Links 1/11/2020

Man working from home forced to hot desk with cat Daily Mash

Of ants and men: Ant behavior might mirror political polarization PhysOrg (Ian P)

Aeolus: Weather forecasts start using space laser data BBC (David L)

Australia Burning

Australia’s fires have pumped out more emissions than 100 nations combined MIT Technology Review

An ‘absolutely seminal moment’: climate change opinion shifting in face of fires Sydney Morning Herald. Kevin W: “You only needed half the country to burn down to get people to think about changing their minds.”

‘At Davos we will tell world leaders to abandon the fossil fuel economy’ World Economic Forum (David L)

Fitbit and Garmin Are Under Federal Investigation For Alleged Patent Violations Reuters

What Went Wrong With Virtual Reality? BBC

The FDA Announces Two More Antacid Recalls Due to Cancer Risk Wired

Some Aspects of Memory Get Better As We Age New York Times. Also a lot of what looks like memory loss in old people is poor hearing. Hearing aids, even really good ones, have limitations, and many old people are reluctant to keep asking for things they didn’t hear well to be repeated. They nod as if they got it when they didn’t.

Depressive realism Aeon. Of course, this fits my priors…..

India

In What May be the Largest Strike in World History, Millions in India Protest PM Modi’s Policies Mint Press

Harry Dunn: UK makes extradition request to US BBC (Kevin W)

Fury over Meghan and Harry’s ‘shoddy’ treatment of the Queen: Poll shows Britons want royal pair stripped of titles and public money as their popularity plunges Daily Mail. I barely have any idea of who is who in the Royal Family, but the cheek of Harry and Meghan planning to monetize their status via not just registering the Sussex Royal URL but a ton of tradermarks too and then thumbing their noses at doing royal duties like opening hospitals in the boonies should not be on.

New Cold War

Russian Ship ‘Aggressively’ Approached Navy Destroyer in Arabian Sea, Officials Say Military.com

Syraqistan

Iran ‘deeply regrets’ accidental shooting down of Ukrainian airliner: Iran president Reuters

Trump administration offers shifting messages to justify strikes on Iran’s Soleimani CNN (furzy)

Iraqi prime minister tells Pompeo to ‘prepare a mechanism’ for troop withdrawal The Hill. Hoo boy.

On the day U.S. forces killed Soleimani, they launched another secret operation targeting a senior Iranian official in Yemen Washington Post (Kevin W)

Report: Trump Cited Impeachment Pressure to Kill Soleimani New York Magazine. UserFriendly: “Way to go Democrats, of course Chait is too stupid to see they bear the blame too.”

Fascist vs Fascist in Israel Yasha Levine

The Secret Israel-Soviet Union War Nobody Knew About Haaretz (JTM)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Hundreds of Millions of Cable Modems Are Vulnerable To New Cable Haunt Vulnerability ZDNet

Imperial Collapse Watch

Noam Chomsky: America Has Built a Global Dystopia TruthDig (David L)

Trump Transition

Feces from a giant kettle of vultures is disrupting CBP communications on the US-Mexico border Quartz (Dan K)

Texas is rejecting new refugees under Trump executive order Washington Post

Trump says most asylum seekers don’t show up for their court hearings. A new study shows 99% do. Vox

Trump Complains About Not Winning the Nobel Peace Prize Days After Threatening to Commit War Crimes New York Magazine

The Most Popular Crook in America New Republic

Deadbeat’ AOC rakes in a bundle but doesn’t share with House Democrats New York Post (UserFriendly). OMG these people are shameless. When Alan Grayson ran for re-election in Florida the first time, the DCCC refused to give him a dime. The Dems want AOC dead and then have the nerve to act as if she owes them? Oh, and more important it is false to say AOC has not given funding to other reps. She’s just not doing it through that coin operated stalemate machine.

Impeachment

READ: Pelosi’s letter saying she is preparing for a vote next week to send articles of impeachment to Senate CNN

How’s This Working, Nancy? James Howard Kunstler (Kevin W). Important. Had no idea re the Supreme Court angle.

2020

Sanders takes lead in Iowa poll less than a month before vote The Hill

Donald Trump Is Starting To Fixate On Bernie Sanders BuzzFeed (UserFriendly)

The Americans Joe Biden Left Behind on the Bankruptcy Bill Adam Levitin, American Prospect

Bloomberg, Steyer ad spending dwarfs rest of 2020 field -by a lot MSNBC (furzy)

Bloomberg and Steyer’s spending binges start to pay off Politico. Bloomberg is running ads all the time in Alabama. I can’t fathom why. Did he not get the memo that 1. Doug Jones was a fluke and 2. New York City has a particularly bad name in this state?

Buckle Up for Another Facebook Election New York Times (Kevin W)

New warnings of hacking risks for voting systems connected to the internet NBC

Boeing’s fired CEO Muilenburg walks away with more than $60 million CNBC

Boeing faces another million-dollar FAA fine over faulty 737 Max parts MarketWatch

GM to Revive Hummer Name on New All-Electric Pickup Model Wall Street Journal. An interesting response to the Tesla muscle car.

Class Warfare

Saving Democracy From the Managerial Elite Michael Lind, Wall Street Journal. Today’s must read. Essay featured on the first page, well beyond normal op-ed length. Representative sentence: “And as MIT economist David Autor and his colleagues have shown, voters in the U.S. regions hit hardest by Chinese import competition were the most likely to favor Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders in 2016.”

The IRS Tried to Crack Down on Rich People Using an “Abusive” Tax Deduction. It Hasn’t Gone So Well. ProPublica (UserFriendly)

AI-Written Articles Are Copyright-Protected, Rules Chinese Court World Preview

CNN To Pay Largest Labor Fine In History For Firing Technicians NLRB. Wowsers, long time to get restitution.

Antidote du jour. PlutoniumKun:

My friend’s 4 month old Corgi puppy, Oskar. Corgis are cow herding dogs, so we took him on his first visit to the countryside (Glendalough, Wicklow) on Sunday. We didn’t find any cows to herd, but he did successfully round up lots of girls.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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279 comments

      1. Doug

        Ah…the 7th fleet. I was on the Okie City (CLG-5) in ’71. Anyway, the Vietnam-era Farragut (DDG-37) was decommissioned in ’89. This Farragut (DDG-99) was commissioned in 2006.

        Reply
    1. Henry Moon Pie

      What a bunch of cowboys those Russians are! Allowing an American Navy ship to get that close to them considering the Americans’ record of seamanship lately.

      Reply
    2. David J.

      This kind of shenanigan was commonplace when I was in the Navy back in the 70s. Happened often in the Med and I can remember some of these close encounters even off the coast of the U.S. Snoopy team to the bridge!

      This incident strikes me as being a case of exploitation for propaganda purposes more than an extraordinary OMG moment. (Not to diminish the severe consequences of an actual collision.)

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The worst part is it makes our Navy sound like a bunch of wimps. I mean what would they do in war time. File a complaint.

        To whom it may concern,

        The enemy submarine sank our ship in frigid waters. If they had remained professional and waited until we had reached the tropics, this disaster may have resulted in minimal casualties.

        Video showing the Pentagon lied aside, it’s like driving. Assume everyone Is a brainew dead idiot. Follow the rules of the road, but expecting anyone else to is simply madness.

        Reply
    3. Samuel Conner

      Those Russians, aggressively obeying maritime rights of way when they should be meekly accommodating USN transgressions.

      OTOH, I have read that when USN ships conduct freedom of navigation exercises near the artificial islands that China has built to assert sovereignty over the South China Sea, they turn off all offensive electronic systems, so that the transits are FoN operations in appearance more than substance (this is an old report, perhaps from the Obama era).

      Me thinks that we don’t have a clear idea of who our strategic competitors actually are.

      Reply
    4. a different chris

      Wasn’t there a big story, literally within the past couple months, of how clueless and under-manned our Navy is?

      Looks like the story is continuing…

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Accountability is anathema to the brass. If an admiral is accountable, how long before an assistant director or cabinet secretary is held accountable? My god man.

        These guys know whoever says the proper functions of the Navy are underfunded and more funding is necessary to actually make ships work will be crucified in light of our defense spending levels. Despite the bipartisan agreement in DC, there has been little trumpeting by our Congressional critters of how much they spent in recent years.

        Reply
    5. YankeeFrank

      I know a little bit about marine navigation rules and from the videos it really looked like both ships were acting a bit aggressively. The bottom-line rule to avoid sea collisions is that the boat that has the last chance to avoid one has the duty to do so. So even if the US vessel started turning starboard toward the Russian one, which was trailing a little behind to starboard, it would be the duty of the Russian ship to veer to starboard in order to avoid a collision just as much as the the US ship would be required to veer to port. These two boats were just playing games with each other and were never in any serious danger of colliding. It gets boring out there with the constant daily routines and there is (unfortunately) not a lot of love lost between the two nations’ navies, so why not have a bit of harmless fun and play a quick game of chicken.

      Reply
  1. douglass truth

    re depressive realism: I wonder why all of these thinkers seem to be Europeans, and especially northern Europeans. You hardly ever, see thinking like this from the lower latitudes, or ever from, more importantly, the most ancient peoples. Rather from the Australian indigenous to the Siberian tribes, you see a connection with both nature and something higher and more meaningful, with humans being the middle with an important role to play. Extreme depression was seen as soul-loss or soul-damage, and the shaman would be brought in to help. I’m a depressive type myself, and pride myself on trying to see things clearly. I also cannot stand the “everybody must be happy” bs of our culture today. But I think we suffer from a toxic civilization (and I’m talking about something that goes waaay back, but has gotten worse as time goes on: materialism itself) more than “life”. Dersu Uzala – one of Kurosawa’s lesser known movies – shows a character who’s absolutely connected with the world, and gets sad about the loss of his wife, but certainly doesn’t live the idea that life is meaningless. That is a modern invention. IMHO.

    Reply
    1. Appleseed

      Interesting observation about “ancient peoples.” As a northern European depressive realist, I can’t help but wonder if we aren’t projecting such perceptions onto other cultures. Broadly speaking, within Western esoteric tradition, humanity indeed plays a role in the “repair of the world.” This view gives individuals the possibility of a sense of meaning and purpose in a world that doesn’t give a flying reindeer about individual happiness.

      Reply
    2. Robert Hahl

      One useful idea for understanding depression which does not get enough attention is ordinary unhappiness:

      “When I have promised my patients help or improvement by means of cathartic treatment I have often been faced by this objection: ‘Why, you tell me yourself that my illness is probably connected with my circumstances and the events of my life. You cannot alter these in any way. How do you propose to help me then?’ And I have been able to make this reply: ‘No doubt your fate would find it easier than I do to relieve you of your illness. But you will be able to convince yourself that much will be gained if we succeed in transforming your hysterical misery into common unhappiness. With a mental life that has been restored to health you will be better armed against the unhappiness.”

      Sigmund Freud, Studies on Hysteria

      https://awaisaftab.blogspot.com/2011/12/from-neurotic-misery-to-ordinary.html

      Reply
      1. patD

        Reshe references that Freud quotation in the essay: “In Studies on Hysteria (1895), he pledged that psychoanalysis could transform hysterical misery into ‘common unhappiness’. For Freud, the goal was helping patients to accept and reflect on the hell that life is.”

        Reply
        1. Craig H.

          I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That’s the two categories. The horrible are like, I don’t know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don’t know how they get through life. It’s amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you’re miserable, because that’s very lucky, to be miserable.

          Woody Allen

          Is there any person documented to have spent more time undergoing Freudian psychoanalysis than Woody Allen?

          In my copy of Gluckman’s Psychology textbook they treat Sigmund Freud as an historical artifact. Not any kind of resource for the modern scientist. But I have a book by Eric Fromm written in 1962 (Beyond the Chains of Illusion) in which the Freud monumental Rushmore carving remained up there in bold relief and had not weathered one bit, so the fellow did have quite the hay day.

          Reply
          1. norm de plume

            His place is somewhere between those two takes, but he lost me and many others when he said I secretly wanted to sleep with my ma. That doesn’t pass the ‘pub test’.

            Reply
      2. norm de plume

        Well, Freud wasn’t able to prescribe Prozac.

        I once had a talk with a world renowned neuroscientist at the Uni I worked at, who was a leading light in the Beyond Blue government anti-depression initiative. Lovely bloke, one of those bright sparks from a family of bright sparks, a sunny disposition and a very sharp mind. But his thing was the chemical nature of depression, the traceable physical manifestations which for him were causes.

        I raised the stoics, the old belief in the usefulness or even necessity of suffering in order to be fully human, and, being also a part-time philosopher who had penned books on Wittgenstein, he knew where I was coming from better than I did. But still, he kept circling back to the physical nature of the ‘disease’.

        I was in a reasonably parlous state at that time, so had a personal as well as an academic interest in the issue. The good Prof empathised, and admitted the role circumstance can play in the ignition of depression, but for him untoward events, or the daily accretion of unarguably bad news, were only the embers, never the fire itself. You put the embers out with the ‘tools’ we now have available – drugs, basically.

        I followed his advice for a time, but I think a sense of guilt at taking them tended to overwhelm any temporary relief they could provide. Having a couple of friends who went seriously haywire on the same stuff finally decided me.

        Now I just drink to excess!

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The fact that Prozac appears to work is not proof that depression is chemical in nature. Prozac is an SSRI.

          There is considerable evidence that in the main, they don’t work on a long-term basis. The human body is an adaptation machine, and it downregulates seratonin production to compensate for the SSRI.

          In addition the weight gain and loss of libido with SSRIs are a high price to pay.

          Having said that, one of my endocrinologists did point to a chemical pathway, low testosterone. He said 1/3 of the women on SSRIs had low testosterone and addressing that would almost certainly clear up any chemically-based mild or even moderate depression. But women almost never have their testosterone level tested.

          Reply
    3. lyman alpha blob

      Well to be fair there were the ancient Greeks from a warm climate with their πάθει μάθος – knowledge through suffering. But to your point it wasn’t a nihilistic view and suffering for them serves a purpose, wisdom for its own sake. The cynics, stoics and epicureans all had a fairly fatalistic view of life with ascending degrees of optimism about it all – austerity and self abdegnation for the cynics, grin and bear it for the stoics, and ‘we might as well at least try to enjoy it’ for the epicureans, to give a very simplistic rundown.

      That line of thinking continues with Kazantzakis (author of Zorba the Greek) a couple millennia later who felt that one should not be afraid to look into the abyss, but should do so and laugh. There may be no point to it all, but who cares?

      He has one of the best epitaphs ever IMO –

      Δεν ελπίζω τίποτα. Δε φοβούμαι τίποτα. Είμαι λέφτερος.

      (I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.)

      Reply
        1. norm de plume

          I will have to read some Kazantzakis. One of my great cinema discoveries last year was Jules Dassin’s He Who Must Die (57) which was based on K’s Christ Re-crucified. Wonderful. The take-away – if Christ returned we would crucify him again, led by the priests and nobles.

          BTW, your rundown may be simplistic but it is admirably concise. Still, all of those free-thinkers who dared think on negotiating the abyss were probably religious, to the extent of believing at a deep level that god (or the gods) existed. That I’m sure provided a kind of spiritual and emotional ballast we today can’t access without a helluva lot of wishing…

          Reply
      1. DJG

        lyman alpha blob: Delightful evocations and capsule summaries of the Greek schools of thought. Σας ευχαριστώ.

        I approach the thought of Epikouros through Lucretius, whose poem I have read more than once. Lucretius takes pleasure in poetic language, but the same idea, that life is fleeting, but worthy of our affection, lingers throughout. To quote:

        even if time could somehow
        Gather our atoms together after death as they are now,
        And we were blessed with the light of life again—it wouldn’t matter
        Anything to us, not once our recollections scatter
        That connect us to our former selves.

        [Lucretius, The Nature of Things, Book III, lines 846-850. Translation A.E. Stallings]

        Again, that delight at life itself, and that message of escape from fear.

        Reply
        1. norm de plume

          Great quote, thanks. I have become a bit more familiar with both Epicurus and Lucretius through Doug Metzger’s excellent Literature and History podcast, and that ‘life is fleeting, enjoy it’ meme is present from very early on and persists thru to the point I have reached in the series – Ovid. The marketing of Heaven hadn’t yet begun.

          The sentiment in the quote put me in mind of (believe it or not) the TV show Westworld, in which the protagonists (particularly the Ed Harris character) grapple with the reality of immortality. The exploration of the contrast between our apparent desire to live forever (or more simply ‘to not die’) and what that could mean in practice for our morality, is for me the most absorbing element in the drama.

          The Man in Black appears to be edging toward the recognition that it is the limited nature of our lives that gives them meaning, meaning we must provide for ourselves as a result of facing that limit. No death, no meaning.

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        2. Jeff W

          …life is granted to no one for permanent ownership, to all on lease. Look back now and consider how the bygone ages of eternity that elapsed before our birth were nothing to us. Here, then, is a mirror in which nature shows us the time to come after our death. Do you see anything fearful in it? Do you perceive anything grim? Does it not appear more peaceful than the deepest sleep?

          —Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, Book III, lines 971-976 [translated by Martin Ferguson Smith]

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      2. Carey

        I had two good friends and good people give me at different times copies of ‘Zorba the Greek’. I tried to take it in, twice… nope.

        Pretty sure the book’s right, and I’m.. depressive, heh.
        Very hard exercise is the best help, I find, along with unmediated nature.

        Reply
          1. BillS

            @ OC: Quite right.. looked at credits on CD jacket and Kristofferson indeed wrote it. Learned something new today. ;-)

            Reply
    4. Krystyn Walentka

      Europeans are forced to think about this stuff because they are caught in positivism. Aboriginals, I would argue, are realists, and accept depression and joy as it comes and is seen as a push and pull between the internal and external. It is a pagan/daoist idea that these emotions are not good or bad, but rather are just telling us something about our environment, and these emotions should not to be removed without curing the cause. If it is hot, move to a shady place. It is that simple, no thinking, just action. Pure Wu Wei.

      If I am depressed about my job I can use the Headspace app, but that cures nothing, it only aids in tolerating the cause. It will not hold. Seinfeld expressed this eloquently in an episode; “Serenity now, insanity later.

      Reply
      1. norm de plume

        Yes, positivism has it’s negative corollaries, but also modern Europeans (including Americans and Australians and Canadians..) look around them and see other people, natural features, the built environment, etc and apprehend them as external to themselves. The way I understand how Aborigines (at least as we found them, before the Fall) think, there was no separation between them and what surrounded them. The land was almost literally their Mother, and they felt at home in it (and prioritised the care of it) in a way I think is not possible for us now.

        Reply
    5. Susan the other

      Aeon. Depressive Realism. Julie Reshe. Great stuff. I’ve decided we need not a beaded string of rosary anxieties but instead a neat little flat stick. A realization to retreat; a refuge stick with a wrist band, maybe a psycostick, so we can keep it at hand and whack anybody getting too manic. Whack them as a friendly gesture. Maybe just walking down the street with them, or having coffee. And occasionally we can also whack ourselves to tame the perennial beast which we both love to love and love to hate. The Beast is the human superimposed state. Just kind of a short, flat little harmless stick that makes a soft sound and feels almost like a pat.

      Reply
      1. RWood

        There is a further sense in which industrial modernity stands outside the frame of all other ways of being human together, as a uniquely death-fuelled society. All life feeds on death. All enduring human cultures have been shaped by the need to be worthy of what we take. Much of the ritual and story by which humans have found their bearings in the world has at its heart the cultivation of awareness and gratitude for the deaths of the animals and plants that give us life. The need to be worthy is not just a moral aspiration, a desire for a sense of dignity or self-justification, but a practical necessity. Either we make our lives a part of a cycle of gift, or we become an engine of depletion, bringing about a desolation from which we will not escape. The tapestry of myth carries memories of the ways we have ruptured this cycle and the work that has gone into mending it, time after time.
        Douglas Hine
        https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2020/01/09/notes-from-underground-7-i-only-have-one-prediction-for-you/

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          1. newcatty

            Yes, Susan the Other. The denial, instead of acceptance, is encouraged by and reinforced by the propaganda of fear. As modernity continued its relentless march, through technology, the fear of death was callously used by the PTB in all institutions to control the serfs and lesser classes. If we acknowledge gratitude and respect of the animals we use for food then that is paramount to admitting that human beings are one with other life. If life is fleeting, so we are told, then how do we have a sense of self worth when we are on the earth? If we acknowledge that plant life is as precious as our own, then how do we rationalize exploiting that life by using agents of death by poisonous pesticides, big at practices that erode healthy soils, pollute waterways and kill aquatic life?

            If life is not respected and protected and , cherished, than death is fearful. What waits for us? I would say the PTB are having their fear machine being threatened with denial being questioned. The gears are grinding and some iconoclasts are beginning to throw sands of clear glass into the global machinery.

            Reply
        1. norm de plume

          Many thanks for that quote and the link RWood. This in particular is a keeper:

          ‘The need to be worthy is not just a moral aspiration, a desire for a sense of dignity or self-justification, but a practical necessity. Either we make our lives a part of a cycle of gift, or we become an engine of depletion, bringing about a desolation from which we will not escape’

          Reply
    6. YankeeFrank

      Dersu Uzala — I think is Kurosawa’s best film though I’m admittedly not a huge fan. But there’s something really profound about that film — man in nature, not against or above. I recommend it highly.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Perhaps it the different philosophical underpinnings, but I think quite a few Japanese films address our place in the universe a little differently and perhaps better than western film makers. I’m a huge fan of Kurosawa – many of his films are quite potent – even with Seven Samurai, with the final recognition by the warriors that its the farmers who are eternal, warriors are only useful to fight other warriors. Many of Yasujio Ozu’s films are incredibly powerful examinations of the simply power of acceptance – Tokyo Story and Late Spring are my favourites. In both those, an old man simply accepts his loneliness in old age as the necessary price for releasing the potential of the young.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          Just read the Wikipedia entries for “Tokyo Story” and “Late Spring”. That is powerful stuff that. Can’t see the movies being re-done in the west successfully as I am not so sure the idea of self-sacrifice on the part of older people is such a popular idea. Could make a good indy film or two however.

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          1. PlutoniumKun

            They are amazing films (there have been a couple of ‘influenced by’ films in Europe – ’50 Shots of Rum’ by the French director Claire Denis is quite wonderful). Tokyo Story was actually a partial remake of an American film ‘Make Way for Tomorrow’, although Ozu enriched it infinitely.

            Reply
            1. Ignacio

              On a very different register I recommend The Sisters Brothers (Les frères Sisters, 2018) a Western by Jacques Audiard and a reflexion on violence.

              I saw Dersu Uzala when I was 18 (more or less) and it impacted me very much. The Seven Samurai is excellent (I recommend revisiting it with the interpretation PK suggests, the first time I saw it I was not prepared for it and only appreciated the attractive aesthetics of the film). I saw Tokyo Story many years ago but I cannot recall much of it except some images. If I remember well one of the arguments was about the relations between parents and their descendants and how some, mistakenly, see them as a projection of theirs (and their frustrations).

              And I have followed your advice and enjoyed Korean film Parasites.

              Reply
              1. PlutoniumKun

                The Sisters Brothers is great – I think it was a very misunderstood film when released, I loved how it started out grim and dirty and then unexpectedly became sweeter as it went on. I think the way Audiard reversed everyones expectations about a ‘realist’ western confused a lot of reviewers.

                You have to be really in the mood to concentrate on an Ozu film – if you are not used to his pacing I can understand why it would seem boring or puzzling. The first time I saw Tokyo Story in a cinema, it was entirely silent after it ended, people were openly weeping. Its that potent.

                Reply
    7. norm de plume

      Maybe the northern tendency to depressive realism is related to what we normally mean by ‘progress’ and ‘civilisation’. While it’s great that we have over time developed a greater apprehension of the importance of individual rights, personal freedom etc, we have at the same time incrementally lost tribal and societal connections which would have long ago placed us, in our own minds, in a continuum of human community. This of course has been gamed by those who own everything, but the point remains.

      For me the direct cause, the turning point, was the loss of religious belief. There are obviously lots of atheists now and virtually none before the 19th century, but at the individual level, the average person now has knowledge – irrefutable proof, actually – that for example we live on a planet travelling around a temporary star full of burning gas, at approximately 70,000 mph. Even religious people today, even with fingers in both ears, are aware of this, however dimly. Virtually no-one before 1800 was.

      So however anti-establishment or dissenting a maverick thinker was until then, he or she carried within them a belief in, if not salvation, then at least the existence of another world, or plane of existence, that somehow supervened or at least explained the existence we lead here on earth. Having no independent verification that God did not create the world meant that for the vast majority of people, an opposing view simply never arose. There was nowhere to oppose from, nothing to oppose with. Not knowing about something means you don’t have to worry about it.

      Darwin led the 19th C scientific pioneers of modernity but was so tortured by the implications of his work that it took the threat from Wallace to get him into print. Nietzsche put 2 and 2 together, Einstein drew back the curtains and we have not been the same since. Not to say that many people are familiar with, let alone have read, any of these worthies, but the knowledge is out there and now forms part of the mental furniture of every halfway educated adult on the planet.

      I am not advocating a return to ignorance, just sayin’ – ancient peoples (including several who still exist) never had that ‘turning point’ away from the deep structures of their shared history, which wove them into time and place via community and religion, and people in those contexts are more likely, in the main, to feel content and far less likely to feel alone and hopeless as many of us do, even though we are absolutely surrounded by humanity 24/7.

      Reply
      1. notabanktoadie

        that for example we live on a planet travelling around a temporary star full of burning gas, at approximately 70,000 mph. Even religious people today, even with fingers in both ears, are aware of this, however dimly. Virtually no-one before 1800 was. norm de plume

        As someone said, the Bible is not concerned so much about the heavens* as about getting into Heaven.

        Thus, that someone should lose their faith over a scientific discovery, especially in light of scientific reversals, is to entirely miss the point of the Bible.

        Not that many who have lost their faith have even read the entire Bible but have instead reacted against their particular “Christian” denomination’s interpretation of the Bible**.

        *This is not to say that the Bible has not proven to be astonishingly accurate in regard to science in some cases – see http://www.reasons.org for examples if interested.

        **e.g. the erroneous belief that usury is merely high interest rates, not ANY positive interest rate.

        Reply
  2. timbers

    Regarding Trump and Nobel Peace Prize.

    I would suggest the Nobel Committee award Trump the Peace Prize on the basis that he has not (yet) started major new war(s) resulting millions dead and forced relocation, thus breaking recent U.S. tradition of his predecessors.This might address 2 challenges the Nobel Committee faces:

    1). The Committtee’s reluctance to withdraw a Nobel once awarded even when they know it was a mistake. Awarding it to Trump would be a proactive way to partially address this mistake, without violating it’s iron rule of never withdrawing a mistaken award.

    2). It would at least in this instance vastly increase the standards by which Nobel Peace Prizes are awarded.

    3). The Nobel Committee or some of it’s past and present members have admitted it’s work is intended to be pro U.S. and anti Russian. Giving a Nobel to Trump would fit this criteria.

    Having said that, it is sad that awarding a Nobel to Trump might represent an improvement over past awards. In a better world, the prize might go to Julian Assange or Chelsea Manning or Glenn Greenwald as just some examples.

    Reply
        1. John Wright

          They could have the Nobel Peace Prize vest over time, similar to the stock options that some corporations grant.

          If Obama’s Peace Prize had vested over an 8 year period, with the vesting stopping after a few years as his military friendly actions manifested, it may have preserved the reputation of the Nobel Peace prize somewhat.

          But the Nobel Peace prize might have been irreparably damaged when it was awarded to Henry Kissinger in 1973.

          Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Trump has spent his first three years trying to trash everything that Obama did in his eight years of the Presidency. Fortunately for Trump there is not much to trash. But it must really burn him that Obama has a Nobel Peace prize and he doesn’t – and there is not a damn thing that he can do about it.

      Reply
      1. kiwi

        Why would Obama’s nobel prize burn anyone?

        Do large numbers of people take Obama’s possession of the prize seriously now?

        Reply
    2. chuck roast

      I’m waiting for the Nobel Prize for Comedy. The Nobel Committee could award the first prize to itself and the second prize to Mr.-laugh-a-minute…Donald John Trump.

      Reply
    3. xkeyscored

      It appears that ISIS are hailing his victory over evil. I guess some allies are more dependable than others.
      “It was only a matter of time before US President Donald Trump got the recognition he deserved for America’s military exploits these past two weeks. Yesterday, Trump received glowing praise from the official international ISIS newspaper, Al Naba, highlighting Washington’s assassination of Iranian IRGC’s General Qasem Soleimani on January 3rd.”
      https://21stcenturywire.com/2020/01/11/official-isis-newspaper-thanks-god-for-trump-killing-irans-general-soleimani/

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Rather remarkable that. Does ISIS have medals? Perhaps they can award Trump the ISIS Legion of Merit or at the very least an ISIS Commendation Award. Admittedly is not on the same level as a Nobel Peace Prize but hey, a medal is a medal.

        Reply
      2. ObjectiveFunction

        Orthodox Islam is a one way door; apostasy is a capital crime. For Salafists, heresy falls into the same bucket.

        Rafidha (“renegades”) is an epithet for Shi’a. Iraq AQIZ leader Al-Zarqawi condemned them as “the most evil of mankind.” They are “the lurking snake, the crafty and malicious scorpion, the spying enemy, and the penetrating venom.” They have been “a sect of treachery and betrayal throughout history.” Echoing the fourteenth century Sheikh ibn Taymiyya, whose writings are considered the fountainhead of Wahhabism and Salafi Islam, Al-Zarqawi said: “Beware of [the Shi’a]. Fight them. By God, they lie.” Their crime is “patent polytheism, worshipping at graves, and circumambulating shrines.” Etc.

        Reply
  3. The Rev Kev

    “The Americans Joe Biden Left Behind on the Bankruptcy Bill”

    I think that I sense an opportunity here. They could do a song based on Biden’s history here and spread it over the net and sing it when Biden gives any public speeches. Let me explain. There is a song about five hundred years old that has been used ever since to farewell troops off to war and Confederate Regiments also know this song well. It is called “The Girl I Left Behind Me” and you could re-write it to be called “The Americans I Left behind Me” with appropriate lyrics. Could be quite popular that-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQ7M1y6_20A

    Reply
    1. Pasithea

      The Trump Campaign will bring this up about an hour after Joe wins the nomination. The bankruptcy bill and Hunter will be the only things you hear about from July to November. The only way a guy with a 40% approval rating can win is to ensure the other guy has a 39% approval rating.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        “Learning to code” + “Hunter ‘the moneyUkraingrubbing illegitimate baby machine’ makes for quite an explosive pushpack ! Hell, even Sanders would be a fool not to utilize such a Castle burning Trebuchet, with the aim of a pre-primary Biden TKO.

        I mean, to hell with “friends” and all that ! If your gonna fight for the prize … ya gotta breach some walls … how ever gossamer they appear, am I right ?

        Reply
  4. Henry Moon Pie

    Kunstler’s take on impeachment–

    He has a fascinating take on the motivations for Pelosi’s stalling tactics:

    “Pelosi’s real motive here — the material is not for impeachment but rather to use the Mueller dossier as political opposition “research” for the coming election.”

    So if Kunstler is right and we take it to the next step, what does that say about the Democratic Establishment’s “theory of the case” for the upcoming election? Run Biden and talk nothing but Russia!Russia!Russia!. It’s a twofer if it works. Not only do they enjoy the perks of the Obama Restoration, but Brennan gets his bigger and better war against his personal Dr. Evil.

    Reply
    1. anon in so cal

      Yes, supposedly she wants to get hold of Mueller’s grand jury testimony, which is apparently otherwise under wraps.

      Reply
    2. JP

      But wait, I thought the real impeachment motivation was to prevent a liberal proof majority on the supreme court. That after all was the only reason to vote for HRC. Go deep state.

      Great set of comments appended to the Kunstler piece. Apparently the Vatican, Freemasons, commies, jews, and gays are also widely accepted as part of the deep state. I always look at comments to see what kind of affirmative company a blogger keeps.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I used to read James Klunster, many long years ago. And I read his comment section too. It was undisciplined and un-moderated. It was clear that Mr. Klunster was a lazy couldn’t-be-bothered comments non-moderator.

        When Mr. Klunster began saying the same thing in different ways, over and over and over again, it seemed that he was just a One-Shtick Phony and not interesting to read anymore. But if an interesting blog links to a Klunsterpost I may read it. It could be interesting. And this one was.

        Reply
    3. rd

      I had just assumed that Pelosi wanted to release the articles in a time frame that would make it difficult to be acquitted before the State of the Union speech. I think she wants a 2 hour rant against impeachment instead of a 2 hour victory dance.

      Reply
    4. Rex

      Kunstler’s take on impeachment was a slippery dance down a slug trail of fever dream conspiracy motives amply displaying a submissive thirst to be ruled by a monarch. While he may prefer to live in a rigidly stratified society of lessers and betters, I’d greatly prefer he go do so by himself. There is absolutely nothing interesting or useful in his whackadoodle interpretation of rightwing memes.

      Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yup, that little pup is a complete babe (and dude) magnet. I was looking after him while his owner popped into a shop. I had an insight into what it must be like to be Justin Biebers bodyguard.

      As for the photos, he seems a natural, but his owner has trained him to look into the camera (lens = treat), so he’s remarkably easy to photograph.

      Reply
  5. JohnnyGL

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_daI5Qj8pM
    The Gloves Come Off. Joe Biden’s Allies Preview “Bernie Backed Commies” Attack

    Jamarl Thomas might be onto something, here. Biden’s team are going to start hitting back.

    Also, the Sanders team is starting to loop around clips of Biden advocating social security cuts. Clearly, these guys smell blood in the water and are bringing out all the heavy artillery just as we get down to crunch time in Iowa.

    With Bernie himself questioning Biden’s ‘electability’, and now putting the senior vote in danger with the talk of social security cuts….it’s a very Karl Rove-ian move to attack right at Biden’s core strengths.

    I know a few of us, myself included, have questioned whether Sanders and the team have a kind of ‘killer instinct’ that’s needed to win the race. I think we’re starting to see the campaign’s attempt to show one right now.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      that was bound to happen(red baiting bernie)…and the irony of a dem attacking him from the far right will be totally lost on Team Blue.
      wife and i were talking last night about how the demestablishment is using their tried and true playbook against the Bern, and failing miserably(after i played the Krystal Ball segment about Obamaworld real loud)
      bernie cat is out of the bag, and the demestablishment, big media and all the neolib thinktankies have lost legitimacy.
      that they can only double down in the face of that loss says volumes, to me.
      Toynbee’s Dominant Minority, bereft of creativity or awareness, literally resting on their laurels, while the laurels burn.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        One problem Team Blue has when leveling attacks against Sanders is they think once people understand that M4All means employees will be empowered against bosses they will take the side of the “job creators.” They actually think neoconservatives are respected and have a connection with their voters. They will attack Sanders for being correct all the time.

        Sanders grasps that the belief by democratic party voters that Team Blue elites are “generic dems” is the primary hold people like Biden have.

        Reply
      2. Massinissa

        “and the irony of a dem attacking him from the far right will be totally lost on Team Blue.”

        To be fair, the Democrats were complicit in McCarthyism. The Kennedy’s were major McCarthy supporters at the time.

        Reply
        1. richard

          yeah, the deal with being a two-fisted 50’s liberal, is you had to hate commies more than anyone
          Humphrey was another good example

          Reply
      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        Team Blue is a far right organization now. For the far rightists of Team Blue to attack Sanders from the far right is not ironic, it is merely revealing.

        One hopes Sanders can figure out how to reply without being apologetic. And that his team will keep running the clips which degrade and attrit Biden the worst.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          >One hopes Sanders can figure out how to reply without being apologetic. And that his team will keep running the clips which degrade and attrit Biden the worst.

          Your first sentence, in particular. What he’s trying to do is
          *very brave*, though.

          The Organizing’s the Thing

          Reply
          1. anon in so cal

            Maddow is hinting that Biden’s slippage in some polls may be due to a Kremlin disinfo campaign:

            “”U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials are assessing whether Russia is trying to undermine Joe Biden in its ongoing disinformation efforts with the former vice president still the front-runner in the race to challenge President Donald Trump…”

            https://twitter.com/MaddowBlog/status/1215831006231629824?s=20

            Separately, this started many months ago with an opinion peace in The Hill, alleging that if Biden (presumptive nominee) did not win against Trump, it would be because of Putin.

            How do these people get away with these blatant lies?

            https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-01-10/u-s-probes-if-russia-targeting-biden-in-2020-election-meddling

            Reply
            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              I’m not sure what is sadder. The people who echo Maddow’s madness or the people who think pointing out Biden’s record to her will reach Maddow.

              Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            The GOP is even farther right. The far right is a big tent. There is always room for one more.

            Let’s go back a little way in time. Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and Salazar were all “fascists” of the “far right”. But they were not all the same.

            Team Red is for those people who feel that Team Blue is not quite far-right enough.
            Trump gives Team Red a thrill of Peronist Caudillismo which Team Biden can’t quite match.

            Reply
          2. JBird4049

            IIRC, Chris Hedges, during an interview, says that the Democratic Party was driven conservative and the Republican Party insane.

            Reply
    2. Dr. John Carpenter

      Judging by Twitter comments I’ve noticed, I’d say the ref baiting (along with “Bernie supports blood thirsty dictators”) has already begun. If that’s all they got…&

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        and from the buzzfeed art on trump discovering bernie(a week or so after team blue discovered that he was running):
        “Trump has targeted the white working-class voters Sanders has made central to his own campaign, and on Thursday he positioned the Republican Party as “the party of the American worker.””

        it will be a testament to the effectiveness of the Mindf^%k if they can sell this tripe as sirloin,lol.
        as well as a testament to how far the Party of FDR has sunk beneath the waves.
        I mean, how in hell are they gonna do that?
        after what? 90 years of punishing the worker and the poor?
        I suppose they could just blame it on the Moderate Repubs(umm…Democrats) who completed to Counterrevolution for them…

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Are they really “moderate republicans”? I mean a hypothetical democratic caucus full of Jim Jefffords or Lincoln Chafees compared to the current goons makes me wonder. Bloomberg is a police state goon dedicated to serving the capitalist class, and he’s not angrily being denounced by every elected. Without a few rabble routers such as AOC, Pelosi would probably be claiming victory for the 37ft wall on the border instead of the 37 and a half foot wall Trump wanted while touting how she added poison spikes to the top.

          Reply
          1. Synoia

            Yes, Moderate Republicans are known for only Invading one country per month, or moving one factory per week to China.

            Reply
            1. RWood

              Internationals have been breaking out of US labor costs by stranding US workers and putting production into foreign countries since 1970.

              Reply
              1. inode_buddha

                Hence my strong opinion that said companies should be made truly international, and not incorporated in the US. Legally it is possible, but politically nearly impossible.

                Reply
  6. The Historian

    Weird! When I click on the WSJ article link above, I hit a paywall. But when I search for the article on Google, I can read it without hitting the paywall – and both articles have the same url.

    Can anyone explain what is going on with that?

    Reply
    1. Brooklin Bridge

      At one point, Google had a “first click free” policy which it enforced by penalizing outlets that set up paywalls even on Google results. Google would downgrade the search result prominence of offenders. I was under the impression that workaround had gone away, but perhaps Google has managed to reinstate/keep it.

      Reply
      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Or perhaps some outlets have kept the policy (for their own reasons) when hits come from google even though the penalty is no longer enforced.

        Reply
  7. Amfortas the hippie

    Michael Lind:”What we might call “woke capitalism” represents a fusion of the three elites at the commanding heights of the economy, the culture and politics; they increasingly constitute a single conformist caste.
    This newly consolidated ruling class is best described as “liberaltarian,” combining moderately libertarian views in economics with cultural progressivism in values. From its citadels in a few big cities, this oligarchy periodically notifies the working-class majority what values and opinions about sex, immigration and other topics it must immediately adopt without debate, on pain of being blacklisted by the private sector, prosecuted by the government or censored or erased by the media.”

    bold mine.
    Lind’s version of the Class Dynamic is readily identifiable even way out here in the hills, and describes things much better than the various old formulations.
    As I’ve said before, the minority who adheres to the two parties are, to a person, comfortable(rich, by relative local standards), well educated, and generally older, living off pensions and investments made in corporate careers elsewhere. They’re also, pretty much to a person, rather snobbish.
    There’s a tiny managerial sub-class who runs the businesses the former own, and seem to aspire to joining that former class…these aspirations manifest mostly in attitudes and appearances.
    everyone else is either a worker or elderly/disabled…and a large portion of the workers are informally and precariously employed(rural gig work has always been a thing). The workers/poor are almost universally apolitical and disengaged(except for a few running for school board, interestingly(and often winning, even more interestingly))
    The Comfortable, owning class, here, is divided almost solely on IdPol…the majority GOP(out of 4500 total county population, around 600 souls)cling desperately to what to me looks like a Planter Aristocratic Ethos, where Knowing One’s Place, and total conformism to the hierarchy and Authority(theirs) is expected. These maintain a polite racism, and an antipathy to queers,uppity wimmens and Libruls. They’re also the one’s who attend(and organise) the occasional talks by anti-muslim, etc speakers, and occasionally stir up the most high dudgeon over whatever fox talking point is floating in their minds(post-911 it was patriotism and hate on muslims and french things(ruining my cafe)).

    the Dems(around 300 out of 4500 total) maintain a quieter, even more polite racism(and are ashamed of it when called out), are generally ambivalent about queerdom(so long as it’s not overt) are are at least outwardly Second Wave Feminist(Steinem). They are ok with upward mobility, but only on their terms…ignoring Class/economics altogether(learn to code/get an education/move).
    save the tolerance of feminism and queerdom(narrow),and their more polite authoritarianism, they are pretty indistinguishable from the gop aristocrats
    neither of these upper class groups are gaining adherents from the existing population…only from newcomers(who are, by definition, rather well off)
    usual caveats apply: tiny,clannish, interrelated, isolated community. I usually assume…just for the hell of it…that my observations out here, of this collection of tribes, with their 150 year history so readily visible and traceable, as an analog for the broader society.
    in truth, I really don’t know how applicable this is, but it keeps me entertained, at least.

    Reply
    1. Pelham

      I’m struck by how well Michael Lind’s analysis supports my idea previously suggested here (and roundly dismissed by commenters) that because of these divisions between the professional-managerial class (PMC) and the rest of us, there’s a kind of unintended justice in the way the Electoral College is set up.

      Since the PMC tends to congregate in the “blue”-voting zip codes that Lind describes, their votes are diluted, thereby geographically ceding outsized electoral power to the vast but relatively underpopulated “red” areas of the country. Thus a bit of power in the form of presidential politics is afforded the working class, slightly counterbalancing the ugly dominance of the PMC that exists in every other political, cultural and economic sphere.

      Those who replied to my comment were alternately appalled and highly amused. I wonder how they’ll receive Lind’s argument. In any event, the Electoral College is here to stay.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        it’s Shiner(and Hogleg!) Vacation Day, so i can’t really go into it…
        (rolls eyes in a disturbing manner)
        But no.
        EC is used to undermine democracy.
        there’s more sophisticated ways in use these days, but that doesn’t change the nature of EC.
        Remember that most people don’t vote at all.

        Reply
    2. Watt4Bob

      I live in a first ring suburban neighborhood, but retain strong connections to the city, I see the same situation you see, with one depressing elaboration.

      I’m an art-school drop out musician, with a long bohemian history, I keep in touch with my artist/musician friends via fartbook.

      Judging by the content my friends post there, I’d say most are still identifying with the Clintonistas, and energetically promoting all the garbage that demeans the ‘deplorables’.

      The last few days many have been touting the “Hillary’s been cleared” story, and the “Hate! Hate! Hate!” thing in relation to the vote by Beltrami county in Minnesota to disallow refugees.

      Beltrami county is a very, very poor county, I don’t believe people there are more hateful than the rest of us, but they are very much poorer, and news pictures clearly show a lot of tired people, including a few indigenous faces.

      What I’m getting at is the fact that I used to assume that a life in “the arts” was by default, subversive of the status quo, but what I’m starting to think is that we’ve for the most part been co-opted by the blue side of the PMC.

      Considering the broader arts community’s relative poverty, I’m surprised how blind we are to what I consider the obvious necessity to make common cause with the people HRC called ‘deplorables’ if we’re ever going to make our world better.

      Reply
      1. Laughingsong

        Hey W4B, I too have a leg in both realms but skew towards the downtrodden, which does make it difficult to talk about politics with my managerial/STEM acquaintances. Art school dropout, worked bookstores and print shops until accidentally (almost) becoming a computer professional.

        It’s weird and disorienting sometimes. On paper and to all appearances I am a member of the 9.9 percent but my closest friends are precariat and my heart is with them.

        I do wish that I was more articulate and a better debater so that I could be more effective at changing the minds of the PMC people I know.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          “which does make it difficult to talk about politics with my managerial/STEM acquaintances.”

          but talk to them you must!
          you’ll have to find the language…as i’ve found the language to talk to small-c conservative, former New Dealer, farmer types in the feedstore.
          (I use Social Gospel and Jesusspeak(KJV) for this purpose.
          Your mileage may vary.
          Evangelists are essential.

          Reply
          1. Laughingsong

            Can’t use Jaysus speak, as a non-believer my eyes start shifting. Agreed that I must keep trying. Who knows maybe some of it will sink in later, like all the stuff my mother told me. I just hope that some of my more ham-fisted efforts haven’t made it worse.

            Recently I have tried the approach where I just say where I’m at, and give a few main reasons why, and leave it there. It seems to be a better approach as it avoids raising temperatures and just leaves a statement hovering in people’s memory without any feeling of experiencing overt conflict. Once it even led to someone approaching me later asking questions.

            Reply
          2. Chris

            No. There really is no point. They’re not interested in listening and refuse to contribute to any cause that threatens their point if view. All my friends and family are in the PMC and I’m treated to a daily tirade from any one of them about what amounts to Trump’s style. But nothing about how little is different between Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton, in terms of policy and net effect.

            Reply
          3. Watt4Bob

            (I use Social Gospel and Jesusspeak(KJV) for this purpose.

            You are lucky in a sense that your target audience is susceptible to Jesusspeak, and to some degree, the Social Gospel, the “creative class” alas, largely consists of self-considered sophisticates, who are immunized in every conceivable way, against argument, and especially by what they perceive as the ‘religious’ angle.

            I think the situation is complicated by the artists of my generation being beholding to members of the PMC for grants and gigs, not mention girl friends, boy friends, ‘partners’, and spouses who make enough money to subsidize their creative endeavors.

            Reply
      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well . . . if Sanders Supporters were to begin calling Clintonites by the nick-name ” the Despicables” in such a way that the Deplorables were sure to find out, it would at least separate the Sanderbackers from the Clintonites in the mind of the Deplorables.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          I think you’re *very much onto something8 here, though IMO “the Despicables” is too close to Mrs. Clinton’s slur…

          In a couple of years “Our Overlords” might have real currency, but there’s no time to waste, for our Class.

          Professor Lind claim that the PMC encompass “around a
          third”; I think he’s got some class-generosity going there.

          Imagine the possibilities

          Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            But a lot of the Despicables are not any richer or more powerful than we are. They are not the Inner-Circle Clinton Mafia operators. They are the cult-loyalist Jonestown Clintie supporters. And by their behavior they have shown themselves to be despicable.

            Remember the flying chairs? The Flying BrockMonkey slurs? The false-flag posting of porno-material to Sanders facebook pages?

            I think the name Despicables fits exactly.

            Reply
            1. Carey

              Agree on all that! The name *does* fit, but that doesn’t make it the best name. For me the question is: what name is both accurate, and
              make converts: “speak to their condition”.

              One opinion; and I think, actually, that some
              clues to accurate naming (not “branding”!) might be coming from surprising sources,
              soon enough. Just a hunch.

              Reply
    3. Laughingsong

      Maybe this is a quibble and will likely reflect my overall confusion on what populism is, but I had to stop reading at the point where Lind starts in with “populism is an illness not a cure”, and elaborates on that position by essentially saying that all Populist leaders are hucksters that will either sell out or become authoritarian, building a corrupt edifice to retain power.

      Well I can agree that there certainly always exist those who will grab any ladder to climb to power and if spouting beliefs of a given “-ism” (populism, socialism, capitalism, or some flavor of religion-ism) is that ladder, so be it. To my mind, if a prospective leader professes to certain tenets and beliefs, or commits to certain actions or programs, in order to get the populace to support her into power, and then reneg (I’m thinking Mr. Hope de Change here) then they were never really a believer so it makes no sense to tar the “-ism” in question.

      Reply
    4. skippy

      What I have found is with in that paradigm is scrap between puritans arguing all defects or negative outcomes are the result of lack of purity, yet all are compliant on the larger framework for debate. None are game to step outside that framework because they fear [tm] it would be like shutting off gravity and they would all spin off into space. All largely driven by some innocuous concept about getting your own personal happiness in the “market place” … because its the only thing that dispenses it and if your not – go look in the mirror ….

      Reply
  8. The Rev Kev

    “Iran ‘deeply regrets’ accidental shooting down of Ukrainian airliner: Iran president”

    Looks like the Iranians finished their preliminary investigations and there is nothing to do but to apologize and start to make amends. I read that there was a problem with command and control and a battery officer had seconds to decide if that plane was a threat or not – and chose the wrong answer. It has been decided that Iran will send the black boxes to be decoded in France. Probably the full investigation will take a few years to get everything straight but it might have been wiser for Tehran to clear its airspace after it sent off those salvos of missiles.

    Hassan Rouhani has written “The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake. My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences.” He has already promised compensation payments to the victims’ families, and ordered reforms of the country’s air defense system. Too late for the 176 people aboard this airliner but there it is.

    Of course it remains to be seen if this air disaster is treated as a catastrophic accident or whether neocons will try to capitalize on this. There are several ways that they can do this. They can arrange a trial in the US and have some judge award the victims something ridiculous like $100 billion in compensation. They could have a Malaysia Airlines Flight 17-style investigation to keep this going for the next several years. It all depends if they think that they can benefit from this.

    There is a basis for deciding compensation and that is based on what happened with Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988. A variation on this formula would settle this issue quickly for all concerned-

    “In February 1996, the United States agreed to pay Iran US$131.8 million in settlement to discontinue a case brought by Iran in 1989 against the U.S. in the International Court of Justice relating to this incident, together with other earlier claims before the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal. US$61.8 million of the claim was in compensation for the 248 Iranians killed in the shoot-down: $300,000 per wage-earning victim and $150,000 per non-wage-earner. In total, 290 civilians on board were killed, 38 being non-Iranians and 66 being children. It was not disclosed how the remaining $70 million of the settlement was apportioned, though it was close to the value of a used A300 at the time.”

    But at least Hassan Rouhani did not write something stupid like “I will never apologize for Iran – I don’t care what the facts are… I’m not an apologize-for-Iran kind of guy.” and then proceed to give that battery crew commanders Commendation and Merit ribbons. The guy has more class than that. Looks like no winners in this sorry episode.

    Reply
    1. Bill Smith

      The Iranian military had their own follow up statement with some details.

      The air defense command had requested that all civilian aircraft be cleared from the skies (meaning all flights should have been held on the ground). That never happened. Then the phone line from the IRGC air defense site that fired the missiles which had been working, had problems at the time of that flight. (I assume that the air defense site had been checking with someone elsewhere as targets showed up.) Without the word from whoever they normally had contact with on this, the commander of the air defense site thought the plane was a cruise missile as it had deviated from the normal flight departure path out of that airport. So the local commander fired at the target.

      Flight Radar 24 pushed back about the statement that flight path wasn’t normal

      https://twitter.com/ flightradar24 /status /1215889858302021633

      But the local commander likely didn’t a nice graphic like Flight Radar put together.

      in addition the aircraft wasn’t acting like a cruise missile (climbing quite a bit and much slower).

      The fact that the target was climbing at 8,000 feet (about 5,000 AGL?) and had a fairly slow speed and they thought it was a cruise missile is odd.

      Maybe it was a new person in command that hadn’t watch a thousand flights depart that airport.

      Reply
      1. David

        If one good thing comes out of this, it may be a wider recognition of the fact that under conditions of stress people can see things that are not there, and ignore things that are. This takes place at all levels, and often produce situations that seem at first sight impossible to understand.

        Reply
      2. BoyDownTheLane

        The whole thing is eerily parallel to the USS Vincennes shootdown of Iran Air Flight 655 which spawned a sub-industry around the term “situational awareness”, with books and monographs by a lady who became a guru of technical re-design in complex operational command centers. Vincennes was perhaps because someone pushed the wrong button at a moment of intense confusion. Or not. Maybe someone can get Mica Endsley to look into what happened at the Pentagon with the infamous Milley-Esper typing pool snafu.

        Reply
        1. Bill Smith

          Yup, pretty close to Flight 655.

          It appears though from this Iran has a something of a history of shooting at airliners:

          According to this Iran has fired this system at other civilian aircraft. From the news in 2012:

          https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/03/world/middleeast/wary-of-israel-iran-is-said-to-blunder-in-strikes.html

          “Iranian air defense units have taken inappropriate actions dozens of times, including firing antiaircraft artillery and scrambling aircraft against unidentified or misidentified targets,” noted a heavily classified Pentagon intelligence report, which added that the Iranian military’s communications were so inadequate and its training deficiencies so significant that “misidentification of aircraft will continue.”

          and

          In June 2007, the report noted, a Revolutionary Guards air defense unit fired a TOR-M1 surface-to-air missile at a civilian airliner.

          Reply
        2. The Rev Kev

          The USS Vincennes was not so much a display of “situational awareness” but aggressive stupidity. The Captain abandoned his assigned post, refused a direct order to return to it, sailed across the straights until he was actually in Iranian waters and fired off a missile because he thought that he might possibly shoot down an Iranian F-14 while ignoring communication procedures. The captain had that crew wound up tighter than on the Bedford Incident and he fired one. They should have court martialed and cashiered him instead of giving him a medal

          Reply
          1. BoyDownTheLane

            Reverend, with all due respect, you misread what I wrote, or have a poor understanding of what situational awareness is, or the fact that the term was coined because the combat information center operator aboard the Vincennes did not have it, and thus Mica Endsley was started on her way to large quantities of research into what might be termed “metsuke” by an Oriental practicing martial arts. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mica_Endsley “… She is the founder and former Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making and serves on the editorial board for three major journals. Endsley received the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Jack Kraft Innovator Award in 2003 for her work in situation awareness.”

            “… From 1997 to 2013, Endsley served as President and CEO of SA Technologies in Marietta, Georgia, a cognitive engineering firm specializing in the development of operator interfaces for advanced systems, including the next generation of systems for aviation, air traffic control, medical, power, oil & gas, and military operations. Prior to forming SA Technologies she was a Visiting Associate Professor at MIT in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering at Texas Tech University.

            Endsley has authored over 200 scientific articles and reports on situation awareness,[3][4] decision making and automation and is recognized internationally for her pioneering work in the design, development and evaluation of systems to support human situation awareness and decision-making, based on her model of situation awareness. ….”

            http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-KQwrSExSFoo/TtoYL4oT2MI/AAAAAAAAA5o/ZOazAG31cbo/s1600/situational+awareness.png

            Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              I actually understand what you say and all I can say is that the bridge crew had lost situational awareness because they wanted that kill, hence their conduct. Everything revolved around them thinking that they had a lock on an F-14 and anything else was dismissed.
              The primitive computer displays that they used did not help and I believe that they were redesigned later due to this shoot-down. The fact that those two 7th Fleet ships that had collisions not long ago that was partially due to flawed software design shows that after thirty years, the lessons still have not been learnt.
              But in the end a Captain is responsible for the actions of his ship and his reckless regard to orders just so that he could get a kill could have triggered a bloody battle. The sob should have been thrown out of the Navy. Fact was the Iranians gave him a message about consequences too when a bomb went off under his wife’s car but fortunately she was not killed.

              Reply
              1. BoyDownTheLane

                Good response, Rev, and I personally think you are correct. My purpose was to get people to recognize the extent to which the imperial blob will go to make it seem as if it were an accident of technological design. This should not throw any shade on Dr. Endsley or the study in situation awareness (some might call it mindfulness) as her research [I bought and read the book and several monographs] also looks at other incidents of non-warfare, and is applicable to something as mundane as the move towards heads-up displays in cars, voice-activated controls in cars, etc.

                Reply
    2. mpalomar

      “Of course it remains to be seen if this air disaster is treated as a catastrophic accident or whether neocons will try to capitalize on this. ”

      -There is obviously least one other way of trying to understand this and that is as a series of escalations by the US and the axis of crazies in the region against Iran culminating in a drone strike, war build up tensions and the resultant accidental shoot down by a country on a hair trigger, surrounded by belligerents.

      Reply
    3. The Historian

      Well, now that the initial investigation has been done, there is no need to jump to any conclusions anymore. Iran has done the right thing by accepting responsibility. I totally agree with your last paragraph!

      But now the propaganda artists will try to turn this into something nefarious, won’t they? It will be interesting to compare this to your example of Air Flight 665 when the Fogarty report claimed that this was a “technical fault” and that Iran was partly responsible too for the downing of that aircraft. Wikipedia has some interesting things to say about how that incident was covered in the press:

      “Robert Entman of George Washington University studied coverage surrounding the incident in U.S. media, comparing it to the similar incident that happened to Korean Air Lines Flight 007, which was shot down by the Soviet Union five years earlier. Using material from Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Washington Post and CBS Evening News, the research found clearly evident framing techniques used to demonize and blame the foreign enemy.[49] He stated that by “de-emphasizing the agency and the victims and by the choice of graphics and adjectives, the news stories about the U.S. downing of an Iranian plane called it a technical problem while the Soviet downing of a Korean jet was portrayed as a moral outrage.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_Air_Flight_655

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        As luck would have it, I was on KAL 007 flying to Seoul via Anchorage, just one day after it was shot out of the sky by the Soviets.

        A most interesting flight, never have I seen as many help yourself beverage carts on a flight, as if they wanted everybody to get plastered, which we did.

        Reply
        1. a different chris

          Well that’s weird we flew out of Pittsburgh on USAirways the day after the Flight 427 crash.

          So much stress on the employee’s faces.

          Reply
    4. David

      So as many of us suspected (and indeed suggested) from the beginning, this turns out to be of those reminders life gives you periodically not to engage your mouth before your brain is in gear, and to take a bit of time to study evidence and think about it
      Out of curiosity, I went to look at Moon of Alabama, since they jumped headfirst into the CT swamp within a few minutes of the news breaking. There’s a rather tortuous piece by Spencer, not really admitting he was wrong, and blaming the US anyway, with lots of references to the Iran Air A300. Interestingly, the comments section is still full of people claiming conspiracy and cover-up: somebody seemed to be suggesting that the Mossad might have somehow induced an IRGC officer to do it deliberately. Others are just hinting darkly that We’ll Never Know the Truth.
      I don’t know whether this kind of instant jumping to conclusions is more of a problem than it used to be, with the ubiquity of the Internet and the spread of Twitter, but I suspect it might be. And once you’ve committed yourself to an off-the-cuff and unconsidered opinion about something without knowing the facts, it becomes progressively more difficult to change it. In any event, I think Twitter, in particular, is encouraging a culture of instant, unthinking response based on a priori assumptions and subjective preferences. Whether those assumptions are RussiaRussiaRussia! or WMDIraqCIABad! or any of a dozen others, they effectively pre-empt not just rational debate, but even the possibility that the participants in a debate would take the time to think abut what they say before they say it. Looking at the coverage of this issue (among others) I actually began to wonder whether it was really human beings who were making postings, or just bots.
      In this case, unusually, we have the acknowledged truth. In other cases we probably won’t – it’s hard to imagine Clinton publicly confessing to have invented the whole Russia nonsense, for example. And the lesson of this and other affairs is that people won’t even believe the truth if it conflicts with their deepest prejudices: there’s always another contorted conspiracy explanation to get you out of your cognitive dissonance problem if you try hard enough.
      Which is why, of course, we need to support NC, and keep the level of comments at their traditional stellar level!

      Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        I don’t know whether this kind of instant jumping to conclusions is more of a problem than it used to be
        For decades, I’ve often sat around with friends when Big News like this breaks, each offering up our pet theories as to what’s really going on. And I don’t see the harm in it; none of us take it too seriously, various angles we hadn’t noticed open up, and we hear bits of possible factual information we weren’t aware of. Sometimes, we even believe ourselves closer to the truth than before, but we enjoy the chat anyway.
        Two things seem different in this hyper-connected age. First, I can be read within minutes by hundreds, who might spread my words with equally lightning speed around the world, rather than be heard by four or five. Second, if I’m hanging out with friends, they all have their say too, with the opportunity to question, ridicule, or agree with me as they see fit. Online, I don’t have to listen to anyone else.

        Reply
      2. pjay

        I don’t disagree with anything you have said here. So why does your comment bother me? I’m trying to think reflectively about my reaction with my brain before engaging my mouth (or keyboard).

        Perhaps it is the use of this incident to engage in the typical disparaging of “conspiracy theories,” with the typical depiction of “conspiracy theorists” as irrational nuts whose “conspiratorial” belief systems are impervious to evidence or rational argument. Certainly there many such people, from all ideological positions and regardless of education, as your examples illustrate. Indeed all of us are susceptible to confirmation bias in favor of strongly held beliefs, and it is often difficult to admit evidence to the contrary. On the other hand, as we all know, fact-based arguments are often waved off as “conspiracy theories” by those who benefit from keeping such facts hidden.

        Immediately after the Ukrainian airliner crashed, the mainstream media was reporting authoritatively that Western intelligence verified an Iranian missile strike. Part of my “brain” told me that this was indeed likely under the circumstances. But another part of my brain told me that such coordinated stories that make the Enemy of the moment look bad are often propaganda efforts, though also justified as the authoritative conclusions of Western intelligence. This is not an irrational belief, but rather is based on a logical evaluation of historical evidence over many years. Though I wisely kept my mouth shut in this case, my first instinct, based on what I believe to be logic and past evidence, was to be very skeptical of official pronouncements by media stenographers.

        In this case we know the truth. I certainly accept it. But I hope we do not use this incident to bash those who are skeptical of the Official Truths of the moment.

        Reply
        1. David

          And in turn I agree with much of what you say. I’d just make two further points. First, some of this is circular. If you talk to CT believers or frequent sites like Metabunk, you see that many people there have a closed set of beliefs such that they are firmly convinced of CT A, which makes it easier to accept CT B, which in turn makes it easier to accept CT C ….. and so on. In the end they live in a world almost exclusively composed of mutually interlocking conspiracies with no real purchase on reality. (As it happens I’m quite interested in the history and psychology of conspiracy theories, and believe me, there’s some pretty bad stuff out there). Secondly, I wouldn’t agree that on this occasion the media Immediately stenographed western intelligence agencies. In fact (and we discussed this) western governments were initially very quiet on the subject, which some also found very suspicious. The running was made by sites like MoA, which was in fact the first to pop up in my RSS feed, and which already had a fully worked out theory of western responsibility. (I should add that I have no special animus against MoA: their Middle East coverage is often good, especially on Syria). Western governments actually did what you would expect if they were genuinely caught by surprise : said nothing while they analysed the intelligence and tried to work out what happened. In the end the distinction I make is between intelligent scepticism and the other sort. Governments will always put a spin on stories to suit their political objectives, and they may well deny or try to hide embarrassing information and events. To give a simple example, western governments have consistently misled their people about the largely non-existent Iranian nuclear programme, by making alarmist statements and putting the worst interpretation they can on events. It’s fair to be sceptical of such behaviour, but also to recognise that scepticism taken too far is essentially self-defeating.

          Reply
      3. Laughingsong

        These days of polarization and social media instant communication are the perfect environment for heading right up to eleven out of the gate. In fairness to the MoA crowd, many of whom I enjoy reading, there are excellent reasons for jumping to the conclusions they did. Agreed that some a too fire-breathing for me, but come on, it’s not like the US and Israel are exactly unknown for false flags, sabotage, or planting moles to perform the wrong act at the wrong time. I too felt that such was more likely than IRGC violence. And telltale munitions damage to the plane was only just seen; the initial bits of the plane seen in media didn’t show it.

        I hope folks here don’t mind if I say that I get disturbed by the present, apparent acrimony between NC and MoA folks. I certainly have disagreed with people on both sides, sometimes vehemently, but I also view the seeming bitterness of it as a symptom of a larger breakdown in societal cohesion and, well, tolerance, that has continued apace throughout my 60 years. I am almost coming to the conclusion that reconnecting with people who are largely on the same side is the biggest challenge of our time. We’ve been divided and conquered and will remain so until we find a way back.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I feel compelled to point out that MoA twice accused us falsely and aggressively of taking the views we have taken on Hong Kong because we were paid to do so. He can go to hell.

          We did not link to his blog or directly criticize him in any way when we came to a different point of view than he had. It is utterly bizarre and frankly grandiose for him to have taken a discussion of the Hong Kong protests as a personal attack.

          To have him defame us on totally fabricated grounds is utterly outside the pale. We have regularly disagreed with other bloggers and MSM writers, including aggressively shredding their posts paragraph by paragraph. They either ignored us or issued a rebuttal. To instead try to savage our reputation is cheap, desperate, and nasty.

          We are unwilling to drive traffic to someone who has no interest in accuracy.

          Reply
            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Hah, I don’t mind that, it’s the “Why no mention?” bit. We’d promoted him by linking to him, which drives traffic to his site. He even complained that we’d stopped without either retracting his lies or apologizing.

              Reply
      4. ChrisPacific

        I know I have to be more careful these days since I’m so used to US politicians and media lying outright, so I’m inclined to jump to that conclusion. I try to address it by adding it as a mental check: could they be telling the truth, and are my priors leading me to dismiss this without sufficient justification?

        I believe I reserved judgement on this one as the US was offering a lot of specific and potentially verifiable detail, with a mental asterisk to check the detail later as they haven’t been above falsifying details in the past to give an appearance of credibility (looking at you, Colin Powell).

        Reply
      5. VietnamVet

        The USA is a Cold War with Russia, a Trade War with China, and a Lukewarm War with Iran. All accidents are a chain of events. This one started with the Carter Doctrine which stated that the United States would use military force, if necessary, to defend its national interests in the Persian Gulf. The airport was not shutdown. The airplane took off in the hours before WWIII was avoided. What exactly happened on and to the 737 NG is still unknown.

        All wars are continuous SNAFUs that only by experience, conditioning and blind luck is one’s death or injury avoided. Or as General George Patton Jr. said “no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”

        War propaganda and meme construction are going at full speed. Like the MH-17 shootdown, the Ukraine Airlines deaths will be placed on Iran solely and the fact that NATO is in an untenable position in Syria and Iraq and the troops must be withdrawn today or a new war of occupation in Iraq will break out is completely ignored.

        Reply
      6. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, the one easy rule everyone should follow is Occams Razor. Sometimes the most straightforward theory is the best unless other evidence arises. In the circumstances, an accidental shoot down was always the most likely explanation. Modern aircraft (even 737’s) almost never have catastrophic fires when flying these days. An external event was always most likely explanation, and given that Tehran is surrounded by very nervous anti-aircraft missile crews using a hodgepodge of different equipment, it doesn’t need a lot to guess what might have happened.

        What people often seem to forget here is that firing out convoluted conspiracy theories is actually exactly what the Blob (or whatever you want to call it) wants. People spinning out all sorts of elaborate theories without evidence just confuses things. Start with the basic facts, then work out from there.

        Reply
      7. Basil Pesto

        to be fair, between the downing of the plane and the Iranian mission of guilt, there were a number of, shall we say, conjectural posts in comments here about What Really Happened.

        Many of them seeked to be driven by what I might call an inverse-American Exceptionalism; not that the US is uniquely free, great and awesome but that the US is uniquely incompetent, mediocre and obnoxious, which, though it is all those things to be sure, I think is nevertheless an erroneous worldview.

        Reply
        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          I remember reading these and registering that the NC commentariat is not immune from MSM-like talking headism, filling up space with speculation based on priors instead of waiting for the facts.

          Reply
        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          The religious belief that America is the cause, planner and inspiration of all evil in the world has been called American Exceptional-Evilism. It has been noted that American Exceptional-Evilism is just simply American Exceptionalism standing on its head.

          Noam Chomsky is a prominent American Exceptional-Evilist. MoA is an obscure American Exceptional-Evilist. As well as being an anti-Americanitic culture-racist anti-Americanite.

          Reply
    5. xkeyscored

      So far as I know, the US has never accepted responsibility for downing Flight 655. Rather, they paid to make the case go away. They might feel it wiser to accept Iran’s apology to the victims than to re-open that can of worms. The two cases bear a striking resemblance, something they may prefer not to emphasise. What’s more, the precision of the Iranian missile attacks on their bases in Iraq may have surprised them; perhaps they realise they are more vulnerable than they had thought – another reason to lay low for a while.
      On the other hand, is wisdom the current president’s strong point?

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        There was a rumored story of Dempsey trying to explain to Kerry Syria could retaliate. Short of magical thinking, our basic defense posture makes no sense. My guess is there were quite a bit of ruined pants in the Pentagon over this than is commonly realized. The locals with guns aren’t the French who were recently liberated. The US has probably killed a family member for every armed local.

        Even an operation against Iran even if the armed conflict part is a resounding success (it would have to be minimal) would open the supply lines to mass attacks. We can’t possibly defend the bases or resupply them when engaged with Iran.

        Reply
      2. markodochartaigh

        One point which will be interesting to contrast is how the Iranians treat those directly responsible for the plane’s destruction. They are now saying that they will prosecute them. The US reassigned the commander who shot down the Iranian passenger plane to a teaching position. He also wrote a book.

        Reply
        1. xkeyscored

          And (Wikipedia):
          Despite the mistakes made in the downing of the plane, the men of USS Vincennes were awarded Combat Action Ribbons for completion of their tours in a combat zone. The air-warfare coordinator on duty received the Navy Commendation Medal,[10] but The Washington Post reported in 1990 that the awards were for his entire tour from 1984 to 1988 and for his actions relating to the surface engagement with Iranian gunboats.[66] In 1990, Rogers was awarded the Legion of Merit “for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as commanding officer […] from April 1987 to May 1989.” The award was given for his service as the commanding officer of Vincennes from April 1987 to May 1989. The citation made no mention of the downing of Iran Air 655.[67][68]

          Reply
        2. Briny

          My reaction on seeing the (alleged) footage was: “I feel sorry for the poor b*st*rd that fired that missile.” I still do.

          Reply
            1. smoker

              Thank you for that link, although it is so heart wrenching a read. I pray he doesn’t commit suicide before he accepts that it wasn’t his fault, is killed, or otherwise punished – what a horrifying decision to make; and the devil in the details with communication problems during those fatal ten seconds. The fault lies with the US Department Of Defense Offense, on a Bipartisan Level; and the Elites which guide it for their profits (e.g. OIL in Iran, once again, since the early 1950s).

              Reply
              1. Briny

                Rally doesn’t matter if he gets punished or not, he’ll punish himself almost certainly. I know, having my own nightmares.

                Reply
      3. rd

        Why would the US respond to this at all? This was an internal incident in Iran that involved a Ukrainian airline with lots of Iranians, Ukrainians, and Canadians on board. I don’t think a single American was hurt in the making of this catastrophe. It at least keeps Boeing and NTSB clear of having to try to defend Boeing.

        Reply
        1. kiwi

          Exactly.

          Only people who desparately want war so they can blame Trump for more wars want some sort of response.

          It is so disgusting to see dems slobbering for war just like they were slobbering for a recession.

          Reply
          1. inode_buddha

            There are people who desperately want war just because, in *both* parties. Let that sink in for a bit. As a recovering Republican, I didn’t expect the Dems to be angels. And, among my acquaintances are military base commanders who watch Fox news and believe every word of it.

            Reply
      4. Bill Smith

        From Wiki:

        In 1996, the governments of the United States and Iran reached a settlement at the International Court of Justice which included the statement “…the United States recognized the aerial incident of 3 July 1988 as a terrible human tragedy and expressed deep regret over the loss of lives caused by the incident…”[12] As part of the settlement, even though the U.S. government did not admit legal liability or formally apologize to Iran, it still agreed to pay US$61.8 million on an ex gratia basis in compensation to the families of the Iranian victims.[13]

        Reply
    6. rd

      Its what happens when war is just bubbling along below the surface. Everybody wants to pretend its not happening, so they fly civilian airlines like normal. Every now and then, a USS Vincennzes, pro-Russian militia,or Iranian Revolutionary Guard makes a snap decision that is wrong because they are on full alert with every spider sense tingling.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Historians often have a very tricky time deciding the date when a major war started, I think WW III started on 9/11, in other words, that’s when we started it. Much too much peace was in the air, and talk of “peace dividends” was giving the S&P 500 CEOs nightmares. So we solved that now didn’t we

        Reply
    7. Jeremy Grimm

      Iran has shown remarkable restraint in its response to the U.S. attack on Soleimani. I believe this restraint and the clear message their attack conveys of their missile capabilities greatly enhances Iran’s stature in the Middle East and in world opinion. And I believe the Iranian admission and apology for downing the Ukrainian flight adds to that stature. The Iranian actions stand in remarkable contrast with the actions of the U.S. and further present a remarkable contrast between what I view as the wise Iranian leadership and the ‘leadership’ we enjoy in the U.S.

      Reply
      1. kiwi

        If anyone showed restraint, it was the US decisions to show restraint over the decades of Soleimani’s actions.

        https://www.businessinsider.com/why-neither-bush-or-obama-killed-iranian-general-qassem-soleimani-2020-1

        If you so admire Iran, you’re free to make your life there, and you can join Soleimani’s group and help them.

        I don’t agree with the way this was handled, but I’m certainly not going to sympathize with or lionize Soleimani or the forces that supported him.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Huh? First, Soleimani provided the US with incredibly valuable intel about 9/11, to the degree that Stratfor at the time wrote more than once about “the coming US/Iran alliance.” They (Iran and apparently Stratfor) were blindsided by the Bush “Axis of evil” speech.

          Second, as even economist Barkeley Rosser managed to work out. Solelimani’s role in recent years was in getting various interests to work together v. ISIS and various Al Quaeda factions. He did not directly prosecute any action. Intercept confirmed none of those 600+ US deaths that have been bandied about were his doing.

          Third, more generally, please tell me why decades of US aggression towards Iran are justified. Iran (before that Persia and Assyria) has not been on the offense for literally thousands of years.

          Reply
        2. inode_buddha

          Its not a question of admiring them or anything, its a question of telling the truth about whats going on. So far, nobody else in the US media is doing that. Did the media tell you about the CIA in Iran back in 1953?

          Reply
          1. pjay

            Thanks. I was going to post this as a response as well. No one can accuse the Colonel of being a lefty or naive peacenik.

            Reply
        3. lambert strether

          > If you so admire Iran, you’re free to make your life there, and you can join Soleimani’s group and help them.

          America, love it or leave it. Reminds me of Vietnam War days. Good times….

          Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            When one remembers that one of Suleimani’s singular achievements is co-ordinating the defense of the legitimate government of Syria against the GAJ (Global Axis of Jihad) and the CLEJ ( Cannibal Liver-Eating Jihadis), one wonders whether kiwi itself isn’t a partisan of the GAJ and the CLEJ, and might feel deeply embittered against Suleimani for his part in the GAJ’s and the CLEJ’s defeat.

            One might go on to wonder, further, if . . . given the obvious fact of kiwi’s deep admiration for and support of the Cannibal Liver Eating Jihadi insurgency against civilization in Syria . . . . that kiwi shouldn’t move to Idlib Province?

            Reply
    8. Geof

      Simplistic though it may sound, it seems to me that the lesson should be that war. Even almost war; even war against bad people for good reasons. War kills the innocent. Avoid it.

      I have been hoping to see people take a step back and try to reduce tensions. I’m mostly seeing the opposite. It seems that most people would rather be outraged by the deaths of innocents than prevent those deaths in the first place.

      Reply
  9. petal

    Re Steyer ad spending-this week I’ve noticed a huge uptick in the amount of his ads on ESPN when I stream, and on youtube. I actually stopped listening to a radio station because of his ads-he’s really flooding media with ads. You can’t avoid him. “I built my company from scratch, didn’t inherit anything from my parents, etc etc” and really pushing that he’s the one that can beat Trump. My punishment for wanting to watch curling, I guess. Also been an uptick in Mayo Pete ads on youtube. Have so far not seen any Bloomberg ads, but I guess that makes sense because he is skipping NH. On my driving route, a small Mayo Pete yard sign was replaced by one of those giant ones(4’x6′?). Can’t not see it. Will be glad when the primary is over.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      In late 2007, I had stumbled into Romney country in New Hampshire. When I was trying to get out of the area, I stopped because my GPS picked back up and saw a 4X6 Romney sign next to a drive way. It struck me as odd, so I drove back and forth and realized it could only be seen if you were right in front of the neighbor across the street’s really nice gated driveway. There were less than 10 houses in this huge area.

      Reply
    2. Brooklin Bridge

      I’ve seen Bloomberg ads. There is something about the hue and color of the skin on his skull. No kidding, he or it looks like a talking mummy. Apparently, money can prop up anything.

      Reply
      1. foghorn longhorn

        Lots of bloomberg and steyer ads running here in ne tejas, all on national networks, not local tv.
        Steyer’s are middle of the road, quite forgettable, bloomberg’s are fricking horrible, he’s all hunched over, holding a baby like he’s fixing to throw it in a volcano.
        Like Yves said, NYC reeks of suckitude down here.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          > he’s all hunched over, holding a baby like he’s fixing to throw it in a volcano.

          Now that’s some suitable Zillionaire imagery, there!
          “Show me the MONEY!!!”

          Reply
  10. Bugs Bunny

    Is anyone actually thinking anymore at the New Republic?

    Why Tucker Carlson Is Obsessed With Trash – Alex Shephard

    Quick read, I learned that Tucker Carlson blames trash on immigrants and the homeless and it’s all the result of Democratic governors and feckless liberal local governments. But then Shephard says nothing at all to refute this, as if it’s obvious that it can’t be true. What is obvious is that there might be a number of other reasons: poverty caused by loss of manufacturing jobs – replaced by bupkis, degradation of public housing and lack thereof, selective trash collection based on zip code income, racism (hello?), etc.

    These articles practically write themselves. Can’t one of these CJS samespeak kids get out and do some real research?

    Reply
    1. Carey

      My guess is that T. Carlson’s getting a little too much mind-share from
      disaffected and still-thinking librul (soon to be former-librul?) types,
      so he’s getting a little taste of the Assange treatment.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        Adding: Well, they’re got Libby Watson for short-term street cred,
        and the person who wrote the fine recent 737MAX piece; then stuff like
        this vague trashing (sorry) of Tucker Carlson (noticed this author before, and he works hard at his mediocrities) to maintain the
        DC corporatist bona fides, is how I see it.

        The latter are feelin’ it a little bit, I think; not a lot, but a little.

        first slowly, then [Iowa caucuses]

        Reply
  11. The Rev Kev

    ” ‘Deadbeat’ AOC rakes in a bundle but doesn’t share with House Democrats ”

    The Democrats said this? Aren’t they the same party that are standing a couple people against her in the next election? And that any funds donated by her would be used to support her Democrat challengers? Anyway, AOC is a good New York Girl who must have seen all the funds sucked out of local districts to go to Hillary’s Brooklyn HQ back in 2016 and only about 1% ever came back. So why bother?

    CNN did an article yesterday saying that AOC should leave the Democrat party. You just keep on thinking CNN – it’s what your good at. AOC would probably have replied that in fact that it is the Democrat party that left voters like her-

    https://edition.cnn.com/2020/01/09/opinions/aoc-biden-democratic-party-harrop/index.html

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      It seems quaint, now. Just think about how post-2016, there was a genuine movement on the left to try to form a new political party and they wanted to draft Bernie to waste his time getting it off the ground and on the ballot.

      The prospect of conquering the Democratic Party is real. It would also be a major triumph. Think about forcing legions of neoliberals to either flip to Republican (a rather inhospitable environment), or to go form a new party. Once they’re out of power, the money dries up for the old guard. No point in backing losers.

      But, as Lambert has pointed out, 2018 brought in a lot of centrists (that’s all that was allowed to run) Pelosi pretty effectively used 2018 to strengthen her position as majority leader. It’s going to take some time and a lot of work to clean house!

      Reply
      1. rd

        The Tea Party and then Trump proved that it is far more effective to simply take over a party in the US. The blue dog Democrats showed the same thing after the Civil Rights Act when they shifted over to the Republican Party. Much of the Republican establishment today south of the Mason-Dixon line would have been Democrats 60 years ago.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          What work for the Right will not necessarily work for the Left. Consider the former’s (potential?) partners..

          The Organizing’s the Thing (and not thru screens)

          Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      So much of the Team Blue elites are Republicans and non entities who simply vote Democratic in the first place because they live in safe blue districts. AOC and Sanders types who actually reflect their constituents must be kept out of the Democratic Party and away from the mechanisms of control such as the DNC.

      Back in 2006, Dean and Rahm went to war on every district, and Rahm managed to get a bunch of his nominees in Gore-Kerry districts and Dean’s candidates were in Bush-Cheney districts. Basically the 2008 House pickups were in the Gore Kerry districts where Rahm backed candidates managed to lose in 2006. Can you imagine If Rahm and the Clinton were still in control of the DNC in 2006? Shrub probably would have appointed Barney to the Supreme Court after he bit that reporter.

      Without institutional support and enthusiasm, many of these incumbents could be successfully primaries.

      Reply
    3. Mel

      ” ‘Deadbeat’ AOC rakes in a bundle but doesn’t share with House Democrats ”

      The Democrats said this? Aren’t they the same party that are standing a couple people against her in the next election?

      Yup. And this is the reason they’ll give when they do it.
      They’ve got narrative control figured out.

      Reply
        1. newcatty

          Yes, Briny. Your comment reminded me of a saying I heard many years ago: I am honored to be disrespected by you. This statement was in reply to observed mean, jealous, bullying, envious, threatening, amoral, narcissistic, selfish, petty, prejudiced, narrow minded behavior. I have always tried to keep that in mind as I navigate this life. Does any of the negative behaviors apply to how AOC is viewed by the Dem leadership?

          Reply
          1. Briny

            I think this quote from the WSJ Op-Ed describes my new found (as a reformed liberaltarian) view of the situation:

            “This transfer of power permits establishment politicians pressed by working-class voters to claim that they can do nothing because their hands are tied by courts and treaties. As a result, casting votes is like putting coins into a broken vending machine. When there is no response, frustrated people tend to kick the machine.”

            Well, since the kick didn’t work, this engineer’s reaction, like that of many a technician or engineer, is basically “need a bigger hammer!” Gabbard, Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are my idea of that bigger hammer.

            Reply
  12. Alex

    Re Yasha Levine’s article, I’m by no means a supporter of Liberman but it’s a highly tendentious article. Anyone can google translate NDI’s manifesto and see that they are for the two-state solution, which puts them to the left of all the parties who don’t support it (or in case of Netanyahu say that they support it but do everything to make it impossible in practice).

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Being for a two state solution has been virtue signaling for at least a decade. It’s the equivalent of a silicon valley company announcing an led initiative at their new headquarters where people will only commute 2 hours each day.

      Reply
      1. Alex

        I don’t want to get into the argument about the feasibility of the two-state solution in Liberman’s or anyone else’s formulation. My point was that there are forces who make no effort to pay even lip service to the two-state solution and say they will never support anything like that. In view of this it’s misleading to call Liberman far right or fascist.

        Reply
          1. Carey

            You’re not the ‘JFK’ running for Congress who won’t stop
            spamming me with emails for which there’s no way to
            unsubscribe™, are you?

            If not disregard

            Reply
  13. Charlie

    Re:: Memory and age, hearing loss.

    Received my first set of hearing aids in 1978 due to Menieres disease (one of only two cases in children at the time from what the doctors notes much later) and I can attest to the constant investigations of the brain and the limitations of even good hearing aids.

    I still tend to brush questions aside from not wishing to ask for pardon repeatedly (such as the operating system changing programs with the phone or just plain wax buildup). So people tend to view me as less than intelligent in spite of a master’s degree. Thus, I take the Einstein approach and note that human stupidity being one of the rare infinants.

    Reply
    1. Whoamolly

      I’ve gotten fairly aggressive about smiling and saying “I didn’t understand that, could you repeat it please?”

      For a long time I would nod, smile, and agree. These agreements got me into some fairly strange situations…

      Reply
      1. Charlie

        I had gotten to notice the first request usually works, however, after the third request people tend to zone out. So that’s my limit.

        And yes, it does make for some strange situations.

        Reply
      2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        I read somewhere once that as men get older hearing loss tends to happen within the main range of an adult female’s voice.This makes sense to me as I recall over the years through my parents & Grandparents, situations in which the females would be addressing the males only to be answered by something like ” Wha !! ” or sometimes just an affirmative despite him obviously not having understood what had been said.

        My parents would then repeat this lunacy eventually pumping up the volume to shouting level, or my Mother would move closer with a disdainful look & ask my Dad what she had said, to which he would usually make something up based on the odd word that he had actually made out. This was always incorrect & my Mother would then tell him that he never listened to her & if my Dad was in a good mood he would reply to that with a grin & another ” Wha !! ” – Mum would then roll her eyes & walk away in disgust.

        I have been at that level for a few years & it occurs in a similar fashion, although I did realize that with both the women I lived with that it was wise not to go beyond 2 Wha’s leading me to close the distance with a little peck on the cheek.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          >as men get older hearing loss tends to happen within the main range of an adult female’s voice

          potential joke in here somewhere

          Reply
          1. Synoia

            I read somewhere once that as men get older hearing loss tends to happen within the main range of an adult female’s voice.

            Yes, it’s a learned response. The S/N ratio is too skewed to N. /s.

            I suspect an evolutionary process at work here, which has to do with cadence and signaling from human females in a group. If the cadence is “content” the males do not react. If the cadence changes to “alarm” (screams ) the males pick up weapons and act immediately.

            Reply
    1. Carey

      Thank you for the link. Haque lately has been mixing some oddly
      disparate messages, IMO, as well as using the words “we” and “should” more than I’d like. Separate entirely from the very worthy
      topic, I get this vague sense of railroading.. if and when the author
      starts proposing solutions, I’ll be paying attention, for various reasons.

      One opinion.

      Reply
    2. Carey

      >Not sure why I think the French strikes are an antidote to this growing alienation and dehumanization, but I do think they are an antidote.

      Agree, big time. Likely why the corporate MSM coverage of them is so meager.. h/t LS

      “It’s just all so confusing!” no it’s not

      Reply
  14. flora

    re: Harry and Meghan

    I’m told emotional/intellectual adolescence lasts longer and longer in modern society… but it now lasts even into one’s late 30’s? /s

    Reply
    1. Massinissa

      I mean, gold diggers have always been a thing. She just bit off more than she could chew, thought a prince was the same thing as a regular billionaire only to find out that isn’t the case.

      The Royal Family at least has to still demonstrate Noblesse Oblige outwardly.

      Reply
      1. BoyDownTheLane

        I don’t follow the Royals, don’t really care to…. I see them as a small group of people caught in an organizational structure that is all very flawed,

        https://www.rt.com/op-ed/477854-harry-meghan-independent-royals/

        https://greencrowasthecrowflies.blogspot.com/2020/01/royal-deja-vu-all-over-again.html

        https://pagesix.com/2020/01/09/oprah-winfrey-advised-prince-harry-and-meghan-markle-on-megxit/

        Harry seems to be a decent fellow and it’s easy to be empathetic when you think about his mother and her demise. Meaghan seems lovely and grounded, but what do I know? Harry’s had a lot of experience, is involved in some good charities, loves sports, and is wired into most of the nobility of Europe. He’s moving to Canada, I gather, [“… in 2019, the Duke and Duchess created an Instagram social media account, which broke the record for fastest account to reach 1 million followers.”…[202]…] and I suppose it’s quite conceivable that he could build a new reality TV show up there (maybe it could replace that awful “Love It or Leave It” HGTV show) in which couples could play strip biliards.]

        Reply
      2. Harvey

        I do not think that the British Royal Family is a bastion of virtue. For example, In the US a show on Andrew & Epstein did not go to air a few years ago because the Royal Mafia threatened the US TV company with a right royal snubbing re William & Kate. So what pressure are the Royals bringing on UK newspapers to smear these young people? I suppose we’ll find out in 10 or 20 years time.

        My only concern is if Harry & Meghan Windsor are influenced by people who are driven and successful money grubbers and here I speak of the Clintons and the Obamas.

        Reply
        1. Massinissa

          Neither do I. I just was saying that they at least put up the pretense of being as such. What Meghan was planning to do would rip that off.

          Though I suppose that would be a good thing in a way? I honestly don’t care all that much. I mostly just find it amusing.

          Reply
    2. Harvey

      I cannot see how the desire to be an independent adult is a symptom of adolescence.
      What normal man wants his daily existence timetabled by his grandmother? What smart woman wants a man tied to grandmummy’s apron strings?

      Perhaps Harry’s choice of woman (smart, independent, not white) was his first salvo across the bows of The Firm as they are called – I suppose the Mafia have already trademarked “the Family”.
      I read in my local paper yesterday that the Queen’s immense irritation is shown by the fact that she picked up the phone and called Harry, because she never phones her family. Seriously? Dysfunction anyone?

      I am astonished at the tone of the commentary.

      Reply
      1. flora

        Think of 17 and 18 year olds still living at home declaring to mom and dad “I’m grown now, you aren’t the boss of me anymore, oh and can I have raise in my allowance and borrow the car on Saturday.” It’s expected 17 and 18 year old teens will try on something like that with the parents, a point of passage looking ahead to real adult life, trying on stretching their wings to see if the wings are strong enough to fly.

        The adolescent aspect is declaring independent adulthood while expecting continued financial and material support as a continuing dependent and leaving others to clean up whatever mess you create. It’s an understandable passage in late teen years. In the mid-30s it looks like arrested development or wanting to have their cake and eat it, too, imo. If they want to leave the family business and strike out on their own then good for them. Entirely understandable. But that doesn’t look like what is actually happening, imo. It looks like their hoped for financial independence trades entirely on using the family name for cachet. In a way the family disapproves of.

        Reply
        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          ” In a way the family disapproves of.”

          Zounds!! How dreadful! They should only do what the august Family approves of, clearly. (Irrespective of their own sanity, or the well-being of their kids.)

          Perhaps it should be noted that the doyens of ‘the Family’ who are – artlessly – emitting these back-channel signals about how the 2 ought to behave… do not get dragged through the Murdochian muck every morning*. And that they are also living off of great wealth that should be in the hands of general public. Only more so.

          The Windsors should have closed ranks to protect the Harry + Meghan family. And they should presently be held to the same standards with regards to their perpetual adolescence. And their very elegant lives, lived largely on the public dole.

          *(It’s so nice to be entirely English. And white!)

          Reply
      2. Kfish

        Me too. Two people are publicly breaking away from a dysfunctional, rotten, secretive family obsessed with inherited power and the commentariat’s response is to side with the Royal Family?

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Please don’t make stuff up. They are in no way, shape or form breaking away from the family. They want to shirk family obligations but have the upside.

          If they wanted to break away, Harry would simply abdicate. Have you managed not to notice that is not what he is doing?

          Specifically, they desperately want/need to keep their titles because they intend to launch a retail empire, Sussex Royal. They not only registered the URL but also a raft of trademarks.

          And they want to keep UK taxpayer-funded bodyguards and the 2.4 million pound renovation to one of their houses….and I think they want to keep using at least one official (not owned personally by Harry or Meghan) house.

          They are grifters.

          Reply
    3. chuck roast

      Freud call it “advanced infantilism”. I had it, and somehow survived. My niece has it. She is 34 and and shows no signs of actually growing up. If it’s becoming widespread, it would be scary thing indeed.

      Reply
  15. Carolinian

    Interesting Chomsky. I do think, though, that his usual formulation–that everything is going according to deep state (the lords of capital) plan–fails to account for the irrationality of the elites themselves. Which is to say the pursuit of power is quite rational up to a point and then becomes quite irrational. It could be that we smart monkeys haven’t quite dropped the monkey and that may be the most dominant part of our natures. What he and Scheer don’t highlight is that The Best and the Brightest book title was meant ironically. Those people weren’t really very bright at all.

    Reply
  16. Rick

    The Aeon ‘depressive realism’ article is great, but I disagree that DBT is fundamentally contrary. In my experience, mindfulness is helpful to getting to the place of acceptance of existential truth. The psychotherapist Irvin Yalom has helpful thoughts about the four existential truths (death, loneliness, meaninglessness, and freedom).

    I have found a profound contentment in these truths.

    Reply
    1. smoker

      Unfortunately, many of today’s depressed and despairing are so – first and foremost – because they and their loved ones can no longer afford to live in any dignified, moral, unfearful, and physically safe manner (whether they are Educated™, or not). Secondly, many additionally have to contend with the depression and despair caused by the colossal betrayal and violation by the politicians they repeatedly had faith in – which colossal betrayal and violation caused them their inability to even minimally ‘get by.’

      No amount of mindfulness can resolve that first reason, particularly with the added political betrayal and violation, and even more so when they are forced to helplessly witness someone they love be brutalized beyond repair by The System™. Seems to me that it would be cruel of any Therapist™ (who can afford to live a dignified, and much safer life) to try to perpetrate Mindfulness on a person in that situation.

      Of course Mindfulness (along with AI Mental Health Software™) – which seems to have really hit its stride during the Obomber years (and consequent vast destruction of decent jobs and housing under a Democrat, because Technology™ and Save Wall Street) – appears to be the Therapy Industry™’s rage in Silicon Valley from what I’ve read. This, despite the ugly fact that it does nothing at all to mitigate the still exploding inequality and homelessness in Silicon Valley; nor the skyrocketed Teen Despair in the bowels of Silicon Valley’s wealthy neighborhoods.

      Reply
  17. Tomonthebeach

    Looks like Meghan has “Trumped” the royals by tearing off the mask of symbolic aristocracy (an obvious sham to Yanks) and showing how crude and greedy the royals are – just .012%ers doing their usual thing of ripping off the peasants. It they were real Kings and Queens, they would have long ago stepped in and dismissed Brexit. Maybe thinking that the end is nigh for their hokey reign, they have decided Brexit will enable cashing in on their holdings.

    Reply
    1. Tom Bradford

      “The Royals”, unlike you it appears, no-longer live in the 16th Century.

      Were the Queen to ‘step in” and dismiss Brexit as you suggest she would be going against the wishes of around 50% of her subjects. Would you applaud that? In fact if the Royals had that kind of power I doubt the UK would have joined the EU in the first place.

      Much of the “wealth” of the Royal family is tied up in Real Estate or artifacts like the Koh-I-Nor diamond which they hold in Trust for the Nation. The income they receive from the Civil List, while not insignificant, is hardly extravagant when compared with the obscene rewards of the CEOs of many US Companies, for doing a job which is no doubt highly tedious in itself and yet is hugely appreciated by giving public recognition to the often voluntary efforts of ordinary people. Yes they could sell Buckingham Palace for a billion or so, which would hardly make a dent in the UK’s finances, and probably to someone like Trump who’d turn it into a Las Vegas confection of fake gold and trash with his name in lights over it. Americans, I’m sure, would lap it up.

      While I wouldn’t accuse Meghan of being a gold-digger like the current First Lady of the US, I think she didn’t realise, or wouldn’t accept if it was pointed out to her, that marrying a Royal is taking on a vocation rather than the starring role of a Disney film about Princesses. I doubt she would have married Andrew had he not been who he was, and regrettably has proved herself unwilling to take the rough with the smooth necessary in any marriage let alone unusual ones like this.

      I suspected the marriage was never going to work any more than would a marriage between me, an ordinary working guy, and a film star like Cate Blanchette. Even if our ‘love’ was real (if you believe in such a thing) no marriage could survive such a vast gulf of realities for long.

      Much of being ‘Royal’ is living up to an expectation and is largely a pretence everyone (outside the US, at least) connives in. Meghan, unhappily, seems not to have known this.

      Reply
      1. Monty

        Well said Tom.

        The flip side of the palaces and free money is a the duty to represent the country that provides those perks.

        It’s impossible to go on a hedonistic binge with your pals when you have to visit sick chicken in the hospital the following morning. Ergo Megxit.

        Reply
  18. funemployed

    I’m of two minds about Lind’s essay re: the Professional Managerial “Elite” appearing in the WSJ. On the one hand, anything that helps nudge the PMC(E?) towards greater self-awareness seems a good thing, and there’s nothing substantive in his essay that I disagree with.

    Yet I still can’t help wonder if this isn’t simply an exceedingly clever and oh so “professional” elision of who is actually pulling the strings, and how to actually redistribute power in such a way as to “save democracy.”

    He’s not wrong when he says education (though he means elite education, whether he knows it or not) is an essential class marker for the PMC, but the education system these days is basically just a big ol’ way to start sorting people at a very young age according to their 1) compliance with authority, 2) diligence and cleverness re: pleasing authority, and most importantly 3) familial background.

    Even if you manage to run that gauntlet, failure to continuously and very convincingly convince the employers of the world that you will serve power as your singular, overriding moral imperative (there are several nodes of power – you may choose which) will result in 98% of cases in summary and immediate rejection from membership in the PMC including, most importantly, no six figure salaries ever, from anyone, ever again.

    Reply
    1. Carey

      Thanks for this fine comment, and I particularly agree with your second
      paragraph. I say that because, time and again, some highly-credentialed
      person(s) will start making all the right noises (we hear you, truly!), only
      to draw pointedly, obliviously wrong conclusions; never wrong ones for
      the Few/PMC axis of course. “Moar study is needed..”

      Thomas Frank’s most recent book ‘Rendezvous with Oblivion’ is worth reading BTW, containing essays from 2011-2016, if you don’t mind a little smoke coming out of your ears from time to time..

      They know what they’re doing: destroying social cohesion from every
      possible angle (“Hi-ya, 1619 Project!”) is part of it.

      Reply
  19. Whoamolly

    re: hearing aids for older people

    It’s important to get the hearing aids as early as possible when hearing starts to go. People unconsciously begin to isolate themselves when they cannot hear. This intensifies as you get older. The longer you wait for hearing aids, the harder it is to ‘get back to normal’.

    The most recent (2020) versions of digital hearing aids are phenomenal. They are highly refined, miniaturized audio processors with significant computing power. I just got a set of Phonak Marvels. The sound is the best I’ve tried in 40 years of wearing these devices.
    https://www.phonak.com/us/en/hearing-aids/phonak-audeomarvel.html

    Ways to reduce the cost.

    1. Costco hearing aids get great reviews for both cost and function, but I have not tried them.

    2. Buy ‘last generation’ digital hearing aids and have them reprogrammed for your situation. For example: the Phonak V90’s are the ‘previous generation’ aids. Used pairs sell for $600-$1000 on ebay. Going the used route requires an audiologist who can do a hearing test, make ear molds, and then tweak the programming after you start wearing the aids.

    Reply
    1. GF

      Also,

      The expensive hearing aids from audiologists include all audiologist fees and payments. Buying on eBay you will still need to go to an audiologist to have them programmed and set up for your individual situation. I don’t know what an audiologist would charge for those services and not all audiologists service all hearing aid brands.

      Bose has a new product called Hear Phone that can be purchased over-the-counter that works very well for most people with hearing loss. It is not as small as a typical hearing aid, so some may be put off by it.

      https://www.bose.com/en_us/products/wellness/conversation_enhancing_headphones/hearphones.html#v=hearphones_black

      There are a couple hundred reviews so you can get an idea about how they function.

      Reply
        1. Whoamolly

          I checked posted Costco prices. They are low enough to compete with eBay when you add in the essential audiologist services.

          Good fitting is an art. I tell people to expect 3 visits to the audiologist before the aid is properly tuned to individual hearing loss. I checked this with a couple audiologists and they agreed.

          A good audiologist will progressively fine tune the frequency and amplification curves to match the user’s loss to the multiple environments where the aid is used. At the end of this process the aid will feel comfortable and sounds will seem ‘natural’.

          A poor audiologist will muddle the adjustment, ignore the user feedback and eventually blame the user or the aid for lousy, painful, uncomfortable performance.

          Reply
    2. sleepy

      Just think how much Sanders’ M4A which includes hearing aids could free those with an unremedied hearing loss to lead a normal life and ultimately benefit everyone else. On a smaller scale, it would create social ripple effects just like the forgiveness of student debt.

      Reply
    3. eg

      My mother’s experience with Costco has been excellent, and their hearing aids cost less than half what she paid the first time at her local specialty store.

      Reply
  20. newcatty

    Thanks Whoamolly, Charley and GF for continuing a conversation about hearing loss. I, fortunately, don’t have hearing loss. I do live with someone who does…Many years. Hearing loss used to called a “silent disability”. Not just because hearing loss ( and deafness) means that the person lives in a more silent world than do the hearing in life. Remember when kids were teased as “four eyes”? Yes, Virginia, a long time ago that was true. Then glasses became norm as wearing earrings or a baseball hat. Even cool. All kids, of any whose parents had any means to pay for it, went to dentists and most got orthodontic treatment. Hearing loss was just part of getting “old”. Now more people are, obviously, getting old. Ageism had a lot of why it was not considered important. Really? Dental, vision and hearing treatments are all essential to be in any M4A plan. Appreciate Bernie Sanders.

    Hearing evaluations and aids are, for some people, just expensive. Used pairs, at $600,00-$1000.00 is still too much money for some people to afford on their incomes. The cold reality, now, is that many hearing impaired people go without assistance and aids. At least without well functioning aids.

    Reply
  21. dcblogger

    garden youtuber from Oz, talking about the aftermath of the fires. His neighborhood not affected, except his insurance has gone up. he thinks that poeple may be forced to sell their homes because they cannot afford the increase in insurance and mortgage companies insist you be insured.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKCPhCc2z44&t=5s

    no way to know, but I suspect that the Oz kleptocracy have already gamed this.

    DW has a great pair of docs on the New Silk Road. I really had not twigged this significance of it until I saw these films. China has picked up on the trick of forcing countries to take yuge loans for projects that will use exclusively Chinese firms and products and employ exclusively Chinese labor
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUxw9Re-Z-E&t=149s
    part 2
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyeBxcvUJIU&t=77s

    Reply
    1. Paradan

      When Mattis was still around he gave a speech in Argentina(?) where he warned them about China doing this. It was one of those surreal “This is a joke..right?” moments.

      Reply
      1. skippy

        I believe for what is describe as foreign aid, to debt it primes, as being around 1 to 8 E.g. for every dollar given in aid [tm] it works out to 8 dollars in foreign nominated debt.

        China is just playing by the rules established long before its ascendancy.

        Reply
  22. dk

    Almost completely off the US national (an global?) media radar, Puerto Rico continues to suffer a nearly continuous series of earthquakes:

    Rare Earthquake Swarm Strikes Puerto Rico

    “Since we’ve had our seismic network [beginning in 1974], we’ve never had this size of earthquakes or the amount of earthquakes of such a high intensity and magnitude in the region,” von Hillebrandt-Andrade added. “The most recent time that we ever had such destruction in Puerto Rico from earthquakes was in 1918.”

    https://eos.org/articles/rare-earthquake-swarm-strikes-puerto-rico

    Reply
  23. The Rev Kev

    “Boeing faces another million-dollar FAA fine over faulty 737 Max parts”

    That is – breathtakingly reckless behaviour on the part of Boeing what they did.

    Reply
  24. skippy

    I had the misfortune to hear a top telco ad on music streaming the other day, seems C-Corps in dialing in its behavioral tools … Jefferson’s nail shack style.

    Seems IQ was not definitive enough, so EQ was bolted on, and now they have a new toy …. IA [adaptability]. And here I thought malleability was definitive enough, but seems it needed some Bernays sauce so the medicine would go down easier … sigh …

    Reply
  25. The Rev Kev

    “Some Aspects of Memory Get Better As We Age”

    I suppose that teaching young children memory-learning techniques that they can use it for the rest of their lives would be too radical a suggestion?

    Reply
    1. Carey

      ..but what groovyTech would that involve, and how ever would it be monetized and surveilled? Can’t have the Citizenry just willy-nilly
      remembering stuff, either.. think of the children!

      phase change

      Reply
  26. Carey

    Our NYT working hard again to normalize what they claim to be decrying:

    “..Yet, as a society, without ever focusing on this profound choice, we’ve reached a tacit consensus to hand this data over voluntarily, even though we don’t really know who’s getting it or what they’re doing with it. As the close of 2019 approaches, everybody is searching for the meaning of the decade. Here’s a thought: This is the decade — the period since the founding of the App Store, in 2008 — in which we were brainwashed into surveilling ourselves..”

    Mmm, is *that the way* it all went down?
    They’re self-selecting for a tinier audience
    all the time.. how’ll that go?

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/12/21/opinion/location-data-privacy-rights.html

    Reply
  27. Carey

    Damn cute antidote doggie (“just try not to love me!”.. and in a beautiful
    place.

    I see a neighbor-guy and his smaller friend on my trips to the store around the corner: don’t know either of them, really, but they both greet me warmly, and one keeps a frisbee in his bright border-collie mouth, ready for action.. (love the scamp-dogs best)

    these are the best things.

    Reply
  28. skippy

    Lasted about 30 seconds into Trumps speech of The Empire Lives Forever …. flanked by his Generalissimos … wow ….

    Reply
    1. Monty

      It can’t have been worse that last Saturday’s Evangelical rally in Miami. Sickening stuff, yet his fans lap it up.

      Reply
  29. John

    Yesterday, I ran into a young woman who said she was blessed today.

    Why? She had broken eyeglasses frames being held together by tape.
    She found a eyeglass frame that was almost a match for her lenses and she could pop them right in.

    It only cost her $10. Instead of $30. She was just ecstatic.

    It’s unimaginable to me how people are even getting by when not having to pay $20 is a cause of sheer happiness.

    Reply
    1. Carey

      >“What went wrong with virtual reality?”

      Mmm.. answer (solution™, in newSpeak) to a question no one asked?

      late rome

      Reply
    1. Synoia

      For those who wish to mock the Queen, and royalty, and the UK system feel free.

      But also consider the alternative. A head of state like Trump? Or Obama? or Clinton? A government so noticeably driven by money (aka Special Interests) as the US?

      For the UK, Royalty is the least worse solution. The UK tried the no royalty method, and the experiment ended badly. A head of state with an elected parliament has worked for some time, but is gamed as the Tories seize power and keep it for extended periods.

      Fear of loss, of and by the 10%, keeps the Tories in power.

      Reply
  30. Savita

    PlutoniumKun! I just learnt NI parliament is restored. I must have missed references to it on NC, and from your good self. Really looking forward to yours and Clives breakdown especially how it fits in with Brexit. Warm wishes from Sydney Australia

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks Savita – to be honest, I don’t know exactly what is happing in Belfast – the announcement came a bit out of the blue, and was presumably the result of a lot of backroom haggling. The most likely dynamic is that the DUP is badly wounded by the election and realises that they needed to get the Assembly working quickly if they are not to become complete bystanders in UK politics. Plus, the Assembly means paid jobs for various political operatives who found themselves without a role now they aren’t propping up the Tory government. On the Sinn Fein side, there is an upcoming election in the Republic and they are keen to be seen as ‘suitable’ for government, so they had a major incentive to make whatever compromises they could get. Their medium term political objective is to be in power in Stormont (Belfast Assembly) and a partner in coalition in the South, thereby becoming the only political party with a stake in power in both Ireland and the UK. Their longer term objective is to push for a border poll, but all the indicators i’ve seen is that they don’t think the time is right… yet.

      Reply
      1. makedonamend

        Hiya PK,

        Good summation imo.

        I really can’t see too much upside for Sinn Fein though. I believe they were the last ones to agree. Did they get anything from FG or FF? Afterall, all the money comes from London by design so that Stormont is essentially a large council. The parties just add a thin political veneer to the adminstrative task of divvying up a set budget. In the past Sinn Fein took a political hit by only having 100 pennies to spend when there was 110 pennies in necesssay expenditures – i.e. budget cuts and austerity. I suppose there’ll be a “sign-up bonus”. But how many years will that last?

        The only thing I can see as an immediate advantage to SF is that they are assured of an imminent election, and they think they can make some hay off the RIC affair. But it’s really some FF people who originally threw a spanner in Taoiseach Varadkar’s works – not SF. Also SF has been in election mode for over a year now – what with North and South elections occurring one after the other. Their volunteer base has to be exhausted.

        I suppose there’s some value in the Symbolism, and at least the peace process is still on track for the time being. So, plus le change etc etc etc.

        Reply

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