Links 12/17/19

Texan ‘Rodeo Ants’ Ride on the Backs of Bigger Ants Smithsonian

San Diego County Kindergartner Sells Hot Cocoa, Cookies to Clear Classmates’ Lunch Debt KTLA. Heartwarming.

Almost $14 Billion Pulled From CalPERS Equity Managers and Exclusive: CalPERS Fires Most of Its Equity Managers Chief Investment Officer (KW).

ICANN hits pause on the sale of .ORG to Republican billionaires’ private equity fund Boing Boing (dk). Love the URL: “its-an-ethos.”

Has Europe left it too late to achieve digital sovereignty? World Economic Forum. “92% of the Western world’s data is stored in the United States.”


Pound slides as Boris Johnson signals hard 2020 Brexit deadline FT

Nicola Sturgeon: Scots can force U-turn on indyref2 The Herald

North and Midlands call in a favour on spending FT

Hot Mic Moment Exposes Insane Sleaziness Of British Political/Media Class Caitlin Johnstone (KW).

Getting the UK ready for the next phase of Brexit negotiations Institute for Government

* * *

What Corbyn Got Wrong About Brexit Lee Jones, The Full Brexit

Britain’s Yellow Jacket election Politico

Labour’s Defeat LRB

In search of liberal nationalism FT

Maggie Thatcher dunking from the grave:

In blow to Macron, France pensions reform tsar resigns Reuters


RIP THE CARTER DOCTRINE, 1980-2019 Foreign Policy.

Pentagon Chief Questions Turkey’s Direction in NATO After Threat Bloomberg

Aung San Suu Kyi is playing politics with appearance at Rohingya case Nikkei Asian Review


Kanhaiya on Citizenship Law: If you don’t consider us citizens, we don’t consider you as govt Indian Express

India’s plunging economy: Why 2010-2020 will be remembered as the lost decade The Scroll (J-LS).

Najib Razak’s Ex-Guard Implicates Him in Murder Case in Bid for Retrial Bloomberg


China’s leaders praise Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam over handling of protest crisis, but remind her she has yet to quell violence South China Morning Post

“National Language” in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Language Log

Watch: Glenn Greenwald’s Exclusive Interview With Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Who Was Deposed in a Coup The Intercept

Chile protests: UN accuses security forces of human rights abuses BBC

Brazil’s evangelical church preaches the Bolsonaro revolution FT

Evangelical gangs in Rio de Janeiro wage ‘holy war’ on Afro-Brazilian faiths The Conversation

For Caribbean nations, climate change means shrinking populations Grist


Federal Criminal Offenses and the Impeachment of Donald J. Trump JustSecurity. Must be air-tight, since the Democrats aren’t impeaching Trump for any of them.

I Headed the F.B.I. and C.I.A. There’s a Dire Threat to the Country I Love. William Webster, NYT

Trump Transition

Where Trump and the Deep State are in Lockstep: Torture Counterpunch

Supreme Court Won’t Hear Case On Ban Against Homeless Sleeping In Public Spaces NPR


Pete Buttigieg’s High Hopes The New Yorker. Awkward:

Read the room. Pete.

Bernie Sanders knocks rivals for taking donations from billionaires CBS

How Biden Kept Screwing Up Iraq—Over and Over and Over Again The Daily Beast

Health Care

We all have choices to make:

‘It comes down to pure greed’: Insulin prices double, causing many people with diabetes to turn to extremes USA Today

BlueCross BlueShield, Cigna, Optum file reverse public records suits to stop release of price information TCOG

Our Famously Free Press

Lies, Newsweek and Control of the Media Narrative: First-Hand Account Tareq Haddad

Sports Desk

Cricket legend Tendulkar finds hotel worker who gave him batting advice France24

Financing for Sports Stadiums Could Count as Helping the Poor Bloomberg (BL).

Major League Baseball threatens to walk away from Minor League Baseball entirely NBC

Class Warfare

This is How a Society Dies Umair Haque

Fashion Nova’s Secret: Underpaid Workers in Los Angeles Factories NYT

Mormon Church has misled members on $100 billion tax-exempt investment fund, whistleblower alleges WaPo (dk).

God To Leave Humanity In Hands Of Babysitter Kayla While He Checks Out New Restaurant The Onion

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Paul O

    It is no use trying to make us feel better with a cuddly animal. Once you have given us ‘Maggie’ there is no road back :-)

      1. The Rev Kev

        For a minute, I thought that your music suggestion was going to be the one that was sung at her funeral – “Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead.”

        1. inode_buddha

          … that was *EXCELLENT* !!! thanks for sharing it made my day… could apply just as well here in the US and it sure brought back memories for me in the punk scene

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Rage. Makes me wonder where the mainstream rage music is today, in my day all the major mainstream artists were talking about ending the war. Then we got it done

      2. Mel

        But with these, and even the Boris Johnson fugue, we’re back to Tom Lehrer: “He may have won all the battles, but we had all the good songs.”
        Oh well.

        1. HotFlash

          I do believe that’s a chinchilla. A friend raises them in a small way, for pets, not for coats. They are very soft and like to cuddle, at least hers do, and the babies are even more squee.

          1. Scary Gales

            No, it looks to be a Mountain Viscacha. A longer tail and ears than it’s cousin the chinchilla, and living in the high Andes likes to soak up the warm morning sun after a cold night. I suppose fortunately for the Mountain Viscacha, it’s pelt is unsuitable for coats…the hair falls off. And yes, photos of it are sometimes misidentified as a rabbit.

        2. Oregoncharles

          It’s a pika. High-altitude rabbits, except for one rockpile in the Columbia Gorge. Endearingly, they store hay for the long winters.

          1. HotFlash

            Wrong tail, I think. But I am a *HUGE* pika fan. Often, when confronted with good sales whilst grocery shopping, I ask myself, “What would a pika do?”

  2. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert.

    With regard to the link about the departure of France’s pensions tsar, a shop worn title that should be consigned to the dust bin of history, one of the causes of his departure is the failure to declare interests, including links with BlackRock as per

    It’s not just the Tsar who should go in that case, Macron knows the London arm of the firm well. Soon after Macron’s resignation from the ministry of finance, George Osborne and his consigliere Rupert Harrison, both now advisers to BlackRock, arranged for him to meet the City’s great and the good. At this “debutante’s coming out”, Macron also lobbied for French firm ATOS Origin to get more British government contracts. Amongst other things, ATOS vets applications for benefits, a scandal in itself.

    BlackRock’s London office, literally a stone’s throw from where I am typing, has offices for many of Europe’s great and the good. Many play down, if do not declare, their interests and get away with neo liberal and neo con propaganda on the air waves.

    As for the Jess Philips hot mic moment, there were many throughout the campaign. One BBC reporter said that “Johnson so deserved to win the election”. I checked in case she was one of his “coven” at the Spectator. She has not worked there or the sister Telegraph rags, but there are at least half a dozen of his “harem” on the loose. Watch out, Carrie. “He’s a hard dog to keep on the porch.”

    1. David

      Delevoye has become a laughing-stock in a matter of a few days. The number of paid gigs that he forgot to notify (as he’s legally required to do by a 2013 law) is now fourteen. One of them is an actual job (from which he’s just resigned) as President of a think-tank, bringing him a cool €6000 per month, which he’d forgotten he had. (Compare that with a typical retirement pension of €1000). This is actually a violation of a specific article in the Constitution, and a possible criminal offence: it’s being hinted that he was advised to resign quick, before the flics arrived in his office. Most of the other things he “forgot” are in the past, but the law makes it clear that anything relevant in the previous five years has to be declared.
      From a PR perspective this is a disaster for Macron, and can only make an already tense situation even worse. It’s a characteristic of the clientist nature of French politics that there are an apparently endless number of little jobs (or non-jobs) into which your cronies can be shuffled : a few thousand Euros a month here, a little consultancy there, it all helps to keep the wolf from the door. It’s also a blow from the practical perspective: Delevoye is one of the handful of people who actually understand the subject at a time when much of France is closed because of strikes and demonstrations.

      1. Ignacio

        Thank you for showing us so clearly for what these pension reformer morons are really worried about. He should be on guillotine watch.

        1. Susan the Other

          I’d be willing to think that one of the political theories behind this is neoliberal Cart-Before-Horse. The theory is something like this: Impoverish people and they will gradually stop buying so much stuff – (including essentials unfortunately) and therefore the “market” will gradually go down, The CO2 will max out at a survivable level, and civilization will recede at a pace which does not also impoverish the oligarchs – because time is always their friend. And Macron buys into this nonsense. Somebody needs to tell him it is the 21st Century.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            I struggle to ascribe any actual green concern to the likes of Macron, or to Christine Lagarde for that matter. Neither have previously demonstrated any actions designed to favor actual people over billionaire oligarchs and grifters. I think they view “green” as just the next trough to push their snouts into, weaponize, exclude, and of course make serious bank from

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Impoverish people and they will gradually stop buying so much stuff – (including essentials unfortunately) and therefore the “market” will gradually go down, The CO2 will max out at a survivable level, and civilization will recede at a pace which does not also impoverish the oligarchs – because time is always their friend.

            Hence, falling life expectancy in the neoliberal heartland: US and UK.

  3. Clive

    Re: What Corbyn Got Wrong About Brexit

    From the article, right at the end, so easily missed:

    This debacle has important lessons for the left everywhere. In an era where traditional left and social-democratic parties have dramatically weakened ties with their erstwhile working-class bases, they will very rarely, if ever, get to decide the terms on which people revolt against the neoliberal order, precisely because they are not leading the people. The people are, in fact, out in front of them. If the left then reacts in horror, and recoils from the people and the prospect of fundamental change, the leadership of anti-establishment revolts will fall, merely by default, to the right.

    My emphasis, but the entire article is that rare thing at the moment — correct analysis.

    The above paragraph should be pinned up on the wall of every UK Labour or US Democrat strategy meeting. It should be written on a post-it note and securely fastened to the screen of any progressive media outlet.

    The article is well worth reading in full because it also conveys an oft-missed point that, while in the UK Brexit started as an anti-neoliberalism backlash, it certainly didn’t finish there. It let to the accretion of a whole lot of other things which had been swept under the rug and needed bringing out into the open — phoney liberal (or liberal-authoritarian) thought-leadership, mainstream media capture by the aforementioned, experts who were far from neutral explain’ers of the supposed-truths… too many to list here.

    1. PlutoniumKun


      UK Brexit started as an anti-neoliberalism backlash,

      You’d need to explain that. I’d always thought it started as an obsession of a right wing fringe of the Tory Party.

      1. Otis B Driftwood

        Looking over from the US, it appears that it did, but it was the working classes beating down by neoliberalism that made them a receptive audience to Brexit – that is, that it would be the solution to all the problems created by austerity and privatization. An easy way to fix it and not really fix it.

        1. a different chris

          Your first half sentence: Yup.

          But the rest is not fair. Why do you think everybody was at the pub grinning and saying “ok everything is good now!”.

          They had problems – austerity and privatization. Did the EU really address that, or did it let it continually slide downhill? Macron for example doesn’t exactly remind me of FDR.

          So maybe they simply thought “if we bring the problem closer to home, aka make sure nobody in Westminster can claim ‘my hands are tied because of the EU’, then maybe we can do something about this crap.”

          I am against “going along to get along”. I think you need to mark off your enemies and fight. But you will lose if you don’t know why they are fighting you.

          1. Yves Smith

            We have said this again and again:

            1. The UK was a major propagator of neoliberalism in the EU. The UK is far more neoliberal than the EU generally

            2. The Tories did a fantastic job of scapegoating the EU for their austerity programs. Even you have fallen for it.

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          from Texas, I thought the same: that there was quite a bit of lefty support(and presumably non-voter party support, like in the usa) due to the way the EU government is structured…lack of democracy, lack of sovereignty, etc.
          that it was immediately hijacked and spun as a monolithic right wing racist revolt was not unexpected, but it was still disappointed.
          i see that mirrored in Team Hillary’s “everything’s fine”-ism and hate for the lower orders(merely a bunch of goatf&*kingracists).

          the Machine’s wholesale bargain purchase of the Media was money well spent.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Q: What is the number of unelected Brussels paper pushers that earn more than $100,000 per year?

            A: >10,000.

            Takes a lot of work to come up with the laws describing the shape of the potato a Staffordshire farmer is allowed to grow

            1. Anonymous 2

              ‘Takes a lot of work to come up with the laws describing the shape of the potato a Staffordshire farmer is allowed to grow’

              Do you have a link to the relevant law specifying the shape potatoes grown in Staffordshire must be?

                1. Anonymous 2

                  Many thanks. An interesting read (for some of us).

                  The restrictions are of course on what gets marketed rather than grown, which makes more sense.

                  For those who do not know about these things, regulations such as these are usually produced by the Commission in response to requests from the Member States and/or trade associations, rather than because some bureaucrat with nothing better to do has decided to interfere in such matters.

                  The justification given of course in these matters is that wholesale dealers in potatoes when dealing in very large quantities want to be confident that they know what will be delivered to them and that they can sell the potatoes on. Doubtless the supermarket chains are very important here in determining what can be traded. I am no expert in food or veg by any means but guess that the supermarkets say that their requirements reflect what their customers will buy. Whether that is really the key consideration rather than what is easiest for them to process I confess to being unclear.

                  In future such matters may well be ruled on by faceless bureaucrats in Whitehall rather than Brussels (or will it be Washington?). I cannot see UK politicians wanting to get involved.

                  1. Amfortas the hippie

                    pretty sure it’s to keep happy the enormous machines that turn them into tater tots and french fries.

                    which is almost a very dystopian koan

      2. Clive

        A mis-categorisation of Remain it somehow started thinking, from no basis in historical fact that, once it became a Remain brainworm it seemed impossible to rectify. This accounts Labour’s own inability to react to Brexit without pressing the self-destruct button. If the left believed that Brexit was all just about the rightwing of U.K. politics, it was almost fated to — incorrectly — conclude it merely needed to pin Brexit on the Conservatives.

        Labour Leave has a long-standing place on the left of British politics (witness “the longest suicide note in history”) or the 1983 Labour Party manifesto. The Socialist Worker, for example, along with the more definitively Communist Morning Star ran articles critical of the EU for 30+ years.

        The right merely picked up on this incipient anti-EU movement, put some proper funding into it, better more disciplined messaging and a media-savvy leadership.

        It’s difficult not to conclude that some, perhaps a lot, of the votes for Brexit in the 2016 referendum were a reaction to the effects of neoliberalism. As the article explains, the reaction from the various Remain actors made into lots of other things besides that.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Clive, not just for the comments today, but over the years.

          Last year, at a Brexit discussion in the City, Gerard Lyons and Liam Halligan, both leading Brexiteers in the City, said that their analysis was as much, if not more so, driven by Labour’s analysis, including Peter Shore’s in the 1970s and 1980s, than the Tory one. At that discussion, the pair referenced their Irish roots.

          As I wrote my masters dissertation on central bank independence in the mid 1990s, Labour MPs Roger Berry and Peter Hain helped me. They were skeptical of the EU and echoed Shore’s work.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Of course austerity helped it, but the labour anti-Europe movement never had any connection with the thatcherite anti-European group – the latter was almost entirely focused on the loss of regulatory (or deregulatory power) to Europe and the perceived importation of a more European corporate form of government. There is simply no connection between the two – if there was, then true Lexiteers (like PBP in Northern Ireland) would have benefited (they’ve been wiped out), and the SNP would have suffered for their stance.

          The notion that anti-neoliberalism is at the base of pro-Brexit feeling simply doesn’t match the voting patterns, in particular the heavy skew towards older voters and the very strong English v Celtic skew. And thats another issue with that article – its continuous use of ‘British’ when describing phenomenon that are solely English.

          1. Clive

            It’s 100% correct to say that the interests of Labour Leave were often diametrically opposed to those of Conservative Leave. I’m minded of the ancient ode, when trying to reconcile the collaboration between these two political matter/anti-matter combinations:

            “Little Jack Sprat could eat no fat. His wife could eat no lean. And so between them both, you see, together they licked the platter clean”

            In the face of Remain’s implacable blocking of Leave, their differences were set aside. Even internecine conflicts within Leave (vis-a-vis. Richard North’s visceral hatred of Johnson and Farage) — Remain correctly intuited that initially Leave had no idea what Leave meant — were set aside, evidenced by the Brexit Party’s paymasters telling it to stand aside its candidates in certain constituencies. This happened, I postulate, because it ended up no longer being about just Leave. Brexit also now represented a full-frontal assault on the scourge of Liberal authoritarianism.

            It’s also correct to say that the article can’t, legitimately bandy about “Britain”. It’s on safe ground saying “England and Wales”. For Northern Ireland, everything was skewed by the issue of the collapse of Stormont. While Brexit was a top three issue in voter’s minds, for NI, whacking both Sinn Féin and the DUP and telling them to get their arses back into devolved government was at least as important a deciding factor in their voting. Something must have happened, at any rate, to get Arlene Foster and Mary Lou McDonald to be at least pretending to be sort-of civil to each other, anyway.

            Ahh… and then we have Scotland. How much of the SNP’s vote was a vote for Scottish Independence, how much was as an anti-Conservative protest vote and how much was for Remain? Or some combination of these? I’m really not at all sure we can say with any certainty. The next few years will make that clearer.

        3. David

          Yes, I remember a number of Labour politicians campaigning for Leave in the 1975 referendum. The anti-Europe movement in the Tory Party got all the publicity, but there’s been a deep-seated scepticism of Brussels in the Labour Party for a long time, and this is reflected in the country as a whole. It’s not very clever to tell people who are worried about their jobs and families that they are either (a) stupid or (b) members of some unmentionable political tendency. And the absolute height of stupidity was to try to tell people (as Ian Dunt and others did, I’m afraid) that their vote in 2016 didn’t matter and wasn’t valid because it was based on lies that they were stupid enough to believe.
          I have a comment stuck in moderation in which I made the point that neoliberalism can be criticised as easily from the Right as the Left: an important part of Brexit support is actually anti-neoliberal.

          1. Clive

            One of many learning points (sorry, I’ve been spending too many hours in management meetings), but, anyway, one of the many learning points of Brexit is — or should be — to sound a death-knell once and for all for the fallacious notion that, in politics, politicians can ever with total confidence utter the phrase “they’ve nowhere else to go”.

            Blair told Labour Leave’ers “you’ve nowhere else to go”. Subsequent inadequate Labour leaders simply carried on with this, for want of better understanding of what else they might do and the implications of not doing anything.

            But of course, Labour’s Leave’ers did have somewhere else to go. The Conservative Party. Labour is so intrinsically tribal, the leadership really did believe that Labour supporters — even lifelong Labour voters — could be assumed to think that, if they were to vote Conservative, their heads would simply fall off their shoulders in reaction to this “betrayal”. Those Brexit-minded Labour voters nevertheless decided to risk it anyway.

            1. Ignacio

              This argument on the roots of euroskepticism and the role of progressives vs. neoliberal populists sounds familiar to me because Catalonian independentism shows parallelisms. ERC, the main Catalonian independentist progressive party is now negotiating with Sanchez to enter or at least make an agreement to allow him form a Government. If there is an agreement, some say ERC will pay a toll for this on votes. Catalonian progressives are inclined to negotiate the Procés (independentism) while the conservatives now commanded by neoliberal populists like Torras and Puigdemont are running wild for a Catalexit without agreement.

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              > politicians can ever with total confidence utter the phrase “they’ve nowhere else to go”.

              Well, “total confidence” is doing some work there. The liberal Democrats, especially the Clintonites, said this for years to the left (and Google being what it is now, I can’t find a cite. All I can do is say I was in the thick of it at the time, and that attitude was pervasive).

              The issue isn’t whether a political formation will last forever, but whether it will last through the next election. Apparently, Labour passed it’s sell-by date…

              1. Clive

                Yes, I had to insert the “total confidence” structural steelwork in that sentence because “they’ve nowhere else to go” always works for a while.

                I think for U.K. Labour, it was all the way from about 1997 to 2007, so that’s half a political lifetime where there was, for Labour Leave, genuinely no place to go.

                So they didn’t. Until they did.

                Talking of Hilary Clinton, now you’ve brought her up, the election campaign’s treatment by Labour of the EU was just like the Democrats of Clinton in 2016 — it had to be wrapped in cotton wool. The treating of Clinton, by the Democrats, like some kind of precious, valuable but fragile treasure which needed to be protected from careless handling by the voters didn’t do the cause any good. Nor, in the U.K. voters eyes, did Remain’s mollycoddling of the EU.

      3. chuck roast

        When the Schaeuble Gang put the shiv to the Greeks, I thought that it became crystal clear that the German bankers succeeded where the Wehrmacht failed. You didn’t have to be an economic determinist to see that citizenry everywhere would be sacrificed to keep the zombie Landesbank ATMs full and operational. I don’t know if the UK man-on-the-street figured this out or not. Our brethren on the Isles might help us out with this. But it occurred to me that Brexit might not be a bad thing when faced with this sort of Teutonic cruelty and indifference.

        1. Oregoncharles

          There were reports at the time that the treatment of Greece was a factor in the Brexit vote. Who would want to belong to a club that practices such dangerous, wanton cruelty? The ick factor alone could be important, plus there’s an implicit threat, even though Britain wasn’t on the Euro.

        2. Anonymous 2

          Some Britons have been influenced by Greece, but do not worry, the English politicians now led by Johnson are perfectly capable of treating their people with cruelty and indifference without the need for any help from others.

    2. flora

      an aside: I’ve been trying to sort out what is meant by ‘the left’ in UK and US politics. The US self-described Dem centrists are called ‘the left’ in many publications simply because they’re the Dems, even though they are economically to the right of center but idpol to the left of the GOP. Is ‘the left’ idpol oriented, or economics oriented, and in what ways? In other words, the term ‘the left’ seems to be a muddle that can mean whatever anyone wants it to mean, and so it’s not a firm ground with any specific meaning now. Once, ‘the left’ might mean promoting New Deal economics, finance regulations, and monopoly busting. The term ‘the left’ has now become only a relative reference term meaning ‘not the right’. The lack of clear economic focus to the left of center and different from the prevailing neoliberal right economics , imo, makes it difficult to organize toward specific popular economic goals that differ from the staus quo. (This comment is muddled, too.)

      1. flora

        adding: the Overton window has pulled politics so far to the right in the last 40 years that now being a little to the left of the current center still leaves one in what 40 years ago would have been considered fairly far right economic territory.

        1. notabanktoadie

          Apparently, neither the Right nor the Left have a just solution. Otherwise, we’d not be in such a mess.

          So let’s consider that a window is TWO dimensional and has an Up and Down too, not just a Left and Right.

          May I then suggest then that ethical finance is a move Upward that both Left and Right should embrace? Lest we endlessly oscillate between two failed approaches?

          1. Grant

            “Apparently, neither the Right nor the Left have a just solution”

            The poster above is asking an important question; what does it mean when we use the term “left”? Can’t say the left doesn’t have solutions to problems unless we define what the left is. Bernie is on the left, and he has a solution on healthcare. Nancy Pelosi is, comically, said to be on the left in the US. Does she support an actual solution? Noam Chomsky is on the left and Hillary Clinton is on the “left”. Should we group them together? If so, why? People on the left do have solutions to our largest problems. What they don’t have is power. People on the “left” don’t have solutions but have had power for some time. They don’t hate the LGBTQ community though, and they bring their own bags to the store when they go shopping. They also say words in a speech vaguely acknowledging the science of global warming, which places them to the “left” of Trump, who now denies it publicly.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              So let’s just stop using the left/right formulation. To me there are two groups: the 1% and the corporations and governments they own, and all of the rest of humanity.

              Left/right, Dem/Repub, male/female, gay/straight, urban/rural, white collar/blue collar, abortion/choice, woke/(whatever the opposite of woke is)…all are just ways to divide and conquer. With a 99:1 ratio it’s their only hope

          2. scoff

            The Political Compass, an online quiz which has been around for a couple of decades, posits exactly that scenario – the two axes it suggests being the Left/Right economic scale and the Authoritarian/Libertarian social scale. It’s an interesting concept even if the quiz itself is far from being a good gauge.

        2. The Rev Kev

          Agreed flora. And that is why when you talk to people in America, Australia, the UK, etc. they say the same thing; “I didn’t leave my Party. My Party left me”.

      2. Clive

        Oh, this is a thorny topic.

        Not helped from the get-go by the fact that “Liberal” in the U.K. means something subtly, but importantly, different from what a US resident would understand by “Liberal”.

        Broadly, the U.K. left is some way between, say, Warren (who would be a rough Blair equivalent, people like Sir Kier Starmer or Emily Thornberry would be interchangeable with Warren) and Sanders (for whom the current crop of U.K. Labour Party contenders who are tipped as “carrying the legacy of Corbyn” are approximate read-accrosses). Corbyn himself is a fair bit to the left of Saunders.

        For the U.K. Liberal Democrat Party, it’s mostly a Buttigieg clone hang out.

        That’s just England. For Scotland, the SNP style themselves as anti-neoliberals, which they are. But… their pro-EU stance can, arguably (and I will get argued with here!) be said to be a teeny weeny bit neoliberal. Scottish left politics will really need someone with more expertise on Scotland than I’ve got, so I’d better not stick my neck out further.

        Then, for the Conservatives, these range all the way from ultra-red Republicans (the European Research Group in the Conservatives is full of that sort, Jacob Rees Mogg is a poster-child, through to Trump-like right-ish political spectrum bed-hoppers like Johnson through to people like Theresa May who probably wouldn’t have found anything much Joe Biden might say she’d disagree with. On the left of the Conservative Party, you have your Ken Clarke’s who could have been separated at political birth from Tulsi Gabbard.

        There. Clear as mud! Bet you’re glad you asked now :-)

        1. a different chris

          And the topic is not helped from the get go because even a dullard like me almost has to take his shoes off to count all the important things that government/society have to deal with as a group.

          Saying I’m “left” or “right” attributes a stance for me on a lot of those dozen-or-so important things that may well not be true. And even within individual issues (health care!) are at least 4 gradients from full right to full left.

          Makes my head hurt. But that’s what is wrong with people (cough, Democrats, cough) who try to appease everybody. I do care about a dozen things, but I don’t weight them evenly. And I don’t think I have the answers.

          So pick some stuff, give me reasons why you believe that’s the way to go, and I’ll give you the reins for at least a while.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            in rural east texas, in the 80’s, “Liberal”=”Left”=”Socialism”=”Communism”=” Russia!”.
            and all of that was considered equal to any given Democrat…and even equal to non-republicans in “good standing”.
            so i proudly adopted “Liberal” for myself, as much as a big middle finger to my tormentors as anything else.
            Now, after 40 or so years of autodidactic polymathy and sitting under trees, I say I’m a “Libertarian Socialist”, once my interlocutor calms down sufficiently to talk reasonably about things.
            the GOP/Righty Counterrevolution did this…and when they purchased the Demparty, circa 1988, it just got worse.
            I can go to town and throw a rock and hit a person who believes that Hillary Clinton is a Commie…that she represents the USSR and Mao and Pol Pot…and that all those people, obviously, are all one needs to know about “socialism/communism”.
            so one must use other words….and again, I recommend the Social Gospel/Jesus-Speak…as well as FDR/New Deal Language.
            these two dialects work well with what appears to be the majority of people I encounter, who are averse to history and simply parrot what they hear on tv/am radio.
            Indeed, I’m sure that FDR and his gang knew perfectly well that they were doing “democratic socialism”-ish stuff to “save capitalism from itself”….but they settled on “Liberal” because of the target that anything “social” presented to the enemies.
            (see: contemporary rhetoric against “social security”, for ample evidence of this)

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        My litmus test for being “on the left” is whether you put the working class first in your thinking and practice. So if you put markets, say, first, then you’re not on the left. I wish I had something more ideologically coherent, but that’s where we are.

    3. zagonostra

      Speaking of “lessons for the left everywhere”

      We on the left didn’t lose this election. We lost our last illusions. The system is rigged – as it always has been – to benefit those in power. It will never willingly allow a real socialist, or any politician deeply committed to the health of society and the planet, to take power away from the corporate class. That, after all, is the very definition of power. That is what the corporate media is there to uphold.

      1. Clive

        That may be correct.

        If, certainly here in the U.K., we ever get a Labour Party which isn’t bedevilled with an incompetent, duplicitous and self-serving leadership, we might be able to put it to the test.

        1. a different chris

          So maybe there’s a hint of what really happened in Caitlin Johnstone’s story about the Labor woman (name already slipped my mind) who was laughing at Labor’s defeat.

          I am trying to understand why Corbyn lost so much in 2 years. People’s minds don’t change like that unless you change them. And Boris certainly isn’t that kind of clever guy. But if your own party starts seriously stabbing leadership in the back, that sounds like something combined with the hopeless split on Brexit in the rank-and-file of your party…that would do it.

    4. David

      Thanks. I did actually read this, unlike most of the garbage that’s being spewed out about the elections. I think readers of this site will be less shocked by this argument than others, because it’s something we have been pointing out for, oh, most of the time since the referendum. Given a chance to land one on the chin of the neoliberal establishment, the British people took it. I was reminded, at the time and since, of the exchange in The Wild One between Marlon Brando and some hapless local: “What are you rebelling against?” “What have you got?”
      It needs to be remembered that opposition to neoliberalism can come from the Right (or be expressed in rightist terms) just as much as from the Left: it’s very much a matter of the concepts and vocabulary you have grown up with. One of the many achievements of the Left in recent years has been to redefine ideas and attitudes that used to be firmly of the Left as now of the Right, if not actually fascist. Clever that.
      The authoritarian point is also very important. People don’t like being told what to think and given moral lectures: if you could bear to read the Guardian over the last few days, you could be forgiven for thinking that the best response to the defeat was new and stronger anti-racist anti-sexist etc. etc. policies introduced everywhere.

      1. Clive

        […] opposition to neoliberalism can come from the Right (or be expressed in rightist terms) just as much as from the Left

        Another thing that needs to be put in big letters where Very Serious People loiter. And in bold text where the goodthinkers of the land gather (as I’ve just done above) !

      2. Ted

        if you could bear to read the Guardian over the last few days, you could be forgiven for thinking that the best response to the defeat was new and stronger anti-racist anti-sexist etc. etc. policies introduced everywhere.

        And this is precisely the problem. The oligarchs have figured out that if they own the media they can create niche outlets, both “left” and “right”, to corral voters into pens that give them the feeling of having a “politics”, but without any real substance.

        The thing is that people have real concerns: healthcare, housing, food costs, transportation, social isolation, mental distress, endless state and corporate surveillance, obvious and in your face political corruption, stupid management at work, the peter principle as a major elite value, decaying infrastructure, increased employment insecurity, endless debt, etc., etc. Real concerns do not go away just because twitter told you to don a pink hat and shake your fist at the bad orange man from Queens. The corporatist “left” Doubling down on this sort of stupid is only fueling the populist fire and roiling electoral politics … until something revolutionary and possibly truly horrific happens.

    5. Tomonthebeach

      I find it curious how quickly Corbyn’s route was evidence that Sanders cannot win the DNC nomination. We have seen other links pointing out how the MSM has ignored or buried Sanders alive. Sanders is no Corbyn. His campaign, if you can call it that, was as lack-luster as his personality. Facts clearly refute assertions that Sanders is another dommed Corbyn. Nevertheless the press, like the binary-thinking MAGA they ridicule, find that values trump facts.

    6. Susan the Other

      I held my breath on your comment. Bad habit of doing that when I read a fundamental truth. The People are always out in front of politics. And the link to eudlalimonia, article on humanity by Ulmair Hague is spectacular today too.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Wow yes, spectacular.

        “The average person has become a tiny microcosm of the aspirations and norms of elites — they’re not curious, empathetic, decent, humane, noble, kind, in pursuit of wisdom, truth, beauty, meaning, purpose. We’ve become cruel, indecent, obscene, comically shallow, and astonishingly foolish people.”

        But I think Hague misses a trick: he doesn’t call out the mechanism whereby people were taught to become thus.

        I peg the start date of this from Reagan, we started moving from We to Me. Greed is good. I got mine, if you don’t got yours then you’re obviously a loser, by definition. Now of course amplified with a massive dose of narcissism in every message channel in the society, from FB to Hollywood to Twitter, Instagram, TV. Kids don’t stand a chance. We don’t care about war because we don’t care about the person under the bomb that Daddy’s company dropped. Identarianism metastasizes until eventually there’s only one person who meets all of the woke criteria and is therefore sufficiently worthy of caring about: me.

    7. Lambert Strether Post author

      > In an era where traditional left and social-democratic parties have dramatically weakened ties with their erstwhile working-class bases, they will very rarely, if ever, get to decide the terms on which people revolt against the neoliberal order, precisely because they are not leading the people.

      Reminds me of this hoary old chestnut: “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” (Leaving out the “weighs like a nightmare” part; that’s covered by the Maggie Thatcher tweet.)

    1. Susan the Other

      That one was great, loved it. I noticed than the impeccable Marcie managed to call it Equity and never said Private Equity management. Funny. I hope she’s the next spiff to go.

  4. Steve H.

    > RIP THE CARTER DOCTRINE, 1980-2019 Foreign Policy.

    >> Throwing Away Four Decades of Success


    One throwaway mention in the article. More of the same.

    “Some stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of central Europe and the end of the Cold war?”

    1. The Rev Kev

      I sometimes think that the better policy that the US had was the one before 1980 where it was based on being over the horizon. You did not have dozens of military bases in nearly very Middle East country but depended on carriers and troop transports. Whatever decisions a country made in this region, they knew that there was an American military force just “over the horizon” ready to take action if necessary. Remember too a major motivation for Osama Bin Laden for hating America were the American bases that were set up in his country of Saudi Arabia as he considered them infidels in his land.
      I think that the change came about when a more aggressive stance was sought under Reagan so that America would have its hand on the petrol pump of the Middle East and you see it today with Syria where they are bringing in the Saudis to steal Syria’s oil to sell to Turkey who will probably sell it on to Israel the way that it did when it imported all that oil from ISIS in Syria. It is all about Washington determining which countries get to sell their oil and who to. Iran would have a lot to say about this subject.

      1. False Solace

        > Remember too a major motivation for Osama Bin Laden for hating America were the American bases that were set up in his country of Saudi Arabia as he considered them infidels in his land.

        Yes so it’s interesting to consider that Trump has sent 28,000 troops to Saudi Arabia since March.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Since 9/11 worked out so well for Bush – as in fact it did. That was unforgivable: he was directly responsible; it happened on his watch.

      2. John Wright

        I remember some anonymous Japanese’s statement when Bush Senior was pushing (successfully) for Japan to be in the “Coalition of the Gulf War” for the first Iraq War.

        “We don’t care who owns the oil, just that they sell it to us.”

        After trillions of US dollars spent and many lives lost in the Middle East, one can wonder if the Japanese statement was a reasonable “realpolitik” guide.

        From the Wikipedia link, it does not appear the Japanese sent any troops, only that they were part of the “Joint Forces Command North”

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Whatever decisions a country made in this region, they knew that there was an American military force just “over the horizon” ready to take action if necessary.

        See the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian for how the Brits worked this out in the 18th C.

  5. Olga

    Lifted from the comments y-day – a must read:
    It covers the now “brain-dead Nato,” the post-WWII financial order, and even the toxic role of Volcker:
    “The bottom line: the NATO disquiet is not just because the US wants to prioritize competition with Russia and China over counterterrorism, or that NATO now seeks to address China’s military rise. Though these policies would place Europe in an invidious position strategically, as well as vis-à-vis trade with both powers, but because the entire Washington consensus is blowing up – politically – in the Europeans’ face.”
    And btw – the latest Max Keiser talks to an analyst, who mentions that Argentina may have pledged its Patagonia region (rumour, though) for loans and the fact that Obama used to sneak off to Patagonia, when visiting Argentina.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Pretty good article, but I prefer the headline over at ZH:

      NATO’s Real Purpose: Welfare for the Military-Industrial Complex

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Cricket legend Tendulkar finds hotel worker who gave him batting advice”

    Sachin Tendulkar is a cricketing God that walks the earth. Whenever he came to Australia, he was very much liked and well regarded. He wasn’t a show-off or anything but just a great player and when watching him go in to bat, you knew that you were in for a treat. Not for nothing was he nicknamed the “Little Master”.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      When I first moved to Australia my next door neighbor was one Ian Chappell, I used to goad him over our shared fence when I saw him in his yard:

      “Cricket? Remind me, that’s the sport with the flat bat, isn’t it?”

      He would turn red every time but also took it with good humour no matter how many times I said it. Lovely guy

  7. Wukchumni

    San Diego County Kindergartner Sells Hot Cocoa, Cookies to Clear Classmates’ Lunch Debt KTLA.
    Wrapped up in a feel-good story (she won an award for her bravery/entrepreneurialism, you go girl) is the enigma of how 123 lunches were in arrears financially. Did the 5 year old welshers in question merely forget to pay their debts, or was it their parents feeling that yes, there is a free lunch?

    1. The Historian

      Does not feeding a child and thus impacting his/her ability to learn a proper punishment for parents who don’t pay their debts – for whatever reason? Seems to me that even a 5 year old could figure out that the School District was punishing the wrong people. Kind of sad that those adults in the School District couldn’t figure it out.

      1. inode_buddha

        What amazes me is that this is even happening in the richest country the world has ever known. I’m going to bet that the lunches are one of the cheapest things in the school districts budget. Meanwhile, bureaucracy blossoms like a rose, and can’t see any problem with itself.

        1. jo6pac

          My thought also. What sad little country we have become. There’s plenty of $$$$$$$ for war but nothing for all of us on Main Street.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            my MIL, a “teacher’s aide”, without whom the elementary/jr high would cease to function, often pays for those kids out of her own pocket…and we, and a bunch of other people, guilt the more well to do among us into doing the same.
            the woman in charge of the cafeteria is the least popular person on the ISD’s payroll…and it’s not all her fault, although she is of the type that relishes wielding power on her little hill.
            school was convinced to outsource the running of the cafetria to some giant corp(se) that i can’t remember the name of some years ago, due to Texas Rules at the time.
            gone were the PBJ’s for those who couldn’t pay up.
            there was a backlash…almost community wide…and the policies were modified…and the next school board got out of that contract right quick, but kept some of the “best practices” learned under corporate rule.
            “Constant Vigilance” and all.

            1. Janie

              Didn’t look up sources, but I’ve read that school employees can be fired for buying lunches for the kids in some districts.

              1. amfortas the hippie

                tiny isolated tight knit town where everyone’s related
                not scalable, sadly
                if they did what you said, superintendent,etc houses would burn

    2. Burritonomics

      Hmm…they should have looked for a kindergartner who had to walk 5 miles to set up the cocoa stand, then presented her parents with a car. Local news feel-good gold!

    3. diptherio

      There is nothing “feel-good” about that story. And I really hope that your “free lunch” quip is a poor attempt at humor, because it comes across as mocking poor people, tbh.

      1. Wukchumni

        You have to blow 2 minutes of your life watching the video in order for the feel-good to set in, and i’m often guilty of poor attempts at humor, sometimes resulting in silent hissing online.

        1. Carey

          I didn’t much like that piece, because of Haque’s claims that “we” did this to
          “ourselves”.. omitting: Corporate Personhood, Powell Memo, ’78 Midterm Elections, Seventeen Intelligence Agencies and the media they’ve co-opted.. you know the rest. It’s the Elites and their minions v the People, and has been for awhile. Haque can’t or won’t say that, other than with a lip-service nod
          about Zuckerberg.

          It’s been a long-term Plan, and “we” had little or nothing to do with it, except as being fodder.


      2. deplorado

        I was in a elementary school library yesterday and saw a book called “The Vanderbeekers of 141st street”. It had a pretty front cover and I looked on the back to see what it is about. It says something like the following (this from a goodreads review):

        “when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home, and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are” (the Venderbeekers are also “biracial”, race intentionally not specified).

        So, “just convince your master just how wonderful you are” — this is the slave mentality that is being openly taught to our children and apparently considered great reading.

        I looked through all the Goodreads reviews and found only 2-3 slightly critical ones among dozens gushing ones (including one from NYT), and none on the account of the absurd resolution of this apparent Dickensian life situation and state of society that is the background of this “heartwarming” story

        Also, noticed the British children’s cartoon Peppa the Pig has at least a couple of episodes where they talk to the pig children about saving money to fix the school roof. Teaching austerity and slave mentality to 5 year olds – that’s the ticket to prosperity

  8. Winston Smith

    insulin prices in the US: criminality of the highest order by pharma…second only to govt inaction on this issue

      1. inode_buddha

        ISTR reading right here on NC that there are specific carve-outs in US antitrust law for the medical and insurance industry. So yes, it is legal for them.
        Filthy, but legal.

        1. katiebird

          Does this mean that extortion is covered in anti-trust law? Or that the medical exemption in antitrust law also allows for extortion?

          1. inode_buddha

            Extortion per se, I don’t know (not a lawyer) but there is for sure price fixing and collusion. Extortion probably comes under RICO if I had to guess.

      2. Carla

        Yes and and of course, yes. The necessity of the “rule of law” is invoked only when people are in the streets. Those who caused those people to throng the streets are never, ever subject to the “rule of law.”

        1. polecat

          Rulers of the law ..
          They have in times past however, been subjected now and again to a rather accelerated, and sudden ‘form’ of entropy.

          “Can you say ‘Entropy’ Lourdes and Ladies … ? No .. ??” Well, we’ll see about That !

          1. Carey

            Agree with your first sentence- if only citizens can be briefly diverted
            from the Personal Screens, and “free” pizza™ delivery..

      1. flora

        After WWII, a book was published in the West titled something like ‘Marxism: The God That Failed’.

        It’s time for a new book to be written; title it “Marketism: The God That Failed.”

            1. zagonostra

              I have that book, it’s more of a compendium of his scientific views as opposed to his political life experiences that is found in the God that Failed and Darkness at Noon.

              The Sleepwalkers is a good history of changing scientific views. Janus was centered on his theories of the “holon,” a term that he coined, many of his books were affectionately passed back and forth between friends and I growing up in the 70’s as well as works by Gregory Bateson (Steps to an Ecology of Mind).

    1. JohnM

      Equally criminal is the failure of the medical community to pursue dietary therapies for diabetes management and the reduction of insulin usage. Only last year did the ADA acknowledge the value of a low carb diet as an effective therapeutic treatment for type 2 diabetes. The fact that pursuing low-carb diabetes therapy results in a significant reduction, if not complete elimination, of drug usage is probably responsible for this long overdue change.

      i’m aware the article focused on type 1 diabetes, but even there, insulin usage can be reduced by dietary modification.

      1. marieann

        I don’t have any experience with Human diabetes but I had a diabetic cat that was insulin dependent. His blood sugars were out of control and he had a few episodes of dangerously low blood sugar.
        As soon as I got him off the dry cat food he went into remission and no longer required insulin.
        I often wondered if the same diet works with humans

      1. Massinissa

        Buttigieg thinks he is gay JFK? Guess I shouldn’t be surprised. He has a unique arrogance about him.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          That’s how you act when you are a CIA plant.

          Last time: “We’ll put in a black guy to do all our neoliberal corporo-fascism”.

          This time: “We’ll put in a gay guy to do all our neoliberal corporo-fascism”.

          Q: Shouldn’t Wokeland be excoriating Obama for wearing whiteface?

  9. Sam Adams

    The USA Today article on diabetics being unable to pay for their daily insulin was beyond sad . But the Newspaper clearly saw an opportunity with these insulin customers to use this article to advertise LUXURY handbags and Haut Courtier in its pop ups. What is the matter with these people? I’m totally without words.

    1. Massinissa

      Its possible the ‘target audience’ of well off people views articles like that as poverty porn.

      “Hah, look at all the moochers struggling to survive. Oooh, a new handbag…”

    2. RMO

      You realize the online ads you see are influenced by browsing history and other data that is constantly being recorded linked to the user right? When I go to the story using a browser with no ad blocking that clears all history and cookies when it’s closed I get ads for a diet, Aleve. The Bay (The Hudson’s Bay Company department store, probably because of my location in Canada) and a blood-glucose monitor.

    3. Jackson

      I had to euthanize my late Mother’s dog because I could not afford a monthly payment of $195.00 to treat his diabetes. It just does not affect people but animals as well.

      1. Nonna B

        I am so sorry for the loss of your family’s pet. Especially when it didn’t have to happen. If only we all (both humans and pets) had access to the medication needed to stay alive.

  10. Wukchumni

    Good article on temblors in the LA Times. I was about 50 miles away from the 7.1 Ridgecrest quake this summer and it lasted about 20 seconds-buffered by the nearly 15,000 foot Sierra massif being between me and the epicenter, and it was the first one of size i’ve felt in quite awhile, as a good part of the Central Valley is far from fault zones. I read the largest one recorded here was a 4.1, which is a piece of cake. You’d get used to them in L.A. and anything under 5 was pretty much a thrill ride unless you were close to the action down under.

    The article mentions that shallow quakes can wreck pipes that bring in imported water to places that don’t have any, i.e. SF/LA/OC/SD, and that would be the hardest nut to crack-not having any for an extended time in the aftermath, even if your domicile wasn’t effected by the temblor.

    A landmark report in 2018 by the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that at least 800 people could be killed and 18,000 others injured in a hypothetical magnitude 7 earthquake rupturing on the Hayward fault through Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, Hayward and Fremont.

    Hundreds more could die from fire following an earthquake along the ruptured 52-mile section of the fault in this HayWired scenario. More than 400 fires could ignite, burning the equivalent of 52,000 single-family homes, and a lack of water for firefighters caused by old pipes shattering underground could make matters worse, USGS geophysicist Ken Hudnut has said.

    “This fault is what we sort of call a tectonic time bomb,” USGS earthquake geologist emeritus David Schwartz said of the Hayward fault. “It’s just waiting to go off.”

    The Hayward fault is so dangerous because it runs through some of the most heavily populated parts of the Bay Area, spanning the length of the East Bay from San Pablo Bay to Milpitas.

    Out of the region’s population of 7 million, 2 million people live on top of the fault.

    The so-called HayWired scenario envisions a scale of disaster not seen in modern California history — 2,500 people needing rescue from collapsed buildings and 22,000 being trapped in elevators, Hudnut said. More than 400,000 people could be displaced from their homes, and some East Bay residents may lose access to clean water for as long as six months.

  11. Geo

    “I Headed the F.B.I. and C.I.A. There’s a Dire Threat to the Country I Love. William Webster, NYT“

    This one needs a warning before reading it. The near constant eye rolls, spit takes, and wretching it triggers is potentially dangerous.

    His using of “the rule of law” (or a variation of this) in every other sentence reads like he’s overcompensating for the observable fact those agencies have no regard for, nor follow rules or laws.

    It’s pearl-clutching articles like this that make my far-left bleeding heart feel sympathetic to Trump, a being I’ve detested for two decades. Trump is rancid person but his worst crimes are mere blemishes compared to the atrocities perpetrated by, supported, and/or resulting from what the CIA has done over the years.

    1. wsa

      I just finished reading Stephen Kinzer’s Poisoner in Cheif: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control. It brought home again that the CIA has been a criminal and largely incompetent organization from the start. The CIA should be the default example of how an Ivy League education does not guarantee results.

      The book has the usual litany of horrors — US citizens experimented on without their consent, San Francisco used to test germ warfare, unknown numbers of foreigners drugged and tortured, a bull elephant dying moments after a mind-boggling dose of LSD, etc., etc. The most interesting thing to me from the cold-war era is the widely held assumption that communist countries already had perfected a range of mind control techniques, and the US was far behind. Practically any odd thing that happened in US-Soviet relations — the US ambassador shooting off his mouth, an abused priest publicly admitting to plotting a coup — were taken as a sign of superior Soviet mind control, and not just, you know, stupidity and the predictable effects of old-fashioned techniques like torture and threats to one’s family. Nope. It was commie mind control, and by god, we’d better get some of that ourselves.

      I also wonder about the organizational and cultural effects of importing about 700 Nazis into your national security apparatus.

      1. chuck roast

        Kinzer is an estimable fellow. The Boston Globe occasionally has a brain cramp and posts an op-ed by him.

        1. RMO

          “I Headed the F.B.I. and C.I.A. There’s a Dire Threat to the Country I Love. William Webster, NYT“

          And all he has to do to see that threat clearly is to look in the mirror.

    2. False Solace

      > Trump is rancid person but his worst crimes are mere blemishes compared to the atrocities perpetrated by, supported, and/or resulting from what the CIA has done over the years.

      Trump has been President for almost 3 years now. He’s ramped up torture and drone bombings compared to Obama, we’re still at war with all the countries we were before, and he’s sent thousands of troops to even more countries. He’s fully complicit at this point. What he hasn’t done is bail out Wall Street, but I’m gonna say that’s only because he wasn’t given the opportunity. He’s also responsible for everything the CIA has done during his Presidency, and if you look at all the governments that were toppled in South America lately he’s racked up quite a high score of misery, death, sleaze, and sin.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        So let’s vote him out of office in a year, weaponizing the impeachment process and casting the FBI and CIA as honorable and accountable allies of the people (instead of necessary evils that are radioactive and must be subject to similar levels of control) are just ways to destroy the republic.

        I vote for orange jumpsuits for Comey, Clapper, and Brennan. Clapper’s perjury before Congress is a slam dunk. While you’re at it ask the question “what did the president know and when did he know it?”. This, or simply cancel the next election, since the FBI and CIA have seized the power to select the winners and losers anyway.

        Church Commission level, put it all on the table. 2014 coup in The Ukraine, did your taxpayer dollars pay for those snipers in Maidan?

      2. Buckeye

        RE: “hasn’t bailed out Wall Street”.

        In fact Wall Street is getting an ongoing bailout right now. Since September 17th, the Federal Reserve has dumped $4 TRILLION into the Overnight REPO market. The cause is the six mega-banks (JP Morgan, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley). Liquidity in the banking system is seizing up, just as it did in 2008.

        JP Morgan is likely insolvent and could cause a bank failure crisis (ala 1932) all on it’s own. The other five are illiquid to some degree or other. The Fed is dumping ANOTHER $3 Trillion into the REPO market over the next four weeks. Steve “sleaze” Mnuchin was all slimy and deceptive in front of the House and Senate Finance committees two weeks ago.

        The truth is being kept out of the public very carefully, isn’t it? I suggest going to the website They are on top of it every day.

        1. meeps

          Buckeye, have you an opinion as to whether the passage of H.R. 10 in 2017 might have introduced changes that are affecting repos? That bill repealed FDIC authority under Dodd-Frank…, repealed certain of FSOCs authorities…, and repealed provisions related to the authority of the Federal Reserve Board… (for starters). There’s some about living wills in the bill as well, but it’s complex, has amendments, and it’s not my area of expertise.

          A related senate bill, S.2155, became law on May 24, 2018. Title 4 amended the Financial Stability Act of 2010 and FDIC Act with respect to liquid, marketable, assets:

          Much is above my pay grade in this territory but since this repo thing is an ongoing source of contention, I thought I’d at least venture a guess. Does this have anything to do with the way capital adequacy is measured? Please be kind if I’ve missed, m’kay? Thanks.

          1. Buckeye

            Well, this is above me too, meeps. But here’s what I have gleaned from my reading and some knowledgeable third parties:

            1) “REGULATIONS” Oh Yes, weakening regulations is a big part, but the not the only part.

            2)RISK. The six mega-banks reduced their “downstream” credit flows into the ca. 5000 retail banks from $1 Trillion per day to $100 Billion per day. Why? 3 possibilities.

            a)Retail banks are filled with toxic assets and too much risk they cannot cover.

            b)Six mega banks themselves had no liquidity left to send downstream.

            c)Both at once.

            3)DERIVITIVES. The role of derivitives is murky, but the 6 mega banks have INSANE levels of derivitives on the their books. $59 TRILLION for JP Morgan, some $53 TRILLION for Citigroup etc. Could the value of these derivitives be falling, leaving the banks open to insolvency? Quite possible.

    3. flora

      Webster makes not a single mention of the Horowitz report or its findings. Huh… must have been an oversight on Webster’s part, or an honest mistake, or something…. ;)

    1. Anon

      Reminder: You’re never cynical enough. Seems odd that Bloomberg has a paywall up; if I subscribe, does that count as a campaign contribution?

      1. Massinissa

        Uncle Joe is the same damn age as Sanders…

        Either Obama is a hypocrite or he has High Hopes for Mayor Pete.

        EDIT: from the article: “At this latest event in Singapore, Obama announced that women were “indisputably” better leaders than men. If the whole world was run by women, Obama speculated, “you would see a significant improvement across the board on … living standards and outcomes”.”

        I wonder if this is some weird psy-op to attempt to bleed Bernies votes to Warren?

        1. Carey

          >I wonder if this is some weird psy-op to attempt to bleed Bernies votes to Warren?

          Maybe that, and a little more divide ‘n’ rule. It’s been working so far..

  12. Wukchumni

    Major League Baseball threatens to walk away from Minor League Baseball entirely NBC
    A lumbering industry where the titans are still paid lavishly decides to deregulate their factories where teams are built, outsourcing jobs.

    If you defund it-they won’t come

  13. zagonostra

    >Greenwald interview of Evo Morales

    Great interview, I’ve been looking for a transcript online but can not find it. Morales’ perspective of the U.S. is unique. When Greenwald asks about serving under 3 different U.S. administrations and whether he saw any difference between, Bush/Obama/Trump he answered that the policies toward Bolivia all were the same, the difference was in “style.”

    This could easily be applied to the U.S. Policies domestic and foreign writ large as the Afghanistan Papers clearly indicate.

    1. Susan the Other

      Agree. Evo is a very coherent person. So is Greenwald. So it was a great interview. The way Evo speaks I can follow his Spanish – and I sense no hedging at all.

  14. Utah

    The article on the Mormon church is interesting. I have so many thoughts and opinions on it, but also have a cold so I can’t put it into words, other than I hope they get fined and have to pay their members back.

    1. Susan the Other

      It has long been rumored (and we have the humongous eavesdropping facility just south of SLC) that the Mormon Church was in cahoots with the CIA because of their very successful missionary organization and linguistic skills. I do happen to believe that. So I’d also be willing to believe that the Mo Church got away with a form of tax evasion with a little help from their friends.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      They used to be one of my clients when I worked at a massive multi-national investment house. I’ll just say the $100B figure is a lowball. Got a rare outsider tour of The Temple once. I will say these are very decent people and their views in many ways are just an offshoot of regular Christianity.

  15. skk

    re: ICANN hits pause on the sale of .ORG to Republican billionaires’ private equity fund Boing Boing (dk). Love the URL: “its-an-ethos.”

    Thanks for curating that story and link. Its been really quite saddening watching the decline of the non-profit Internet Society and this story also brought to light the issues with ICANN too. has been on top of this – I’m sure others have too.

    Its another one of those “brands” that bite the dust. Once upon a time, when people worried about the legitimacy of a website and asked me, I used to say : Is it .org ? Or .edu or .gov – if so its likely to be kosher.
    Now these are for sale too ! O wait, the government has been for sale for ages already :-)

    I can’t figure out why the price tag is over a billion USD though. How the heck are they going to make money ? By trading on its “good name ” ? But the sale itself tarnishes the “brand”.

    1. JTMcPhee

      How to make money on “owning” that .org brand:

      Here’s the first step: “US agrees to give up power over internet to private company in October”, from 18 Aug, 2016 04:09 Same Obama initiative from another perspective: “ 7 Days Before Obama Gives Away Internet & National Security,” Maybe not all privatizing is good?

      Here’s the second step: “Mike Mann sells 6 domains for $137,138 in October,” Calling Martin Shkreli —

  16. Stadist

    This is How a Society Dies Umair Haque

    While the general style is too extreme, the general argument of falling quality of life indicators is robust.
    The article celebrates european success story, but I would argue EU is following USA’s and UK’s footsteps right behind. If my memory serves me well most EU countries have flatlining life expectancies, except the nordic countries.

    I’m arguing that that EU is joining the race to the bottom, as in EU elites’ linguistic pool only options are markets(privatization of everything imaginable, this is gradually ongoing process), structural adjustments (weakening of social safety nets and redistribution, increase of ‘personal responsibility’) and tax reductions. Thanks to the free trade these neoliberals will eventually pull down even the nordic countries to same level, especially as EU is actively stopping most or all propositions to hinder tax planning and tax evasion within EU. Large multinationals will just export their profits to low tax area.

    My EU criticism is often ridiculed by telling me how well EU and euro has performed for many members. Truth is I don’t care how excellent it has been, I care about where it’s going and the trajectory is towards USA model unless something is changed.

    1. Wukchumni

      People who are made to live right at the edge must battle each other for self-preservation. But such people have nothing left to give one another. And that way, a society enters a death spiral of poverty — like ours have.

      I haven’t pimped this book in awhile, and i’m a fan of oral history of the common man, and nobody collected better stories than Barry Broadfoot, who crisscrossed Canada in the early 70’s mining for tales of the Great Depression for his book Ten Lost Years 1929-1939 and each is a 1 to 5 page vignette, and one of them came from a lady that worked for a church, and they had a tradition of the parishioners giving a wrapped gift in white paper as a gift to the less fortunate every xmas, and she noticed as the GD went on, 2/3rds of the ‘gifts’ were empty weighted boxes, it wasn’t other people that were in need, it was the congregation.

      You get the same feel from the SD kindergartner story, the less fortunate families are on the financial razor’s edge.

      1. JEHR

        Re: This is How a Society Dies: How can the decline of a society be blamed on each separate individual who suffers from the decline? The very nature of a society is a group of people who work together to make life better for all. The individuals who are victims or who are harmed by the leaders cannot be blamed for the failure of the society.

        The blame should be put where it belongs: on the greed and rapaciousness of the leaders (who unfortunately are oftentimes chosen by said “individuals”). If, for example, Clinton and the Federal Reserve had listened to Brooksley Born’s warning about derivatives, something might have been done about avoiding the future failure of the whole financial system. The individuals who are to blame are those who did not listen and instead attacked the person who was trying to make things work better.

        Just read the paragraph on Born and the Derivatives Market and you will see many of the names of those directly responsible for the Financial Crisis of 2008 onwards. We know who the villains are; we just don’t have the cojones to make them responsible. Once leaders become rotten, then it follows the society they say they lead becomes rotten and the rot continues until it putrifies all it comes in contact with, but mostly the victims suffer. We are in that putrefaction now.

        1. Wukchumni

          Limbs of trees or the whole enchilada fall all the time around here, a Blue Oak in the back 40 that died about 5 years ago broke off about 6 feet up within the past fortnight, and supplied 6 wheelbarrow loads of burn pile material and a similar amount of firewood for the house.

          Where the tree broke, the wood within was rotten and perhaps twice as strong as Balsa wood, the bark probably keeping things upright until the gravity of the matter went horizontal.

          Sometimes you get the idea we’re similar to that oak.

          1. JBird4049

            I read the article by Umair Haque, and I am unimpressed by it. While he ascribes blame to the elites for their essential hollowness of their souls made and the destruction caused by their rapine of our nations, he also put responsibility on those with the least amount of resources to do anything about it; much of what he writes is focused on the poor, and their supposed desire to emulate the narrowness of mind and heart, as well as the lack of the more refined virtues of the economic elites.

            This causes me to wonder why he thinks that the majority of the American and British populations want to emulate the rapaciousness, cruelty, and mental vapidity of the oligarchy? Why would I want to earn the opprobrium of my entire family? Seriously. Maybe being dizzy with hungry or being preoccupied with the bills or the rent might, just maybe, take up all of your resources like time, money, and thought or worry about employment might make you not want to have some immigrants to move to your area? Just how does one improve themselves in such a situation?

    2. RWood

      Q. V. “Choice” and its antecedents
      At historical turning points societies have two stark choices: bloody revolution or an informed evolution. Few societies in history have achieved a peaceful transition but there is an exception to that rule…
      In Scandinavia their secret was simple – you can’t do the external leadership and subsequent social change if you haven’t done the internal work on yourself.

  17. DJG

    The article on reactionary politics and the war on traditional religions in Brazil: But but but the Catholic Church is soooo evil! And those darn syncretic religions!

    I note these U.S. exports, from the article:

    But the fastest-growing denominations in Brazil are the harder-line Pentecostals and Neopentecostal churches – including the wildly successful Assembly of God and the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.

    Both spread what’s called the prosperity doctrine, promising personal salvation and financial success to people who trust God, work hard and cut out all alcohol, gambling and other vices.

    Nevertheless, I am off for the daily enforced singing of Amazing Grace. After all, none of the dire things mentioned in the article could ever happen in the U S of A…

    1. Wukchumni

      The evang export dogma eat dogma thing got nipped in the bud in NZ as it was making inroads in politics there about 15 years ago, when the leader of the mob turned out to be quite the pedophile, game so over.

      Graham John Capill (born 1959) is a former New Zealand Christian leader, politician and convicted rapist.

      He served as the first leader of the now-defunct Christian Heritage Party, stepping down in 2003. In 2005 he was convicted of multiple sexual offences against girls under 12 years of age and sentenced to nine years imprisonment. He was released on parole in August 2011, having served six years of that sentence.

    2. Shonde

      “But but but the Catholic Church is soooo evil!”
      So it was thought when Liberation Theology was making inroads in Latin America.

      1. DJG


        Yep: I’m not letting the Catholic Church off the hook, given that His Instant Saintliness and Melodramatic Public Sufferer Papa Wojtyla did serious damage deliberately to the Catholic Church in South America to get rid of Liberation Theology–especially in Brazil. Yet these U.S. export churches enjoy worshipping authority, God, and Mammon, much as they do domestically.

        1. Shonde

          Those U.S export churches basically preach capitalism on steroids and absolute defense of Israel. In other words, they are the wet dream of the arm of our government which “assisted” Papa Wojtyla.

  18. chuck roast

    Re: Major League Baseball Threatens to Walk Away From Minor League Baseball Entirely

    This from Ballpark Digest 6/12/2018

    “The U.S. Supreme Court again declined to hear challenges to MLB’s antitrust exemption, as two appeals regarding alleged collusion regarding the hiring of scouts and an argument that the Chicago Cubs suppressed competition with a Wrigley Field expansion were denied.”

    “The antitrust exemption, first granted by an appeals court in 1922 and then unanimously affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, holds that MLB is exempt from the Sherman Antitrust Act because it was a state-centric business and not subject to federal commerce laws. The exemption has been whittled away a little over the years, but in general the Supreme Court has consistently held that it still stands, and indeed Congress effectively upheld it as well in 1998 while granting more freedom to players. It could be overturned by Congress — and, indeed, that threat is made whenever a member of Congress is dissatisfied with MLB — but right now there’s no such move on the horizon.”

    Looks to me like it’s an issue at least as bi-partisan as war making.

    1. voteforno6

      Yeah, and now that the Nats have won the World Series, that can be leveraged into MLB wining and dining them at Nats Park. So, I think it’s rather unlikely that Congress would make any serious noises about overturning the antitrust exemption. That is, unless MLB really does walk away from the minor leagues.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Hey, ReallyBigCorps have “walked away” from their “farm teams” over and over — somehow, the froth of financialization continues to float their boats, ever higher and higher… It’s not like “talent” won’t continue to be developed out in the hinterlands, some lower level looters will find ways to financialize the function.

        Why the wishful thinking that somehow MLB will suffer any consequences? It’s just another lightly tethered blimp, floating blissfully in the sunshine, while the mopes unaccountably continue to send food and funds up on the dumbwaiter that still touches the ground… GO TEAM!

        1. Wukchumni

          I hear Cargill has agreed to take on farm teams with the proviso that players learn how to incorporate the pivot arm into their delivery.

          Could it be on account of so many foreign players (27%) in the MLB now, why do they need the minor leagues?

        2. HotFlash

          We had a similar program here in Canada for Olympic funding, under the loathesome Stephen Harper. He decided to reduce $$$ to sports programs for youngsters and instead fund only advanced training for the few most promising young athletes. Who came from where? Like Athena, who arose full-grown and fully armed from her father’s forehead? Great idea. Didn’t work, and the effects will persist for decades.

          Results of eating your seed corn.

  19. Samuel Conner

    Re: the insulin price hike (and the wider problem of commodity medications being priced as if they were radical innovations under patent protection):

    It seems to me that there is a “market opportunity” for a public spirited non-profit to go into the business of producing and distributing these “should be commodity” medications.

    Presumably there are gigantic barriers to entry. I would appreciate knowing more about what those are and welcome comment from readers more knowledgeable than I.

  20. Summer

    RE: Evangelical Gangs in Brazil / Violence
    “But the fastest-growing denominations in Brazil are the harder-line Pentecostals and Neopentecostal churches – including the wildly successful Assembly of God and the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.

    Both spread what’s called the prosperity doctrine, promising personal salvation and financial success to people who trust God, work hard and cut out all alcohol, gambling and other vices.”

    “Prosperity” (HA!!) gospel strikes again!!!

    1. Arizona Slim

      I’m reading a good book that I’d like to recommend. Title: God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel. Author: Costi Hinn. Yes, he’s from that Hinn family.

  21. JimTan

    Re: Photos of Buttigieg fundraiser in Napa

    Interestingly this fundraiser appears to be at Hall Napa Valley’s Rutherford winery. Kathryn Hall, who owns Hall Napa Valley with her husband, was appointed United States Ambassador to Austria during the Clinton administration.

    1. Danny

      So why don’t they sell their valuable tax-exempt property and donate the money to the poor immigrants?

      “Render unto Cesar the things that are Cesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” Like the church parking lot, part of the earth that God created, that could become low income housing…

      1. Carey

        >So why don’t they sell their valuable tax-exempt property and donate the money to the poor immigrants?

        Because moral posturing is easier, funner™, and costs nothing?

  22. r.j. sigmund

    re: India “Why 2010-2020 will be remembered as the lost decade”

    they’re imagining real growth at 13.8%, nominal growth over 16.1%…

    nominal growth is easy, that’s just printing money…but real growth at a 13.8% rate is not going to happen over a decade; your economy would have to quadruple…that means 4 times as many roads, railroads & buildings, 4 times as many factories, 4 times the amount of electric power, 4 times the previous level of services, and 4 times the inventory carry…

    be careful when you talk about real growth…math will get you every time…

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      They are screwed, I read that they need at least 8% nominal growth to accommodate the *20M* new people entering the workforce each year.

      The problem seems to be a shortage of dollars, it’s the only thing that explains the terrible economic results despite a 10% weakening in the rupee and the fact that trade war substitution should be benefiting them.

      India discussion starts at 13:40:

      1. Massinissa

        India IS screwed, at least long term. They don’t have the water, they don’t have the food production, and its becoming one of the hottest places on earth. I think 1 in 4 kids there is malnourished? Or was it higher? And its only going to get worse from here.

        And there’s nowhere for the Indians to go. Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan will be having the same problems (Worse problems at least in Bangladesh’s case: They will be forced into other countries due to sea level rise…). And China already has a billion people to take care of.

        I’m expecting climate change to create a crisis unlike ever before seen before the century is over, and the worst of it will be concentrated in East and South Asia. Combined together, 1 in 4 people currently live in either India or China. The whole region will become a tinderbox once it becomes progressively more difficult to provide them all with enough food and water.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          The double whammy of Himalayan ice disappearing and the monsoon becoming less and less reliable, we may yet get that world of 1B people that eco warriors have been talking about. This, of course, en route to the extinction of the race, it’s pure hubris to have ever thought we could somehow escape that. The Anthropocene will be an interesting layer indeed to future cockroach geologists, full of plastics, radioactivity, heavy metals, and pharmaceuticals. They may conclude we were a death cult living in our own filth and bent on extinguishing ourselves.

          1. Synoia

            It may be that intelligence as we practice it is not an evolutionary advantage. If it were, why did the Dinosaurs not become intelligent?

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > The double whammy of Himalayan ice disappearing and the monsoon becoming less and less reliable

            Yep. And then there are the dams China is building along the Mekong….

          3. HotFlash

            They may conclude we were a death cult living in our own filth and bent on extinguishing ourselves.

            They might be right.

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