Links 1/1/2020

Jerri-Lynn here. Wishing all readers a healthy and joyous 2020!

New Year’s Eve: Bangs and flashes set off new decade BBC

The Decade in Pictures NYT

The 2010s were another lost decade on climate change MIT Technology Review

2019: The Year Climate Litigation Hit High Gear Climate Liability News

Another Year of Living Dangerously Project Syndicate

The 2019 Jacobin Mixtape Jacobin

Obama, Trump Tie as Most Admired Man in 2019 Gallup These results made me chuckle: I imagine each of the top dudes is equally annoyed to find himself tied in popularity with HIM.

2019 Wasn’t Just About Trump. It Will Be Remembered for Global Resistance. TruthOut. Good idea for an article, poor execution – but may spur some interesting reader discussion nonetheless.

Sports Desk

The 2010s – the decade that shook sport BBC

Syraqistan

Iraqi protesters storm US embassy compound in Baghdad Deutsche Welle

Protesters at US embassy in Baghdad gear up for sit-in Al Jazeera

Trump threatens Iran after embassy attack, but remains reluctant to get more involved in region  WaPo

End of the American era in the Middle East FT. JC: “Just to be sure I was clear in calling b.s. on Rachman: the whole idea that the U.S. is in imminent danger from violent Islamics *because* we’re not militarily present in the Middle East just drives me up the wall. “Bringing democracy to the world” at the barrel of a gun —> ludicrous. We should lead for peace. If there is a Creator, we are *all* its creation.”

Nobody was convinced by my writing on Isis, until it was too late Independent. Patrick Cockburn.

York to ban private car journeys from city centre within three years Guardian

Furry, cute and drooling herpes: what to do with Florida’s invasive monkeys? Guardian

Jimmy Stewart’s Not-So-Wonderful Life With PTSD TruthDIg Maj. Danny Sjursen

Police officer made up story about expletive on his coffee cup  WBIW. I’m shocked, shocked, to learn that a cop might have lied.

The Rise of the Architectural Cult Inference

Palau bans ‘reef-toxic’ sunscreen Agence France-Presse

2020

The “Bernie Blackout” appears to be over: How will the media cover the Sanders campaign now? Salon

Sanders Vows to Create National Clean Drinking Water Standards to End Corporate Contamination Common Dreams

Warren confronts ghost of Howard Dean Politico

Sanders: Speed of Medicare for All plan is a ‘major difference’ with Warren The Hill

The spooks’s choice: Coup plotters and CIA agents fill Pete Buttigieg’s list of national security endorsers The Gray Zone

Tulsi Gabbard: Impeachment “increased the likelihood that Donald Trump will remain the president” Salon

Class Warfare

St. Charles County Police Pressured Suspects In Private Tow Lot To Hand Over $10,000 In Cash   St .Louis Public Radio

AB5, California’s landmark gig-work law, takes effect Jan. 1 amid controversy San Fran Chronicle

Our Famously Free Press

Our Journalists Stopped Calling People Hard-to-Reach and Listened to Them. Here’s What Worked. ProPublica

Australia Apocalypse

Australia fires: zoo staff take monkeys and pandas home to save them SCMP

How the world has reacted to Australia’s ‘apocalyptic’ bushfires New.com Australia. Decent roundup of world coverage, despite the source.

Australia is becoming a nation of dread – and the world looks on with pity and scorn Guardian

Australia fires: Government criticised for failing to use firefighting planes from overseas as thousands flee to beaches Independent

Waste Watch

How our thinking changed in 2019: recycling and plastics Treehugger

A plateful of plastic Reuters

Russiagate

Note on a new book Matt Taibbi

737 MAX

Turkish Airlines says reaches compensation deal over Boeing 737 MAX Channel News Asia

MAX Crashes Strengthen Resolve of Boeing to Automate Flight WSJ

Hong Kong

Hong Kongers packing to leave, this time for good Asia Times

India

The Struggle for India’s Democracy Is Only Just Beginning The Wire

’An Act of Mass Surveillance’: India Use of Facial Recognition Tech Against Protesters Angers Privacy Advocates Common Dreams

Hefty fine for shops and firms not accepting digital payments from February 2020 Economic Times

Julian Assange

‘I’m slowly dying here’: ‘Sedated’ Assange tells friend during Christmas Eve call from UK prison as health concerns mount RT

UN official says US is torturing Chelsea Manning with detention The Hill

Trump Transititon

Science Panel Staffed With Trump Appointees Says E.P.A. Rollbacks Lack Scientific Rigor NYT

Hmm. Doth the eminent professor protest too much? And to give him the benefit of the doubt, if this rationale hadn’t occurred to Tribe, can he be sure that others have not delayed presenting the Articles to the Senate – or supporting that course of action – for precisely this reason?

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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182 comments

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      Yes, of course! I’ve fixed it.

      Recently finished Taibbi’s Hate, Inc., btw- read it if you haven’t. And I’m about 1/3 of the way through Stoller’s Goliath, which I also recommend.

      Reply
      1. Lunker Walleye

        Re: Matt Taibbi.

        I also recently finished Taibbi’s book, “Hate, Inc.” and am looking forward to his new offering.
        Happy New Year, Jerri-Lynn. Thanks for your work. And what a beautiful little bird. Is it a nuthatch of sorts?

        Reply
        1. Off The Street

          Taibbi’s writing provides a consistent theme about how many insulated and unaware people seemingly talk only to each other. They may as well have Sunday brunch to reinforce their views after watching those shows with bobblehead panels. Oh, wait, they probably do. Sigh.

          A little trip or two to experience life outside the Acela Corridor, or Hollywood, or pick another bubble, would afflict those comfortable ones.

          Reply
        2. Betty

          Lunker,
          To find the bird’s exact title (it is a nuthatch), and photo source info, go to the sentence just above the photo, and click on “via”

          Antidote du Jour (via):

          Reply
    2. Susan the other

      Even Taibbi sounds older and wiser – I mean for a guy who was very wise and well informed to begin with. This pre book review was complex. Straightforward in the sense that there is a clear trail of crumbs for all to see but therapeutic for those of us who cannot yet comprehend what the hell happened to our country. Taibbi’s paragraph about Obama’s “assessment” of Russian interference is interesting because Putin, just a few months ago (here in Links), published an analysis of the reasons liberal (neoliberal to us) government would fail/has failed. He’s right. We all know it. But Putin has not yet questioned democracy so there is a small conceptual smear by Obama, conflating the two. Taibbi does not find Putin offensive, neither do I, nor should anybody. And possibly the greatest irony in our modern politics is that this intelligence debacle might have been the very thing that got Trump elected as the outsider, because we are all so sick of the political class. If the liberal-democratic order is dead it is by its own irresponsible hand. And there’s a trail of irony, a residual, because Trump is so clueless about certain realities. He thinks gold-leaf will take care of everything, If that is not true, and of course it is not, then the ruling class must face facts in time to change our inequalities and denial. And also too, there’s really no reason to continue to hate neoliberalism if neoliberalism has finally gotten the message. Our systems of government can be put to proper uses without a hitch if we so decide. The EU already has as far as I can tell. When we went “into” Vietnam the French Left sent us the message, “Goodbye America.” Now the EU is doing the same.

      Reply
  1. PlutoniumKun

    Hong Kongers packing to leave, this time for good Asia Times

    Anecdotal, but i’ve certainly heard stories of young HKers actively seeking other passports, saying that they’ve no future at home. Its a great pity, HK really is a very unique place. I’ve always been really impressed with the young HKers I’ve met – they will benefit any country they go to. The only thing that might save HK for the long term is that its half in/half out status is still very useful to China, in particular for financial services. HK has a role that Shanghai or Macau for various reasons will never quiet replicate.

    Reply
    1. Altandmain

      HK has a role that Shanghai or Macau for various reasons will never quiet replicate.

      I suspect that the Chinese government will increasingly work to discourage corporations both Chinese and foreign from using Hong Kong for that purpose.

      This may especially be the case if the protestors “win”. There may also be a domestic call to boycott all things Hong Kong in China.

      Reply
  2. PlutoniumKun

    How our thinking changed in 2019: recycling and plastics Treehugger

    While traveling in Sardinia, Italy, my husband and I stopped at a small roadside bar for an early morning coffee. The barista pulled our espressi with a deft hand and pushed two white ceramic cups across the counter, along with a little sugar dish and spoon. We stirred, drank it in a few gulps, and chatted briefly with the other people lining the bar, also enjoying a quick coffee. Then we headed back out to the car and continued on our way.
    There is no waste because of the difference in the culture, in what they serve and how they serve it. In North America, where you got to take the cup with you, it just got bigger and bigger. More consumption, more waste.

    The article is correct that there is definitely a sort of negative cycle at work where the less people cook at home (or, as in many parts of Asia, just eat out all the time in sit-down places), and so lead to more pre-prepared food and so more plastic. I’m always interested in this as I love cycle touring – when you do that you get a real insight into how people eat and its implications as all bike tourers get obsessed with food. In much of southern Europe, its actually quite hard to get packaged food – going through towns and villages the simplest and cheapest way to eat is to pick up something at the boulangerie or equivalent, or sit and have a set lunch at a local cafe. In poorer parts of Asia, you can just graze on the way from food stalls, although sadly things like banana leaf packaging has given way to ubiquitous plastic bags. South Korea and Japan have wonderful convenience store food, but its massively overpackaged, I think I went through more plastic in a week there than I would in a year in France or Portugal. Apparently its become worse recently in Japan as tax changes made eating in the convenience stores more expensive.

    These things aren’t always accidental – in France they have government sponsored lunch tokens which give a subsidy to traditional ‘sit down’ restaurants, to help them compete against fast food. This makes having a good leisurely lunch there an affordable pleasure, although obviously you need an employer willing to give a 2 hour break, something increasingly rare even there. In this way, incentives and culture reinforce each other. In Japan, for all its famed food quality, it seems that the hard work culture has led to a takeaway culture for the day (they still of course have long, leisurely evening means of very high quality, even in cheap places).

    One slightly perverse aspect I think is that for the smallest independent cafes, takeout is vital to make them economic. I’ve never quite worked out why it is that chains like Starbucks and Costa can afford to have lots of comfortable seating and wifi, while independent cafes can very rarely do this, but it does seem that perversely the big chains may have an advantage if (for example) takeout cups were heavily taxed or otherwise disincentivized.

    So solving the problem is much harder than it first seems – I hate to buy in to ‘nudge’ theory, but i think there is a real role here for subtle tax and other incentive changes to make cooking at home and eating in proper cafes/restaurants more attractive than buying packaged pre-prepared food. Sadly, it may be that this could only work if it was designed to help out the big bad chains who have the financial power to make things work. Its gotta be remembered that even in France, with its famed food culture, they apparently have more McD’s per person than anywhere else in Europe.

    Reply
    1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      Over a couple of decades I gradually got hooked on espresso while holidaying in Italy, often due to needing a quick pick me up after wandering around ruins in heat that did not suit my fair skinned complexion. On arrival the first task would be to head off away from the touristy spots to find a Deli or small supermarket in order to buy wonderful products to save money on lunches & often dinners, that would be prepared in our self catered whatever & carried around with cold water in my quite large & now 41 year old insulated camera bag.

      Those were the days & nights.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I found Italian slurpees (Granita) to be my saving grace when I got hot & bothered on foot in search of the past, oh so good.

        Reply
    2. Joe Well

      Has anyone compared the carbon footprint of eat-in on washable plates vs take out/eat-in on disposables? The plates at cafes always look new, at least here in US. And by the number of times I hear a plate or glass break, I don’t think they last long.

      We need to make a new solution from the ground up with an eye toward reducing carbon footprints amd environmental impact specifically.

      Also, where I am sitting in an urban working class municipality in the US, local places outnumber chains at least 10:1. You really have to go out in the burbs for it to start to approach maybe 4:1. Again, I would like to see hard numbers. It is absurd to compare exurbia with the Left Bank and yet US suburbanites are always doing that.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous2

        Just been reading about an aristocrat who recommended eating off gold plates. He did not trust the servants not to break the china.

        I can’t see this having universal applicability.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          Stainless steel would last a long, long time, though. Or aluminum, but that has a bad reputation, and I’ve never felt sure how warranted it is.

          Reply
    3. marieann

      ” I hate to buy in to ‘nudge’ theory, but i think there is a real role here for subtle tax and other incentive changes ”

      I also think it’s time for us to add a tax at the point of purchase. The corporations do not have to worry about the waste they are creating with their cheap take out food, they need to be reminded that there is a cost to the planet and the ones creating the mess should be the ones paying to clean it up.

      Reply
      1. Adam Eran

        FYI, one of the Koch’s acquisitions for Koch Industries: Dixie cups (and Brawny paper towels!). If Reagan proved deficits don’t matter, Charles and David Koch proved waste doesn’t either.

        Reply
        1. marieann

          I have never bought dixie cups. I come from a thrifty background and the thought of paying out my hard earned dollars on something I was going to throw away…why I can feel my blood pressure going up just writing this :).

          I used to be called cheap…now I’m an environmentalist.

          Reply
          1. Karla

            We get all the cups and take out lids we want at Starbucks or Peet’s, owned by Danish billionaires, thus not local, nor community, nor our friends.
            “May I have a few extra cups please…”

            Use their self proclaimed corporate newspeak living rooms as a place to meet friends, eat organic sandwiches acquired from real community businesses up the road, and use their bathrooms and parking places for short term carpooling.
            We let the them provide the power to recharge. phones and heavy duty batteries.
            Not a penny gets spent there.

            Reply
      2. chuck roast

        Point of Purchase refuse-tax won’t work. It’s inefficient. It has to be at point of production. Nobody escapes and you get maximum collection efficiencies.
        Of course the Solo/Dixie cup producers will all whine that they will go out of business, but that is the whole purpose of a Tobin Tax. You simply don’t admit that this is the purpose of the tax otherwise it would be a taking without compensation. Call it a tax to pay for recycling. Recycling has always been a bogus concept anyway. Reduction and reuse are the only things that will work in a non-dystopian future.

        Reply
      3. Oregoncharles

        It makes sense to “nudge” businesses; they’re very sensitive to financial incentives, since making money is what they’re for. People have more mixed motives.

        Reply
    4. Bugs Bunny

      As of today, all single use plastic utensils, straws, plates and take out food containers are illegal in France. Restaurants can continue to use stocks bought or imported prior to today but then have to change to non plastic materials.

      I wonder exactly what they’re going to use because I’ve seen nothing to indicate preparation for this. Also likely to be seen as an easy excuse to raise prices.

      When single use plastic bags were banned, a lot of merchants started using thicker “multiple use” bags…

      http://www.rfi.fr/en/france/20200101-france-single-use-plastic-ban-enters-effect-environment-pollution

      Reply
      1. John A

        There is far less of a takeaway culture in France. You drink your coffee in the bar/cafe. McDonalds has made inroads but as I never go in them, not sure what the breakdown of eat-in/takeaway meals would be. Lunch breaks are longer and most restaurants offer a very good lunch of the day deal so more incentive to eat in.

        Reply
    5. DJG

      PlutoniumKun (and Joe Well): This matter of accumulating trash from takeouts (and tourism) hit me strongly in Rome when I was there in March. I had just been to two other cities with strong food cultures–and very little trash on the streets, few overflowing trash cans, no empty bottles posed on windowsills… (All of which are highly typical here in the US of A, where trash is ubiquitous.)

      The controversy over trash pickup in Rome is continuous and vociferous. But the most obvious factor, to me, wasn’t the collection points or the rules about recycling–it was the tons of disposables. I had never seen so many disposables in my many trips to Italy. The Roman trash agency (which goes by the ironic name of Ama Roma) is overwhelmed. Who can pick up the thousands of disposable coffee cups demanded and scattered by U.S. tourists? Who can deal with the thousands of water bottles?

      Pace Joe Well: At least, people tend not to walk out of a caffé with the cup and saucer made of china or earthenware. So you have some control over waste.

      All in all, and would it really be that burdensome?, we have to go back to real service (not self-service) and real dishes. What struck me about the Roman dilemma is that so much of the trash was food and beverage containers.

      Now, will Americans stand at the bar with the Italians, drink an espresso, eat a corneto, and have a chat? Wow. Lots of cultural issues to overcome, so little time.

      Reply
      1. Kurt Sperry

        I’ve spent quite a lot of time in Italy over the last twenty years and I don’t believe I’ve ever had a coffee served in anything but a ceramic cup (warmed, of course). They also tend to supply a little metal spoon and paper sugar packet on the saucer. Starbucks, which I think I’ve only seen in Florence and Venice, is so strangely deracinated there, and the clumsy inauthenticity of its original Italian inspiration as an American company only adds an extra shot of recursive absurdity in that context.

        Italian bar culture is a wonderful thing, they usually make great coffee but there’s cheap and quality sandwiches, gelati in season, fresh squeezed juice, usually a couple of beers on tap, a small but well chosen liquor shelf, good wines, often fresh-made pizza, pastries, salads to eat. And tobacco, and bus and train tickets, and they can even top up your phone. There’s nothing like it in the US and in most other places as well and it’s a pity.

        Reply
    6. Susan the other

      My only objection to Treehugger claiming recycling is a failed concept that just encourages the manufacture of more plastic pollution is that we are so buried in plastic polution now that it will take a focused recycling effort to clean it up. Mountains. Years. And we have to recycle it, we can’t bury it or burn it. So we definitely need a recycling industry. The melting of plastic waste back to its still-toxic components at least sequesters it. It can be stored and controlled as a future resource. It should be closely controlled commodity. Until it can be successfully phased out.

      Reply
      1. chuck roast

        Back in the day I cut my professional teeth on recycling and “materials recovery” as it was euphemistically called. My wide-eyed wonder was soon blinded by the realty of local collection, shipping and re-manufacture of plastics, glass, paper, etc. I could fill this page with the “failure” of recycling, but I will save our fellow-travelers the pain and anguish. Reading about screaming animals in the Australian woods is enough for one day.
        But, being a cruel and unusual fellow, I can’t resist at least one story. During my research I heard that a nearby municipality was famously recycling used car and truck tires. I called the locally responsibility on the phone and asked him if he had a tire shredder and who he was selling his rubber chips to. The guy hemmed and hawwed for a bit and finally told me that they weren’t exactly “recycling” the used tires, they were saving them at the landfill. I told him that storing thousands of used tires in the open air presented a very serious fire hazard. He responded that the city was not storing tires in the open air, they were burying them in a “mono-fill.”

        Reply
        1. susan the other

          I fear when the time comes, soon, we will be digging up all sorts of stuff. We’ve got buried surprises going back centuries. Maybe it will be as lucrative as mining ;)

          Reply
    7. jrs

      it is possible to get a ceramic mug at most coffee places in the U.S. you just have to ask for it. They might not want everyone doing it, but make them adapt to the market.

      Reply
      1. jrs

        Where I know it’s possible: the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Peet’s coffee (the California chain). Many independent coffee shops. SBUX maybe not, but could try.

        Reply
    8. polecat

      Given the right whole !! spices*, condiments, and basic realfood ingredients .. some of which we grow .. I can dish-out a ‘restaurant-quality’ meal, no problem. I also often scrutinize several like-recipes, then proceed to improvise, making a meal based on what’s at hand within the larder ! The results tend to be really tasty, while staying easily within budget .. without all the plastic & styrofoam, so it’s a win-win ! Don’t be afraid to experiment. That’s part and parcel to becoming a good home cook/chef.

      And lastly .. One can’t have too many hot chilies in the pantry !! ‘;]

      *avoid buying ground jarred/tinned spices wherever possible. They’re often more expensive, in smaller quantities – by weight .. and stale to boot ! When purchased and stored properly, using whole spices in your cooking regime can be a blast of unique & wonderful flavors. Try it, you’ll be glad you did !

      Reply
    9. GramSci

      I suspect the automobile lies near the heart of this, where those of us whom life has exiled to auto-exurbia can find no café without a drive-thru window and paper cups.

      Wherever there is an automobile, there is the perverse incentive for the small café to compete for the fickle patronage of the grandee in the Lamborghini.

      In my experience, nowhere in the world has this thirst for petrol been salutary.

      Reply
    10. GERMO

      Re cooking at home vs consuming lots of packaging & fast food:

      The masses of working class people aren’t choosing to eat takeout.
      They are obliged to do it.

      They are tremendously time-taxed either by work or by poverty or increasingly, both.

      They are obliged to travel enormous distances to and from their jobs. The option of working closer to home, or living closer to work, doesn’t exist for people without high prestige, stable careers.

      Daily stretches of time where all the members of a household can stop working on survival and just sit at a table talking and eating together are a fantasy for the mass of working people in the US.

      Lecturing them to make them feel bad about liberties they don’t in fact have is bad enough; nudge-taxing them on top of it is even worse. This is a good example of the technocrat impulse — it’s only going to turn the proletariat ever more reactionary.

      Reply
  3. The Rev Kev

    “End of the American era in the Middle East”

    That cartoon at the top is very misleading. It was actually people like Bush and Obama that were running around the Middle East and North Africa setting countries on fire while countries like Russia have been trying to put them out.

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      It is the FT. “In September, Iranian missiles struck the oil facilities of Saudi Aramco,” without so much as an ‘allegedly’.

      Reply
      1. Craig H.

        They are going to be very surprised when slaughterbots start flying all over the place. In another 20 years they are going to be so cheap and ubiquitous that uber rich butt orifices like Gates and Bezos are going to have to live underground or in outer space.

        Who is not rooting for the Yemenese or Yemenites? I don’t even know what they are called and I am rooting for them.

        Reply
        1. JohnnyGL

          LOL….I think it’s Yemenis. But agreed with the sentiment. Go Houthis! Beat the medieval monarchs and their armed proxy wing, Al Qaeda/ISIS.

          Reply
    2. rd

      The main lesson that North Korea and Iran have learned from the Trump Presidency is that you have to have nuclear weapons if you are going to be able to negotiate with him and the US.

      North Korea is watching Trump take punitive steps against Iran after backing away from the Iranian nuclear deal. There is no scenario that I can see where Kim would give up his nuclear weapons and missiles. That would just give up his leverage and Trump would not respect that. Also, Kim needs those in order to make sure that Russia and China don’t shut down his economy. I think he developed them originally more to provide a bulwark against his allies walking away from him than to deal with the US. But they are now important to keep Trump complacent.

      Iran is watching Trump handle North Korea with kid gloves. So they see no benefit now in not restarting their nuclear program in that they are damned if the do and damned if they don’t. So they may as well try to get into a position of negotiating power. Meanwhile they can let their proxies nip at the US heels throughout the Middle East, instead of keeping them on a leash like they did for several years.

      Reply
  4. The Rev Kev

    “Australia Apocalypse”

    The news on the fire front keeps on grinding out. Nine more people are dead and 176 homes have been destroyed. The town of Cobargo got hit real bad as have other places. They had this guy on the news who decided to stay and protect his home from the advancing flames. A father and son just died trying to do the same leaving a young widow behind. Anyway, this guy was saying that not only could you hear the roar of the flames but the screams of the animals in the flames as well. Real nightmare stuff

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/01/australia-fires-nine-dead-and-hundreds-of-properties-destroyed-with-worse-to-come

    Reply
      1. Greg

        Fairly rural oz, quite possibly they are using their own bores or pumps. Even if not, they’re likely to know well where the facilities are (in their smol town) and how they work, because water is not optional in rural oz.

        Reply
        1. HotFlash

          IIRC, there has been less than optimal rainfall in Oz for some time now. That and greater taking from running water (rivers, streams, lakes, etc.) mean that ground water levels are receding. Just hoping they aren’t fracking there, too.

          Reply
      2. John Wright

        re: “I wonder how anyone can be so confident the water will keep running in that kind of disaster?”

        One can’t be confident that water will flow.

        I listened to a former California wildfire firefighter talk about water supply and pressure during a fire.

        One problem is that when a home burns, sometimes the water supply line to the house also burns open (solder to copper pipe melts or plastic pipe burns). So water can continue to flow even to burned down properties whose owners properly turned off their water before evacuating.

        This can starve the water available to houses on the same water system that have yet to burn.

        Even having one’s own supply of water might not help as a friend always maintained water in a swimming pool with an outlet for the fire company to attach a pump to.

        During the 2017 wildfires in Sonoma County, CA, the fire departments were overwhelmed by the 100’s of homes burning at the same time and they were concerned about getting people to safety.

        My friend’s house, and neighborhood, burned down as no firetruck ever showed up.

        Reply
  5. Morgan Everett

    I hope I don’t see anything worse today than the comments on Laurence Tribe’s twitter. Bad way to start the New Year.

    Reply
    1. Clive

      Yes, there go my hopes for a sea-change in 2020 in our political discourse. Is everyone on Twitter still at the Christmas sherry?

      Reply
    2. lyman alpha blob

      Don’t despair too much. My guess is that when people post stuff like this that I noticed in the comments –

      I also HATE it when I hear people in media accuse the Speaker of holding the articles simply as a power play. She is so above such childish ploys!

      – they are being paid to do so. I’d like to think that they’re aren’t as many real people holding opinions like that as it may seem.

      Reply
      1. hunkerdown

        I don’t usually think they’re being paid to post such drivel. I think it’s more of a portfolio builder, akin to a community service bullet point on the college application.

        Reply
    3. cnchal

      When I come up to a car crash, I look away, but something about your comment goaded me into looking.

      Twitter is a twit magnet.

      Reply
  6. The Rev Kev

    “Jimmy Stewart’s Not-So-Wonderful Life With PTSD ”

    Found a 7:38 film clip of Jimmy Stewart’s time at war. Lots of Hollywood stars joined up and it can be interesting to find out who did what in the war. Won’t happen these days. Many people may be familiar with David Niven too, the British actor, who was a slim, dapper looking guy. After war broke out, he went back home and joined the Rifle Brigade before transferring to the Commandos. Yeah, David Niven was an actual Commando. And Jimmy Stewart was a front-line bomber pilot. Here is that Jimmy Stewart link-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoY8Cj1larg

    Reply
      1. RMO

        Take a look at this recruitment film Stewart did in 1942. It’s recruitment propaganda sure but just watch it and reflect on the general message delivered: one of we’re all in this together and everyone can play a part, everyone’s part is important and worthwhile. Compare it to the constant messaging we get today in the west which tends towards saying that there are a tiny handful of “important” people who deserve all the credit, praise and money – and those people are all of course only in that position because of their immense hard work as we’re a pure meritocracy – unlike 90% of us that make up the rest of the population and are just losers who drag the winners down and deserve absolutely nothing. Compare it to the warrior-ethos BS that makes up the recruiting propaganda in the US now and the contrasts are even more striking.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euip7YMfKeQ

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          Good film clip. Was reading a veteran say that young crews would go to the air war in Europe and they would be carrying pistols, compasses and all sorts of other gear based on what they thought they would need. They went out fresh-faced and full of questions but after a year or two when they went back home – those that survived – they had very little gear on them and they had aged visibility. All their questions had been answered.

          Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      I picked up Ernie Pyle’s Brave Men for a buck, and finished it the other day, and it’s an amazing portrait of what a citizen-soldier army looked like once upon a time. Ordinary men & women who if you could stereotype them in one certain way, they all had a longing to get back to the USA, no 7 tours of duty in some fetid pseudo battlefield in the Middle East for them, they just wanted to do their job and go home.

      There’s PTSD all over the place, or at least the roots of it, especially in the Italian campaign, where thick mud, lots of rain & snow and bitter cold, and difficulties getting supplies & food to the men on the front lines of mountainous terrain also had the Germans not too far away trying to kill them, as an added bonus. The chapter on Anzio is especially harrowing, literally everybody there was a target of Nazi artillery.

      When The Tigers Broke Free by Pink Floyd

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikfPlrVur40

      Reply
  7. Arizona Slim

    Slim checking in from the Old Pueblo. Last night, I wasn’t sure if war was being declared on 2019 or 2020, but Tucson sure didn’t let the New Year sneak in unannounced.

    Now that the booming and banging have stopped, permit me to wish everyone a Happy New Year.

    Reply
    1. newcatty

      Happy and Peaceful New Year. Up here in Northern AZ, we also had a brief, if not too spectacular, sounding of booms to herald 2020. Fireworks in the mile high city right at midnight.

      Reply
    2. Briny

      Loudest here was all the idiots firing guns into the air. I decided on the better part of valor and retreated inside.

      Reply
      1. rd

        If the drunken idiots fire straight up in the air, they are unlikely to kill someone because the bullet will get to its peak altitude and then start falling down without good aerodynamics, probably tumbling. It will reach a terminal velocity during the fall that may not be fatal if it hits a skull.

        If they shoot at an angle, then it will follow a parabolic arc maintaining the spin from its rifling and will retain much of its velocity and will be much more likely to be lethal if it encounters a victim.

        The physics of stupidity is always interesting. You can never make anything foolproof because fools are too ingenious.

        https://forensicoutreach.com/library/the-falling-bullet-myths-legends-and-terminal-velocity/

        Apparently gunfire on New Year’s Eve is a significant public health issue in Kansas City: https://www.kansascity.com/news/business/health-care/article238725368.html

        Reply
        1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

          I think I recall a Kurt Vonnegut novel in which someone killed someone by so loosing off a firearm. Can’’t remember the name….

          Reply
  8. Summer

    Happy 2020…

    “Obama, Trump Tie as Most Admired Man in 2019” Gallup

    Reading that should show anyone the bias Gallop. They shouldn’t in anyway suggest that poll is representative of all Americans, especially since they categorized using people registered with a political party.

    Reply
    1. Joe Well

      The country is getting bifurcated by age just like in the 1960s. Not only do I doubt that older people were oversampled in that poll, I doubt that younger people will hear about it at all.

      Reply
  9. Wukchumni

    Was at our neighbors for a new years party, and conversation regarding short term vacation rentals came up, and unlike Uber/Lyft where dopes drive around maybe making minimum wage, AirBnB & VRBO are really profitable for the owner of an abode, ridiculously so, and unlike the killing of the taxi industry, motels/hotels seem no worse for wear from the competition. We could easily get $8k a month in rent, doing so.

    We’re not interested in pursuing such an angle, even though we have the perfect setup to pull it off, in that we can escape the 100 days of 100 degrees during peak tourist season quite easily by just going to our cabin in the NP, and do a vacation rental on our house, but none of our neighbors are interested in doing so either, and we’re good friends with them and that relationship transcends making bank, plus we’re ok financially, we don’t need the income, money isn’t everything. Besides, I don’t want strangers in my house.

    Now, if we had awful relations with our neighbors that might change things, but there’s also the aspect of the 5 cats that run our home, that would be a bad fit in our cabin and unlike here, can’t really be free-range felines, which would make it suck to be them.

    So my neighbor said something funny, he uttered “you realize that your cats cost you about $20k a year per, in lost potential income?”

    Happy New Year to everybody!

    Reply
  10. Summer

    Re: “MAX Crashes Strengthen Resolve of Boeing to Automate Flight” WSJ

    So did they find those crashes were pilot errors? Did I miss something? Let me know.

    This article is subscription blocked, but, reading the first two paragraphs, I don’t think I’m missing anything resembling news.

    “Boeing Co. is increasingly committed to transferring more control of aircraft from pilots to computers after two crashes exposed flaws in an automated system on its 737 MAX that overpowered aviators in the disasters.
    Executives at Boeing and other makers of planes and cockpit-automation systems for some time have believed more sophisticated systems are necessary to serve as backstops for pilots, help them assimilate information and, in some cases, provide immediate responses to imminent hazards.”

    That’s all press release and corporate memo language. The purpose of this series of press releases and corporate memos appears to be to calm the nerves of people invested, financially and otherwise, in cockpit-automation systems.

    So somebody let me know if anywhere in the subscrip blocked article it is revealed that the crashes were pilot errors.

    Reply
    1. John k

      Auto pilot would have believed the sensor and rather than fight Mcas, would have driven the plane into the ground with pedal to the metal, thinking the problem was avoiding stall.
      Boeing is certifiable.

      Reply
      1. Synoia

        If Boeing believes in Autopilot then why is Boeing 10 years behind Airbus?

        If one wants an example of the current maturity of autopilots, then I point to Tesla as the state of the art.

        Reply
        1. Skip Intro

          Boeing may be taking a page from the Uber playbook; investors can be distracted from a doomed company by the shiny promise of autonomous vehicle research. I imagine airlines would also like to save labor costs even further on the pilots.

          Reply
  11. Rod

    A plateful of plastic Reuters

    We are such visual beings and I think ‘seeing’ the reality is so useful in conceptualizing the threat. The ten year Life Ring was poignant.

    Reply
  12. Alex morfesis

    Happy New Year to all, a wondrous and glorious 2020 and….welcome to the new roaring twenties….

    As to Taibbi…hopefully he will chime in on the insanity of “our man browder” of Magnitsky infamy, being in fact the grandson of “their man browder” who was the fulcrum of the cpusa and the touchpoint for so many Americans being labelled and libeled….

    Our man Bill is the grandson of their man Earl…and how Earl’s son also somehow was not labelled and got to exist in all type of interesting places despite the existance of and any connection with “Earl” was economically, emotionally and politically fatal to most other Americans

    Reply
    1. John k

      My suspicion is we’ll look back and think we had the roaring teens… bubbles already so big and debt so high it seems unlikely the equity boom can survive much longer, granted the fed will do what it can to keep it all going.

      Reply
  13. marieann

    re: The Decade in Pictures

    It was the Rana Plaza fire in 2013 that finally did it for me at clothing stores and sent me to the thrift stores. Even when I do have to buy new I wonder, as I handle the item, what the working conditions are like for the person who made this.

    Reply
    1. inode_buddha

      For me, it was economic reasons.

      I couldn’t afford new clothes 30 years ago, and in fact I still can’t. This is for working-class stuff — not fashion. Then I found out how they had shipped all those textile jobs overseas, pumped up their stock value, and continued to charge the same prices. I could not believe the gall of these guys. I was enraged and vowed to never again buy new articles from companies that had offshored.

      30 years later, I’m still keeping that vow.

      And not just with clothing, but with everything else, too.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        It’s a lifestyle. We rarely buy new, other than food and other consumables. Certain hardware items – but I can find some of those at the Habitat store, too.

        On the other hand, it takes a certain amount of time. I count it as recreation.

        Reply
      2. JBird4049

        And the quality of clothing keeps deteriorating. If you can, compare jeans from the 1970s to today’s jeans. It’s much thinner, wears out sooner, but still has the old price.

        Reply
  14. Wukchumni

    2019 Wasn’t Just About Trump. It Will Be Remembered for Global Resistance. TruthOut.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I’ve oft mentioned on here the Bizarro World parallels of the USSR & USA in our mutual downward spirals, and one interesting thing is there was revolution in the air in 1989 in quite a few places in the world, and yet no unrest in Soviet Russia aside from a few of the usual dissidents, the public knew that to protest could bring harm to them in a myriad of ways, whereas here the avenues of meaningful potential protest have been stymied to the point where frankly nobody cares to partake.

    Reply
  15. Katy

    MAX Crashes Strengthen Resolve of Boeing to Automate Flight WSJ

    Boeing plans to increase its reliance on automated systems to avoid pilot error. This comes in the wake of two crashes that were caused by reliance on faulty automation systems.

    The stupidity of that rationale boggles the mind.

    Reply
    1. ptb

      i.e. message to pilots:

      think twice if you have anything smart to say about company screw ups

      -or-

      out with it, you have nothing to lose

      Reply
    2. inode_buddha

      IMHO its not a question of being stupid — rather, its a question of arrogance. Being able to automate as much as possible is a huge win from a business POV, but not so much from any other POV.

      Reply
    3. JeffC

      Automating will make sense when computer programmers have more experience flying aircraft than professional pilots. Don’t hold your breath.

      I learned to program (code, in modernspeak) in the early ’70’s, learned to fly in the late ’70’s, took two years of control theory in my engineering studies, and actually spent some years working for a Big Bad Airplane Company. Put all that together and on balance I’d rather trust the pilot.

      Reply
      1. GramSci

        DC is training them. Drone pilots, whole phalanxes of ’em. Granted, there is a deficiency. In the immortal words of Tom Lehrer, they just send them up; they don’t care where they come down.

        Reply
  16. oliverks

    The Rise of the Architectural Cult I think overstates it case. For example,

    Recent results in biophilia, complexity, design patterns, fractals, and neuroscience establish a mathematically ordered conception of form.

    Is established by referring to Christopher Alexander. Alexander has some interesting things to say, and is a worthwhile read, but I wouldn’t call his approach scientifically rigorous in the sense of physics. His own experiments haven’t necessary gone to plan either.

    http://www.rainmagazine.com/archive/1994/alexander-visits-the-oregon-experiment

    It is interesting that modern architecture tends to be very bimodel. People either love it or hate it. My take is Curl hates it.

    Reply
    1. jsn

      What gets built is determined by those who hire architects and they tend to hire architects who’s work they like.

      Architects were wrapped up in Bernays propaganda industry to lend cultural prestige to labor saving industrial technologies that were applied to the built environment expressly to displace costly labor.

      To try to apply traditional aesthetics to the contemporary environment implies either a Disnified simulacrum or the end of capitalism. If the author is arguing for the latter, I’m all in, otherwise he’s tilting at windmills.

      “From The Bauhaus to Our House” covered the same premises with the same blind spot papered over with Wolf’s acid wit, I’ll pick a few paragraphs at random from this book and if at least one is funny, maybe I’ll read the book.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        I generally don’t like architectural styles like Bauhaus, but there are some other factors besides Bernaysian malice, greed, and stupidity. For example, the Bauhaus arose at least partly from both architects desire to avoid the Victorian/Edwardian excesses and more directly from the need to rebuild all the buildings, especially housing, that had been destroyed in the First World War. The Second World War turbocharged the later need.

        The main architectural styles, aside from those like Frank Lloyd Wright’s, were making a virtue of the need for rebuilding at least a century of building. Still atrocious, they still could have done better, and I wish that they would have used more of something like International Modern even if white bread has more style.

        Reply
        1. jsn

          Great comment, though I can’t say I follow the last line. Architecture rarely raises to the level of art because it’s so embedded in political economy: in any economy, what gets funded is all that gets built and in a capitalist economy funding is driven by profit or vanity.

          The politics of the interwar years were in a context where for the first 10 years everyone was appalled by what had just happened and had more or less idealistic intentions. This coincided with massive expansion of the industrial base across the west and modernization based on the reconfiguration of economic power that resulted from the war.

          In the second decade post war the capitalist elite were taking back control right as the wheels flew off laissez-faire: where the capitalists held on, fascism ensued which tried very hard to reassert what the authors of this book, apparently, and certainly the review favor, a simulacrum of traditional aesthetics administered from the top. Speer is known as Hitler’s architect, but he was really Hitler’s administrator. Heinrich Tessenow was Hitler’s favorite architect on stylistic grounds and the Reich wanted to push the Weimar “decadents” at the Bauhaus in this direction to build a more “traditional” future. But with re-industrialization and technical advance for the purposes of perfecting the Wehrmacht, the administrators of the German political economy had no intention of reverting to the earlier stages of pre-capitalist political economy that organically produced the aesthetic environments humans actually like.

          Michael Benedikt at the University of Texas published an essay 20 years ago in which he established through an assortment of Govt data sources that no more than a couple % of the built environment is even touched by an architect, most of what get built gets built as a purely capitalist proposition of ROI with no cost squandered on design. If you want a better human environment, someone has to think about it and 99% of the time, no one is.

          Reply
          1. jsn

            I meant to include that those earlier stages of pre-capitalist political economy that built environments humans actually like were also sustainable: muscle power built almost all of it, whether human or other beast and the best of it was built by people who were enjoying what they were doing.

            Reply
            1. JBird4049

              Thanks. On the last line, I was trying to say that most all of the postwar styles are disliked, but some are less awful than others. Like Bauhaus over Brutalism. The first is rather bland, but has some human feeling. Brutalist architecture has the same aesthetic as military bunkers and the architects who used that style seemed determined to beat the ugly into the inhabitants.

              The International style is that bland, simple style you often see in 1960s public buildings. Schools, airports, office buildings. Bauhaus without its humanity.

              Reply
              1. oliverks

                I myself am a huge fan of Brutalism, and other modern styles. I love concrete 8-)

                In fact many people like bits of modern architecture, but intensely dislike other bits. For example, I argue most people like the St Louis Arch, even though it is a modernist design.

                Oliver

                Reply
              2. jsn

                Style is hard for me to judge. This little Brutalist building is one of my favorite buildings in Florida.

                The one thing that all good Brutalist buildings have in common is that they are small, but this is one of the general distinctions between pre-industrial building and the metastatic industrial environment we now live with.

                Reply
  17. Summer

    RE: “FDA Failed to Police Opioids Makers, Thus Fueling Opioids Crisis” JLS

    “…Or, perhaps if enacting comprehensive reform is too overwhelming, especially with a divided government, as a starting point: can we agree to stop allowing self-interested industries to finance studies meant to assess the effectiveness of programs to regulate that very same industry? Please?
    This is a concern in so many areas, with such self-interested considerations shaping not only regulation, but distorting academic research (see Virginia Supreme Court Upholds Ruling that George Mason University Foundation Is Not Subject to State FOIA Statute, Leaving Koch Funding Details Undisclosed).
    What madness!”

    It’s the trickbox of a deathly ideology as well as madness. The fantasy of unlimited growth maintains that any regulation kills the “future.” The fantasy of “owning the future” is another deathly ideology.

    Reply
  18. chuck roast

    The Rise of the Architectural Cult

    Thanks for the tip on The Rise of the Architectural Cult. Looks like a must read for me.

    I’m reminded of the film The Cradle Will Rock. In the movie, Nelson Rockefeller (John Cusack) commissions Mexican artist Diego Rivera (Ruben Blades) to paint the lobby of Rockefeller Center. Famously, Rockeller confronts Rivera in front of the completed mural and goes-off on the Com-symp composition. Of course Rockefeller has the mural destroyed.

    In a far more telling scene, Rockefeller is sitting around drinking with his plutocrat buddies and recounting the episode to great hilarity. Rockefeller also tells everybody that he is investing heavily in “modern” art. One of his buds suggests that all the modern art that he has seen is just a bunch of meaningless claptrap. Rockefeller responds, “That’s precisely the point.”, and everybody has a big laugh.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniuKun

      Given that the article describes Roger Scruton as Britains greatest philosopher, I’d take much of what it says with a pinch of salt. He makes Jacob Rees-Mogg look like street trader.

      But the broader point is correct – so much modern architecture and modern art found favour precisely because it was unthreatening to powerful interests, and in the case of modern architecture gave them an aesthetic excuse for building cheap repetitive structures which ignored existing urban patterns.

      But its simplistic to blame just modern architecture for this. Classical architecture was of course also strongly associated with power over human scale, especially outside Europe. But an insistence on classical order did at least create a sort of equality in urban developments in the 18th Century as everyone, rich and poor alike had to live behind the same more or less orderly facades (in Paris, the poorer you were, the higher up you lived, in London and Dublin, the rich had the ground and first floors, the poor the basement and attic).

      The psychology of aesthetics is of course very interesting. Why, for example, are classical streetscapes so beautiful when equally rhythmic modernist ones are so boring? Why are chaotic Italian hill towns so gorgeous when chaotic Asian cities are not? The best theories I’ve read indicate that we need to see some variation in pattern, and pattern in variation to perceive beauty. Hence classical streets look beautiful because our brains at some level perceive the mathematical orderliness of the application of the ‘golden rule’ and the overall proportions, while modernist streetscapes simply have repetitive window patterns with no underlying rational except the commercial demand for particular floor to ceiling ratios. Italian towns or cities have an order imposed by the limitations of the type of stone they could find and the limits of local builders, resulting in a pattern that our brains can perceive, while modern buildings, with their random and chaotic choice of surface materials and proportions do not.

      Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        Do Asians share your opinion as to the relative charms of their cities compared to Italian hill towns? I know many who view the modern architecture springing up as wonderful and forward-looking, and the quaint, gorgeous (to us) buildings making way for it as a colonial relic, only worth preserving for the tourists. And many others, from the poorer end of society, who ask rhetorically, “What use are tall buildings to me?” They continue to live in shacks, unless they’re evicted or burned out, even while they work constructing the banks and condos soaring to the skies and the rows of identical shophouses, and when they’re finished, they can’t enter them. And they call it development.

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          Thats a pretty complex question. I think the number of Asian tourists to France and Italy etc., speaks for itself in terms of appreciating the aesthetic qualities of older cities – the joy in that seems a universal trait, its not culturally determined.

          But the flip side – the ugliness (I don’t mind using that term, so far as I’m concerned, its an objective fact) of most modern asian cities, from Tokyo to Beijing to Delhi to Bangkok), is something that locals have mixed feelings about. There is little doubt that perceptions are different – I was recently in Onamichi, a city familiar to any fan of the film maker Yasujiro Ozu (much of Tokyo Story was filmed there), who famously lingered his camera on things like chaotic wirescapes and post-war Japanese housing – and it has a typical Japanese mix of the sublime with the staggeringly ugly. There is little doubt to me after visiting it that there is a distinctly different Japanese aesthetic in urbanism – but its not to say that many Japanese don’t despair at the poor visual quality of their cities. Although interestingly a Japanese man told me how horrible he found Korean cities, because the high rises blocked the views of the beautiful mountains.

          Its actually interesting to look at post war Japanese films, and how many Japanese deeply welcomed what as outsiders we’d see as pretty cheap and mundane ‘modern’ housing as a huge improvement on ‘cold and dank’ old style Japanese houses, of the type adored by expats in Japan and increasingly loved by the Japanese themselves. The Koreans are likewise somewhat belatedly coming to appreciate their own historical legacy, even if it sometimes involves demolishing old city quarters in order to make ‘improved’ historical city quarters (i.e. houses that look old, but with modern amenities). The Chinese are still determinedly demolishing everything they can, but certainly the older generation miss their traditional houses, but younger Chinese in my experience very much fetishise anything that appears modern and clean. I find SE Asia quite depressing in some ways because you always come across these lovely little reminders down back alleys of what the cities of Thailand and Vietnam could be (human scaled, traditional materials, gardens and street front shops), while turning the corner to find monster malls and skyscrapers march across the landscape.

          I’m quite familiar with this as in Ireland there was a huge resentment against what was perceived as ‘belted earls’ (to use a phrase used by a politician) telling people they should appreciate their lovely old cottages and georgian terraces, and not demolish them for pebble dashed semi-detached suburbs and fake rural haciendas. But the people spoke, and crappy suburbs and rural houses with fibreglass ionic pillars won out. It seems an inevitable part of the process of moving from poverty to some sort of development – its the later generation who decide that aesthetics involves more than central heating and aluminium sliding doors.

          Reply
          1. xkeyscored

            Thank you for such an extended and illuminating reply. I know many among the current teenage generation who fetishise ‘modernity’, tallness for the sake of it, etc. Also a small but growing number interested in livable cities, not dominated by the needs of automobiles and the wishes of the real estate sector, and not necessarily centred around plastic, glass and steel in rectangular blocks.

            Reply
          2. jsn

            What you are describing between beautiful and ugly is, in my opinion, a simple expression of the human purposes expressed in the building/city object your are judging either beautiful or ugly.

            When people build things for purposes they believe in or live with, they build beautiful things. When they build for profit, they build whatever the decision matrix of the local market structure establishes yields maximal money returns: aesthetics and real world purposes become externalities that occasionally benefit but are generally damaged by profit maximization.

            The confusion between material human interests and lived human interests, with the former being measurable while the latter is only experienced, has caused all market societies, to the extent their real property is integrated into the market, to destroy lived experience as an unquantifiable market externality.

            It was only with the advent of a large market of super rich that developers started to build livable buildings at stratospheric prices in New York: there was finally a class of purchaser in the market who would pay a hefty premium for lived experience, the simple reality of not living in a *7$# hole.

            Reply
      2. witters

        Britain’s greatest recent philosopher is dead: Bernard Williams (1929-2003). Still, Scruton is a good philosopher, and a very interesting writer on aesthetics. He is also, in fact, a remarkably pleasant person.

        Reply
      3. The Rev Kev

        ‘in Paris, the poorer you were, the higher up you lived’

        Nothing changed much after two thousand years. In ancient Rome. it was exactly the same with the rich living on the ground floors and the poorer you were the higher the floor you lived on.

        Reply
    2. Watt4Bob

      One of his buds suggests that all the modern art that he has seen is just a bunch of meaningless claptrap.

      I recently read somewhere that the CIA was involved in encouraging the popularity of Abstract Expressionism because it lacked any obvious content subversive of America’s post-war political trajectory.

      That was a disappointing read.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        The CIA made a great effort to dehumanize the arts and shaping what was written by the cognoscenti and influential reformers during the Cold War. It often was just straight up bribery or offering a stipend for not writing about something (Perhaps like the Bernie Blackout) or to emphasize certain changes like what changed and perhaps destroyed the Women’s Movement; splitting the working class women with their demands for economic reforms as well as civil rights. That feminist icon, Gloria Steinem, was given money by the CIA so that she would dominate and emphasize an upper class feminism that had no concerns with the economic needs of the lower class women (and their men as well).

        The more radical people who wanted changes to the whole political economy, or even just emphasized the whole public, either were starved of funding, or if they were poor or minorities, beatings and murder by the local police.

        Reply
    3. Karla

      “That’s precisely the point.”
      The hideous crap is bought cheap, held for a few years, then donated at it’s ‘full market value,’ puffed up by deconstructionist intellectual turds and artcriticwhores, as a tax writeoff to a museum for the purpose of lowering income taxes on extractive and rentier rakeoffs.

      The owners of the Gap have stuffed museums and public places all over the San Francisco Bay Area which such tax deductible and profitable claptrap.

      What are the standards of classical and biophilic architecture that he refers to?
      The Definitive Book:

      A Pattern Language, by Christopher Alexander and others.
      Check your library, or read online.

      https://archive.org/details/patternlanguage00chri

      https://openlibrary.org/works/OL3923600W/A_pattern_language

      Reply
    4. susan the other

      makes sense to me that electronics has made even skyscrapers obsolete… it’s sorta anticlimactic to really only need a place to plug in… how will we all act out our looney dreams?

      Reply
  19. Summer

    “Trump threatens Iran after embassy attack, but remains reluctant to get more involved in region” WaPo

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/trump-troops-iraq-middle-east_n_5e0cb868e4b0843d360d3ab0/
    “Charging that Iran was “fully responsible” for an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, President Donald Trump ordered about 750 U.S. soldiers deployed to the Middle East as about 3,000 more prepared for possible deployment in the next several days.”

    So which is it?
    At any rate, that monstrosity erected during Bush II is finally serving its purpose. Surprised it took this long for an attack to happen of a magnitude that moves them closer to wider war in the region.

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      ‘Deep-state’/Permanent Government/MIC has Trump right where they want him. He’s digging in deeper.

      Also, that’s an interesting use of the word, ‘reluctant’. Since, you know, he doesn’t seem to be reluctant. He could have ordered the messiest possible, fall of Saigon style evacuation and blamed the whole thing on all his predecessors. He absolutely could have pulled off this kind of move. But he didn’t and he won’t because that would take courage.

      Reply
      1. GramSci

        They’ve got him by the family jewels. Seriously sic the FBI on any real estate billionaire, and he’s looking at stiff time up the river if he doesn’t do as he’s told.

        Reply
    1. Pym of Nantucket

      It is fun to volunteer as a reader too. You can really become a perfectionist doing it (and when you do, the time commitment mushrooms).

      Reply
  20. John C.

    Well someone has to say SOMETHING about the herpes-infested monkeys at that central FL park — and it is this: GAAHH! Gross. I’ll note that park is pretty close to “The Villages,” home to seemingly half of FL’s golf-cart-transported retirees. Could decimate the whole FL economic model….

    Reply
    1. Tomonthebeach

      Our history in Florida is to wait until the infestation of foreign critters becomes impossible to manage before we try to do something to put the animal toothpaste back into the tube – usually by slaughter. South American Frogs the size of dogs, Burmese pythons so large that they consume whole deer, iguanas that eat kittens, feral hogs from Georgia, and giant Tegu lizards that are just scary are some of the invasive species taking over. Now even alligators are prey for pythons. Of course, homo sapiens is still the largest and most devastating invasive species.

      Doubtless, monkey infestations will not result in slaughter until they start eating into Disney and Universal tourism. In Florida, we adhere to the Disney Mandalorian code: That is the Way. :-)

      Reply
      1. inode_buddha

        Florida could become Jurrassic Park in real life. Move everybody out of there, put a real big fence at the state line, and charge admission.

        Reply
      2. Wukchumni

        Wrapped around her torso
        Cold blooded squeeze play in slo-mo
        A furtive hand wave
        The only signal she gave

        Burma Slave

        Reply
    2. richard

      Look, you’ve been under so much pressure lately
      what with the permafrost melting
      and the military coups
      and a managerial class gone hysterically insane
      So i thought i’d give you a few days before i broke the news about the herpes monkeys.

      Reply
  21. DJG

    Not sure that Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the first thing on my mind this New Year’s Day, but the article from the Grayzone by Samuel Finkelstein contains some great summing-up later down:

    Perhaps the most reasonable conclusion is that they see Buttigieg as an empty vessel. Opportunistic and unmoored by ideology or political goals beyond his advancing his career, Buttigieg is the ideal candidate for those who seek to maintain existing hierarchies. Indeed, his national security endorsement list is filled with people who keep America’s imperial machine humming along smoothly.

    What amazes is that Buttigieg as a presidential candidate would be devoured by the Republicans. Do these courtiers who keep the imperial machine running think that they can place their candidate on the throne of Byzantium? And we allow such people near sharp objects?

    Reply
    1. polecat

      When it was decided that it just didn’t matter as to whether the Post needed to earn a profit ! Jeffery’s propaganda sheet will prevail, regardless of ‘loss’… at least until those Deplorable Virginians finally, and will great cause, storm the Bastille on the Potomic !

      Reply
  22. flora

    New Year’s musings on ‘how we got here’. Probably too long and will end up in moderation, but here goes.

    So many economic changes happened at nearly the same time in the early 1970’s. It’s hard to believe it was all coincidence. But it’s possible. Putting on my new year’s foil bonnet….

    How is it that the entire New Deal legislation from 1933 to 1965 (if you count Medicare’s enactment) was suddenly and effectively attacked by the right, financial, and big business interests in the 1970’s?
    (pulls foil bonnet down tighter) It’s almost like managers of Capital got together and decided the success of passing New Deal legislation depended on the economic shock of the Great Depression to discredit the old laissez-faire economic system. Therefore, the way to pass legislation dismantling the New Deal and revert to the old laissez-faire was to create a new, serious financial shock. A new shock would discredit Keynesian economics and leave voters and politicians open to ‘new’ economic ideas. What sort of financial shock would be most effective; where and on who should it land hardest to discredit Keynesian economics and New Deal regulations and programs?

    What better way to induce an economic shock in the economy – where large purchases and businesses were run on credit – than by engineering large, fluctuating, and unsustainable interest rates? This would land on manufacturing and the working and middle classes the hardest. People would demand ‘something must be done!’

    (pulls foil bonnet on even tighter.)
    August, 1971, Nixon ended the Bretton Woods agreement. This was known as ‘the Nixon shock’.
    https://history.state.gov/milestones/1969-1976/nixon-shock

    August, 1971, Lewis Powell wrote a memorandum – now known as the Powell memo – to the chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. :

    “This document, known as the “Powell Memo,” was written by Lewis F. Powell, Jr. (a nationally recognized law and business leader who would go on to serve as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court from December 9, 1971, to June 26, 1967), on August 23, 1971, to Eugene B. Snyder, Jr., then serving as chairperson of the United States Chamber of Commerce’s Education Committee. In it, Powell provides his thoughts (requested by the committee) on how the American capitalist system should defend itself from a perceived leftist attack. This memorandum marks the beginning of what some refer to as the “Corporate Proxy Movement” in the late 20th century, during which corporations have pushed elected officials to support legislation favorable to corporate interests.”
    https://studenthandouts.com/texts/historical-documents/powell-memorandum.html

    In October, 1973, oil prices skyrocketed.
    https://www.thebalance.com/opec-oil-embargo-causes-and-effects-of-the-crisis-3305806
    The oil price rise aggravated but did not cause the stagflation of the 70’s. That was caused by govt. policies.

    “The oil embargo is widely blamed for causing the 1973-1975 recession. But U.S. government policies really caused the recession and the stagflation that accompanied it. They included Nixon’s wage-price controls and the Federal Reserve’s stop-go monetary policy. Wage-price controls forced companies to keep wages high, which meant businesses laid off workers to reduce costs. At the same time, they couldn’t lower prices to stimulate demand. It had fallen when people lost their jobs.
    To make matters worse, the Fed raised and lowered interest rates so many times that businesses were unable to plan for the future. As a result, companies kept prices high which worsened inflation.”

    1976, Carter is elected president. (Steven Hess wrote an assessment of Carter in 1978, calling him America’s first “process president”.)
    https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/jimmy-carter-why-he-failed/

    1978, portion of text from Carter’s State of the Union address to Congress
    “[g]overnment cannot solve our problems…it cannot eliminate poverty, or provide a bountiful economy, or reduce inflation, or save our cities, or cure illiteracy, or provide energy.”

    1979, Carter names Paul Volcker as his new Fed chairman.

    Volcker sets about crushing labor, small business and manufacturing, and lowering the living standards of the US working class and middle class, by the use of high interest rates to “cure” inflation.

    “Volcker, by contrast, was convinced that workers’ living standards were artificially high, and that the necessary correction could be achieved only by psychologically breaking organized labor’s commitment to pursuing higher wages. Consequently, he triggered what would later be described as the “Volcker Shock”: a double-dip recession that gutted American farming and manufacturing, exacerbated financial crises in Latin America and other parts of the Global South, and contributed significantly to Carter’s 1980 election loss to Ronald Reagan. During this period, the Fed permitted the unemployment rate to skyrocket, violating the dual mandate that had been recently established under the Humphrey Hawkins Act to pursue stable prices and maximum employment.”
    https://www.thenation.com/article/volcker-inflation-economy/

    1980, Reagan is elected.

    If the U.S Chamber of Commerce and all opponents of the New Deal worked in concert (not saying they did) and came up with a plan to discredit New Deal economics, what better plan could there have been than creating an economic shock to the system by destabilizing interest rates, thereby discrediting Keynesian economics? imo.

    (These half-baked musings are probably a result of too little sleep last night.)

    Happy New Year to everyone here!

    Reply
    1. rd

      I think you give them far too much credit in understanding the system and how to control it. I think most of the 1970s was just sheer incompetence and hubris, similar to the late 90s and early 2000s that led up to the financial crisis. They thought they were doing one thing based on Milton Friedman’s and others’ burblings, but got something else entirely.

      I think the primary big government conspiracy thing was the Iraq invasion in 2003 where a small group wanted to do it and made sure that it happened. But once again, they were incompetent at doing anything but getting war and they got a completely different outcome than they imagined.

      Reply
    2. flora

      re: Another Year of Living Dangerously.
      The ‘dangerous’ part is already manifesting itself in rising political discord and open protests by citizens.

      When laissez-faire economics failed during and after the ’29 stock market crash, bringing on the Great Depression, it was clear the policies that got us into the depression weren’t going to get us out. That opened a willingness by a new administration and the public to try something else – Keynesian economics was that something else.

      When Keynesian economics failed to (or wasn’t allowed to, depending on your point of view) recover the 70’s economy that was being whip-sawed by prices and interest rates, people were open to letting a new administration in ’80 try something else – neoclassical economics was that something else.

      When neoclassical economics failed to recover the real economy being destroyed by financialization , people were open and willing to try something else. What they got was a new administration pushing more neoclassical economics and neoliberal politics, instead. (Imagine FDR bringing back Andrew Mellon, letting him guide the recovery of the 30’s.)

      my 2 cents.

      Reply
    3. Watt4Bob

      They didn’t wait until the sixties to start dismantling the New Deal, in fact they didn’t even wait for FDR to reach room temperature.

      The conservative democratic leadership nixed FDR’s Vice President, Henry Wallace’s re-nomination in 1944, and nominated Truman for Vice President instead.

      Wallace was an FDR style progressive, Truman not so much.

      Then they passed the National Security Act of 1947.

      It established the NSC and the CIA for starters, and sort of codified our commitment to the Cold War, and by extension the MIC. (or visa-versa?)

      Reply
      1. Synoia

        The oil price rise aggravated but did not cause the stagflation of the 70’s. That was caused by govt. policies.

        Oh, so the tripling of energy costs, and ending Vietnam War spending had no leading inflationary and employment effects respectively?

        Reply
        1. flora

          Lifting wage and price controls could have given the economy and businesses more room to adjust than they had. Oil price spikes were important. A shock to the system, in concert with the Nixon shock and later the Volcker shock. Those were policy response problems that made things worse than they needed to be, imo. Just as austerity is a policy response that’s made the great financial crisis of 2008 worse and more prolonged than it’s needed to be. imo.

          Reply
      2. flora

        Yes. The old Dem economic conservatives never went away. Carter was their first win after the New Deal years.

        https://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/21/the-missing-link-to-the-democratic-partys-pivot-to-wall-street/

        “Carter, similar to President Obama, entered the national political scene as a candidate who presented himself in studiously vague terms. Ideologically, he was difficult to pinpoint. Rather than concrete political program and measures, the crux of what Carter offered was himself alone. Kaufman observes, “Wherever he travelled, Carter remained intentionally vague on the issues.” (Kaufman 12) Instead of concrete programatic proposals, Carter ran on values, seeking to opportunistically capitalize on the distrust of Washington garnered by the corrupt Nixon years. (Kaufman ibid.) ”

        Maybe I’ll sort the current crop of Dem prez candidates according to who remains intentionally fuzzy and who is detailed and direct about program initiatives.

        Reply
        1. pretzelattack

          oh i think kennedy was right there with decreasing tax rates. lbj was an anomaly domestically, but i’ve read he undercut some of his own programs, starting with the war on poverty. carter was not neoliberal with respect to pushing cutting back on energy consumption, pushing back against the war on communism, and certainly not the warmonger jfk and lbj were. i agree with the earlier poster that said the rightward drift of the democrats started with kneecapping henry wallace.

          Reply
    4. richard

      Flora that was very interesting. It’s funny, so much of my historical understanding of Carter is influenced by a few books I’ve read by Walter Karp, and on seeing him as the last of something: namely the last democratic candidate nominated before superdelegates stepped into the picture. Karp’s books make clear how it was daggers drawn against carter by the dem leadership from day 1. On matters like SALT II (the wartoad scoop jackson lead the charge here), universal voter registration, the Consumer Protection Agency bill, and especially Carter’s National Energy plan, Carter was defeated mostly from within his own party, and I always saw that betrayal as sort of laying the grounds for the conservative reconquest of the late 70s and beyond.
      Anyway, thanks for opening my eyes a little more about Carter being at the beginning of what was coming. I lived through his admin. in junior high, and had forgotten ideas like that state of the union address you quoted. It’s clear we can also see him as our first neo-liberal president.

      Reply
      1. pretzelattack

        a one term president that the party functionaries were intent on sabotaging from the first did not hijack the party and take it somewhere it wasn’t already going, imo. i liked the idea of consuming less energy, and solar panels on the white house, and the idea that there was an inordinate fear of communism driving our foreign policy. the democratic party ensured there were no more carters and mcgoverns after 1980; i think the reagan campaign (hard to say what reagan was actually aware of) committed treason with the october surprise, and biden helped cover that up, years later, when it was finally investigated–robert parry did a lot of excellent work there.

        Reply
        1. John A

          Plus Carter was too straightlaced to become malleable blackmail material in the manner of Clinton and Epstein.

          Reply
    5. VietnamVet

      Since I lived through it, I also keep coming back to the 1970’s. This is when the world changed. The USA went off the gold standard. The era of cheap energy ended. Offshoring concentrated wealth. The little people didn’t matter anymore. The imperial aristocracy reborn. All the Western leftist political parties were bought out. Only profits matter.

      Now, the modern Western Empire (the name that shall not be mentioned) is dying. Of anybody, you’d think that Matt Taibbi and Matt Stoller, would get it. But the USA and Iran are in a Mexican Standoff. Either they kill each other, or one backs down. Iran has place, history, Shiite religion and pride. It can’t.

      Unlike Vietnam, the USA will not survive the withdrawal from the Middle East and loss of Empire. The only possible way for Americans to stay alive is a rebirth of democracy, reduced energy usage, and restoring the Constitution. Plus, jailing the CEOs of Purdue Pharma, Boeing, PG&E, Juul Labs and Wells Fargo is needed.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        The country really does not need an empire, a massive, bloated military, nor this insane neoliberal meritocracy.

        The United States was fine not being at war with the planet before 2001 and mostly had, by European standards, no serious, permanent army before 1947 and the Cold War and Korea. Aside from the pernicious, unending meddling with everyone south of the Rio Grande after the annexation of Texas in 1845 as well as the Caribbean, the country generally followed President Washington’s warnings on foreign entanglements. Although colonies of the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, and the Kingdom of Hawaii might disagree.

        Having a government where the ⅓ which is the Congress refuses to govern, the ⅓ which is the Executive becoming autocratic by both desire and necessity, and the ⅓ that is the Judiciary pretends that the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, does means what is right there in black and white. And this description can also be used on most of the fifty states as well as everyone uses a three branch system of government. Heck, drill down into the the municipalities meaning everything below the state level of government, you can often find the same dysfunction.

        Don’t govern, pass the responsibility to someone, anyone, else to reduce exposure, learn nothing about your job, but keep getting those paychecks and bribes donations. So the government(s) ossifies.

        Reply
    6. Oregoncharles

      “where large purchases and businesses were run on credit ”
      I still find it shocking, and a sign of massive mismanagement, that this is true. New businesses, expansions, and maybe the occasional situation where expenses come will before income – those make sense. But for a successful business to run on credit – well, it’s a lot like depending on a “platform.”

      Reply
  23. lincoln

    “How Ratings Agencies Inflate Credit Ratings to Get Deals & Fees”

    I distinctly remember a Bloomberg article, which I currently cannot find, that described the ratings process for mortgage CDO’s just before the great financial crisis. What it said was that CDO issuers paid lots of money to rating agencies, for a temporarily license of their CDO modeling tool, which determined what Credit Enhancement and CDO Tranche Structure was required by a pool of mortgage bonds in order to achieve a specific CDO Credit Rating. It specifically mentioned S&P’s CDO modeling tool.

    This meant that CDO issuers could manually manipulate these models, by trial and error, until their pool of mortgage bonds achieved a desired Credit Rating within the structure of a CDO. After, there was a committee review by the rating agency to validate the models results.

    Unfortunately it appears that S&P’s CDO evaluator is part of their current Collateralized Loan Obligation ratings process. And it offers the same ratings manipulations that CDO managers once used. So this is part of how commercial real estate Collateralized Loan Obligations are being rated. What could possibly go wrong?

    Reply
  24. JohnnyGL

    https://twitter.com/BenSpielberg/status/1212435189865078785

    Stopping this kind of thing, right here, is the explanation for the Bernie Blackout. It’s a very different approach to that taken against Corbyn in the UK.

    In the UK, they smeared Corbyn, but it didn’t really work in 2017, Corbyn had to kick the ball into his own net on Brexit for the smears to start landing.

    Here, the goal is different, it’s to make Bernie seem ‘unelectable’ to a democratic voter base that’s rabidly, intently focused on beating Trump no matter the cost.

    Reply
    1. Karla

      I believe it has a lot to do with timing.

      If enough people first hear about Bernie, like his policies and then vote a few days later, he gets nominated.

      If they introduce him ahead of time and have time to smear him, not so good.
      The complicating factor is the different dates when the state primaries occur and the dates when mail in ballots arrive in voter’s homes.
      This negates the ability of national media to smear him all at the same time. Thus, the DNC will use locally planted stories, articles and opinion pieces to do so.

      In California, the blackout continues. I expect the L.A. Times and San Francisco Chronicle to open up the “enough time to cast doubts on him” stories around mid February, ahead of the March 3rd California primary.

      Part of educating your fellow citizens about Bernie’s policies is a warning for them to be alert to negative media coverage. This arms them with sufficient notice to doubt the doubters and to forewarn others.

      Decline to state mail in ballot voters in California, you need to change your status pronto, or you will not be able to vote in the Democratic Primary via mail.

      BERNIE, HINDSIGHT IS 2020

      Reply
      1. Carey

        I gave away a couple of Sanders stickers today to the fifteen-year-old kid whose parents own the corner store. He is very sharp, knew all about “Bernie”, was stoked to get the stickers, and seemed genuinely interested when we talked a little about Thomas Frank’s two most recent books.

        A good sign, to me.

        Reply
      2. Jeff W

        Decline to state mail in ballot voters in California, you need to change your status pronto, or you will not be able to vote in the Democratic Primary via mail.

        That is, in a word, false and gives the wrong impression that No Party Preference voters who can vote by mail in the Democratic primary won’t be able to.

        According to the Sacramento Bee, which gives a bit more detail than the actual California Secretary of State site:

        You may have received a postcard asking if you would like to receive a ballot in the mail for the Democratic, Libertarian or American Independent presidential primaries. This postcard probably included a deadline to mail it back. If you miss that deadline, you still have time to call, email, fax, or send a letter to your county elections office requesting your preferred mail-in ballot. Your elections office needs to receive the communication by Feb. 25. After that, you must visit the county elections office or a voting center in person to request your preferred ballot.

        So, as a No Party Preference mail-in voter, you have until 25 February to request your preferred mail-in crossover ballot from your county elections office. (It’s better not to wait until the last possible moment, probably.) And you can exchange your NPP ballot for a crossover ballot in person till and on election day (3 March).

        Reply
      3. Grant

        “This negates the ability of national media to smear him all at the same time.”

        I think people overstate the power of the media here in the US. If this was 1998 or something, I think the media would have the capacity to really shape who wins. I don’t think that is true in 2019. I think they have an impact on older voters, and older voters are a large chunk of those being polled. But, if the media in the US had the power that it used to, Trump wouldn’t be president, Bernie wouldn’t have done what he did last and this time and the left’s policies wouldn’t be as popular as they are, even with the left barely existing now nationally and only recently emerging. The biggest obstacle for Bernie is the party he has to run in. I don’t trust them on any level and they are the ones counting the votes. They argued in court that they could just pick a nominee in a smoke filled back room and they won.

        Reply
    2. Biph

      In the UK they couldn’t ignore Corbyn since he was the leader of the Labour Party. If Bernie wins Iowa and New Hampshire like I expect he will the media won’t be able to ignore Bernie. If they keep pushing the “he’s unelectable” line it may actually benefit Bernie some, at least in those States that have open primaries, pushing some Repubs to vote for him with the idea he’d be the easiest Dem to beat. Of course the Dems in 1980 and 2016 got the guy they wanted to run against and that didn’t work out to well for them.

      Reply
  25. richard

    Hi everyone. Happy New Year, and welcome to the ovally symmetry of 2020! I thought I would offer you something I’ve been thinking about for a couple of days. A review of my year binging Chapo Trap House. Starting last March, I’ve listened so far to a few hundred hours of chapo material. I decided to take stock. I call it:
    Old Guy Wanders Into Chapo For Nine Months And No One Notices

    Here’s what draws me to it:
    It’s like being in a club. There’s a canon, shared history, villains but mostly fools that you “share” in common.
    There is no f$%#ing pretense to niceness at all. Niceness is not just overrated, but a literal dead end at chapo.
    There is no navel gazing or introspection, just attack attack and have uproarious laughing fun while doing it.
    Also, chapo are mostly right about everything. They can bring a dialectic understanding to matters (christman excels here). And they’re usually, eventually, pretty damn funny. Their readings, their podcasts devoted to movies, and especially their Call of Cthulhu gaming shows are especially terrific, very high quality material.
    What pulls me away from it:
    I’m really not in that club. I’m too old and chapo lives within an imagined and real generational battle. Amidst their other battles. With that and my (minor) pmc occupation (a schoolteacher), I am at best a traitor to my own side, and at worst a cuck who doesn’t really get it. The whole cuck thing with chapo, the dom/sub narrative the runs through their podcasts, doesn’t appeal to me and probably isn’t meant to. Perhaps unrelated to that, the power that Chapo are clearly exulting in lately (money, travel, influence) is also a turnoff to me. I get the appeal, and glob knows it’s better to be confident than not confident almost all of the time.
    Their humor is often brilliant, but also it can fall into vulgar bragging and opaque, inside joke 5 minute rabbit holes. Fast forward is power to the people baby.
    My final review: Five Bags of Popcorn and One of Those Little Plastic Trophies you get for participation.
    and once again, thanks to Jerri-Lynn and anyone else who is minding comments during the holiday!

    Reply
  26. rd

    Re: Sanders wants clean drinking water standards

    There are drinking water, groundwater, and surface water standards for many compounds. These standards are enforceable at the federal and state level. The problem is that the standards have to be compound specific. Ideally they are based on actual data related to toxicology and fate and transport.

    The big problem is that the deregulation movement along with cutting non-military discretionary government spending has largely gutted the research into setting the standards to give the solid basis for then defining the standards in the Federal Register so they become enforceable.

    The actual science and engineering for preventing releases is well known for pretty much all potential contaminants. Its a matter of the measures being implemented prior to release during the the manufacturing process. Things like PFAS and PFOAs are very problematic from that standpoint because they are used in products that were literally sprayed around on the ground, such as fire fighting foams. So compounds that get used in those types of applications, as well as agricultural pesticides and fertilizers, are very difficult to regulate because they are widely used and applied directly to the environment. It takes a lot of willpower to regulate things that are widely used in the open by large constituencies. But we were able to replace and ban the refrigerants that caused ozone layer issues, so it is doable.

    Reply
  27. rd

    RE: FDA failed to regulated opiod manufacturers

    The piece states: “This is yet another example of a familiar theme: inadequate regulation kills people”

    As somebody who who works with lots of US regulations, we generally don’t have a lack of regulation (the Federal Register and state regulation stack is massive). We have a lack of enforcement and too many exemptions.

    We would be better off with clearer, simpler regulations that are then enforced instead of the current massive complex regulatory system that does not have the manpower, budget, or will to enforce the regulations.

    I have worked with regulations in other countries that are just a handful of pages whereas the US equivalent is the size of a textbook with lots of prescriptive requirements but then backs away from them with numerous exceptions, special cases, and exemptions. In general, the US regulatory system is fully captured by corporate lobbyists. Instead of protecting the public, the regulations are structured to provide fences for monopolies and oligopolies to keep competition out. They often require complex expensive paperwork and systems but end up not having many teeth.

    Reply
    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      To me, poor enforcement is a key part of what constitutes “inadequate regulation”. Thanks for unpacking this a bit and prodding me to make that clear.

      Reply
  28. The Rev Kev

    “Tulsi Gabbard: Impeachment “increased the likelihood that Donald Trump will remain the president””

    ’In addition to her handling of impeachment, Gabbard has also been criticized for having a seemingly cozy relationship with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and for taking positions, which have been characterized as pro-Russia.’

    Even when Gabbard is telling the truth and giving an unbiased assessment of the situation, mobs like Salon cannot resist the what-about-Assad-will-you-apologize accusation? Lets try this on for size.

    Roosevelt met with Joseph Stalin. Harry Truman met Stalin. Dwight D. Eisenhower met Nikita Khrushchev. John F. Kennedy met Khrushchev. Lyndon B. Johnson met Alexei Kosygin. Richard Nixon met Leonid Brezhnev. Gerald Ford met with Brezhnev too. Jimmy Carter met Brezhnev. Ronald Reagan met Mikhail Gorbachev. George Bush met Gorbachev. Bill Clinton met with Boris Yeltsin. George W. Bush met Vladimir Putin. Barack Obama met Dmitry Medvedev. Obama met Putin and not long ago Donald Trump met Putin.

    So, going by Salon’s logic, all these American Presidents since the 1940s had cozy relationships with the Russians which automatically made them pro-Russian. Idjuts!

    And here is a video of Gabbard saying that if you disrespect Trump voters, that will ensure a Democrat loss-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZ3M4M8jE_o

    Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          Once, Syria were our friends. Back in the early days of the Forever Wars when the CIA had prisoners that they wanted tortured for information, they would send them to places like Syria to be tortured there but with an American in the background asking the questions of the prisoners. Plausible deniability as it was in another legal jurisdiction.

          Reply
          1. xkeyscored

            I don’t think friends is the right word. Syria remained on the not-so-secret list of regimes to be toppled. Maybe they were led to believe a bit of torture for The Empire would stave off the day, but like Gorbachev, they didn’t get it in writing.

            Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              Maybe they did – but it was CIA ink. After a few months the words appear ‘This paper will self-destruct in five seconds’ and then proceeds to do so.

              Reply
    1. pretzelattack

      i’d like to see a sanders gabbard ticket. they’re saying things that need to be said, and that nobody else is saying.

      Reply
  29. WestcoastDeplorable

    Tribe is confused; this impeachment began the day of Pres Trump’s inauguration and was part of the coup promulgated by the dems in general and Hillary Clinton more specifically. Of course Biden and son should be questioned for they’re the persons guilty of the crime Pres Trump is being impeached for. Quid Pro Quo to the 10th power.
    Actually the only “crime” Pres Trump is guilty of is beating the crap out of Hitlery in the general election. She didn’t win, so the rest of the country has to pay. Makes one shudder to think of the mess we would be in had she prevailed.

    Reply
    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      “Tribe is confused” — that’s putting it charitably. He and co-author Joshua Matz published a book in 2018 on…wait for it, impeachment. Having once laboured as a research assistant in the salt mine of what is Tribe, Inc., I know first-hand how the sausage of a Tribe book is made.

      I agree that of course the Bidens should be questioned about the very same offence the House Dems are attempting to remove Trump for. I despair when I consider the damage to the Constitution those suffering from TDS are willing to inflict, all in the interests of removing The Donald from the office to which he was duly elected – sad as that 2016 outcome may seem.

      They still cannot admit that Hillary lost the 2016 election, according to the well-known and well-settled rules of the electoral game. Perhaps if the Dems had fielded another candidate – or HRC had run a better campaign – we would have never seen a President Trump. But that’s all counterfactual history at this point, of interest only to those who dabble with such things.

      If you want a proxy for the TDS view on anyTrump impeachment issue, Tribe’s twitter feed is as good a source as any.

      Reply
  30. Wukchumni

    2020 Predilections:

    Jibbering, jabbering, and a propensity towards tribal sacrifices @ the highest levels of governance. leading to inevitable letdown.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      I showed this to my wife. She’s from Eastern Washington, and has several times come back with tumbleweeds strapped to the top of the car (they don’t fit inside). They’re fascinating examples of plant architecture. One at a time, anyway.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        Those damned RUSSIAN thistles, at it again …

        Say! Did anyone happen to see a plague of large threatening frogs in the vicinity … or even large malevolent boulders playin billiards ??

        Reply
  31. JBird4049

    St. Charles County Police Pressured Suspects In Private Tow Lot To Hand Over $10,000 In Cash St .Louis Public Radio

    FYI, many Americans are unbanked either because they do not live near one or because the banks refuse to give them an account, which means cash, but carrying cash is a suspicious activity. Even if you do have an account, there are still times when cash is preferable, even necessary.

    The police must know this, but it is the poor, or at best very small time businesses, that can’t defend themselves that they steal from.

    Reply

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