Links 12/25/19

Readers, Merry Christmas! –lambert

Wildfires cause turmoil in CA property insurance market AP (KW).

Adam Neumann’s $1.6bn WeWork exit package could get sweeter FT

Column: How did God make it into millions of consumer contracts? Los Angeles Times

Xmas Watch

Seasons greetings from the organs of state security:

How Jimmy Stewart’s war service affected ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ Chicago Tribune

How stores choose which songs to play CNN

The Secrets of New York City Ballet’s Pointe Shoe Room Dance Spirit. For Nutcracker fans.


Pound drops as post-election glow evaporates FT

Scuffles break out as protesters occupy Paris’s Gare de Lyon station CBC

French strikers oppose “Christmas truce” called by Macron and trade unions WSWS. Miserably inadequate coverage from our mainstream media not only of the gilets jaunes but of the ongoing General Strike, bordering on outright censorship.

In 2019, protesters took to the streets around the world to demand change NBC


Canada Follows US Lead By Ignoring OPCW Scandal

Snipers in the Kitchen New Left Review

The Roots of the Right-Wing Coup in Bolivia. Dissent

Venezuela, Argentina should follow Ecuador and base their economies on the U.S. dollar Miami Herald

The Koreas

Trump: US ready to deal with any North Korea ‘Christmas gift’ Al Jazeera

A Low-Intensity War Is Underway in Northeast Asia The Nation


Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui MTR stations close as Hong Kong marks Christmas Eve with return to tear gas on streets and protest chaos in malls South China Morning Post

In Hong Kong crackdown, police repeatedly broke their own rules — and faced no consequences WaPo. “The Post reviewed a full version of the Hong Kong Police Force’s internal use-of-force guidelines, the Force Procedures Manual, verified by two police officers and two lawyers.” Real reporting, despite the horrid mobile-friendly format.

How China’s Communist Party Quietly Built a Real Estate Empire in Hong Kong Bloomberg

The Smithsonian’s Newest Executive Probably Can’t Talk About Her Previous Job Experience (Because She Led the CIA) Artnet

The Guardian forced to clarify misleading article on Assange and Russia The Prism


Who’s Really in Charge of the Senate Impeachment Trial? Bruce Ackerman, Slate. John Roberts rides to the rescue?

Further Thoughts on the Crossfire Hurricane Report LawFare. Also setting the table for the Durham report.

If Ukraine Is Impeachable, What’s Afghanistan? Andrew Bacevich, Defense One

Convict Trump: The Constitution is more important than abortion The Christian Post. “The Christian Post is one of the larger twice a month newspapers in the Washington, DC area. The newspaper has a twice a month circulation of approximately 20,000.” So possibly more important within the Beltway than outside it.

GOP Lawmaker Plotted Insurrections to Establish Christian State New York Magazine (Re Silc). Matt Shea, a real piece of work.


Hunter Biden is linked to multiple criminal probes involving fraud, money laundering and counterfeiting, and owns stunning Hollywood Hills home, paternity court case documents claim Daily Mail. Kompromat. I mean, obviously.

The ‘Blob’ Embraces Buttigieg The American Conservative. On that endorsement from “200 foreign policy professionals.”

The problem with Buttigieg’s work at McKinsey isn’t his clients. It’s McKinsey. WaPo (DS).

What Pete Buttigieg Really Thinks About Young Progressives Iowa Starting Line

The Sanders Campaign, With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Front And Center, Is Speaking To Older Latino Voters Buzzfeed

The problem with world trade is not tariffs, but too much globalisation. Can Elizabeth Warren fix it? Dani Rodrik, South China Morning Post

Delaware Tribe of Indians to skip meeting with Elizabeth Warren Boston Globe

Susan Collins Is Suddenly Opposing Trump’s Court Picks Amid Tough Reelection Bid HuffPo

View from the ‘burbs Reuters

Health Care

People hate shopping for health insurance Axios. What, even the “smart shoppers”?

Buttigieg health plan hinges on ‘supercharged’ version of unpopular Obamacare mandate WaPo

Our Current Healthcare System Is a Bad Jobs Guarantee Mike the Mad Biologist


Boeing documents sent to House committee called ‘very disturbing’ Seattle Times

Boeing Can’t Fly Its 737 Max, but It’s Ready to Sell Its Safety NYT

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Colleges are turning students’ phones into surveillance machines, tracking the locations of hundreds of thousands WaPo

The Groves of Academe

How classroom technology is holding students back MIT Technology Review

My Semester With the Snowflakes Medium.

Guillotine Watch

Crush A Car With a Tank! Battlefield Vegas. Best part: “This tank was once in service in the British Army as a Chieftain Mk8 but thanks to Hollywood, this beast was transformed into a replica of the M1A1 Abrams that is in use by the United States military and some of her allies.”

Class Warfare

Jet Age Capitalism Redux The Baffler

The Fight Over the 1619 Project Is Not About the Facts The Atlantic. Maybe.

Baking in the Cooperation (podcasts) Grass Roots Economic Organizing

How Chinese Food Fueled the Rise of California Punk Topic Magazine

Thinking in Space: The Role of Geography in National Security Decision-Making Texas National Security Review

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.