Links 11/6/19

Measles Wipes Your Immune System’s ‘Memory,’ So It Can’t Fight Other Infections LiveScience

The World Has Gone Mad and the System Is Broken Ray Dalio, LinkedIn

Dregs of financial crisis today’s jewels: Pimco Reuters

There is one way forward on climate change Martin Wolf, FT

Who Will Save the Paris Agreement? Foreign Policy

Wall Street increasingly weighs risk from climate change Reuters

Mayors of Sacramento, Elk Grove join coalition of CA officials seeking ‘customer-owned’ PG&E Sacramento Bee


The 2019 general election battleground constituencies FT

Jo Swinson ‘absolutely categorically’ rules out working with Corbyn even to deliver new Brexit referendum Independent

Singapore-on-Thames? London’s City mulls post-Brexit future Agence France Presse

Uninhabited mansions of London’s “Billionaires’ Row” Boing Boing (JBird4049).

Europe’s gas alliance with Russia is a match made in heaven Indian Punchline


Yemen war: Government and separatists agree deal to end infighting BBC

Winter Is Coming: Castle Black, The Syrian Withdrawal, And The Battle Of The Bases LobeLog (Re Silc).


It’s Man Vs Wild in India’s Economy, and Wild Has the Upper Hand Bloomberg. “A recent Stanford study estimated the [Indian] economy is 31% smaller than it would have been in the absence of global warming.” I know what India needs: Giant tree plantations to to feed BECCS.

Why New Delhi’s air is always so toxic this time of year Grist

Eat carrots, perform yagnas: Indian officials have absurd tips to survive Delhi’s deadly smog Quartz

In overworked Japan, Microsoft tested a four-day workweek. Productivity soared 40 percent. WaPo


Hong Kong university student injured during car park fall fighting for his life as two tests find him unresponsive South China Morning Post

* * *

Emmanuel Macron and Xi Jinping to agree ‘irreversibility’ of Paris climate accord EuroNews. From Politico’s Brussels Playbook:

In a pointed message to the U.S., the text will note that China and France reaffirm “their firm support for the Paris agreement, which they consider an irreversible process and a compass for strong action on climate.” The text also notes that “trade agreements have to be compatible with the objectives of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement and the sustainable development program of the Horizon 2030.” Translation: how’s that trade war treating you, Donald?

The United States Is the World’s Second Largest Economy: When It Comes to Climate Change, It Matters Dean Baker, CEPR

Emboldened China refuses to flinch on tariffs in US trade talks Nikkei Asian Review

China’s waning appetite for stimulus weighs on global economy FT

Chinese Income Dislocations Could Be Ominous Asia Sentinel. Sounds like the Chinese 99% were sold the same bill of goods on housing as an asset as we were.

China Has a Glass-Bridge Bubble Bloomberg. I keep seeing videos of people crossing those bridges. They give me the creeps.

More generic futurist hand-waving from Huawei’s founder ZD Net

How the US is losing hearts and minds in Southeast Asia to China SCMP. Sending a second-tier delegation to ASEAN was a real kick in the teeth for a region whose cultures (and elites) put great value on face. That said, the countries of Southeast Asia have been performing a balancing act against their colussus to the North for centuries.

Global Protests

Lebanon protesters seek to shut down key state institutions Al Jazeera

Conquistadors tumble as indigenous Chileans tear down statues Guardian

Media Conceal Chile’s State Criminality, Delegitimize Bolivian Democracy FAIR

Protests Stall Ecuador’s Plan to Lure Foreign Oil Investment Bloomberg

Economic and social inequality are fueling mass protests across the globe Gwynne Dyer, Bangor Daily News

Worst drought in decades hits Chile capital and outskirts Hmm…


Sondland reverses himself on Ukraine, confirming quid pro quo Politico

Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, added that he later told Andriy Yermak, a top Ukrainian national security adviser, the aid would be contingent on Trump’s desired investigations.

“After that large meeting, I now recall speaking individually with Mr. Yermak, where I said that resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks,” Sondland wrote in his addendum, which was released alongside a nearly 400-page transcript of his testimony.

Sondland revealed the exchange in supplemental testimony he submitted to House impeachment investigators on Monday, saying he had failed to recall the episode when he testified in person last month. Sondland, who had a direct line to Trump and was a major donor to his 2016 presidential campaign, had previously indicated he was unaware of any effort to connect military aid to Trump’s demand for politically motivated investigations.

I haven’t read the transcripts, so I can’t swear this account is accurate, but it’s at least more detailed and coherent than anything else I’ve read. (Adding: Quid pro quo is not the definition used for corruption by Zephyr Teachout, whose definition is broader. So narrowing the definition in this way, a la CItizens United, is a great victory for the political class and both parties. It’s an ill wind…)

Boeing 737 MAX

Boeing CEO Muilenburg ‘has done everything right,’ says chairman Reuters

Health Care

Medicare Beneficiaries with Serious Illnesses Report Problems Paying Bills Commonwealth Fund. “More than half (53%) of Medicare beneficiaries with serious illnesses reported experiencing a problem paying a medical bill.” Existing Medicare’s neoliberal infestation continues apace.

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

ABC’s Amy Robach Says She Made Jeffrey Epstein Comments in “Private Moment of Frustration” Hollywood Reporter. So move along, people, move along. There’s no story here.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

‘Game-Changer’ Warrant Let Detective Search Genetic Database NYT

This Trippy T-Shirt Makes You Invisible to AI Vice (Re Silc). Right out of Gibson’s Zero History (2010, so a lifetime ago). Of course, if you’re the only one wearing it….

Imperial Collapse Watch

It’s Time for a Neo-Nixonian Foreign Policy The American Conservative

How the United States Could Lose a Great-Power War Foreign Policy

Why America isn’t equipped for the new rules of war Technology Review (Re Silc).

Guillotine Watch

Buffett, Gates And The Giving Pledge: Trust Issues For Billionaire Philanthropists Forbes

Class Warfare

This Is a Horror Story: How Private Equity Vampires Are Killing Everything The Nation (Furzy Mouse).

It’s Time to Break Up Disney: Part One Matt Stoller, BIG

Antidote du Jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

Late for National Cat Day. My bad.

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. John A

    Re the Trump-Ukraine ‘scandal’. One thing that seems to have become completely lost in the wash is Trump asking about the server that he thought was in Ukraine and related to Crowdstrike. The fact that the FBI has never examined the server and simply took the word of a vehemently anti Russia, pro Ukraine company such as Crowdstrike has always struck me as extremely odd. It is almost as though the media are, like the FBI etc., utterly uninterested in getting to the very bottom of what is clearly a very messy business.

    1. Mr Zarate

      It’s difficult overestimate how serious it is that the FBI never investigated the “incident” that has caused such dramatic changes in International Relations.
      Nelson was blind in only one eye, being blind in both would have been a different matter.

      1. QuarterBack

        Absolutely. This is why attempts to paint Joe Biden’s clear as day threat, “quid pro quo”, or whatever you choose to call it, as “the same thing“ is a false equivalence. In Biden’s case, he was demanding that a prosecutor heading a corruption case be ”fired”, effectively shutting the ongoing investigation down, whereas Trump is accused of pressuring to “look into” unexplained and undocumented facts and evidence in a case deemed so important that it consumed the nation for roughly two years to investigate.

        1. ambrit

          I’ll give Trump the benefit of the doubt here. This question was part of an issue being used to question the legitimacy of his administration. Who, being in Trump’s position, would not want to have this “looked into?”
          This is also a massive smoke screen. Trump is pushing through an ultra-conservative dream list of policies. Yet no one seriously pushes back against those actions. The Democrat Party is “missing in [in]action” on the policy front. Why should they get our support in a thinly veiled attempt at a coup?

          1. John Beech

            Beyond the benefit of a doubt, I just don’t give a damn regarding quid pro quo. Why not? It’s because I’m not six years old. My point is; I learned on the playground there’s no such thing as something for nothing and I haven’t forgotten! That, and I just want to know the score with respect to HRC, good old Joe, BHO, and the rest of the gang. Look, Trump’s no angel, he is in fact a dog. And I honestly wouldn’t want him over for dinner, but he’s my dog (yes, I voted for him), and he’s doing exactly what I want him to do . . . being the bull in the China shop. And note, proof I’m not in the tank for Republicans is I recently switch my voting affiliation from Republican to Democrat because I really like that old Socialist, Bernie Sanders. Will I vote for him come next November? If he’s the nominee, yes, quite likely.

            1. ambrit

              I get your point about the “purity test” for this sinful old world we inhabit, but I do differ in the conclusions I draw from my observations, which are close to yours. As I see it, the primary strength of human beings is their ability to observe, think, and set goals. To that end, it follows that humans have the ability to short circuit reflexive responses to stimuli. Humans have the opportunity to rise above their influences. Ideals are not shiny pretty baubles. They are the hope of humanity.
              Cynic that I am, I still make a conscious effort to strive for something transcendent. Otherwise, all I am is an animal.

            2. kiwi

              Plus the quote provided is cherry picked, as usual.

              I’m still trying to figure out why quid pro quo has now become a dirty word. Quid pro quo just means something for something.

              Trump has the duty to expose corruption and take action against it. The entire situation in Ukraine seems to be a completely lawless situation where deep state people decided they were going to do whatever they wanted, and now they are crying because someone is looking at them. The people who should have investigated the entire situation, from the 2016 election stuff to the server to Biden’s corruption were MIA.

              Much of the testimony appears to be opinion. It reminds me of a high school group of ninnies spreading rumors about someone they don’t like.

              IMO, this whole impeachment effort is just a way to short circuit the exposure of the corruption. Get Trump out, then stop all investigative processes.

          1. marym

            Works perfectly for Trump accusing Biden of using political power to pressure Ukraine for personal gain, and Dems accusing Trump of the same!

            1. kiwi

              Do you realize that there is a tape of Biden bragging about how he was going to withhold a billion from Ukraine unless the prosecutor investigating Burisma, a company that hired Biden’s son?

              Maybe you recall that those on the left once were critical of Biden’s and Kerry’s relatives benefitting from their (Biden’s and Kerry’s) connections in Ukraine? I sure recall it. And the situation should have been investigated years ago.

              How exactly does one flip so much on so many topics? After all, those on the left have opposed wars and wanted troops to exit countries. Now they don’t, all because Trump is doing those types of actions. Those on the left dissed the intelligence agencies for years. Now they don’t, all because these agencies are after Trump. Those on the left used to believe in freedom of speech, innocent until proven guilty, due process, the 6th amendment, freedom of religion….and so on. Now these are just silly notions to those on the left merely because they hate Trump.

              Maybe you can explain how TDS has caused so many people to support the exact opposite of what they supported for years and years until he came along. I am fascinated by these strange people who apparently have no core values or beliefs, and even more fascinated by the ease in which they flipped.

              1. Plenue

                I just want to jump in here to preempt a probable response, which is that the investigation against Burisma had been dropped when Biden got the prosecutor fired, so protecting his son couldn’t have been the motivation. This is currently the meme the entirety of the mainstream media has adopted, with the NYT declaring it a myth and ‘debunking’ it.

                But it’s a straight up lie. Straight. Up. The media is simply engaging in outright deceit on this one. No ambiguity or plausible deniability; they’re simply lying. The investigation was alive and well: (thanks to Moon of Alabama for keeping the flame of truth alive on this issue. I’ve also saved the page as an html and archived it, lest it mysteriously disappear at some point). Biden is as corrupt as the day is long.

                1. Plenue

                  Also I’ll add that this kind of brazen lying is going to bite the media in the ass in a big way at some point. It’s literally fake news. Sooner or later the smart version of Trump is going to come along, and they’re going to crucify ‘reputable’ media like the NYT when it tries to run these easily disproved falsehoods.

                2. Procopius

                  OK, so the prosecutor investigating Burisma was corrupt. He stopped the investigation, and Burisma hired Hunter Biden as insurance against it being restarted. Then Vice President Biden went to Ukraine and extorted them to fire the prosecutor, insuring that the investigation would not be restarted. Actually, the amount Hunter was being paid was peanuts compared to what his father got the last two years.

                3. kiwi

                  Hmmmm, I just read an article that basically says the same thing you do about the timing.


                  According to this article, all Biden and Nuland and other figures were concerned about was that Shokin was oh so corrupt.

                  Timeline aside, am I really to believe that people who overthrew the elected government in Ukraine so that Poroshenko could take the presidency and implement pro-western policies are truly concerned about corruption??

                  At the time it happened, I thought it was just the usual asset grab by the US.

                  Love this in the article too:

                  February 2014 – Pro-Russian government falls

                  Yanukovych’s security forces crack down on the demonstrators, killing more than 70 civilians and spurring a political backlash. The president, who had been in office since February 2010, flees to Russia.

                  Oh, the pro-Russian government failed, I see.

                  So, the drumbeat against the prosecutor reminds me of the drumbeat against Trump, now that i think of it. And come to think of it, these people run around the world, overthrowing any number of governments, so they probably think it is no big deal now to overthrow Trump.

              2. marym

                Given Trump’s approach in hiring family, favoring family business interests, and pursuing the family of a political rival, his supposed concern with corruption in Ukraine isn’t credible, regardless of whether Biden also acted corruptly and regardless of however one sees the many rights and wrongs and hypocrisies in the history of US politics as depicted in your comment.

                1. Plenue

                  We have a treaty with Ukraine requiring mutual cooperation on criminal investigations. As far as I’m concerned Biden’s corruption is a perfectly valid thing to inquire about an investigation on. That it’s politically advantageous to Trump for Biden to be investigated is immaterial to the fact that Biden should be investigated.

                  1. Lambert Strether Post author

                    > That it’s politically advantageous to Trump for Biden to be investigated is immaterial to the fact that Biden should be investigated.

                    Yes, if Trump had failed to call for investigations that would involve the Bidens, the Democrats would be yelling at him for that. Well, perhaps not….

                  2. marym

                    That there’s a treaty is immaterial to the fact that Trump wasn’t acting within the terms of the treaty.

                    Preempting a possible response: Justifying Trump’s ignoring or trashing institutions and relationships of governance by pointing out that those institutions and relationships are corrupt, but not expecting him to have, or even think we need, non-corrupt alternatives is not a path to good governance. It’s just an acceptance of authoritarianism.

                    1. Plenue

                      What’s the trashing of institutions or governance though? Another meme the media is pushing is that he withheld money and missiles until he got what he wanted. But it isn’t at all clear that that’s what actually happened. He was withholding money from several countries at the time, and also Ukraine didn’t even know about money being withheld until a month later. The ambassador suddenly contradicting himself looks suspicious as hell.

                      “but not expecting him to have, or even think we need, non-corrupt alternatives”

                      Our entire system is riddled with corruption. It didn’t magically start with Trump. The authoritarian impulse started a long, long time ago.

                    2. marym

                      (Reply to Plenue @ November 7, 2019 at 12:25 pm)

                      This incident is a good example. The objective is supposedly fighting corruption. If the treaty can’t be executed because the system is corrupt but the alternative is cherry picking a corrupt political rival and personally strong-arming the head of another country, it’s not fighting corruption. It’s replacing process-heavy corruption with a more authoritarian format.

                      During the Obama years I objected to the refusal of his followers to demand better, rather than make excuses about other power blocs within the system being worse or presenting obstacles. The same criticism should apply to pro-Trump and anti-anti-Trump reactions to his brand of corruption.

                      As far as withholding money from other countries at the same time, I’m not following closely so my impression that this was also to get dirt on Biden may be wrong, but if that was the game, or securing any other personal advantage, it’s not fighting corruption. It’s just corruption.

                    3. kiwi

                      Your side is trashing the constitution. Does that matter at all to you?

                      Your side is trashing the 6th amendment, the 1st amendment (of the Constitution, in case you don’t know what I am talking about), due process, the separation of powers, and a number of bedrock legal principles, such as innocent until proven guilty.

                      Doesn’t that matter to you?

                      All of your side’s silly accusations against Trump don’t change the following facts: Trump has never locked up a journalist, nor has he attempted to do so; Trump has not shut down any “news” source, nor has he shut down the internet; Trump does not disobey court orders; and Trump has not locked up his political opponents.

                      You think he is ‘tearing’ down institutions – a typical hysterical comment made by anti-Trumpers. Name one institution that has been torn down by Trump.

                2. Lambert Strether Post author

                  There seems to be two weird, West Wing-style concepts at play:

                  1) Everything Presidents do is not infused with the quest for political survival and advantage* and

                  2) Everything nation-states do in their interactions is based on friendship or morality, and not on what amounts to extortion (“The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”). That soft power — which we threw away at some point betweem the collapse of the Soviet Union and Abu Ghraib — is more effective than hard power doesn’t change the fundamentals.

                  It’s also worth noting that the pearl-clutching is being done by national security and intelligence community apparatchiks who are responsible, over the last twenty or thirty years, for an unparalleled string of policy debacles and several losing wars, and an enormous pile of faraway brown corpses, not to mention thousands of dead grunts from flyover.

                  So, Trump, as usual, is saying the quiet part out loud. He’s crass. I don’t think his accusers have any more moral standing than he does, i.e. zero, or less than zero.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Nelson was blind in only one eye

        That’s a terrific metaphor. Here’s the backstory from the Irish Times:

        For a successful and surprise attack on the Danish fleet arrayed in defensive positions along the Zealand coast near Copenhagen, the British needed north-westerly winds to bring them quickly down the Danish Sound, followed immediately by a brisk south-easterly to sweep them up to Copenhagen.

        Luck was on their side; this was precisely what occurred in the first two days of April 1801. The outcome of the skirmish, therefore, was dictated partly by the weather – but not entirely so.

        At first the Danes put up a brave resistance, so much so that Admiral Parker on his flag-ship raised the signal ordering retreat. Some distance away, aboard the Elephant, Nelson muttered to himself and anyone who cared to listen: “Leave off action! Now damn me if I do.”

        Some years previously, at the siege of Calvi, Nelson had lost the sight of his right eye. At Copenhagen he used this to his advantage. “You know, Foley,” he remarked to one of his lieutenants, “I have only one eye. I have a right to be blind sometimes.” Thus saying, he raised his spy-glass to his right eye and announced: “I declare, I really do not see that signal.”

        The British fleet was victorious and Nelson, with Copenhagen won, went on to fight another day at Cape Trafalgar.

        * * *

        Admiral Parker was recalled in disgrace and Nelson was promoted to Commander-in-Chief — rewarded for insubordination! That, and the complete backstory in the Irish Times (worth reading, above) shows what a savagely effective apex predator the British Navy was*. Makes our own military look morally weak — at least as a predator would conceive morality — as in fact it is.

        * See also the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian.

      1. Mike

        Thanks for that link- I have tried to compile a comprehensive list of analyses, both objective and not, to decipher the US-inspired coup in Ukraine to the Dems increasing ties to the diaspora emigrants that led to this charade. Most are not exhaustive enough (every one has some form of blinder on), but soon enough the fuller panoply of data leads one to see the rush of both Repugs and Dems to snap up business and profit sources. Manafort and his ilk played with any side to enhance investment for gain by them and their friends. A replay of the demise of the Soviet Union, and some parallel to its course in that some Ukrainians are also trying to take control by limiting US influence, just as Putin did. The oligarchs that survive are the ones who serve the national leadership best — to eliminate the opposition to this requires some form of thuggery, no doubt. Unions in this country found that out, and some tied to the Mafia via that “enlightenment”. We will see how successful the Ukrainians might be.

        1. Plenue

          Thirty years from now (assuming anyone is still publishing books and we aren’t all just scavenging for water in the wasteland) someone is going to publish a 900 page doorstopper that susses out every nook and cranny of ‘Russiagate’. It’s going to be their magnum opus and the crowning achievement of their entire career. So that’s nice, for them.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I have tried to compile a comprehensive list of analyses, both objective and not, to decipher the US-inspired coup in Ukraine to the Dems increasing ties to the diaspora emigrants that led to this charade.

          Is there a link to the list?

          No doubt the Venezuelan diaspora will be dominating Latin American policy for years, too. “Give me your chic, your rich, your frequent flyers yearning to breath free….”

          1. Mike

            The “list” is a personal piling up of articles, investigations, opinion pieces, etc. scoured from some website information and stored, totaling about 4 GB. It could be encrypted and sent to you, if wanted. As stated above, it has not led me to any conclusion by itself. Conversations with Ukrainians and those involved in the history of Ukraine, which confirm my bias against diaspora communities regarding US foreign policy, must be added, and they are not.

            Suffice it to say, my opinion is, since WW2, the US government has cherry-picked right-wingers to come here and to Canada while spewing a “Casablanca” story of those fighting “dictatorships” and “authoritarian” governments on both right and left. It is, in fact, a one-way street.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Hey, that’s pretty funny.

          The poster to which you responded made a claim with no evidence.

          You appear to back it up by dumping a YouTube link with no commentary, but when a reader who doesn’t take things at face value clicks through, they’ll find it’s nothing of the sort.

          Watch it, both of you. Evidence for everything, especially this story

      1. anon in so cal

        Could this be a factor?

        Apparently Sondland’s wife was upset with his first testimony:

        “A key question will be whether Sondland stands behind the text messages he sent to fellow diplomat William Taylor, in which he denied any link between military aid to Ukraine and President Volodymyr Zelensky’s agreement to investigate Hunter Biden, writing that Taylor was “incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The president has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind.””

        Because it triggered an online boycott of their hotel empire and threatened profits:

        “The Washington Post profile offers an indication of one of the reasons why Sondland may not stand staunchly behind the president’s version of events. In the article, his wife, Katherine Durant — who has taken the helm of the family business since Sondland took up his ambassadorship — admits that she “fears an economic backlash against the hotel company,” which has already suffered as a result of the part Sondland has played in the scandal. One Oregon Democratic congressman has called for a boycott of Sondland’s hotel chain, while the #BoycottProvenanceHotels hashtag has appeared on Twitter.”

        1. kiwi

          Nothing like money has the power to change people’s minds and turn them into cowards. See China and basketball.

    2. marym

      The Dems, rightly or wrongly, are satisfied with the explanation of the hack. If the Republican House (through 2018), Senate, or Trump were not, there’s been plenty of opportunity to convene reputable experts and pursue an investigation. Easier to believe and propagate a technologically implausible server-in-Ukraine story.

      1. ambrit

        The technical boffins have determined that the main removal of the data from the DNC servers was done by an insider using a ‘thumb drive,’ not an outsider acting over the internet.
        It was not a hack at all. That the DNC et. al. keep pushing this false narrative demonstrates either stupidity or criminality, maybe both. The server in question was the private chattel of one Hillary Clinton. Why hasn’t she bought it forth to ‘clear her name?’
        The other imponderable here is the matter of the incestuous nature of the two “legacy” political parties in America. Roughly speaking, both sit comfortably in the same ‘pockets,’ on pillows of cash.

        1. marym

          The DNC data (hacked or downloaded) were on multiple servers. I don’t understand the technology to opine on whether a download to a thumb drive would be any more or less likely than a hack to imply that there’s a server-in-Ukraine. I don’t think Clinton’s home server is the one rumored to be in Ukraine, since no one claims it was hacked, but can’t speak to what Trump thinks. Agreed both parties are in the same or comparable pockets, though again not sure what dots would need to be connected to lead to a server-in-Ukraine.

          1. EricT

            Could be Crowdstrike keeps their server back ups in Ukraine. Any company that has major IT infrastructure is going to have a safe location to keep their back ups in case something really bad happens. In which case if the original server was destroyed or altered to hide evidence, the back up might still exist.

            1. ambrit

              That’s plausible, but, why Ukraine? Too many questions raised by that choice. Of course, if one were a bit incredulous, the former western soviet states are notorious for their ‘Wild West’ ethics. Why not Belarus or one of the Baltic States?
              I also wonder how far back the connection between the DNC and Crowdstrike goes. Some past history with which to form patterns might be of use.
              Of note is that while I was trying to round up some corroborating links, I found the Wiki sections on the entire 2016 election to be mainly pure DNC talking points. So, there goes that source of “fair and balanced” information.

              1. John A

                There are a lot of server halls in the north of Sweden and Finland. Basically because the winters are cold and long and so it is more energy efficient to keep servers cool there.
                Ukraine could similarly qualify in terms of cold winters, although the country is seemingly mired in corruption on many levels. Maintenance personnel costs would be lower in Ukraine, but other ‘expenses’ might outweigh that.

          2. Plenue

            The tl;dr is that the data was transferred far too quickly to have been done even through an open transfer across the internet (it wouldn’t have been done openly anyway; that kind of hacking would have been slow and bounced through multiple proxies to try and hide it). The speeds measured however perfectly line up with what would be expected of a thumb drive physically inserted into the computer’s USB port.

            It was a leak; someone inside the DNC went up to a computer, transferred the files to a drive, and walked out of the building. They then handed the drive over at some meeting spot, which is exactly what Craig Murray maintains happened.

      2. Beniamino

        Judging by the transcript, Trump is, in his own addle-brained and ham-fisted way, attempting to get such an investigation going. Which is precisely why the impeachment circus has kicked into high gear.

        But surely your framing is wrong. People who aren’t blindly partisan presumably don’t need to defer to politicians to tell them what is and isn’t worthy of investigation, anymore than they need to uncritically accept any expression of political power.

        1. marym

          I don’t think impeaching Trump for Ukrainegate is a good move for the Dems.

          However, server-in-Ukraine, or Trump thinking it’s wrong for politicians use their position for personal/family gain are implausible defenses of his actions.

    3. bondsofsteel

      So.. I’m a software dev, and I understand.

      Why would the FBI look at the hardware? It wasn’t a hardware attack. The DNC was spearfished. They got images of the boxes and all the logs. They can recreate the system.

      Sever? There wasn’t a server. There was a system. Distributed software is implemented in multiple layers, DBs, middle tier, and front end boxes. There was probably an authentication system. For scalability and reliability it was probably hosted on many different physical servers running virtual machines. These virtual machines could have been moved automatically between physical servers.

      A quick search shows this is the case:

      “The remedy was costly. The suit details the necessary fixes; the DNC had to “decommission more than 140 servers, remove and reinstall all software, including the operating systems, for more than 180 computers, and rebuild at least 11 servers.” Between repairing and replacing equipment and hiring experts to manage the fallout, the bill came out to over a million dollars.”

      In this type of system, since everything is virtual… you just need a image of the machines and the logs to recreate it.

      1. Beniamino

        Putting aside the question of the reasonableness of the FBI’s failure to commandeer any hardware, what do you make of Binney’s (et al’s) technical arguments that the DNC records were more likely to have been leaked (i.e., from an insider) than hacked (i.e., by a nefarious state actor)? Isn’t that ultimately a more important question?

        1. bondsofsteel

          I think Binney’s arguments are highly speculative. Looking at the metadata (which is just data), he says the timestamps show a very fast transfer rate, therefore a thumbdrive must have been used.

          Or the data was moved several times, to another or even the same machine. Or there was a fast connection. Or the timestamps were altered.

      2. scarn

        Agreed. Which leaves the question of why the President is asking for a server. Is he completely confused and asking for something that doesn’t exist? Or is he using common language (“server”) to ask for something (most likely data) that the US government suspects someone in Ukraine has?

        1. Plenue

          “Is he completely confused”


          Now imagine if the Dems were facing the smart, competent version of Trump. Because they and their spies are guilty as all hell. Their only hope is for him to be so bumbling he can’t pin them for their crimes.

      3. flora

        reimaging a system loses the shadow tracks left on disks by read/write/rewrites. The shadow tracks can reveal what was on the hard drive. Those shadow tracks can be recovered by special software in many instances. Reimaging a system destroys that evidence.

        The dnc reimaging several servers without turning over the original hardware first always seemed odd to me… if they really believed the story they were putting out.

        1. EricT

          True, but you’ll have access to the system logs. And that can easily identify network activity, ODBC connection activity and firewall access. You can also identify who had access to what as well. Maybe that’s why in March of 2016, the DNC left the security open on the donor database to paper over those that accessed the system nefariously by flooding it with outside requests. The Bernie campaign notified the DNC, and then the DNC accused the Bernie campaign of hacking the server. The Bernie campaign let go of the IT worker, who tried to notify the DNC by submitting an improper request showing that the data was accessible to just about anyone and telling them of the situation.
          And since backups on a competently run data system are done daily, they could compare the back ups for each day to identify the activities in question.

          1. Roy G

            NSA could have independently verified the network traffic and yet they did not. The dog that didn’t bark.

        2. bondsofsteel

          This is a good point. When data is deleted from a hard drive, it’s not actually erased It’s sector is just marked free and eventually, it may be written over again. This is still a software and not a hardware issue.

          Rest assured that any imaging software they used would have copied both the allocated and unallocated disk sectors. They also dumped all the memory in the system, including freed and unused memory.

      4. richard

        Not an expert, but “spearfishing” sounds to me like you have decided the DNC emails, etc were hacked. My understanding, like Beniamino’s, is that the emails and such were much more likely leaked, as the data was transmitted at a speed consistent with that. Binney and many others have essentially ruled out a hack. Do you have a way to counter their arguments? Sorry I have no link, but they are easy to find at Consortium News, or the jimmy dore show, or many other places.
        The wired article is mostly just reporting (closer to transcribing) about the dnc lawsuit claiming that russia hacked them. All it proves to me is that the dnc found out that a bunch of very damaging information was about to be released, decided they were hacked, and hauled in a security team to investigate who have a track record of lying about russia. That’s what I get from it. Please tell me what I missed.

        1. td

          Spearphishing implies trickery; someone was fooled into giving up access information or into installing malware. Either way, subsequent downloading of the data is indistinguishable from copying it in order to leak it.

          A hack is different in that it usually means somebody defeated the security from outside. To admit being spearphished tells the world that someone is gullible and untrained. To blame it on a hack gives an excuse that superior forces overwhelmed the brave and innocent defenders.

          1. richard

            thanks for this distinction, which clears up the vocabulary for me
            I do get why one might claim hack if it was a spearphish
            to save face (even if the data, i.e. speed of transfer, belied your claim of hacking)
            but I also get why you would claim hack if it was a leak
            so the main, sticking-out-like-a-sore-thumb distinction between spearphishing and a leak then, and please correct me if I’m wrong, is that the former allows you to continue to focus blame on a malign foreign party (russia), and the latter doesn’t? hmm
            all this, it pays to remember!!!
            over information that was 100% correct, not made up, verifiable
            that the usian people had a right to now and an interest in knowing
            information that has received 1/1,000,000 the msm attention of this supposed hack, both in its particulars and what the actual true information implies about legitimacy.

        1. neighbor7

          Binney and VIPS have repeatedly insisted that the data transfer speed and other technical markers prove a local download to a thumb drive rather than a remote hack. I’ve never seen any attempt to refute this.

          Sy Hersh sounds very confident of his source, and he’s pretty reliable. It would be “inconvenient” if Assange got the chance to prove his unwavering contention that it wasn’t the Russians. Seems like everything is being done to keep that from happening.

          1. integer

            Craig Murray, who appears to have been involved in the effort to deliver the DNC emails to Wikileaks, also asserts that they were leaked by an insider:

            The CIA’s Absence of Conviction Craig Murray

            Now both Julian Assange and I have stated definitively the leak does not come from Russia. Do we credibly have access? Yes, very obviously. Very, very few people can be said to definitely have access to the source of the leak. The people saying it is not Russia are those who do have access. After access, you consider truthfulness. Do Julian Assange and I have a reputation for truthfulness? Well in 10 years not one of the tens of thousands of documents WikiLeaks has released has had its authenticity successfully challenged. As for me, I have a reputation for inconvenient truth telling.

      5. Oregoncharles

        IIRC, there were two different “hacks”: there was the DNC email, which is the one done at speeds indicating that it was an inside job – a leak; and there was Hillary’s campaign manager (name?), who was spearphished – that is, tricked into giving up his password. Not a technically sophisticated approach.

      6. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Why would the FBI look at the hardware?

        Er, because that’s were the data would be stored? Especially the system logs for things like inserting USBs and copying files onto them?

      7. Procopius

        Do you have a link to a claim that the DNC was spearfished? I remember that was the explanation for John Podesta’s email account, but CrowdStrike found an old Ukrainian piece of malware on the hard drive (which was then, and still is, publicly available) and said that proved it was hacked by two Russian intelligence agencies. The original hard drive would have traces of deleted and erased files, which can be read with an electron scanning microscope (at large expense, of course). A copy of the contents of the hard drive would not have those traces.

  2. Jesper

    About: Sondland reverses himself on Ukraine, confirming quid pro quo
    So Sondland said to Mr Yemak that it is a quid pro quo and therefore Trump is guilty as he is the ultimate boss of Sondland and therefore responsible for what Mr Sondland said?
    I do like people at the top getting into trouble for the actions of their subordinates but aren’t we missing something here? Who told Mr Sondland that it was quid pro quo? Or is that in the addendum so we are not missing it? If it even was needed?
    Impeachment might not be a trial as such so maybe a precedent in putting the ultimate boss (CEOs) as guilty if a subordinate is saying/doing something inappropriate might be an interesting development.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Sondland reverses himself on Ukraine, confirming quid pro quo

      I looked up Quid Pro Quo in my OED. Here is the definition:

      2 The action or fact of substituting one thing for another.

      What we have is a discussion of a quid pro quo. But the whole thing is meta, because there are no actions or facts. (Taking speech about the thing for the thing itself is the sort of deformation professionelle one would expect from a symbol-manipulating political class devoted to performative speech.) But if nothing is actually “substituted” (i.e., exchanged)?

      Quoting (sorry) Wikipedia:

      In common law, quid pro quo indicates that an item or a service has been traded in return for something of value, usually when the propriety or equity of the transaction is in question. A contract must involve consideration: that is, the exchange of something of value for something else of value. For example, when buying an item of clothing or a gallon of milk, a pre-determined amount of money is exchanged for the product the customer is purchasing; therefore, they have received something but have given up something of equal value in return.


      In the U.S., lobbyists are legally entitled to support candidates that hold positions with which the donors agree, or which will benefit the donors. Such conduct becomes bribery only when there is an identifiable exchange between the contribution and official acts, previous or subsequent, and the term quid pro quo denotes such an exchange.

      No consideration, no quid pro quo. There is no no quid pro quo to “confirm,” because IIRC Ukraine’s aid was never held up. (Whether that happened because of a bureaucratic snafu is irrelevant, as is Trump’s state of mind; a consideration must have materialized.)

      In essence, we are about to impeach Trump not for purchasing (a highly criminal) bottle of milk, but for talking about purchasing (a highly criminal) bottle of milk (if indeed he failed to exercise his Constitutional right to construct carefully parsed sentences). We are confusing the subjunctive with the indicative. Nice work if you can get it.

      1. JBird4049

        Taking speech about the thing for the thing itself is the sort of deformation professionelle one would expect from a symbol-manipulating political class devoted to performative speech.

        This is a thing of beauty that explains much.

      2. Procopius

        If I understand the sometimes conflicting stories being presented, the Ukraine aid was held back, but it appears the Ukrainians claim they did not know that. The thing that Guliani and Pompeo (and maybe Sondland) demanded from the Ukrainians was an announcement, preferably at a press conference, that they were reopening the investigation into Burisma. I think they also wanted the Ukrainians to say, specifically, that they were investigating the Bidens, but I’m not sure about that. In any case, the Ukrainians, for reasons of their own, declined to do what was asked, the military aid was given to them anyway, so there was no quid pro quo.

  3. cnchal

    > This Is a Horror Story: How Private Equity Vampires Are Killing Everything The Nation (Furzy Mouse).

    Never mentioned in the article is that a lot of money for Pirate Equity to operate comes from public sector pension funds shooting for the investment stars. Your tax dollars at work, enriching vampires paid for by the vampire’s victims.

    What is wrong with the ‘media’ that basic facts like this are completely ignored?

    1. hunkerdown

      The near-certain knowledge that, someday, their own newsrooms will be bought up for scrap, and a desire to stay in the good graces of their future buyers.

    2. Phacops

      I think it is quite telling that the MSM and the newspapers I see avoid reporting on the depredations of PE and the excuse of shareholder value for corporate looting. So with this lack of information there has been little context in what Bernie and Elizabeth are promoting. Perhaps that is by intent, isolating their views from our economic reality.

      Even with otherwise educated people there is that disconnect. Talking with friends, quite a few have been saddled with surprise medical billings and they have not made the connection to the abuses of PE. Many have also bought into the narrative that retail, like Toys R Us or Sears are victims of e-commerce rather than mismanagement by PE.

      It is disturbing to me that rather than educating and informing, news has become fluff and manufactured outrage. Spreading ignorance and outrage seems to be the order of the day in creating a helpless and needy population.

    3. Procopius

      The media are owned by the vampires. Why would you expect them to tell the public they are being bled?

    1. inode_buddha

      One less thing to worry about. Pretty soon we won’t have to worry at all, because we won’t have anything. We’ve already lost most of it.

    2. ambrit

      The positive side of that process is that it inexorably leads to a collapse of the social fabric. After that, anything can happen.
      Start organizing now.

  4. a different chris

    Dalio is beginning to get it, but he needs to really edit his rant. Where he ended seems way off from where he started:

    >There is now so much money wanting to buy these dreams that in some cases venture capital investors are pushing money onto startups that don’t want more money

    And near the end is this:

    >Since there isn’t enough money to fund these pension and healthcare obligations,

    There is plenty of “money”. It’s badly distributed. And the threat in the article about “rich capitalists will increasingly move to places in which the wealth gaps and conflicts are less severe ” — well:

    #1- If they aren’t going to help, who cares if they move?
    #2- What places, exactly? They don’t exist anymore. Richey Rich isn’t moving to France, I can tell you that.

    1. dante

      Ok billionaire: Rebecca Solnit on the unfounded self-importance (and self-pity!) of the richest of the rich.

      It must be springtime—or summer, autumn, or winter—because the voice of the billionaire has been heard in the land, and the voice of the billionaire is weepy with self-pity that if the nice lady with plans wins, he might be a slightly smaller billionaire and that some in the world’s wealthiest nation think a little redistribution would mean that, say, thirteen million children don’t have to go hungry anymore.

      Just for the record the number of billionaires in the USA is about 600; they are a very, very tiny special interest group.

      Think of being a billionaire as a rare disease, though far less rare than it was a few decades ago—except that it’s a disease that’s self-inflicted, deserves no sympathy, and is easily cured by dispersal of the huge bolus of money choking their empathic awareness. Unlike people with medical conditions, too, their illness is ours, because it warps the very fiber of our republic with its outsize impact on politics—see, for example, Charles and David Koch, Peter Thiel—and newspapers right now are giving them a forum they don’t need or deserve, and by so doing making their wishes and whims seem like important and relevant things.

      Often they are framed as the constituency to be listened to when contemplating the economic future of this country, even though they are guaranteed to be fine no matter what, while perhaps a hundred million of their fellow citizens live lives of quiet financial desperation.

      That’s thanks in no small part to the rarely acknowledged rearrangement of the US economy over the past 40 years to create massive debt and poverty for the many and extreme wealth for the few.

      One hundred million is larger than six hundred, but you wouldn’t know it by who we hear from. About 25 times as many people live on the Standing Rock Reservation than are billionaires in the USA, and yet our mainstream publications have not felt compelled to run every possible candidate and consequence by the 15,000-plus members of this native community for approval. (It would be so much more interesting if they did.)

      Meanwhile, “Fully 60 percent of millionaires support Warren’s plan for taxing the wealth of those who have more than $50 million in assets, according to the CNBC Millionaire survey,” but mainstream media outlets have chosen to amplify the voices of those who don’t.

      1. RMO

        Nice to see she is quite clear in the piece about how one Dem running for the nomination kneels down before the billionaires (Biden) and the other one running for the nomination is standing up to them (Warren)… because, you know, there are only two candidates in the race. /s

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Meanwhile, “Fully 60 percent of millionaires support Warren’s plan for taxing the wealth of those who have more than $50 million in assets

        Sanders put forward a similar plan, earlier. It’s certainly odd that Solnit didn’t compare them, so we could understand her no doubt policy-based candidate choices better.

    2. Chauncey Gardiner

      Re hedge fund manager Ray Dalio’s article from LinkedIn. Translation: “Game Over! The system is broken and cannot take any more looting. If you have not done so already, collect your winnings and quietly retreat to ‘places in which the wealth gaps and conflicts are less severe’ before taxation of wealth and capital controls are installed.” As the current president reportedly tweeted yesterday, “Stock Market hits RECORD HIGH. Spend your money well!”

      The post is an acknowledgement that the past decade of excessive central bank injections of cash liquidity and imposition of negative real interest rates that were initially implemented to bailout Wall Street and some large corporations is unsustainable and has largely run its course. Central banks’ monetary policies, government deregulation, overturning the Glass-Steagall Act, income tax policies, state and local tax forbearances, corporate subsidies in their various forms, global labor arbitrage, punitive transfers of costs onto the middle class, nonenforcement of antitrust and securities laws, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, privatization of public lands and resources, market manipulations, and other policies such as legalizing corporate stock buybacks, have provided an optimal petri dish for “Greed is Good” strip-mining of the economy and public assets, disenfranchisement of American labor, and concentration of wealth into their own hands by a relative few.

      As Balzac said, “Behind every great fortune is a great crime.” Hopefully, this crime spree is now nearing an end. Unfortunately, we will likely be left with a huge economic, sociopolitical and climate hangover.

  5. paul

    While it has the tone of a parliamentary sketch, this article, is actually the cold reality of reporting in Scotland now.

    The faintest yellow tory swinson is resting on a very shoogly nail in dunbartonshire east.
    …and deliciously even if she won, the EVEL legislation which her coalition promoted would disqualify her from union business.
    You would have to have a heart of stone not to laugh if the leaders of 3rd and 4th party’s (by membership) lost their seats.

    One ex prime minister,G Brown, dodged that humiliation by ‘retiring from politics’ in that neck of the woods.

    1. DJG

      paul: In a sense, I am reminded of coverage of Bernie Sanders in the U S of A, especially as I have looked at the SNP’s web site and recognize them as a genuinely leftist party.

      But who knew that such things are allowed to go on in Scotland? From the article:

      Perthshire farmer Angus McSubsidy told the BBC: “I’ve voted the SNP all my life but if I’d known that they were all about independence for Scotland I’d never have done so. I think they have been very fly in never explaining what the letters in their name stood for. Her indoors thought it meant the Scottish Nice Party.”

      1. paul

        That is the way it works.

        The great problem is that the SNP has degraded into a colonial administration.

  6. Redlife2017

    Re: Jo Swinson ‘absolutely categorically’ rules out working with Corbyn even to deliver new Brexit referendum
    Ha ha ha ha! Yes, she’s happy with no deal and happy with being a Yellow Tory. She makes Johnson (or Clegg) look principled…

    Ms Swinson does make me long for the days of Charles Kennedy. I really respected him and he is a good man. He had a great vision for the LibDems that the Clegg and Swinson years have utterly destroyed. I suspect I would have had a harder time becoming a Labour party member if Charles (or an acolyte of his) was in charge. (whoops, an inadvertent callback!)

    1. paul

      He was a good man, but flayed alive by the party hacks.

      Pissed or not, he was more than a match for them.

      And that they could not bare.

      1. Redlife2017

        Yes, of course, he did pass, didn’t he (in 2015). I had originally written “was” and then in a fit of hopeful memory-wipe I put “is”. That makes me even more depressed to remember that he isn’t with us.

        I remember at the time not understanding why they nailed him like that. He went to get care for his drinking problem. That’s pretty amazing to be able to admit that you have a problem and face it full on. I want MORE leaders like that.

        It’s pretty bloody rich that they flayed him since he’s the one that them up to well over 50 seats (a number they will not hit again). But they couldn’t bare him at all. The road not taken…

        1. paul

          Scottish politics are fairly small, Charles’ nature,sexual and alcoholic, were well known.
          None of his voters gave a toss.
          The lawyer/landlord liberals gave an ugly one

    2. paul

      I watched the marvel film ‘Venom’ and the idea of a ghastly symbiote (considering her policy record) has fused my interpretation of the yellow parties.
      In the movie, they realised that they had to get on.

      But,to my bitter experience, the right centre will never yield.

      1. ambrit

        The lesson of history is that, if they do not yield, they will be crushed. So, despair not. There is a Karma Party somewhere out there.

  7. Wukchumni

    It’s Time to Break Up Disney: Part One Matt Stoller, BIG
    A fine read…

    I grew up on Wonderful World of Disney @ 7 pm on Sundays, which came on the heels of Jim wrestling a Wildebeest as Marlin Perkins described the action from his seat in the helicopter circling above.

    It’s a shame what became of Disney, as of late. Quite a concerted effort to do away with older films, by silencing them.

    Disney still owns (the land can’t be developed as its in Sequoia NP now) about 30 acres in Mineral King purchased utilizing as many as 3 & 4 shadow buyers in accumulating property in 1963-64 in anticipation of being awarded the contract to build a ski resort there, which they duly won in competitive bidding (one of the other bidders was actress Janet Leigh & her husband) in 1965.

    The link is the best read i’ve found yet on the internet, they had big plans never to come to fruition as Mineral King broke up Disney in 1978.

    1. Carolinian

      Even Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Roy Disney (Walt’s brother), is complaining about Iger, his huge salary and cheapskate wages at the theme parks. But as Stoller points out the company became a conglomerate long before Iger showed up. The ABC/Epstein link up page even drags in a bit of sleaze to tarnish the squeaky clean image.

      1. Wukchumni

        But as Stoller points out the company became a conglomerate long before Iger showed up.


        They finally got the ice rink they wanted to build in MK, when acquiring an NHL franchise (it kept LA Kings owner Bruce McNall’s ponzi scheme going for awhile before foundering finally, as he was given a fair chunk of change in allowing a competitor nearby)

        I went to one of the first say 10 Mighty Ducks hockey games in Anaheim in the early 90’s, and Disney had decided to put on an ice capades kitschy kind of show in between periods entertainment. It didn’t take and they abandoned the idea soon after, ha.

      2. Phacops

        There seemed to be some hysteresis in the organization upon the death of Walt Disney, at least from what I saw from WDW. Of course Walt was a consumate promotor who understood commercial integration for profit but I also thought he knew the value of providing entertainment through detail, narrative, and human scale, that was evident in the early WDW that went far beyond just providing amusement park rides.

        Now, the enterprise is unremitting, in-your-face, consumerism with socially engineered crowd control.

        1. Wukchumni

          The cult of Disney is something else altogether…

          A friend was an RN @ the hospital in Visalia, and most all of her co-workers on the distaff side were really into it, they all had annual passes to the really big show down south, and their off-work wardrobes often included something Disney.

        2. Carolinian

          I haven’t been there in years. I know the theme parks were considered a bit on the skids a couple of decades ago–couldn’t say what they are like now. People I know who do like them are complaining about the $129 daily admission.

          1. Wukchumni

            I’d guess every middle class kid in SoCal went to Disneyland once a year in the 60’s-70’s, I know we did. We were cleaning out my mom’s house to sell it, and came across a dozen ticket books, all missing E tickets, but of course. Admission & tickets for a visit range from $4.75 to $9.25 in the 70’s.

            So say on average it was $6 circa 1977, now it’s over 20x as much to earn entrance into the magic kingdom.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Europe’s gas alliance with Russia is a match made in heaven”

    I guess that this is a case on money winning out over ideologues. Germany needs that gas or else it will have to accept a smaller GPD in future which may suit Trump but Germany – not so much. In fact, there are already plans for a Nord Stream 3 as it will be needed. Trump may want to sell LNG to Europe but no matter how you cut it, it will always be more expensive than Russian LNG by a wide margin as mentioned in this article. It is just too expensive. Besides, which European country would trust Trump not to cut off gas supplies to a European nation because it suited him to do so. There is no trust.
    Another factor is that the pipelines that run through the Ukraine have been run down and are in need of heavy maintenance. Of course the Ukraine will miss out on transit fees for Russian gas but even European countries recognize that gas lines through there are risky as gas has been diverted to the Ukraine itself in the past. Stolen in fact, and that was in the middle of a European winter. I think that a final factor would be a suspicion in the back of European minds in that if there was no Nord Steam 2 and they depended on the US for supplies which would entail a lower GDP for those countries, Washington would see that as a plus as that would make them less competitive with the US in trade matters.

    1. Olga

      Not to mention that US does not really have enough nat-gas to satisfy all of EU’s needs. I think Germany (and many other EU states) know this.

        1. Susan the Other

          Trump raised this question at a NATO conference, saying that he saw no logic to the US defending Germany from Russia just because Germany was a NATO ally if they were buying their natural gas from Russia. Angela objected, wanting it both ways. Maybe the solution to that “logic” has come from Russia recently who is offering Nordstream-2 at a very good price. Certainly lower than US LNG being supplied to Germany – a very expensive export/import. So how can Trump argue with “the market”? Our nemesis.

      1. fajensen

        To keep Europe under occupation and gainfully entangled in American military adventures so as not be looking like the only killer clown in Africa and the Middle east?!

        If America was really threatened by Russia, then America wouldn’t be buying Russian titanium and Russian rocket engines, Russian wives nor sell off some American uranium deposits to Russians.

      2. Olga

        The US is not paying to defend Germany – or any other European country. The payment is for US troops to occupy Europe…. or, to keep Russia out, Germany down, and US in, as someone once said. It is occupation, plain and simple – not defence – a big difference.

    2. Quentin

      I don’t get your first sentence: ‘I guess this is a case of money winning out over ideologues.’ So who won, the European or Russian ideologues (the US ones seem to have definitely lost}. Or maybe the financial/money ideologues one all around.

      1. The Rev Kev

        You could say that is was a case of signing up for Russia!Russia!Russia! with a smaller economy and a dependence on the vagaries of Trump – or making a coupla hundred billion euros on a better economy fueled by Russian gas. They have chosen wisely.
        And I am not kidding about Trump’s vagaries. Brazil’s Bolsonaro is supposed to be a buddy of Trump but even though Bolsonaro gave Trump all sorts of concessions, Trump has refused to lift the ban on Brazilian beef which has undermined Bolsonaro’s position in Brazil. Europe has learned to expect the same from Trump.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A greener Europe (or any region/nation), using less or no fossil fuels, including less or no nat. gas, might have a smaller GDP (as would a smaller world population, assuming even the same consumption rate).

      It is not such a bad thing for Germany to accept it, under that circumstance.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Boeing CEO Muilenburg ‘has done everything right,’ says chairman”

    In additional news, Boeing’s Chief Executive Officer confirms this assessment.

    1. divadab

      The 737Max problems were inherited by Mr. Muilenberg. The rot at Boeing was mostly due to his predecessor……from GE, of course, another outfit sucked dry by financial parasites. Taking profits from a healthy business and rather than reinvesting at least part of them in the business Boeing used share buybacks to support the share price. This is financial parasitism at its most extreme. Thank you Ronald Reagan for pushing through legislation making share buybacks legal – they were made illegal during the new deal as enabling of financial fraud and of course the Reaganites being fraudsters hated any and all regulation. Combined with the utterly corrupt pay for playism under Clinton overturning Glass Steagall – we are now reaping the results of this parasitic corruption of financial regulation.

      These scum turned our financial markets into a casino. The crash that takes them all down can;t come soon enough.

      1. witters

        If the problems were inherited, then the inheritor who brings the problem to its killing point(s), ‘has done everything right’?

  10. avoidhotdogs

    Re Disney. I get involved with genre YouTube channels and the tendency to argue over silly stuff in Star Wars etc rather than the much more serious issues concerning vertical integration etc scares the beejezus out of me. Verizon users in USA love that they’ll get a year of free Disney+ without thinking through the longer-term equilibrium. History (the 1940s) won’t repeat but it’ll rhyme.

    Cinema tickets are already scandalous here in mid UK and getting worse in USA. People I know in central LA claim to have “only one EFFECTIVE” b/band supplier for streaming (what?!). If you use dumbphone in USA enjoy it whist it lasts. The USA is following Aus: Aus switched off its last 2G network last year “to free capacity for wonderful 4/5G). Everyone is being forced onto 3G+ which has benefits in monitoring location etc. UK is keeping 2G til 2025.

    I love the MCU (Marvel) but don’t worship it. I think that 7 or 8 of their 23ish MCU films are great because they introduce young people to new genres (like the “heist” movies that just HAPPEN to take place in the MCU). To the extent that young people now appreciate wider genres, Scorsese’s criticism is a bit too harsh. However, Marvel is more than able to stand alone now and should be split from Disney. I really think Disney is indeed too big. Of course Net Neutrality losses don’t help the situation at all….

    1. ambrit

      Yes to that. We have a 3G dumb phone that we almost always leave at home when we go out. Now, the local providers are trying to force everyone hereabouts to switch to 5G. Land lines are going fast. AT&T has switched to an all wifi phone network in town. I joked to Phyllis that we should start keeping the 5G telephone, when we can no longer hold out at 3G, in a Farraday pouch. Take the phone out once a day to hear the voicemails and do replies. Maybe do that function in a public place, and rotate that task through a collection of such venues.

      1. avoidhotdogs

        Your comment intrigues me.I thought there was no thing as a 3G dumbphone but this might just be semantics. I tend to think of the smart/dumb distinction as relating to physical technological issues rather than (for instance) whether you could pick up your emails. Thus I was under the impression that ANY 3G dumbphone, even if all “smart software functions” are disabled, would automatically, by virtue of using 3G frequencies, be knowing and transmitting your pretty accurate location data etc in a way a true 2G dumbphone simply cannot (unless it has a GPS chip included). So I’m just puzzled by your use of term “3G dumb phone”. Surely such a phone (when not in that hypothetical Farraday pouch lol) would be locating you, either via 3G or its inbuilt GPS chip….I thought ALL 3G phones had SOME form of GPS (even if the rubbishy early version)….?

        1. ambrit

          Fair cop.
          I get your drift and do understand. I am using what could be moderately called a “modified” definition of ‘dumb phone.’ I had not understood that the GPS function is the basic definition of “dumb” in the phone world. I had thought that it referred to the screen function found in iPhones etc. We have tried to turn off all the bells and whistles on this phone. I might have subconsciously understood your point given that we keep the phone we have in one spot at home almost continuously.
          I do not think that there is 2G network access in our area any more. Finding out this information is well nigh impossible on the new ultra commercialized Google search engine.
          Ah ha! I found a site with maps of service ‘corrodors.’ No 2G available ’round here from anyone.

          1. Wukchumni

            We have a VTech CD1103WH Standard Phone that set us back $7.98 @ Wal*Mart.

            Its got no G, and is the cat’s meow for our cabin, where the only electricity for the community comes through on a simple phone line.

            1. ambrit

              Hah! Lucky you! We have no copper wire service left in this half-horse town. Besides being a defensible position, the Sierras are much more ‘human friendly!’

        2. Yves Smith

          No this is incorrect.

          There is tons of disinformation on the Web.

          GPS on your phone locates you to +/- 5 feet. Some claim +/- 3 feet.

          Triangulation works ONLY when you are using your phone (unless there is a warrant on you) and ONLY to +/- 88 feet at best (worse if you are in areas with crap coverage). That has been ruled to be too approximate to use in court.

          I have a 3G phone with no GPS, but its coverage is usually as bad and sometimes worse than with my 2G.

          I find 2G works just fine except for cities with high density of >10 story buildings. My 2G phone gets signal in some odd parts of Manhattan (like York Avenue in the 90s).

  11. John Beech

    Conquistadors tumble as indigenous Chileans tear down statues Guardian

    These are the same people tearing down Civil War statues in Mississippi and folks, I hate to break it to you but our history is just that, our history. White washing it won’t make it go away. Neither will tearing it down. So how about if instead of trashing it, we embraced it for what we value today, and accept as immutable that which we don’t because it is what it is.

    Nothing is black and white!

    1. DJG

      John Beech: I suggest that you do some reading on the WWW about the Mapuche people, who have a real grievance, as Native American peoples do. They aren’t just making it up. “Nothing is black and white” to the powerful, but to the oppressed and dispossessed, the oppression is usually coming from one direction. I’m sure that “nothing is black and white” will lead you to discussions of the wondrous value, in the case of the Indian nations inhabiting what has become the United States, of the Indian Residential Schools and the Dawes Act.

    2. Wukchumni

      When I was a kid you could buy as many brand new 1864 Confederate $20 banknotes as you wanted for $2 to $3 per, they were available in bundles of hundred, how many thousands would you like?

      That was then and this is now, and all CSA currency from $ to $20 denominations is worth more than the face value as collector items, so yes, the south will rise again.

      We were world class protesters circa May 1970, but have gotten very rusty, as avenues of agitation were slowly but surely cut off, here, have a protest zone far from the event, kind of gig.

      We’re all so used to mass murders, the only reason the Orinda party house spree got a mention, is it was a vacation rental, otherwise it would’ve probably slipped through the news cracks.

      In a way, we’re all ‘prepped’ for violence, as its expected.

      Could get messy, if the pressure cooker lid comes off.

      1. ambrit

        Man! I remember when I was a kid living in Petersburg Virginia for a year. Confederate money was all over the place! We used to use it as play money! (I hope my sister kept my little collection of those banknotes.)
        As we age, ‘things’ fall away, like shed skins.

        1. Danny

          We had pre-Mao Chinese currency to play with in San Francisco.
          So much of it was available that bundles of it were thrown in the air during funeral corteges. “Hell Money” it was called.

          1. Wukchumni

            Almost all the money in Nazi occupied countries was made out of junk metal in the guise of coins, and in the Pacific the Japanese issued almost all fiat paper money of occupied countries, and it seemed like every last GI Joe stationed there brought bundles home with them, sometimes though they made what were called ‘Short Snorters’ with a scotch taped series of banknotes going on for a length of 10 feet.


            Even today, most all of the JIM (Japanese Invasion Money) is worth virtually nothing to collectors.

            “Beginning with the capture of the Philippines, the Japanese military confiscated all hard currency, both on a federal and individual level, replacing it with locally printed notes bearing a proclamation of military issue. All notes bore the name of the Imperial Japanese government, and some notes proclaimed the “promises to pay the bearer on demand”. Called “Mickey Mouse Money” by local Filipinos, it was valueless after the overthrow of the Japanese, and tons of it were burned.”


          2. ambrit

            “H— Money” I like it! It sort of reminds me of the days when “macho” guys would light their expensive cigars with flaming dollar bills. Too much is never enough.
            Reminds me of the old cross cultural joke.
            Round Eye Barbarian: Why are you lighting that incense in front of the little idol in your kitchen?
            Civilized Gentleman: It is to do honour to our household gods.
            Round Eye Barbarian: Hah! My gods are jingling here in my pocket!
            Civilized Gentleman: A shame that. Such a debased pantheon.

    3. @ape

      So, let me tell ya about the statues on spikes.

      The tradition that old-money upper class people proudly believe is that their ancestors put the Mapuche leadership on spikes through the anus, then burned them alive. That’s how the war was won, and they tell their 5 year old kids about it.

      So, cry me a river about Mapuches doing the reverse to a few statues. Cry me the Mississippi — the lack of perspective between what was done *proudly* to one side and is only represented behind closed doors, and what’s done openly to even represent this history, and your official bs history is shocking.

      Deeply intellectually shocking.

      Deeply morally shocking.

    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      “our history”

      Right, so why should I tolerate allowing a bunch of conquered people put up a bunch of memorials to traitors? Isn’t it time we remember our history and put the South in its place?

      I want a Sherman statue in front of every Southern Baptist church looking in with a fierce glare at his place to remind those people of history.

      1. Robert E.

        Remind me again why there were no treason trials after the victory over the seceding states? Where in the Constitution was that illegal, I can’t seem to find it?

          1. ambrit

            To quibble, the Compromise of 1877 did not restore the previous oligarchy so much as inaugurate a new hybrid oligarchy. That hybrid was damaged by Roosevelt in the 1930’s and further disadvantaged by Johnson in 1964 (Civil Rights Act.) I contend that the Democratic Leadership Council was a formal inauguration of a socio-political reaction. The main leaders of the DLC were Southern politicians, especially Clinton. Gore was another major Southern politician involved, which makes his acquiescence of the power grab by the Supreme Court in favour of the Republican, but really corporatist Bush the Younger more explicable. That Corporate Party thus empowered can be seen as a resurrected Post Civil War Hybrid Oligarchy. In both cases, the new political order quickly devolved into a Robber Baron Era.
            Will Sanders be remembered as our modern William Jennings Bryan?
            (Oh how I would love to hear someone give a good “Cross of Bytes” speech. In a related theme, will Sanders even be allowed to speak at the 2020 Democrat Party convention?)

      2. richard

        I would love to see the civil war considered in that way
        radio war nerd just put out a “Reconstruction as Dirty War” podcast that adds to our common understanding. Warning: this link is to a subsciber feed, so it probably won’t (and shouldn’t, Dolan needs to make $ too) work. I’m hoping this podcast might be open to non-subscribers, or if not, then at least you might look at some of the free material and consider subscribing :)
        John Dolan frames our imagining of the war with that famous Appomattox painting. Lee: tall, courtly, aristocratic looking, wounded and noble. Grant: short, unkempt, dirty, no nonsense, practical and matter of fact, how usians were encouraged and bullied to see our sectionality and the war through that image, and the missing third image, never seriously considered by white elites and their associated clients as a way to remember the war, the millions of people who were freed from slavery, who were anxious to use their freedom for their immediate benefit, to learn to read, to set up their own farms, to vote and organize for mutual benefit. And then the historic betrayal, that still echoes around you every day. Pretty f*&^ing loud too, if you ask me.

    5. ewmayer

      “White washing it won’t make it go away” — You are speciously attempting to conflate the *acknowledgment* of history with its *celebration*. But good luck with your pending proposal to the German government to erect a giant “Der Führer blickt zum Osten” statue in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

    6. Lambert Strether Post author

      > To how about if instead of trashing it, we embraced it for what we value today, and accept as immutable that which we don’t because it is what it is.

      Can we get a statute of (winner) Grant put up wherever there’s a statue of (loser) Lee? That would be a more fitting representation of “our” history.

      The “lost cause” myth did horrible damage to the country, truly equivalent in every way to the Dolchstoßlegende in Germany after World War I.

      1. Anon

        It’s a juvenile Galapago’s hawk. The adult is a much darker brown. Charles Darwin encountered them in his travels.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Why America isn’t equipped for the new rules of war”

    It’s a book plug but not one that I would ever bother reading. And I don’t care that he is a professor at the National Defense University and Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. His solutions are to serve up the same old stuff that has been happening for years now and claiming it as being innovative. Examples?
    For Russia, he says to start a “color revolution” on their border. Seriously? That has been done a coupla times now. In the Ukraine they did it twice. The last time that was tried Russia fought back to protect the Ukrainian-Russians and the Crimea went back home to Russia as a result. For China, he says to covertly support the Uighur insurgency. Is he kidding? China knows the purpose of those thousands of Uighurs that went to Syria to fight which is why they locked down the Uighurs so that it did not evolve into a guerrilla war. The Uighurs would have lost and tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people would be dead or wounded but hey, there’s be no blowback from China for that one, right?
    He also accuses Russia, China and Iran of shadow warfare saying “they use special forces, they use mercenaries, they use proxies, they use propaganda—things that give them plausible deniability.” Does he mean what the west has been doing in places like Syria and Libya? I’d really like to sit in on one of his classes but would probably make myself a hairy nuisance challenging him. I doubt that he would appreciate it.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      The piece is pure caca. The problem with US foreign policy is that it assumes that great powers are all interested in conquering and dominating every square centimeter of the globe using military forces. There is only one country that seeks to do that and that is the USA. The idea, that I’ve heard directly from foreign policy professionals is that the USA, because it is the only major power with high moral standards (yes, they really belive that) and thus we (they) are obliged to stop and fight any competitor. The fact is no country other than the US that wants to send an army into another country simply for the joy of dominating of dominating that country. The whole process is too expensive better to cooperate with others and leave the domination games to large corporations and private interests (oligarchs) where the real game is being played. US foreign policy is largely a scam with several ecosystems with hungry organisms including Georgetown U.

      1. Synoia

        The US started that practice after WW II, to encourage the locals to buy US Manufactured products.

        What does the US have now which is of value to the locals?


        USAID in Africa, when delivered, was met with a question: Who got the Cadillac?

      2. Olga

        I am reminded of a self-licking ice cream cone.
        (But the US FP does result in a lot of kaka for the attacked/dominated countries.)

    2. Jeotsu

      My take on it is that all the major players have been and are using this kind of “hybrid warfare” for a long time, the US included.

      When looking at the US and Russia the big difference seems to be in the desired outcome of the tactic. Russia seems to be trying to tip balances to provide a sufficiently steady-state so that they can then work in conventional diplomatic channels. The US seems intent to tip scales into instability, so it can operate in conventional military channels.

      Some of this difference might arise because Russia is trying to play to a strength, or perhaps Russia recognising (perhaps through some institutional memory, generals in their 60’s who all served in Afghanistan in their youth) about the danger of military quagmires, both for the institution of the military and for the state as a whole.

      The US, conversely, valourises (to the point of pathology) the exercise of violence and military force, and there are strong institutional forces the want more and more military engagement (for the money, honour, promotion, etc).

      So the author doesn’t really “get” the issue. The US is achieving exactly what it wants from its use of colour revolutions and hybrid warfare. That might be unwinable endless wars filled with with blood and chaos, but that is current US policy, so until the author recognizes that, he’s going to have trouble providing cogent analysis of the US “problems”.

  13. QuarterBack

    Re the “private moment of frustration “ on the Epstein story, the (no doubt heavily lawyered) ABC statement does not hold up a bit.

    The video clearly shows Robach very credibility venting as a reporter, not just a host. The ABC statement says that the story was only delayed because it “did not meet journalistic standards”, which would imply that the claimed facts could not be corroborated. However, Robach never mentions that point – and a reporter definitely would. In fact, she specifically states that there were photos and other women backing up her story. She does, however, state that extreme pressure from powerful people and “the palace” prevented the story from airing.

    She also emphatically states that there were objections because Epstein was claimed to be an unknown nobody that no one knew or cared about. Really? For the sake of argument, despite him being a billionaire and owner of the largest apartment in NYC, let’s accept that premise. How about Prince Andrew, (Bill) Clinton, (Alan) Dershowitz, and other the high power names on Epstein’s flight manifests. Anybody heard of them?

    1. divadab

      Dude at the level the decision to spike the story was made it’s highly likely people involved knew Epstein personally. (Not in the biblical sense, I think but you never know…)

      Epstein made a lifetime career of meeting and greeting the rich, powerful and connected. And he could sic Dershowitz on anyone looking to be a problem… would you stand up to that legal wolverine? He certainly made the local prosecutors stand down in Palm Beach and made the Feds water down to the bare minimum a slam-dunk case.

      All the excuses from ABC are faked up and unbelievable. Anyway why watch any of the media channels at all? It’s utter crap…

      1. QuarterBack

        Robach’s statements and demeanor on the leaked tape were highly credible and damning to ABC and double standards around #MeToo that I was genuinely surprised when they admitted that the tape was genuine. I almost expected to see them haul out a line of video experts to claim that the tape was a Deep Fake. The MSM and pols have certainly been prepping THAT defense for long enough. GOD KNOWS what video revelation will eventually get them to pull the trigger on the Deep Fake defense. But I’m sure the time is coming.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Tucker Carlson is making the very valid point that none of the networks were bothered by the lack of “vetting” of the Brett Kavanaugh accusations and ran with them 24/7 during his confirmation. Before his nomination, nobody had really heard of him either but that didn’t stop them.

      The abc statement is pure, unadulterated bullshit. (I watched the beginning of good morning america today to see how they handled it–they didn’t, and Amy Robach was absent.)

      This comes directly on the heels of Ronan Farrow’s exposure of nbc’s doing the same thing to him wrt harvey weinstein and matt lauer. Farrow found a way to get the story out. But, having convinced Virginia Roberts to go public and knowing that her story was true, Rohbach evidently decided instead to put on a happy face so she could have “access” to Will and Kate.

      The fourth estate–such impressive standards and commitment to the “truth.”

  14. Carolinian

    Re Stoller on Disney–while Iger is undoubtedly a menace and the company a marketing juggernaut I think Stoller over eggs the pudding by suggesting that these power mad schemes can really wreck the movies. At some point people are going to grow tired of the endless live action remakes or attempts to squeeze still more toothpaste out of a tube full of old comic books. The film industry, even though it is an industry, doesn’t sell widgets but rather creative imagination. Many of our cultural icons like The Simpsons could never have been predicted to become so in advance. Iger’s problem is that when it comes to making movies he kind of sucks.

    1. Wukchumni

      Imagine making a film presently with a $10k budget to construct a jury room, and all the action inside said portal of justice being dialogue between a dozen angry men, and it earning kudos by word of mouth vis a vis a matinee stream audience?

      1. Carolinian

        Good small scale projects are being made and perhaps more so than ever–but for television. The best thing I have seen in the last few months was the miniseries Fosse/Verdon about Bob Fosse and his wife Gwen Verdon.

      2. Plenue

        Actually we’re currently living in a golden of age of low-budget projects. Because every company is trying to launch their own streaming service, there’s an endless appetite for new content to attract subscribers. Especially content that can be produced for relatively modest amounts of money. It’s a complete wild west for creativity right now.

        The omnipresence of streaming for distribution and the fact that everything is digital now so expensive film processing isn’t an issue means the for entry for filmmaking is lower than it’s ever been.

        That’s all on top of the fact that we’re still living in the era of prestige television that the Soprano’s kicked off twenty years ago, when the expectations for quality of writing, acting, and directing in TV dramas went through the roof.

    2. avoidhotdogs

      With respect, I think Stoller is largely on the money. Iger’s political ambitions have been written about before (IIRC on here at one point). Whilst I agree the public’s preferences for types of genres does go in waves, the point is not that Iger uniformly churns out dross – it’s that he was allowed to BUY the best IP whilst the “core Disney film-making machine” was allowed to languish.

      He bought Pixar – no Disney investment, existing amazing franchise. He bought Marvel – which had just turned the corner and escaped the straitjacket it was in (which would have seen it go to Merrill Lynch if Iron Man had flopped) – the sale went through just as Avengers was in the works and it was clear Marvel was gold. Lucasfilm was the only arguably suspect purchase. The auditors think Disney overpaid – Iger then applied “good old MBA principles” to extract cash to overcome things, resulting in a lot of the mess SW has got into recently. (It’s not clear that legacy figures like R2-D2 still earn Lucas cash for their use – Disney’s weird use of them suggests there’s something in this and his theme park attraction is an obvious failure).

      I think Stoller’s point is less that “people will grow tired of Disney’s products”, but more that “once people grow tired, Disney NOW has the power simply to buy an IP that *IS* the NEW THING”, just earning Disney unearned rent since its investment and vision post-purchase is not exactly world-shattering for ANY of the companies it has bought. Plus WHO has just started investing in physical media that may survive thousands of years? WB, using glass discs in conjunction with Microsoft. Some argued that the withdrawal of the 20th Century Fox back catalogue was to help in copying these and preserving them. But there’s no evidence for that AT ALL. Only WB has produced ANY evidence to suggest it really wants to preserve its all stuff for eternity.

      1. Carolinian

        My disagreement with Stoller is that he doesn’t seem to think people will grow tired of Disney properties. I mean, did anyone actually enjoy Avengers Endgame? As a lifelong movie goer I’m totally with Scorsese and Coppola on this.

        And yes while the company can stifle the tentpole movie competitors, I’d say it’s questionable how much longer that business model will prevail. Movie theaters are in many ways an anachronism. This has been said for years but it may finally be about to come true.

        Of course not all Disney movies are bad, but Iger’s big idea of monetizing the catalog out the wazoo surely can’t last.

        1. neo-realist

          I suspect teens and millennials enjoy the Marvel movies: They are video games in movie form, and they grew up on video games. Who needs emotional depth and connection, its about stimulative eye candy for short attention spans.

              1. Plenue

                Video games are a medium, not a genre. Emotional depth and connection was already a thing in video games in 1995 (people generally don’t play RPGs for visual stimulation).

        2. Plenue

          “I mean, did anyone actually enjoy Avengers Endgame?”

          Yes, lots of people (personally I found it really mediocre at best). And I suspect a lot of that has to do with hype generation: Endgame was built up as important and epic, the culmination of a decade of buildup. People were entranced to think it was epic because the hype machine told them it was epic. I think it’s going to age poorly, as the hype fades into the past and its forced to stand on its own merits. Black Panther was also catapulted to great heights of revenue by hype, and that’s pretty indisputably a mediocre film.

          The Marvel movies have a bad habit of tending toward being merely ‘fine’. None of them are truly terrible, but none of them are truly great either. I think only a handful of them are going to be remembered in fifty years time (Iron Man 1, the Guardians of the Galaxy movies which are their own unique weird thing, maybe Winter Soldier, Infinity War which is genuinely kind of amazing, with Thanos being I think one of the great action movie villains. I think those ones at least will hold up).

        3. Acacia

          My disagreement with Stoller is that he doesn’t seem to think people will grow tired of Disney properties. I mean, did anyone actually enjoy Avengers Endgame? As a lifelong movie goer I’m totally with Scorsese and Coppola on this.

          I would say look at Stoller’s article again. His main argument is about the economics of the film business, and how the changes being orchestrated by Disney et al will impact our experience of cinema. He’s not making the same argument as Scorsese, who comes at MCU from the direction of film as art. Stoller is asking us to think about what it will mean when Disney rebuilds an even more badass 21st-century surveillance capitalism-enabled version of the US film cartel that was broken up in the 1940s. Thus far, nothing has stopped them, and Warren’s election promises notwithstanding, there’s little on the horizon to believe that serious anti-trust action will happen anytime soon.

          So, you’re getting tired of the cartel’s product, but meanwhile the cartel is working to take control of the most of the movie screens. What’s the alternative? Only watch movies at home? Does cinema, which has been a shared, social experience for much of the 20th century, become a private, asocial experience? It’s like an enclosure movement against what has been the pre-eminent form of popular art since the 1920s. Movie theaters may be an anachronism where you live, but they remain the primary market for all films, and they continue being built. What’s in the top-secret contract that Disney is giving to movie theaters? Might it violate the terms of United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc.? In our corrupt Neo-guilded age, who would litigate? And how many decades would it take in court (the last time this happened, it took ten years)? Beyond a clearly-stated desire to reinstate anti-competitive practices in the exhibition sector, it’s clear the new AV empire builders — Netflix and Disney — want a monopoly control of the new content that comes onto the screen in your living room. There is a reason the Cannes film festival refused to allow Netflix to have its cake (recipient of festival awards) and to eat it too (films that only go to Netflix customers, not into theatrical distribution).

          Agree with @Plenue that many people do enjoy the MCU films, though I wonder how much of that enjoyment is really organic. Bear in mind that Avengers: Infinity War is said to have cost $316 million, of which $150 million was spent on publicity. What does that tell you about the relationship between audiences and box office revenue, when 50% of a film’s budget goes for publicity? Is it successful because there is real demand? Avengers: Infinity War is not an isolated case; rather, it’s become the norm. These huge publicity budgets are a way to ensure “success” at the box office. Is box office revenue to be the marker of art? Scorsese would likely say “no”. At the end of the day, it feels like another market being gamed by money.

          What this suggests, moreover, is that just as millions of people will think what the MSM tells them to think, millions of people will go to watch the films that the Disney PR machine tells them to go watch. So, I would respond that while many enjoy MCU films, in fact many others are already tired of them — not just Scorsese –, because they have been tired of overhyped Hollywood films already for years now.

          1. Plenue

            I think Infinity War cost even more than that. Usually official budget numbers don’t include the marketing money, which can be up to half again as much. So add 50% of 316 million on top of the 316 million.

            At some point one of these mega-movies is going to flop, and a vast amount of cash will be lost. The 2012 John Carter of Mars movie was a hint of that scenario. But who knows when that will be. Probably in this second decade of the MCU; Captain Marvel is just a much worse leader character to hang the whole cast on. Robert Downey Jr set the bar too high.

            1. Acacia

              Agree that we should anticipate coming mega-flops, and I’d say there could even be several in one year. Budgets creep up to $400 or $500 M for a single film, and then say two of these flop. There will teeth gnashing and much ink spilled, but it was fairly predictable.

          2. Carolinian

            I’ve spent quite a lot of time in movie theaters and honestly I’d much rather watch a movie at home (where it is also delivered by a projector) than in a theater full of distracted and phone fiddling patrons. Only comedies benefit from the “audience effect.”

            Also theaters are very expensive to run and sit on valuable real estate in many cases. This killed the drive ins decades ago and will likely do the same to the hard tops except in big cities. Or not. As I said above the demise of movie theaters has been predicted for a long time.

            In any event they are a decreasing feature of the entertainment scene. Stoller is good but doesn’t seem to have a very deep grasp of the movie business.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      I think the piece needs to be understood in the context of what sacred “capitalism” has become.

      Selling below the cost of production in order to destroy the competition and establish a monopoly unconstrained by existing anti-trust laws, which is the same “strategy” used by amazon and uber among others.

      Money “lent,” to those who have plenty of their own, at negative interest rates.

      Stock “values” levitating relentlessly, based, not on performance but on stock buy backs with “borrowed” money, which used to be called stock manipulation, and the promise of future monopolistic pricing power.

      The big secret is that the only thing remotely resembling the “capitalism” that made the middle class of this country ascendant, and is vehemently defended against the scourge of “socialism,” is the name.

      1. Synoia

        An we believed the imagineers at Disley were not at work, creating wonders. It turns out they all got MBA’s and focused on other projects, not on films and entertainment.

      1. Plenue

        Scorsese’s core point is less about films themselves and more about the economics of movie theaters. They’re dying, and increasingly only guaranteed-to-make-money big franchise films are viable for theater owners.

        To which I just kind of shrug. So what? Filmmaking isn’t going anywhere, it’s just the mechanics of distribution that have changed. I can understand someone like Scorsese being dismayed by this because theaters are what he grew up with and all he’s ever known, but personally I’ve never been hugely attached to the theater going experience. There’s much to be said for being able to watch a movie in your own environment, on your own time, at your own pace. There’s a social aspect that is lost, yes, but that aspect is often, er, terrible.

        This provides a good summary of my line of thought.

        1. pasha

          i love being able to pause a streaming movie and go to wiki to check on a fact or find out which film i’ve seen an actor in previously. it greatly enrichs the experience for me.

          that said, some movies really are best in a theater

          1. Lord Koos

            We restrict our theater attendance to those films that can benefit from the big screen experience, and we don’t care for most that are special effects spectacles. Our 37″ monitor is plenty big enough for 95% of what we watch. We attend about 2-3 movies a year, tops. The fact that even with a senior discount tickets seem expensive is definitely a factor, and I occasionally enjoy talking back to the screen which doesn’t play well in public…

        2. Acacia

          @Plenue Well, the Red Letter media guys are amusing, though the guy on the right tends to sound rather “get off my lawn”. Theaters may be “dying” where you and they live, but theaters are doing a brisk business in many places and there are more film festivals than ever before. Of course, the exhibition business is not what it was prior to TV, but through the home video era it was relatively stable, even growing a little since the 90s.

          A lot of research has been done on this and the threat to theaters has consistently been the small screen. First it was TV and now it’s Netflix and online streaming services. The difference between then and now is that there was a significant difference between TV and cinema, and that’s what Netflix is now taking aim at, by offering works that are often real movies, e.g., courting directors like Alfonso Cuarón. In this sense, Netflix is to theaters something like what Amazon is to mom and pop retail.

          The point about the social dimension of cinema that you and the Red Letter Media guys don’t address is that it has been a collective, i.e., shared experience. We can agree or disagree about the merits of Avengers Endgame (and I would agree with your comment about that it was “mediocre at best”), but the only way we can even have this discussion is because it’s a shared experience.

          If, for the sake of argument, thanks to Disney and Netflix, we were to get the Red Letter future scenario in which all the big theaters die, and there are only a few scattered art-house theaters for the elderly, and everybody else just buys a big screen TV for their home, cinema would by definition cease to be a popular art. It would no longer be a shared, collective experience, or it would be something only for a certain generation, probably the elderly. Note that if we had already realized the Red Letter utopia in which all big theaters died long ago, even the film references they insert in their video — the clips from Star Wars and Star Trek — would have little resonance and likely only provoke “ok boomer”. Would their argument work if they inserted clips from totally obscure art house films to make their point? Not persuaded here.

          I guess it depends on whether you want to live in a world that has mom and pop retail and a complex, public world that you share with others, or whether you are okay with a world in which everything is a corporate franchise and you live in a bunker that is equipped with a giant screen and media server that plays your favorite movies (subject to Disney’s IP decisions, of course).

          1. Carolinian

            Oh please. You are the one who is living in the past. US movie theater attendance peaked in the 1940s and it has been all downhill ever since. Studios still make money on theatrical release but from a much smaller user base.

          2. Plenue

            “Would their argument work if they inserted clips from totally obscure art house films to make their point?”

            That’s actually exactly the kind of joke Red Letter Media would pull. They do reviews of weird/obscure stuff, both real movies and C-grade schlock on beat up VHS, all the time.

            To your broader point about the popular dimension of film being lost with theaters, I don’t think that will happen. Plenty of people are still seeing the same things even in the age of streaming. See for instance that terrible Bird Box movie Netflix recently put out.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Emboldened China refuses to flinch on tariffs in US trade talks”

    I can understand China’s caution here. There is the matter of trust after all. How do you trust a Trump administration? And of course they would want a complete removal of tariffs. That is the point of the negotiations for them. The article says ‘As a deterrent, the U.S. has sought a provision that would reimpose tariffs if China is found to have neglected commitments. Beijing, which has insisted upon a fair and equitable deal, has apparently rejected such a unilateral approach.’ Well of course they would. That is a snap-back provision which would need no proof for the US to reimpose tariffs with but would leave little recourse for the Chinese to appeal. In any case, when the Iran nuclear treaty went into effect and sanctions were lifted, the US almost immediately imposed another series of other sanctions. Not much faith there so the Chinese would be wary of this happening to them.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Parthian shot.

      If you go to a museum with a good Chinesee Han or Tang dyansy collection, you are likely to see some pieces (probably bronze or cast iron) with that depiction, made famous by Parthians and known to ancient Chinese, where a horse rider would feint retreat before turning back to shoot at the pursuing enemy.

      Is Trump retreating on tarriffs? Is he being ‘like water,’ and will he prevail at the end?

      Those are questions for Beijing to think about.

  16. Wukchumni

    Uninhabited mansions of London’s “Billionaires’ Row” Boing Boing
    Across the river and on the other side, a 3 room furnished home has been completely uninhabited since 2003 when the lady that owned it passed away. I know nothing in regards to the heirs, but it’s been unlocked all that time, and inside is around $777 worth of old people’s stuff that one could sell on eBay, with the most valuable item being worth $17. Been like that for 16 years, how long would such a place last intact in the city?

    The house itself is interesting to watch decaying over such a long period, for like a car, you can’t leave it to its own devices just sitting there. A tear down’s tear down.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      All second/third/etc homes can be put to better use, especially those not in use over 50%, 60% or more of the time.

      1. Wukchumni

        This particular home slept through the real estate market tanking in the financial crisis and when it could’ve become a viable short term vacation rental more recently.

        It would’ve earned the owners around $350k if it’d been an AirBnb or VRBO the past 5 years or so.

  17. epynonymous

    Took a look at the Beaurau of Labor Statistics report for the year last night, and it said 10% of reporters are self-employed.


    1. divadab

      The greatest writer of the century. So much of his vision of the future is right on…..not bad for a speed freak from Berkeley, scribbling away and producing a book in four days straight….

      1. Plenue

        Surprised no one else has pointed out here that we’re now living in Blade Runner: it’s November, 2019.

        1. ambrit

          Who are the Androids today?
          I contrast the book version of Los Angeles in 2019 and the film version. Some interesting ideas come to mind.

  18. Mike

    Re: In overworked Japan, Microsoft tested a four-day workweek. Productivity soared 40 percent. (WaPo)…

    It seems Microsoft is thinking on their feet, since the competitive situation demands they must. Apple, OTOH, is thinking with their feet, and the results are plain to see. The relative prices for their goods may be affected by this decision, if it is truly faithfully out into the future, but not enough to make MS products more costly. Apple has no clue how to make quality without using Taylorist methods that guarantee class warfare on the shop floor. Not a few keyboards and overheating batteries later…

    1. Danny

      If PG&E officials are not indicted, arrested, tried and either found innocent, or convicted and sent to prison–our justice system is a charade.

      1. Olga

        Just assume it is a charade.
        The last time a CEO went to jail was at Enron time (well, not the CEO, but some associates).
        Ain’t gonna happen again.

      2. JBird4049

        What a surprise. The management of PG&E are lying liars who lie. If California’s current political leadership does not deal with this now, I will work with anyone to kick them all out.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Interesting. One thinks of what might or will happen as large vulnerable complex networks and systems break down. The people of Humboldt County might become a little feudal entity with their own local power grid, and other locales that used to draw electricity from the segregated Humboldt system might resort to who knows what kinds of tactics (“Who can destroy a thing controls a thing”) to get back some of that power (in all senses). Lots of “legal” strands wend through all this, and at what point do folks who are citizens of the larger “legal system” just say “screw you” to people they have contracts with and of course blow off silly stuff like observing permit limits for emissions?

      I’m reminded of the opening bit in Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life:” The Crimson Permanent Assurance,

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The people of Humboldt County might become a little feudal entity with their own local power grid

        Seeing Like a State makes the point that the original city states were quite small and collapsed frequently, because they were surrounded by the hinterlands into which their inhabitants could escape (which is also why they needed slaves, IIRC). So perhaps we will end up reverting to that.

  19. sbarrkum

    Measles Wipes Your Immune System’s
    I had measles when I was 6 or 7. Never really had serious infection.

    Now 61 (and diabetic for 4 years) and still no serious infections.
    Nothing serious that I needed to see a doctor or be hospitalized.

    Better touch a lot of wood

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Could whatever the mechanism is perhaps also be useful for treating auto-immune disorders or safer immunosuppression?

  20. Danny

    Lots of geographical ignorance out there.

    “Despite having one of the largest fresh water reserves in the world Chilean authorities declared an agricultural emergency this week near Santiago…”

    Draw a straight line from Guatemala to British Columbia. that’s how long Chile,
    “The Shoestring Country” is.

    Sure there’s plenty of water in Patagonia, but not in the one of the traditionally driest areas in the world, the Atacama Desert and its surroundings. Cold waterwelling up against the coast prevents cloud formation.

    1. anon in so cal

      The Atacama desert is in the far north, near Bolivia. The areas mentioned are way south, around Santiago (Valpo, etc.), and are agricultural areas with a non-desert climate. Santiago is about a 60 minute jet flight from Arica, in the north. There’s coastal fog in the Atacama, which is how the desert plants get moisture.

  21. Wukchumni

    Late for National Cat Day. My bad.

    How come every dog has it’s day, but cats only get one?

    1. Olga

      Do you mean you’re trying to kill a bear?
      If yes, why would one wish you luck?!
      The luck should go the hunted bear – as far as I am concerned.

      1. Wukchumni

        For the best possibility of seeing one, you really want somebody riding shotgun who can look far into the distance, looking for them moving around, and it wasn’t as if there weren’t a gillion acorns on the ground, their mainstay in bulking up before denning (like hibernation-but you get up 3-4x during the winter, not a straight sleep-through) but no dice despite four eyes looking diligently.

        Quite pretty with the Dogwoods fall colors of brown & yellowish pink contrasting against the red of the Sequoias.

      2. Anon

        I think he’s referring to the abundance of black bears he’s likely to encounter (dodge) while driving a local roadway. Luck is needed; as any impact (failure to dodge) with a black bear is likely to crumple the fenders on a modern auto.

        I was in a vehicle that got “hipped” by a large elk that was running alongside. The auto repair bill was over $2K.

  22. lyman alpha blob

    Hmmm, Sondland changes his testimony after suddenly remembering a rather important point that he’d just completely forgotten earlier, the ABC reporter was just “frustrated” and didn’t mean any of it.

    Is the ghost of Strother Martin making the rounds, helping people get their minds right?

    1. Big Tap

      “What we have here is a failure to communicate”. Strother Martin didn’t fare too well in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” though.

      You’re initial answer usually is the correct one so what caused the change. I was thinking about liars in this clip from Charles Laughton. (2:13)

  23. Tomonthebeach

    “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”

    That seems to be the slant taken by Gwynne Dyer to explain why half the world seems to be in the streets protesting their governments. Put differently, the protests seem to be triggered by some last straw trivial overreach of one’s government. It is hard to argue her hypothesis as every major US riot seems to have been triggered by something like a single act of police brutality in a city where such brutality is the norm. Most walkouts seem to be triggered by some last-straw budget cut or other. KInda makes one fret that we’re next.

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