Links 12/3/19

Reptiles Known as ‘Living Rocks’ Show Surprising Cognitive Powers Nature

Fire Blight Spreads Northward, Threatening Apple Orchards New York Times

Reusable plastic shopping bags are actually making the problem worse, not better Quartz (resilc)

Apostrophe society shuts down because ‘ignorance and laziness have won’ London Evening Standard

Doctors Are Turning To YouTube To Learn How To Do Surgical Procedures CNBC. This is “kill me now” of another sort….


Hong Kong: A different kind of Cold War Asia Times

China Hints U.S. Blacklist Imminent in Threat to Trade Talks Bloomberg

Who Pays the Tax on Imports from China? The Big Picture


What Jolly Good Fun It All Is Current Affairs (UserFriendly)

Cameroonian Asylum-Seekers Flee US-Backed Forces Intercept


The Superpowers Battling Over Iraq’s Giant Oil Field OilPrice

The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer: Global Turmoil: Ethics offer a way out of the crisis MidEast Soccer

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

All New Cellphone Users In China Must Now Have Their Face Scanned MIT Technology Review

Chinese tech groups shaping UN facial recognition standards Financial Times

Portland Plans To Propose the Strictest Facial Recognition Ban in the Country Fast Company. More of this, please.

Google, Facebook In EU Probe Over User Data Mercury News

Vulnerability In Fully Patched Android Phones Under Active Attack By Bank Thieves ars technica

Imperial Collapse Watch

The U.S. Army’s Worst Tradition: Never Ready for the Next War Daily Beast (resilc)

Trump Transition

Trump just slapped tariffs on Brazil and Argentina to try and dig himself out of a problem he created Business Insider (Kevin W)

US threatens tax on champagne and French cheese BBC

Trump Was Right Before He Was Wrong: NATO Should Be Obsolete Antiwar

Could America Survive a Truth Commission? Charles Hugh Smith (Chuck L). This is a bit off base. The original Truth and Reconciliation Commission was on South Africa’s apartheid era, one massive human rights abuse that had dominated political and economic life. Where do you being and end with America’s truth commissions? WMD in Iraq? Continuing mistreatment of people of color, ranging from mass incarcerations of blacks to ongoing threats, like stop and frisk and trigger happy cops (which also take out white people, just not in the same proportions)? The massive transfer of wealth to financiers post crisis? The second financial services industry bailout, foamed by 9 million significantly preventable foreclosure? Unnecessary deaths, disease, and disability due to unaffordable health care? I’m sure readers can add to this list.


Trump uses impeachment to market to his base Axios

Yes, Ukraine Meddled in the 2016 US Election Consortium News (Chuck L)


Election polls aren’t broken, but they still can’t predict the future ars technica

Trump campaign denies press credentials to Bloomberg News BBC

Democrats call BS on malarkey Politico

Influential Iowa group endorses Sanders The Hill

How a Hillary ‘shill’ went all in for Bernie Politico (resilc)

No More Nice Dems New York Review of Books (resilc)

Mentions of Government as Top U.S. Problem Near Record High Gallup (Jerry B)

PG&E Had Systemic Problems With Power Line Maintenance, California Probe Finds Wall Street Journal. Damning:

State fire investigators had previously determined that PG&E equipment started the Camp Fire, which killed 85 people, and the company hasn’t disputed the findings. But the new [700 page] report goes well beyond earlier findings, alleging numerous serious violations of state rules for maintaining electric lines and specific problems with upkeep of the transmission line that started the fire….

“The identified shortcomings in PG&E’s inspection and maintenance of the incident tower were not isolated, but rather indicative of an overall pattern of inadequate inspection and maintenance of PG&E’s transmission facilities,” the report by the commission’s safety and enforcement division found…

he findings of the utilities commission report could lead California to impose fines and other penalties. It could also influence ongoing investigations by law-enforcement agencies, including the Butte County District Attorney and the California Attorney General, that are deciding whether to file criminal charges against the utility and its executives.

It could also become a factor in PG&E’s probation. The company is on federal probation for failure to properly inspect and maintain its gas pipeline system, which led to an explosion in 2010 that killed eight people. The federal judge overseeing PG&E’s probation has indicated that the company has violated the terms of its probation and is weighing further sanctions.

Coal Power Becoming ‘Uninsurable’ As Firms Refuse Cover Guardian


The laws of stupidity according to economist Carlo M. Cipolla Quartz

MMT Heaven and MMT Hell for Chinese Investment and U.S. Fiscal Spending Michael Pettis. A good primer. From Ed Harrison via DS.


Cord-Cutting Pushed To ‘Tipping Point’ as Video Streaming Grows Bloomberg

Is the fintech bubble bursting? FT Alphaville

Guillotine Watch

Billionaires only, please! London vault for the ultra-rich opens Guardian (Dr. Kevin)

Class Warfare

How poor people survive in the USA | DW Documentary YouTube (resilc)

Appalachia vs. the Carceral State New Republic (UserFriendly)

Automating History’s First Draft Scientific American (Robert M)

Our workforce is dying faster than any other wealthy country, study shows USA Today

Antidote du jour (Tracie H, at the Los Angeles Zoo):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Field Marshal McLuhan

    Our workforce is dying faster than any other wealthy country, study shows USA Today

    “Those are a lot of lives snuffed out in prime years, a long-range threat to an economy that ranks No. 1 globally in gross domestic product.”

    Because here in Neoliberalia, it’s not a problem until it affects the bottom line…

    1. Livius Drusus

      It really makes you think about the term “human resources.” That is how we are viewed by the elites, as beasts of burden. Our elite class “cares” about the issue of deaths of despair only because it has the potential to rock the boat, either in the form of hurting the economy or producing political instability.

      Otherwise, our ruling class doesn’t care. The elite view is that the people dying early deaths are losers who didn’t get with the program and prepare themselves for the future by becoming computer scientists and moving to the West Coast or whatever the latest elite narrative is.

        1. Danny

          I prefer “Human Commodities.”

          As to suicides, I always wondered why people wouldn’t take a few of the people who cause their problems with them.

          e.g., The black lung miner facing insurmountable health costs, take the coal mine owner with you to the great beyond. The despondent head of household victimized by fraudulent mortgage, travel to NYC and take the head of a big bank off the shoulders, then off yourself.

          Maybe I’m just a utilitarian in my outlook?

          1. JBird4049

            You are just not devious enough. I think many of the mass shooter/suicides are taking others with them. However, they are pre-mind-screwed into blaming their fellow plebs like immigrants, Blacks, Muslims, poor people, or elves instead of members of our actual ruling class in our modern, growing Mordor.

            Perhaps it is not a conscious creation of TPTB, but it still is a cunning trick to use a person’s suicidal despair to destroy other innocent people and spread the fear and maybe more despair while leaving the guilty untouched.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          For me, there is another one – intellectual capital. It just seems to reduce learning to its monetization potential.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        one might think that they would consider it in their interests to maintain at least a minimum level of wellbeing in the serfdom…since fewer workers, supposedly means higher wages and more worker power(see: black death, consequences).
        so, similarly to the antifordism where the wallywhirled “associate” can’t shop there, the bosses are shooting themselves in the foot by promoting policy and tax regimes that kill off the lumpens.
        as i’ve been reminded by boss-types for most of my life, “ain’t no free lunch”.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            I am *so tired* of *all* candidates flubbing the question: “How are we going to pay for M4A?”

            Correct answer: “We’re already paying for it!”

            We’re paying with people’s lives
            We’re paying with peoples’ health
            We’re paying with people’s savings
            We’re paying with people’s time (trying to figure our medical billing)
            We’re paying with lost opportunities (when people stay in go-nowhere jobs just to keep health coverage)


            We shouldn’t even be asking *how* to pay for keeping our people alive

            We should be asking *whether* we should pay *instead* for trillion-dollar fighter jets that don’t fly and wars on the other side of the world that don’t end

            1. inode_buddha

              We are paying for it with the current insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles.

              People don’t realize just how much is being skimmed off the top in America, and it is going directly into the executives and investors pockets. Eliminate that skim and suddenly it becomes very affordable. Ditto for drug companies and hospital chains.

              I have said it before and I will say it again: look at your pay stub. Look at how much you paid for medicare taxes, and how much you paid for health coverage. Which number is bigger?

              We already have healthcare rationing and “death panels” from the privatized health system.

        1. inode_buddha

          Indeed, we need to remind the bosses that there ain’t no free lunch. They’ve been spending my whole life taking anything that isn’t nailed down, and some things that are.

          For example, my time. My wages have approximately doubled in the last 30 years. Problem is, everything else tripled. None of the difference went into my pocket.

        2. hrefnam

          Yes, one might think; except, I feel like the useful peasants are mostly offshore at this point, and those of us, here, in the States, who live below the salt, are just surplus. We aren’t useful as consumers because we have no disposable income; and we’re not useful as workers because we can’t compete, wagewise, with offshore populations: we require higher wages, just to eat and stay warm in winter, than do our fellow proles, overseas. So, we’re surplus, and if they ignore us for long enough, the problem of the surplus population will solve itself.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            sounds a lot like the Bonus Army, but sans the military connection.
            Superfluous People, Unite!
            you have nothing to lose but your uselessness!

    2. Sam Adams

      No matter how; a reduction in population is necessary to address climate change and species extinctions. We’re on our way to a solution. S/off

      1. rps

        Solution in progress: According to analyses released last Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Birthrates in the U.S. are falling. Abortions have also hit an all-time low.”

        The birthrate reached its lowest point in more than three decades in2018. That total is 2 percent below the number reported in 2017, marking the fourth year in a row that births have declined.

        The CDC received reports of abortions in 2016, down 2 percent from the prior year. The figure represents the lowest number of abortions reported since the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973, as well as the lowest rate.

        Birthrates have been trending downward overall since 2005, sparking concern about potential economic and cultural ramifications. Keeping the number of births within a certain range, called the “replacement level,” ensures the population level will remain stable. A low birthrate runs the risk that the country will not be able to replace the workforce and have enough tax revenue, while a high birthrate can cause shortages of resources.

        1. a different chris

          A low birthrate also runs the “risk” that the 1% will find their power weakening. I would not wish the Black Plague on anyone, but economically the peasant survivors were much the better for it.

          The Japanese will at some point be able to start knocking down walls between apartments, as they will be able to increase individual living space. The rentier owners will be forced to increase livability. When 1% of the population is already all you need to feed everybody, why not live better?

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Voluntary birth rate reduction is kinder and gentler than a Black Plague.

            Since it is happening, the way for America to make the best of it is to install a rigid Zero Immigration Policy until our population has gone down to eco-sustainable levels.

            Zero Immigration means ZERO persons being permitted to immigrate, whether LEgal, ILLegal, or any other kind.

            1. wilroncanada

              I understand what you’re trying to say, but think. Does that mean the US should also return all the grift it is getting from most of the rest of the world? Shouldn’t it also bring all of its military home and pay reparations for all the damage it has done in the places it is currently occupying? Shouldn’t it also turn over ownership of all its ownership of foreign businesses, ownership obtained through violence and bribery to the people of those countries, to operate not as the US sees fit, but as the citizens of those countries see fit? The US certainly can sustain itself within its own borders without destroying the rest of the world.
              So, sure, pull up the drawbridges, but don’t pretend that the US isn’t the source of a huge percentage of the inequality problems for the rest of the world.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                In a perfect world, I would say: yes. Yes it should.

                The US should do all those things you say it should, in a perfect world.
                But only if Canada does them all first, to show us the way, because Canada is such a Light Unto The Nations.

                For example, Canada could pay reparations to all the Canadian Indians for their stolen land and stolen lives. And give back a few couple million square miles of land to those Canadian Indian Nations who are not dead yet.

                Canada should pay for all its Colonialist Crimes of foreign investment such as all the Tim Hortons infesting the Northern American states. Ha Ha.
                No . . . but seriously, Canada should pay America and the World reparations for the Crime Against Ecology involved in ever having begun to mine and sell the Alberta Tar Sands to begin with. And Canada owes Michigan some serious money for the Canadian crime of Enbridge Energy’s pipeline blowout along the Kalamazoo River.

                And Canada owes Newfoundland big time for Canada’s colonialist imperialist rape of the Newfoundland Codfish. Also for the unequal contracts whereby Hydro Quebec gets electricity from Newfoundland for cheap ( if I remember my history correctly). Perhaps Canada should own up to the Imperialist Crime of Confederation against Newfoundland and grant Newfoundland its rightful independence.

                And etc. and etc.

                Shall I go on?

                If America shrank its economy to one fifth its present size, America could operate its own American economy within its own American borders. America could become the “Hermit Republic”.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          All the estimates I’ve seen is that population growth rates are stabilising or crashing worldwide, even in former high growth countries (and in some cases absolute population is dropping). Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle east seems to be the only part of the world where population growth is still very strong. The reality is that population growth is one of the few problems we face which seems to be solving itself.

            1. Massinissa

              Does sperm count actually effect overall birth rates that much though? I genuinely don’t know.

              1. Oregoncharles

                Probably not, although condition also matters. It’s the canary-in-the-coalmine implication that’s alarming.

                Would be interesting to know the level at which sperm count does affect overall fertility. If there’s high variability, the lower average might mean more men who are infertile, and that would affect the birthrate unless women know and take steps.

                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  We’re down to 45; WHO says the tipping point is 40. 20% of Danish men already cannot father children. Endocrine disrupter chemicals widely blamed.

                  1. drumlin woodchuckles

                    Let us pray that the Upper Classes and the OverClass have the same amounts of the same endocrine disrupter chemicals in their bodies as what the rest of us have.

        3. Danny

          No mention of what communites are getting more abortions however.

          One reason crime is down is because of the availability of abortions starting at the end of the last century. The criminals aren’t being born into the environment that causes them to become criminals.

          Couple that with high fertility rates of immigrants and the criminal class may soon be a tiny minority exiled by gentrification to the decaying ring suburbs. Of course, on a dollar basis, it already is, centered around The Hamptons.

        4. hunkerdown

          > A low birthrate runs the risk that the rich will not be able to replace the workforce and have enough revenue
          Fixed that for you. Neoclassical economics is sophistry.

        5. ewmayer

          “A low birthrate runs the risk that the country will not be able to replace the workforce and have enough tax revenue” — What do you think open borders and neolibcon-policy-forced mass migrations of foreign-born deplorables are for? Willing to work for peanuts and less likely to get uppity than the homegrown variety, what’s not to like?

        6. Oregoncharles

          @rps: some good news, for a change. Especially with abortion rates also going down: better contraception.

          The bad side of this is that apparently people are just having less sex. That implies an alienated and increasingly grumpy population. We need to have it both ways.

    3. flora

      An article from CBS news that compliments this article. I think there’s a link between 30 years of increasing economic desperation and lower life expectancy. The MSM mostly says the great recession ended years ago. Note to MSM: the lower 50% of the country is still in depression, imo. Ignoring the continuing economic destruction of the bottom half of the country doesn’t make it go away.

      American jobs are getting worse, new economic index shows.

      The history of private-sector employment in the U.S. over the past three decades is one of overall degradation in the ability of many American jobs to support households — even those with multiple jobholders

      1. flora

        adding: from the USA Today article,

        What can we do? “The prescription for the country is we’ve got to help these people. And if we don’t, we’re literally going to pay with our lives.’’

        Here’s a thought: make big bidness employers stop exploiting workers to the point they’re wringing every last penny of profit out of their workforce. Raise wages, eliminate OSHA abuses, etc. Use govt to protect the workers (aka citizens) from workplace abuse.

        Neoliberals adopted the New Deal’s willingness to have govt intervene in the market place to improve lives, only the neoliberals adopted it to promote Wall St’s profits over every other consideration. Neoliberals turned the New Deal on its head. (There was a telling illustrationof O as Hoover – high starched round-tipped shirt collar and tie pin – on the cover of a magazine a few years back.)

      2. Livius Drusus

        Thanks for the link. This is an issue that many people don’t want to face. The jobs that are created nowadays are often in the low-wage sector. This is why I am skeptical when politicians tout more education/training as the answer to our economic woes. The truth is that most new jobs only require a high school education and some on-the-job training.

        Instead of trying to get more people to go to college we should be focusing on upgrading many of these low-wage jobs into better jobs. There is some precedent for this. At one time factory jobs were low-paying, dirty and dangerous, but things like stronger labor unions, safety regulations and a government commitment to full employment and tighter labor markets made those jobs much better.

        I suspect that a big stumbling block here is the American belief in meritocracy. Many Americans think that low-paid service workers are “losers” who deserve their lowly status because they didn’t do well in school. Anecdotally, I have noticed that many Americans recoil at the idea of janitors and “burger flippers” making more money. They see it as rewarding people who don’t deserve any better than a life of working poverty.

        Of course, Americans never think about how important many of these jobs are. They want their buildings cleaned, their children or elderly parents taken care of and their food prepared properly and safely but don’t care about the people who perform that sort of work.

        1. RMO

          RE: Education and training. My personal experience of attempting to start a new career throughout my mid 30’s to early 40’s was taking the extensive training to become an Aviation Maintenance Engineer Category M (Transport Canada designation similar to Airframe and Powerplant under the FAA) then getting a Bachelors in business focused on accounting. Have not yet managed to be paid for work in either field. Incidentally, I managed perfect attendance for all the classes and never got less than a 90% final grade in any of them so it’s not like I was a mediocre student. Applications have all fallen into the black hole. Needless to say I’m skeptical of politicians and industry stooges who push this line.

          1. inode_buddha

            And yet I see hiring for maintenance supervisors (non-aircraft) all the time in my email feeds from Monster. Western NY/Southern Ontario region.

        2. inode_buddha

          People take toilet paper for granted until there isn’t any. Then, all of a sudden it is the most important thing.

      1. dearieme

        On a couple of other websites I’ve seen recent references to the fact, if fact it be, that the latest US Life Expectancy figures have risen a little. Those of us with a good deal of experience in laboratory measurements know not to set much store by tiny wobbles in a broadly stable signal. And Life Expectancy isn’t even a signal, since its calculation needs not only observations but also projections.

        I have enquired of someone who seemed to know more about it than me what would be a more sensible statistic for keeping track of these things. He was stumped for an answer.

        I can give you one link: scroll down to the comments starting with me: November 30, 2019 at 3:17 pm.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        i mostly read the news and analysis,
        hard to hear that spoken out loud, over speakers in the house and trees so wife could hear it.
        neoliberalism is an utter failure for us’n’s.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          But neoliberalism is an utter success for them’n’s.

          That’s because them’n’s wrote it that way . . . to be an utter success for them’n’s at the total expense of us’n’s.

          There is no We’n’s. There is only Us’n’s or Them’n’s. There is no We’n’s.

      3. wilroncanada

        Lee, re 10:43AM
        Dr Woolf indicates that something can be done about this reduction in life expectancy.
        Unfortunately, something IS being done, but not what he envisions. Instead of reforming its policies for itself, the US is instead driving the rest of the world to policies to become exactly like the US, thereby making sure that life expectancy in the rest of the world will decline as much or more.

    4. jrs

      what are one’s prime years in the American workforce anyway? 25-40? or is that too young? 30-40? It’s certainly not after that age, given age discrimination.

  2. zagonostra

    >From “Truth Commission”: We’ve been so jaded by all the lies, all the legal looting, all the rigged statistics, and yes, all the convenient “accidents” that we no longer trust anyone to simply report the names and events.

    Speaking of “accidents” last night I stumbled on a video of Dorthy Kilgallen and how she was murdered to keep her silent when over details she was going to disclose on Jack Ruby. I guess I was born too late to know who she was. No, the ruling elites can never, ever allow a “Truth Commission.”

    1. hunkerdown

      They certainly can and would allow such a thing, if the credible alternative from their point of view is worse. The challenge is to find and deploy an alternative that is both credible and worse. Even a (metaphorical) bomb-thrower like myself is having a difficult time of it.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The only alternative that would motivate the ruling elites to permit a Truth Commission would be a successful Lower ClassNazi movement taking power over all the Armed Forces and all the Policing Forces and offering the ex-ruling elites the credible choice of either permitting a Truth Commission with unknown aftermath for themselves . . . or all of them and all their family members too being rounded up and exterminated in a very thorough program of Demographic Elite Extermination.

        A Final Solution to the Ruling Elites Question.

        Since that is not a nice thing to advocate for, I suggest we accept that there will never ever be a Truth Commission. Because there will never ever be another way to get a Truth Commission than what I just suggested.

    2. David Mills

      That the elites could/would ever allow a “Truth Commission”, agreed – no.

      Could America survive it – no (or at least not in its present form).

      The date that it should start – 22 November 1963. The rot started from the time of assassination of JFK; the date the US became a National Security State (read Police State, Banana Republic, or as you like).

      9/11 should also figure prominently…

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I would suggest going back a little further than That Fateful Day in Dallas. Here is an article from Rigorous Intuition talking a little about the deep affinity between the ProNazi Elite of America and the High Nazi Elite of Germany, and how the ProNazi Elite of America paper-clipped all kinds of Nazis into America and elsewhere to be held in ready reserve for the next effort to institute fascism. I would suggest that truth-commissioning that would be a good place to start. It would turn up the many trails of smoking breadcrumbs leading to the Kennedy/X/King/Kennedy/etc. assassinations all through the sixties.

        Here is the link.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Michael Pettis on capital controls.

    This really is the proof of Upton Sinclair truism that its impossible to get a man to understand something if his job depends on not understanding it. Surely the 1990’s Asian economic crisis proved conclusively to any reasonable person that capital controls were an essential component of good governance for smaller economies. As was wryly noted at the time even by the mainstream economic press, the basic rule for any country to survive that crisis was to listen carefully to IMF advice, and then do the exact opposite.

    1. Off The Street

      IMF theories seem to ignore any disruptive transitions, such as those brought on by capital flight en masse. They don’t pay attention to the impacts on those human factors of production whose lives and livelihoods are subject to manipulation by distant, anonymous sources. Their models ignore those influences, while continuing to put ten pounds of BS in five pound bags. The IMF has been destructive to countries for decades and has long outlived whatever noble purpose its originators thought it may have had.

  4. Wukchumni

    Billionaires only, please! London vault for the ultra-rich opens Guardian

    It’d be fun to have a cask of amontillado on hand in the exclusive dank cellar…

    …and an ample supply of brick & mortar

      1. Brian (another one they call)

        or, “The tenants arrive here and are carried along the corridor on a conveyor belt in extreme comfort, past murals depicting Mediterranean scenes, towards the rotating knives.”
        M. Python

      1. RMO

        This whole thing sounds amazingly dodgy on a number of levels. “Come in to my parlor said the spider to the fly.” Even if it’s entirely on the level I loved the bit about the ultra rich worrying about climate change and unrest. So, let’s put our valuables in a place that is “as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food”, in a crowded city that is near sea level, and in a vault that is promoted as being exclusively used by the ultra rich. Yeah, much better than putting the valuables in an equally secure and completely nondescript safe deposit box somewhere inconspicuous.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “No malarkey? Biden’s old-school slogan gets mocked and praised in Iowa”

    I do wonder if one of Biden’s advisors here was trying to be too smart by half in using a word that appeared in a show about a bunch of millenials. Here is a short video clip demonstrating the use of this word-

    And that is one solid looking tiger in today’s Antidote du Jour. I can see the caption for that image now:

    “Yea though I walk through the Valley of the shadow of Death, I shall fear no evil… because I am the meanest m*********** in the whole goddamn Valley.”

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Im hoping that tiger is in reference to LSU.


      Joe Burrow will be the first Tiger in 60 yrs to win the Heisman Trophy.

      Theres a video by the LSU staff of Burrow running out on to Death Valley in front of 102,000 fans, and its just incredible.

      Also Auburn beat Alabama. Was watching the end of the game at a lil Tapas and Tacos place called Rojas in none than Birmingham, Al. Next to us a table of 7 was NOT happy Alabama lost. When LO i heard someone vigorously clapping…Twas an Auburn fan! Us SEC fans had a very satisfying night!

    2. ewmayer

      Sounds like loveable goofball Joe is trying to appeal to the MeTV set, specifically the downhome-country portion thereof … y’know, the folks that watch reruns of the Andy Griffith show and Gomer Pyle, and think Perry Mason is a city-slicker shyster lawyer, dagnabbit. It’s a variant on Hillary’s phony-downhome-country-accent ploy. “Why, ah may live in New York and jet between there and DC, but lahk y’all, ah’m just a simple country girl from Arkansas at heart … and you know ahm tellin’ you true, sher as shootin!”

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        you just described most of the people i know…including my wife, mom and stepdad.(former: genx mexican american;latter: boomer whitefolk teamblue)
        like i said, we need a new language(including the “cultural references’)

      1. John

        Probably on anti-anxiety pills.
        Otherwise it would lose it. The dismal captivity it’s forced to live in ( like most of us in Western civilization are forced to live in) has that effect.

  6. Carolinian

    Shorter New York Review: the GOP is evil and corrupt; the Dems are lovable losers who don’t know how to punch back against the big bully. The article admits that national Dems are also controlled by big money but thinks that the growth of supposedly more altruistic grassroots can eventually take charge.

    Meanwhile the real world Democratic party is doing every thing in its power to put out insurgent brush fires by the likes of AOC, Sanders or Gabbard. Perhaps the reason they have let their state organizations wither is for just that very reason–to maintain control. The NYR author doesn’t seem willing to admit that the prizefight may be fixed and Team Dem taking a fall and the ten count after a light tap on the chin. That big money wouldn’t have it any other way.

    1. Off The Street

      Tocqueville had it right.

      The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.

      His theme as updated to today would reference that same Congress paying itself and its dependents. How else are they increasing their wealth to those, pick one, say, Pelosi-like heights?

      1. mpalomar

        “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”
        Ah if they only would; for instance such bribery might look like medicare for all and free education. Instead of the bribing the public with the public money, Congress continues on its merry way of seeking ever more robust ways of redirecting public funds into the coffers of the MIC, tech, pharma etc.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      “…..the Dems are lovable losers…..”

      When your political existence depends almost entirely on a constituency whose needs you are loathe to address, isn’t “losing” actually winning? None of the party elders have suffered one iota from the string of “losses,” at all levels, and they have been relieved of any need to “govern.” Making one ruling oligarchy look like two fiercely opposed groups is “hard work.”

      You could almost smell the panic in 2008 when the dems took both houses of congress and the presidency, and were expected to deliver. Juggling that hot potato, resulting as it did in lame excuses like political “feasibility,” sanctity of the “system,” and the mandated “universality” of obamacare may yet prove to be the death sentence for the goose that laid the golden egg. I’ve no doubt that the “shelackin’ ” of 2010 came as quite a relief.

      I’m reminded of the story, detailed in Black Agenda Report if I recall, of john conyers “plan” for national healthcare. It remained in his drawer whenever he was in a position of leadership to push it through, and only pulled it out to demonstrate his “commitment” when he knew it could go nowhere.

      As the country currently functions, the dems have drawn the short straw in terms of constituencies. The way to “win” is so obvious it’s painful, as are the contortions required to pretend not to know. I mean, when the “frontrunner” goes with “No Malarkey,” it’s gotta be on purpose.

      “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength,” and Losing is Winning.

      1. Carolinian

        The NYReview article complains that the Republicans are over represented in Congress but one could argue that the Dems are also over represented when you recall that half the voters don’t vote. The wealthy have the GOP and the urban middle class have the Dems. Perhaps it’s time to admit that we need a Worker’s Party for everyone else. We could even call it the Labor party.

        Of course such a party would immediately be accused of various forms of bigotry like that other Labor party in Britain. Civil Rights was an important step forward here, but the role of IDPol as wielded by the current Dems is to make sure politics has nothing to do with economics. The lockstep media serve as the megaphone.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Labor-doers won’t even think of getting a Labor Party until they admit to themselves that they are Labor-doers.

          The Lower Classes won’t ever have a Lower Class Party until they admit to themselves that they are Lower Class. And perhaps a new wannabe-Party should give itself a name just that bald and un-euphemistic. That way, people would have to own up to what and where they really are . . . in order to bring themselves to join it.

          I would like a Party calling itself the Lower Class Majority Party. Just-the-name would kind of force people to admit that they are in the Lower Class if they join that party. And if enough people were to admit that to themselves, then they would indeed make the Lower Class Majority Party into a lower class maJORity party.

    3. Big River Bandido

      I had to bail after a dozen paragraphs or so. The author used “liberals”, “the left” and “progressives” interchangeably and ignorantly, and I just lost patience with the piece and his/her/their “analysis”. But from as far as I got, your synopsis is on target.

  7. zagonostra

    >Obama’s mission to derail Sanders:

    Obama’s principle task is to ensure sure that Black Americans do not vote in the direction of single-payer healthcare and housing for all. Of course, Obama is not alone in his crusade to smother Bernie Sanders by way of the Black vote. The “Stop Sanders” movement is stuffed to the brim with the same big, nasty tent of militarists, Wall Street donors, and corporate media outlets responsible for Clinton’s losing bid in 2016…

    The ruling class understands that leadership from the Black left is vital to the success of any movement for social transformation in the United States and is once again placing its hope in Barack Obama to save the American Empire’s political apparatus from itself.

  8. hunkerdown

    No More Nice Dems… So the answer to failing Democrat (corporate) fortunes in three parts can be summed up as follows:

    1. Double down on “We’re not them.”
    2. Double down on being seen “fighting for”.
    3. Double down on branding.

    “Learned nothing and forgotten nothing.” It’s as if the entirety of the American system were made of people whose sole object is lying to keep their careers.

    1. anon y'mouse

      in other words, Warren has it made in the New Dem City.

      her “plans” are part of 3 and 2. and that is all that they are.

      come a’crupper, she will fold faster than Obama’s suits into the AF1 special packing cases.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      aye. FTA:”Winter has no good answer for why this happened. Gillum could suggest only that the “muscle memory” of GOP voters was simply too powerful. Florida, it turns out, is an extremely complex electoral market that either needs a fiendishly sophisticated outreach or a fiendishly simple one. Or both. Nobody knows. Florida apparently remains beyond the reach of political science.”

      lol. ‘we jess cain’t figger it out!’ (and presumably, the AI in the basement at hillaryworld is mum on the issue)
      not considered, apparently, is that the closet deal at the heart of clintonism is that when in power, they won’t challenge the fundamentals of the status quo.
      which necessarily means that they’ll never be able to respond to the numerous crises engendered in that status quo, and will therefore hemorrhage support among that shrinking cohort of people who actually vote, but who are necessary for continued relevance in politics.
      It’s the Donors, stupid!
      the interests of the donors and those of the People are fundamentally opposed.
      i yelled that rather simple concept at those people for years and years(until i gave up in disgust circa 2017)
      when they answered me at all, it was either in full on Treebeard Mode(“now, now, don’t be hasty…”) or with spittleflecked outrage at my heresy and apostasy…which in itself was a remarkable mirror image of teabilly rage.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        and i can’t help but notice that “the Vision Thing” is all but entirely absent.
        just this weak tea:”They need to favor proactive policies that address the concerns of their grassroots base rather than the wishes of corporate donors or of mythic pipe-smoking moderates in Ohio.”

        of course, there’s a reason for this, which is laid out in my previous,lol…as i’ve said a million times regarding my continuing new deal evangelism/fieldwork, Sanders’ agenda sells well out here with just about anyone who is not comfortable, and can be temporarily separated out of the herd.
        dems could win the country with an enormous landslide, but for the fixation on donor interests.
        that they won’t says that they simply do not want to.
        which pretty much says it all.

        1. Voltaire Jr.

          “dems could win the country with an enormous landslide, but for the fixation on donor interests.”


        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Or more specifically . . . big rich donor interests.

          One could say that Sanders is trying to organize the kind of base of small and tiny donors whose interests he wants to support anyway. And the bigger a small and tiny donor base he can organize, the more he can play the political cynic and say: ” Hey Leadership! I’m fixated on the interests of my donors, just like you are fixated on the interests of your donors. Ha Ha Ha.”
          And then he could just grin at his Catfood Democrat interlocutors and opponents.

  9. The Observer

    Typo in Could America Survive a Truth Commission?

    in question: Where do you being and end with America’s truth commissions?

    “being” s/b “begin”

      1. dearieme

        I have often wondered about that. The best insight I’ve seen was delivered by “Deadly” Dick Cheney. Apropos the Iraqattack he said that they (meaning perhaps he) chose to emphasis the WMD justification because it was one thing the various proponents of war could agree on while being simple enough to explain to the public. I don’t remember whether he bothered to suggest it was true.

        Anyway, I suspect “taxes” played that role in 1776.

    1. Vegetius

      I don’t know where such a commission would begin or end, but if it does not include a serious examination of violent black-on-white crime it will be little more than pointless grievance-mongering.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “China Hints U.S. Blacklist Imminent in Threat to Trade Talks”

    This could be quite effective this. If China puts together a list of companies like FedEx who have discriminated against China through their trade practices and could prove it in a court of law, that would be significant enough just because of the size of the Chinese market. But if the Chinese take care to choose US companies that other countries are having problems with, then this could become some sort of semi-official international listing.
    Take a look at France for example. There is a link on this page saying “US threatens tax on champagne and French cheese” so what if China puts on that list the companies that the French are having their disputes with? Trump’s threats to France may make them take a second look at that list if the US-France disputes get worse.

  11. Field Marshal McLuhan

    The laws of stupidity according to economist Carlo M. Cipolla Quartz

    As much as I love Cipolla’s two-axis framework of benefit to self/benefit to others to define stupidity, I feel like the other three zones are mislabeled – especially the top two, the ‘Helpless’ and ‘Intelligent’ zones.

    Calling people in situations that result in costs to the self but benefit to others ‘Helpless’ assumes that any actor that incurs a penalty to themselves while benefiting another is doing so involuntarily, as a victim. This ignores the possibility of a willing sacrifice, such as those made by parents or soldiers at war. ‘Altruistic’ zone seems like a better name, when one includes the involuntary altruism of the genuinely exploited.

    As for the ‘Intelligent’ zone – that implies that people who want to help others are by definition smarter than those who either don’t care or are actively malicious. And anyone who reads this site knows that there are some incredibly smart but phenomenally evil people in this world. What the people in the top-right quadrant have is the combination of smarts and benevolence that allow them to change both the world and themselves for the better. They are the Wise.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Well said!

      An old New England preacher, Jonathan Edwards, thought that “public-spiritedness” was at the heart of “true virtue”. Perhaps an alternative label could be “the Virtuous”.

    2. dearieme

      Law 3: A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

      That reminded me of something I read once about the two Clintons. They lie automatically, even when there’s nothing they can gain by it. I mentioned this to a friend. He said he knew someone exactly like that: the bloke made his living as Bursar of a Cambridge college.

      Could it just be that some people have adopted the strategy of lying a lot so that other people can’t be sure when the liars are lying out of self-interest and when they are lying out of habit?

      1. Field Marshal McLuhan

        *slips into psychoanalysis armchair*

        People who lie to and manipulate people compulsively do it out of a need for dominance and control – making people believe untrue things gives you power over them. And the Clintons, from what I’ve gathered, seem to like power.

    3. GramSci

      I am annoyed whenever I see Cipolla’s quadrants trotted out, as it is usually to the edification of those upon whom God has smiled beneficently. Cipolla seems to ignore the fact that most people today are born with scarcely the means to help themselves, much less others. This sleight of hand awards “stupid people” sufficient agency to harm both themselves and others, thus absolving the “intelligent” of any blame for war, pestilence, and famine. It’s a wonder the Sveriges Riksbank never gave Cipolla its Prize in Economic “Sciences”.

      1. Danny

        “most people today are born with scarcely the means to help themselves, much less others”

        So who forces affluent as well as poor people to start smoking, use addictive drugs or other self destructive behaviors? It’s widely known that smoking causes cancer and drugs kill, yet stupid people with or without means start the habit voluntarily.

        That is a sign of stupidity, as is succumbing to peer pressure and advertising in addictive destructive product use, or, the social equivalents that leads to ruinous family structures as people make choices to alienate them selves from tradition and culture and then wonder why they end up vilified, unhappy and alone.

        The only excused are those prescribed pain pills who get addicted. It’s a stupid society that doesn’t execute people like the Sacklers, after a fair trial of course.

        1. GramSci

          Nicotine is addictive. That said, “most people born today” are not being born in the first world and have bigger problems than nicotine to contend with. Don’t blame the victims; blame the billionaires.

        2. kareninca

          Nicotine is an antidepressant. (“The smoking rate among people with schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety disorders is far higher than average. It’s widely believed that people with certain mental health problems are self-medicating with cigarettes because the nicotine helps their minds function better.”)(

          It is not stupidity to self-medicate when you are massively depressed. Succumbing to peer pressure and advertising? Good grief. I take it that you have never smoked, that you are so sure that people who smoke are simply stupid. I’m glad you weren’t so very depressed, or if you were you had better options. I have an acquaintance who recently died of a stroke that was likely due to smoking; he was an astrophysicist; he was self-medicating for depression.

          And no, antidepressants aren’t some magical alternative answer. They don’t work for everyone; plus they can make you fat and diabetic (taking SSRIs greatly increases your risk of diabetes) and if you are male, give you sexual dysfunction.

          1. Oregoncharles

            ““The smoking rate among people with schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety disorders is far higher than average.”
            Thank you; this casts a light into my own family. My brother was a research psychologist who studied – you guessed it – addiction. He could never quit smoking, and died of lung cancer, quite young.

            On a separate point: “and if you are male, give you sexual dysfunction.” Does this really only apply to men? As I understand it, the physiology isn’t all that different. Of course, it’s more obvious on men.

          2. Craig H.

            Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it

            Lily Tomlin

            You do not need to be mentally ill for nicotine to help your mind works.

          3. drumlin woodchuckles

            What is the mechanism by which SSRIs greatly increase one’s risk of diabetes?

            I can think of an indirect route by which they could increase that risk. If SSRIs increase one’s appetite and one’s increased appetite leads one to eat more diabetogenic foods like refined starches and sugars, then one’s risk for diabetes would go way up.

            But if there is another mechanism, especially if it is a direct biochemical causation flowing directly from the SSRI ( or the inhibited serotonin re-uptake) itSELF . . . then that would be worth sharing here.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “The U.S. Army’s Worst Tradition: Never Ready for the Next War”

    I think that with articles like this, that you need a semantic analyzer. So where he says “both Russia and China embarked on grand strategies of regional hegemony” what they means is that each of those two countries has control of their own country now as well as their own borders. And where he says that the US needs to “work with allies to insure military interoperability” what that means is that allies must be forced to choose US equipment for all those juicy follow-on contracts.
    But when you go through the whole article, what it is really saying is that the Pentagon has realized that they have spent trillions of dollars on a military that is not really fit for purpose. So in order to build it up into a new form, that they are going to need trillions of more dollars to buy a bunch of new gear and develop new technologies which should give the stocks for military contractors and Silicon Valley – or do I repeat myself? – a real boost. In other words, it is a dash for cash.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i grokked that, too.
      i reckon they should be made to sleep in the bed they’ve made for themselves. lack of domestically sourced parts, alone, might be a mighty force for peace in the world. add in warships that won’t float and warplanes allergic to rain, and we’re getting somewhere.
      given that the war,inc department has created more troubles than they’ve fixed(since ww2, at least), the only utility i concede to them is a real world example of MMT that i can point to…that the most rightwingy nutter in the feedstore is at great pains to refute.

      1. inode_buddha

        The need to have domestically sourced parts might give some hope to the Rust Belt. Funny thing is, I’ve been saying for years that this was going to happen eventually, only to be told that of course not, I was just being an impertinent kid who should let the adults in the room handle things. So, I did… and look what happened, 30 years later. The “adults in the room” are having a very hard time admitting anything.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          (threadjack/mota-induced tangent, remembering head biting, some weeks ago)
          Hence, the Boomer Button(a real thing, that exists in the world: intergenerational strife, with anomalies due to the relative sizes of the given generations, perfectly human unwillingness to let go of power, etc).
          …which the mindf&ck Machinery turns into an actual keypad of manipulation and division.(see: OKBoomer, and etc)

          I saw it coming, long before any self administered economics education(they taught us checkbooks in high school(badly, it turns out))
          i feel an almost crushing compassion for the boomers i see working at convenience stores, walmart and mcdonalds.(should be on a porch, watching grandkids frolic)
          the Gerontocracy at the top of the demparty?
          not so much.

          (where’s the farm team?)

    2. Tomonthebeach

      I think that any career officer knows by experience that Never-Readiness is cultural. We are always training to win the last war in which we fought. Korea, much less Vietnam demonstrated the folly of messing about in foreign squabbles. But we so hoped that we would be able to prove that we finally have figured out how to do it when we invaded Iraq – to everyone’s shock and awe. That feeling lasted a few weeks and then things started to unravel. We just need a “surge” (shock and more awe) – sorry General P, that did not work convince anybody of anything.

      But how about World War? We were good at that, right? Let’s prepare for one of those instead. So while fighting very conventional warfare against 1947-era Kalashnikov rifles, machine guns, land mines, and grenades; we continue to waste money on overly complex and unreliable superweapons like the F-35 which costs $3,000/hour just to operate – ordnance billed separately – shipping and handling costs may apply. POTUS wants us to form a Space Force perhaps because the Air Force has been losing its mission since we perfected missiles and rockets.

      The consequence of this forward-backward strategizing is that our all-volunteer military cannot do simple tasks like steam in open water without colliding with merchant ships. We still cannot root out guerilla warriors in Afghan caves who just want to be left alone to live in the Middle Ages, so why not prepare for global warfare like we used to?

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Apostrophe society shuts down because ‘ignorance and laziness have won’ ”

    I take this as a good sign. Having language policing is not really a good idea and the French can give you chapter and verse about stopping your language change and be influenced by another language – English in this case. Here is an article about it-

    But here is the thing. When the Normans conquered England, they made French the official language for the court and the law. English ( really Anglo-Saxon) was left to the peasants and nobody cared how they talked or even what they said. But a remarkable thing happened. When French was dumped later on down the truck and English language adopted, it was no longer the same language.
    It had been stripped down, made more simple and became more flexible, especially with an ability to adopt words from other languages. And that is a reason why it has conqueror the world. But if you had societies to police Anglo-saxon back then and make sure that the syntax, grammar & vocabulary never changed, it would only have remained a minor local language.

    1. Synoia

      Yes English was the language of the peasants, and thus bith very regional and very flexible.

      The some 19th Century upper class nitwit invented English spelling as a method of being above to put down the less educated.

      I come from a part of the UK which had a very strong regional dialect, sprinkled with many words of nose origin.

      If they admitted a very smart local into the school, part of the education was to learn how to “speak proper.”

      “How now Brown Cow” was the test phrase.

        1. JEHR

          I liked “nose” because it seemed to fit the noises from that region of the body. Makes for creative thinking.

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          ….and may have been, at some point.
          one of my prize possessions, and still my favorite xmas grift to myself is an OED(the two volume version, sadly).
          in this, with a magnifying glass, one can determine the etymology of a given word.
          there wouldn’t be “etymology”(or more than one language) if language was static.
          language police are like the gateway drug for thought control.

          1. JBird4049

            Even the old two volume OED is great. I wish my family been able to keep theirs. It is also on my to buy list.

      1. vlade

        IIRC, the spelling is actually historical, and the pronunciation is modern, courtesy of the Great Vowel Shift, which did start in Southern England and later sort-of-spread northwards (sort of, because some shift which happened in the South didn’t happen in the North).

        So the North dialects can claim to be closer to the original English than the “BBC English”.

        1. Off The Street

          When brother, as spoken, became bruvver, and Estuary English continued its onslaught, all was lost in the South.

      2. dearieme

        Then some 19th Century upper class nitwit invented English spelling

        and magically applied it retrospectively to writing from the 16th – 18th centuries. What a clever chap he must have been.

        1. barefoot charley

          We share appalling orthography with the French thanks to standardizing pedants in both countries who fished for, or at least forged, Latin antecedents to their words of milkmaids and soldiers. Their false (and even true) etymologies impose crazy spelling on simple sounds, and in extremis even stick a T in often.

          This makes sense when you recall that writing was for millennia a magical power available only to those ‘educated’ to lord over witless multitudes (in the Lord’s name, amen).

          Still, I stand with the apostrophe!

    2. vlade

      Apparently, there’s always someone complaining how the English language is changing, calling for the “good old English of my times”, rarely realising that the “Good Old English” (s)he’s calling for was denounced few decades back as the “new bastardisation of the language”.

      I love English because I can torture and butcher it in ways not invented before, and still most people will understand me, with only a few purists considering it a hanging offence. Unheard of in any other language.

      1. Furious

        The ‘lose’ vs ‘loose’ thingy is pretty irritating, imnsho.

        Language is culture, isn’t that what we learned in our liberal arts courses?

        Becoming sloppy with how language is used *is* lazyness.

      2. JEHR

        English is a live language: if you tried to stop it growing by preventing its changing, it would die.

        1. Harold

          Language is constantly changing yes, but some continuity is necessary if it is to remain effective as a medium of communication across time and distance. Thus every generation must decide what to change and what to keep. John Locke famously compared language to the great water system that carried drinking water to London known as the New River or Great Conduit

          In the Reith lecture given some years ago, “Language the Great Conduit”, David Wiggins, a linguisitc conservative wrote:

          In conception and execution the New River was a triumph. But at every point in its entire length it was liable to leakage, to collapse and to contamination. On pain of its not conveying that which it was designed to convey, it stood in need of constant repair, both major and minor. Among major repairs some were effected by engineers of later times, who cut out troublesome sections by building aqueducts. They reduced the length of the river to 27 miles.

          If language is at all like the Great Conduit, then the thing that language needs, or so the Lockean metaphor suggests, is unremitting maintenance, maintenance subsuming improvements. This is to say that the thing language needs at any time is for its norms of sense and syntax to be sustained. How though will they be sustained in the absence of prescription?

          Exhortations and reminders about what means what in English say nothing either way for or against change. In the here and now, they simply sustain prescriptions for the here and now. They do however (to quote Samuel Johnson again) serve to ‘regard what we cannot repel’ and ‘palliate what we cannot endure’. The effect of observance is to combat entropy, to make room for artistic and intellectual purposes that are pursued in language and to preserve and perpetuate meanings.

          If each generation has backed its prescriptions with lamentation and protestation, that is what you would expect. It is the price we pay for holding onto something precious.

        2. wilroncanada

          But I don’t many people contributing to this blog using the new “live” (English?) text-speak.

      3. HotFlash

        As the vicar said to the young lady who ventured to remark that his pronunciation differed from that prescribed by the dictionary, “The dictionary exists to record the pronunciation of educated persons, such as myself.” (remembered by me from a Robertson Davies essay).

      4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The written part of the Chinese language is largely derived from pictograms, and has not changed for a couple of millennia, even since the unification of China under the Qin dynasty, when writing was first standardized.

        Until, that is, the simplified Chinese that came into use in the mid 20th century.

        Looking forward, it (the way Chinese words are written) is not likely to change.

        Is it not a living language?

        On the other hand, the verbal part of Chinese has evolved. Some sounds of the first dynasty, the Qin dynasty mentioned above, have been preserved, till now, in parts of Guangdong. And archaic sounds from around 300 AD (the Western Jin dynasty) can be heard in the Minnan and Taiwanese (close to that of Xiamen, or Amoy) dialects.

      5. anonymous

        Vlade: there’s always someone complaining how the English language is changing
        I am that someone. I have barely become accustomed to the singular they. I wish that a brand new gender-neutral pronoun for people had been invented; with they, I still sometimes find myself re-reading for the person(s) I have missed. As for the apostrophe, here’s an old William Safire column on the possessive before the gerund. That little mark, the apostrophe, now out of favor, distinguishes the participle from the gerund.

        1. Oregoncharles

          I agree totally about singular “they.” While they (plural) were messing about with pronouns, they could have done something useful by coming up with a gender-neutral personal pronoun, which was missing. Instead, they lazily adopted the plural, which had some precedent but makes for unnecessary confusion. I detest artificial ambiguity.

          However, there was precedent: English got rid of the honorific second person in the same way, by adopting the plural: you. The result is clarifying locutions like “you-all”, which may be southern but makes considerable sense, albeit improvised.

          I’ve been trying to think of a good candidate for said gender-neutral pronoun. “It” is an insult. How about “heshe” = “heesh”? (Other way around is just “she.” “You” is already gender-neutral.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Adopting words from other languages…

      Sometimes it’s good, and sometimes, not so good.

      When you start seeing, in a country somewhere in this planet, English words like hamburger, beer or vodka, chances are there will be health problems down the road.

      Those words don’t get adopted out of thin air.

      And if English has done more adopting than other languages, perhaps there have been more interactions, both mentally (intellectually, with ideas, etc), and reality on the ground (people, dishes or drinks brought back from former colonies, etc).

      1. Oregoncharles

        Neither hamburger nor vodka are actually English words. Beer might be, but it’s the same as German.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        I read that Americans are not too proud to call yogurt by its proper name, which is “yogurt”.

        Whereas the English were too proud till recently to call yogurt by its proper name “yogurt”. So they called it “curd” instead. Or so I have read.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      Once upon a time on You Tube, I saw a video by someone named Pat Lang. It was about what “English” would be sounding like if it were much truer to its post-Beowulf/pre-Shakespeare roots. He said that language could be called “Anglish”. It sounded very fantasy-medieval and hobbity.

      I decided I like better the language English as we know it today.

    1. Expat2uruguay

      What is reported in that article by counterpunch is generally true. The left-wing Coalition that has led Uruguay for the past 15 years has lost power in both the legislature and the presidency. But you should know that the right-wing of Uruguay is not the same thing at all as the right wing of the rest of Latin America or Europe. I have a lot to say about this, and I’ve been working on a write up that I will post as a comment very soon.

      It is shocking to think that the military would ask people for IDs in the street, and if I see that happen I will come back and let people here know.

      1. carl

        Another general strike is planned for Colombia tomorrow, despite the best efforts of Duque to negotiate it away.

    2. Expat2uruguay

      But are the citizens concerned? I would say that they are apprehensive, but no one is talking of leaving the country. Uruguay has a society of pragmatic careful people, about 90% of whom are absolutely sure they do not want a military dictatorship. Any rightward shift in society here will be incremental.

  14. Wukchumni

    R.I.P.* Duncan Hunter

    You singlehandedly showed me just how dirty a politician could be, and one of the fiscally dumbest human beings on the planet.

    Some might have thought by the 666th time you overdrew available funds in your checking account en route to 1,100 times, you’d be able to get a handle on it, but it wasn’t meant to be. You were just another grifter, and not a very good one.

    *Retired In Politics

    1. Off The Street

      Duncan’ll be eligible for work-release in a donut shop. That will be the only way for him to be rolling in dough.

  15. Craig H.

    > Trump Was Right Before He Was Wrong: NATO Should Be Obsolete

    Today I learned that Medea Benjamin, co founder of code pink, has dozens of articles at going back to 2011. The code pink protest in Clinton’s office on her war votes was maybe the first time I thought that youtube actually might be good for something.

    According to the blurb for this video:

    it happened in 2003. That video was posted in 2011 and is not the one that I saw.

  16. Jim A.

    re Apostrophes
    I will admit that I was greatly amused when reading a book on WWI to see the use of the word ‘bus. Because even 100 years ago, the use of the apostrophe to show that it was shortened from omnibus was pretty old-fashioned.

  17. Rod

    Great news in the gist not the headline, imo.
    Iraq and China will work together. China’s first order is to capture ALL the off gas and flare gas and direct it to utilization instead of wasting it into atmospheric denigration. Good luck and waste not want not. Show us how it gets done so we can demand the same for here.

    The Rocky Mountain Institute will release a study at the Climate Conference partially directed at that issue:

    A bracing antidote to the “doomism” lately fashionable among both climate activists and skeptics will be released Monday 02 December 2019 at That link will go live when the publisher, the UK-based Institute of Physics, completes the posting.

    This major peer-reviewed scientific paper concurs that the global climate emergency requires strong, broad, and rapid action. (An important summary of “tipping points,” confirming that a 2C˚ target is too high, was published four days ago in Nature 575, 592-595 (27 Nov 2019), Yet powerful tools to mitigate climate change offer far more effective solutions, sooner, at lower cost, than are included in nearly all models that now guide climate policy. Policymakers can’t make choices they don’t know they have, so this modeling gap diverts policy attention and investment to slower, harder, costlier options that buy less and later mitigation, increasing risks. The climate challenge is tough enough without policymakers being hobbled, private firms diverted, and citizens discouraged by limiting their horizons. This new paper therefore seeks to expand those horizons and soberly rebalance the climate conversation, paying as much attention to opportunity as to urgency, so resources can be better focused on closing the dangerous gap between potential mitigation and actual adoption before it is too late.

    emphasis mine.

    1. heresy101

      Ignoring the issue of using too much and throwing it away, using the methane generated by landfills to generate electricity is a simple solution. Organic material decays into methane and must be burned in flare stacks (8′ by 30′ tall) to turn the methane into CO2. If this methane is utilized in an engine to generate electricity the same CO2 is created but the electricity is a simple, beneficial byproduct.

      Dairies and pig farms generate a lot of water and air pollution but could be used if generate electricity if anaerobic facilities were set up. While not the cheapest source of electricity, air and water pollution can be reduced.

      Sometimes simple solutions work well.

      1. chas

        Washington Electric Co-op in Vermont has been burning methane to generate electricity for several years now. It has generators set up at a solid waste site.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        Landfill gas utilisation works well, but ironically this is another problem with the explosion in plastics use. Too much plastics in landfills inhibits the steady anaerobic breakdown in landfills (probably by slowing down the infiltration of water), and so reduces the gas to inconsistent levels.

        1. Ignacio

          That is why proper separation is necessary even if the plastics are not truly recycled. At least you allow for organic residue recycling. I have tried to say this to too many deaf ears.

      3. Oregoncharles

        the dump here collects the gas and runs generators from it. The sewage treatment plant should – I need to check on that. The technology for animal wastes is available, has been for decades. What would it take to make it the norm?

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well, a Hansen FeeTax on first-sale-of-fossil-carbon could be tried to see if it can make fossil carbon so torturously expensive that those with access to potential bio-waste carbon would use it to make the price-torture pain stop.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      This major peer-reviewed scientific paper concurs that the global climate emergency requires strong, broad, and rapid action.


      I would just like to add that ‘inaction’ should be considered an option.

      Inaction, as in everyone, or lots of us, sitting quietly in our rooms.

      That would reduce energy consumption, and carbon emission by quite a bit, if done often, and widely.

      Both rapid action, and languid inaction.

  18. Jason Boxman

    A thought: I wonder if DSA could help workers fight for stolen wages? That’s like break lights on steroids. It is known that wage theft is an enormous problem. From CCI endorsement article:

    The group is known locally for its opposition to the expansion of factory farms and advocacy for environmental regulations, including the Clean Water Act. Iowa CCI’s website also touts the group’s effectiveness in recovering lost wages for workers in the state.

  19. Rod

    The Superpowers Battling Over Iraq’s Giant Oil Field OilPrice
    Great news in the gist and not the headline, imo.
    China and Iraq made a deal.
    China is under contract to firstly capture ALL flare gas and off gas from the field for productive utilization instead of direct atmospheric degradation. Finally a waste not want not practical application. I wish them luck and to make a replicable and adoptable example.

    In a corollary:
    The Rocky Mountain Institute will present to the Climate Change Conference in Madrid something following similar lines:

    A bracing antidote to the “doomism” lately fashionable among both climate activists and skeptics will be released Monday 02 December 2019 at That link will go live when the publisher, the UK-based Institute of Physics, completes the posting.

    This major peer-reviewed scientific paper concurs that the global climate emergency requires strong, broad, and rapid action. (An important summary of “tipping points,” confirming that a 2C˚ target is too high, was published four days ago in Nature 575, 592-595 (27 Nov 2019), Yet powerful tools to mitigate climate change offer far more effective solutions, sooner, at lower cost, than are included in nearly all models that now guide climate policy. Policymakers can’t make choices they don’t know they have, so this modeling gap diverts policy attention and investment to slower, harder, costlier options that buy less and later mitigation, increasing risks. The climate challenge is tough enough without policymakers being hobbled, private firms diverted, and citizens discouraged by limiting their horizons. This new paper therefore seeks to expand those horizons and soberly rebalance the climate conversation, paying as much attention to opportunity as to urgency, so resources can be better focused on closing the dangerous gap between potential mitigation and actual adoption before it is too late.

    1. Danny

      “Yet powerful tools to mitigate climate change offer far more effective solutions,…The climate challenge is tough enough without policymakers being hobbled…”

      Such, for example, as has been proposed, and is already churning income for Wall Street, carbon credits on everything we do, enriching the already obscenely rich so that they can continue to use as much or more energy while the rest of controllable and obedient soylentgreenwashed humanity uses less?

      Taxes on carbon would be more acceptable if it were a worldwide treaty that mandated whatever monies were collected had to go 100% to individual, not corporate, tax refunds or tax lowering, and that that taxes could not generate any profits, handling fees by Wall Street, or be used as an excuse for further development under the aegis of politically connected green development.

      e.g.”Google has formally submitted its proposal for a game-changing transit village in downtown San Jose whose name conjures up images of cutting-edge development and the spirit of a real estate frontier: “Downtown West”….The Google project would create 6.5 million square feet of office space; up to 300 hotel rooms; 3,000 to 5,000 residential units; 300,000 to 500,000 square feet of commercial and active uses, which could include retail and restaurants; event center space totaling 100,000 square feet; and up to 800 rooms that would be set aside for short-term visits to the site by Google employees.”

      Wow man! Think of the carbon that will offset.

      1. Rod

        No–the Oil Price article does not say the Chinese and Iraqis are planning on setting up any sort of carbon market to shill. China is there to capture the vented or flared gas currently wasted as production byproduct. Think a moment about the Quantity of Waste Gas emanating that must be motivating China–because it sure isn’t their environmental altruism. imo Gas wells in Alberta Wyoming and Oklahoma(3 random production sites I have seen first hand–I could change the list many times before using all examples.) should get the same treatment–maybe by a not for profit?

        In my future world a proposal like you cite would have to present the HOW the get to zero carbon and net zero energy before acceptance–acceptance by a Citizen Committee of San Jose (no-not the Chamber of Commerce).
        Google has the resources to make such a example and to provide an exemplary model for replication–they just need massive citizen input to “do the right thing”.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Superpowers battling over Iraq’s giant oilfield. Couple of observations:

      1. Oilfields are still worth battling over by the superpowers – that’s the world we are in today. We need better superpowers?

      2. Iraq is not doing the battling alone there – Again, we need better superpowers.

      Up and coming superpowers are especially conspicuous here, for those who had hoped they would be kinder and gentler.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Powers don’t get to be superpowers by being better. So we won’t get better superpowers because there never was any such thing, and there never will be.

        But there could be better things for superpowers to battle over. If anti-oil lifestyling/technology/economics became so effective that it the first superpower to deploy it could dominate the other superpowers who are late to the post-petro party, then that superpower battle could lead to some beneficial global re-cooling.

  20. ambrit

    Man, I’m dumb. Here I was thinking that ‘Apostrophes,’ when used with the capital ‘A’ referred to the obscure Ancient Greek playwright who produced the entr’actes for the theatre. (Circa 400 BC)

      1. ambrit

        Rede between ye lines good acromymion.
        As the apostatic academic averred anet Hillary’s speechifying; ‘That way lies madness.’

    1. inode_buddha

      You don’t suppose there could be a tragedy about the greengrocer’s Aristophanes? Perhaps updated for Broadway?

      1. ambrit

        Eucharide’s Revenge, or The View From Trump Tower?
        Recent social trends are very close to being proper Greek Tragedies. NC and the Commenteriat are the Chorus within said fabulation.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Boy, this makes me sad.

      Member’s of the “meritocracy” are always and forever justifying their existence based on how much “smarter” they are than everyone else.

      Proper use of apostrophe’s is one of those “smart” things that’s not only simple but FREE, just learn a few rule’s. So let’s just pretend it doesn’t matter.

      How long will it be until potential employer’s, going through an applicant’s social media post’s, deny employment or propose a lower salary, based on improper use of apostrophe’s? If they can even recognize it, that is.

      It used to be illegal to teach a slave to read and write. All thing’s old are knew again. (Do you see what I did they’re?)

        1. ambrit

          And in Imperial Measure no less!
          As someone is reputed to have writ; “What’s the Measure of a Meme?”

      1. GramSci

        Down with shibboleths! … but the daily onslaught of solecisms is a tragic reminder of the fact that most people don’t read much, well, or widely. So it happens they wind up believing everything they are told by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow.

        1. ambrit

          Playing ‘fast and lose’ with the language, ain’t ye?
          By the way, name the most famous American Language Looser. Answer: Noah Webster.

  21. Danny

    Truth and reconciliation commission:

    “The massive transfer of wealth to financiers post crisis?”

    Dylan Ratigan discusses the “Biggest Theft in World History” at from the 55 minute to 140 minute marks in this video:

    Jimmy Dore, Dylan Ratigan Nov 11
    The Super Rich Have No Country

    The guy was an inside reporter of the process and does a great job synthesizing a complicated subject, with a great explanation for the layman of the money mechanics of why few can afford to buy a house or rent today, why taxes go into a bottomless pit that profits a few select percentage points of America and why politicians of both parties are coopted.

  22. Summer

    Re:”Doctors Are Turning To YouTube To Learn How To Do Surgical Procedures CNBC. This is “kill me now” of another sort….

    Just wait until they are turning to YouTube DURING surgery!

    1. Danny

      Wait until the surgeon is remotely operating a surgical robot from across the operating room, or from China or India–you know that’s the next step in profit taking from the medical insurance gangsters– AND is referring to a youtube video. The Medgangsters logical conclusion, let robots do all the surgery and eliminate the surgeons.

      More logical conclusion; Turn away from profits in medicine and institute Medicare for All.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Google can be sure the Youtube algos are plugged straight to your insurance provider, they can run realtime checks of your coverage and automatically halt the procedure when the funds run out. Maybe reserve the last $1000 to stuff everything back inside and sew you up.

  23. Wukchumni

    How poor people survive in the USA | DW
    An excellent video focusing on one section on the car go cult, people who would be occupying fabric outside if it wasn’t for the confines of their ride.

    Those interviewed seem like they could be anybody you know, not the drugs-drink-dementia drama that comes with the errortory all too often.

    The parking lot they live at closes the gates @ 9:30 pm each night, and it’s a little reminiscent of pioneer wagons heading west forming a circle @ night for safety.

      1. Wukchumni

        I* have absolutely no interest in running for the Presidency.

        * I’m Wukchumni and I approve this message.

    1. ewmayer

      It seems America just wasn’t ready for a progressive proud strong black woman of color who rose from the ghetto and overcame, and stuff. (sob!)

        1. The Rev Kev

          Well, Hillary had her book “Shattered” so perhaps Harris can come out with a book called “Shanked” in which she pus the blame on the infamous Assad-Apologist Tulsi Gabbard at the debates for her demise.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Once dubbed the “female Obama” by former Today Show anchor Matt Lauer, Harris’ campaign began on a promising note:

      What is wrong with the DC set?

      Policy is only mentioned in the bottom third, and its mostly about her waffling.

    3. Cripes

      Best headline

      Kamala Harris Drops Out Before She Can Explain Why She Was Running
      – Slate

      She looked good for the part until she opened her mouth and ruined everything.
      Then her actual record.
      Top tier candidate indeed.
      Hat tip Tulsi.

      Just a horrible horrible person.

  24. Summer

    RE: “Billionaires only, please! London vault for the ultra-rich opens” Guardian

    That’s a really old building. Probably all kinds of things underneath it.
    Place may be robbed within a decade?

  25. Ignacio

    RE: Reusable plastic shopping bags are actually making the problem worse, not better Quartz (resilc)

    I just don’t believe a word of this article. I know that personal experience is just that, personal and anecdotic but I have been using the very same reusable bags for several years and have saved a lot of single use plastic. If I typically do the hard shopping once a week and I used in the past about 6 bags per shopping x 54 weeks makes 320 bags/year, 3.200 bags saved in a decade. The article only reports sales of durable bags in 2018 and 2019. If it is that those were introduced in 2018 in many supermarkets you would expect many sales during the first years and a steep decline later. This looks very much like an example of a journalist in search of a headline.

    1. Ignacio

      Sorry for autoreplying but I found a paper on plastic consumption in Catalonia in 2015 (in spanish). In hypermarkets, where this kind of ‘life use’ bags are most often used between 2007 and 2015 the use of plastic bags was reduced by 87% while in supermarkets was reduced by 84% and in general stores by 47%. Only in small urban shops plastic bag consumption increased in this period. You can check in the 2nd table on page 20 in the linked report.

    2. curlydan

      It would be nice, though, if all those retailers sold non-plastic reusable bags. I have often pondered how much plastic it takes to make a reusable bag.

    3. Liberal Mole

      Why even buy reusable plastic bags? Fabric bags last a lot longer and you can throw them in the washer. My favorites I made out of old dacron sails, even better.

  26. Susan the Other

    Michael Pettis on MMT Limbo. I thought it was the most simplistic little church lady lecture of nonsense so far. Aren’t we way ahead of this already. Clearly the best way to go MMT at this very very late stage in our existence is to put money back into the environment. That’s gonna be the proverbial black hole because we have so abused the planet. Pettis is oblivious. I think the way he is pretending to instruct us on MMT is almost obscene. And also, please: We don’t have to borrow any money from anyone who is a private bean counter here because we can spend it directly into the economy. And please professor tell me why things like lack of universal health care or environmental reclamation are not calculated in the goddamn GDP. Like, why doesn’t the dreaded debt burden rise when so many obscene “costs” are externalized. Keep your idiotic accounting to yourself.

  27. Summer

    :Mentions of Government as Top U.S. Problem Near Record High” Gallup

    On the gallop survey it is written as “Govt/Poor”.

    So it’s not clear WTF Gallup is trying to spin with this mess.

    1. jrs

      Well of course the government is a top u.s. problem. It’s headed by Trump. It’s the government/poor leadership. And the Dems are nothing to write home about either.

      Not much good coming out of that. Any good that continues to is due entirely to the bureaucrats (who just keep running the social security administration etc.) and even they have limited leeway (witness cuts to the IRS, the EPA etc.)

  28. Oregoncharles

    From “MMT Heaven…”:
    “The first financial responsibility of the government (since nobody else can undertake that responsibility) is to keep the total rate of spending in the country on goods and services neither greater nor less than that rate which at the current prices would buy all the goods that it is possible to produce. If total spending is allowed to go above this there will be inflation, and if it is allowed to go below this there will be unemployment.”

    Maybe it’s dealt with beyond “primer” level, but this is an aspect of MMT that bothers me. How do you know? That’s pretty esoteric information it’s asking for. Furthermore, how does a government DO that? At present, in the US budgets are set for a year; if conditions change during that year, the budget will be off. And they’re set by politicians, mostly in response to perceived (by somebody) needs. Lots of approximation going on, there. The theory calls for a level of precision and responsiveness that, AFAIK, is simply beyond our administrative capacity – or anyone’s, really.

    The usual proposal are “automatic adjustors,” like unemployment or welfare payments, that go up or down in response to conditions. But they’re quite limited; hard to see them managing a whole economy.

    In practice, you know when inflation or unemployment go up; but at that point, it’s too late. If you err consistently on either side, you have a ratchet that persistently pushes one of the other.

    This doesn’t invalidate the theory, but it sure complicates administering Modern Money.

    1. Adam Eran

      This is not new territory. The government currently buys surplus soy beans and cheese. The task here is to purchase surplus labor. There are plenty of jobs for those with a job guarantee to do, they just don’t make someone a profit. Child and elder care, scientific observation, etc.

    2. Mel

      That’s the genius of the Job Guarantee. The program will hire anybody who applies; that way, if the nation has a surplus of good, unfilled jobs, people will apply for those jobs instead. If there’s a shortage of good, private-sector jobs, then people will apply for the Job Guarantee jobs.
      It doesn’t depend on any esoteric policy settings, or models, or estimates, because it refers directly to real life.

      1. Oregoncharles

        So it would be another automatic adjustor. Come to think, so is the income tax.

        I’m not so sure that’s a politically palatable justification for a tax, though.

  29. Copeland

    Hey Yves, Links are unbelievably great today!

    I must walk the dog and get things done during the best weather part of the day, but I’ll be up late reading all of this, thanks!

  30. VietnamVet

    Quinn Slobodian’s tweets on globalism, nationalism and a new green deal do point out that avoiding the issue of fairness is part and parcel of the rise of world trade. Shipping industry overseas is totally unfair to those who lost good paying jobs. Neoliberalism arose with the first oil crisis. Industrial capitalism didn’t have cheap energy anymore to expand in high wage nations. The West switched to financialization instead and pushed for the free flow of capital, goods, services and people. Propaganda and scapegoating were needed to quell unrest. Democracy withered away. No longer is there an informed public.

    In effect, the only way to survive is to return to local communities for farming, education, healthcare and manufacturing to lower energy usage and mitigate pollution. The restoration of democracy is necessary in order to make knowledgeable decisions. The ultimate problem is that monopolistic corporations will lose their customers and resources in a multiverse world. Oligarchs will fight to keep preying on the people and the environment.

Comments are closed.