seeing the simple formula Trump uses in his methods of dealing with foreign policy and other nations.

    1- You threaten and go all Phineas T. Bluster on them, warning of huge consequences should the USA not be pleased with their actions. This, of course, relies upon the spying and insertion of agents from US who are from the very agencies he sometimes denigrates, the military option (based upon their intelligence agents), and the economic sanctions relying upon corporate cooperation. This is only phase 1, to be followed by…

    2- Meetings with said leaders, dictators, etc. who have just received previous threats, and in those meetings Trump will say “hey, that garbage comes from my State Dept. and warhawks that I have not replaced yet – can’t we come to a deal so I can rescind the threatened actions and we can both get something out of it?”.

    It can work a few times, but depends upon reliance that nation has on our import/export and finance functions. This method takes off the gloves in public, which infuriates the bureaucracy, and sidesteps their under-the-table influence, which is most of why we have Russia-and-Ukraine-gate. His two-faced policy toward Russia & China is not waffling or betrayal, just opening the book on US methods since WW2.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Caitlin Johnstone, Bloomberg, NYT, AP, Al Jazeera, RT, etc. – perhaps we should start all of them out with skepticism, not assuming any of them to be factual, but trying to verify as much as we can.

    2. xkeyscored

      I think the US has become much more dangerously hawkish toward Russia in recent years, but not Trump in particular. I feared a Clinton win in 2016, lest her plans for confronting Russia in Syria escalated into global war. Trump appears, so far, to have arrived at some kind of modus vivendi with Russia. And Johnstone’s list of 25 times isn’t noticeably different to previous administrations’ records – upgrading nuclear weapons, sending troops and weapons to NATO countries bordering Russia, sanctions, …

      1. JTMcPhee

        HC, I recall, was pushing confrontation more than in Syria — NATO expansion (predated her tenure but was pushed) and Ukraine/Crimea/Black Sea access, just more of the same “containment”-> destruction of anything Rus.

      2. Kilgore Trout

        Re: The Defense One article: What’s left out is important for context, and as is, amounts to the dominant narrative–i.e. propaganda.
        “Soon after, Russia began military operations in Crimea, and then moved troops into eastern Ukraine. As if to demonstrate its hostility and independence to Americans, the Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.”

        Ray McGovern neatly elaborates why the first sentence is missing vital context, and as for the second, have they not heard of Bill Binney?

        1. Gaianne

          It is odd that Defense One left out the Georgia war of 8 August 2008. The US urged the Georgians to do what Russia viewed as an ethnic cleansing (of the Ossetians) as part of a process of flipping Georgia to NATO. The Russians were unhappy with both aspects of this.

          Already in 2008 the Russians had changed from their strategy of acquiescence, and decided to treat US threats as a bluff they were prepared to call. The Georgians were beaten, and the US abandoned its promises to the Georgians. Georgia is still not part of NATO,

          I think this was all just so embarrassing to the US that we have simply forgotten it ever happened.


  15. JTMcPhee

    I read that the Provisional Leader of Bolivia has granted the police and armed forces the right to massacre citizens with impunity.

    Trump gets the same notion, that holding your troops to higher standards is not a great pathway to longevity in office: “ Trump Restores Rank to SEAL, Grants Clemency for Soldiers in War Zone Crimes Cases.”

    And for those who want to “thank veterans for their service,” and Feel Good About Imperial Militarism, there are stories like this: “ Air Force Special Tactics Chief Awarded Silver Star for Raining Hell on the Enemy in Afghanistan,” The fun text in that article for me is this, from the brave Chief Master Sergeant who with those troops he called in close air support for after they got ambushed by “Hajjis” in Notagainistan, had this to aw-shucks say:

    “ It’s not about me, but more about our Airmen that are hauling the mail daily,” Grove said, per the release. “There are hundreds of valorous acts, both in the last 18 years and to this day; I appreciate what our Air Force, [Air Force Special Operations Command], and Special Tactics Airmen are doing daily while prosecuting the nation’s business.

    Recall the commonplace that has no power to affect us any more, apparently — that observation by Maj. Gen, Smedley Butler, after invading little countries for corporate profit for 30 years, that “War is a racket:”

    WAR is a racket. It always has been.
    It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

    A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

    In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

    How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

    Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few — the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill….

    So US troops on murky missions are sent out on patrol to “draw fire,” and take casualties of course, to justify “Raining Hell” on people in a country a third of the way around the world, where by any honest accounting of “international law,” let alone basic morality, the Empire has no damm business to be. Said casualties then become one part of the justification for more Raining Hell, and more patrols to incur more casualties, to justify Raining More Hell…

    Of course this Vietnam veteran will likely be long dead before various combinations of circumstance combine to bring an end to this most stupid of Stupid Human Tricks… As we tune in to breathlessly parse over the latest Damning Revelations from the UkraineGate Hearings, to wager how Brexit is going to turn out, and to root for our favorite neoliberal candidate in the next Great Debate…

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Thanks for this. We can’t stop the war if stopping the war is not even on the radar. The Dem Party recently posted a poll on which issues people were most concerned about: the war was not even listed.

      All Trump has to do is announce some peaciness and he wins this issue from the Dems, who, unbelievably, have ceded this ground entirely.

      Go Tulsi.

  16. Oregoncharles

    On Facebook false accounts, from the referenced NC story: ” Facebook was not concerned with stopping duplicate or fake accounts.””
    I can attest to this; at a political meeting a couple of years ago (well 2012), I watched two of our Facebook operatives admit that they had “sockpuppet” accounts – more than one. Seemed to be just part of the game. So let’s say 15% of PEOPLE on FB did that, more than one each – could be nearly half of accounts are fake. Neither complained about any effort on FB’s part to prevent them. And those accounts – I saw at least one – looked fake, even to me.

    Lately, FB’s been bragging about clearing out billions of accounts – probably combining censorship with hygiene. A footnote: lots of websites use FB accounts as ID, eg for commenting. Maybe they shouldn’t.

    1. urblintz

      I can’t tell you how many liberal and left sites, as well as all the rest, that I’ve e mailed (through “contacts”) asking just that: given the atrocious behavior of FB and twitter why do you require readers to comment/sign in through those platforms?


    1. xkeyscored

      You know, if you look at the moon, you can see a rabbit there. Or maybe a man if you’re not Chinese.
      A kind of projected formication, if you ask me.

  17. David

    As you say, the Gilets jaunes haven’t had much coverage the anglo-salon media recently, though to be fair there was a good story in the Guardian (of all places), making a suggestive link between the protests and the sombre fifth anniversary of the 2015 massacres in Paris. Not stated, but implicit, was the judgement that both are a product of the neglect by successive governments of everything except the needs of the 10%, leaving rural areas to rot, and the grim suburbs to be taken over by fundamentalists from the Gulf. Now the bills are coming in, the government has literally no idea what to do.
    The French media has been in navel-gazing mode over the last week or so, and the consensus of serious commentators (which for what it’s worth I agree with) is that the problems that sparked off the GJ protests have not gone away, even if the protests themselves have changed form and involve fewer people. Let me throw in a couple of thoughts of my own.
    The first is that the GJ movement has nothing in common with the large, organised protests traditional in France, marching along familiar routes, hearing speeches and so forth. The GJ were and are full of desperation and anger, and, from the beginning the movement has always been aggressive. This doesn’t necessarily mean violence – at least not against people – but it does mean that the GJ by and large have no experience of, and are not interested in, the traditional kind of street theatre. Numbers, therefore, don’t count nearly as much, when you are causing traffic jams, invading offices and smashing up shops. From the beginning the GJ were practising a kind of guerrilla warfare to which the state had no answer. As many of the early supporters have dropped out, disillusioned by their inability to bring Macron down, or even shake his hold on power, those who remain are the most radical, the angriest and those most likely to resort to violence against property, as happened last weekend. The problem for the government is that if they can’t control the streets, protect public and commercial buildings and disperse violent protests, the people start questioning their very legitimacy. The problem is exacerbated by the return in force of the “casseurs” and black blocks, absent for some time, but mixing in with the GJ in search of something to smash.
    The last few weeks of the year look like being exciting ones. It only requires the rumour of GJ activity for shops and malls to close, as happened last year, at just the wrong time of year. Macron has decided that pension plans need to be “reformed” (ie worsened) and this is unleashing a whole new wave of protests. SNCF, the national railway company, has going to largely close down from 5 December because of a national strike, and the RATP, the transport system of the Paris region, is also badly threatened. If you were thinking of coming to Paris this Christmas and New Year, don’t.
    Meanwhile, the political news continues to get worse. An opinion poll about ten days ago credited Macron and Le Pen with effectively the same score (27/28%) in the first round of a putative Presidential election, and Macron with only a relatively narrow victory (55/45) in the second. Given that we are still two and a half years from the election, and that the situation can only get worse for Macron unless a miracle happens, this is very bad news for the French elites. Once again, Le Pen’s score is only partly because she is the single politician articulating the sort of concerns the GJ have expressed. It’s also because the traditional parties of Left and Right have imploded since 2017, and are effectively out of the game. The one politician who might have made a difference, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who with a bit of luck might have been President today, has lost much of his support by adopting an arrogant and aggressive leadership style, making wild accusations about the government trying to have his assassinated, and, most recently, walking arm in arm with fundamentalist imams whom he previously bitterly criticised. Both traditional Left and traditional Right are unfit for purpose, and Macron is seen to have fewer and fewer strong points, apart from his smile and his expensive suits. The municipal elections in the Spring, after a GJ and strikebound winter, were always going to be difficult for Macron. Now they might be a disaster.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Thank you for that. The Cone of Silence is just enormous, isn’t it?

      One nice thing about Macron is that he occasionally lets slip some home truth, like that statement to assembled ambassadors that “the West” has shot its bolt, spiked its own cannons, crapped its own bed And has been overtaken by the rest of the world. And incautiously noting that NATO is “brain dead,” prompting a “visit” from the NATO chief to “ask for an explanation.” This piece to me is a real revelatory hoot.

      These are the forking people who rule the world, eh?

  18. WFGersen

    The article on housing on LI should be read by anyone who believes that minority parents have a choice about where to live and, consequently, where to send their children to school. The neoliberals who see school choice as the easiest avenue to attain equitable opportunity and the libertarians who see vouchers and free markets as the best way forward know very well that black families do not have and presumably never will have the same opportunities to choose where they live. Nor will school choice ever offer an opportunity for students in overcrowded and underfunded schools to attend under crowded and well funded schools in neighboring districts. Brown v. Board of Education was supposed to do away with separate but equal schools… the Newsday article illustrates that 65 years later nothing has changed….

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