Links 11/28/19

Happy Turkey Day!

Police Hilariously Ask for ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ After Responding to Spilled Krispy Kreme Delivery People (resilc)

How to Organize Your Friends and Family on Thanksgiving Jacobin. Chuck L was very keen about this piece, but I have to confess hate it. It’s another face of the DCCC piece dispensing Thanksgiving talking points. While the article has very valuable suggestions about how to engage with people whose views differ from yours, the idea that Thanksgiving (and by implication any family/social gathering) should be used for electioneering is a turnoff. These days should be for doing the best you can to have a good time or at least not a bad time, not selling, even a soft sell.

Mysterious interstellar object pictured coming towards us from deep space – and will make ‘close approach’ next month The Sun (furzy)

Directed evolution teaches bacteria to eat carbon dioxide New Atlas (David L)

Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against Nature (David L)

UN: The world has backed itself into a treacherous corner on climate change Vox (Troy P)

Aluminum Casting a Vehicle Gear Using Sand Mold YouTube. Up only five days and nearly a half a million views. Resilc: “Poster boy for right to repair.”

Study: Caffeine, Xanax Found In ‘Pure’ Blood Samples Used For Transfusions StudyFinds (resilc)

Antibiotic-Resistant Fungi Are a Growing Health Threat Undark (guurst). More of these warnings. Stay out of hospitals if at all possible. But would probably help to identify the 13 states where these infections have occurred.

China?

China accuses US of ‘sinister intentions’ after Trump signs bills supporting Hong Kong protesters CNBC. Moar provocation…

China and football YouTube. PlutoniumKun: “A nice, short explanatory clip about the (possible) Chinese government link with football and investments in China (shorter version – they are using club purchases as a means of establishing links for broader investments).”

Brexit

Boris Johnson Set for 68-Seat Majority According to YouGov Poll Bloomberg. Vlade:

If true (it may be off, as it’s still not a per-constituency poll, but a stratified regression, so misses local issues), Labour in general, and Corbyn in particular, are a toast. This could turn into Corbyn’s equivalent of Blair’s Iraq war – something that he would never be forgiven for by a large chunk of voters, especially if Brexit turns into a disaster (equivalent to “we can’t find any WMD here. doh”).

TBH, I would shed no tears for Corbyn, but I’m afraid that a number of Labour policies that are genuinely helpful would be parked for quite some time as Corbynite and thus gone for foreseeable future.

Jeremy Corbyn Hates All Jews Ilargi

Aufruhr im DIW – Kritik an Präsident Marcel Fratzscher wächst Handelsblatt. Apparently a huge deal in Germany. This position is way more important than, say, the head of NBER, and it’s unheard of anyone in this sort of role to be challenged this way. Apparently fake left v. real right, but still….

Lessons From The Bolivian Coup Current Affairs (UserFriendly)

Media Wonder: Why Can’t Venezuela Be More Like Bolivia? FAIR (UserFriendly)

New Cold War

Syraqistan

Libya is ground zero’: drones on frontline in bloody civil war Guardian (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

The US trail of the man whose security firm spied on Julian Assange El Pais. Troy P:

I don’t quite know what to make of the last paragraph. “On November 22, 2018, several months after UC Global had stopped providing its services at the embassy, Morales asked his employees whether they had any records of visits by Paul Manafort in 2013, 2015 and 2016.”

Remember that 5 days later on November 27, 2018 the Guardian published the story about Paul Manafort meeting Julian Assange in 2013, 2015 and 2016? https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/nov/27/manafort-held-secret-talks-with-assange-in-ecuadorian-embassy

Who asked Morales about Manafort? The Guardian writers or some intelligence agency? It’s just curious.

Democrats Propose Sweeping Online Privacy Laws Guardian

Web trackers using CNAME Cloaking to bypass browsers’ ad blockers Daily Swig (Dan K)

Trump Transition

Trump Has Spent $115 Million On Golf Trips ― Or 287 Years Of Presidential Salary HuffPost (resilc)

Ousted Navy secretary calls Trump’s war crimes intervention ‘shocking and unprecedented’ CNN

World War T: How Fox News gave Trump a “war on Thanksgiving” | Media Matters (furzy). This is Media Matters. However, how long has Trump been President…..yet it’s clear that he loves winding people up by saying nutty or provocative or creepy or coded bigoted stuff, and the more attention he gets, the more it encourages him. If one must react, laughing at him is better than getting irate or going into scold mode.

The Press Should Not Be Shielding FBI Malfeasance Consortium News. Chuck L:

The Post article, as well as articles in The New York Times, at CNN, and in other outlets, downplayed the behavior as having had “no effect” on the FBI’s surveillance of Page, ignoring the fact that tampering with a federal document is a felony. That’s consistent with the Justice Department’s own policy of protecting their own while wrecking the lives of those who have the guts to stand up to them.

ICE arrests 90 more students at fake university in Michigan Detroit News

Impeachment

Trump Knew of Whistle-Blower Complaint When He Released Aid to Ukraine New York Times (furzy)

The new details about Trump blocking aid to Ukraine, explained Vox

Multiple women recall sexual misconduct and retaliation by Gordon Sondland ProPublica (resilc)

Stop Saying That Impeachment Is Political New Yorker (furzy)

SCOTUS Warns Too Low State Law Campaign Contribution Limits May be Unconstitutional National Conference of State Legislatures (UserFriendly)

It’s Way Too Easy to Get a .gov Domain Name Krebs on Security (Robert M)

Cuomo says ‘design-build’ will save the MTA money. New research says otherwise New York Daily News. Per our resident construction expert bob: “Design-build is a recipe for fraud. One firm can get paid for messing up the design, and then paid more for fixing it in construction.”

Port Neches: Texas chemical plant blasts lead to evacuation order BBC

PG&E loses bid to get off the hook for billions in wildfire damages Associated Press

Boeing 777X’s fuselage split dramatically during September stress test Seattle Times. Brian C: “OMG the photo is terrifying.”

Dubai Is Adding Tesla Cybertrucks To Its Police Car Fleet Futurism

Cable Execs Now Falsely Claiming Cord Cutting Is Slowing Down TechDirt

The Frailest Thing Is Dead L.M. Sacasas :-(

Distressed debt flashes warning sign on US economy Financial Times

Practitioner’s Guide to MMT: Part 1 and Part 2 MacroTourist (UserFriendly). Great layperson explanations.

Class Warfare

Failing States, Collapsing Systems: BioPhysical Triggers of Political Violence Ahmed Nafeez Mosaddeq. A 2017 study but still germane. Thomas R highlights this part:

Since the 2008 financial crash, the world has witnessed an unprecedented outbreak of social unrest in every major continent. Beginning with the birth of the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring, the eruption of civil disorder continues to wreak havoc unpredictably from Greece to Ukraine, from China to Thailand, from Brazil to Turkey, and beyond. Yet while policymakers and media observers have raced to keep up with events, they have largely missed the biophysical triggers of this new age of unrest – the end of the age of cheap fossil fuels, and its multiplying consequences for the Earth’s climate, industrial food production, and economic growth. This book for the first time develops an empirically-ground theoretical model of the complex interaction between biophysical processes and geopolitical crises, demonstrated through the analysis of a wide range of detailed case studies of historic, concurrent and probable state failures in the Middle East, Northwest Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Europe and North America. Geopolitical crises across these regions, Ahmed argues, are being driven by the proliferation of climate, food and economic crises which have at their root the common denominator of a fundamental and permanent disruption in the energy basis of industrial civilization.

These Judges Can Have Less Training Than Barbers but Still Decide Thousands of Cases Each Year ProPublica (Chris, UserFriendly). Nominated for “Guillotine Watch” but that’s limited to Versailles-level excess.

Uber’s ‘Dirty Little Secret’: Shared Driver Accounts Wall Street Journal. Key section:

People who rent accounts and cars from Uber drivers do so in most cases because they lack a driver’s license, would likely fail a background check or can’t afford a car, said Harry Campbell, a former Uber driver and author of the Rideshare Guy blog. “Usually the reasons are nefarious,” he said.

After 240 Years and 7 Generations, Forced to Sell the Family Farm New York Times (David L)

The ‘crisis of capitalism’ is not the one Europeans think it is Branko Milanović, Guardian (Stephen M). Important.

Antidote du jour (CV). This may be his almost pet bunny that visits for snacks:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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262 comments

  1. Redlife2017

    Vlade: TBH, I would shed no tears for Corbyn, but I’m afraid that a number of Labour policies that are genuinely helpful would be parked for quite some time as Corbynite and thus gone for foreseeable future.

    Vlade, Corbyn has truly changed the party from within. It’s one of the things he’s most proud of (we were speaking a week ago about some of this). After Corbyn won’t be Corbyn, but it won’t be Tory light either (that’s what the LibDems are for). He’s also changed the national conversation considerably. The Tories are having to throw money at things because Labour refuses to engage on the austerity turf.

    I know you’ve also stated before why you don’t like Corbyn, which means I do find it hard to engage with your criticisms. This is because I’ve personally interacted with him on multiple occasions and know some of his friends. I can only say that I completely and utterly disagree with your take on Corbyn and his impact on the Party due to my own personal experience. I also recognise that most people do not get to have this type of interaction with Corbyn and all you can go by is what MSM says. But considering how Bernie is viewed here on NC (another person who gets nailed by the MSM and who Corbyn is working with, by the way), I would have thought not always going to what the MSM says is the way to go. But I will note that this is my take and a very personal one.

    Also, I take anything that YouGov says with a grain of salt. They’ve been consistently poor in volatile electoral conditions and only call people with landlines. People are going to make their mind up when they get to the voting booth. It’s a very volatile electorate and I for one am not willing to say if it’s going to be one way or another.

    The good Doctor (Dr. Hunter S Thompson, Gonzo) always leads the way for me:
    “There’s a terrible danger in voting for the lesser of two evils because the parties can set it up that way.”

    “Anybody who thinks that ‘it doesn’t matter who’s President’ has never been Drafted and sent off to fight and die in a vicious, stupid war on the other side of the world–or been beaten and gassed by Police for trespassing on public property–or been hounded by the IRS for purely political reasons–or locked up in the Cook County Jail with a broken nose and no phone access and twelve perverts wanting to stomp your ass in the shower. That is when it matters who is President or Governor or Police Chief. That is when you will wish you had voted.”

    Reply
    1. fdr-fan

      It does matter who’s in charge, but “elections” have exactly zero connection to the choice.

      Occasionally a good leader like Harding or FDR gets into office by miracle or accident. Usually he’s assassinated or neutered and his good work is cancelled.

      Occasionally an ordinary bad leader like Obama does one or two good things like stopping our wars against Cuba and Persia. His good work was quickly cancelled by strictly ordinary Trump.

      All we can do is pray.

      Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      Unfortunately, I don’t think the YouGov survey can be so easily dismissed. It used a truly gigantic sample (over 100,000 interviews) and a very detailed and reasonably well proven methodology (it more or less worked in the last election). It is also relatively granular on a constituency by constituency basis.

      Reply
      1. Dan

        Re: trying to “organize your friends and family in Thanksgiving” – when I was growing up my father, a left-wing blowhard, would often use Thanksgiving as a chance to sermonize to my Republican grandfather and uncle about the evils of reaganism. Grandpa was too much of a gentleman to react, but my uncle would occasionally challenge dad to step outside and fight. It was especially dumb as they could have all just talked about something they were all really interested in, like civil war history or something, but my dad was so annoyed at having to hang out with his in laws every Thanksgiving that he couldn’t chill out.

        The whole thing has gave me a lifelong horror of politics at the holidays and informed my own organizing approach, which involves a lot of listening.

        Reply
      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Yes, YouGov has been one of the most accurate UK pollsters precisely due to their large sample sizes. They were also the best on the Brexit vote.

        Redlife also ignores a key point that vlade makes: Corbyn is overly captive to hard core ideologues among his advisers, such as Seamus Milne, who ironically our Richard Smith met back in his uni days. You would not see that in a one on one interaction. Guys like Milne determine Corbyn’s stands on Brexit and other issues, and Corbyn’s waffling and incoherence on Brexit has done him and Labour considerable damage.

        Reply
        1. avoidhotdogs

          Sample sizes are important but not in the way people think. I used “multilevel modelling with post stratification” in my medical statistics PhD. YouGov’s use of this term to justify its “new way” means everything and nothing and tells me nothing about what they really did. It’s an impressive sounding term for the media. Their justification in 2017 was clearer (though still lacking on transparency).

          Adding another person polled who is similar to others in their INTERNAL VARIATION is useless (Like adding more people from a sampled hospital). So, for instance, proper sampling of 2000 people nationally who used a McFadden type choice model (each providing 10+ independent data points) means an effective sample size of around 20000. I did this in 2017 but I admit I was v v lucky – I happened to have run a national choice model on BREXIT and politics a week before May called the surprise election.

          YouGov remain very untransparent about the nuts and bolts of their model. On the one hand they “get” that traditional opinion polls fail because they are using one equation to solve for two unknowns (a mean and a variance)….the central limit theorem doesn’t apply with summing across biased data whose biases run in systematic but variously different ways. They are attempting to construct a 2nd equation – bravo. But a “70% chance of voting Labour for voter Smith” is STILL insufficient to do the full job without care. See Thurstone 1927 who proved the math of voting models. But IN PRINCIPLE YouGov could solve this…. It’s their PRACTICE that concerns me. We need transparency.

          Reply
    3. vlade

      First, YouGov. YouGov was closest on European elections of all polsters. It was also the only one to get a good handle on 2017 elections. Past performance is no indicator of future of course, but >100k interviews (i.e. NOT poll on the web) across the Great Britain should not be really tossed away.

      Re Corbyn.
      Ultimately, political leaders are not judged on their private personalities, but on their political sucess. On Labour – the party is still split, and juding by comments from other Labour members or ex-members, w/o that much direction. But that’s second/third hand comments, so I don’t really care.

      Corbyn is, so far, failing, to effectively sell policies that are even liked. And that is even after TV appearances that were even handed. A lot of people I spoke to came with “you know, he comes across as a nice chap”. But would still not vote for him – because he still did not strike them as being “PM material”, and when pressed “leader”. They were saying the brexit “policy”, labour MP mess and dealing with the antisemitism accusations (although none all of them, most of them one or two of the above) as their “proof” that he was indecisive and unable to make hard calls.

      TBH, I do not believe he is undecisive – but there are issues that he either doesn’t care too much either way (Brexit), or actually has a stance that he does want to live by (ability to leave quite a lot of leeway to MPs), and there he has a problem.

      Because, unlike a backbencher, as the PM, or even leader or the party, you do not get to pick and choose which issues are to you – the voters expect you to deal with the issues that are important to them (you can, of course, manipulate them to get them to care about your issues, but that’s not his forte either).

      Because a leader does not need to be nice. The a leader needs to be able to get things done.

      And, for an aspiring political leader, even more important is to be seen as someone who can get things done (regardless of whether they can or not, cf. Johnson).

      Unless Labour can form a goverenment post this election, we have a proof positive that Corbyn failed in it – regardless of what we, personally, believe. Because his job was not persuade you, or even me (knowing you).
      His job was to presuade John and Jane Doe in enough constituencies given the reality on the ground. Which is why I don’t buy the complaints about the media – not because they would not be true, but because they had to be expected.

      Was he handicapped from the start? Well, quite possible. But, to make a brutal metaphor, if you knowingly bring in a lame horse to the races, it’s not the fault of the organisers or other racers that you lose. If you chose a handicapped leader, you have to deal with the consequences.

      Reply
      1. avoidhotdogs

        YouGov did indeed get it approximately right in 2017. Part of their input variables (as claimed then) were attitudes (which are more stable than “preferences”). At the time I stated that although their question format was not methodologically sound (*apparently* using traditional but mathematically weak Likert scales), it was “thinking along the right lines”.

        I used a national survey choice model (which I thought their model was doing a “quick & dirty” approximation to) and knew May would lose her majority. I bet at the bookie and made money on it.

        I’m unsure but I think YouGov has tweaked the “alternative model”…. And TBH it sounds less convincing this time round. I think they might be overfitting their model using variables that are less predictive than they hope. They have some odd predictions for some key seats.

        Reply
        1. vlade

          Ok, I didn’t dig into their model deeply.

          TBH, I still consider hung parliament the most likely outcome, but a Tory majority a close second. Somethign massive would have to happen for Labour to catch up – there are few polls that show them less than 10% behind Tories at this stage.

          In 2017, Labour preference were growing with literlly every poll since the moment the election was called, and Tories were stagnating or indeed dropping in the later stages.
          This is missing from the current one, where Labour did make some gains (but from a very low base), but Tories were growing much more (i.e. Tories are now consistently polling >40%, while Labour is at best low 30s%, more usually high 20s).

          It’s always possible to screw up a poll (and usually pretty easy). But I still think it’d not be ignored just becase it doesn’t fit into one’s worldview (as some commenters here ignored it).

          Reply
          1. avoidhotdogs

            TBH, I still consider hung parliament the most likely outcome, but a Tory majority a close second. Somethign massive would have to happen for Labour to catch up – there are few polls that show them less than 10% behind Tories at this stage

            TBH I agree 100% about hung parliament. The trouble is that is completely based on my gut. I don’t trust my gut anymore. In 2017 I made a 2nd bet, more optimistic about Corbyn, based on my gut and NOT on my data. I lost that one. But I still made a small monetary gain at the bookie overall.

            I agree too many people ignore polls based on their worldview…..but there is a key point that although I have a lot of questions about this “YouGov Alternative model”, I remain of the view that it has diagnosed the fundamental problem with traditional polls (namely that they must estimate two parameters from one equation which is impossible and they normalise one to be unity to get “an answer” and which is increasingly WRONG in the modern political climate). The question is “YouGov, what EXACTLY have you done to construct the 2nd equation in order to estimate (separate) the two parameters?”

            Reply
      2. Harvey

        Sorry vlade, but you just don’t understand that Jeremy Corbin is irrelevant to the situation. His problem isnt that he is Jeremy Corbin. His problem is that he is supporting policies that will derail a number of very lucrative gravy trains.

        The people who are on the gravy trains are very rich. They siphon tax money through privatisation of trains, education and training, prisons, military functions and increasingly the NHS. US pharma can’t wait for Brexit. The people on the gravy trains have a lot of power. Thats whats sooo good about having lots of money. They have power over what the media prints because they own it, over the incumbent government because they funded it, even over the police (shoutout to Prince Andrew).

        Every politician has something that can be weaponised against them. Every politician. Corbin’s view that perhaps the Palestinians shouldnt be living in camps has been weaponised against him. Anti-semitism is such a useful term. But if Moses led the Labour Party and wanted to redistribute the UK wealth to benefit more citizens, then the gravytrainers would find a weakness in him and hammer it and hammer it through their media until no-one liked or trusted Moses either.

        So its not due to a personality, its due to a pattern which has played out all over the world, where the gravytrainers pull up the ladder after they own everything and then sit in their castles throwing rocks at anyone who wants to share in the spoils. Monkeys do the same thing with bananas and thats where our genes come from.

        Reply
        1. vlade

          AOC and Sanders are way more effective than Corbyn, and I just don’t believe they are under less pressure than he is.

          It’s not about gravytrainers. It’s about people that do not believe the old parties anymore. Corbyn did have his big chance in 2017 (you know, that bit where he pulled in 40+% of voters?), but squandered it.

          Reply
        2. PlutoniumKun

          You can keep telling yourself that story, but it doesn’t make it true. All reformist parties of the left or right face opposition from entrenched interests. Its up to them to co-opt those that can be co-opted, and fight those that can’t be co-opted.

          Of course Corbyn faced huge opposition from the political and economic establishment, but that was easy to anticipate. The reality is that he has dealt with it badly. It is pretty clear from the polls that the British people have decided they don’t see him as PM material. That the alternative was May and now Johnson (both some of the most unpopular Tory leaders in recent history) shows how poor job he has done on this. I don’t actually blame Corbyn, who I like and admire. I blame the advisors around him – but then again, it was up to him to chose the right people to listen to and he opted for ideological purity over competence. That’s all up to him.

          Reply
    4. Otis B Driftwood

      Thanks for the HST quote. And yes, I don’t get the animosity to Corbyn here either. Hope that poll is inaccurate and Labour does well.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The animosity is because he is incompetent and is therefore hurting the leftist cause. He should have been able to make mincemeat of the Tories over Brexit and instead he turned it into an own goal.

        He is a backbencher who never had a Cabinet position and his limited leadership experience is showing. As others have suggested, you need a certain level of ruthlessness and that may be Corbyn’s fatal weakness.

        Reply
    5. David

      Not all good political leaders become Prime Minister. That was the fate of Hugh Gaitskell (probably the best PM Britain never had) who died before he could lead Labour into political dominance in the 60s and 70s. Neil Kinnock, for all that he was mocked then, as Corbyn is now, modernised the party and got rid of the Militant Tendency. Perhaps Corbyn will be seen as the man who gave Labour its soul back, even if he never becomes PM himself. The one thing Labour is going to need is a well-organised and motivated machine to profit from Tory mistakes at the right moment.
      If you want a terrifying counter-example look at France. Hollande allowed the Socialist Party to disintegrate into a bazaar of competing Id Pol entrepreneurs, transforming what had been the dominant political party in France in 2016 into a footnote today, that now barely exists, and polls, where it polls at all, in the low single figures. It only got into the news recently because its leaders demonstrated side by side with extremist Salafist clerics. Its middle class voters went to the Greens, its working class now support the National Front. Clever, that. The Left as a force in France now scarcely exists.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        John Smith was another potentially excellent PM who died before he got the chance.

        I don’t follow much French politics, but I do find it astonishing at how fast the Socialists disintegrated. And Hollande was supposed be a dull, but highly competent technocrat (or so I thought at the time). He proved astonishingly bad at almost everything.

        Reply
        1. Massinissa

          “And Hollande was supposed be a dull, but highly competent technocrat (or so I thought at the time). He proved astonishingly bad at almost everything.”

          Hollande could be replaced with Theresa May and and an S added in front of he, and the statement would still work. (Un)fortunately the Tory party managed to survive her, although on the other hand, I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a major center right party self destruct magnificently the way the French Socialist Party did.

          Reply
      2. Massinissa

        I’m not very familiar with the labour party pre-Kinnock, what was the ‘militant tendency’ and why did it need to be gotten rid of?

        Reply
        1. David

          This article will tell you probably more than you want to know. Basically, Militant was a Trotskyist (Fourth International) entryist group that targeted local Labour Parties in the 70s and 80s with the aim of taking them over and electing Militant MPs to Parliament. (There were actually a couple elected). They were very powerful, well financed because their supporters were obliged to give a large part of their earnings to Militant, and at one point had more full-time paid organisers than the Labour Party. They were, of course, a gift to Tory propaganda and to the media, and played a role in the catastrophic loss of the 1983 election.

          Reply
      3. avoidhotdogs

        In 1951 UK Labour Prime Minister Attlee called a second election in rapid succession, being unwilling to keep pulling in all his MPs (some of whom were old or sick) for every vote, having had his majority slashed to 6 in 1950 by Churchill.

        Ironically turnout was extraordinary PLUS he won the popular vote, being the ONLY party to get 40% OF ALL registered voters to support him in the modern political era. (Just multiply popular vote percentage by turnout – Wikipedia is reliable in this instance.) Yet due to first part the post Labour lost and (arguably) the Conservatives reaped the benefits for 13 years.

        Reply
      4. JBird4049

        Hollande allowed the Socialist Party to disintegrate into a bazaar of competing Id Pol entrepreneurs, transforming what had been the dominant political party in France in 2016 into a footnote today, that now barely exists, and polls,

        Now, why does this me think of the Democratic Party?

        Reply
      5. vlade

        IIRC, Kinnock moved the party towards centre, and it still took Blair to win the elections. Johnson is no Thatcher either, and her governments were spiritual giants compared to the current crop of Tory government (which says nothing about them, and a lot about the current crop).

        To me, Corbyn would have been a wonderful ideolougue-in-chief for Labour, or, even better “Labour’s conscience”, making sure that Labour does not get lost. But all of that matters little if you can’t get to power, and make real difference.

        But as I wrote above, I worry that if Labour loses again, it may well splinter, so Corbyn’s legacy would not be “giving Labour it’s soul back”, but fragmenting the left just when the right unified.

        Reply
    6. eg

      If you follow Mark Blyth at all, you will know that centre left parties have been disintegrating all over Europe. Perhaps Corbyn’s greatest achievement will simply be to have kept Labour as a viable opposition — perhaps even strong enough to deny the Tories a majority if the SNP resurges and the DUP falters.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Keeping Labour as a ‘viable opposition’ in the face of one of the most incompetent and unpopular Conservative governments (in terms of percentage of overall vote) is not an achievement to be proud of (not to mention that the Tories have faced opposition on the right while Labour is pretty much the only force on the left). The combination of FPTP voting and demography means its almost impossible for Labour to sink much below around 150 seats or so. FPTP means parties in Britain can’t fragment and reform and then thrive in the way that is normal in Europe. Labour has had an outstanding opportunity to wipe out the Tories as a political force and has blown it. That’s the simple reality.

        Reply
  2. GramSci

    I’ve got news for you Branko:

    Taking care of the elderly, of children, cooking and delivery of food, shopping, chores, dog walking and the like used to be done within households.

    … by servants. Unlike your friends, Branko, most people today can’t afford dog walkers.

    Reply
  3. Livius Drusus

    Re: The ‘crisis of capitalism’ is not the one Europeans think it is.

    The article is basically correct but I also think that the author downplays how devastating these changes have been. It seems like he is arguing that the changes wrought by capitalism are merely a cultural problem. I think our problems are much worse than just people being uncomfortable with capitalism invading spheres of life previously left outside of the market, as important as that issue is.

    I think this period is similar to the early modern period where once prosperous peasant societies were destroyed by policies like the enclosure movement. A recent article in The Guardian discussed this process.

    With subsistence economies destroyed, people had no choice but to work for pennies simply in order to survive. According to the Oxford economists Henry Phelps Brown and Sheila Hopkins, real wages declined by up to 70% from the end of the 15th century all the way through the 17th century. Famines became commonplace and nutrition deteriorated. In England, average life expectancy fell from 43 years in the 1500s to the low 30s in the 1700s.

    https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/22/progressive-politics-capitalism-unions-healthcare-education

    Compare this to some current trends like the fall in life expectancy in the United States.

    https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2019-11-26/life-expectancy-decline-deaths-of-despair

    The author was discussing Europe so perhaps that explains why he seems to see this as a cultural issue, but I believe that the United Kingdom is also seeing a rise in deaths of despair and this trend might spread to the Continent in the future if things get bad enough.

    My point is that the crisis of capitalism is worse than Branko Milanović makes it out to be. I worry that focusing on things like changing family structure falls into the hands of left-neoliberals who will say that people just need to be more “progressive” and accept changes to family life, which is hypocritical given that affluent people are actually doubling down on the nuclear family model (divorce rates have been dropping among the well-educated) and the advantages it brings when it comes to life outcomes. It is galling to hear liberals talk about dysfunction among working-class people as if it were progressive while they enjoy dual income “power marriages” and make sure their children are given massive advantages in upbringing.

    More generally, the biggest problem is that most people never asked for these changes, they were forced on ordinary people by elites. It is ridiculous that in the 21st century humans have to just accept massive and often devastating changes to their lives without having any voice in the decision to make those changes.

    A sense of powerlessness is also driving the widespread populist anger across many countries. At one time there were powerful labor unions and left-wing political parties that spoke for ordinary people but these have either declined or disappeared altogether so people are left looking for allies and populists like Trump and Salvini are happy to benefit from their anger and desperation.

    Reply
      1. Sol

        Big facts. It’s difficult to have a consumer-driven economy when people have little money. Bill Gates certainly buys the very best quality pants, and probably pays a fair bit for them – and yet he won’t be buying 300 million pairs of pants.

        Its similar to permanently high – and rising – property values. The danger to the market isn’t running out of housing; it lies in running out of people who can pay those prices.

        There’s a real possibility that MMT could repair this imbalance. People on the bottom need opportunity to access the market, build themselves up. We need to invest in our people in order to reap those dividends down the road. Of course, we don’t have to, but we also don’t have to have a consumption economy either. The universe doesn’t owe us one.

        Reply
        1. Danny

          “There’s a real possibility that MMT could repair this imbalance.”

          OK, so assume I’m a landlord. Every American gets a thousand bucks handed to them by the government every month. What’s to stop me from just jacking up my rents a thousand bucks a month, if there’s no rent control or lease?

          On the other hand,
          “How can we pay for Medicare For All?”

          “The same way we pay for Pentasyraquistan?”

          Reply
          1. Massinissa

            For the first half of your comment, I think you’re getting MMT and BGI confused. From what I can tell, Sol isn’t suggesting a BGI, but rather MMT spending on health, education, infrastructure and other projects which will boost the economy and put people to work, with all of this being ‘paid for’, as you mention, the same way we pay for bombing Syraqistan into next week for years on end.

            BGI, in contrast to MMT, does have the problems you mention in the first half of your comment, which is why I and many others hear are rather skeptical of Andrew Yang.

            Reply
            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              “The people versus Capitalism” is the wrong alignment and plays right into their hands.

              “The people versus the banks” is the correct alignment.

              And speaking of banks: NY Fed repo just surpassed $300 billion *per day* (according to Jim Bianco). $140B of that went into the new 42-day term product, which means it has spilled over from just the overnite markets, so their “technical adjustments, nothing to see here” argument is revealed as completely bogus.

              So the NY Fed is officially monetizing the US debt in order to keep the USG lights on. It’s MMT, folks.

              ECB head Christine Lagarde just called for the ECB to “play a key role” in climate efforts. In my view this signals three things: reinforces the above, that CBs will assume the role of directly funding public sector (and even private sector) activity; shows that their old role is disappearing as we approach the global monetary singularity of negative interest rates; and shows that their old role (last resort lending only in times of crisis against quality collateral to good credits at high rates) is morphing into something completely different.

              Problem is, they are completely unsuited for such a new role. They are unelected and unanswerable to the public. They also have no ability to analyze and select which projects should get funded.

              And problem is that none of the Dem candidates understand these issues so we will just sleepwalk into the worst possible configuration no matter who wins the “election”. Happy Thanksgiving!

              Reply
              1. Danny

                Hal,
                Could you please comment on Dylan Ratigan’s comment about $128 Billion being automatically pumped into the banker’s hands without public comment by Dodd Frank?

                Is it the same thing as a repo? I’m a non-economist, just a simple fellow, that’s getting the hang of this con game.

                https://www.greanvillepost.com/2019/11/15/jimmy-dore-with-dylan-ratigan-the-super-rich-have-no-country/

                After the 1 hour 39 minute mark here:
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23Dc2ZfpKmo

                Reply
                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  I watched the Ratigan video on your recommendation and agree it is a fundamental retelling that pulls the elements together better than anything I’d previously seen. And I completely agree with his assessment that this was the biggest theft in mankind’s history.

                  The Fed’s highest stated purpose is “the integrity and stability of the banking system”. Problem is, that mission justifies anything and everything beneath it. They are not in the business of ensuring a bank obeys the law, and if they break the law, even the “business law” of making terrible business decisions, all the Fed thinks they are required to do is make them whole.

                  So you have a radically anti-capitalist structure at the tippy top of a supposedly “capitalist” system. And that’s even before you even get to any discussion of secrecy, subterfuge or malfeasance.

                  Why are we not allowed to know who the recipients were of the *$21 trillion* (GAO number) of free Fed money after 2009? All we can do is follow the bread crumbs: we do know, for example, that 2/3rds of those dollars went to European institutions, including non-bank corporations. Huh? Q: That benefits the Main St U.S. economy how, again? A: It doesn’t. This means you can pay no attention whatsoever to the ancillary Fed “missions” around U.S. employment and economic growth.

                  The $128B Ratigan mentions re Dodd-Frank is just a trickle in the tsunami of funds reaching bank coffers. Free money of course is funding massive share buybacks, the *only* cause of stock “rises” since 2009, but what completely infuriates me is what banks are doing around buybacks. It’s one thing if buybacks benefit *all* shareholders, but the latest trick (esp by Jamie Dimon) is to take free money, buy back JPM shares, *but those shares are only given to Jamie himself and his top managers*.

                  (Of course until 1982 companies borrowing money to buy back their own shares was completely illegal since it’s effect is stock price manipulation).

                  Repo is just a shorter term version of all of these other diverted flows. Completely under all radars, with no Congressional hearings or public scrutiny or oversight.

                  End the Fed.

                  Reply
                    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                      I always love to be wrong because it means I get to be right again. I’m not a funding market expert either, but I hope you’re just correctlng Ratigan’s views on the $128B, not the entirety of my ramble? Thx Yves

                  1. cnchal

                    Interesting comment Dylan made regarding politicians.

                    The political system rewards those that are the best at raising money and character assasination.

                    Trump assassinates his own character better than anyone else. Bernie is great at raising lots of money with small donations from many people.

                    Bernie or bust.

                    Reply
                  2. notabanktoadie

                    End the Fed. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                    Except that does not solve the problem of citizens being unable to use their Nation’s fiat in account form.

                    So rather, allow all citizens (at least) to have accounts at the Fed AND eliminate all other privileges for depository institutions, both explicit AND implicit*.

                    Not that government or its CB should be in the lending business since that constitutes fiat creation for private, not the general, welfare

                    Agree or disagree?

                    *Such as poorly staffed or too few Central Bank branch locations when citizens are finally allowed to use fiat in account form.

                    Reply
              2. Yves Smith Post author

                *Sigh*

                I don’t write about the repo mess because the commentary on it is generally terrible. This is not “monetizing debt”. This is “providing liquidity to the money markets” which is what the Fed is supposed to do!!!

                The Fed got itself into a corner with super low rates and QE. It also stupidly decided to manage short term rates via interest on reserves. Prior to 2008, the Fed intervened in the repo markets every bloody day to hit the target rate and no one cared.

                The Fed drained liquidity too fast. It’s been caught out and has had to go into reverse big time. Its refusal to admit that is why everyone is overreacting to the liquidity injections.

                Reply
                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  42 days seems longish to apply to the overnight money markets, no? Macro Voices/Alhambra have a very different perspective

                  Reply
            2. Yves Smith Post author

              Yes, MMT proponents oppose a UBI (or BGI). They want a Job Guarantee. They argue that setting a floor on the price of labor is a much more important way to regulate the economy than diddling with interest rates, plus it increases the productive capacity of an economy, which increases prosperity.

              The will accept a UBI that is lower than a JG as a sort of disability income.

              Reply
              1. notabanktoadie

                plus it increases the productive capacity of an economy, which increases prosperity. Yves

                How so since the purpose of a JG is to provide jobs not to accomplish work efficiently, i.e. teaspoons vs bulldozers (Milton Freeman*)?

                This shall become more and evident as (unethically) financed automation eliminates more and more jobs.

                So a JG is no long term solution – to put it mildly.

                *Not a fan of Miltie since “free to choose” apparently did not include the freedom to not use a private bank – a fatal omission.

                Reply
                1. skippy

                  “How so since the purpose of a JG is to provide jobs not to accomplish work efficiently, i.e. teaspoons vs bulldozers (Milton Freeman*).”

                  Eh … quoting the guy that did more damage after being guilty of writing propaganda for the developer lobby, then spread the share holder value meme, surmounted by his 6K% wrong bet on the GBP, and his side kicks were the ones that not only unleashed poor underwriting standards they had the audacity to allow unfettered counter party risk contracts to make borrowing cheaper …. is this some sort of stand up comedic night ????

                  No the core reason for a JG is to get rid of NAIRU, banging on about “freedom” and “efficiency [tm]” is more about ideological journalism and I can get that from any watery philosophical value laden camp.

                  Then you make noises about the Austrians …

                  Reply
                2. Pookah Harvey

                  The whole argument is where do the profits from increased productivity (AI, robotics) end up. Currently it’s in the pockets of the oligarchs.

                  UBI supposedly evenly distributes it through subsidies. Yang’s UBI is so limited that people have to continue to work so it is just a subsidy for the oligarchs to continue to only offer low wage jobs, continuing the flow of the surplus to the oligarchs.

                  Guaranteed jobs sops up the surplus labor from increased productivity to produce a better infrastructure for further productivity improvements. Workers building new bridges or doubling the number of teachers and professors does more for future productivity than the markets deciding to make the 45th variety of flavored potato chips.

                  A third alternative that is rarely mentioned is a shorter work week. It is rarely mentioned because,IMHO, many people think it would be hard to implement. This is where Guaranteed Jobs could work in conjunction with the shorter work week. Guaranteed jobs could offer a full weeks pay for a 4 day work week. Private employers would be forced to match the government jobs, quickly decreasing the work week with no mandatory regulations.

                  The GJ program would respond to future productivity increases by further reducing the work week (allowing profits to flow to workers) hopefully leading to Keynes’ 15 hour week.

                  Reply
                  1. notabanktoadie

                    The whole argument is where do the profits from increased productivity (AI, robotics) end up Pookah Harvey

                    Automation has and continues to be financed unethically. That’s why the profits from it are not shared justly.

                    Guaranteed jobs sops up the surplus labor from increased productivity to produce a better infrastructure for further productivity improvements. Workers building new bridges or doubling the number of teachers and professors does more for future productivity than the markets deciding to make the 45th variety of flavored potato chips. ibid

                    Let’s have generous infrastructure spending by all means but let’s focus on getting the work done rather than employ people to waste their time.

                    As for 45 varieties of potato chips, what else is to be expected of people who have had their birthrights (family farms, businesses, and the commons) legally stolen by a government-privileged usury cartel but to be prey to mass consumption-ism?

                    Guaranteed jobs could offer a full weeks pay for a 4 day work week. ibid

                    Nope since the purpose of a JG is to consume the worker’s time in order to make it difficult for the worker to work for the private sector OR him/herself. It’s similar to milk dumping in the 1930’s but this time to waste human time and energy in order to boost private sector wages.

                    Reply
                  2. notabanktoadie

                    Yang’s UBI is so limited that people have to continue to work so it is just a subsidy for the oligarchs to continue to only offer low wage jobs, continuing the flow of the surplus to the oligarchs. Pookah Harvey

                    Good point. Also a UBI is too nebulous to be much good in practice.

                    Instead, we should 1) eliminate all privileges for depository institutions, explicit and implicit and 2) replace all fiat creation beyond that created by deficit spending for the general welfare with a Citizen’s Dividend equally to all citizens – both to counter the initial deflation caused by 1) and as an ongoing measure to ethically counter further price deflation via productivity increases.

                    Reply
                3. Sol

                  How so since the purpose of a JG is to provide jobs not to accomplish work efficiently, i.e. teaspoons vs bulldozers (Milton Freeman*)?

                  Por que no los dos?

                  It’s my opinion (which has been wrong before and will be wrong again, but work with me here) that America’s job deficit is both huge and unnatural. It’s a classic false scarcity model. There’s a daily cost to human survival. Every day, people must be fed, housed, clothed. Every single day, medical care will be required by someone, every day construction will happen, and those activities require not merely skills but also tools. Someone will have to learn the medical and construction skills, someone will have to learn to make the tools since surgeons rarely manufacture their own anesthetic and scalpels and general contractors make houses instead of hammers.

                  Every person on this planet comes with a minimum daily workload. When any of these people are not having their daily needs met, this is work yet to be done and a job slot to fill.

                  We seem to have an embarrassment of riches in the form of untapped human capital. As far as I can tell, the predominant reason we leave this capital on the table is that developing people might challenge a competitive hierarchy that needs there to be people on the bottom. The better to look down upon them.

                  Reply
                  1. notabanktoadie

                    A beautiful thing about a Citizen’s Dividend is that as productivity increases lower the need for labor and thus aggregate wages fall and thus we have lower prices is that the Citizen’s Dividend would INCREASE to counter price deflation.

                    So a combination of wages plus a Citizen’s Dividend should at least keep worker income constant even as wages fall.

                    So as automation eliminates even more jobs, the Citizen’s Dividend would increasingly make all jobs, that is working for others for wages, VOLUNTARY anyway.

                    Reply
              2. Sol

                Yes, Yves, thank you. It’s ye olde “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will feed himself for life.”

                There is power in giving out fish, there is prosperity in teaching how to fish. The 90% don’t really need a gift of fish; we need skills and permission to use them.

                Reply
                1. notabanktoadie

                  There is power in giving out fish, Sol

                  A Citizen’s Dividend equally to all citizens is arguably the ONLY ethical way to create fiat beyond that created by deficit spending for the general welfare.

                  Therefore a Citizen’s Dividend is not a gift but an inherent right of a citizen of a monetary sovereign.

                  Reply
      2. xkeyscored

        Thank you for that link. It certainly sounds like real life, and they say their models predict inequality in various countries to within 1%.
        Any single agent in this economy could have become the oligarch—in fact, all had equal odds if they began with equal wealth. In that sense, there was equality of opportunity. But only one of them did become the oligarch, and all the others saw their average wealth decrease toward zero as they conducted more and more transactions. To add insult to injury, the lower someone’s wealth ranking, the faster the decrease.
        once we have some variance in wealth, however minute, succeeding transactions will systematically move a “trickle” of wealth upward from poorer agents to richer ones, amplifying inequality until the system reaches a state of oligarchy. If the economy is unequal to begin with, the poorest agent’s wealth will probably decrease the fastest. Where does it go? It must go to wealthier agents because there are no poorer agents. Things are not much better for the second-poorest agent. In the long run, all participants in this economy except for the very richest one will see their wealth decay exponentially. …
        the presence of symmetry breaking puts paid to arguments for the justness of wealth inequality that appeal to “voluntariness”—the notion that individuals bear all responsibility for their economic outcomes simply because they enter into transactions voluntarily—or to the idea that wealth accumulation must be the result of cleverness and industriousness. It is true that an individual’s location on the wealth spectrum correlates to some extent with such attributes, but the overall shape of that spectrum can be explained to better than 0.33 percent by a statistical model that completely ignores them.

        Reply
    1. David

      I think he’s confusing the commercialisation of everyday life with capitalism. The second is a result of the first looking for new ways of making money out of us, as traditional options like making things now seem less attractive. So the very fabric of life itself has now become an endless series of financial calculations, where we are all “customers” instead of citizens. Even the state now adopts the practices and the vocabulary of the private sector. But there’s no reason why regulated capitalism can’t coexist with traditional social patterns: it’s a political choice to allow it to get its greasy fingers on some of the most important parts of our existence and turn them into financial opportunities.
      The real story here is the decline of the extended family, which only really began after WW2. Previously (and in my experience up until at least the 1960s) different generations would do different things: grandparents would look after children, grandparents in turn would be looked after by younger members of the family, uncles would play football with the boys, aunties would take groups of children to the cinema. There wasn’t any other way, really, in which the basic functions of life could be managed. Members of the family would often live within walking or cycling distance of each other. Much of this has now been monetised for profit, but of course only if you have the money to pay for it in the first place. We need to remember that the “nuclear family” is a very recent development and frankly, only works if you can somehow buy in the services the extended family used to provide (and people resent having to do that). And as much as anything else the rise of the nuclear family is the result of the financialisation of housing, and the destruction of public housing stocks, which together with the parallel destruction of traditional forms of community employment have frequently led to families being scattered all over the country, anywhere they can find jobs and accommodation.
      I don’t think globalisation has much to do with this, except as an alibi for the destruction of communities. And I do think it is relatively new, except in the sense that capitalism has always destroyed everything it touches. For example, clothing was often made within the family because ready to wear clothing didn’t really arrive for ordinary people until about a century ago. Even then, unless you were wealthy, clothes would be altered to fit younger children, or modified to suit the latest fashions for adults. Likewise, well after WW2, many families grew vegetables in their back garden; and cars, washing machines and even valve radios could be repaired at home if you were reasonably handy.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Its an interesting feature of Asian capitalism in that its been able to ‘free ride’ on tight family bonds – extended families have allowed it to avoid the need to provide the sort of social safety net that even capitalists acknowledged was necessary in Europe to prevent social unrest (hence Christian Democracy). As Asian countries follow the west in gradually loosening family bonds (especially in China, where they seem far more delicate than in Japan/South Korea), etc, I’m curious to see how they’ll deal with it.

        Reply
        1. Massinissa

          “(especially in China, where they seem far more delicate than in Japan/South Korea)”

          I confess to not knowing as much about China as I should, or at least, not knowing much about family life there. Why do you suggest the bonds there are weaker? Some sort of systemic issue?

          Reply
          1. Danny

            “There?” Experience as a child in San Francisco witnessing classmates first of generation Chinese immigrant parents reflects the strength of patience and delayed gratification. Fifty pound three dollars sack of white rice per month, handful of wilted vegetables bought for pennies. Meat as a condiment, if at all, working jobs as waiters, busboys, or the real plum, boring job as warehouseman for government, the entire family living in one basement apartment. Clothing handed down, no car, nothing new bought. Social services and Great Society welfare provided by race or language based non-profits, or government, taken full advantage of for older parents with no reported income.

            People from same village in China, possibly related, often not, pool their money, get down payment on apartment house, entire family moves into bigger apartment, basement rented to other newly arrived immigrants.

            Meanwhile, affluent fourth generation American kids get high and do their own thing, pursuing a music or art career.

            Fast forward fifty years. 70%+ percent of property in city owned by Chinese surnamed people. Children of original family now sitting on tens of millions of dollars of apartments, collecting huge rents out of starry eyed techbros and ‘bras from Kansas.

            Artists and musicians living in cars, if lucky enough to have one, or in a tent on the street.

            Reply
            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Your argument is completely racist!

              (Oh, and completely true)

              Real fundamental reason for the stunning rise of Asia: their values. Hard work, savings, family, education, and current pleasures foregone in favor of future gains.

              The U.S. had a really cushy time, protected by two oceans, with highly navigable rivers, lots of arable land in a temperate climate zone, and legal structures in place that fostered industrialization. That enabled us to win WW II and then write the rules afterwards: everybody else had to work hard, earn a profit, then buy dollars before they could then buy a barrel of oil. Whereas we could just print oil. Such a tailwind! Kept us ahead for decades. But alas all good things must end.

              Reply
              1. The Rev Kev

                ‘Hard work, savings, family, education, and current pleasures foregone in favor of future gains.’

                Yep, they use to be western values which you could find in the UK, the US, Australia, etc. In a mostly free economy they were winning values and helped people work their way up the social ladder.
                In the rigged economy that we have these days, they do not work so well so a lot of people have given up on them. Of course if the economy goes south in a big way, they may once again become good traits to practice.

                Reply
                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  400,000 GM-made trucks didn’t hurt. A massive and inhospitable, marshy terrain. A willingness to apply human cannon fodder. A military philosophy that said “quantity has a quality all its own”. Willingness to scorch earth. Willingness to move more than 100,000 factories past the Urals. Dogged courage of the people.

                  Reply
                  1. skippy

                    “willingness to apply human cannon fodder”

                    Actually after the initial German advance was stalled the loss ratios for the Russians was better than the Allied forces.

                    A lot of the rest above suffers from the same optics issues.

                    Reply
                    1. PlutoniumKun

                      Yes, there is a myth out there that Soviet success was down to ruthlessness with their own soldiers and US supplies. Both helped them in their darkest days of course, but as an article posted here just a few days ago showed, the Soviets actually used their railways better than the Germans for logistics (and railways were far more important than roads in European wars then).

                      While initially the Soviets used human waves on their western front, by the end of the war they were using very sophisticated joint arms tactics (arguably better than the allies on the Western Front) and were no more careless of their soldiers lives than any other of the major armies, US and British included.

                    2. vlade

                      @PK above. Well, actually, it’s a bit more complex than that.

                      Soviets did use human waves early in the war (due to too many factors to write about). But, even USSR could start running out of men, and they did.

                      As you say, later in the game their had a pretty good tactical knowledge, even if they lacked the training, discipline and small-unit initiative that the German army still here and there had. I like to point out to Operation Bagration, where the Red Army managed to basically smatter away German defenders and cover way way more distance in bad terrain than they most optimistic planners hoped for. IMO, Bagration was the Red Army at it’s best.

                      But in 1945, when Stalin fired the gun for the race to Berlin, both Zhukov and Konev reverted to “throw more soldiers on it” whenever they got bogged down, and the losses went up again.

              2. PlutoniumKun

                Its important not to have a distorted view of Asia society or economic strength by looking at immigrants. There have been several waves of Asian immigration to the US, mostly characterised by an incoming of highly educated ethnic Vietnamese, Koreans and Chinese from the various mid-20th Century wars. In other words, waves dominated by their own version of the 1% and 10%ers. When you allow for their origins, Asian immigrants do no better in the US (or anywhere else), than Europeans or Africans or any other grouping. Those Asians who came from poor backgrounds (such as the more recent Fujianese incomers) do no better than other ethnic groups in the US, or anywhere else for that matter.

                Those Asian countries who have thrived have specific reasons for their success, but its not a superior model to others, its just a model that worked for them (one more or less lifted from Germany). Nor are rich Asian countries much richer than European or North American countries (just compare the GNP PP for Japan or South Korea to European levels – they are not as rich as you think). Even Singapore or HK are just ‘average’ in wealth compared to other equivalent countries. Irish people are not a model of family values or financial rectitude, but the Irish economy for the past 30 years or so has actually exceeded any of the comparable Asian countries in terms of absolute or per head of population growth, with the possible exception of South Korea (it depends on where you chose as the starting point).

                The high savings rate among Asians is primarily the result of deliberate policies pursued as part of the ‘Asian model’ of economics. You see the same pattern in any country where there are no alternative models for investments or savings. North Europeans save obsessively too.

                Reply
                1. David

                  I can’t speak for the US, but Chinese immigration in both Britain and France has been from all levels of society – there are millionaires, but they aren’t that numerous. That said, they have been more successful than most other ethnic groups in making a better life. This is particularly striking in France, where the Chinese have no obvious cultural links or advantages of language, but where they are coming to dominate some areas and some businesses. I lived for some years not far from the touristy Rue Monge on the Left Bank. What was striking was how many of the shops there closed, were bought by the Chinese and successfully reopened and flourished. These were not “ethnic” shops, but shops selling clothes, jewellery, art etc. for both the locals and the tourists. Over the river, in the 3rd arrondissement where the clothing wholesalers are, it’s the same story. There’s no mystery to this: the Chinese came from a commercial culture, they worked hard, opened all hours, invested, cultivated relations with their clients, integrated into society, had existing family-based procurement systems reaching back to China and thought for the long term. And, as you’d expect, you’re now getting Chinese doctors, lawyers, accountants etc. just as you’ve had from the Vietnamese community for some years.
                  I agree, on the basis of some decades of involvement with asian societies, that there’s no magic here. Indeed, I’d actually say that the problem is with the weakness of anglo-salon societies and those they influence. Thirty years ago executives were feverishly studying Japanese martial arts classics, but, as a British businessman pointed out to me at the time, much of the sinister asiatic master plan consisted of finding out what customers wanted, and selling it to them at prices they were prepared to pay. Devious orientals.

                  Reply
          2. PlutoniumKun

            In my experience China has become a much more atomised society since it embarked on its great experiment with high growth capitalism – exacerbated by the one child policy. Its a very difficult thing to measure I think, but while there certainly are very tight Chinese families, I think there are a lot of individual Chinese cast adrift in those huge cities without the cultural adaption to individualism which is normal in the west.

            Reply
        2. Some Guy in Beijing

          This system is breaking quickly in Korea. The burden of caring for elders falls on the oldest son, and there’s a lot of chafing at these responsibilities, especially now that women are equally represented in Korean academic and office spaces. Throw in the increasing age of marriage and childbearing and you get people aging faster than their offspring can build up a nest egg.

          It’s quite common to see elderly people doing bottom-of-the-barrel manual labor to survive in Seoul. In my neighborhood, an old couple living next door worked from sun-up to sun-down collecting cardboard with their moped-pulled cart. Collecting trash for recyling is almost entirely the domain of the over-50 set. Others sell vegetables on sidewalks, and some resort to Korea’s various forms of sex work (I say only half-jokingly that prostitution is the bedrock of Korea’s economy)

          Reply
          1. PlutoniumKun

            The film ‘Parasite’ is a brilliant look at inequality in South Korea – hugely entertaining too. Well worth watching for anyone with even the slightest interest in the country.

            Reply
        3. Procopius

          I don’t know much about the current situation in China, but I don’t think Singapore has “avoided the need to provide the sort of social safety net” that European countries have.

          Reply
          1. PlutoniumKun

            Singapore has an excellent public insurance system for its citizens. But it ‘cheats’ in a way by the use of mostly Malaysian labour – they don’t get any of the benefits whatever, while they do most of the dirty work in the country.

            Reply
      2. xkeyscored

        I came across this recently, sorry if it was via NC! I found it very interesting, and it’s pertnent to this family stuff.
        Western Individualism Arose from Incest Taboo – Researchers link a Catholic Church ban on cousins marrying in the Middle Ages to the emergence of a way of life that made the West an outlier
        https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/western-individualism-arose-from-incest-taboo/

        … the church’s obsession with incest and its determination to wipe out the marriages between cousins that those societies were built on. The result, the paper says, was the rise of “small, nuclear households, weak family ties, and residential mobility,” along with less conformity, more individuality, and, ultimately, a set of values and a psychological outlook that characterize the Western world. The impact of this change was clear: the longer a society’s exposure to the church, the greater the effect. …
        The West itself is not uniform in kinship intensity. Working with cousin-marriage data from 92 provinces in Italy (derived from church records of requests for dispensations to allow the marriages), the researchers write, they found that “Italians from provinces with higher rates of cousin marriage take more loans from family and friends (instead of from banks), use fewer checks (preferring cash), and keep more of their wealth in cash instead of in banks, stocks, or other financial assets.” They were also observed to make fewer voluntary, unpaid blood donations. …
        The Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic (WEIRD) societies of Western Europe and what the authors call “their cultural descendants in North America and Australia” have long been recognized as outliers among the world’s populations for their independence of thought and other traits, such as a willingness to trust strangers.

        (- I’m definitely not sure about that very last bit!)

        Reply
        1. Danny

          Contrast with this:
          “When brothers dwell together and one of them dies and leaves no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married to a stranger, outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall unite with her: he shall take her as his wife and perform the levir’s duty. The first son that she bears shall be accounted to the dead brother..”

          Keeping it in the family. Bet that led to a lot of fratricides…

          https://bir.brandeis.edu/bitstream/handle/10192/26070/Weisberg.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

          Reply
          1. a different chris

            No music, no art… sounds great. No wonder the Chinese got to the moon first… oh wait, they aren’t even there yet.

            Curious what you do if the brother is already married! Ok not that curious or I would try the link.

            Reply
          2. xkeyscored

            Multiple Husbands | National Geographic (the husbands are brothers)
            https://youtu.be/d4yjrDSvze0
            4 minutes – fascinating. A viable birth rate control.
            I’ve also heard of other groups where women marry brothers in regions where the men go off tending sheep and yaks etc for extended periods.

            Reply
            1. JBird4049

              Polyandry is usually practice in places where it is **very** difficult to make a living; having multiple brothers marry one woman was sometimes the only to get the resources to have children. Otherwise, no children for anyone.

              Reply
          3. Ook

            I know of two cases where the husband died and the wife married the brother very quickly: one of these cases was my maternal grandmother, who had children already, and needed the support. This situation only seems unusual in the modern American cultural bubble.

            Reply
    2. xkeyscored

      I’d say the real crisis of capitalism, or the world economic system, isn’t the rise of inequality or the commodification of life (didn’t Marx claim that capitalism tears up all pre-existing social relations?).
      It’s the climate emergency and environmental collapse, undermining the foundations on which the entire world economy rests. Without a planet to support us, we can’t do much except die, and the economy is, in a way, the sum of what we do. Death of us, or at any rate our civilisation, means death of the economy.

      Reply
      1. jsn

        My thoughts too, there are several crises converging.

        One is what Milanovic is onto, which I would name the commodification of cultural reproduction, which won’t end well, on top of the exhaustion of fossil fuels based industrialization cubed by climate change.

        It’s easy to get preoccupied by one, another or the other, but in the end they are all an integrated reaction to humanity letting it’s collective Ego remake the world according to the dictates of its’ collective Id. But we do now have the collective knowledge and wisdom to confront this reality through a communicative infrastructure finally broad enough to address the scope of the challenge, if we can act quickly enough.

        Reply
    1. Geo

      Same. She’s really proving to be a welcome beacon of light illuminating the darkness that our politics has operated in for so long.

      Reply
    2. JohnnyGL

      That clip of AOC is amazing. She’s got a serious talent in public speaking…and not just sounding good. She shows an ability to communicate important ideas and concepts that can change minds.

      It’s been very visible at her events for bernie, too.

      Reply
    3. inode_buddha

      On the flip side of that coin, I’m pretty sure the BS doesn’t like being cut thru. Will have to watch this space closely.

      Reply
    4. anon in so cal

      Skeptical of AOC.

      AOC voted to support Adam Schiff’s H.R. 3494, which effectively constrains press freedoms and gives additional impunity to the CIA.

      AOC voted against US troop withdrawal from Syria.

      Seems inexplicable.

      Reply
      1. John k

        Maybe young and inexperienced in some cases.
        Maybe pushed to go along in some cases in order to get a few crumbs from pelosi… AOC base in congress remains small.
        A little like complaints of Bernie… maybe he’s picking his fights, and maybe he’s not perfect. But they’re both way better than a lesser evil, and who else?

        Reply
    5. xkeyscored

      She demonstrates her ignorance and political extremism yet again.
      From the abstract of “The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital,” Costanza et al., 1996 – a paper which I’ve heard sort of started the field of ecological economics:
      For the entire biosphere, the value (most of which is outside the market) is estimated to be in the range of US$16–54 trillion per year, with an average of US$33 trillion per year.
      Thus we humans, being a part of the biosphere, are collectively worth less than US$16–54 trillion per year. And Costanza’s a professor and vice chancellor, with a PhD. AOC’s got a measly BA, so what does she know about the value of life?

      Reply
      1. JEHR

        xkeys: You forget the /s sign? What has a “measly BA” got to do with not “know(ing) about the value of life?” Having a PhD does not necessarily mean a person knows more than a non-PhD.

        I would rather hear about AOC’s “ignorance and political extremism” than your take on this or any subject.

        Reply
        1. xkeyscored

          I had been wondering what this /s thing was, but I probably wouldn’t have used it if I’d known. It seemed unnecessary.
          Sorry if you took me seriously. I think she not only understands, but promotes the value of life. Unlike so many critters. It’s great she’s in there doing what she does. We need more like her – lots more, fast.

          (I would like to hear from NC commenters if I’ve misunderstood Costanza. Does the paper really claim that humanity is worth less than $X trillion/year, as the abstract appears to imply? I’ve skimmed it for any unusual definitions of biosphere, but noticed none.)

          Reply
          1. Massinissa

            Don’t feel bad, it is INCREDIBLY difficult to tell when people are being sarcastic on the internet because there are no verbal or gesticular cues to it the way there is in person to person contact. Thats why we use the /sarc tag to indicate sarcasm, because otherwise people may take the comment at face value. Its not required, of course, but not using it runs the risk of people taking the comment at face value, which is very easy to do because text doesn’t convey context the way speech does.

            Reply
            1. xkeyscored

              Yes, I’m going to use it in future!
              I thought “a measly BA” would give the game away, but as you say, it’s hard to tell on the net. It so happens I’m no respecter at all of academic qualifications in and of themselves. I’ve known too many idiots with degrees spouting patent nonsense for that. Eg most economists (NC’s economists definitely excepted!)? And vice-versa.

              Reply
              1. xkeyscored

                And I’d still love to know if Costanza really thinks it makes sense to talk about an economy without people, or if I’ve got it all back to front.

                Reply
              2. Massinissa

                Technically, neither Yves or Lambert are economists.

                I wouldnt normally point that out, but Yves made a point of it one time.

                Although, not being economists may help explain why they have such good sense!

                Reply
                1. xkeyscored

                  It doesn’t have to be Yves, Lambert or an economist. Just someone whose read enough of this stuff to have a handle on it. I just think it sounds utterly preposterous.
                  It makes some sort of sense to say that destroying 1% of the biosphere will result in $X/year loss. Could be a way of evaluating our options, for example.
                  That does not mean destroying 10% will result in $10 times X/year economic loss; probably more like $100 times X, whichever way you measure it.
                  Long before 90%, the only living things left would probably be the deep subterranean bacteria and archaea, which are relatively insulated from whatever we do to the air, land and oceans. I doubt if they’d have much room in their economy for dollars or GDP.
                  At 100% biosphere destruction, the earth is a lifeless planet by definition. Surely the real cost is infinite? And what conceivable meaning would a financial cost, price or value have by that stage?
                  Any offers?

                  Reply
      2. Stadist

        I get your point and you being sarcastic.

        However if someone is doing price analysis of Biosphere and that includes human lives (by definition), human lives being ‘priceless’ justifies leaving them out of analysis. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to do the price analysis in the first place.

        Reply
        1. xkeyscored

          Huh? You’re doing an analysis so you leave out half of what you’re measuring? (And the bit that, presumably, interests us most.)
          Besides, the argument applies equally if you somehow magically leave humans out. We are the sole remaining life form. So we place a price on everything we’ve lost. But what’s the point? How long can we survive without the rest of the biosphere? Seconds? Minutes? Weeks? (Until we either learn how to produce our food without living organisms, or upload our consciousness to some silicon AI – neither likely to be possible any time soon.)

          Reply
        2. JTMcPhee

          Economists and lawyers and juries of course place “values” on human lives every day. The argument is over the nitty-gritty of the calculation. So There’s no excuse for omitting the pricing of human lives, for any analysis except the most polemical.

          Of course humans set the parameters for pricing and valuation, and it seems to me those calculations do not count the externalities imposed on other humans and the rest of the biosphere just by virtue of the existence of humans and their participation in the demolition of the rest of the biosphere.

          So a transit worker crushed by a train due to the negligence of the manufacturer is “worth” maybe $50,000 paid to his survivors, but some executive of some big corporation is “worth” hundreds of millions in tort actions. https://corpgov.law.harvard.edu/2017/04/13/corporations-and-human-life/

          Reply
        3. xkeyscored

          The paper I quoted from was peer reviewed, has thirteen listed authors, and has been cited 22,343 times. I’d expect them to choose their wording with a degree of care and precision. And it unequivocally states “For the entire biosphere, the value (most of which is outside the market) is estimated to be in the range of US$16–54 trillion (10 12) per year” – the entire biosphere, no qualifications or exceptions. Lest you think I’m selectively quoting out of context, I’ve pasted the entire abstract below. I’m probably gong to end up reading the entire paper to find out if they do mean what I think their words mean, or if I’ve got the wrong end of the stick, something I balked at when I read that sentence, much as I wouldn’t usually read past, say, “Crank announces cold fusion breakthrough using plastic waste and solar energy to power intergalactic time travel”.

          The services of ecological systems and the natural capital stocks that produce them are critical to the functioning of the Earth’s life-support system. They contribute to human welfare, both directly and indirectly, and therefore represent part of the total economic value of the planet. We have estimated the current economic value of 17 ecosystem services for 16 biomes, based on published studies and a few original calculations. For the entire biosphere, the value (most of which is outside the market) is estimated to be in the range of US$16–54 trillion (10 12) per year, with an average of US$33 trillion per year. Because of the nature of the uncertainties, this must be considered a minimum estimate. Global gross national product total is around US$18 trillion per year.

          Reply
    6. pasha

      AOC is a breath of fresh air, and her ability to articulate complexity in simple terms always impresses me. she is as much an educator as a politician

      Reply
  4. Joe Well

    Re: Aaron Maté on Democracy Now not talking about the faked chemical weapons scandal.

    What has been happening with DN lately? It’s like they’re becoming a left MSNBC.

    Reply
    1. lupemax

      Aaron is no longer with DemocracyNow. He now has a show “PushBack” on The Gray Zone. https://thegrayzone.com/pushback/ He also disagreed with DN about their coverage of the RussiaRussiaRussia hoax. IMHO I think DN just wants to be more about nostalgic and being more mainstream. I no longer rely on it for my news daily.

      Reply
      1. Joe Well

        By “Aaron on DN” I meant, Aaron on the subject of DN.

        I know this has the potential to be ageist, but I can’t help wondering if this is yet another case of individuals and entire organizations “evolving” over time in a more conservative direction based on whatever pressures. The fact that The Intercept has totally eclipsed them, and in fact the entire left media, when it comes to major stories, should be a wakeup.

        Reply
        1. TsWkr

          To add to that, I’d also recommend Taibbi and Katie Halper’s new podcost “Useful Idiots”. They’ve had some good guests so far, and lead the show off with some light-hearted commentary, but from a perspective outside of the acceptable range in most media.

          Reply
          1. Joe Well

            Anyone think we almost don’t need “outlets” anymore? Just individuals you trust and follow them wherever they go.

            Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              I think that you may have a point. If I just followed the main news outlets, I would have a totally distorted view of what was going on in the world and being led to support causes that by rights I should be totally against. I too listen to NC, Jimmy Dore, Krystal & Saager, Katie Halper, Aaron Maté, Caitlin Johnstone and a bunch of others – all of them prophets without honour.

              Reply
    2. divadab

      It was disappointing and informing when Amy repeated blatant anti-Syria (Assad the butcher, etc.) propaganda without any comment or counter. I don;t watch them any more they seem to be part of the overall apparatus, albeit the “controlled opposition”.

      Reply
      1. Eureka Springs

        They were wrong from the beginning on Syria and showed little to no skepticism. Terribly disappointing after all this time that they are still so wrong – unwilling to admit it.

        I had no idea they fell for the Russia absurdities.

        Who butters their bread these days? Has that changed over the years?

        Reply
      1. Some Guy in Beijing

        Can I recommend “This is Hell”? It’s a fantastic podcast/radio show that does in-depth interviews with all kinds of authors and thinkers. The show is unabashedly skeptical of capitalism and the established order. Its host, Chuck Mertz, gleefully jokes that it is intended to be the opposite of Amy Goodman’s show. It keeps a snarky and dark sense of humor throughout. I’m surprised I’ve never seen it mentioned here in all my years as a lurker

        Reply
    3. Randy G

      I used to be a huge enthusiast of DN — proudly wore their t-shirts, contributed (modestly), and attended several speaking events to hear Amy Goodman in person.

      Now I rarely listen — unless I’m stuck in a car and it’s randomly on the radio. It’s 90% ID politics and Trump Derangement Syndrome. Once I started hearing dubious CIA talking points on Syria and Ukraine, and Adam Schiff reverbs on Russiagate, I gave up. I can get that stuff from MSNBC in unadulterated doses.

      And Aaron Maté is a treasure in a journalistic wasteland. His interviews with Jimmy Dore are especially lively because they’re a perfect combo: Aaron is informed and thoughtful, and Dore provides the biting satire, punching way, way, way above his weight class.

      Reply
      1. barefoot charley

        Lest we forget, in the fog of circular firing-squad war surrounding the Pacifica board some 10 years ago, when it was narrowly prevented from monetizing (selling) a radio band or two, and Free Speech Radio News replaced DN as the strikers’ news source, Amy privatized DN, took ownership of it, and at that time paid herself $400 per annum. Scams have consequences.

        Reply
      2. Lunker Walleye

        Here in flyover territory, I listened to KPFA, which carries Democracy Now, for about 10 years because it was available on the internet and it kept me sane. DN gave a different perspective from other news coverage. Stopped listening to Pacifica around the time of the 2016 election because there was so much HRC favoritism expressed and they no longer air a favorite, “Twit Wit Radio”.

        Reply
        1. Danny

          We, family and friends, donated heavily to KPFA, >$500 a year each.

          Once they started blaming my ancestors, and me, for everything wrong with America and world history, and then started claiming to represent (only) the interests of “students”, “migrants”, “women of color”,”transgender people” and other iPol nonsense, we stopped donating.
          The above groups can support them.
          We now donate to the classical music station KFFC and KPOO, the black entertainment station, which while spewing African-centric iPol nonsense occasionally, is a great station for music and is about as local as you can get.

          Reply
    4. Craig H.

      I haven’t looked at Znet in a couple of years but I did so this morning and my worst fear was not realized. They have a ton of articles (I typed Syria chemical weapons into the search box on their home page and it returned a full page including Pepe Escobar and other writers I recognized and at the bottom of the page the little forward widget indicated 74 pages of search results) skeptical of the ruling class propaganda on chemical weapons use accusations at the Syrian government.

      Amy Goodman doesn’t read Znet? She doesn’t have time?

      Reply
  5. Wukchumni

    I for one welcome new alien blood, and if it turns out they sway our elections on account of being so numerous, so be it.

    Now, how does the Donkey Show screw it up?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Mysterious interstellar object pictured coming towards us from deep space – and will make ‘close approach’ next month The Sun

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      The Reticulans are in the details. In the article it explains that the “close approach” will be at two Astronomical Units! Even the Andromeda Strain would find that an up the gravity well slog.
      I predict that the “Alien Object” is mysteriously ‘deflected’ away by the Galactic Quarantine Service.

      Reply
  6. Carolinian

    Re Boeing–that’s kind of a non story as the whole point of a stress test is to test to destruction or near destruction in order to find areas that need structural improvement. In other words testing is a good thing. Perhaps they should have done more of it before releasing the Max.

    Re-Democracy Now and Syria-Juan Cole probably told Amy not to talk about the new revelations. Cole and Goodman have been Syria regime change boosters.

    Happy Thanksgiving…..

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      The point is not that the fuselage failed – its that it failed short (marginally so, but it still failed) before it reached its stress level. You would expect almost all engineering structures to survive significantly beyond the target stress level, especially in such controlled circumstances, which do not allow for structural decay over time or slight manufacturing flaws.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        The story did say that Boeing will now add reinforcements to strengthen as a result of the test. But it also said that the FAA will now hand the process over to Boeing so perhaps that is the “hook.”

        I’ve been one of the first around here to criticize Boeing, but I do think the villain-ization of the Seattle company is a bit over the top. Obviously if planes continue falling out of the sky they are over. It’s not like they can be quite as sneaky as, say, auto companies in order to save a few dollars or even a lot of dollars.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Didn’t the semi-“new” Leadership of Boeing move the Corporate Headquarters from Seattle to Chicago some years ago? And didn’t that same leadership open a no-unions-allowed factory area in South Carolina in the long term hope of attriting the Legacy Seattle facility to a size small enough to exterminate? Thereby exterminating the Legacy Union presence?

          In what sense is Boeing a “Seattle” company anymore?

          Reply
        2. Gaianne

          “The story did say that Boeing will now add reinforcements to strengthen as a result of the test. But it also said that the FAA will now hand the process over to Boeing . . .”

          Here is the problem: It is easy to add reinforcements, but how will you know that they will work? In practice–as opposed to theory–they often don’t. Occasionally they even make things worse (oops!) The only way to know is to test–which is precisely what Boeing says it will not do, and will not have to do.

          A failure at 99% load is a failure. Changing your criteria and standards after the fact is not engineering, it is MBA-style creative accounting.

          If killing people for money is not evil, then certainly Boeing is not evil. This should be clear to everyone,

          The converse is less clear, but worrisome.

          –Gaianne

          Reply
          1. Carolinian

            It was a failure at 148 percent of expected maximum stress during actual operation, not 99 percent. Please read the story. In previous tests they had stopped at 155 percent and said they were going to stop at 150 percent this time just so they wouldn’t fill the building with carbon fiber should the airframe break. In the old days plane makers would hang an airplane upside down and pile sandbags on the wings until they broke off. Breakage is the whole point.

            This is really a non story that you are shoehorning into the Boeing=evil narrative. That doesn’t mean their management isn’t evil or at least dim in the way they’ve handled the Max, the way they’ve run their Charleston factory etc.

            Reply
      2. Zamfir

        Keep in mind, this test is already significantly beyond the highest design load, just by 49% instead of the required 50%.

        There is not much value in requiring an unspecified “significantly beyond”. If there is a good reason why failure at 154% is better than at 150%, then it would be better to explicitly move the target to 154%. And then we would see test that “fail” at 153%. The 150% number has been around a for a long time, and its backed by statistics (which say that it is overly conservative), and experience which says that it works well in practice (as accidents due to simple structural failures are vanishingly rare for airliners)

        These “oh no the test failed” stories have been around for a few decades, partially because they provide nice pictures. The important factor here: physical destructive tests can only cover a small subset of all loading combinations that might occur in reality. You can’t escape relying on calculations and extrapolations. These tests that break at 149% are, ironically, an advance on the situation of decades ago, when tests would break at 155% or even values like 175%.

        Those designs were also aimed at 150% , they just had a less full understanding of the failure modes and therefore relied on guesswork extra factors. Which meant that for non tested load combinations (the far majority), you were relying that the guesswork factor was high enough.

        Reply
  7. Geo

    With the recent revelation of ABC News squashing the Epstein story years ago because “no one knows who he is” and it would not be interesting to viewers, I read this while reading up on the DC Madam case (she committed suicide before names could be released too) and thought it was worth noting the pattern with ABC who refuses to release the names in her “black book” they’d gained exclusive rights to:

    According to ABC, most of the names just aren’t “newsworthy.” While reports indicated that ABC would reveal at least two client’s names, no new ones were revealed, including the name of the president of a conservative think tank who was alluded to in earlier reports.

    “The phone numbers also track back to Georgetown mansions and prominent CEOs, officials at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and lobbyists both Republican and Democratic,” ABC’s Brian Ross reported.

    Ross added, “But as usually is the case in Washington, much of it is dull. There were no members of Congress that we could find in these phone records, no White House officials.”
    https://www.rawstory.com/news/2007/ABC_interviews_DC_madam_0504.html

    Also of interest to NC regulars. When I do a Google search for this info I get no worthwhile results. Qwant delivers tons of links and articles.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      So if ABC had the names, did Disney turn the names of suspected pedophiles over to law enforcement? I think that’s newsworthy.

      Reply
    2. Bandit

      The DC Madam was “suicided” just like Epstein, as many, many before them. It is either, suicided, heart attacked, or a completely (non) accidental death, and in some cases outright murder (Seth Rich). Now those are the quick deaths. Cancer-ing is the longer and slower route if there is not imminent testimony to be divulged by the target. These are all known, certified means the deep state, criminal corporations (Karen Silkwood) use to murder those that threaten their positions of power or threaten to expose their corruption. It is just so pathetic that everyone tip toes around the obvious.

      Epstein may be an exception since many predicted that he would be murdered, so it came as no surprise. The surprise was that it was done so soon, in what is supposed to be the max of max security prisons. And, of course the guards are not talking because both of them and their families are under death threat by the perps. They will be well compensated if they keep their silence, since they will certainly lose their jobs. What this proves is that there is absolutely no custody where the madams and Epsteins would be safe. Like 9/11, the coincidences are all too convenient.

      Reply
  8. Wukchumni

    Police Hilariously Ask for ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ After Responding to Spilled Krispy Kreme Delivery People
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Not to be cruller, but it’s the same thing we ask for when formerly alive humans have holes in them, also.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Humbugger! Devotes of the ‘Back Way of the Lord’ are satisfied with live humans with holes in them. (A large segment of the population.) For law enforcement, that would be an example of ‘eclair-ity’ of ‘action.’
      The average grifter’s best reason for asking for ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ is as a distraction while you try and pull a ‘fast one.’

      Reply
  9. Wukchumni

    Twas about a month before Xmas and all through the house
    Impeachment proceedings the Republicans tried to douse
    The donkeys could be counted to care
    While just a few pachyderms did dare

    Turkey was embraced with a fawning say
    And en route Kurds lost their way

    The most encouraging thing being shop till you die
    Happy Black Friday to all, and to all a good buy!

    Reply
  10. lupemax

    Best wishes to all today. Thank you Yves, Lambert and Jerri-Lynn for all you do and to the community for comments.

    One highlight of the NY Times article on the 7 generations owned/operated Farm in NY state having to sell (aside from how sad it is) indicates how truly greedy the NY Times has become in their cutbacks on reporting – didn’t they always rely on readers for news tips? Now they highlight it… to make it more homey? quote from the article:

    “(We have started a new initiative aimed at including our readers more directly in the journalistic process.)”

    Reply
    1. .Tom

      > Best wishes to all today. Thank you Yves, Lambert and Jerri-Lynn for all you do and to the community for comments.

      +1 to that!

      Reply
  11. Steve H.

    > The ‘crisis of capitalism’ is not the one Europeans think it is Branko Milanović

    > This expansion of capitalism potentially opens up questions about the role, and even survival, of the family.

    This goes to exactly what is wrong with “How to Organize Your Friends and Family on Thanksgiving.” The difference between Relational and Transactional is paradigmatic at the big table.

    > The social importance of these new markets is that by placing a price on things that previously had none, they transform mere goods into commodities with an exchange value.

    The transformation of Relational to Transactional is perverse. It is a degradation of humanity, when even a pack of dogs understands not to undercut fam for cash. “Ripley : You know, Burke, I don’t know which species is worse. You don’t see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage.”

    > Thus commodification goes together with the gig economy. In a gig economy we are both suppliers of services (we can deliver pizza in the afternoons), and purchasers of services that used not to be monetised. Taking care of the elderly, of children, cooking and delivery of food, shopping, chores, dog walking and the like used to be done within households.

    This smells like a way to increase GDP without actually increasing productivity. We can get markets on an evolutionary timeline, looking at Odum’s Thermodynamic Laws, behaviorism, some game theory. But it takes work to get to Vaillant’s conclusion, “Happiness is Love. Full Stop.” The market inclines toward more wants, and less happiness and contentment, since those decrease driven behavior. The market needs deprivation to function. It will induce a scarcity for profit. It will charge hundreds of dollars for a vial of insulin, and make people miserable, to extract pennies. It will increase stress if that’s what makes money.

    More Oxytocin, Less Cortisol.

    Reply
    1. JEHR

      Steve H.: “Taking care of the elderly, of children, cooking and delivery of food, shopping, chores, dog walking and the like used to be done within households.” Note: often by the women mostly. If women were paid for all the household work they did in their lifetimes, they would be part of the 1%>

      Reply
    2. Montanamaven

      Subject of “Bullshit Jobs” by David Graeber. One of my “most important” books to read. Keep most working in BS jobs so we don’t have time to protest our current system. Graeber wrote an essay of the same name in 2014 and received hundreds of letters describing their BS jobs.

      Reply
    3. Foy

      “The transformation of Relational to Transactional is perverse…..The market inclines toward more wants, and less happiness and contentment, since those decrease driven behavior. ”

      Really liked your comment Steve, thanks for posting

      Reply
      1. Steve H.

        Thank you, Foy. Janet and I were discussing thankfuls over dinner, and got to a new one – thanks for all the things we don’t have.

        It was a funny thing being out and about today. Multiple animated and joyful conversations with people we don’t know, a chance encounter with someone we did, a chat about ‘Serenity’ and the trouble with “the belief that they can make people… better.”

        May peace and love be with you.

        Reply
        1. Foy

          There’s a great video on youtube discussing the idea of “If you want to be happy be grateful” by David Steindl-Rast. It seems you and Janet are a great example of this concept. Great work!

          Reply
      2. Summer

        “The market inclines toward more wants, and less happiness and contentment, since those decrease driven behavior. ”

        Rather, driven behavior by the content is directed elsewhere than enriching the status quo.

        Reply
  12. Tom Doak

    The FAA on that fuselage split: “It barely counts as a failure,” because it happened just short of the testing protocol.

    Oh. Okay, then. No need to retest it, just tell us you’ve made a fix.

    Reply
    1. polecat

      The photo of that fuselage looks like it came from a promo from one of the Fast Five flicks … expecting Dom’s charger to come flying outta that disintegrated hull any moment now !

      So a Boeing aircraft is now relegated with the title as the new Pinto … fancy that !

      Reply
  13. PlutoniumKun

    Cuomo says ‘design-build’ will save the MTA money. New research says otherwise New York Daily News. Per our resident construction expert bob: “Design-build is a recipe for fraud. One firm can get paid for messing up the design, and then paid more for fixing it in construction.”

    I’d echo that – design-build contracts are generally a disaster unless its for a type of development that can be very precisely described in tender documents such as with industrial plant. There was something of a craze for design-build in the late 1980’s and 1990’s in the UK (thanks Tory government!). You could actually tell when walking into a building (or around it) if it was design-build. Quite simply, the final finish was always awful – cheap fittings, poor workmanship.

    The reason is simple – in those contracts all the focus is on those aspects that can be set out in precise terms in the contract are fulfilled, while everything else is done as cheap and fast as possible. In fact, there is an incentive for minimalist workmanship, because that way there is an incentive to charge more to ‘upscale’ the spec once the client realises how horrible it is.

    Reply
    1. TsWkr

      I work at a state DOT where design-build (or its innovative contracting cousin CMGC) are used for the major projects. They are sold as a way to manage risk for the agency since the design can be modified as necessary within limits defined by the contact during construction.

      However, there are a some big drawbacks. There are typically only a couple of firms qualified to handle those scale of projects, and those firms slowly drain out the expertise of the agency as they take on bigger roles on major projects. Also, since pre-construction activities (design, utilities, right of way, environmental) are done in many small pieces, rather than prior to going to advertisement for construction, so a lot of that activity is rushed and the projects end up behind schedule and over budget.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Its been years since I was directly involved in this type of contract, but the conclusion most managers came back to was that anything that added an unnecessary layer to contracts was usually a bad idea. I was involved in ‘latchkey’ contracts for companies with little construction knowledge – these were often used by IT companies wishing to build (for example) data centres. This could work quite well when they were quite specific what they wanted. They were also common in the petrochem world where the client was only interested in operating facilities, they wanted someone else to build them.

        For infrastructure, I was involved in trials for ‘partnership’ type contracts, the idea being that both sides ‘won’ when savings were made. They proved just too complicated, even for highly experienced managers. In the end, I think the best model was for clients to hire incentivised construction managers (i.e. incentivised to drive down the contract from an original fixed price) when they didn’t have the in-house expertise to deal with contractors.

        In my experience, the public sector can only get really good value for money in construction contracts when they use the threat of expulsion from future contracts over sub-contractors. A study a few years ago in Ireland has found that public bodies get value for money equal to, or better than, the private sector in construction when they are willing to use their scale financial muscle to pressurise contractors over every detail. Unfortunately, procurement rules can often prevent this – which is one reason why they often get terrible value for money with infrastructure.

        But the design and build contracts I’m aware of almost always ended up either costing way too much, or just produced truly awful buildings. The Sandwell Council HQ in Oldbury, West Midlands (known locally as ‘the Plonkers Pagoda’) is one particularly hideous example.

        Reply
        1. ObjectiveFunction

          Voices of experience here, yet again, terrific stuff, many thanks. NC KomEnt = Best KomEnt

          Tangentially related and I’ve been waiting to share this for a bit, but those here (like me) interested in this kind of ‘rubber meets the road’ stuff may also appreciate these observations from a Florida National Guard officer who watched US 2/4 Marines take over from his unit in occupied Anbar Province in 2003 and then proceed to bollix everything; they had the entire population shooting at them within months.

          Why it is that the 2/4 took such a large number of dead after we left is a constant topic of discussion around the 1-124th’s officers and NCOs, still….

          One of the blessings of going to war with a Guard unit is that all of us have day jobs and careers in the real world. Since LTC Mirabile is a city cop, and Treasurer of the Miami Dade Police Department, he had a very keen understanding of how municipal politics work. He also read up a lot on Iraqi tribal society in the early weeks of the war, and drew heavily on that knowledge. Our front man for running the reconstruction effort was a Captain with over 20 years in the Army who was also a construction project manager in civilian life. Between the two of them, they knew how to keep constituents and crews happy.

          As a result, the contracts were carefully divided up among the different clans, so that each clan was dependent upon the others to play ball in order to continue performing the services. If my neighbor’s clan screws up with the foundation, I don’t get to build the brick walls, and my cousin’s clan doesn’t get to do the painting, etc.

          Each sheikh therefore had a vested interest in maintaining peace and order in his neighborhood. If his area became inoperable, he would lose out on his ability to provide money and jobs for his people. And so when there was trouble in a given sheikh’s area, we could go to him and say “Someone’s making trouble for you. Find out who he is, and drop him on our doorstep within three days.”

          And very often, that’s exactly what happened.

          When the 2/4 came in, though, they regarded the 1-124th’s system–well imbedded in municipal politics in the U.S., to be unethical, and forced an open-bid system.

          Penny wise and pound foolish. Yes, they saved a bit of money, but at the cost of freezing out the smaller clans who got frozen out of the work. Boom. Vested interest in success gone. These clans became prime targets for terrorist recruiting, and their areas became nearly inoperable within weeks of the 2/4 taking over.

          DISCLAIMER: I’m not here to defend or relitigate the Iraq war, or opine on whether the Guard’s ‘pragmatic’ approach to the locals coulda woulda shoulda held up long term, or made Yanqui Imperialismo ‘pay off’. To me, it’s just an interesting case of how people on the ground make small ‘e’ economics interact with big ‘P ‘Politics. I take it without moral judgment, in the same way that the French paras in ‘Battle of Algiers’ are fascinating.

          Also, this is a Jackpot type of situation and it’s these kinds of people, not the Buttigiegs (still less the Obamas! – well, maybe Michelle) who will be directing and organizing us as we pick up the pieces of civilization. Get to know your local fire chief….

          Reply
        2. Procopius

          A guy named Fred Brooks wrote a book about managing software projects back in 1975 (!!!). I believe software is mostly still produced this way. First the contract is let, then the purchasers are allowed/encouraged to request changes as they learn about possible “improvements.” With each “improvement” the price increases. This is how the F-35 is being produced. This is how the aircraft carrier Gerald F. Ford is being produced. It is time-tested and proven to be a disastrous production method.

          Reply
  14. JacobiteInTraining

    CNAME cloaking: In the same way as protesters, say HK’ers or Bolivians, have a cat and mouse game with the popo on attack/defense/countermeasures when something new is implemented or blocked by the other side — it is fascinating to see the ‘good guys’ in charge of the ad-block community respond to, analyze, throw out potential solutions, and then start implementing new features to defeat CNAME cloaking.

    This thread is for a tool I really like that acts in a similar realm as ad blockers do called ‘pihole’ (running on a raspberry pi) and even if you don’t understand what they are saying and doing…its great to see them working in (sort of) realtime:

    https://discourse.pi-hole.net/t/apply-pi-hole-blocking-to-cnames/25445/

    …the digital equivalent of HK frontliners refining their molotov cocktail recipes such that they stick better, burn longer, and flare more prosperously.

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      Paul Vixie, a US computer scientist who played an integral role in developing DNS technology, responded on Twitter: “Will *anything* that can be abused *ever* not be?”
      What a naive question! Answer: if there’s profit in it, of course it’ll be abused.
      As for github (a kind of chatroom/workspace for geeks), where a lot of the counter-surveillance work is discussed and done, Microsoft bought them out recently. Maybe because ways of activating Windows without paying were being promulgated, but how will they respond to attempts to subvert CNAME?

      Reply
  15. Carla

    Re: the “crisis of capitalism”:

    “Unless [capitalism] is controlled and its “field of action” reduced to what it used to be, it will continue this conquest of as-yet-uncommercialised spheres.”

    And what might those be? We’ve already gone way beyond “reciprocal altruism” when poor people sell one of their kidneys because it’s something with commodity value that they’re gambling they can live without.

    https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/it-ever-ok-sell-or-buy-kidney

    Reply
    1. cnchal

      From the article:

      The facts show capitalism to be not in crisis at all. It is stronger than ever, both in terms of its geographical coverage and expansion to areas (such as leisure time, or social media) where it has created entirely new markets and commodified things that were never historically objects of transaction.

      Isn’t the issue that what is called capitalism is in the eye of the beholder.

      The social importance of these new markets is that by placing a price on things that previously had none, they transform mere goods into commodities with an exchange value. This expansion is not fundamentally different from the expansion of capitalism seen in 18th- and 19th-century Europe, when food, clothing, shoes and other goods that had been produced by households began to be produced commercially. Once new markets are created, a “shadow price” is placed on all such goods or activities. This doesn’t mean that we all immediately start renting out our homes or driving our cars as taxis, but it means that we are aware of the financial loss that we make by not doing so. Once the price is right (whether because our circumstances change or the relative price increases), many people will join the new markets and thus reinforce them.

      I suppose that’s one way to look at it. I think this “expansion” is fundamentaly different from the expansion of capitalism seen in the 18th and 19th century. This one depends on losing vast sums of money to establish monopolies, and grabbing vast subsidies from all levels of government.

      Consider this article, from the Guardian, from a different author.

      The WeWork debacle should be an indictment of modern finance

      Investments that pumped up WeWork embodied another post-crisis trend – financial adventurism as a geopolitical tool. WeWork’s largest backer, Softbank’s Vision Fund, is largely funded by money from Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. This is what analysts call dumb money: huge investments in high-profile tech companies such as Uber, Slack and DoorDash, with the aim of multiplying political clout rather than financial returns, at a time when economic power is shifting from Wall Street to Silicon Valley. Saudi investments buy more than allies in Washington: lavishing money on Silicon Valley helps crown prince Mohammed bin Salman to land soft interviews in the western press and cosy chats with the titans of tech.

      Hmmm. Quite the exchange “price” there. Billions of dollars wiped out and millions of lives crapified so the Saudi Prick gets softball questions and socilal time with movie stars and tech squillionaires. Who else is in that market?

      This isn’t capitalism.

      Also not capitalism is what the FED does, shoving money up the backsides of criminal banksters. Every time I read Repo maddness, another marble drops and the financial plumbing allows the rich and well connected to get money for nothing. The FED is a gigantic amplifier of wealth inequalty.

      Reply
      1. Massinissa

        “I suppose that’s one way to look at it. I think this “expansion” is fundamentaly different from the expansion of capitalism seen in the 18th and 19th century. This one depends on losing vast sums of money to establish monopolies, and grabbing vast subsidies from all levels of government.”

        How is this any different from how the railroad monopolies were set up? Those also had lavish public funding going into private hands.

        Reply
        1. cnchal

          > How is this any different from how the railroad monopolies were set up?

          Good question, and I don’t have an answer other than another question, “was that capitalism?”

          The railroads eventually went bust, taking investors with them, so who is to say that can’t happen again with so called tech, when the dumb money is gone?

          > when food, clothing, shoes and other goods that had been produced by households began to be produced commercially.

          This part, directly after the reference to “expansion” is about production and consumption of goods in an era that did not have a nearly limitless well of money to lose to establish a monopoly, nor a corrupt central bank shovelling money up the backsides of criminal banksters so they can monpolize whatever they want. Goldman 666 owns coal mines. Who knew?

          Here is an example from Repo Madness

          One of the principal themes of my research has been to show that discriminatory policy instruments generate creative forms of circumvention that eventually destroy the policy’s discriminatory effect. So it is with the IOER. To allow large nonbank institutions and accredited (i.e., wealthy) household investors[2] to earn the excess-reserve rate (minus a small fee), several ex-Fed employees chartered a controversial narrow and uninsured bank[3] (TNB USA Inc.) in Connecticut. A narrow bank is one that takes no risk. The social value of such a bank was originally framed as a hypothetical way to eliminate the need for a government safety net. But until an explicit return on excess reserves emerged, no risk meant no profit because narrow banks could never earn enough on safe assets to be viable. The Fed has so far refused to give TNB a reserve account (I suppose) on the grounds: (1) that TNB is not and cannot become an insured bank because its charter does not allow it to accept retail deposits[4] and (2) that TNB’s only purpose for existence is to circumvent a particular Fed rule. As in other cases of blatant regulatory arbitrage, the legality of this scheme will finally be settled in the courts.

          In that game the only winners so far are the lawyers, but if and when they get what they want, the richer and more well connected an entity is, the moar the system can be gamed to their advantage, and the funds gained can be used to strengthen their monopoly with no risk at the expense of the 99%

          Is that capitalism?

          Reply
  16. dearieme

    On the UK election. It’s a pity what happened to CUK, I would have voted for them as I really am a CUK type of person.

    Reply
  17. Marty

    RE: How to Organize Your Friends and Family on Thanksgiving Jacobin.
    I had exactly the same reaction to this. This article could have been titled ‘How to piss off your friends and relatives and ensure they never listen to you”. I stated reading this article on Jacobin this morning and I couldn’t even finish it. Heavy-handed condescension (you’re going to talk about politics this Thanksgiving whether you like it or not) is NOT the way to organize.
    Sorry, this really aggravated me.

    Reply
  18. Jon Cloke

    CONSERVATIVES 68-SEAT MAJORITY:

    Vlade (and any body else) if the Tories get a 68-seat majority I will give you $1 for every seat they get up to 68 (£68) and £1 for each seat above that.

    On the other hand, if they get below 68 seats you give me £10 for every seat… and £20 for every minus-seat they get below Labour…

    Deal?

    Reply
    1. vlade

      And your point is? You’re saying, in effect, that you give me 1:10 in yor favour (i.e. if it’s the outcome you don’t like, you’ll pay a bit, if it’s the outcome you like, you get a lot). As I didn’t express whether it was or wasn’t outcome I liked – or even strongly believed in*), I don’t get you.

      I’ll make you a different offer:
      I’ll donate GBP10 for every MP that Labour gets over Tories to NC, if you donate GBP10 (or equivalent) for every Tory MP that they get over Labour to NC. I.e. Tories win 360 seats and Labour 200, you donate 160*10 to NC. Labour wins 400 to Tories 100, I donate 300*10 to NC.

      *) Polls are polls. They can be, and are wrong (although rarely by massive margins repeatedly). Some are better, some are worse. This poll was:
      – per constituency
      – it has a very large sample
      The same methodology poll was the only one that produce.

      B) poll is snap in time. There are still two weeks until the elections and a lot can happen in between.
      Johnson could run into a super-scandal between now and Dec 12 which would kill Tories dead. He could get run over by a bus. A terrorist attack could happen in the UK (which would boost Tories). etc. etc.

      Waving away a poll you don’t like “just because” is dumb. Taking the poll as “this will be the future” is equally dumb.

      Reply
          1. vlade

            For every day between Dec 1 2019 and March 30 2020 that the temperature in NYC hits -15C or lower, I give you a $ for every degree C below 0.

            For ever day where the min daily temperature does not hit -15C, you’ll give me $10 for every degree away from -15 if the temperature is more than -15 but 0C.

            Will you take it?

            Reply
  19. xkeyscored

    “Antibiotic-Resistant Fungi Are a Growing Health Threat” Undark
    But would probably help to identify the 13 states where these infections have occurred.
    Try this graphic of Candida Auris by state from the NYT, June 2019 (no annotations), or the whole article, A Mysterious Infection, Spanning the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy.
    Or Calif, Tex, Okla, Ind, Ill, Fla, Va, Md, NJ, NY, Conn, Mass (yes, I count 12) – only for C. Auris.
    The article also has a graphic for states in the sense of nations, again only for C. Auris.

    Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        Aspergillus (which I’m unfortunately familiar with) is mainly a problem in immune-suppressed patients. We were told that most people have a few spots in their lungs, mor eif they work with dirt (like me or anyone in construction), but their immune systems keep it under control.

        Lacking that, it grows and acts very much like a tumor – in our son’s case, it was removed surgically.

        However, there’s nothing new about it. Our experience was 30 years ago.

        Reply
      2. Gaianne

        Your link lacks a necessary colon (:) that should follow the letters https. Inserting the colon should make the link work.

        –Gaianne

        Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Great, almost all the states with excellent teaching hospitals…NY, Mass, arguably some in CA….I have good contacts in TX but scratch that. You still have Mayo but I’m increasingly told it’s overrated (lotta testing….)

      Birmingham has the best med school in the South, but I’d still be leery of getting surgery here. Gah.

      Reply
  20. Mel

    Unfortunate rhetoric from Ilargi. To lead with the lie is to privilege it. Now people can quote and remember Automatic Earth as having said that Corbyn hates all Jews, even though the article says and demonstrates the exact opposite.
    At the very least, scare quotes in the title around those words would have represented the article better.

    Reply
    1. Foy

      “To lead with the lie is to privilege it.”

      Yep agreed Mel, I had exactly the same feeling. When I saw the headline in the links I thought sheez, why is Illargi saying that. There’s no /sarc in headlines…

      Reply
  21. Pelham

    Re Trump knew of whistleblower complaint before talking to Sondland: This could suggest that there really was a quid pro quo. Or not.

    Let’s say there really was a quid pro quo and Trump learns someone is whistleblowing. Trump then unilaterally denies any quid pro quo in conversation with Sondland. Awkward but plausible.

    Now let’s say there was no quid pro quo but Trump learns someone says there was and is whistleblowing. Trump then unilaterally denies any quid pro quo in conversation with Sondland. Also awkward but plausible.

    Certainly if someone falsely or mistakenly accused me of malfeasance, I’d rush to set the record straight — perhaps in panic mode. The weight of accumulated evidence in Trump’s case may point in other directions, but the punditocracy’s narrow focus on only the incriminating implication of this particular conversation is not supported by the bare elements therein contained.

    Reply
    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Unbelievable that the Democratic Party has narrowed the entire focus of what they feel is of highest importance to the lives of the people they supposedly represent to incredibly arcane arguments about the precise alignment of angels on the heads of these supposedly holy pins.

      Dems: “we will only move forward on a bipartisan basis”. Move forward anyway.
      Dems “we will have a vote on whether to have an investigation”. Open the investigation without said vote.

      Then the unbelievable argument that mid-level bureaucrats should be allowed to freelance their own policy directions if they disagree with the policies of their boss.

      Then much hero worship of “fine individuals” determined to advance said policy directions based on the strategic imperatives at play in 1988. No discussion allowed about whether said policy direction *makes any logical sense whatsoever* in light of not-so-new facts on the ground, i.e. the fact that the very enemy in question dissolved without a trace in 1989.

      Then the logical train wreck: the supposed progression to a trial in the Senate, where hearsay (virtually 100% of what we’ve heard so far) is completely inadmissible. And where for the first time a semblance of due process is allowed, with the much worse and entirely gory details of their own team’s transparently corrupt activities in the same country sure to be laid bare for all to see and judge for themselves. Toss in the snipers at Maidan square in 2014, whom they shot and why, and who paid them to shoot those people perhaps?

      I rack my brain to think of benign reasons to pursue this path and come up completely empty. The *only* reason I arrive at is that it’s a way to eclipse any threats to billionaire oligarchs for whom a rational health care system and a foreign policy that does not entail Permanent War are completely unacceptable.

      Reply
      1. ptb

        “Then much hero worship of “fine individuals” determined to advance said policy directions based on the strategic imperatives at play in 1988. No discussion allowed about whether said policy direction *makes any logical sense whatsoever* in light of not-so-new facts on the ground, i.e. the fact that the very enemy in question dissolved without a trace in 1989.”

        Yes, thank you!

        Lets not beat oneself up looking for common sense tho. The battle is over social cohesion of the foreign policy parts of govt. Trump is liable at any time to peel the mask off the group mythology, so the freakout is justified in a way. A Clinton or a Bush could’ve made a far more drastic sudden change in policy with no problems from the ‘team’.

        Reply
      2. Procopius

        … hearsay (virtually 100% of what we’ve heard so far) is completely inadmissible.

        Errmmm. This is not the case. A trial in the Senate is not bound by the rules of criminal (or civil) law. If they want to accept hearsay, they can (although I’m sure they won’t). I agree the evidence is completely unconvincing (to me) but the Senators can decide their own rules. In fact, it is going to be a charade and the outcome (acquittal) is already determined.
        ETA: Actually, a lot of the procedure is going to be up to Justice Lochner… I mean Roberts.

        Reply
  22. xkeyscored

    “Directed evolution teaches bacteria to eat carbon dioxide” New Atlas
    Another little cause for optimism, unless you have religious scruples that forbid even thinking about GMOs.
    So what can we actually do with these diet-switching bacteria? Currently, bacteria can be farmed to produce things like antibiotics, graphene, and fuels, but these usually need to be fed lots of sugar in the form of corn syrup. The researchers say that these new bacteria could be fed nothing but atmospheric CO2 and given energy from renewable electricity sources, making any end products and fuels they produce essentially carbon neutral.

    Reply
    1. Jokerstein

      I think the thing people really need to worry about is when bacteria evolve – and they will – to be able to harvest energy from depolymerizing (i.e. eating) common plastics.

      If PET, polythene, nylon, PVC, etc bonds become labile to bacteria, the industrial world dies, fairly quickly (acceleration will be quick), dangerously (plastics used for health, food, etc. become useless) and catastrophically (airplanes, cars, other quick and heavy items will fail unpredictably).

      Of course, most of the non-human species will benefit…

      Reply
      1. Jokerstein

        Forgot to add – thermodynamics tells us that with global warming these evolutionary changes will become more probable.

        Nice!

        Reply
  23. Mike

    Re: Aaron Maté on Democracy Now

    I would like to know the direct funding basis for DN, and how the program gets its marching orders. Rockefeller Foundation and other charity orgs align with the Atlantic Council. Public TV and radio have, since the 1990s, been under huge pressure to be less leftist and more center, which in this environment means rightist. When the Koch Brothers can fund science and environmental programming, surely DN and its ilk are not free of those constraints. Direct orders from the FBI or CIA aren’t necessary when a panoply of firms and private wealth live in the same seventh heaven.

    Reply
  24. xkeyscored

    “Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against” Nature
    Most of the IPCC reports have basically ignored these tipping points, on the basis that we don’t know when they’ll kick in – at 1.5, 2, 5 degrees or whatever. Jem Bendell reckons we’ve probably already crossed some of them, and I think he’s right. The last four or five years have been above most of the predictions on a number of indicators.
    A few snippets from the article:

    If current national pledges to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions are implemented — and that’s a big ‘if’ — they are likely to result in at least 3 °C of global warming. [A ridiculous ‘if’ in my view – our emissions of most greenhouse gases are increasing, not decreasing.]

    Evidence that tipping points are under way has mounted in the last decade [easy to grasp graphic]

    As well as undermining our life-support system, biosphere tipping points can trigger abrupt carbon release back to the atmosphere. This can amplify climate change and reduce remaining emission budgets.

    Already, warming has triggered large-scale insect disturbances and an increase in fires that have led to dieback of North American boreal forests, potentially turning some regions from a carbon sink to a carbon source. Permafrost across the Arctic is beginning to irreversibly thaw and release carbon dioxide and methane — a greenhouse gas that is around 30 times more potent than CO2 over a 100-year period.

    exceeding tipping points in one system can increase the risk of crossing them in others. Such links were found for 45% of possible interactions.
    In our view, examples are starting to be observed. For example, Arctic sea-ice loss is amplifying regional warming, and Arctic warming and Greenland melting are driving an influx of fresh water into the North Atlantic. This could have contributed to a 15% slowdown since the mid-twentieth century of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) , a key part of global heat and salt transport by the ocean. Rapid melting of the Greenland ice sheet and further slowdown of the AMOC could destabilize the West African monsoon, triggering drought in Africa’s Sahel region. A slowdown in the AMOC could also dry the Amazon, disrupt the East Asian monsoon and cause heat to build up in the Southern Ocean, which could accelerate Antarctic ice loss.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      That’s been the huge flaw of the models and the IPCC reports. Its one reason (not the only one), why they’ve consistently been too conservative in their projections. As one scientist said (I paraphrase from memory), ‘when your assumptions are consistently too conservative over time, that’s not a sign of scientific caution, that’s an indicator of bias’.

      I briefly studied physical geography in the 1980’s, and even then all the data indicated that climatic shifts were not gradual (as was assumed up to the 1960’s or so), but often happened with extreme rapidity. In the early 1970’s an upland lake in Ireland was drained to build a pump storage station and subjected to very fine grained analysis. It showed that the end of the last glaciation was not, as assumed, a process that involved a gradual warming over several hundred years, but in a process that involved a rapid fire series of changes (some perhaps taking place over just a few years or even months), including sudden thaws, intense dry cold snaps, wet (icy) cold snaps and so on. There were at least two serious mini cold periods in the middle of a general warming up that resulted in mini-glaciations. Every time I go hiking up my local hills I see evidence of the drama of that period – in particular indicators of massive flooding (19th Century geologists thought they were seeing evidence of the biblical flood).

      Nobody who has studied the last period of major climate change can feel confident that the process will be a gradual change over a few centuries. That’s what will happen only if we are very, very lucky.

      Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        not, as assumed, a process that involved a gradual warming over several hundred years, but in a process that involved a rapid fire series of changes (some perhaps taking place over just a few years or even months), including sudden thaws, intense dry cold snaps, wet (icy) cold snaps and so on.
        I keep reading, or often skimming, numerous articles in the likes of Nature Briefing and Science Alert saying much the same is being found in all sorts of geological records etc for various periods of past climate change. It can happen fast: it has before.

        Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        if carbon dioxide warms the atmosphere one degree Celsius, then water vapour can cause the temperature to go up another one degree” (cued to 3 mins 42)
        1) This isn’t left out; this is built into climate models, and has been for ages.
        2) This isn’t what is meant by ‘tipping points’. These are when things start increasing and won’t stop – eg. past a certain point, the Amazon rainforest dies a bit, for whatever reason, leading to less rainfall in other parts of the rainforest, leading to more rainforest death, leading to more dryness, and more rainforest death – until the rainforest’s gone, along with its stored carbon and its ability to make its own rain. Things making each other worse and worse and worse and worse …, with little we can do about it, except perhaps suck all the CO2 we’ve emitted back out of the atmosphere.
        Water vapour makes the warming from CO2 worse, but “only once.” Basically, it doesn’t make more CO2 in the atmosphere, so the process doesn’t go “round and round”.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well, but . . . if a certain rise in airborne CO2 permits a certain rise in airborne water vapor . . . and that risen amount of water vapor holds more heat and that heat goes into the permafrost and the shallow continental shelf methane clathrate deposits, and causes the heat-driven release of more CO2 and methane than just the heat of the unaided CO2 would have on its own; then the lockstep march of more CO2 ->more heat -> more water vapor -> still more heat -> still more newer fresher CO2 release and methane release too . . . then the process certainly ratchets up even if it doesn’t go “round and round”.

          Or am I wrong?

          Reply
          1. xkeyscored

            Sounds spot on. Hence the ‘Basically’ in the last sentence. More CO2 (or CH4, NO2, SF6, etc) is bad news with or without H2O, and worse with all the H2O we get on our wet, blue planet.

            Reply
    2. xkeyscored

      An easier to read, less technical summary of the Nature article:
      Tipping Points That Could Unleash a Planetary Emergency Are Now Active, Scientists Warn
      https://www.sciencealert.com/tipping-points-unleashing-a-planetary-emergency-are-already-active-scientists-warn

      “As soon as one or two climate dominoes are knocked over, they push Earth towards others,” says Earth systems scientist Will Steffen from the Australian National University. “We fear that it may become impossible to stop the whole row of dominoes from tumbling over, forming a cascade that could threaten the existence of human civilisations.”
      Taking drastic action now to limit carbon emissions won’t just mean we put fewer chemicals in the air; it would also mean we could limit feedback systems like permafrost thawing, which threatens to unload its own huge stored reserves of carbon into the atmosphere.
      “No amount of economic cost-benefit analysis is going to help us,” they warn.
      “We might already have lost control of whether tipping happens. A saving grace is that the rate at which damage accumulates from tipping – and hence the risk posed – could still be under our control to some extent.”

      Reply
      1. Roger Boyd

        The cascade process is well know. For example, the Arctic Sea Ice is lost significantly increasing Arctic temperatures and rainfall (from the open waters) – then the permafrost degradation will be accelerated by both increased temperatures and increased rainfall (water transfers heat much more efficiently than air and can trickle down into the depths of the permafrost). Waterlogged permafrost tends to produce methane (much more potent in the short term) than carbon dioxide due to the anaerobic environment.

        The additional rain and higher temperatures also help melt Greenland faster, increasing the size of the cold blob in the North Atlantic (due to freshwater runoff) and slowing down the Gulf Stream.

        etc. etc.

        Once you open the Climate Change Pandora’s Box things get bad really fast. The IPCC models do not reflect any of this.

        Reply
  25. Tinky

    re: Magnitsky

    The Magnitsky act is a massive fraud catalyzed by Bill Browder and those (many) who stood to benefit. For those interested in learning the truth, watch Andrei Nekrasov’s film The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes. Nekrasov, a former student of Tarkovsky(!), was a Putin critic when beginning the project, but his open mind quickly led him to the truth of the sordid Browder/Magnitsky story.

    For those wanting to dig deeper, The Killing of William Browder, by Alex Krainer (ISBN 978-2-9556923-2-5), hashes out the affair in great detail. I believe that it is available in pdf form for free online.

    That the American and European governments have allowed the status quo to stand in spite of the damning evidence speaks volumes, but is sadly no surprise.

    Reply
    1. Quentin

      What speaks even bigger volumes is that Nekrasov unmasking of Browder may not be shown publicly in the US or the EU. Hows that for democratic freedom of the Western world? Nekrasov’s documentary seems to have been deleted from YouTube, though some trailers and other related material can be watched there.

      Reply
        1. Tinky

          For those who would prefer a very quick, revealing glimpse into the disgraceful affair, just watch from 1:41:20 to 1:51:35

          Reply
    2. Alex

      The Spiegel’s article is pretty good but I don’t agree with Mark Ames’s spin of it. Yes, there is no hard evidence that Magnitskiy was intentionally murdered, in fact there are other likely possibilities, to quote from the same article:

      “They were beating him to pacify him,” Svetova said, adding that the beatings in and of themselves did not indicate a targeted murder. There was no evidence of this, she said.

      Reply
    3. Alex

      (my previous comment is awaiting moderation)

      This is not to say by the way that Browder is a nice person. I don’t think so and he’s one of many who took part in the looting of Russia

      Reply
  26. Samuel Conner

    D*mn, am I pleased with AOC! Burst into applause at the end of the clip of her “life is not a commodity” statement.

    Maybe there is hope yet for the Ds.

    Reply
    1. Carla

      That AOC clip actually made me tear up ’cause I’ve been waiting my whole, long life to hear an elected official say what she said.

      Reply
  27. xkeyscored

    “Aluminum Casting a Vehicle Gear Using Sand Mold” YouTube.
    I wondered when I saw this in Links if aluminium gears work for long. Clicking on the SHOW MORE thingy under the video, I see “It was really good with all the details. It just need little machine work and it is ready for use (If aluminum gears can be used).”
    Might work if you melt down some kind of super-tough specialist aluminium alloy, eg ex-military stuff; probably won’t last long if you use old aly cans!

    Reply
    1. RMO

      The constituent metals used in the alloy, the treatment of the alloy during production and after working it and the use of the gear all have an influence on how well a gear made of aluminum would work. The Ford Cologne 2.8 in my first car had the original steel/fiber camshaft drive gear (the one attached to the camshaft that is, it was driven by a steel gear on the crankshaft) was replaced with an aftermarket aluminum item which was a little noisier than the OEM part but which stood up better to heavy use. Can’t for the life of me remember what the exact specs were but my fuzzy memory says it wasn’t anything more exotic than 6061T6 at most.

      Reply
      1. Kurt Sperry

        From the sound the gear to be cloned makes when he sets it down and its apparent heft, it is pretty obviously steel. Recreating a steel gear in aluminum alloy (of any sort) is just begging for a catastrophic failure to happen. In the rare case it might work, it necessarily means the original steel part was enormously over-engineered.

        Reply
      2. John Wright

        This appears to be an aluminum copy of a steel automotive transmission ring drive gear.

        If so, the original gear had to handle the torque necessary to propel the car.

        I have considerable doubt this replacement gear would run quietly and for any length of time, if it is truly a ring gear used in an automotive transmission.

        I’ve disassembled/inspected a Porsche 911 transaxle and there were no aluminum gears, despite economic incentives to have lighter and less costly cast or machined aluminum gears.

        With factory produced gears, the ring gear setup required special tooling to set the well machined ring and pinion gears to mesh correctly and quietly.

        I can only imagine great disappointment if someone tried to use such a roughly cast/weaker replacement gear to replace a possibly forged and machined steel original gear.

        Casting also has problems with material shrinkage/expansion, so a gear cast from a perfect mold formed from a perfect original sample may be undersize or oversize causing severe meshing issues. A post machining operation may be needed to create a functional gear from a casting, assuming the cast part is enough oversize to be post machined.

        Note gear teeth are frequently machined (cut or ground) to form the proper shapes necessary for quiet running and long life,

        Porsche DID use an aluminum alloy gear to drive the camshaft chains in the early Porsche 911 engine in the 1960’s, so the company was certainly comfortable with aluminum gears, properly used.

        The video has this introductory text “It just need little machine work and it is ready for use (If aluminum gears can be used).”

        So the video’s poster had some concerns about ultimate suitability.

        As do I.

        Reply
    2. inode_buddha

      You’re thinking of something like a hard-anodized 7075 alloy. FWIW the subject is directly in my wheel house, I deal in metals for a living. I wouldn’t use an aluminum gear in an automobile, particularly not as a ring gear depicted. It’ll be lucky to last a few miles before it strips out completely.

      Reply
  28. Some Guy

    “If true (it may be off, as it’s still not a per-constituency poll, but a stratified regression, so misses local issues), Labour in general, and Corbyn in particular, are a toast. This could turn into Corbyn’s equivalent of Blair’s Iraq war – something that he would never be forgiven for by a large chunk of voters, especially if Brexit turns into a disaster (equivalent to “we can’t find any WMD here. doh”).”

    Yes, in the same way nobody ever forgave Hague and the Conservatives for the Iraq War, nobody will forgive Corbyn or Labour if the Conservatives run a campaign on exiting, people vote for exiting so that the Conservatives win the election, the Conservatives lead an exit and it turns into a disaster. That makes sense.

    Corbyn is giving the people of the U.K. a fair option, a better option than they have had in a long time. If enough people can’t see that, then they get what they get. Countries screw up all the time because people make bad choices. When they refuse to take any personal responsibility for those poor choices and scapegoat the people trying to help them instead, that is when things continue to get worse and worse.

    Reply
    1. vlade

      Your opinion is yours, but, let’s face it, it’s not the opinion of majority of the UK voters. If it was, Labour would be far ahead of Tories in polls.

      Brexit is a reason why people will not vote for Corbyn. Quite a few of them, remainers AND leavers.

      Labour got the share of vote in 2017 because the leavers didn’t have a reason to make it a vote on Brexit, and for the remainers Labour was a hope of at least a soft Brexit if not anything else. Corbyn managed to piss off both sides of the fence.

      If Brexit turns into disaster, Johnson and Tories will cope most of the blame – but Corbyn will be right there as enabler. There will be people (more than a few) who will remember how he was the pol who said to trigger A50 the day after referendum and whipped for A50 trigger w/o any plan.

      Reply
  29. Duck1

    RE: petrochemical plant explosion yesterday in TX, somehow didn’t notice any reporting on this in the conventional news sources I scanned Wed. Thanks for the report. Per the article the plant produced x tons of product. A rather useless stat without giving a time unit. Eerie photo of plant towers at top of article.

    Reply
  30. Tomonthebeach

    The pearl-clutching Current Affairs article on Bolivia which criticizes how the press and other nations have spun the Morales coup pays very short shrift to why democracies have term limits. The longer a person remains in elected office, the deeper his roots sink into the garden of government making uprooting increasingly tough. Also, the greater is the risk that those growing roots will intertwine with weeds – corruption.

    How long does it take before you have a dictator for life? History seems to suggest that 10 years is a convenient threshold. Look what happened in Russia, Spain, The Philippines, Cuba…. Whether or not corruption would have institutionalized had Morales served another term is an untestable question. But the likelihood that it would not end well is supported by centuries of history. The likelihood that the coup was fomented by opposing forces of corruption enables the spin, but it does not blunt the notion that term limits reduce corruption and “Presidents for Life.”

    Reply
    1. human

      If a people can not elect a leader by majority vote, nor remove that leader, also by majority vote, then what you have is not a democracy. Constutional republic perhaps, but, we know Franklin’s response to that.

      Reply
    2. Massinissa

      “Look what happened in Russia, Spain, The Philippines, Cuba”

      You have me confused here. The Castros were never elected, to my knowledge, so I don’t understand the Cuba reference. And if with Spain you’re referring to Franco, he wasn’t elected either, unless you’re referring to someone else I’m not familiar with. And has for the Phillipines, Duterte has only been in power 3 years (which among other things shows you don’t need multiple terms to turn a country from a democracy to a dictatorship when you can do it in just one), unless you’re referring to someone other than Duterte in which case I still don’t know what you are referring to. (EDIT: Ferdinand Marcos? I guess that’s a decent example. Forgot about him until just now)

      On the Phillipines though, if we are talking about Ferdinand Marcos, the Phillipines DID have term limits. Marcos just got rid of them once he was in power. So no, I’m not confident term limits actually prevent that sort of behavior in the first place. That limit has been restored since Marcos died but I don’t think its going to stop Duterte from having a third term if he decides he wants one (which would be five years from now). So I’m not actually confident term limits ‘reduce corruption’ as much as you claim.

      Reply
    3. Roger Boyd

      Russia has term limits, thats why Putin handed over to Medvedev for a while. Your other examples seem to be of outright authoritarian/communist dictatorships (Franco, Castro) and deeply corrupt nations (the Philippines).

      Maybe the Bolivian leader had looked across to Ecuador, where the President’s hand picked successor rapidly rejected everything he supposedly stood for and became a courtier of the local oligarchs and the US.

      In the past 30 years in the US there was Bush Senior (4 years), Bubba Clinton (8 years), Bush Jr (8 years), Obama with Hillary as Secretary of State (8 years) and now Trump. All of which served the interests of the elites. Term limits didn’t change that reality, as the real power lies behind the throne. Democracy in the US means that you can vote for any servant of the rich and powerful you like.

      In Bolivia it is now obvious that the OAS claimed something with absolutely no backing to facilitate an elite-driven military coup. Morales won clean and simple. He helped share the nations wealth with the poorest, especially the ones that cannot afford pearls.

      Reply
  31. Tomonthebeach

    Multiple women recall sexual misconduct and retaliation by Gordon Sondland.

    Ask yourself where did these wronged women come from, and why raise these old accusations on the heels of Sondland’s testimony. Who orchestrated that, and why? Sondland is definitely deserving of the scorn directed at any billionaire who buys a job for which he is unqualified just to enjoy the title “Ambassador” for life.

    My hypothesis is that his impeachment testimony, as flabby, fuzzy, and self-protecting as it was, was perceived to have gored Trump’s entire inner circle. Perhaps WH staff feel that firing Sondland is insufficient punishment (after all he still gets to keep the title “ambassador”). He needs to be brought before the ranks, and have his rank epaulets publically torn from his shoulder in disgrace. I suspect that Trump is very familiar with the effect of being tarred with an Epstein-Weinstein brush to smear his reputation first.

    Reply
    1. Sol

      Ask yourself where did these wronged women come from, and why raise these old accusations on the heels of Sondland’s testimony.

      Based on observation and experience, people of lesser power and status only have their complaints taken seriously when a person in power finds it advantageous to do so.

      It is now advantageous in this situation for someone in power to listen to complaints and make them public. Ergo, now the complaints will be taken seriously and made public.

      This “why are they just saying this now” question was asked when MeToo hit the forefront of public discourse. The answer usually was that they had come forward earlier – sometimes repeatedly – and were essentially ignored. There is little short-term profit in standing up to power/privilege on behalf of those who can do nothing to us or for us.

      Reply
      1. kiwi

        How can you take some of these complaints seriously?

        So, the woman who wanted capital from Sondland decided to go into a hotel room with him. What is it with these women? Why go into a hotel room to begin with??? So, she is leaving and he grabs her face to kiss her.

        Later she decides to have lunch with him again, as if grabbing her face wasn’t offensive enough. Then as they drive somewhere, she allows his hand to rest on her thigh for “ten minutes.” She puts her hand on his to prevent his hand from wandering further. And how is he to know that her hand placement is to prevent him?

        Yet I hear these stories over and over, where women go into hotel rooms with men, or they are driving with the guy and he makes advances that she doesn’t instantly reject. And they make repeated unnecessary contacts with these men.

        Yet I’ve had no problem ever making it clear to any guy who stepped out of line that he stepped out of line.

        Geez, I went to lunch with a professor once. He reached over and started stroking my hair! Crap, I moved away immediately, displayed negative body language and scowled, scowled as he drove us back to campus, didn’t talk to him, and never said anything to him again.

        So, that particular woman’s complaint is simply not credible.

        Reply
        1. Sol

          I’m not sure my point came across clearly. Perhaps I was clumsy with my phrasing. Let me aim for succint rather than thorough.

          The time a power-imbalanced accusation reaches public knowledge has more to do with how advantageous such publicity would be for a person with power than it has to do with credibility of the accusation. Please do establish that separately.

          Reply
          1. kiwi

            Sorry, it seemed like your comment was based on an assumption that the accusations were credible – from this sentence you wrote: “The answer usually was that they had come forward earlier – sometimes repeatedly – and were essentially ignored.”

            So the concepts (the powers using the womens’ complaints to their advantage vs. credibility) seemed mixed to me when I read your post.

            Reply
            1. Sol

              Yes, I can see where you got that, sorry about the confusion. I mentioned what happened during MeToo because it was a recent example of quite-possibly legit accusations that still went no where until someone wanted them too. I meant it to confirm that credibility doesn’t seem to be a big factor – let alone the biggest factor – in when these accusations finally hit the public eye.

              No worries, we got there in the end, lol. Communication is complex.

              Reply
    2. lyman alpha blob

      The thing here is not “why now?” (you gave the obvious reason), but whether the faux “resistance” will believe these women or try to ignore/smear them to defend Sondland. And after watching the Clintons operate against Bubba’s accusers, I think we already know.

      This is why impeachment hearings were a ridiculous political tactic for the Democrat party to begin with – no way does team D come out looking good.

      Pass the popcorn.

      Reply
      1. Roger Boyd

        Sickening when so called progressives reject #Metoo etc. when it impacts their own favourites, the mask slips so easily.

        Reply
  32. Eclair

    Re: Practitioner’s Guide to MMT: Part 1. “As long as President Trump’s administration continues with their policies, then I suspect the United States economy will continue to outperform.”

    “Outperform” who? Or what? I assume the author refers to GDP. But does GDP encompass the teenagers who are suiciding? Does it measure the lost lives of those living in our industrial wastelands, who die in middle age, of opioid addiction or alcoholism (anything to take the edge off the pain of living with no hope)? Does it cover the growing numbers of people in Seattle, and Denver, and Los Angeles who are living in small groups of tents set up by the freeways and interstates and shitting in the bushes because where else are you going to shit when you are ‘living rough?’ Or the ‘lucky’ ones who still have vehicles they can live in? Assuming they can find a welcoming place to park where they won’t find a note under their windshield: “Don’t dump your vehicle in our neighborhood.” This in an area that is rife with signs welcoming Gay and Lesbian people and Immigrants.

    Other than this small fault, it is a decent explanation of MMT, the way our system works.

    And, I am thankful for Yves, Lambert, Jerri-Lyn, Yves’ mom and Jules-who-fixes-the-broken-URL’s. And all NC commenters. Even those who commit egregious acts of ad hominem, or straw-manning, or making-stuff-up. Because they offer us an opportunity to learn what not to do, as well as practice in holding one’s temper and responding in a firm, thoughtful and instructive manner.

    Reply
    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      When health insurance premiums go up it adds to the GDP. So, #Winning! Hey this “economic growth” stuff is easy!

      Reply
  33. Summer

    Re:crisis-of-capitalism-europeans-gig-economy

    “Thanks also to globalisation and technological revolutions, new, hitherto nonexistent markets have been created: like the huge market for personal data, rental markets for own cars and homes (neither of which were capital until Uber, Lyft and Airbnb were created)…”

    While it doesn’t imperil the overall point of the author, I think a more apt way of looking as this is that people are thinking about these types of things as capital in a different way. Nothing is being done that people haven’t done before. And too much of what is being called a “technology revolution” is actually a deregulation counter-revolution.

    “…Taking care of the elderly, of children, cooking and delivery of food, shopping, chores, dog walking and the like used to be done within households.

    This expansion of capitalism potentially opens up questions about the role, and even survival, of the family. Other than the raising of children, it was the mutual help and – indeed gender-skewed – sharing of non-commercialised activities that was the key economic rationale for the family. As this erodes we can expect, in the long term, an increase in single-member households, and in numbers of people who have never partnered or married. Already in Nordic countries between 30% and 40% of households are one person only…”

    To this I will add: And we have yet to see ramp up of sexbots to scale. Wait until that revs up in the future. As they say “You ain’t seen nuttin yet…”

    Happy Tday…

    Reply
    1. Summer

      Just one more thing that I’m musing about before I go stuff my stomach:
      “Taking care of the elderly, of children, cooking and delivery of food, shopping, chores, dog walking and the like used to be done within households.

      This expansion of capitalism potentially opens up questions about the role, and even survival, of the family…”

      While entire populations and all genders are affected, it really does seem like the “crisis of capitalism” is a lot about a crisis around the panic of the perceived role of women…and what that does to the perceived role of men.

      Reply
  34. Oregoncharles

    “Who asked Morales about Manafort?”

    In case anyone else was confused: different Morales. This is the GC Global guy, not the president of Bolivia (wrong country). Was covered at NC a couple days ago, but took me a minute to retrieve.

    Reply
  35. salvo

    well, if the British people are just looking for whom might be the best suited “Führer” then they deserve the politics they’ll get with a tory government under Johnson

    Reply
    1. lyman alpha blob

      Hiliarious in that the Democrat party is pretending to impeach a sitting president in essence to defend a crackhead philanderer. Maybe the condescending speech he gave about the need for irresponsible black men to wear condoms should have been directed at his own prodigal spawn.

      But not at all funny for the woman whose life he upended. Brings to mind old F Scott –

      “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

      Reply
  36. Carey

    More from out No-You-Can’t Croporatist Dems-

    “..Privately and publicly, party strategists focused on the nation’s most competitive House and Senate seats next cycle are frustrated that conversation in the Democratic presidential race often devolves into arcane debates about Medicare for all, rather than last year’s easier-to-grasp message about protecting people with pre-existing conditions. Many are gravely concerned about the impact that having a presidential nominee who backs Medicare for all at the top of the ticket would have on the most vulnerable Democratic candidates..”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/26/us/politics/medicare-for-all-2020-democrats.html?akid=5772.20192.lc2XSi&rd=1&t=1

    Not like people are dying from lack of healthcare or anything. What a country..

    Reply
    1. Chris

      Yeah. When you’re more worried about keeping your job as a legislator than doing it, it’s time for you to go. I was having a polite discussion about politics with family today and they were all lamenting the Democrats having a majority in the house. I asked them what these Democrats are actually doing for them to worry about. The MILO Democrats aren’t going to give anyone anything to help with material needs. They’re too busy feeding government contractors.

      I hate to say it because I shudder to think of the stupid that will come if it happens… but Team Blue needs to lose if they don’t elect someone like Bernie. We need to drown New Versailles and let everyone who ever held a door for a Clinton rot in the wilderness for the rest of their lives. We can achieve that by helping Bernie’s revolution or making Team Blue irrelevant. But regardless of how it happens it needs to happen.

      Reply
  37. notabanktoadie

    Re AOC Life is not a commodity:

    She should rephase it as “How much would you pay to save your wife or an only child?”

    Many husbands would die for their wives and vice versa and both to save their children.

    Congress should be stripped of their special healthcare and instead put on Medicaid or Medicare.

    Think we would then see a rapid improvement in both?

    Reply
  38. Chris

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone here.

    I’m grateful to have this site as a beacon of sanity and intelligent discussion in them midst of our media. Cheers!

    Reply
  39. Oregoncharles

    I want to thank Yves and the others for working on this holiday, so that we don’t have to go through a day of withdrawal. Hope you all had a really good dinner, too.

    And also the commenters for yet another exhilarating discussion.

    Reply
  40. Summer

    RE: Failing States, Collapsing Systems: BioPhysical Triggers of Political Violence Ahmed Nafeez Mosaddeq

    “Ahmed argues, are being driven by the proliferation of climate, food and economic crises which have at their root the common denominator of a fundamental and permanent disruption in the energy basis of industrial civilization.”

    An energy basis that never was used to provide for all and now that’s endangered.

    Reply
  41. meeps

    I just started today’s two-part Practitioner’s Guide to MMT and since it’s still thanksgiving in my neck of the woods I’d like to say thanks to NC for presenting this material so inventively. There’s really something for everyone here.

    The author of the series is, “thinking about the problems that the majority seem to have accepting MMT” and subsequently asks, “Ever wonder why the three rounds of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve didn’t cause the CPI increases the hyper-inflationists warned about?”

    I’m curious if laypeople might dismiss MMT because this statement defies what they ordinarily think of as inflation; things costing more. Housing, healthcare, education, food–all cost more than yesteryear and cost considerably more relative to wage increases. How might a Modern Monetary Theorist explain how all the observed price increases are not hyper-inflation? The Macro Tourist moves into spending and borrowing from there having potentially lost someone for lack of an explainer on the first point.

    Reply

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