Links 12/24/19

Readers, if you are so inclined, have a lovely Christmas Eve. –lambert

Researchers Have Identified 100 Mysteriously Disappeared Stars in The Night Sky Science Alert

Long-term predator–prey cycles finally achieved in the lab Nature

‘Amazon’s Choice’ Isn’t the Endorsement It Appears WSJ

Amazon’s Race To Build A Fast Delivery Network: “The Human Cost Of This Is Too Much.” Buzzfeed

Amazon warehouse workers doing “back-breaking” work walked off the job in protest Recode

‘The monster’: a short history of Australia’s biggest forest fire Sydney Morning Herald

Richard Flanagan: Aloha, little Scotty from Marketing, is it resurrection you’re looking for? The New Daily

The decade that blew up energy predictions Axios

When will the Netherlands disappear? Politico


Boris Johnson faces a battle to save the union FT

Momentum Lost: Surveying the Fractured British Left American Affairs

Politics: reasons for failure EU Referendum

Why London’s Commercial Property Market Is Set for 2020 Revival Bloomberg

French union workers vote to halt production at key oil facility Reuters


Saudi Arabia sentences five to death for murder of Jamal Khashoggi Guardian

Chronicle of a Coup Foretold Counterpunch. Mexico.


Modi’s party loses Indian state election amid protests over citizenship law Reuters

India’s citizenship law: what is it and why has it stirred such anger? FT

The three-step communal game plan The Hindu

The Koreas

Leaders of China, Japan and South Korea gather amid North Korea’s provocations Japan Times. But see this thread:


China digs Laos in deeper with flurry of SEZs Nikkei Asian Review

How the scramble for sand is destroying the Mekong BBC


What the Senate Does Now Will Cast a Long Shadow Patrick Leahy, NYT (KW). Indeed:

We’ve got the intelligence community, the Blob, the press, and the political parties all acting like they’re branches of government. So, yes, there’s a lot at stake.

House counsel suggests Trump could be impeached again Politico If Democrats were as tenacious on #MedicareForAll, it would be passed by now.

Trump Transition

‘Cutting Social Security Is Murder’: Flood of Public Outrage Greets Trump Proposal to Slash Benefits for Hundreds of Thousands Common Dreams

How Airlines Exploit Laws To Literally Squeeze Customers The American Conservative. Embracing regulation (!).


Medicare for All Isn’t Tanking Warren Jacobin. Warren is tanking Medicare for All.

How Buttigieg’s childhood pal ended up managing 2020’s breakout campaign Politico. “Occasionally, Buttigieg and Schmuhl will literally communicate in another language, dipping seamlessly into French when they want to speak privately in a car packed with other people.” Peak PMC.

The Defenders of the Wine Cave Are Missing the Point The Intercept

Georgia rolls out new voting machines, but fears about election security persist WaPo. Not “but.” And.

Health Care

Unions shouldn’t use their health insurance as a weapon against universal coverage WaPo

Focus turns to Supreme Court (again) following ACA ruling Health Care Dive

Anonymous Philanthropist Donates 200 Human Kidneys To Hospital The Onion

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Twitter rejects my censorship appeal Yasha Levine. And all because Levine paraphrased pro-impeachment Democrat law prof Pamela Karlan accurately.

Every move you make, I’ll be watching you: Privacy implications of the Apple U1 chip and ultra-wideband Freedom to Tinker

Realignment and Legitimacy

2019: the year of street protest FT

FEATURE-Survival camps cater to new fear: America’s political unrest Reuters (Re Silc). Grifters gotta grift.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Groupthink Resurgent The National Interest

Guillotine Watch

Want a Bugatti and a Yacht for Xmas? He Can Loan You the Money Bloomberg

Important Donor To Anti-Vax Movement Has Been Cashing In On ‘Alternatives To Vaccines’ As Measles Outbreaks Surge KHN

Class Warfare

Walmart Gets Green Light to Restrict Union Buttons at Work (2) Bloomberg

To turn the mass into a class LRB

In Defense Of The Secular Embrace Of Christmas The American Conservative (dk).

Mapping words reveals emotional diversity Science

Why Your Brain Needs Exercise Scientific American

Antidote du jour (via). This cat is lit:

Bonus antidote (YY):

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. Henry Moon Pie

    Kudos to Ryan Grim for reminding us what kind of people lurk in wine caves.

    If the billionaires can’t do without their little confabs with the candidates over a chardonnay with a delicate acidity that is both saucy and timid, then let them continue but with a more diverse crowd. No, I’m not talking about that kind of diverse. I’m sure they have that covered. I mean like let’s have half the crowd consist of the homeless, or migrant farmworkers, or Medicaid patients, or unemployed coal miners or real refugees from one of the many wars we prosecute around the world.

    Hey billionaires! Share the access with your fellow humans (I know. Hard to believe we share DNA with you titans.). After all, you say there’s nothing inherently corrupting about it.

  2. zagonostra


    … they all sang from the same sheet of music about the challenge that the United States is facing in Ukraine. Ukraine, they agreed, is “on the frontlines of a strategic competition between the West and Vladimir Putin’s revanchist Russia” and therefore must have robust U.S. backing. They described this competition as in part a military struggle that requires continuing flows of American military assistance for Kyiv: “We are fighting Russia in Ukraine so that we do not have to fight Russia in the United States.” But they also see it as ideological. A “free and democratic Ukraine” is a natural ally for “the United States and Western-style Liberalism,” according to these experts. Ambassador Kurt Volker, the U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, best articulated this consensus view:

    [The U.S. national interest in Ukraine] meant pushing back on Russian aggression and supporting the development of a strong, resilient, democratic and prosperous Ukraine—one that overcomes a legacy of corruption and becomes integrated into a wider trans-Atlantic community. This is critically important for U.S. national security. If Ukraine, the cradle of Slavic civilization predating Moscow, succeeds as a freedom-loving, prosperous and secure democracy, it gives enormous hope that Russia may one day change—providing a better life for Russian people, and overcoming its current plague of authoritarianism, corruption, and aggression toward neighbors and threats to NATO allies and the United States. The stakes for the United States in a successful Ukraine could not be higher.

    THE LOGIC seems so reasonable as to be beyond any debate. And if we are to believe the witnesses, it is beyond debate. They testified that there has long been a bipartisan interagency consensus on all these points, and their clear implication is that because there is a strong consensus, these views must be correct.

    A “freedom-loving, prosperous and secure democracy”, really? Who believe this nonsense? We support dictators when it’s in the interest of the ruling elites’ economic interest and strategic geopolitical leverage.

    Anyone who has read the works of Michael Parenti or Chomsky with respect to U.S. foreign policy or has studied the numerous military projection of power by the U.S. can’t but scratch their head and think, who makes up this stuff? Do they really believe that “providing a better life for Russian people, and overcoming its current plague of authoritarianism, corruption, and aggression toward neighbors…” is the underlying motivation. Jeez!

    Nietzsche: Madness is rare in individuals, but in groups, parties, nations, it is the rule

    1. Louis Fyne

      someone on the internet: a group of people is only as smart as its dumbest person.

      (maybe it’s a genuine aphorism/folk wisdom.)

        1. Geo

          Yes and no. The dumb people can also block smart people so they continue in a dumb bubble.

          Would love a social media site that forces divergent ideas into threads. If someone keeps sharing Breitbart links they have to read and share one Jacobin article before they can share any more Breitbart, as an example. Or, if they keep sharing MSNBC links they’re made to read and share a Caitlyn Johnson essay. Doesn’t make them smarter but at least pokes holes in their brain bubble.

          Until such a thing exists we have NC’s links and Water Cooler to keep us in the path to broader understanding of our world.

      1. Procopius

        Don’t remember who, maybe Andrew Bierce, “The intelligence of a crowd is that of it’s dumbest member divided by the number of people in the crowd.”

    2. Montanamaven

      Has anyone thought to ask the Ukrainian people about whether they want peace with Russia or the US fighting “them over there so we don’t have to fight those Russkies over in the US?” Seems they voted overwhelmingly for Zelensky in order to achieve the former.

        1. RMO

          Remember, it’s only a truly democratic and legitimate vote if it gives the result the US elites want. /s

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      “who believes this nonsense?”

      It’s a frelling crazymaking, wall to wall, floor to ceiling, Gish Gallop.
      when i see the clips from pressers, or glimpse a bit of msdnc over at mom’s, I ask myself all the time: Does that person actually believe that sh&t?
      if it’s Mitch McConnel, it feels pretty obvious that he doesn’t believe more than half of what comes out of his mouth, but most of the bobbleheads, I honestly have no idea.
      I compare with Meatspace:
      San Antone has a pretty big military demographic…as does Fredericksburg and Kerrville(I remember when both the latter were bastions of Redneck Hippiedom, ala Willie, Waylon and the Boys)…so I run into active, reserve and retired quite a bit….most of them seem to Believe Real Hard, but i haven’t had the opportunity(nor the stones) to push that query….the Veterans I’ve known well(Vietnam era) were either as cynical as i am, or Believed Real Hard because to do otherwise was to open the pits of hell in their souls….so I’m reluctant to engage thusly with strangers in that cohort.
      The few hospital suits I’ve interrogated in elevators feel like they know the whole mess is whack, but say the Right Things(as if my hairy, ragged self could be a secret shopper, or something,lol)
      and, of course, the True Believers in both local party apparatii…as well as the Ur-Businessmen who align with the GOP…appear to actually Believe the Talking Points and Zeitgeist and Catechism of Official Americandom.
      But people in/on the media?
      who one would think were in positions close enough to the actual workings of the Machine to know better?
      That’s a question I had hoped that Anonymous or some similar outfit would answer…which feels like that other quixotic exercise…waiting for the rentboys to come forth regarding everyone from Dan Patrick to Lindsey Graham.

    1. Janie

      Wishing everyone the peace of the piano cat in the coming year. I appreciate the gifts of the comments from the European residents, the technical expertise of so many of you and the varied comments from everyone. I wish for better times for those who have shared their stories of health, housing and economic troubles in 2020 and, as Tiny Tim said, blessings to all.

      1. newcatty

        Hope all can have a peaceful and happy holidaze. We have the twin of the Lit cat. As I speak, she is curled up in her new kitty bed. She’s not lit at the moment, but is more silent night, peaceful night in her reverie. Her sister cat is content on my lap, pushing my tablet out of her space. She has her priorities right. See you in the New Year…

  3. PlutoniumKun

    Re: The summit between Xi, Abe and Moon.

    That AAK twitter thread is really interesting. Moon is a very interesting politician, by most standards a very light progressive (but fairly left wing by recent SK standards), but its very clear from some US reporting that he is viewed in a very hostile light (assuming that the likes of the NYT and Bloomberg is reflecting the blobs view). In Korea I heard several times people say ‘he is too close to China, too hostile to Japan’, which makes his very direct criticisms of Xi very notable. It was a brave thing to do.

    For those not following it, the conservative, pro US establishment in South Korea pretty much self immolated over the past few years due to a number of bizarre and often quite hilarious scandals. They are polling in single figures, but are still very powerful as they have the backing of pretty much everyone with power and money in the country. The last mildly progressive PM of SK was pretty much driven from office and committed suicide in, shall we say, somewhat suspicious circumstances. I hope Moon proves more skilled at getting his way. But steering his country between his two very large and historically not-always friendly neighbours (Japan in particular of course) will require a lot of skill.

    1. Louis Fyne

      random degrees of separation: my dad was a TA (teaching assistant) to Moon in one of his classes, lol.

      Moon’s Achilles heel is jobs—-the Korean economy is puttering along and people are not happy. seemingly Moon is desperate for some foreign policy breakthrough to cement a legacy…..he might be tired of wielding carrots.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Very true. Unfortunately I think a lot of people are blaming some of his labor laws for the unemployment problem – he brought in stricter legislation for casual and night workers. I think his attempt to refight the comfort women issue backfired on him, they don’t seem to have anticipated the Japanese to take such an uncompromising stance.

        I think he’ll probably do ok for now due to the lack of an alternative from the right for now. But he has a lot of enemies for such a moderate and unassuming man.

      2. Montanamaven

        I highly recommend Bong Joon Ho’s award winning film “Parasite”. Could be best film of the year. Gives you a glimpse into the have and have nots in Korea.

    2. Bo

      It’s a ridiculous stretch to imply this as a criticism. Not sure where do they learn their Chinese Classics. Most Chinese would tell you this is good will wish for better cooperation.

  4. Wukchumni

    FEATURE-Survival camps cater to new fear: America’s political unrest Reuters

    Increasingly, Miller said, clients fear sharp political divisions will deepen around the Nov. 3, 2020 U.S. presidential election.

    “There is growing concern that after the 2020 election there could be massive, long-lasting civil unrest if people say, ‘Hey, I don’t buy the new president, I don’t recognize him or her,'” said Miller, who has added “civil war” to his risk scenarios.

    Would the adversaries be decked out in Grey & Blue, or different hues, and where would the Mason-Dixon Line be in CW2?


    We’re kind of following in the way of Chaco Canyon & Mesa Verde, the former was wide open ‘skyscrapers’ (4 & 5 story buildings) while the latter was more of a ‘survival camp’ hidden away and you’d have to make a tremendous effort to find, in comparison.

    When climate change came calling, all they had in the way of weaponry was bow & arrow, spear & rock, and ‘eating out’ become a thing (read Christy Turner’s Man Corn: Cannibalism and Violence in the Prehistoric American Southwest to get an idea of what went down) whereas it hadn’t been heretofore.

    …our weaponry is a bit more advanced

      1. Wukchumni

        Boyle was the bomb!

        I grew up on the New Yorker, Mad Magazine and Esquire, and the latter had quite the influence on me, especially with their Dubious Achievement awards, which I pined for all year until the newest accomplishments arrived in the mail.

          1. Off The Street

            Esquire has seemed to be in a downward spiral for years. They’ve attempts to be influencers and proto-Zeitgeist machers but without much conviction beyond selling ads. Their preferred reader lived within the right six-block radius in Manhattan, so not much reach there.

    1. Lee

      I don’t believe in ghosts but the eerie sense of some presence from deep time both lost and still somehow lingering that I felt during my visits to Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon seriously challenged that belief. I liken the feeling akin to nostalgia, but for something just beyond the mind’s grasp.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      there’s one of those a few miles south of Brady, Texas.
      dude(and you just KNOW its a dude,lol) converted his sparsely wooded pasture into a “ranger school”…with the requisite flags all over the front, and various obstacles and what appear to be live fire crawling under wire features.
      the signage is bog standard Superpatriot.
      every time i pass by…for maybe 15 years, now…I look for activity of some kind. To date, there has been zero.
      that might be due to the ghillie suits, of course.

      and back home in East Texas, in the 80’s, you’d sometimes come across a bunch of camo clad men in the forest doing military-esque things…like when delivering pizza, or cooking at a hunting camp.
      that was usually Klan related or Klan adjacent.

      I reckon this sort of thing is always out there, but the moving average is that of a tiny minority, that enjoys increased attendance/interest when the FUD ramps up for whatever reason.
      just remember that the Machine wants us to be terrified of one another.

  5. The Historian

    Re: Aloha, little Scotty

    If we survive the dark age we are drifting into, future historians will probably record this time as The Money Age, when those few who had it, bought horribly incompetent leaders for every country.

  6. JohnnyGL

    Rolling Stone: “The First Time: Elizabeth Warren”

    No, they don’t show her answering about THAT first time! I get the campaign is trying to humanize the Senator, but what happens if it turns out she’s incredibly boring?

    Talking about adopting the dog, a story which has no twists and turns whatsoever….

    Her reckless spending decision was…wine glasses? Nothing fun happens to the wine glasses like them getting smashed or anything.

    Standing up to authority….defying mom by crossing the street? Really? That’s the bravest thing you got?

    I don’t know which campaign staffer coached/managed this one, but I’m having a hard time seeing it as a smashing success. :)

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      This is embarassing. Look, I think the lady is smart and pretty nice, and probably mostly has decent motives. But good lord she is not running for PTA president, she’s running for Most Indispensable Badass MegaCountry president, where the most hardcore seasoned dirty tricks businessmen and politicians will be coming for you full speed with their knives out. Do I want her fronting up against Amazon’s anti-trust legal defense team? Telling Bibi he can’t have any more of the Golan Heights? Telling Jamie Dimon he needs to split up his bank?

      Calculating how many cakes the ladies want to bake this year for the School Raffle maybe, I’m sure she’d hit that one out of the park.

      1. JohnnyGL


        I’m seeing a polite academic wrapped in tissue paper. I need to see battle scars being proudly displayed.

        “I got this one when I fought with Tim Geithner and tried to get him to stop using all his brainpower to figure out creative ways to funnel money to banks.”

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          It’s really the Democrat philosophy, writ small.

          They think politics above all should be polite. We’ll be nice and polite to you while billionaires steal from you with our help.

          It’s their main objection to Trump: he’s impolite. Can’t we please just get back to those salad days of Obama, when we had a handsome young black man telling us in soothing tones why billionaire monopolies and Permanent War and no health care were so good for us.

  7. BoyDownTheLane

    In re: branches of government, the only branch that counts is the one enumerated in the first three words of the Constitution.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      yeah…the glaring oversight with that one is the lack of an enforcement mechanism.
      the Tenth Amendment is pretty vague.
      and pitchforks, torches, let alone revolution, go unmentioned.

  8. timbers

    Trump Transition

    ‘Cutting Social Security Is Murder’: Flood of Public Outrage Greets Trump Proposal to Slash Benefits for Hundreds of Thousands Common Dreams

    Well Dems, if you’re looking for a reason to impeach this one might actually get you some extra support from voters…..

  9. Carl

    I honestly thought the Space Force piece in Defense One was a parody…a uniform, a patch, a song, really? Because the other branches of the military have been such a howling success here on, y’know, Earth.

    1. The Rev Kev

      It’s a scam. Elon Musk welcomed the US Space Force with two words on Twitter: ‘Starfleet begins’. More likely Musk wants to see the formation of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation as being closer to what he wants. And Boeing’s Starliner is part of it all where the corporations want to run amok in space while the Space Force tried to achieve hegemony in space.

      Hilariously, when that Starlier flight proved a bust, the guy at the Snafu blog said: “This thing wasn’t a failure. It was a stepping stone to American domination in space.” But if I recall right, the rocket engines that sent the Boeing Starliner up were Russian engines.

      1. RMO

        First stage engine is a Russian RD-180, second stage engine(s) are Aerojet-Rocketdyne RL10. An acquaintance of mine is now semi-retired from the satellite engineering field and he told me that if you want to put something into orbit go with the Russians – and that he was always less tense when a satellite he had worked on for ages was on a Russian rocket than when anyone else was doing the launch.

  10. Wukchumni

    My Rome Beauty apple tree (30 ripe apples were picked a few months ago) has a dozen little apple’ttes on it about the size of a gumball you get out of a machine @ the supermarket entrance, and the Cara Cara orange tree has about 30 large orbs that will ripen in a month or so, and is also blossoming @ the same time.

    Mother Nature’s clients are a bit mixed up…

  11. Wukchumni

    One thing i’ve not heard much of this holiday season is the usual reports of how we’re doing in terms of buying junk for others that they really don’t need. Usually they pepper us with nearly breathless accounts (consumer spending is up 2.165% compared to last year, rejoice!) that almost seem like sports scores.

  12. mrsyk

    Our beautiful orange cat passed early this morning. Fifteen years of union card carrying feline companionship. He was a real keeper. We hurt. In my grief driven inventory of reasons to get out of bed in the morning< I realized that some recognition on my part to the god people here was in order. Thank you Yves. Thank you Lambert. Thank you commentariat. This blog is an oasis of critical thought and honest debate. I don't post much because someone else here speaks my piece much more eloquently than I (looking at you Amfortas.). Anyway, send a kind thought to the DTrain as he moves onwards.

    1. Bob Tetrault

      Dear cats. Ours, of 21 years(!), died nine months ago. Mysterious little critters who had so much of our hearts. I understand.

    2. HotFlash

      So sorry for you and godspeed to the DTrain. Hanging out with these short-lifers is guaranteed heartbreak. And it is worth it. Best to you and, when the time is right, Dtrain’s successor.

    3. 3.14e-9

      I don’t post much because someone else here speaks my piece much more eloquently than I (looking at you Amfortas.).

      Stated more concisely than I could have. However, no matter how much better others might express my empathy for the loss of your beloved, I am surfacing from lurk mode to add my condolences.

      I’ve been with my boy for nearly six years, the past five of them in acute awareness that he could be gone in an instant, with no warning, due to a congenital heart condition discovered when he went in for the “routine procedure” and nearly died. Although he is of lowly parentage, he resembles a royal breed and has a demeanor like Yves has described in her tributes to her departed Abys. I’ve said many times that he’s not a cat, but a higher being who put on a cat suit to walk with me, for reasons unknowable to an earthbound human mind. We are joined at the hip. I don’t know how I could go on without him.

      While I can’t know or understand your unique circumstances, I can identify with the grief over losing an irreplaceable companion.

    4. Clive

      My mother-in-law’s cat has just made one of her half-hearted (but nonetheless potentially successful if your reaction times aren’t super-quick) attempts to bite my hand as I attempted to pick her up in order to move her to the windowsill (which was where she was “telling” me, or so I thought, she wanted to go!)

      I don’t understand her ways, not being, historically a “cat” person. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      She (the cat, not the mother-in-law) brings joy, love, rewarding conversation and mystery in equal measure.

      So I can only bless you and bless your recently, no doubt dearly, departed companion and extend my heartfelt sympathy for your loss. Difficult at any time. Even more so at this time of year.

    5. marieann

      I am so sorry for your loss. These cats give us such happiness and such grief.

      May the goddess guard him
      May he find his way to the Summerlands
      May his earthly companions know peace

    6. Jak Siemasz

      I am deeply sorry at the loss of your companion. The furred creatures are often the best friends one can have.

    7. Off The Street

      Groups come together to share memories and deal with passings.

      Surfers do a paddle-out memorial service.

      Kitty lovers can have their own service, with laser pointers to remember fun times.

  13. Summer

    “This impeachment is the ratification of the idea that security state bureaucrats are the keepers of “official policy.”

    Enough to make you wonder exactly where a lot of these politicians are really coming from…

    1. RMO

      I wonder if they would have wanted Truman impeached for giving MacArthur the boot? “An intolerable interference in foreign policy and military matters!”

      1. The Rev Kev

        That’s a damn good point that. It amounts to the same as what Trump did. Things have certainly changed since the 50s and it may explain partially why high level officers are never sacked for incompetence these days.

  14. polecat

    Merry X-mas you’ll … and don’t give Krampus an excuse to use that willow switch !

    Stay frosty everyone … and I hope to see that you make it safely through to the other side of the new year’s bottleneck(s).

  15. petal

    Sending holiday wishes and warm thoughts out to Ambrit & Phyl(I hope you are starting to feel better), and to skippy, and Christopher J. Happy Christmas to everyone out there. Cheers!

  16. Carolinian

    We’ve got the intelligence community, the Blob, the press, and the political parties all acting like they’re branches of government. So, yes, there’s a lot at stake.

    Some would say this was the problem with even Nixon’s impeachment. The press started to see themselves less as hangers on and stenographers and more as players and participants. That’s a lot of power to give to those who use “ink by the barrel”–particularly when they are owned by one percenters. The reason impeachment should never be used frivolously is that it is also an assault on democracy. Unless it’s some kind of emergency the voters should decide.

    1. norm de plume

      The part that Tracey quoted contained a few phrases perhaps more jarring for those of us in the provinces:

      ‘undermined our credibility in promoting democratic values… our credibility is based on a respect for the United States’

      No-one ‘respects’ the United States. It may look like respect to the nation in receipt of it, but it is not respect. It is fear.

      1. Greg

        Hahaha. Yes, respect is not the word i would use for opinions towards the USA. For some of its citizens, absolutely. But the imperium itself? Fear, as mentioned, anger, envy, hatred, despair, would all come to mind first.

  17. jax read

    Chiming in to wish Lambert, Yves, and Jeri Lynn a wonderful holiday. And to the commentariat here at NC a peaceful and happy (as it’s going to get) New Year.

  18. smoker

    Re: Twitter rejects my censorship appeal Yasha Levine. And all because Levine paraphrased pro-impeachment Democrat law prof Pamela Karlan accurately.

    Immigrants as a Weapon meets Surveillance Valley and…Surveillance Valley wins.

    Yep, sounds like Yasha was targeted and that it wasn’t a low paid Twitter Moderator, or bot. No surprise that pro-impeachment Democrat law prof Pamela Karlan is ensconced at Surveillance Valley’s Stanford Law School, just down the way from Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco RussiaGate Headquarters, Jack Dorsey’s San Francisco Compound, other Billionaires like Jack, and thousands of unsheltered homeless us citizens.

    Extremely depressing, though totally unshocking. I can’t even imagine how many voices were shut down totally over the years – versus leaving prior posts intact – because they didn’t have the blue check that Yasha has. I guess Twitter will soon be instituting, yet another primo category so they can more easily suspend – without a remaining trace – blue checks™.

    The only bleakly good thing is that he didn’t use a Facebook account for his commentary, that likely would have been wiped out completely.

    1. smoker

      Update Re: Yasha’s Twitter Account, via Mark Ames

      Twitter, censorship and political speech (Yasha’s links removed for postability):

      The opaqueness with which Twitter handles censorship of political speech is infuriating — infuriating, scummy, and dangerous. This process should be transparent and driven by more than just Twitter’s secretive corporate and political considerations.

      I want to restore access to my account, which is still locked. But I would also like the company to disclose how it goes about making these decisions — and if any outside corrupt, pay-to-play political lobbies and groups like the Atlantic Council are involved in the process, as they are with Facebook.

      So I just sent Twitter’s PR department a request for comment. Will update when I know more

      He penned a great letter to Twitter, which is included in the post.

  19. Oregoncharles

    “Researchers Have Identified 100 Mysteriously Disappeared Stars in The Night Sky”
    Maybe this is too obvious, but can nebulas be thick enough to obscure a star – esp. one that’s none too bright to begin with?

  20. Anon

    Response to Lambert’s preface:

    A Visit from St. Nicholas
    By Clement Clarke Moore

    ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
    Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
    The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
    In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
    The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
    While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
    And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
    Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
    When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
    I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
    Away to the window I flew like a flash,
    Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
    The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
    Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
    When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
    But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
    With a little old driver so lively and quick,
    I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
    More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
    And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
    “Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
    On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
    To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
    Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
    As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
    When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
    So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
    With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—
    And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
    The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
    As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
    Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
    He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
    And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
    A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
    And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
    His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
    His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
    His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
    And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
    The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
    And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
    He had a broad face and a little round belly
    That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
    He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
    And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
    A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
    Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
    He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
    And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
    And laying his finger aside of his nose,
    And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
    He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
    And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
    But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
    “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

  21. Anon

    The poem was first published 12/23/1823 by the New York Sentinel. The poem is the first to associate the patron saint of children (St. Nicholas) with sleigh and reindeer and their magical transport through the sky.

      1. Anon

        Interesting. I was unaware of this story. The “true” author was not my concern, spreading the joy of the poem was.

        As noted at the end of the link: “As all those involved with the poem’s initial publication are long dead, and it is unlikely that this mystery will ever be resolved to the satisfaction of Livingston’s progeny. Unless more evidence emerges, Moore will remain the acknowledged and celebrated author of “The Night before Christmas.” “, or as named above: “A Visit from St. Nicholas”

  22. JohnnyGL

    For those who want to know if the impeachment fever is wearing off….NOPE!!!

    Look at the smugness on the CNN panel in this clip. They REALLY think they’ve got him, this time!

    Memo to CNN: NO ONE GIVES A F$#% IF TRUMP PUT A HOLD ON THE ANTI-TANK MISSILES!!!! He could hang a banner from the white house that says, “Dear Zelensky: You will get no missiles until we hold a presser!” No one would care about that, either.

    1. chuck roast


      Watching Sister Mary Immaculata Warren and her designer dog and this panel of badly dressed golfers is going to hurt your head my son. I’m going for the egg-nog right now.

  23. Ignim Brites

    “House counsel suggests Trump could be impeached again”. Everlasting Impeachment. That will make a great slogan for the Congressional Dems going into the election.

    Sounds like Pelosi has decided the best way to defeat the journolist wing of the Party is to lose the election.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      I think this is much more serious than that, all of this 2020 business where people venture forth and select their leaders and the policies they want them to enact is absolutely on the line.

      Screw it already, just rip up the Constitution if this is the kind of political plaything they think it is. Maybe the five branches of government (Executive, Legislative, Judicial, Spying, and Press) can each get their own standing armies and just duke/nuke it out

  24. .Tom

    > Readers, if you are so inclined, have a lovely Christmas Eve. –lambert

    Thanks. To you too. And to your colleagues and the greater community of NC.

      1. norm de plume

        Good summary that.

        Re the debate about compo for fireys: surely there can be no argument that people risking their own lives to save those of others, and their property and their towns, should not be out of pocket for this sterling service to their communities and the nation.

        I have a mate in finance who hails from out west, listens to the shock jocks and reads News as if it were gospel. His response to the idea of compo – that Oz has a proud tradition of volunteering; meals on wheels, art galleries and hospitals, etc etc, as if these admirable activities – the choices of admirable people, were somehow equivalent to fighting massive bushfires at risk to life and limb as well as hip pocket. ‘They don’t want to be paid’ he said confidently.

        But a compensatory arrangement is not actually ‘being paid’, which infers ‘making money’ – it is simply making whole what was lost while the firefighter sacrificed their time and quite possibly their health. Where do we place the protection of our homes and communities and bushland on a scale of importance? I can’t think of anything more worthy of full government backing.

        Another idea is to scrap the insane idea of shifting the Powerhouse Museum from the city to Parra – at a billion plus cost. Use the money to bolster fire defences. Tick. Another is to legislate for full armed forces support at these times – copters, and personnel primarily. Tick.

        One worrying development though is the clear rift between the head of the RFS – a political appointment – and the bloke who fronts the Volunteer Firefighters association. The former opines that his members are offended by the suggestion they be compensated and that they have all they need, the other says that weeks off work for most volunteers is unsustainable and they are short of what they need.

        ‘The Commissioner accused Mr Holton’s organisation of being “highly politically charged” with “unclear” motivations… “I would put very little store in anything that organisation has to say,” Mr Fitzsimmons said. “The only time I ever hear anything … from that mob is through the media.”

        Mr Holton said the association only aimed to act in the interests of its firefighter members and that Mr Fitzsimmons did not hear from the association directly because “he doesn’t talk to us”. “We’re seen as the enemy because we raise the tough questions,” Mr Holton said.

        This conflict is manna for the neoliberals at both state and federal level. Their man, in his military style uniform, backs them to the hilt in their effort not to spend one public cent more than is politically necessary (and not being a volunteer himself, Fitzsimmons is presumably a well paid senior public servant, to the tune of several hundred thou per annum you would expect) while the other team leader Holton, an ex candidate of the Shooter’s Party, can be painted as a redneck maverick not to be listened to.

        I just wish someone would ask Morrison to his face on prime time:

        Prime Minister, as a Pentecostalist, is it true that you believe that God will one day destroy all the people of the Earth in an event (presaged by fires and floods) called The Rapture, except for members of your church? If so, does this belief explain your apparent, at least your initial, nonchalance about the severity of this fire season?

        And as a bonus: your friend President Trump is not a Pentecostalist. It follows that he is NOT going to heaven. Have you informed him of this?

  25. John

    The AmCon article on the current horror of airplane travel says “Berkshire Hathaway, by the way, owns stock in American, United, Delta, and Southwest. It is now the first, second, or third largest shareholder in each of the four major U.S. airlines.”
    Berkshire Hathaway owns NetJets Inc., an American company that sells part ownership or shares (called fractional ownership) of private business jets (obviously for those of means).
    Make of the comparison what you will

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