Links 12/16/19

It’s time for Audubon’s Christmas bird count Yale Climate Connections. I’ve participated in many of these, in various locations. Perhaps the most memorable: Whistler, BC, where we were encouraged to down a shot of black Russian mix upon announcement of a first time siting of a particular species – e.g., a species never before recorded in any annual Whistler count. Fortunately there weren’t many of these that year  – as the black Russian mix was vile.

Is stress good or bad? It’s actually both BBC

Portrait of a Lady: Stolen Klimt mystery ‘solved’ by gardener in Italy BBC

Tasmania’s flowering giants: ‘We will never see such trees again’ The Guardian

Ancient DNA confirms humans wiped out northern hemisphere’s version of the penguin The Conversation

Hong Kong

Diary LRB. John Lanchester.

Hong Kong ‘Christmas shopping’ protests in several malls across city lead to vandalism of outlets and clashes SCMP


Lebanon crisis: Dozens wounded in second night of clashes in Beirut BBC


Chinese TV Pulls Arsenal Match After Ozil’s Uighur Comments International Business Times

Chinese Ambassador Casually Threatens German Car Industry Over Tech Privacy Concerns Jalopnik (The Rev Kev)

Tariff Tantrum

Unpacking The No Deal Not a Trade War Trade War Deal Balding’s World (TP)

Mixed reviews for US-China partial trade deal Asia Times (The Rev Kev)

737 MAX

Chinese airlines drop foreign pilots in wake of Boeing 737 MAX tragedies SCMP

Shutdown likely at Boeing Renton as 737 MAX crisis extends Seattle Times

Australia’s Qantas chooses Airbus over Boeing for longest routes FT

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

How ‘dark patterns’ influence travel bookings BBC

Class Warfare

In The Fight For Money For The Opioid Crisis, Will The Youngest Victims Be Left Out? Kaiser  Health News

Classics for the people Aeon

Canada’s infrastructure was once cheap and effective to build. Now, it’s a titanic transfer from taxpayers to the world’s biggest businesses and investors boing boing (re silC)

California’s high-voltage battle between utilities and rooftop solar could impact electric bills San Diego Union-Tribune (The Rev Kev)


CAP Is Spreading Disinformation About Bernie’s Health Care Plan Jacobin

Donald Trump fears only one Democrat: Warren Sanders Guardian. Robert Reich. Hmm.

Pete Buttigieg takes aim at Democratic ‘purity tests’ WaPo (UserFriendly)

Brexit (and Election Post Mortem)

Brexit Won’t Deliver Sovereignty — And Neither Will Far-Right Movements Anywhere Foreign Policy in Focus (re silC)

Welcoming new lawmakers, Johnson vows a speedy Brexit Reuters

Our Famously Free Press

What Does Tucker Carlson Believe? Atlantic (re silC)

Health Care;

The War on Polio Just Entered Its Most Dangerous Phase Wired

Waste Watch


Dump it down the drain’: How contaminants from prescription-drug factories pollute waterways Stat

The 2010s Killed Off the Polite Climate Change Conversation Vice (re silC)


Deluge Of New Leaks Further Shreds The Establishment Syria Narrative Caitlin Johnstone (The Rev Kev)

Class Warfare

Cronies Everywhere Project Syndicate

Big Pharma empire behind OxyContin now selling overdose cure AP

Facing a ‘Food Desert,’ Oklahoma City Wants Dollar Stores to Sell Fresh Food WSJ

Delivering the goods: Drones and robots are making their way to your door CBS

Full interview not yet posted; this tweet should help you find it once it’s available.


These 13 Indian cities face the greatest danger from earthquakes, says a new study Scroll

India has 60 species of poisonous snakes, but only a single type of antivenom. It’s not enough Scroll

Violence hits Delhi over citizenship law The Hindu


MSNBC public editor: What if Rachel Maddow is right? Columbia Journalism Review. Textbook example of TDS. These people are crazy. Posted for your shredding pleasure.


Trump Transition

Opinion: What Amazon is really accusing Trump of doing in JEDI deal Marketwatch (re silC)

Trump’s Bad. Sadly, He’s Not Alone. NYT. MoDo. re SilC: “so her answer to is to run clintoon again or byedone?”

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. tegnost

      Lately on the sports radio there’s an ad pitting air ambulances against insurance companies alleging that greedy insurers are trying to harm patients by refusing to pay for air ambulances. I see it as a way to save private equity by shilling doctors and patients, and a preliminary shot at M4A restricting these rent seeking monsters.

      1. petal

        That’s disgusting. Too bad they can’t both lose.
        On WHEC’s facebook page, another lady said her sister got nailed with a $40k bill from Mercy Flight for the short hop(~30 miles) from Canandaigua to Rochester. Awful reading through the comments as there are a few stories in there.

    2. Wukchumni

      Last month not only was the Sequoia NP helicopter sent out on a wild goose chase to find a missing Mississippian who had meandered, but a C-130 from California Air National Guard as well. They found her, and good ending stories always make for fine fodder on the telly, and a week after her ordeal of getting lost, she was on Good Morning America.

      Cost out of pocket to her for the various air ambulances arrayed?


      I asked a higher up NPS ranger in the park, just how does this work, you have no money for badly needed new infrastructure, to replace the ‘Mission 66’ buildings from the early 60’s, and yet if there’s a SAR, money flows like water. He just shook his head.

      1. Jessica

        This all fits with the theory that money flows only into those things which channel it up to the 1% or 0.1%. Anything that would actually spread money around is underfunded.
        In other words, we now have a new variant on Gresham’s law*: Anti-social predation drives actually socially useful activity and investment out of the market.
        I read this recently, pretty sure on a Naked Capitalism link, but forget who proposed it.
        * Gresham’s Law: Bad money drives out good.

        1. Craig H.

          This isn’t Matthew Effect?

          I have always called this the Story of Ten Talents. It is by far the weirdest thing we ever were taught in Sunday School.

          For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

        2. Mike

          The funnelling of money “up” leaves the CPI intact, as it is already rigged to count no-change items- the rich do not spend it, but squirrel it away offshore (money created for them, so its disappearance leaves no trace), therefore causing no prices to jump due to demand. One of the benefits of vulture crony capitalism, no?

      2. anon in so cal

        The cost can also be death to the rescuers. Recently, a lauded volunteer member of the San Bernadino County ‘search and rescue’ team, Timothy Staples, fell and perished while searching for a missing hiker on Mt. Baldy. We’ve hiked to the top of Baldy several times in good weather. The final stretch to the top is not for the inexperienced hiker in winter. And, just having gear does not make one experienced.

        1. Wukchumni

          Sequoia NP isn’t fond of PLB’s such as Spot Devices, as they give the causal backcountry visitor a sense of false security, press a button-get rescued, almost like Rocket Mortgage.

          But now that i’ve got one after having gone w/o heretofore, it’s a nice comfort blanket. The gent who got lost on Mount Baldy would’ve been found toot suite, and no unneeded fatality with the SAR teams.

          The one nagging thing in my mind when i’ve been deep in the backcountry for a spell, is an appendix bursting, and i’d be 4 days walk from somewhere.

          Another thing to not worry so much about now.

          1. Anthony G Stegman

            Sometimes people just need to die. This saving a life at all cost is unsustainable. Living has risks. Not everyone lives a long life. Some die young, some die middle aged, and some make it to old age. This obsession with having everyone make it to old age is wrong headed.

            1. Carey

              >Sometimes people just need to die

              Isn’t the issue who decides, and how? Not liking how that’s going at the moment.

    3. bob

      The name of the company is too on the nose. Mercy flight. You are at our mercy.

      Mercy was trying to get out local sherriff’s department to stop giving ‘free’ rides in their helicopter.

  1. Darius

    Can’t bear to read the WaPo piece about the latest bad faith from Pete Buttigieg Economy. All I know is that when I’m told I haven’t met my deductible or that a procedure isn’t covered I get down on my knees and thank God I’m an American. This is what freedom feels like.

  2. bwilli123

    Analysis from Alastair Crooke on the beginnings of the European revolt against NATO and the Washington Neo-Liberal Consensus.
    The Post-War ‘Consensus’ is Over – ‘Either We Reinvent Bretton Woods, or It Risks Losing Relevance’
    …”The post-WWII, Washington consensus was, from the outset, a political design that evolved in response to the Woodstock era into something of a counter-revolutionary (neo-liberal) project, designed to weaken the populist forces of organised labour: “It would nip in the bud what, at that time, were revolutionary movements in much of the developing world — Mozambique, Angola, China etc. — but also a rising tide of communist influences in countries like Italy and France and, to a lesser degree, the threat of a revival of that in Spain”.

    “Even in the United States, trade unions had produced a Democratic Congress that was quite radical in its intent. In the early 1970s they, along with other social movements, forced a slew of reforms and reformist initiatives which were anti-corporate: the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, consumer protections, and a whole set of things around empowering labour even more than it had been empowered before.

    “So in that situation there was, in effect, a global threat to the power of the corporate [élite] and therefore the question was, “What to do? …”

    “[The challenge was to keep US corporations profitable]. One way was to open up immigration. In the 1960s, for example, Germans were importing Turkish labour, the French Maghrebian labour, the British colonial labour. But this created a great deal of dissatisfaction and unrest.

    “Instead they chose the other way — to take capital to where the low-wage labour forces were. But for globalization to work you had to reduce tariffs and empower finance capital, because finance capital is the most mobile form of capital. So finance capital and things like floating currencies became critical to curbing labour.

    “At the same time, ideological projects to privatize and deregulate, created unemployment. So, unemployment at home; and offshoring, taking the jobs abroad; and a third component: technological change (deindustrialization through automation and robotisation): That was the strategy to squash labour.

    “It was an ideological assault, but also an economic assault [writes Professor David Hervey].

    It was Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chief who died last week, who finally decided that the working man or woman needed to pay the price of the Fed’s victory in stemming inflation. He explicitly aimed at breaking the power of organised labour, and just after being appointed as Fed Chair declared: “The standard of living of the average American has to decline”.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “The War on Polio Just Entered Its Most Dangerous Phase”

    “In the late 1940s, polio outbreaks in the U.S. increased in frequency and size, crippling an average of more than 35,000 people each year. Parents were frightened to let their children go outside, especially in the summer when the virus seemed to peak. Travel and commerce between affected cities were sometimes restricted. Public health officials imposed quarantines on homes and towns where polio cases were diagnosed.
    Thanks to the polio vaccine, dedicated health care professionals, and parents who vaccinate their children on schedule, polio has been eliminated in this country for more than 30 years. This means that there is no year-round transmission of poliovirus in the United States. Since 1979, no cases of polio have originated in the U.S.”

    Anti-vaxxers: “Hold my beer!”

    1. John Saccoccio

      Sadly, even living in a state where I’d expect otherwise, this reminds me why I’ve started to despise my political party’s constituency. Get cattle prods up their asses when a gas pipeline, cell phone tower, or any other intrusion required to support their lifestyle is proposed anywhere near their manicured lawns, but burn the world down, piss on the ashes, and salt the earth if their’s any possibility of impact on their 401k portfolios. Yet here we are:

      There is a bill before the MA state legislature called the Community Immunity Act: ( The goal is to centralize monitoring of immunizations and the process of exemptions for all schools and childcare centers in MA; essentially everything would be under the department of public health, rather than up to individual schools and districts.
      There was a public hearing this week which was apparently a disaster. Anyone could comment for 5 mins, so crowds of anti-vaxxers showed up and testified for ten hours; I know of very few professional scientists who went, and they didn’t even get to comment.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Massachusetts Democrats are the worst, appallingly bad. My general view is the GOP likes to use Taxachusetts as a boogeyman is because they know the Team Blue there is almost certain to produce a monster who will represent all the claimed “liberal” hypocrisy imaginable.

        All in all, there is a reason Mittens could get elected statewide there: the Democrats!

        1. Pat

          This NYer takes offense at your underestimating our badness.

          I know your criteria was statewide, and twelve years of Pataki doesn’t have the same ring as Romney, but I am still not sure we wouldn’t have Senator Giuliani if his private life and health hadn’t blown up in 2000.

          Just saying Massachusetts has competition.
          (Waiting for a Californian to point out their history…)

          1. WheresOurTeddy

            I will put the California Mono-Party apparatchiks up against any DNC cretins from the other 49 states when it comes to greed, depravity, and punching the left.

            We got Feinstein, Pelosi, AND a state legislature infested with neoliberals on the take.

            And I hear the low-info republicans grumble about “the socialists in control” – Brother, I wish!

          2. JTMcPhee

            I have to speak up for Florida, in the Rotten Borough Dems category. Rick Scott (R, Corrupt) twice elected governor and now senator) over losers Alex Sink and Charlie Crist (D, corporate Dem and former R). Rs own the legislature and agencies. And of course there was the Gore thing, hanging chads and all, now electronic mediation of balloting.

        2. inode_buddha

          Much the same in NY. Unfortunately. The only reason there are Republican strongholds in NY is because Jawbs! since the Dems are perceived as being unfriendly to business interests, and everyone knows the Dems are a bunch of Godless Libburls…>GAG<

        3. JohnnySacks

          I don’t feel much animosity towards Weld, Romney, or Baker, I’m conflicted because they have to not be anywhere nearly as crazy as their red state counterparts and they do provide checks and balances against a very blue legislature. Patrick left a mess after his second term and Baker has managed to keep his head down, avoid the Trump black hole, and pay attention to his elected position.

          The ‘Taxachusetts’ observation is a favorite easily sold boogieman, but why isn’t everyone moving out? Because once they see the property tax levels and services in ‘Live free or die’ NH to our north and rush hour traffic jams to access the jobs over the border, maybe they take a pass? There is a massive soul crushing condo development, appears to be one of those cookie cutter main street suburban disneyland things, happening at the exit 1 Rockingham Park retail sprawl with zero mass transit services.

  4. xkeyscored

    “Facing a ‘Food Desert,’ Oklahoma City Wants Dollar Stores to Sell Fresh Food” WSJ
    This sounds like a very sensible idea, forcing convenience stores to devote a percentage of their shop space to fresh food. How long before various states outlaw it, claiming it undermines market efficiency and violates the rights of the convenience food industry?

    1. Off The Street

      Around Los Angeles, many dollar-type stores stock produce and bakery goods. The former are usually slightly further along their ripening cycle and are good as long as consumed within a day or two. One shoppers note is that the mushrooms are priced low but their containers are half the size of those at other markets so no bargain. The latter are displayed with signs indicating that they were previously on sale at bakeries or similar stores when fresh, and are now also closer to their consumption expiration dates.

      I enjoy looking at them while remembering how tasty bread was before gluten started giving me problems. When younger, I often bought what was called day-old bread, and it was fine.

      1. Procopius

        During World War II, my mother explained to me that it was the law that bread a day old could only be sold if it was identified as such and at a lower price (this was, after all, not that long after the worst days of the depression, when tens of thousands of people were scavenging in dumps for edible stuff — better to sell it cheap than throw it out). Even then, though, there was nothing wrong with day-old. Somehow that law/regulation/rule was discarded after Wonder Bread replaced real food.

    2. Janie

      It’s meat and potatoes country; I lived in OKC for over 20 years. Several relatives live in Edmond, an upscale northeast suburb. They have large homes, pools, half acre or more lots – and no place to shop but Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club. They don’t seem to mind. On the other hand, Johnnie’s hamburgers and Braun’s malts are the best.

      1. Janie

        Adding, it’s the reddest state. Except for one of the doctors, they are all avid trumpets and seem to avoid fruit and vegetable recommendations as products of effete eastern liberals.

        1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

          I’m always amazed when I enter any US store that sells food – including grocery and convenience stores – at the ratio of fresh food on offer, to processed foods (not to mention the excessive pre-packaging, even of fresh foods). I try to shop at farmers markets, but that’s not possible everywhere, and in swathes of the country, is also seasonally limited.

  5. zagonostra

    >Donald Trump fears only one Democrat: Warren Sanders Guardian. Robert Reich. Hmm.>

    What a bullship headline, reading into the article, the second paragraph reads:

    Although there are differences between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, I’m putting them together for the purpose of making a simple point

    I don’t know about Robert Reich, I’ve read his articles in TruthDig and he seems tepid and tending to lean into the center.

      1. hunkerdown

        Reich is the reason it’s so weak, in other words? Sanders’ policy has always been to the left of the Clintonites, of which Robert Reich was very much one. Centrists have NO moral authority or trust in this discussion. Receipts, please.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      I hate to agree, but I do…at the end of the day he was still Bill Clinton’s cabinet member with all the shame that should go along with that.

      I don’t have a hard time imagining him penning editorials about how we need to slow down and not go as fast as Bernie wants to. Conflating he and Warren is not a good sign either. One is a fake populist who is sinking…

    2. JohnnyGL

      Reich seems like his heart is in the right place, but the left has moved past him in this country. His record and ideas haven’t aged well.

      He was on Clinton’s team in the first term and actually believed in the ‘let them eat worker training’ view of how to handle the effects of NAFTA. He wanted to do big investments on that front. Bob Rubin and his wall street acolytes got the upper hand and went for deficit reduction.

      That was what passed for the ‘left’ in the early 90s.

      1. JBird4049

        In fairness, there were “reformers” who wanted a massive increase in social suppports, but in a different pattern than a straight transfer of money to the indigent. Things like free education, expanded trade schools, daycare, and so on. Robert Reich was almost certainly one of them. He, and them, were operating under the sad beliefs that the Democratic Party of the 1990s was the same party as the 1930s-1960s, which it wasn’t anymore. One can disagree with some of their ideas, but they were honestly trying to do the right thing for the United States.

        However, Clinton and his fellow grifters in both parties were very, very happy to mouth the same words, appear to agree, cut welfare drastically, and then provide almost none of the promised supports. A classic bait-and-switch on a gigantic national scale. These political grifters betrayed everyone except Wall Street and their fellow con-artists in the Republican Party.

        1. inode_buddha

          It was during the Clinton years that I finally recognized how badly the system is rigged. I recall wondering aloud why he was enacting the entire Conservative fiscal platform without opposition. The impeachment hearings only confirmed what I already knew about the man – details were not important.

      2. tegnost

        Reich seems like his heart is in the right place

        I still read any article I see from him, for what ever that is worth

        1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

          So do I. I wish he would write more longer pieces – his takes tend to be shorter than I would like.

        2. ObjectiveFunction

          Yeah, with Reich as with Krugman, I always get the sense of a first class progressive mind using his gifts for evil: fervently trying to ram ideological square pegs (20 percenter free market ‘solutions’) into round holes (public goods), and merely coming across as a partisan hack and condescending know-it-all to boot. I too keep reading his stuff in hope.

          If Socrates had ‘taught’ this way, the youth of Athens would have stoned him in the portico.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “The 2010s Killed Off the Polite Climate Change Conversation”

    The article lays the blame on “a decade of GOP climate denial, fossil fuel industry obstruction, mounting climate disasters, and the cataclysmic election of Donald Trump pushed the climate fight into a much more radical and confrontational mode.” but partisanship will always distort any analysis of the situation. You have to look at what was actually happening and who some of the real actors were that were behind. People such as-

    “I was extraordinarily proud of the Paris Accords because, look I know we’re in oil country and we need American energy. And by the way, American energy production, you wouldn’t always know it, but it went up every year I was president. And you know that whole suddenly America’s like the biggest oil producer … that was me, people.” – Barack Obama

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      And Obama lobbied it down to voluntary accords instead of treaty accords. Thanks Obama…his recent purchase in Martha Vineyard is an indication that “liberals” who say dimwitted things such as that they “believe” (I can’t stress how much this bugs me) in evolution, climate change, a day science are barely literate idiots who only bring up “science” because they want to use it as some kind of social marker of good breeding.

  7. Wukchumni

    It’s the weirdest leftover from the Cold War, Cuba.

    I’m the same age as when diplomatic ties were initially severed, and I guess it’d be like an uncle who hated me from the get-go after my coming out party, and never relented to this day.

    You’d say, wow what a weird relation you have, he hates you for no good reason, and i’d say, ah, it’s just my Uncle, Sam.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      It’s just sad. Cubans have so many common ties with the US, culturally and socially. The potential for a synergistic relationship is obvious if only Uncle Sam would only respect them.

      1. Procopius

        The funny thing is, the American embargo has probably ended up making Cuba stronger than it would have been. No country can be completely self-sufficient any more, but when America imposes sanctions to punish the common people of a country, hoping to make them revolt against their elite (it’s never worked yet), it does force them to find as many ways as they can to live without imported goods.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Sackler-owned opioid maker pushes overdose treatment abroad”

    In a statement today, the Sacklers said that they are going to be expanding on this concept and have end-to-end involvement from the initial drug offerings for a new patient straight through to their overdose treatment as they fight off death. And for when that does not work, they are now proud to announce a nation-wide franchise of funeral parlors called “Sacklers” as the name brand is so familiar. “Our finance department has identified over 40,000 potential customers annually”, a spokesperson said “and when you consider that the average North American traditional funeral costs between $7,000 and $10,000, that is at least $280,000,000 sitting on the table waiting to be picked up.” “Sacklers”. Now coming to a town near you.

    1. xkeyscored

      The same drug that some US police forces don’t want in their areas.

      “Almost every time we are distributing supplies there is someone who expresses needing them but being afraid that the police will arrest them for having them,” says a participant in Autonomous Harm Reduction of Evansville in Indiana. “Sadly it is a justified fear.”
      Naloxone is not a federally controlled substance. Seizures of this lifesaving medication are therefore never legally necessary, and are driven both by ignorance and the kind of prejudice that prompts media questions about whether overdose reversal “enables” addiction. Every time a dose of naloxone is confiscated, the chance that someone’s life will be saved by it is removed.
      “Any confiscation is … a huge problem in my opinion,” says Nicole Chimento, deputy director at Community Action for Social Justice in New York City. “Taking a life-saving medication from a person that is most likely to use it is appalling and reckless. I also think that this is a very under-reported issue. Most drug users are ‘used’ to this treatment from officers, so instead of reporting it, they just deal with it as if it’s expected.”

  9. Mike

    Re: Donald Trump fears only one Democrat: Warren Sanders Guardian. Robert Reich.

    I notice that Mssr. Reich puts Warren first, and since Sanders follows, effectively, as VP. Smart neolib, that man, knowing that Warren would scuttle any attempt at a major Bernie program and send him on tail-chasing trips.

    Sadly, I also feel Bernie would allow this, because Liz is a friend of his…

    1. lyman alpha blob

      I noticed that Reich (or his Grauniad editors) threw in a half sentence about Trump allowing foreign interference in US elections in an otherwise good article that was linked to here the other day. Starting to see a pattern with these almost throwaway neoliberal talking points in his articles.

      That piece would have been fine with no mention of Warren, and better if it pointed out how her views have changed fairly recently to echo those of Sanders.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Australia’s Qantas chooses Airbus over Boeing for longest routes”

    A spokesperson said today that there were several reason for the selection of the Airbus A350-1000 for this route over the Boeing offering. There was the matter of economics, productivity and efficiency gains and also the ability to use the same pilots on A350 aircraft and the airline’s existing fleet of Airbus A330s but mostly it was avoiding all those deadly plane crashes. The spokesperson mentioned that the pilot’s union were very much in favour of the last reason and although our Board felt sentimental about Boeing, decided on giving all those violent deaths “a bit of a miss.”

    1. anon in so cal

      Last time I glanced at the CX pilots’ forum, they seemed to hate the Airbus A350. AF 447 was an Airbus 330, but I guess that disaster was due to a cadet a the controls and not the faulty pitot tubes.

      1. Gaianne

        “but I guess that disaster was due to a cadet a the controls and not the faulty pitot tubes.”

        But this is what is breaking people’s hearts: A Boeing used to be an absolutely obviously better plane–but no longer!

        When the pitot tubes ice up, move the throttle to cruise, take your hands off the controls, and let the plane fly straight and level.

        But when the flight computer points the nose at the ground, or the wings come off because of sloppy bolt holes, it does not matter who is at the controls. A Captain Scully will do no better than a panicking cadet.

  11. Carolinian

    Re The Atlantic/Tucker Carlson

    Carlson, during our post-show interview that Friday, said he’s learned to drown out any accusations of white supremacy, because “it’s so far from the truth that it has no effect at all other than to evoke in me contempt for the people saying it, because I think it’s that dishonest.” He went on to defend his most controversial segments as an effort to show how America’s “obsession with race” and “constant talking about race” is a “diversion tactic” used by “people who don’t want to talk about economics.” “And the reason people don’t want to talk about economics,” he said, “is because the economy is rigged for the benefit of a small number of people. They don’t want to talk about it—they would much rather the population was high and hating each other on the basis of race.”

    Makes sense to me. The article’s author (and people like Jeff St. Clair) consider this a “race based appeal” but can we deny that suppositions about bigoted motives are the blunderbuss that is trained against populism in almost all situations these days? Even the Jewish Bernie Sanders is now being accused of antisemitism or perhaps racism now that Trump has declared Jews to be a race. On the ground where I live racism certainly exists but it seems to be diminishing rather than increasing. And even if that’s not true who can deny that the Dems these days are only about IDPol?

    I’ve never seen Carlson’s show but sounds like he is saying some true things. In today;s media environment that alone must be an exception–whatever his flaws.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Tucker Carlson can make you stand up and applaud his incisiveness and bravery.
      He can also make you shriek in horror at his willful ignorance.

      On the ground where I live racism certainly exists but it seems to be diminishing rather than increasing. And even if that’s not true who can deny that the Dems these days are only about IDPol? — The idea that racism is about people’s feelings, instead of people’s balance sheets has been incredibly harmful to the country’s understanding of the issue. They get in your head and confuse you. Lots of media personalities and politicians would MUCH rather talk about feelings, because it means there’s no impact to themselves or accountability for their roles.

      The real racism is right here for all to see:

    2. lyman alpha blob

      I’ve watched a few clips recently and Carlson has been very good and talking much like Bernie Sanders does regarding the economy.

      The author of the piece though concludes by insinuating that Carlson can’t see his own racism, or at least the racism of his guests who oppose immigration. The fact that for Sanders and many others, immigration is an economic issue seems to be lost lost on the author though. It isn’t just the white working class that suffers from people working illegally for low wages. I find it hard to believe that point is lost on Carlson. One wonders if the article left out that point deliberately. Seeing as it’s in a publication aimed at the wealthy urban elite, my guess would be that it was.

  12. Pat

    One thing I have added to my admittedly limit arsenal of weapons meant to change perception of our status quo is my question of how a multinational or transnational corporation decides which country to take care of in a crisis. It is similar to my asking why the business press gets so excited when mass layoffs are announced when it logically means that a company was being mismanaged having excess employees OR will be mismanaged after the layoffs because they don’t have enough employees. Both get people thinking about the assumptions and motives not just about the subject of the question (companies/business press) but those behind the decisions (corporate ownership and management).

    While individuals do not all have community ties, concerns, and loyalties, it always struck me as bizarre how often we are told that we need to kowtow to companies with no real ties to any community or nation because it is best. How, why? They are so divorced from their workers and their customers. They have no neighbors. The management and the owners do not have to stay anywhere they spoil. Of course they have no reason to consider anything but their own profits.

    Slowly, but yes I say surely, our middle manager top 15%ers are realizing they are going to be the next sacrifices to the gods of profit. Not soon enough for most, but perhaps in time to stop complete devastation.

    (The fact that AOC is a bigger presence than Pelosi in the anti Impeachment ads I am seeing tells me she has the owners funding them terrified.)

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I mentioned it up above, but usually the GOP wants clear liberal hypocrites to run against because they are so easy to paint as villains. AOC needs to be destroyed now in their minds because they aren’t going to be able to hold up her fracking interests as she doesn’t have any. And AOC clearly paints the usual Team Blue suspects as the GOP plants they are. Buttigieg and O’Rourke may have seemed young and hip in the absence of AOC, but In her presence, they are just boomer brown noses. Pete is just a Republican who clearly can’t go far in the current GOP.

      Even little Greta frightens them because she shines the light not on the GOP but on the Team Blue Charlie Browns. Had Obama even offered up a few token white collar criminals, HRC or even Biden could easily be the current President. AOC and Greta really aren’t saying anything revolutionary. It’s only shocking next to how vapid the great orator of the ages actually was.

    2. Harvey

      The US is the hollow country.
      A poor sad nation that no longer exists in any meaningful way. With no national ethos to make its inhabitants proud of being American. No concern for inhabitant well-being.

      Its foreign “policy” is just a mish-mash of overseas and US vested interests fighting each other to get a crack at looting other nations.

      It’s domestic “service” policies and infrastructure is just a mish-mash of vested interests fighting each other to get a crack at looting the taxpayers and working people, who are sinking in debt as to be expected.

      Vested interests from the US and rich overseas nations fund “think tanks” to buy influence. With a democratic model that makes all candidates for sale.

      “Protected” by a military/intelligence juggernaut that wants to have more and more power to do what they want, unseen, unconstrained, and funded by looting taxpayers.

      That’s America. And tha-aa-at’s all folks.

      1. Anthony G Stegman

        George Carlin was a wise man. He gave up on the United States. I have as well. No flags flying. No national anthems sung. Keeping my powder dry.

  13. Summer

    RE: “Trump’s Bad. Sadly, He’s Not Alone”. NYT
    But this:
    “The most twisted defense was offered by Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, who said that it doesn’t make sense to impeach the president for obstructing Congress because “we were sent here to obstruct this Congress.” It was “a campaign promise.”

    I’ve realized their line of thinking for a long time now and remember it every time the Dems smile for the cameras when reaching across the aisle to their good-faith partners.

    1. Danny

      You want a bunch of partisan hacks impeaching him less than a year from the election, or, do you want the American people to impeach him at the ballot box?

      How about stripping power from Pelosi and all the other frauds, of both parties, that voted for Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria?

      Trump has not started one new war or caused the deaths of thousands of American soldiers and millions of civilians like those that call loudest for impeachment as a nice distraction from their decade old plus crimes in high office.

      1. GF

        How many wars has Trump stopped? Still many civilians being killed by our existing wars.

        How many coups has he started (they are proxy wars after all used to kill-off the opposition).

        How much has the military budget decreased under Trump?

        How many of the 700+ “bases” the USA maintains around the world have been shuttered? Hasn’t he actually added to the number?

        Trump is a disgrace and a disaster for America and the sooner he and his goose steppers leave the better off the country will be.

        1. Massinissa

          All those things you mention have been the hallmark of EVERY American administration since at least the Reagan Administration. Do you really think it was Trump that created 700 bases, that it was something he did when he came into office?

          Trump and his ‘goose steppers’ may be removed from office, but he will just be replaced with an Obama or Clinton who does the same damn things.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            No matter how much one hates The Orange Man one should hate even more an attack on the Republic.

            So by all means let’s vote to be rid of the man.

            But normalizing the removal of an elected president because the opposition party happens to have more votes in Congress: is that *really* the precedent we want to set, for the other team to use if/when they please?

            The source is Alan Dershowitz but he does know a thing or two about the Constitution:

            These two grounds – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – are not among the criteria specified for impeachment. Neither one is a high crime and misdemeanor. Neither is mentioned in the Constitution.

            Both are the sort of vague, open-ended criteria specifically rejected by the framers.

            They were rejected precisely to avoid the situation in which our nation currently finds itself.

            Abuse of power can be charged against virtually every controversial president by the opposing party.

            And obstruction of Congress – whatever else it may mean – cannot extend to a president invoking privileges and then leave it to the courts to referee conflicts between the legislative and executive branches.

            Hamilton feared that vague criteria would allow a majority of the House to impeach a president from the opposing party just because they had more votes than the president’s party.

            He called that “the greatest danger.” Madison worried that open-ended criteria, such as “maladministration” would give Congress too much discretion and power, and turn our republic into a parliamentary democracy in which the chief executive serves at the will of the legislature.

            To prevent these dangers, the framers settled on criteria with well-established meanings: treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors.

            The House Democrats are simply ignoring these words and this history, because they have the votes to do so.

            They are following the absurd notion put forth by Congresswoman Maxine Waters that when it comes to impeachment “there is no law,” and the criteria are anything a majority of the House wants it be, regardless of what the Constitution mandates.

            This lawless view confuses what a majority of Congress can get away with (absent judicial review) with what the Constitution requires. It places Congress above the supreme law of the land, namely the Constitution.

            Were Congress to vote to impeach President Trump on the two proposed grounds, its action would be unconstitutional.

            According to Hamilton in Federalist 78, any act of Congress that does not comport with the Constitution is “void.” This view was confirmed by the Supreme Court in Marbury v. Madison and is now the law of the land.

            1. Anthony G Stegman

              I’m okay with Trump remaining in office, AND being reelected. This nation is going down the drain anyway, and if Trump can speed things up a bit that will be a good thing in the longer run. We need to destroy this nation in order to save it.

            2. Briny

              I’d love to see Trump’s defense team to file a motion to dismiss with Chief Justice Roberts and have it immediately granted!

      2. jrs

        Whichever gets rid of him, but impeachment might not is the problem, unless it got through the Senate. But heck I would celebrate lone gunman even if it would do that job.

        1. flora

          sigh…. I remember the aftermath of the Kennedy lone gunman act. It fostered a decade of mayhem resulting finally in the Nixon presidency. Followed by Carter followed by Reagan. So, no matter how much you loathe the current occupant, I request no more allusions to violent removal from office. (Even if the blob itself might think violent removal is a fine idea. Or, especially if the blob thinks it’s a fine idea.)

  14. sb

    I was so grieved this morning to read about the loss of Tasmania’s old growth flowering trees. It’s so tragic, and it wrenched my heart when I read that it was not a priority to save them. A few years ago we had raging wildfire in California. It was threatening to burn the giant Sequoias. Thank heavens fire firefighters were sent in to protect them. They cleared brush around the trees, bulldozed fire breaks, and set up sprinklers.

    Anything that can live to hundreds of years deserves our best efforts to protect them. Right now, the fate of the Tongass old growth forest is in danger. The Trump administration and the Alaskan government is gunning for it. I don’t understand people want to take such magnificent living trees and turn them into boards for money. It is such a travesity.

  15. WJ

    Reich’s piece in the Guardian is a perfect example of why the Warren candidacy must be destroyed. The truth is–and Reich knows this–that Warren is nowhere near Sanders on any major policy and has nowhere near the extent of “grassroots” support. Her candidacy is being propped up as an “acceptable” compromise by the donor class and its chief purpose is to divide Sanders’ natural constituency sufficiently to enable the defeat of his nomination at the convention.

    Also cute is the reverse alphabetical ordering of their last names, which is a justified reflection of which political reality exactly?

    1. chuckster

      I think you ought to destroy the Warren candidacy to ensure that Joe Biden gets his shot at the brass ring. Look forward to all the progressive ideas that Joe will bring to the table when Liz goes back to Massachusetts. LOL

      1. WJ

        “Progressive ideas” is all voters will ever get from Warren. The notion that she is *at all* an acceptable substitute for Sanders this primary has long ago proven itself to be fallacious. And yet time and again Sanders and Warren are lumped together as if they are more or less the same candidate. Why do you think this is?

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          My goal is the utter discrediting and then complete destruction of the Democratic Party. The right way to take the next step toward that is to have Biden be the nominee. Then I think it will probably take *two* more election cycles before the ashes of the edifice are burnt down and salt can be sowed in the earth they trod.

          *They* are the ones responsible for giving people the impression that there is an opposition and that they have a voice. Everyone knows what they’re voting for with Repubs, fair enough. With Dems however people continue to be bamboozled into thinking they are voting their interests.

            1. jrs

              Yep, and it’s by no means assured the left fills the vacuum, plenty of other things could or nothing at all and just widespread uninvolvement. Even for a long game, assuming there was such, it seems the wrong one to play. Even education on positive directions seems a better long game, if enough people become aware of alternatives etc.. But how much long game have we really got?

          1. tegnost

            Hillary losing the popular vote this time is my recipe for success re destroying the democratic [sic] party, but I don’t want to live through that nightmare

        2. jrs

          it’s more that it’s not clear that Sanders is where Warren voters go if she dropped out, but sooner or later there will be less candidates as it sorts out regardless. Although Biden and Buttigieg could keep stealing votes from each other.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Have you considered pushing Warren to be a better candidate? These are awards to be taken not bestowed. If you have to mention the opponent, you aren’t going to be the nominee. It means the candidate is too small to matter.

        1. hunkerdown

          Whether she is a better candidate is irrelevant. She’s still a markets-worshipping neoliberal-lite with a proven-failed, self-centered, being-seen-managing theory of change.

        2. Carey

          >Have you considered pushing Warren to be a better candidate?

          What does this mean; or what might it mean?

  16. Wukchumni

    Sporting Desk:

    One of the good things in regards to being a long suffering Bills fan, was you really didn’t have to pay attention after half a season, it was always a fade accompli. But now in the 2nd amendment we have the Firebaugh Firebrand by Josh.

    My wife claims hundreds would commit suicide if the Bills departed Buffalo-which seems outrageous, but then again hundreds of Bills faithful waited outdoor @ the airport in subfreezing temps to greet the team @ 2 am in the wee hours today.

    p.s. ~~~ It seems as if the NFL has maxed out on fawning the military vis a vis being it’s civilian outreach department, it was all too much last night, not that I can remember the specifics, it just come coming in waves.

  17. Oregoncharles

    “It’s time for Audubon’s Christmas bird count ” – we aren’t birders, but the count has come to our property several times. I have a copy of their list from here; it’s pretty impressive, as it’s on a river and very mixed conditions. They’ve stopped coming here, as bank erosion has made access to the wild area rather difficult – and we haven’t maintained the trail well. Need to do that. Another item for my to-do list.

    We’re in the Willamette Valley, an important wintering area for a lot of birds – both waterfowl and raptors are much more common in the winter than the summer, for that reason. It’s a lucky field mouse that makes it. We once saw a Black-Tailed Kite, a sinister looking white bird that belongs in California, so came north instead of south. Sitting by the freeway. And I remember when white egrets appeared, which are now pretty common. Presumably also came up from Cali, probably when the DDT wore off and their numbers increased. Pelicans, too. The wildlife refuges here are great places to see birds.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      I’ve spent many happy hours in wildfire refuges throughout the country. Not much time – although some – in Oregon. Perhaps sometime soon! Non-birders are often surprised at just how many birds one can see in even a semi-wild place, particularly if it’s located on water, and one visits during migration or breeding seasons.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Let us know if you’re going to be in Oregon; we’ll try to arrange a meetup, maybe in Eugene to be close to the refuges. Finley is the one we usually go to. We almost always see Northern Harriers there, besides kestrels. In the winter, we watched a couple of young bald eagles trying to scare the ducks and geese off the water; eventually gave up, landed on the ice (not that common here) and were still conferring about it when we left. Funny. Saw white pelicans there the last time – I think that was summer. Look like sacks of laundry with long beaks.

        Hard choice between the waterfowl and raptors in winter vs. the songbirds in summer.

  18. Tim

    Anybody that thinks Warren has a good chance at beating Trump hasn’t been paying attention.

    Trumps core absolutely loathes her.
    Her lip service (at the very least) to the current system is a liability.
    Her republican roots are a liability with the Democratic party
    The left prefers Sanders, the establishment dems prefer Biden, so if she is the nominal there will be no enthusiasm from her potential voters, other than the “first woman president!” constituency.
    If they ever debate, then Trump will bring her down to his level as she tried to argue in good faith, and beat her with experience.

  19. Mike

    Re: MSNBC public editor: What if Rachel Maddow is right? Columbia Journalism Review.

    To quote David Mitchell from “Would I Lie to You?” — “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha ha … ha ha ha ha, I’m so merry!”

    1. Heidi’s master

      Re: MSNBC

      Let us not forget the consequences of Maddow’s journalism. A civil war in Ukraine with 13,000, and counting, deaths. Millions have been displaced. Homes and towns destroyed.

  20. ObjectiveFunction

    Great links today, J-L and team!

    Noteworthy from the (misleadingly headlined) BoingBoing piece, some forgotten history on public finance:

    From 1938 to 1974 Canada and other western countries did in fact get very good infrastructure for very cheap. [Central banks] loaned massive amounts of money, virtually interest-free, to all levels of government.

    Then in 1974 private lenders in Canada and abroad took over that function. The result was a significant slow-down in the building and maintenance of infrastructure. And governments had to pay much higher interest for the money they needed.

    While taxpayers are usually the ultimate payer for these projects, money from non-government sources increasingly is being used to finance construction. This is paid back to the financiers at interest rates that while relatively low at the moment, are higher than the governments themselves could get the money for — and add up to huge amounts over the long durations of the projects’ contracts. As result, infrastructure and real estate can provide (together with private equity) the most solid and safe rates of return in the world.

    No great surprise to readers here, and private peculation of public goods has been regularly chronicled on these pages and on WolfStreet, but worth remembering. I have been ‘deep diving’ into some bank infra valuation models this week, and find myself once again wryly amused: 30+ interlinked Excel tabs, full of convoluted if-then/vlookup calcs and macros.

    …But out of all that spaghetti, buried in the guts, you invariably find maybe 10 hardcoded cells, rarely footnoted or justified, giving the key technical parameters that drive the core outputs (power, water, traffic), and by extension the resulting cash flows that are being Valued.

    All the rest, all of it! is financing gobbledygook (I mean fine, I know what it all means, but it shunts aside the reality that the core business, labor working with machines, is likely a very quirky and volatile beast, muddling through this ever changing world in which we live (in).

    While the financiers demand to be paid on the nail, each month, with adequate reserve accounts set aside, in accordance with the Schedules set out in tabs S-5 through S-17, op cit. And Gott forbid you bust the ratios, because McKidsey or the Bainie Babies are waiting in the wings to ‘fix’ it.

    And escalators. Oh, how I do love those! To the moon, Alice!

    /rant B-)

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