Links 11/29/19

E. coli bacteria engineered to eat carbon dioxide Nature. Proof-of-concept. Nevertheless!

Could this desert beetle help humans harvest water from thin air? Science

EU Parliament declares ‘climate emergency’ Deutsche Welle

Is It Imperialist to “Green” the Military? The New Republic (re Silc).

US distressed debt flashes warning sign for investors FT

Broken Promises and Debt Pile Up as Loan Forgiveness Goes Astray NYT. A second HAMP.

Help Stop the Sale of Public Interest Registry to a Private Equity Firm EFF. The *.org domain.


Corbyn reveals secret documents that ‘confirm Tory plot to sell off NHS in US trade talks with Trump’ Independent. Selling off the NHS for parts is “on the table,” even if the Americans put it there.

Boris Johnson replaced by ice sculpture after dodging election debate on climate crisis Sky News vs. How Boris Johnson’s message discipline is boosting the Tories FT

The Contract on Corbyn Haaretz

Google allowing unlabelled political ads through loophole Sky News

The lessons of Grenfell Unherd. See the latest on Grenfell at NC here.

U.K. Can’t Be Trusted With Gold, Top Slovak Party Leader Says Bloomberg. Correctly.

12 EU states reject move to expose companies’ tax avoidance Guardian


Thucydides Goes to Washington: an interview with Michael Doran about US Grand Strategy in the Middle East Fathom. Conservative realpolitik. The headline is deceptive; Doran does not use Kagans so-called ‘Thucydides Trap’ as an analytical tool.”

Brazilian president accused of inciting genocide of Indigenous people CBC


Private Equity Snaps Up Bargains in India’s Shadow Bank Crisis Bloomberg

Silicon Valley-Backed App Lenders Use Phone Data to Hassle Borrowers WSJ

No Social Media, Full Data Access to Cops: Kashmir Internet to Come With 6 Conditions The Wire

How women in India demanded—and are getting—safer streets National Geographic

The Koreas

South Korea’s Dust Dilemma Forces Coal Plants Into Hibernation Bloomberg

Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone dies at 101 Japan Times

Mekong nations plan five-year strategy to fight drought The Star. Those dams upstream aren’t helping.


In Pictures: Thousands attend Thanksgiving rally as US passes Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act Hong Kong Free Press

What were voters in Hong Kong district council elections saying? They are mostly fed up – and the opposition is fuelled by anger South China Morning Post.

Interesting milieu:

Does Hong Kong’s government hold power over the legislative and judicial branches? Justice department’s court appeal on anti-mask law suggests so South China Morning Post

WeChat users in the US say the app is censoring their messages about Hong Kong Business Insider

No happy ending for Hong Kong struggle, says Ezra Vogel Nikkei Asian Review

* * *

Also interesting:

Lambert here: Yves has been saying the real systemic risk is in China and Eurobanks but since everything is still too tightly coupled, big enough trouble would blow back to the US.

Taiwan’s breakaway from China was during Neolithic Age: tech minister Taiwan News. Cheeky!

China’s Growing High-End Military Drone Force The Diplomat. Interesting, but does remind me of the breathless milpr0n-like coverage of the USSR’s weapons systems. Big black-and-white photos in Life magazine, back when there was a Life magazine. And black-and-white film. And a USSR. Plus ça change…

The New Geography of Global Diplomacy Foreign Affairs

New Cold War

China and Russia not Nato’s enemies, Emmanuel Macron says, as he defends ‘brain death’ remarks South China Morning Post

Russia demonstrates Avangard hypersonic missile system to US TASS

Trump Transition

As Secret Pentagon Spending Rises, Defense Firms Cash in Defense One

How the FCC Helped Pave the Way for Predatory Prison Telecoms Vice


Witness testimony and records raise questions about account of Trump’s ‘no quid pro quo’ call WaPo. “No other witness testimony or documents have emerged that corroborate Sondland’s description of a call that day.” Dear Lord, after all the breathless coverage. Can’t anyone here play this game?!

We Wrote a Starr Report! An Account of the Record in L’Affaire Ukrainienne LawFare

SCOTT RITTER: The ‘Whistleblower’ and the Politicization of Intelligence Consortium News

The Real Bombshell of the Impeachment Hearings Ron Paul, Op-Ed News. “According to his testimony, Vindman’s was concerned over ‘influencers promoting a false narrative of Ukraine inconsistent with the consensus views of the interagency.'” You’d almost think that whoever’s running “the interagency” is running the country’s foreign policy, such as it is.

2016 Post Mortem

Assessing the Russian Internet Research Agency’s impact on the political attitudes and behaviors of American Twitter users in late 2017 PNAS. Important:

There is widespread concern that Russia and other countries have launched social-media campaigns designed to increase political divisions in the United States. Though a growing number of studies analyze the strategy of such campaigns, it is not yet known how these efforts shaped the political attitudes and behaviors of Americans. We study this question using longitudinal data that describe the attitudes and online behaviors of 1,239 Republican and Democratic Twitter users from late 2017 merged with nonpublic data about the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) from Twitter. Using Bayesian regression tree models, we find no evidence that interaction with IRA accounts substantially impacted 6 distinctive measures of political attitudes and behaviors over a 1-mo period. We also find that interaction with IRA accounts were most common among respondents with strong ideological homophily within their Twitter network, high interest in politics, and high frequency of Twitter usage. Together, these findings suggest that Russian trolls might have failed to sow discord because they mostly interacted with those who were already highly polarized.

Maybe, liberal Democrats are unable to show that Russian trolls actually shifted votes in 2016 because — hear me out on this — they didn’t.

That Uplifting Tweet You Just Shared? A Russian Troll Sent It Rolling Stone. See above. So what?

‘It Was Unmistakably A Directed Attack’: 4 Ebola Workers Killed In Congo NPR (Furzy Mouse).

Boeing 737 MAX

Looking beyond MAX Leeham News and Analysis. The comments are interesting.

Guillotine Watch

Rich People’s Problems: For the love of cash FT. So the cashless society is only for little people?

Class Warfare

The New Deal Wasn’t Intrinsically Racist Adolph Reed, The New Republic. Brings receipts.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles Kim Kelly, The Baffler. Important.

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. dearieme

    M. Micron’s proposal to turn NATO into an anti-terrorist organisation suffers the same disadvantage as W’s War on Terror. Everyone knows that the struggle would only be against The Wrong Sort Of Terrorist.

    After all, if W had really been against terrorism as a technique he would surely have recommended that Americans desist from singing a ditty in praise of one of their own terrorists. John Brown’s body …

    1. timbers

      If Macron sincerely wants NATO to become anit-terrorist, I have one question:

      Would NATO be using bombing against terrorists under Marcon’s policy? If so, when does NATO start bombing surgically selected targets in Washington DC, CIA and Pentagon, Israel, UK, and Saudi Arabia (for a start)?

      1. ambrit

        I love the implied equivalence between Washington DC, the CIA, the Pentagon, and foreign states like the UK, etc. It suggests that the polity generally referred to as the USA is really a Federation of Nation Departments.

    2. Acacia

      M. Micron’s proposal to turn NATO into an anti-terrorist organisation …

      Sooo… is this a tacit admission that NATO is de facto a terrorist organisation, and maybe becoming anti-terrorist would be a good idea?

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Perhaps. But it is an admission that their founding mission has completely disappeared out from under them.
        But wait: if it’s no longer imperative to check a tide of Soviet tanks streaming through the Fulda Gap…because the Soviet Union no longer exists…why are our veteran ambassadors, analysts, and agents hyperventilating about “a newly aggressive Russia”? It’s almost like somebody paid them to say all that stuff.

    3. David

      From its very beginning, and especially after the end of the Cold War, NATO has served all sorts of purposes for all sorts of countries above, beyond and outside its theoretical role. Many of these purposes were mutually contradictory, so they weren’t discussed in public. Come the end of the Cold War, the general desire to keep NATO going could only be justified if it could be found a job to do. In the nineties and into this century, it was enlargement and military reform in Eastern Europe and the deployment in Bosnia and Kosovo. After that it was Afghanistan. Other ideas (NBC and missile defence for example) popped up from time to time, and the idea of cooperation on counter-terrorism is an old one that gets warmed over periodically.
      Macron is completely in tune with traditional French policy towards NATO, and he’s expressing the traditional irritation with endless US demands for money (that goes back to at least the 80s as well). What I suspect this is really about is Mali. The French have 15,000 troops tied up in the Sahel (13 were killed in a helicopter crash earlier this week) and they reckon that, whilst they have stopped the jihadists, they don’t have the resources to roll them back. Given that the chaos in that area, it’s an exporter of migration, trafficking in people, weapons and drugs, organised crime and jihadism towards Europe. All European countries are potentially threatened by this insecurity, but the French have been unsuccessful in getting other nations to contribute more than token forces (the British have helped a bit, interestingly). So I think Macron is saying, if this is a threat to Europe in general, then it should be dealt with by NATO, not just one country on its own.

      1. Quentin

        Ghaddafi said it: if you get rid of me Europe will pay the price: immigrants. Libya was the dam that kept migrants out of Europe. And who destroyed Ghaddafi: NATO, France and the UK with Mr. Obama leading from behind or some such idiotic formulation of his.

      2. Danny

        Another view, NATO served to prevent Germany’s rearmament and to keep them in line in case they chewed through the postwar leash.

        1. David

          Rather, it allowed German rearmament under carefully controlled conditions. This was one of the hidden advantages I referred to.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Note, again, that Germany is markedly under-armed for its importance. That is precisely the way Europeans want it, including the Germans. Of course, it’s also cheaper.

      3. Bugs Bunny

        I thought the exact same thing as you when I read it. The French establishment is sometimes so corny in their asks. This subject will be written up in the usual Parisian places, for whom some muttered ally lipservice will be seen as acceptance by the of le génie français, a mocking article will appear in a British tabloid, and then all will be forgotten in a few years.

        Maybe some cool NATO patches will be embroidered to sew on the guys uniforms down in Mali.

    4. super extra

      here at NC we’re always like better trolls please! but your consistent inability to refrain from trolling anything but the most traditional reactionary positions is truly unparalleled. Calling John Brown a terrorist, really? What next, bemoaning the British loss of the War of 1812?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Calling John Brown a terrorist

        Well, this is the kind of cheap-ass right-wing talking point I can see getting a little traction, particularly if your commitment to the established order is such as to lead you to classify instigating a slave rebellion as terrorism, as opposed to, say, blowback. Certainly John Brown did instill terror in the hearts of the Slave Power, which was itself based on terror (see NC here for examples), both before the Civil War, and after, with Jim Crow.

        I guess my reaction would be “if this be terror, let us make the most of it.” I mean, if you don’t want to live in terror, don’t buy people and whip them when they don’t comply. Not difficult concepts, really.

      2. ambrit

        A quibble. The British did have one significant success in the War of 1812. America was firmly disabused of the notion that it could take over Canada. The Northwest border dispute of later was just that, a border dispute. It was not a wholesale try at conquest. During 1812 on the other hand….
        Dearime is conservative of course, but he or she represents a large segment of the population. Ignoring ‘them’ will not make ‘them’ ‘go away.’

    5. D. Fuller

      People don’t see war between nations in this climate of the Western public viewing wars as corporate wars for profit.

      However, instead of wars… police actions against “terrorists” using military assets?

      Sounds much better for public consumption. More people would accept this explanation.

      Madison Avenue marketing, wars becoming “police actions” against terrorists.

      During the height of The Cold War… The USSR and The US did not engage in a war. What they did engage in were proxy wars. From The Domino Theory to Angola, Afghanistan to Grenada.

      Communism of yesterday…. replaced by Terrorism of today. Terrorists are the new Communists.

      Same playing field… new bad guys.

  2. avoidhotdogs

    Regarding Tory plans to privatise the NHS. Cuts (austerity) all enthusiastically supported by the Lib Dems when in govt, are now really hitting local provision. RIGHT NOW. My anti-depressant will no longer be funded by the Clinical Commissioning Group (think of a PPO type organisation but covering a geographical area of family physicians only). They claim it’s to do with the “problems of monitoring use” – this is rubbish. They had NO problems, no overdoses, no deaths for decades.

    The problem is quite simply cost. It is GBP 900 per month to treat me. HOWEVER, as a former health economist professor I easily got at the prescribing data. They shoved funding onto the “central” agency for a drug that is rarely prescribed (being the last line of defence – also the most effective anti-depressant pharmaceutical ever invented), whose cost will be exceeded by just one new person requiring chemo drugs or HIV drugs and which is a lifeline for a dwindling but vulnerable group of elderly people.

    We now have to travel to a single specialist pharmacy covering most of our city to get it. It is disgusting. This doesn’t save the NHS money. It simply shifts the cost onto another agency. Which is what the “GP fundholding” scheme introduced by the “nice moderate REMAIN-supporting but retiring-at-this-election” Kenneth Clarke (old boy of my school and uni) introduced as Health Secretary in the late 1980s.

    1. CoryP

      May I ask which drug that is? I’m drawing a blank and that seems horrendously expensive by Canadian standards which I understand to be worse than UK prices.

      I was going to guess clozapine but that’s technically something else. Anyway no worries if you’d rather not say. Just curious as it’s my field.

      1. avoidhotdogs

        Tranylcypromine. It’s an MAOI (first generation) drug. Psychiatrists in UK, Sweden and Australia all called it the “mother of all anti-depressants”. The trial data show its effectiveness – it is frowned upon because of the so-called side-effects….but 60 years of data show these are NOTHING like as serious as 2-3 generations of medical doctors have been taught. It’s pretty scandalous what continues to be taught. I eat wtf I want – I had a “mild cheese effect” once in early days and now know to watch for soy content. Nothing else matters.

        Meanwhile, there is ONE supplier globally. The price was extortionate in Sydney too. It’s 60 years off patent but since nobody else wants to supply it, the monopolist carries on charging 1000% markups. My previous dose (bit higher) was £1100 per month (!) Ridiculous. Production cost is about £10 per month. But because the medical profession dislikes MAOIs they won’t fight for competition. It is nuts. Older psychiatrists despair.

        1. CoryP

          And here I thought the mother of all antidepressants was cocaine, though that’s rather pricey too.

          Thanks for the info tho! I’m not even sure any of the older MAOIs are on the Canadian market anymore. And certainly they were glossed over in my pharmacy education.
          Something for me to look into at work tonight.

          1. avoidhotdogs

            No worries. Most MAOIs have been withdrawn from major markets. You’ll probably only find 3-5 still licenced. Tranylcypromine is pharmacologically distinct from most/all other MAOIs……there is (STILL!) argument over “why it stimulates so well” but the “traditional” (and not necessarily correct but this goes beyond my pay grade) explanation was that one of its metabolites is an analogue of amphetamine ;-)

            1. a different chris

              For a new BP drug -Entresto -I was prescribed, and hopefully will be unprescribed because it doesn’t do s(family blog)t, my out-of-pocket expense is much less than your nightmare ($120US/mo) but that’s still >100x more than the drug it replaced.

              To show you how fraudulent drug pricing is: They have been surprised it didn’t work, so of course they kept upping the dose because that’s what doctors do. Now Entresto is weird because it is two drugs, but the three steps each have a different ratio for whatever-the-f-reason so you have to get a new bottle when the dose is “doubled” since it isn’t precisely doubled.

              So the first bottle was $120. The second bottle was…$120. The third bottle, approximately three times the dosage, was…..$120.

              None of this of course makes any sense. It’s like Ford sold every vehicle for the same price. But that is the kind of idiocy you have when “market” ideas are brought into a sphere where they don’t fit.

              PS: More “market” nonsense – I’ve only had to actually pay for one because I started on “samples” from the doctor and then they gave me a coupon for the second try. Because you know, this stuff costs the drug company likely pennies to produce. But they have to spend for all that Marketing, you must understand! If you watch more than like 20 minutes of US TV you will see an Entresto advert I bet.

              1. ambrit

                I caught that “steady state” drug pricing scheme years ago with something I was taking at the time. I got my physician to double the dose on my prescription (he was ‘hip’ to the system,) and promptly began ‘cutting’ the new pills in half. Voila! Double the drug for the same “buck bang!”
                Right now, we are navigating the nightmare that is the Neo-American pain medications system. Finally got a short term prescription for oxycodone. Thirty of the pills, oxycodone 5mg, at the hospital in house pharmacy were roughly four dollars USD. The same product at the WalMart pharmacy was fifteen dollars USD. None of the pharmacy stores I attem[ted to get a price from online would show anything even remotely related to a drug price. So much for the “convenience” afforded the harried consumer by the internet.
                The game is rigged, from top to bottom.

                1. CoryP

                  This kind of Rx pricing makes no sense, but I see it in Canada for some drugs but not others. Most notorious is Viagra. The 25mg/50mg/100mg doses are all the same price per tablet.

                  At $12 a pop makes a lot of sense to split the pills!
                  And then you find some manufacturers indicating “tablets should not be split or crushed”… without indicating whether or how this impacts absorption. Seems like a scam!

              2. CoryP

                I have a patient here in Canada that’s going through significant financial hardship for Entresto. It’s working out to around $275 CAD monthly.

                And the drug is so new that I feel there isn’t adequate information to make a comparison. Our publicly funded formulary only covers it if you’re in a certain Heart Failure classification — which this patient is.

                Admittedly HF is a topic I need to re-learn about. I’m skeptical that Entresto represents any big advance on what’s been previously used. I know if i had to pay $300/month for a drug, I’d probably go with the previously accepted standard of care unless the evidence was overwhelming in its favour.

            2. Mike

              My best to both of you in the use and research of anti-depressants. Main fear, to me, is side effect(s) and how to cope. Experience?

              1. avoidhotdogs

                MAOIs are supposedly “awful” for side effects…..RUBBISH!
                Decades of research has disproved this – they’re some of the longest used drugs in history. You get a big long list of “prohibited foods” – the drug works by “killing” your ability to process MAO (mono-amine-oxidase) which alters mood etc but also process cheese/soy/fermented food supposedly means you have to be hyper aware of EVERYTHING you eat…..NOT TRUE. The evidence (and my anecdotal findings too) suggests there tends to be ONE food you must watch out for…..for me it’s soy…..little amounts OK, large amounts and my BP rockets. For some it is exotic cheese. Others it is fermented stuff. But with just a little awareness you’re fine. Good luck.

            3. CoryP

              Turns out they do sell Parnate in Canada.
              60mg/day including markup and dispensing fee is ~$100CAD / month.
              So acquisition cost is around $75 CAD. Price would scale with dose since it only comes in 10mg tabs.

              I sure don’t see it used often though

        2. notabanktoadie

          I’ve used Nardil and Parnate too for decades – both worked wonderfully, nothing else but Dexedrine came even close.

          Never had a problem except that one time I used a decongestant and my blood pressure went sky high.

          And then the emergency clinic let me wait for 45 minutes thinking I might have a stroke (to teach me a lesson, I suppose) and then gave me an injection that lowered it in a minute or so.

          So depression is or at least should be a non-issue.

          Btw, being happy and non-depressed is not all there is to life since I eventually grew tired of both. But MAOI’s can easily prevent suicide from depression or loss for YEARS and years.

            1. avoidhotdogs

              FWIW I’m really really glad there are people on here who speak up for those two meds. Nardil made me too sleepy (but otherwise worked). Parnate (tranylcypromine) has always been the dog’s thingies.

              Older medics KNOW this. Younger ones get bamboozled by drug reps. The bottom line with anti-depressants is that you CAN’T get good effectiveness without side effects. SSRIs etc (the “Prozac type”) are rubbish. But the side effects of MAOIs are NOTHING like as serious as 2 generation of docs have been taught. If they continued to read the literature (continuing professional development) they’d know this. Depression and anxiety run rampant in my family. Parnate has been a life saver. It’s criminal how little it is used and how it seems destined to die out.

              1. ambrit

                I second your comment on Prozac. I took it for a few months once, and promptly became a “functional zombie.” It literally felt as if the top half of my head was gone. I eventually had a minor automobile accident I could directly attribute to the drug and I went off of it. Once I regained my mental balance, I promptly began investigating non traditional treatments for my depression. Herbs, (legal ones at that,) and de-stress exercises have done the trick for me pretty much for the last three decades. Oh, and the wonderful lithium orotate. To which matter, an old ‘psychiatric’ medicinal springs where a ‘resort’ sprang up in Georgia, Lithia Springs near Atlanta, was, as the name states, heavy in lithium. We once camped out at a Lithia Springs in Florida, situated near Tampa.
                The best of Holiday Cheer to all we depressives!

                1. Oregoncharles

                  Ashland in southern Oregon also has a lithium spring that supported a resort for many years. It’s now public property, in Lithia Park, right by the Shakespeare Festival. Very nice town. We tried the spring; tastes terrible.

                  Aren’t all of these springs potential sources of lithium – you know, for batteries?

  3. The Rev Kev

    “U.K. Can’t Be Trusted With Gold, Top Slovak Party Leader Says”

    If you are a country that has its gold in the UK, you would be taking a very big risk indeed. The UK has Venezuela’s gold and has announced that they intend to keep it. But this has rattled other countries and not just Slovakia. Poland has just pulled out 100 tons of gold from the Bank of England and I am willing to bet that other countries are thinking about it as well.
    The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) claims to have 80 tons of the barbarous relic in storage at the Bank of England but nobody really knows. A partial audit was don back in 2013 but the Bank of England and the RBA are not talking about what they found. Or did not as the case may be. So that is a worry that.
    The old Weimar had gold held in New York and one time the Germans sent a guy over to do an audit. After a long search they could not find it and the New York Federal Reserve banker was most disturbed and apologetic but the German banker told him not to worry about it as they knew that the Americans were good for the gold. I am not so sure the same can apply to the Bank of England-

    1. Acacia

      Needless to say, there is no — we repeat — NO relation between BoE’s fulfillment of Poland’s gold request and a large, recent incoming shipment from the Swiss. ;)

        1. Wukchumni

          The SNB sold off the lions share (1550 tons worth) of their holdings (4x as much as Gordon Brown offed) @ around $400 an ounce, just after the turn of the century.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Interesting move, that, the Helvetians have always been quite clever on monetary issues. That move, since much of the gold was replaced with equities, has me wondering whether they are again the most clever. As we augment debt-based money with equity-based money (BOJ owning ETFs, ECB talking about buying stocks etc)

    2. Wukchumni

      What’s most intriguing is the piddly amounts of money involved (did I just call the Slovaks $1.4 billion worth of all that glitters diminutive?) so why not have the BoE crank up the perpetual notion machine and bang out some 1’s & 0’s and get ‘r done by buying up enough physical to placate the Poles, Slovaks, Venezuelans, et al? Or just give them the amount of manna owed via the ether?

    3. larry

      Rev, what risk? Unless the currency system collapsed, the gold is not really worth anything in currency terms, though it would no doubt benefit parts of the private sector. But is a country’s government that is holding gold going to hand it out to its private sector? Nevertheless, since the UK can’t use the gold as currency, as it itself operates a fiat currency system, maybe they are keepiing Venezuela’s gold to protect it for the Venezuelan government. I am trying to put this operation in its best light. The gold standard only exists in minds of certain politicians, pundits, and a number of the rich. I trust this makes sense.

      Why do you think the BoE is so corrupt? And wasn’t that Weimar discussion held when reasonable politicians were in office and the gold standard was in operation?

      1. The Rev Kev

        I tend to think of gold like an insurance policy. You may not use it but if anything happened, then you will thank Allah that it is there. I have an insurance policy on my house that costs a lot of money annually but no way will anyone convince me to cancel it and use that money for investing with. It is just not Russia and China that are furiously stockpiling gold you know. And if you remain uncertain of the value of gold, just ask around where the gold is that Libya, the Ukraine and Iraq had. As to your question as to whether I think that the Bank of England is corrupt (cough * Treasure Islands * cough), here is a twenty year old quote-

        “We looked into the abyss if the gold price rose further. A further rise would have taken down one or several trading houses, which might have taken down all the rest in their wake. Therefore at any price, at any cost, the central banks had to quell the gold price, manage it. It was very difficult to get the gold price under control but we have now succeeded. The US Fed was very active in getting the gold price down. So was the U.K.”

        Eddie George, Governor Bank of England, in a conversation with the CEO of Lonmin, September 1999

        1. Louis Fyne

          If western society ever gets to the point in which gold is the means of exchange, one is going to want a gun and ammo as well. No political judgments, just saying as a practical matter. (as it implies a breakdown of rule of law).

          You don’t want to be known as the person with a hoard of buillion. Probably why Anglo-Saxons kept burying all their coins in 7th century fields. lol

          1. vlade

            Indeed. Gold is worth it only if you believe that there will be a lawless crisis but will pass.

            In a Mad Max scenario, other stuff takes precedence.

            1. Wukchumni

              The diaspora of Iranians who moved to Los Angeles was really interesting, all of the sudden when I was a junior in high school, I had 3 classmates with Persian tongue twister names, and before you knew it their parents were buying up LA real estate like mad, in particular on the tony westside. Where’d the money come from?

              What do you think the common denominator was with every last one of them?

              1. Bugs Bunny

                Part of the Shah’s extended entourage, I gather. I had Iranian friends then too. They insisted on calling themselves Persian.

                1. Wukchumni

                  I’m sure some of the extended Pahlavi entourage was included, but we’re talking about 100,000 people of wealth that didn’t want to stick around after an extremist religious group took control of the country, and left Tehran for a city with a similar look & climate…

                  …luckily that’ll never happen here

                2. Oregoncharles

                  “Iran” is a nation. “Persian” is a language and an ethnicity. There are a number of others in Iran: Kurdish, Arab, Baloch, etc. And people who speak a variety of Persian in Afghanistan.

                  1. The Rev Kev

                    Funny that. There is a reality TV series on about a bunch of entitled Persians that tends to play on the background on the TV sometimes. I note that they do not call themselves Iranians but two of the girls talking mentioned that so many of the students at Hollywood High School are Persians which I found remarkable if true. It is obvious that they eventually want back into Iran but what is unsaid is that they want to be running things if that happens.

                    1. ambrit

                      They sound very like the Russian emigres after the October Revolution. Some of them did get back in, some seventy years later.

            2. Summer

              It’s hard for me to see its value even in a currency crisis since its value (gold) would be part and parcel of the same system, or in other words, the same people that told you what your currency was worth are the same ones assigning value to gold.
              So if you’re talking about a currency collapse that involves lack of trust….
              Why should I trust what is said about the value of gold?

              1. ewmayer

                “Why should I trust what is said about the value of gold?” — Well, one way to think about it: you know those historic photos of people carting around wheelbarrows full of barely-worth-its-weight-as-stove-fuel fiat cash during history’s famous hyperinflationary events? Ever see any photos of them trundling around wheelbarrows full of gold and silver bullion? Unlike paper fiatscos, the stuff is also quite naturally disaster-proof – fire, flood, etc. Main risk is loss, theft. Like others have noted, it’s an insurance policy, not an investment*.
                * (Although those who bought during the 1990s CB-forced price depression have a nice return to show for it.)

                1. Procopius

                  Have you recently taken a couple of Krugerrands to your local 7-11 store to buy a six-pack of adult beverage? Or one of those hand-sized ingots? Heard of anyone who did that after Katrina? In Puerto Rico? I’m sure there are people in Puerto Rico who do possess those “little disks of gold with a picture of a bearded man on one side and a female deity on the other.” (h/t Brad DeLong) Were they able to use them to buy fresh water?

                  1. The Rev Kev

                    An Austrian woman survived starvation during the hyperinflation of the 1920s in her country by exchanging her gold necklace for food – one link at a time.

                  2. ewmayer

                    In the past 2 years I sold $30K worth of graded slabbed gold coins bought in the late 90s, during the aforementioned low-gold-price period. Those sales paid my rent and living expenses while I was between gigs.

                    Next question?

              2. Oh

                Ask the Indian people (whose civilization that dates back several centuries) why they believe in holding gold.

            3. D. Fuller

              If I have loaves of bread and the other person has no bread, but all the gold?

              I soon have all the gold, loaves of bread, and the other person has a few loaves of bread.

              That would be interesting. The value of a currency being determined by economic activity. Where over-production is actually penalized.

              IIRC, the :Aztecs and Mayans did not use gold as currency.

              Gold is even more easily manipulated than fiat money. Limited resource in the hands of the few. Those who possess the gold, write the rules. Gold-poor countries with less resources would have to resort to other means – violence included – to secure means to trade for gold, for the needs of their population.

              More wars.

              With fiat money being easily devaluated through printing (Excel spreadsheets). However, the effects are very well noticed by the public. Inflation leading to hyper-inflation produces seismic shifts in power.

              Gold, hoarded in the hands of a few is just as corrupting and destabilizing as the means of production concentrated in the hands of the few. Monopoly on power.

              1. Wukchumni

                I’d say that most of the ownership in our country, is concentrated in the hands of the evangelicals.

                The word ‘gold’ is mentioned in the bible 419 times, and they’re real fruity about anything in the good book.

                1. D. Fuller

                  Emperor Constantine wanted the Bible to be pieced together in such a way as to instill obedience in the population, to wealthy authority. At a time when the rulers who required obedience, controlled the land and wealth.

                  The Bible is a political creation.

                  That and Heaven, where all is provided for by a Supreme Being? Is a Communist Paradise, by definition. The “State” provides all.

                  1. Wukchumni

                    Evangelicals were heavily targeted by telemarketers & hawkers on tv pitching their goods in the 80’s & 90’s, and were easy marks vis a vis association with the bible. They tended to get ripped off, paying too much for bullion when it was $300-400 an ounce…

                    …meanwhile circa 2008-onwards, the secular public @ large has mostly been swayed by ‘We Buy Gold’ places, and have sold whatever baubles they had, usually for about half of true worth

              2. Procopius

                Oh, yeah, we’ve had such terrible hyper-inflation from the Fed tripling the base (fiat) money supply after 2008. Because the Fed keeps handing trillions of dollars to the 21 designated traders the price of bread has gone over $100, amirite? /s

                Inflation leading to hyper-inflation produces seismic shifts in power.

                Funny, I just saw an article about a doctors’ strike in Zimbabwe. The article said inflation is down to only 500% (they don’t mention over what time period). I wondered why we never hear about Zimbabwe any more.

                1. ewmayer

                  “we’ve had such terrible hyper-inflation from the Fed tripling the base (fiat) money supply after 2008” — You intended to be sarcastic, but not coincidentally, real estate prices in many key parts of the country, including mine, tripled in the same time span. My rent ‘only’ went up 2.5x over that span, though, so you’re right, inflation really has been quite modest. /s

          2. Mel

            I don’t expect that, but if the Western system gets hollowed out and collapses, then the Belt and Road system could well wind up using gold. Modern Western money depends on honest bookkeeping. If that can’t be found, national economies might turn to weighing out gold as the next best thing.
            AFAIK, some of the -stans along the B&R produce gold, and would be happy with a system that grants them a little leverage.

            1. D. Fuller

              Guns and food trump guns and gold, any day.

              If I have loaves of bread and the other person has no bread, but all the gold?

              I soon have all the gold, loaves of bread, and the other person has a few loaves of bread.

              Don’t forget the ammo. Alcohol and cigarettes would be worth more than gold. You can’t eat gold and live.

              Know how to set up a still. Gold tubing anyone?

                1. D. Fuller

                  You can replenish food if you know how. Gold is limited and subject to hoarding by a few… giving those few total control over a gold-based currency.

                  How much gold would be in each “gold” coin, to support a $50 trillion world economy? Let’s assume that you can’t use ETF to lay claim to gold, which would lead to the problem of too many claimants upon too little gold.

                  One of the reasons why Nixon took The U.S. off the gold standard? France had a lot of dollars that they then tried to trade in to deplete U.S. gold reserves. France was attempting the cheap way to become an economic power by redeeming dollars for gold.

                  1. D. Fuller

                    I have the canned and preserved food, the other person has all the gold and no canned or preserved food.

                    I still get all the gold and keep my canned and preserved food.

                    The other person? Has a few cans of preserved food. Well, that is… until it runs out. Then that person has nothing to offer. Except their bodies in servitude.


                    That is the one thing about not having food. People will do ANYTHING to get it. Including cannibalism.

                    A better currency than gold? Food. Alcohol and cigarettes are up there. Also? Prostitution, which one sees in war zones and poor countries – a sad state of affairs.

                    1. Gold is hampered as a currency due to the size of the global economy.

                    2. The fact that gold is limited, means gold is easily hoarded by a few. Those who have the gold? Write the rules. Those that do not? End up in slavery.

                    3. Gold is used in industrial processes. For now, more gold is found than lost through those processes. For now.

                    4. If you want to use gold as a currency? And prevent hoarding by the few? Make it illegal to hoard gold beyond a small amount. So that a gold currency can grease the wheels of global commerce. Otherwise? Hoarding = no liquidity.

                    5. If a currency is pegged to gold? See 4. to prevent hoarding of a gold-backed currency. The gold-backed currency must be in constant circulation to meet the needs of commerce. Otherwise, the printing presses go into overtime. Of course, if you include convertibility of a gold-backed currency into gold… Nixon had that problem with France, one of the reasons The US went off the gold standard: France tried to hoard gold by exchanging US Dollars for Fort Knox gold.

                    6. Due to 4. and 5.? Say good bye to any meaningful savings accounts.

          3. Oregoncharles

            I can imagine a return to the gold standard, or something like. Fiat currency works for now, but it can be blown up and has been in other countries. Our too-clever-for-their-own-good types are quite capable of it, and people would then look for something more concrete.

            Someone mentioned the Aztec and Maya: apparently they used cacao beans as currency. As you can imagine, used a consumable brings complications and dilemmas: spend your money, or make cocoa?

            1. Yves Smith

              No, a gold standard assumes countries agreeing on a large-scale basis to rely on gold. The gold standard included shipping actual gold around. That is why it broke down completely during WWI.

              No respectable or even somewhat respectable economists supports a gold standard. As long as we have economies advanced enough to have lots of rules regarding trade, banking regulations, and currency regimes, no one is going to roll the clock back to a gold standard.

    4. Summer

      It just so happens that the past week, I caught this discussion while browsing.
      Link with description of video provided with YouTube:
      The Gold Standard Between WWI

      Marcello de Cecco is one of the world’s most distinguished economic historians. His The International Gold Standard: Money and Empire (2nd ed; New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984) is a classic, but he is also the author of many articles and other books. The article on the Eurozone crisis below is vintage de Cecco in its deft use of economic history to illuminate contemporary economic facts and controversies. The Institute for New Economic Thinking is pleased to present it here, but we are even more delighted to make public several hours of videos Professor de Cecco made with the Institute’s Director of Research Thomas Ferguson in Milan in the summer of 2014. These videos cover not only Dr. de Cecco’s seminal research on the international gold standard, but his views on the international monetary system between the wars, the formation of the Bretton Woods system, and its breakdown – all topics on which Dr. de Cecco has written copiously…”

      The parts that caught my attention were what the Prof said about England and the Gold standard, France on the Silver standard back in the day. England was the power behind the gold standard, which played a major role in their empire. Among the things that actually threw it astray was the growth and growing power of the USA…he describes his view much better than I can paraphrase. Check it out.
      I also caught hints or just got the impression that England didn’t have the amount of gold one would have thought needed to run a global empire on the gold standard. Kind of a “head fake…”

      1. Susan the Other

        and I think Keynes was already telling them that gold was the barbaric relic… so they had a system they knew was smoke and mirrors, imo.

      2. Summer

        “The Gold Standard Between WWI”…want to correct. The title of the piece is “The Gold Standard Before WWI”

      3. Sy Krass

        The discussion of gold as currency, whether it is worth anything, whether it is worth more than water or guns (as if you would only choose one over the others) eventually leads us down to the road of we can print our own currency, well at least as much as we need. The national debt literally would disappear with a few keyboard strokes.

        1. Sy Krass

          …and yes there would be inflation, but not hyperinflation, the money would have to have been borrowed in another denomination and not wanted at all by others for that to happen.

    5. Oregoncharles

      Hmmm – at almost $1500, the price of gold looks p.d. high to me, but none of the claims and former mines we drive past regularly are operating. Granted, opening a major mine causes a furor and a lot of opposition, but placer claims, not so much. They seem to be mostly just a way of holding land. Famously, some of the Cascade gold claims were of value mostly for the timber.

  4. Prrrrrrrrrwhstwn

    Hilarious brain farths from Rolling Stone and Russian Trolls.

    “Another about police targeting black citizens in Las Vegas was liked more than 100,000 times. Here is what makes disinformation so difficult to discuss: while these tweets point to valid issues of concern — issues that have been central to important social movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo — they are framed to serve Russia’s interests in undermining Americans’ trust in our institutions.”

    Well, how about a theoretical framework based on the assumption that “if the police would kill fewer citizens, the public would trust this institution more” or how about “if the government didn’t invade countries based on lies, the public would trust the institutions more?

    Russia doesn’t even have to make an effort to create distrust about the institutions, the misleadership are doing so themselves even better.

    1. D. Fuller

      Just run over to gregpalast dot com and read the articles on what really won Trump the election.

      Those court wins regarding voter suppression rely on evidence gathered by the likes of greg palast, with The Democratic Party enjoying the benefits of other’s labor.

      Republican voter suppression and the lack of any response by Hillary Clinton and her team in 2016, unlike Obama who ran a massive voter registration and get-out-the-voter operations, is what really impacted the elections.

      If Hillary Clinton’s campaign had actually done what Obama did do, in regards to voters? Maybe she would have won. Instead, she chose to shovel that money to campaign consultants who bamboozled her with computer simulations.

      Russia did not elect Trump. Republican voter suppression was the deciding factor. Well, the lack of response by The Hillary Clinton campaign to Republican voter suppression… is what cost her.

      That and she has no credibility whatsoever as a Progressive and her campaign’s many missteps in alienating traditional Democrats.

      Couple that with Republican voter suppression?

      Hillary lost.

      Did Russia attempt to interfere? Yes. Yet, not in the “Russia! Russia! Russia!” way that Centrists Democrats would have one believe. Russia did nothing illegal and even the conviction of Butina is dubious at best.

      Russia managed to spook D.C. with appearances. That then exploded into the “Russia! Russia! Russia!” narrative.

  5. notabanker

    Maybe, liberal Democrats are unable to show that Russian trolls actually shifted votes in 2016 because — hear me out on this — they didn’t.

    Amen, and further, isn’t the premise that they could have an insult to every American voter? It sure is to me. “Social media control what people think, and Russians are using it. Problem is the Russians.” Gimme a break.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      yes, it is insulting.
      like i can’t look out the window when driving through(or listen to the scanner) and know that something’s terribly amiss.
      and that’s without looking at a single report.
      or contemplating our very own, personal situation.
      and yet…(caution: more antiholiday argle bargle)…we are expected to pretend real hard that “everything’s fine!”.
      “why are you so negative!?”,lol.

      I listen to my brother dispense sage advice to my boys, sounding just like my dad 35 years ago:” get an education, get a Good Job, and the sky’s the limit!”.
      ahistoricity and a profound ignorance of even basic econ….as well as a total disregard for how our various governments and civilisation actually works…glazed eyes in response to “counting inflation, over time…”,lol.
      it’s no wonder we’re screwed, and can’t seem to do anything about the multiple, transdimensional dysfunction.
      it’s like the Holidays(tm) are just another reinforcing mechanism…to beat and shame the Thoughtcrime out of us.
      “just Smile!”

      on the bright side, it’s a pain day…so I have my excuse to avoid the wall to wall football pregame insanity next door, and stay in bed and bingewatch stargate sg-1all day, with the bong near to hand.

      (and i forgot to take pictures of the New Orleanian Feast I made happen all by myself yesterday. After 12 years of “retirement”, i still have it,lol…except for the whole body-thing. By the time I called for porters to carry it all to the table, I was not worth shootin’)

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        and: FTA:”Russia’s goals are to further widen existing divisions in the American public and decrease our faith and trust in institutions that help maintain a strong democracy.”

        who, exactly, is doing the gaslighting, here?

        1. Ignacio

          Amfortas! Haha, I had a laugh at your very proper use of sinvergüenza!

          I was thinking on how much effort on Russia trolling when:
          1) as if there is not US trolling, UK trolling, Spain trolling, corporate trolling. Trolling is so widespread that trying to single out one move lefts behind as many trolling efforts as to consider it a useless effort. (That is why the PNAS study is nuts)
          2) I’ve never seen any convincing tracing of trolls given that everything can be hacked and used for trolling purposes, for instance, to promote the evil russian meme.

          1. Oregoncharles

            So I had to look it up; means “shameless” or, as a noun, “rogue.” Yes, perfect.

            Also, there’s a movie by that name, which I know nothing about.

        2. RMO

          If “the Russians” actually were able to swing a US election with such a relatively minuscule amount of money wouldn’t it make sense for the Dems to just hire them for 2020? Free trade over international borders is supposed to result in the best of all possible outcomes in every other facet of existence so why not in politics too? /s

        3. Susan the Other

          I don’t suppose you are a vitamin freak. But just in case, be sure to take 10,000 IU a day of D3, combined with vit. K for better absorption; B complex for general housekeeping; and a good calcium, magnesium, boron & zinc supplement. They all complement each other. And then of course a squirt of CBD oil. Also, lately the formerly debunked benefits of vitamin E are being re-examined as merely how your body reacts to it, so worth a try. I become a bad gimp really fast if I forget to take enough vitamins. ( When I take enough of them my gimp its tolerable – just general osteoarthritis and some neuropathy. )

          1. Oregoncharles

            Also glucosamine; might not help his injuries, should help osteoarthritis; that’s why I take it. Otherwise, my knees hurt.

        4. Katniss Everdeen

          ”Russia’s goals are to further widen existing divisions in the American public and decrease our faith and trust in institutions that help maintain a strong democracy.”

          lol at the very least.

          As if it was RUSSIA that promised student loan debtors debt forgiveness after ten years of loan payments while being employed in a “public service” job, told them repeatedly that they were eligible for the forgiveness, and then pulled the rug out from under them at the end while paying the single private company that “struggled to accurately track borrowers’ qualifying monthly payments” $1.5 BILLION over the first ten years of the “program.”

          (nyt link above.)

          Those Russian trolls are pikers in the “widening existing divisions” department compared to those in charge of the “institutions that help maintain a strong democracy” right here in the good old u. s. of a.

          1. D. Fuller

            “In government, you’re actually supposed to solve problems,” said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers

            That’s not profitable. Building absurd complexity into a any program (like software companies and plumbing contractors do) is more liable to create opportunities to profit.

            Complexity in software makes it more difficult and expensive to switch software providers.

            Private contractors, such as plumbers, working on government buildings? Build in complexity to the building’s plumbing. For maintenance contracts. In this case, complexity leads to more frequent failure of the plumbing in the newly constructed Federal building.

            Complexity in requirements in government programs? More opportunities to game the system.

            It is all deliberate.

            In America? Waste = profits now. Which reminds me, the price of milk just went up $0.13 in my area despite the over-production of milk (est. 100 million gallons yearly) that is dumped every year in America.

            By using government programs to create indebted citizens? That’s profitable to industry. A captured “consumer”. With no way out of the debt.

          2. meeps


            Your comment exposes well the depth of insult inherent in someone saying, “Your mind has been poisoned by Russian troll agents.” It delegitimizes serious criticisms of institutional failings while simultaneously accusing a person of being so stupid as to be incapable of correctly identifying the source of their discontent.

            It’s hard to tell whether the latter effect was an intended goal of the political malpractice that spawned it, or just a happy accident. /s

        5. inode_buddha

          Holy crap, who do they think they’re lying to??? Do we really look that stupid? Yah right, it was Russia that made CNN and Fox what they are 20 years ago, sure,,, come here and pull the other one…

    2. JMM

      But hey, if the Russians didn’t influence the elections, then it turns out that a large amount of people chose Whoever’s Not The Establishment Candidate, Even If That Means Electing Trump (TM) out of their own free will, and that can’t be! Who would be against More Of The Same? Are they crazy?

  6. John A

    I don’t know about Russian trolls/bots whatever allegedly influencing elections, but the British mainstream media are certainly doing so.
    Morecambe is a coastal town in the north west of England. Cuts and austerity have hit the town hard, with long waits to get healthcare, unemployment, slashed benefits etc., etc. Just the sort of place Labour should win be a landslide.
    However this report in the Guardian (by no mean bringing up the rear in Corbyn bashing for the last 5 years or so), with locals saying they cant allow Corbyn in because ‘he’s a communist’ and ‘he hates jews’. Reading the article would make you as depressed as it must be to live there.

    1. Stephen V.

      Playing the dumb American tourist in both Dublin and SE England this past June, I concluded later peeps were too embarrassed to talk Brexit. The only politics to be had was from a Pakistani cab driver who loved Trump. Oh well.
      Just watched an interview with Max Blumenthal who averred that what has been happening to Mr. Corbyn is what is in store for Bernie: MI6 / Intelligence bull manure delivered in lockstep by our friends at MSM. He recommended an 80’s British series A VERY BRITISH COUP. Available on U Tube and AMZN. We have it queued up. Cheers all!

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Yep. Anybody watching Dearlove would have to think Brennan and company will be working together on a project to nobble Sanders. “The British government has learned….”

    2. Procopius

      I understand a large majority of UK citizens believe the government’s story about the Skripals. That does not speak well for their common sense. Of course, the poet laureate Kipling observed, “Only mad dogs and Englishmen/Go out in the noonday sun.”

  7. Phacops

    Like that Longhorn Trunkfish. Never been to the reefs they inhabit, but the habits of any trunkfish are nice to watch. Finding any juvenile trunkfish makes me smile as they look like small colorful marbles moving around with no visible means of propulsion.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Longhorn Cowfish maybe? Makes me smile all on its own even without the delightful moniker.

      1. Off The Street

        Did George Lucas or his team pore over fish pictures while coming up with new characters during his Star Wars years? Inspiration can come from anywhere.

        1. newcatty

          While watching (in glimpses) TV yesterday, as I muted any commercials…meaning constantly, of course. I saw a promo for the new “Sponge Bob Square Pants” film coming out.

          “We all live in a yellow submarine”.

  8. JacobiteInTraining

    This video is a little less then 30 minutes long, but maybe on a day of post-turkey worship of somnambulism some will have the time to spare to watch it.

    It is of an incident that happened very recently (11/27th?) to Oliver – a street busker in Hong Kong who will be familiar to those who have been keeping up with the protests in HK. He is seemingly a super-sweet guy, and in past filmed encounters he has that unassuming modest nice-guy ability to simply be….calm, and sing.

    Singing what the people want to hear. Being water.

    Anyway, the thing that struck me in watching the video was how its almost a mini stage-play-in-real-life of the protests as they evolved over time: Just a guy singing on the street, to a few people. Some ‘normally dressed’ police arrive and start hassling him a little, he quietly states his intentions to continue doing what is legal and the crowd grows a little.

    The popo continue their harassment, growing more aggressive and more strident and the crowd grows. At one point, with just a 4 or 5 popo, it seems as if you see a little fear in their eyes from the growing size of the crowd – and Oliver – and its unwillingness to just shut up and go away and do what they are told.

    Debates spring up here and there, the rhetoric increases a few notches, and soon enough their are
    now several dozens of riot police – dressed in all the accouterments of the oppressive police state designed to intimidate the people before violence starts — but mainly to herd, to smash, to gas, and to beat bloody once the government decides it is time.

    The viewer senses the first flash-bang and CS canister is mere moments away.

    Meanwhile the crowd grows bigger — and stronger — as they and Oliver sing ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ & ‘Do You Hear The People Sing’ and….somehow….violence does NOT break out. This time.

    Oliver, and the crowd, live to resist (and sing) another day.

    1. Stormcrow

      Some think that Kamla is vying to become Biden’s running mate. Maybe the NYT, in its wisdom, is trying to help her out.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Speculating freely, my first thought was that the Times is trying to clear the board, possibly in favor of Buttigieg (who they are also promoting as eating into Biden’s support, although obviously not Biden’s black support).

        All twisty as corkscrews, and no reason to assume they’re competent, despite their power and status.

    2. polecat

      A failed ‘pre’-dynastic campaign dumpster-fire snuffed out … thank you,TULSI GABBARD .. and Aloha !

      Oh boy .. stumbling in front of fast moving surfboards sure does hurt ! .. as you can attest to, right Kami ?

    3. Danny

      What’s really telling: Kamala’s sister, Maya West, not only is married to Tony West, Uber’s chief counsel, but she self-identifies as Indian.
      She has the same parents as Kamala:

      A. She’s lying.
      B. She’s delusional.
      C. She’s really bad at fractions.

      D. Kamala’s lying, is delusional and is really bad at fractions.

      Speaking of fudged numbers and Biden, in the last week since the debate, in my various travels through pharmacies, doctor’s offices and questioning my fellow Americans, I have not been able to locate even one of the 160,0000,0000 who are happy with their health plan that Biden claimed he had a list of.

      1. Oh

        Kamala, the answer is D.
        Joe, you’re the only one happy with his insurance. But wait! It’s paid for by the government and therefore socialistic.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Kamala’s sister, Maya West, not only is married to Tony West, Uber’s chief counsel

        It’s like all these people know each other. Maya West was also — hold onto your hats, here, folks — a Senior Fellow at CAP.

        On Tony West:

        On August 21, 2014, West secured a $16.65 billion settlement with Bank of America – the largest settlement with a single entity in American history – to resolve federal and state claims against Bank of America and its former and current subsidiaries, including Countrywide Financial Corporation and Merrill Lynch. Here is what Yves, had to say at the time, in 2013: “Bank Settlement Grade Inflation: High Bullshit to Cash Ratio in $17 Billion Bank of America Deal“:

        But as much as the media dutifully amplifies the multibillion headline value of these pacts, we’ve reminded readers again and again that all of these agreements have substantial non-cash portions which are ludicrously treated as if they have the same value as cold, hard cash. As we’ve reminded readers often, it’s critical to keep your eye on the real money, since the rest of the total is almost without exception things the bank would have done anyhow (or even better, giving banks credit for costs actually borne by others, like modifying mortgages that the bank merely services, meaning the bank gets a credit for a writedown imposed on an investor).

        August 2014 Bank of America settlement. $16.65 billion headline value. Cash portion $9.65 billion. Bullshit to cash ratio: 72.5%

        So Wikipedia’s figure isn’t really that, and the real amount is just a cost of doing business at BoA.

        (I’m sure Yves could come up with a better link, but the bottom line is that Tony West has nothing at all to be proud of.)

  9. PlutoniumKun

    South Korea’s Dust Dilemma Forces Coal Plants Into Hibernation Bloomberg

    Quite a dilemma here – the South Korean government is committed to stalling on nuclear energy, but this leaves it for now, heavily dependent on coal and imported natural gas. I was impressed recently travelling there at how well the South Koreans integrate solar into dual uses – car and bike parks covered with panels, even an entire cycle route. But for now, they are nowhere near able to use renewables to take up the shortfall.

    1. D. Fuller

      Imagine all the Federal and State highways in America that could host solar panels while providing shade on the blacktop. Of course, in America of today, paying for the right-of-way use would somehow be made prohibitively expensive.

  10. Carolinian

    Leeham News–from those interesting comments.

    Multiple simultaneous Alpha sensor failures have occurred on Airbus aircraft and lead to harrowing near misses and at least loss of one aircraft and aircraft. The fact that Airbus has done nothing is indication that they too suffer from the same “resting on success” mentality as Boeing.[…]I suspect Airbus is awaiting MCAS like disaster before it implants synthetic air data. Their flawed systems already lead to the loss of AF447.

    Which is to say context has been omitted in many discussions about the Max. In the larger scheme of things it is a debate about automation versus human control. Airbus is an automation advocate that brought fly by wire to airliners. Boeing, it is said, has always taken more of a “pilot culture” approach to building airplanes. Perhaps the real problem is Boeing’s decision to go the Airbus route and use the MCAS in the first place–particularly since the implementation was a botch. The crashes that took place would not have happened if MCAS didn’t exist. Boeing added the system for marketing purposes so they could pretend the plane’s handling was the same as the NG.

    And the largest context of all is that compared to other forms of transportation air travel is extraordinarily safe. Much of that has to be chalked up to pilot professionalism (and most crashes to when they aren’t). If only the drivers one encounters every day on the road were as diligent.

    1. rowlf

      A few points:

      After each sensor incident Airbus has pushed updated computers/software to improve the systems affected. Some updates are voluntary for the operators to install and some are mandatory. For an aircraft with a long service history like the A320 family some computers have had many updates. An A320 from the start used three airdata/attitude systems with sensor comparison compared to Douglas/Boeing’s use of two systems in similar market aircraft. The MCAS system architecture looks like the earlier SMYD system but in a different computer. In past use by Boeing the flight envelope protections their aircraft were not as aggressive.

      After AF447 Airbus operators were all scrambling to replace pitot probes and flight control computer firmware. The update process worked in waves of seeding improved probes as parts became available and then later another as even better probes became available. Some updates required entire shipsets of components with no intermix allowed. This updating process is getting incredibly better as data collection, transmission and analysis technology is getting to the point to where an operator’s fleet can provide near flight test information every flight so the manufacture does not have to only rely on their own flight test aircraft for development or in service improvement.

      This makes me somewhat sympathetic to the news article a few days ago about the US military having parts supply problems. Given that by the time military aircraft have enough hours and cycles on them to identify fleet problems the original vendor may no longer be tooled up to deliver any parts.

      1. Carolinian

        Thanks for the reply. I know that Airbus is serious about automation whereas Boeing just seemed to be dabbling in it–at least with the MCAS. But I don’t think that changes the fact that pilots are your last line of defense. When Sully landed that plane in the Hudson it was an Airbus. They needed a pilot to save them.

        I’ve been looking at new cars lately. They are now adding auto front and rear braking (if something is too close), lane departure warnings, and other electronic bells and whistles derived from the self drive car idea. But these extras are not going to stop someone from hitting you, and boil down to aids for poor or distracted drivers. As with airplanes the pilot is the last line of defense.

  11. Prodigalson

    I know nothing about the following questions and wonder if someone else does:
    – how hard is it to make cheaper versions of the drugs referenced above?
    – if it’s beyond the proprietary mark can any drub lab make it?
    – if so, why doesn’t anyone else do it? On that same theme, given the amount of money sloshing around in the system how hard would it be to go-fund a not-for-profit lab or similar to make items like this?
    – ditto for things like insulin and epipens
    – what are the barriers for starting a non-profit company to make things like this and sell for just over cost?

    Like I said, I know nothing about this industry but these are the questions that pop into my head…

    1. avoidhotdogs

      Good questions! I don’t know the exact answers…..but from 30 years working in a non-clinical but often regulatory-adjacent role in health-care I’m afraid the answers are not good.

      Basically, generic versions of drugs must pass all sorts of safety and other tests. It involves BIG UPFRONT COSTS. In the meantime a monopoly supplier (see my post above) simply reduces their price to cost and hits you in the pocket so you never get to market unless you have very very deep pockets and a conviction that a very slim profit in the long term is acceptable. Either you give up and exit (and the existing monopoly puts prices back up) or you take the hit and then take decades to recoup your investment (due to miniscule profit). The latter is unquestionably better for the patients and health service….but the company?

    2. ptb

      the answer IMO is imported drugs.

      which btw are an unethical trade barrier. we can globalize labor and auto parts right?

      a drug that sells for $1.00/dose in the US can be made and sold for $0.03/dose in other parts of the world, including countries and still make a profit.

      especially in the case of off patent technology there is no excuse.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Before jumping on the “imported” drug bandwagon, I’d recommend reading the new book, Bottle of Lies, by Katherine Eban.

        It seems there are a number of inspection / quality control issues with drugs produced overseas that inevitably result in serious problems, like the recent carcinogen contamination of widely prescribed, cheaper, blood pressure drugs, or the heparin crisis of a few years back. Not to mention the embrace of the american profit-at-any-cost theory of corporate “governance,” and the need of congress to be seen as responding to ever-increasing drug prices while not encroaching on the profiteering of their big pharma benefactors.

        As far as I’m concerned, drugs taken by americans (far too many IMNSHO) should be produced in america under stringent regulation and subject to ruthless inspection. I’d revise the patent laws regarding pharmaceuticals which have been shamelessly abused, perhaps nationalizing the entire industry and repurposing a redundant branch of the military as the “pharmaceutical corps.”

        Big pharma had its chance and they blew it. They have no one to blame for their long-overdue demise but themselves.

        1. Oh

          The pharma industry needs to be nationalized and the FDA needs to be replaced by an international non political, non profit organization.

        2. wilroncanada

          Even the drugs made in the US have precursors:i.e raw materials which they must import mostly from China, because that is the only supply source.

      2. Ohnoyoucantdothat

        A few observations about foreign, imported drugs. As many of you know, I live in Crimea (now part of Russia). We buy several drugs on a regular basis from local pharmacies. There are usually “Russian” drugs and imported equivalents available. Conventional wisdom (and experience) has taught us to buy the imported drug as up to 70% of the Russian stuff is either ineffective or counterfit. Most imports come from India but there are other countries of origin as well.

        2. With the complex supply chains now in existence it is nearly impossible to guarantee any drug is unadulterated.

        3. As an aside, to give some idea as to how much Americans are being ripped off by the pharmaceutical industry, I have asthma and need a Ventolin (sobutomol) inhaler to survive. We buy them at a local pharmacy. They are made in France by GlaxoSmithKline. We pay … you’ll gasp at the price … 144 Rubles per box. At today’s exchange rate, that’s $2.22. Any guess what the price is stateside? A doctor last year told me it was $150 per inhaler. That’s 67.7 times as much. I can buy a lifetime’s supply of this drug in Crimea for the cost of a single inhaler in America. Why aren’t Americans storming these companies demanding better treatment? It’s criminal to let this go on.

    3. Procopius

      I believe the FDA process to get approval to manufacture an out-of-patent drug is a serious barrier to entry. That’s why Turing Pharmaceuticals is still charging $750 per pill for Daraprim.

  12. PlutoniumKun

    China’s Growing High-End Military Drone Force The Diplomat. Interesting, but does remind me of the breathless milpr0n-like coverage of the USSR’s weapons systems. Big black-and-white photos in Life magazine, back when there was a Life magazine. And black-and-white film. And a USSR. Plus ça change…

    Whats often forgotten (or deliberately overlooked) when assessing China’s military strategy is that Beijing has always favoured a policy of encouraging internal competition between design bureaus for weaponry (and most other things) – they issue generalised briefs and then see what ideas emerge. So many a great many of these UAV’s are probably little more than some local entrepreneurs bright idea that will never get much beyond a cardboard mock-up.

    Of course, this suits Beijing as it can panic potential opponents into thinking China’s capabilities are much greater than they are in reality. It also of course suits any number of weapon manufacturers worldwide who can scare their governments into ‘matching’ the Chinese.

    No doubt they do have a UAV strategy – its becoming very clear that UAV’s are now the weapon of choice for small to mid sized powers who want to spoil larger opponents party without spending too much. You can build up a reasonable air force of UAV’s capable of causing any opponent a lot of problems for less than the price of a single F-35 (as the Houthi’s have proven).

    But for now, it can’t but be noted that very few countries are buying Chinese weaponry of any type. This strongly suggests that for all the showiness of their latest weaponry, they are some way behind the existing big exporters in the US, Russia and Europe, not to mention countries like Israel and South Africa.

  13. PlutoniumKun

    There are multiple signs of strain in China’s financial system right now.

    Its interesting, but then again I’ve been hearing vague stories like this for years. As the link says, either the strains have become so intense the government can’t cover it, or they have a motive for encouraging more transparency. Michael Pettis, who probably knows more than any non-Chinese writer about the internal workings of the Chinese economy, has been suggesting that there are numerous signs of debt strain, but even he relies on anecdote, not solid data.

    Ultimately, probably only a few insiders really know the full picture of whats happening – and scarily, its possible that even Beijing doesn’t have a clear idea of what is happening in rural banks, as there are huge incentives in the Chinese system for local leaders not to send bad news up the chain of command. This is one reason I think that we can’t be confident that Beijing would deal competently with a major bank collapse, even if it does have the tools to tackle it. They may not be aware of whats happening until its too late. And a key problem for the Chinese economy, one pretty unique to China, is the huge scale of the informal and shadow banking systems.

    1. Oh

      Let’s send Obama over there. he can solve any bank crisis. What’s more he can make $200,000 speeches to the financial thieves geniuses over there.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Ultimately, probably only a few insiders really know the full picture of whats happening – and scarily, its possible that even Beijing doesn’t have a clear idea of what is happening in rural banks, as there are huge incentives in the Chinese system for local leaders not to send bad news up the chain of command.

      China is much more decentralized than we think (David Harvey; Mark Blythe). And yes, the system could be rotting away from the bottom (as all the local officials prepare to emigrate to the cheap condos they bought in Southeast Asia when SHTF).

  14. James Agenbroad

    On Grenfel. Inadequate regulations that were unenforced. Let’s look at one problem, the fact that there was a single stairwell. In most of the industrial world two stairwells are required Why is this? You don’t NEED two sets of stairs to evacuate the building. Indeed when there are two stairwells, they are designed so that one alone would be sufficient. But one of the stairwells could be filled with smoke. Or the path to it could be blocked, either by fire, or by material stored in the hallway in violation of regulations. You always want a backup, in case your first plan for preventing people from dying failed. There are simply SO many buildings and SO many appliances, and SO many PEOPLE to make mistakes that failure is guaranteed. Design, manufacturing methods, and inspection mean that only a tiny tiny fraction of appliances catch fire. But there are SO very many out there that inevitably some of them will. So you design buildings in such a way that a fire in one room is confined to that room, or at least that apartment. And because THAT in turn doesn’t always work, buildings are designed so that they can be safely evacuated during a fire. And you have a fire brigade to minimize the spread.

    The vast number of dwellings and appliances and people mean that no single part of the chain can be completely safe. A failure rate of 1 in 1,000,000 would mean 1,000s of fires. The only way to ensure safety is to make multiple, independent backstops. One difficulty is to maintain these past the initial design phase. After all, most sprinkler systems are never used, so maintenance of them is not a high priority. Nor are most fire stairs ever called upon to keep smoke out, so the fire-stopping around any penetrations tends to degrade over time, And obviously in this case, the exterior designed to make it more difficult for the fire to spread from floor to floor was fatally compromised by later modification.

    1. Danny

      What the Luftwaffe didn’t destroy, British town “planners” did. The hideous scars of the 1960s often still remain. Who lives in these hives? Mostly 3rd world immigrants?
      Maybe it’s more of an immigration question than an architectural one?

  15. marym

    Re: Impeachment: Ron Paul, Op-Ed News

    The aid was voted by Congress and signed by the president. If Trump wanted a different “foreign policy” it was his job to develop and communicate a policy.

    Using aid as leverage to gather political dirt, and having cronies bypass legal and procedural constraints to accomplish it isn’t a “foreign policy.” This is true even if one thinks the “consensus” policy is bad, or getting dirt on Bidens and the “server” is good.

    It’a apples and oranges. The Blob thinks the aid is needed for an anti-Russia foreign policy. Trump thinks it’s a tool for a political objective having nothing to do with Russia or Ukraine.

    1. JTMcPhee

      The Blob, some significant portion of it at least, sees “foreign aid” as an open checkbook for personal corruption. Thank you for stating the limits of the “case” that the Blob has been able to obfuscate into existence so far. I’d say it’s not in any way apples and oranges except in the narrow frame the Faithful want to force it into. To my mind it’s all very much a fruit salad, for which the rest of us are expected to grow the fruit, chunk it up, and eat it. Complete with a dose of hemlock, inherent in “spy vs spy” and the Great Game.

      NPR in 2017 had no problem with the way “foreign aid” is operated: What’s changed? Ooooh, Orange Top Man Must Be Destroyed! He’s managing to reveal those rotten “contradictions” that are not supposed to be so pungently displayed, for fear they might be sharpened to the point that everything falls apart!

      Note that these ‘aid” programs are in large measure intended to serve US political and imperial aims, with any “good done’ largely a fortuitous byproduct.

      1. marym

        I agree with your assessment of “aid.” It would have been great if Trump had articulated a different foreign policy wth regard to the US relationship with Russia and Ukraine; and/or if he were opposed to corruption and self-dealing in US aid. He didn’t.

        1. marym

          Adding grammar: He didn’t propose a different foreign policy or a different approach to corruption and self-dealing in foreign aid.

          1. Fiery Hunt

            Never cease to surprise me, marym. the best ways. Open to the “yeah, corruption has always been the bread and butter of various Administrations” but very clear that it’s not good and can’t excuse this Admin just because they’re doing the same wrong, corrupt thongs the past Admins have done.

            You’re right and I admire your steadfast principles.

            We may not agree on how to respond to the rot and the kabuki but…
            I say keep fighting the good fight and thank you for seeing with clarity.

            1. marym

              Thanks for the kind words. I don’t think it’s usually helpful to respond to Trump going up against something we think is bad as if that in itself is somehow good.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                > I don’t think it’s usually helpful to respond to Trump going up against something we think is bad as if that in itself is somehow good.

                It may be considered good if the outcomes are good. For example, we have yet to have had a major shooting war. Even if we have let our spook goons lose in areas covered by the Monroe Doctrine, that’s still better, just in terms of body count, than Libya, Syria, and certainly Ukraine.

        2. integer

          Trump frequently articulated a different foreign policy wrt Russia while campaigning, albeit in fairly broad strokes. Then came Russiagate, which was (at least in part) designed to prevent him from taking any steps towards implementing that policy.

          1. marym

            My contention is that he hasn’t bothered to developed and communicate any “different foreign policy.” Until this impeachment, there’s just been a lot of yelling about Russiagate from his opposition, but there’s also been objections to family separations and disappeared chilcren, the Muslim ban, and attempts to end the ACA with no alternative. Hasn’t stopped those other policies from going forward.

      2. Oh

        Most of the time foreign aid is for the purpose of enriching our large corporations and is the result of corruption lobbying of Congress by the huge corporations.

        1. Procopius

          Even at the time, I remember that Republicans objected to the Marshall Plan because it “sends to other countries money we could be using at home.” Well, the money was being spent “at home.” For one thing the productive capacity didn’t exist in the bombed-out countries we were aiding, and in those days you really couldn’t spend dollars anywhere but in America, so they had to buy American products and services. I don’t remember if there were also statutory requirements that American companies had to be hired, but that really wasn’t necessary.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      You’ve really got to love the way corruption, so blatant and “acceptable” that it is bragged about on video as evidence of political prowess, is magically transformed into “political dirt” that is a “high crime” to expose.

      Ukraine is, what, the third most corrupt “nation” on the planet? I, for one, have no problem with the chief executive talking to them in the only language they seem to understand–money–especially when it’s for “lethal aid.”

      It really is the sickest of jokes that clear evidence of corruption must be suppressed because the dirty politician is running for president.

      1. marym

        I’m fine with the following:
        – exposing the corruption of any politician
        – withholding military or other foreign aid that’s being used or diverted in corrupt ways
        – defining the use of political power for personal/family financial gain as corruption (a subject on which Trump has no credibility)

        I think the following are ridiculous:
        – impeaching Trump over an unseemly phone call, unless as a line item in an effort, hypocritical though it may be, to expose the corruption and self-dealing of his administration
        – considering the unseemly phone call “foreign policy”
        – considering the purpose of the unseemly phone call as an attempt at curtailing Ukrainian (as opposed to exposing Bidenian) corruption

        1. marym

          That last bullet point was stated too harshly. Not ridiculous but unsupported by the text of the call as released by the WH.

        2. D. Fuller

          When The President blackmails a country into going along with American foreign and economic policy, that is (supposedly) for the benefit of America?

          That is public policy.

          When a President attempts to blackmail a country for personal gain… against political opponents? Especially by attempting to withhold LAWFUL aid in violation of The President’s Oath of Office to uphold the laws?

          That is corruption.

          Corruption comes in baby-steps. Sometimes, by giant leaps. Desensitization to corrupt acts is necessary for the public to accept corruption as the new normal. Until your society is ENTIRELY corrupt from birth to death.

          As for Biden? Senator MBNA himself – which should have ended his career (among many other acts)? Go complain to The US Supreme Court… specifically Roberts, Alito, Thomas… who along with Kennedy (retired) and Scalia (dead)… redefined accepting bribes as “showing gratitude”. Conservatives on The US Supreme Court are responsible for that… more money and influence in U.S. politics; including foreign money and influence.

          1. JTMcPhee

            And if the hue and cry succeeds in “taking down Trump,” will we see all those who propose that whatever Trump has done is “one corruption too far,” and are ok that Pence (who the Blob apparently has no garrote-able problem with) slips into the Oval Office as new factotum. And see those same people standing down, with smug and prim and self-righteous smiles of “we have done our sacred duty as citizens, let others now clean out the rest of the Augean stables.”

            A bit of interesting history behind the phrase “hue and cry:”

            Q What does hue and cry mean?

            A This idiom, meaning a loud clamour or public outcry, contains the obsolete word hue, which people these days know only as a slightly formal or technical word for a colour or shade. As a result, you sometimes see the phrase written as hew and cry.

            Our modern meaning goes back to part of English common law in the centuries after the Norman Conquest. There wasn’t an organised police force and the job of fighting crime fell mostly on ordinary people. If somebody robbed you, or you saw a murder or other crime of violence, it was up to you to raise the alarm, the hue and cry. Everybody in the neighbourhood was then obliged to drop what they were doing and help pursue and capture the supposed criminal. If the criminal was caught with stolen goods on him, he was summarily convicted (he wasn’t allowed to say anything in his defence, for example), while if he resisted arrest he could be killed. The same term was used for a proclamation relating to the capture of a criminal or the finding of stolen goods. The laws relating to hue and cry were repealed in Britain in 1827.

            This mysterious word hue is from the first part of the Anglo-Norman French legal phrase hu e cri. This came from the Old French hu for an outcry, in turn from huer, to shout. It seems that hue could mean any cry, or even the sound of a horn or trumpet — the phrase hu e cri had a Latin equivalent, hutesium et clamor, “with horn and with voice”.

            The current howling of the TDS, fomented by the MSM mouthpieces and the Dems’ apparatus, has done a yeomanlike job of raising the hue and cry, all right. Still waiting for a showing that of all the various assertions and insinuendoes and allegations there’s a fire under the smoke that’s being blown.

            1. D. Fuller

              Am I suffering from TDS when I unequivocally state that Centrist Democrats’ conspiracy theory of Russia!Russia!Russia! indeed had no basis in fact? Or will you still raise the hue and cry of TDS?

              What was “Russia!Russia!Russia!”?

              Centrist Democrats merely used The Republican Playbook against Republicans, Whitewater and Benghazi Chapters. Something I don’t approve in the first place.

              TDS occurs when the subject of the discussion is not Trump, and then Trump is mentioned for no good reason. It’s like Godwin’s Law. TDS could be considered a corollary to Godwin’s Law. THAT is TDS. Fortunately for me? The discussion is related to Trump. Congratulations.

              When a President attempts to blackmail a country for personal gain… against political opponents? Especially by attempting to withhold LAWFUL aid in violation of The President’s Oath of Office to uphold the laws?

              That is corruption.

              Care to address this in a meaningful manner other than with a hue and cry of TDS?

              Yes, I’ve long known what ‘hue and cry’ means. Presumption can be fatal to one’s argument.

              If the criminal was caught with stolen goods…

              There are multiple witnesses that “the criminal (THE ACCUSED, in this case Trump) was caught with stolen goods (ALLEGED CRIME, abuse of office for personal gain as evidenced through testimony)”.

              Until other exonerating evidence emerges, the grounds for impeachment Trump remain solid. Unlike Russia!Russia!Russia! in which the “evidence” never withstood even close examination, in regards to the allegations. If one didn’t know by late July 2016 that Russia was going to be accused of election interference by the loser of the General Election? One had to be blind.


              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                > the grounds for impeachment Trump remain solid

                IIRC — and I could be missing detail — the “pro quo” for the “quid” (Ukraine announcing the investigation of Burisma) was a White House visit.

                We’re going to indict and convict a President over a White House visit? Really?

                The entire hairball seems to be to be entangled to a West Wing-style set of delusions about how international relations are conducted. We’re the imperial hegemon. Everything is a quid pro quo. And Presidents think about their re-election all the time, and it influences their decisions (Lincoln wanted military victories in time for his re-election in 1864). That is what we want in a democracy. All this pious handwaving from liberal Democrats about “political opponents” boils down to “But we would never violate the norms like that!” Well, they did, in the case of the Steele dossier. Forgive my failure to find heroes and villains in this said affair, or rather, only villains.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            It’s interesting to consider whether, granting the argument, petty corruption that seems not designed to lead to war is better or worse than an “inter-agency process” that seems designed to lead to it.

            These are the choices our system has presented us with.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > the unseemly phone call

          I don’t see the unseemly call as being different in any way from the “pee tape.” Remember that one? Obvious oppo (“kompromat”) with the justification being national security. If you agree that some degree of moral standing is needed to initiate the political process that is impeachment, I fail to see that any player possesses it. And I’m very happy if “ambition counteracts ambition” in the form of all the players, Trump and The Blob included, crippling each other. All of them are capable of doing far worse damage to the country if they’re not fighting each other, though I think that Trump’s relatively dovish views on ground wars and Russia were, to the degree Trump is capable of having a sincere view, sincerely held (which is why The Blob went nuts).

          1. marym

            No links, but my recollection is that his view early in the campaign was that he would prefer it be easier for him and his cronies to do business in Russia, so more a personal advantage view than a foreign policy. As such, I think it was “sincerely held” and probably the root of early contacts between Trump cronies and Russian counterparts. The emails, like potential dirt on Biden and the “server”, and the birth certificate were also personal, not policy attacks.

            I agree that “all the players, Trump and The Blob included, crippling each other” is the best option for now. I just wish the Dems had initiated a broader sweep of investigations to shine a light on more of the substance of the corruption and the harm. Of course, this would reveal systemic and “both sides” issues.

            I don’t see it in terms of “moral standing.” I’m trying to differentiate between policy and personal objectives, though either can be corrupt and worthy of opposition.

  16. dearieme

    Comrade Corbyn is reported to have criticised the notion of Israel’s right to exist, at least by implication.

    I confess I don’t understand this “right to exist” business. Has any country got such a right? What duties attend this right? Who accorded it such a right? What right did they have to go around according rights?

    Does Iran have the right to exist? Saudi Arabia? Iraq? Kuwait? Turkey? Russia, China, India, the USA? Says who? Endless talk of rights seems to me often to be unilluminating.

    On a separate issue: I don’t follow the logic that claims that any criticism of Israel government action is automatically antisemitic. I can see that antisemites are likely to criticise Israel but surely other people too might choose to?

  17. Wukchumni

    OK Boomers, here’s my timely tip:

    Get rid of all collectibles while there’s still a market for such things if you’re concerned about future value-as Club Millennial won’t be there to bail you out if you wait too long…

    …as an added bonus, probably 95% of the cars mentioned below are stick-shift, which 95% of young adults have no idea how to drive

    “If you do nothing but crunch the numbers, they’ll scrunch your car-collecting spirit: Sales at major collector car auctions down 23 percent. Average sales price per car down 17 percent. Number of cars sold for $1 million or more down 29 percent. Cars offered at auction down 3 percent. Cars sold at auction down 6 percent. Sell-through rate down 3 percent.”

    1. Stephen V.

      Ouch. You mean that 1983 Benz Wagen in my driveway doesn’t have any intrinsic value? It’s a mere commodity?
      Thank you Wuk.

        1. eg

          Ours was the Country Squire of the same model year but had the simulated wood trim and the 390 V8

          Caught my thumb in the rear door once, but being so little and the tolerances so large back then, got away with nothing but some nasty bruising.

    2. Hepativore

      To be fair, there are a lot of things that millennials are “ruining” such as collectables and automobile hobbies, simply because even though a lot of us have interests in the same things that our boomer parents did, we simply do not have the disposable income that the boomers had to spend on this. Not to mention that the cost of automobiles has greatly mushroomed over the decades. This is a problem as many people like myself live in rural areas very far away from where we work and we do not have public transportation, so having an automobile is a necessity.

      As a case in point, my father has a hobby where he collects and operates toy trains, particularly of the “S” scale. The cool thing about these toy trains was that they are miniature marvels of ingenuity and engineering in terms of how the great American toy maker, AC Gilbert put in so much detail and effort into making a functional toy for children that can last for a half a century using 1950’s era technology. My father does not just collect them to put them on display behind a glass case, he has build an entire miniature layout to run them on in his basement.

      I find his hobby a fascinating thing as well. The problem is, I know that I could never continue with it, as many of these toy trains are worth a few hundred dollars a piece as they are “vintage” items. My father has had a lot of his engines since he was a small child during the 1950’s, but it is an expensive hobby to break into. Still, I cannot help but feel envy from time to time looking at what many boomers were able to do under the circumstances that they had available to them.

      All millennials like us really wanted was to have the same things our grandparents and parents had, but that is probably not going to happen in our lifetimes. I apologize for the meandering comment.

      1. Wukchumni

        Nice train set, I was mad about em’ when I was a kid.

        You’re absolutely correct, there’s no money to support market values as Boomers age out, and it isn’t as if you are ruining anything by not caring about picking up our slack, its not your deal. Is a minty 1966 Beatles lunchbox with original thermos all that, really?

        Frankly, I don’t blame young adults for not wanting to burden themselves with trappings of old. Your impetus is elsewhere in making memories now if not sooner, looking forward-not past.

        And besides, we’ve been training you to get ready for socialism via an economy of sharing, not hoarding stuff.

        1. lambert strether

          A third S-Gauger here, trains in the basement and all. What are the odds? A truly the NC commentariat is the best commentariat

          1. Hepativore

            My father said he will eventually pass his trains on to me, and when he does, I will refuse to sell them, even if they are quite valuable. I do not know where I will put them, but it is amazing on how mere “toys” can be designed so well.

            I get annoyed with some of the people in this hobby that buy up every rare locomotive they can find to drive up prices even more. They do this just to put them in a display case like some sort of trophy with no intention of ever actually taking with out and playing with them, which seems rather pointless.

            If I were to make a layout with a landscape, I would look into making the components out of modular pieces. This way, I could take apart the scenery and instantly change it from farmland, to metropolis, desert, etc. without having to have more than one track layout if I get bored with the current scenery.

            Come to think of it, one type of landscape I have never seen anybody do with their trains is say something like rainforest/jungle terrain. It would be an interesting change of pace, and it could be used to represent a location in Mexico/Latin America for something like the Rio Grande or Santa Fe lines

            1. Procopius

              Having seen actual rainforest/jungle in SouthEast Asia, I think it would be difficult to implement in a model train layout. Also, I think there were not lots of actual railroads in areas where there was rainforest.

    3. Susan the Other

      As housing goes, so go collectibles. If there were a market analysis of car collectibles and other cheesy memorabilia from the boomers it would be based on the previous generation – the “greatest” generation – who were manic about winning the war and getting on with free enterprise. No time to second guess what all that excess would one-day bring. Too bad. Just made me think of my favorite aunt’s 1955 sky-blue Thunderbird convertible (yes she was in California) – because during an antique car show in town last summer, as I turned on to my street there was the exact same car. With two guys (in their 60s) touching it reverently. But nobody younger than that gives a damn. To their credit.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Or not.

        Quality will always come back in favor.
        Millenials will eventually learn cheap and convenient are anything but.

        The greenest house, car, clothing etc is the one that lasts.

    4. cnchal

      Matthieu Lamoure, managing director of Artcurial Motorcars, sees a significant shift in what bidders want — modern supercars.

      “We are entering into a new era of more recent collectors’ cars, offering greater performance, but which you cannot maintain yourself,” he writes.

      “How fortunate we are, the market is inexhaustible and is constantly renewing itself, with the arrival of new collectors, who are younger and even wealthier… It is up to us as auctioneers to find the treasures that whet enthusiasts’ insatiable appetites!”

      It’s what tech bros are buying. Until the stupid money goes away and the money losing monopolies collapse.

      Stephen V – your Benz wagon is a great car. That’s what intrinsic value is.

    5. Danny

      I picked up a beautiful mint condition 1960s Chrysler convertible with a huge engine during the second gas “crisis” for a mere $300. That ride was incredible and since I only drove the land barge a dozen miles a day, in style, who cared about mileage?

      Once gas got cheap again, the car quintupled in value. It’s all about timing.

  18. TroyIA

    Lambert here: Yves has been saying the real systemic risk is in China and Eurobanks but since everything is still too tightly coupled, big enough trouble would blow back to the US.

    China has an unsustainable debt level – from Michael Nicoletos A Thread on #China. Some data and some thoughts. I hope you find it useful.

    11/ #China’s economic growth has depended so heavily on debt that it now needs 7.68 units of credit to produce 1 unit of GDP growth, 5x more than 10 years ago. If we “adjust” this for the GDP overstatement the number comes out to ~9.74 units of credit for 1 unit of GDP growth.

    12/ So, #China needs more and more debt to produce the same GDP growth rate. Chinese banking assets are now ~50% of Global GDP. At their respective peaks, #US banking assets reached 32% of Global GDP (in 1985) & #Japan’s banking assets were 27% of Global GDP (in 1994.)

    And now this – China moves to aid slowing economy by accelerating issue of 1 trillion yuan of local government bonds

    Beijing has brought forward 1 trillion yuan (US$142.3 billion) of the 2020 special purpose bond quota to this year

    The move gives local governments more room to issue debt to fund infrastructure projects that could help prop up China’s slowing economy

    It used to be when America sneezes, the world catches a cold but what will happen now that the Chinese economy is the sick man?

  19. Ignacio

    RE: 12 EU states reject move to expose companies’ tax avoidance Guardian

    As usual, vested interests beat general interests. If I am correct the vote was decided by EU Ministers at the European Council. The EC is where the flaws of the EU system manifest. I think that vlade has repeatedly complained about this. The countries that voted against, besides Ireland, singled out in the article, were Luxembourg, Malta, Cyprus, Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Croatia. Is it true that small countries can only aspire to be Singapore on Danube, Liffey, Moldava etc?

    Interestingly Germany abstained suggesting that german companies benefit a lot from the flawed system. Well, broken promises again from our heroic EU leaders. What about the fiscal compact when you allow for this [family blog] to go on?

    1. Bugs Bunny

      It really wasn’t going to be more than a tiny chink in the tax armor of the MNCs and their enabling countries so this makes me think that anything meaningful to fix the Eurozone will never, ever happen. If I were a betting rabbit, I’d say another major EU member will leave.

      1. Ignacio

        It would have been a movement on transparency only. But if some countries realise how much they loose on untaxed income a lot of hype would ensue.

  20. Stephen V.

    In a world of *anybody but X* propaganda on both sides of the pond, I find Aussie John Pilger to be especially articulate.
    [ snipped ]
    QUESTION: Do you think the impeachment process underway against Trump is tantamount to a coup to get rid of him by the Deep State because of his relatively benign stance towards Russia?

    John Pilger: That’s one theory; I’m not so sure. Trump’s election in 2016 disturbed a Mafia-like system of tribal back-scratching, which the Democrats dominate. Hillary Clinton was the Chosen One; how dare Trump seize her throne? Many American liberals refuse to see their corrupt heroine as a standard bearer of Wall Street, a warmonger and an emblem of hi-jacked gender politics. Clinton is the embodiment of a venal system, Trump is its caricature.

  21. Wukchumni

    Snowing on the just the other side of nowhere, here.

    Heavy dollops of whipped cream are falling, but can’t stick the landing for now. {edit, trying harder now, every 5th one has the look of a Dollar pancake on the pavement}

    Quite unusual for it do so in the foothills, and when it happens once every couple years it comes overnight to the tune of 1-2 inches, which melts off by 11 am.

    Must be bedlam for those drivers attempting the higher climes of Sequoia NP in the early innings of a busy Thanksgiving weekend faced with an uphill battle. The holy! grail for which they seek, is about a mile higher in altitude than from where they started out @ the NP entrance.

    In the past few years NPS has actually closed the Generals Highway (the only road in & out) when storms similar to this came calling, but they were in ‘yeah-whatever’ time periods, not the hallowed holidays.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Wuk, do you ever get blocked in where you are? As in, you have to live off whatever food you have in your home until the roads are cleared again?

  22. goingnowhereslowly

    A day late, and thus a bit OT, but I did want to share a Thanksgiving story.

    Purely by chance, our Thanksgivings have become wonderful, with great food, friends, and family (not our own). For over a decade, my husband and I—childless middle-aged Midwesterners living in DC—have celebrated Thanksgiving with a friend of mine, who early on acquired a sweet husband with a life history that would make Job weep.

    Six years ago, on Thanksgiving eve, I got a text from the husband saying “not to worry” but my friend had just been rushed into an operating room for an emergency caesarean to deliver a baby due in mid-February. The next day I learned that the baby was doing as well as could be expected for one who weighed less than two pounds, and my friend was stable but in rough shape. We had known the tiny girl’s name for months.

    I later learned that my friend had called her mother, who was in Newark airport en route to India, telling her that she was dying and the mother would need to help the father with the baby. My friend has no memory of that call, but her mother remembers it quite distinctly, as well as the sudden trip from Newark to DC in the early hours of Thanksgiving Day. My friend does remember grasping that her attending nurses seemed to not expect her to survive.

    Months in neonatal intensive care became months of anxiously following the baby’s progress at home became years of watching her flourish. She turned six on Wednesday: tall and skinny like her grandmother, with striking blue eyes and red hair, an unusually extensive vocabulary, and boundless energy. The after-dinner entertainment yesterday included her demonstrating karate kicks: she is a purple belt. She adores my husband.

    Our Thanksgiving tradition is now dinner with three generations of this family and another couple. We have several good cooks in the bunch; I am in charge of dressing and cranberry sauce. We always drink an entire bottle of Leopold’s apple whiskey. And the father always tries something new: this year it was rye drop biscuits.

    And every year we mark the progress of this miraculous girl.

  23. Lee

    So, the Russians’ relatively feeble propaganda effort, as compared to those of our own homegrown donor class, failed to affect the 2016 election results and now they’re tweeting uplifting messages, which is deemed sinister. Meanwhile, it is this same donor class and their neocon fellow travelers that tout the glories of borderless, wingèd capital and and then whinge when the chickens come home to roost.

    1. voteforno6

      Feeble? Hardly! They were just so efficient, they didn’t need to spend millions to sow discord. Just several hundred thousand, spent strategically is what swung the election, thereby overwhelming the billion or so spent on Clinton’s behalf.

      If the Democratic establishment truly believes that this is what happened, they should be moving heaven and earth to hire on those Russian bots for their own social media campaigns. Considering the calamitous state of the DNC’s finances, that would certainly be the fiscally prudent thing to do.

  24. Wukchumni

    Devil’s Own Ombudsman Messenger:

    Lets cut to the nitty gritty, eventually soon things are going to get weird, and seeing as nobody in these United States has really seen widespread foment up close since the sixties & seventies, we’re all a bit rusty.

    …how does it go down?

    The spark that sets it off, and the immediate aftermath, that is.

    1. Oregoncharles

      It’s always the final straw.

      Of course, the trick is, nobody really knows. However, in my observation, the kids presently in high school are not happy with their inheritance and are likely to have quite an impact. So that’s maybe about 4 years. Too late for the climate, of course.

      And California Burning is a pretty good candidate for that final straw.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Isn’t Brexit another candidate? Despite Yves’ rather convincing arguments, the EU honchos act like they’re very concerned about the impact. They know more about it than we do. I would worry about cascading effects from one of the world’s main money centers, esp. if the UK then self-destructs, which seems almost inevitable.

        More further: I do remember the foment of the 60s and 70s, as do some others here. We aren’t quite there yet, but getting closer.

  25. flora

    re: The New Deal Wasn’t Intrinsically Racist – Adolph Reed, The New Republic.

    Thanks for this article.
    Identifying and parsing disparities have become the default setting of the language of social justice in the United States. Even commentary on the impact of calamities like hurricanes or earthquakes seems to mandate that we track just how they displace and harm discrete subpopulations in order to assess their true magnitude.
    However, the inclination to fixate on such disparities as the only objectionable form of inequality can create perverse political incentives.

    I think a comment byDavid in yesterday’s links about French politics is relevant to the ID politics practiced in the US by the Dem party establishment.

    “….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.”

    This description of France’s Socialist Party also sums up the current US nominally ‘left’ party, the Democratic Party, pretty well, imo.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Sounds like good news to me, if the idpol doesn’t take down the Greens, as well.

      Remember,. neither wing of the 2-Party can fly without the other.

  26. flora

    Another comment is in moderation. Subject: Reed’s essay and how the current Dem party estab seems to be following the self-disintegration path of id politics that France’s left party is following.

    1. flora

      adding: I recommend Reed’s article. He shows clearly african americans received New Deal support, not as a token, but often in employment and ss percentages greater than their percentage of the total population. The support was financial, the ability to earn good wages and get training. This increased the wealth in the aa community at large; the increased wealth had an effect on the start of the civil rights.

      1. Danny

        “ability to earn good wages and get training….”

        Or, as a means of replacing in the domestic workplace and preparing to train, via the Civilian Conservation Corps, America’s white youth to be sent off to fight in the imminent war against a competing and succesful economic system dangerous to Wall Street?

        Spelled out: Trainloads of black sharecroppers sent north to work in shipyards and defense plants so that America’s whites, and some blacks, could fight Nazism.

        1. Wukchumni

          The backstory to the CCC, is the veterans were getting antsy in regards to staging another Bonus Army encampment in 1933, and FDR opened the CCC up to WW1 vets first, as a way to cut them off from doing so, and giving them jobs. They were in their 30’s & 40’s.

          $25 out of the $30 a month salary a white male aged 18-25 (there was only 1 womens’ CCC camp) received for working in the CCC went home to his family.

          Could you imagine trying something similar today, with a base salary of $1,000 a month (room & board included) and having to send over $800 of it home?

          1. ObjectiveFunction

            You have basically described the current situation of tens of millions of overseas domestic and construction workers (Filipino, Indonesian, Tamil, Bangladeshi, etc.) in the Middle East and elsewhere. Except a large chunk of their remittances get raked off by the placement agencies and wire transfer services.

          1. dearieme

            The New Deal originated in Hoover’s flailing attempts to turn things round and continued, rebranded, in FDR’s flailing attempts.

            What finally worked isn’t clear to me; many economists seem to think it was war. But maybe it was policy immediately postwar. Or maybe it was just the passing of time. Or perhaps having global markets handed to you on a plate did the trick.

            1. Wukchumni

              In 1933

              The USA was the largest creditor, the largest manufacturer, the largest oil producer (by a wide margin) and the largest holder of gold.

              The money was there to do things, and there was no appetite for war.

              I walk on trails the CCC built, go to public post offices the WPA constructed, and have always felt safe about my money in the bank. All legacies of FDR’s flailed attempts.

            2. flora

              an aside: yes, Hoover did try many things to arrest the economic free fall the stock market crash ushered in. FDR did adopt many of Hoover’s policy prescriptions at first. When those didn’t work he tried other things.

              Now, this that I’m going to write isn’t a popular understanding of Hoover – nevertheless: Herbert Hoover wasn’t a politician or an economist, he was an engineer. He was also a great humanitarian. He is rightly credited with saving Belgium and the Low Countries of Europe from starvation in WWI. But the Great Depression left him turning to his traditional economic advisors for advice – Andrew Mellon, for example.
              Mellon’s national reputation collapsed following the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression. Mellon participated in various efforts by the Hoover administration to revive the economy and maintain the international economic order, but he opposed direct government intervention in the economy.

              Hoover had the great misfortune of being the last ideologically 19th century Republican president at the nexus when 19th c. capitalist philosophy and market structure broke down completely in the real world of 1929. imo.

              1. Procopius

                Hoover’s humanitarianism is often forgotten, but mostly because he fought tooth and nail against policies that worked, for years after he lost office.

          2. Danny

            To prevent a Bolshevik type revolution by impoverished Americans, against Wall Street, yes, absolutely.

            On the opposing side of the equation was the Businessman’s attempted coup that U.S.M.C. General Smedley Butler pretended to go along with and then helped quash.


            Wuk, the physical fitness of undernourished American men was abysmal. Part of the CCC was to strengthen them, feed them and get them ready to follow military discipline which they got in the camps.

            1. Wukchumni

              This was average fare @ the CCC camp @ Cain’s Flat, on Mineral King road.

              Most important in keeping the young men happy were the meals. The CCC program was noted for its good food. Oil ranges were used for cooking and wood ovens for baking. Those ovens turned out white, rye and graham breads, pastries of all kinds including cookies, snails, buns, doughnuts, and other sweets. Several kinds of pastry were served at each meal because “…Pastry keeps the men well contented and because of the high sugar content it has a high food value.”

              In 1936, a typical camp’s menu on one day was the following. Breakfast: bran flakes, fried ham and gravy, fried eggs, fried potatoes, hot cakes, butter toast, syrup, jam, coffee, milk, sugar. Lunch: vegetable soup, roast beef, brown gravy, assorted cold meats, mashed potatoes, cabbage slaw, creamed peas, lettuce salad, tomatoes, mince pie, doughnuts, coffee, milk, iced tea, buttermilk. Dinner: vegetable beef soup, roast pork and jelly, baked beef heart and dressing, German fried potatoes, steamed carrots, celery, cottage cheese, sliced beets, mince pie, cupcakes, coffee, milk, ice tea, buttermilk.

              For young men who had known deprivation and hunger, even the hot, hard, physically demanding work and isolated life at Cain’s Flat CCC camp must have seemed close to heaven. It was reported the average enrollee gained 12 to 30 pounds during his tour of duty.


  27. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for the link to Ron Paul’s enlightening editorial in OpEd News. When the issues Mr. Paul raises are considered with those mentioned in Branko Milanovic’s linked Guardian post yesterday on entrenched Neoliberal capitalism and the related failure of globalization for the people of the West, institutionalized political corruption through making politicians and public policy into a market awarded to the highest bidder; together with reported Fed oppo to MMT for purposes other than the many Trillions of dollars used for elevation of prices in financial markets, bank bailouts, and wars of choice/surveillance spending; this citizen questions whether representative democracy has been so impeded that we must reclaim the institutional space.

    Along with authority and privilege comes responsibility. In my view, those who have succeeded in their respective quests for implementation of their preferred policies have generally not paid a financial or privilege price for their damaging policy failures, but have instead often been rewarded.

  28. Ted

    Scott Ritter’s piece is a real eye opener. Suddenly so much of the past three years makes more sense. Missing, though, is the clear fact that significant sums of money were also transferred into the accounts of family members of prominent officials involved with setting Ukraine and Russia policies in the Obama white house. Ritter does not touch these, but one has to wonder whether the panic associated with Trump’s promised policy revisions back in 2017 threatened more than just some guy’s career trajectory at the CIA…. In any case, I suspect that even if Trump were removed from office … unlikely … there are plenty of folks in DC that feel Susan Rice’s and her lackies were an unmitigated disaster, for millions. They no doubt would like to find their way into the NSC, and will not look kindly on these machinations …

  29. Paradigm_Shift

    Can anyone recommend a good introductory book on MMT? FWIW, I have little background in econ, finanace, or business but I do have a M.S. degree in the environmental sciences. Thanks!

    1. Foy

      JD Alt recently wrote a short MMT ebook with diagrams, I haven’t read it but it might be worth a look, I’ve always liked his posts on MMT (his previous explanations on the rationale behind the trilion dollar platinum coin I thought were first class)

      Years ago I bought and read ‘Modern Money Theory: A Primer on Macroeconomics for Sovereign Monetary Systems’ by Professor Randall Wray, one of the founders and propenents of MMT. I liked it because it went through all the Fed/Treasury/Bank accounting transactions using T ledger accounts (that’s how accountants first learn accounting in Accounting 101) so that the process could be followed, but I do have an accounting/finance background. These transactions show why MMT is a description of how the current fiat money system works, it’s actually a pity that the word ‘Theory’ is in the title in my opinion.

      The book covers a lot of ground (see the contents page). But it is heavy in some sections, it wont be read in a weekend, maybe use the Amazon ‘Look Inside’ to scan and see that it is not too heavy for you. Oh and I only use Amazon for this function, on principle I never buy from them!

      I’m still waiting for a good concise MMT book that sums MMT up for the layman that I can give to my friends. Bridging the gap between the Professors Wray and MItchell who like to go into the detail, economics and minutia of MMT, and what the layman can easily absorb hasn’t been done so far as I can tell. That is what MMT proponents need to do next I believe. There are some other e-books but they are not well structured or edited to explain MMT properly in my opinion (eg Warren Mosler’s 7 Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy, but it’s still a good, short, interesting read, one being his background as a trader and working out MMT for himself and applying it to his trades). Stephanie Kelton is bridging the gap on social media but hasn’t written any books I’m aware of. Hope that helps!

      1. Basil Pesto

        Kelton has a book due in mid 2020 called “The Deficit Myth”

        Mitchell wrote in his blog the other day that he’s working on a book called something like “My MMT Journey” which seems like a work for a popular audience.

  30. Susan the Other

    Liz Warren on a Green New Military. That’s the best plan anybody could ever piece together. It is logical on so many levels. The military can get adequate funding, no problem. They have their own equipment for emergencies aka warfare, and they are trained and efficient. Contrary to popular criticism, the military do not go stumbling all around the world creating conflict. Only pols and financiers do that. The military takes its orders from the civilian leadership. And most of them are total idiots. But Liz’s plan for a Green New Military is inspirational. And the military is actually “shovel ready”. And not to use them is to disregard all the money that has got into making them as capable as they are. Just as Wilkerson also floated the idea recently for using the military for Green Work – the military itself has been warning of the crisis for decades. We definitely need a Green New Military. There’s no question about it. Thank you Senator Warren for having the guts to put this on your agenda.

    1. GramSci

      I want to like Liz too, but I fear you romanticize the US military. In my experience, the civilians, who you portray as giving orders to the military, are actually taking orders from (and for) the Pentagon. It would be wonderful if the military could be mobilized against climate change, but I fear their first allegiance is to war.

  31. T

    Soooo…. many troll farm tweets are updated fun facts and happy stories that I read in Reader’s Digest at my grandmother’s. Are they also tweeting tweets to increase your word power?

    I am Jane’s data-mining organ.

  32. buermann

    “E. coli bacteria engineered to eat carbon dioxide Nature. Proof-of-concept. Nevertheless!”

    When I first saw this I was like, “so they turned e. coli into cyanobacteria?” I dunno if a small step towards inefficiently converting renewable energy into biogas is something to be all that excited about, the one niche where it’s probably necessary is air travel:

    “Achieving synthetic autotrophy in a central biotechnological organism such as E. coli sets an important milestone toward the sustainable production of chemicals from CO2. Currently, growing our autotrophic E. coli strain on formate as an energy source *leads to an overall net CO2 production* (because formate is oxidized to CO2 at a higher rate than at which CO2 is assimilated into biomass [Figure S1]). Yet, in future coupling to a renewable energy source, formate would be produced electrochemically from CO2 (Innocent et al., 2009) with negative greenhouse gas emissions. Formate could then be used as the feedstock for biotechnological production of various chemicals using the synthetically autotrophic E. coli as the bioproduction platform.”

    1. Jack Parsons

      This is sneaking up on the “Andromeda Strain” though. Releasing a thing that sucks down CO2 might not be the best of ideas.

      I personally believe that all nano-engineered bacteria should require electricity from a Tesla coil to operate.

  33. ewmayer

    Mekong nations plan five-year strategy to fight drought The Star. Those dams upstream aren’t helping — I find it astonishing that there appears to be no long-settled international law along the lines of “no single nation may ‘do as it will’ in regard to a river shared by multiple nations”. The article mentions cooperation among the 4 downstreal nations:

    “Ministerial delegates from the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Council approved here on Tuesday (Nov 26) a drought management strategy for 2020-2025, allowing Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam to prepare for and manage drought collectively”

    …but China is conspicuously absent from that list.

  34. ewmayer

    “As Secret Pentagon Spending Rises, Defense Firms Cash in | Defense One” — But, but, but, how do we pay for it? /m4a

  35. ewmayer

    “Witness testimony and records raise questions about account of Trump’s ‘no quid pro quo’ call WaPo. “No other witness testimony or documents have emerged that corroborate Sondland’s description of a call that day.” — Please, please let Team D have the hubris that would convince them escalating this clowncar-show to a senate trial is a good idea, because under trial-style evidentiary procedures, all these perjuring and ‘imaginative construction’-using intel and state-dept creeps would be getting shredded, and all the Biden self-admitted quid-pro-quo dirt sonny boy and Burisma which the MSM have been furiously avoiding and pooh-poohing as ‘fake news’ would get a very public airing. And that hearing-rigging moron Adam Schiff would be relegated to the peanut gallery, where he belongs.

    OTOH, another line of reasoning suggests that perhaps Team D knows this is a losing cause but is using it as a welcome electorate-distraction tactic, to deflect from the fact that they have zilch to offer on the “policies to help the actual lives of the 90%” front, and thus would love nothing better than to continue the RussiaRussiaRussia and ImpeachImpeachImpeach hysteria right through the 2020 election. And it gives them cover for smearing the few antiwar candidates like Gabbard as [insert name of ‘new Hitler’ eveil-dictator here] apologists.

  36. Oregoncharles

    Apropos of nothing, an Antidote-style observation: Robins practice etiquette. They’re gathered around our birdbath, mostly perched on the edge drinking. New ones that try to fly down are driven off. But ones that hop up from the ground (it’s only a foot or so high) are accepted, because that’s the polite way to join the group.

    1. inode_buddha

      I have a birdbath and feeder set up on a pole in the front yard, under a tree — I swear I have seen birds form a congo line on the pole to take turns accessing the feeder, which is usually mobbed. When one is done eating, it goes back to the back of the line, and everyone gets fed eventually. Ground feeders get whatever they pitch over the sides.

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