Links 1/19/2020

A skeptic tries ‘forest bathing’ National Geographic

The Pesticide Industry’s Playbook for Poisoning the Earth The Intercept

Avoiding Carsickness When the Cars Drive Themselves NYT but Key Volkswagen Exec Admits Full Self-Driving Cars ‘May Never Happen’ The Drive

Uber Wins Dubious Honor Of Being First Big Tech Company To Bully A Small Nation Using Corporate Sovereignty TechDirt

Brexit

United Kingdom to embark on ‘agricultural revolution’ in break from EU farm subsidies Science. First good news on Brexit I’ve heard.

Tear gas, dozens of arrests in fresh anti-Macron protest in Paris Agence France Presse

Macron rushed from Paris theatre after protesters break in The Local

Syraqistan

The Middle East Isn’t Worth It Anymore Martin Indyk, WSJ. Interestingly, Indyk started his career at AIPAC, in 1982.

Pompeo says killing of Suleimani is part of ‘bigger strategy’ to deter US foes Guardian (KW).

The Soleimani Strike and Self-Defence Against an Imminent Armed Attack Blog of the European Journal of International Law (DS).

FBI: Saudi government ‘almost certainly’ helps its citizens escape prosecution in US for serious crimes The Oregonian

India

Modi’s Party Earned More Last Year Than All Its Rivals Combined Bloomberg

Big city, small farmers, and a dying river People’s Archive of Rural India (J-LS).

Filipinos turn volcano’s ash, plastic trash into bricks Agence France Presse

China?

Two Officers Injured as Rally Ends in Violence: Hong Kong Update Bloomberg

Take a bow, rioters, the Hong Kong gov’t is responding… by throwing money around Hong Kong Free Press

* * *

Donald Trump really is Xi Jinping’s friend. The phase one US-China trade deal proves it South China Morning Post

No pigging out on pork delicacies for China this Lunar New Year Reuters

The thin blue line of China China Law Translate

Maduro says he’s still in control of Venezuela, ready for direct talks with the United States WaPo

New Cold War

Russia’s constitutional changes are designed to perpetuate power of Vladimir Putin’s elite The Conversation

Justice Dept. Investigating Years-Old Leaks and Appears Focused on Comey NYT and Holman Jenkins: The Comey coverup unravels FOX

Trump Transition

The US Space Force Is Not a Joke Defense One. Oh?

Trump Loses Another Russia Adviser, Adding to NSC Turnover Bloomberg

The tacit alliance of militia members and Border Patrol agents is getting out of control WaPo

The Authoritarian Dreamscape of the New Wild West Consortium News (Furzy Mouse).

Impeachment

House impeachment managers file case brief against Trump ahead of Senate trial ABC (the brief).

‘Brazen and unlawful’: Trump team attacks House impeachment effort in first formal response Politico (the response).

* * *

Senator McConnell Should Recuse Himself From Impeachment Now The American Conservative

Lev Parnas Dishes on Kushner, Maduro, and Soros The Daily Beast (Furzy Mouse). Certainly a colorful figure!

2020

Biden charges Sanders camp ‘doctored video’ to attack him Politico. The lead: “Joe Biden accused Bernie Sanders’ campaign Saturday of issuing a ‘doctored video’ to attack him over Social Security, a false claim that ratcheted up the tension between the two campaigns in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses.” Certainly someone who only read the headline would miss the “false claim” part.

Biden and Sanders Clash Over Social Security NYT. “Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Saturday accused Senator Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign of distorting his record on Social Security, claiming without evidence that Mr. Sanders’s team was promoting a “doctored” video, a loaded word in an era of disinformation.” Ditto.

Did Biden laud a Paul Ryan proposal to cut Social Security as Bernie Sanders’ campaign said? Politifact. Relying on the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

* * *

Sanders to headline Iowa event amid impeachment trial The Hill

The Warren-Sanders Feud Is Not About #MeToo Elle. “#MeToo doesn’t urge us to uncritically accept a female presidential contender’s version of a news story; it urges us to take seriously women’s pain and fight for them to have control over their lives—and no one, least of all victims of sexual violence, is served by collapsing that moral distinction.”

The Sanders Campaign Researched Whether Warren Could Be Both Vice President and Treasury Secretary at Once Ryan Grim, The Intercept. Let me know how that’s working out… On another note, there is only one “source” for Warren’s meeting: Warren herself, if we rule out the only other person present.

“Like, I’ll Tune in When There’s Two Weeks Left”: Why Trump Has a Huge Advantage Over Dems with Low-Information Voters Vanity Fair (Re Silc). I dislike the “low information voters” trope, not least because it privileges information over wisdom and knowledge. One might also ask “low” with respect to what, and compared to whom? Perhaps what is really stigmatized is “Low-Information Voters” as such. The failure of the New York Times editorial staff, in its interview with Sanders, to follow through on his mention of “deaths of despair” and falling life expectancy among the lowly in flyover supports this idea.

737 MAX

Industry-led 737 MAX panel defends Boeing, FAA Politico

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Your online activity is now effectively a social ‘credit score’ Engadget (dk).

The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It NYT. Facial recognition.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Andrew Bacevich on U.S. Foreign-Policy Mistakes The New Yorker (Re Silc). Well worth a read.

The International State System after Neoliberalism: Europe between National Democracy and Supranational Centralization Wolfgang Streeck

Gunz

Richmond braces for giant gun rights rally on Monday WaPo

Yves: “10 m view on YT in 24 hours. YT took it off trending.” First-person shooter:

Class Warfare

The Silicon Valley Economy Is Here. And It’s a Nightmare. The New Republic (Re Silc).

The upstart unions taking on the gig economy and outsourcing FT

Billions of quantum entangled electrons found in ‘strange metal’ Science Daily

How ‘spooky’ is quantum physics? The answer could be incalculable Nature

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote (IP via):

IP writes: “Pop a bacterium in a petri dish on an agar nutrient medium and it will go about its business, growing in its own special way.Escherichia coli grows pretty slowly but steadily in clumps. Acinetobacter baylyi, on the other hand, moves fast, spreading out in all directions until it covers the entire petri dish in 24 hours.But what happens when you put them in a petri dish mixed together? Well, something wonderful happens. They combine to spread outwards in a petalled pattern from a central deposit.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

301 comments

  1. Ignacio

    A comment without reference to today’s links: With high probability, today 100% of grid energy in Spain and Portugal will be renewable + nuclear without direct CO2 emissions from coal, Natl. gas or oil fuels. Last weekend the share was 96% but today is very windy in all the Iberian Peninsula. Of course, during weekends, demand for electricity is lower. There will also be an excess of energy production that will be exported to France. This is good news i guess.

    Reply
      1. a different chris

        Well you can’t trust renewables to be “on-line” 24/7, which is what you need to keep pumping all the water back out to sea again! (bangs head)

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Not to be too snarky here, but have you forgotten The Nation of Islam, La Raza, and the other ‘gunned up’ non-white groups?
          Famous quote, from guess who: “Violence .. is as American as cherry pie.”
          I won’t deny your basic point, but add to it. Evil is equal opportunity.

          Reply
          1. The guy who calls people pal

            The movements you mentioned were born in reaction to white supremacist violence, pal. It’s dumb to conflate them all as being “equal opportunity.” If someone punches you on the street and threatens to kill your spouse or friends, are you equally violent if you defend yourself or the people important to you?

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              But conflate them I shall. To not put too fine a point on it, when one resorts to the same tactics that the “opposition” are using, then that does establish a sort of equivalence, does it not? Either way, violence is legitimized as a primary tactic. Now, I am with you about a normal person’s reaction to encountering violence aimed at him or her self. However, once violence has been embraced as a legitimate tool of competition, it becomes an “arms race” to the bottom.
              So, if one feels compelled to fight, then fight smarter. For example, the Iranians just taught America a lesson in that.
              I watched some press conferences by H. Rap Brown from the 1960s to ‘research’ this subject. The man was no fool. He spoke about all the forms of violence deployed by the Establishment against the public. Police force and propaganda force equally determine the arc of the ‘narrative’ in their own way. In America, it is indeed a primarily White Establishment versus everyone else. But, you must include in that formulation, non elite class whites along with blacks, browns, yellows and reds. That is the “equal opportunity” aspect of this.
              Martin Luther King was turning from purely negro Civil Rights to class based activism when he was killed. He would have been infinitely more dangerous to the status quo leading a pan racial movement. He was threatening to debunk the classic divide and rule method.
              In other countries, you have other elites oppressing other minorities, or, sometimes, supine majorities. In India, for example, Modi and his Hindu party are enacting laws that demonize non-Hindus. The Rohingya in Burma are run out of their former regions because they are of another ethnicity than most Burmese. The Uighur in China are being ‘assimilated’ by the Han Chinese majority government. Ditto for the Tibetans.
              So, it is all too human and world wide.

              Reply
              1. JBird4049

                What does one do when armed mobs overthrow state and city governments as during post-Reconstruction because they have black people in them, or are burning, raping, and murdering whole neighborhoods for daring to resist lynchings?

                I can understand that nonviolence can be very effective, and violence is usually not, but sometimes it just gets you dead. Occasionally in job lots.

                This is what annoys me when people say that violence only begets violence and when too often one side can be as violent as they want, but their victims are chastised for defending themselves.

                Reply
                1. ambrit

                  I believe that what I am saying here is that, if one must resort to violence, one must be more violent than one’s opponents. So, we end up with Reigns of Terror after revolutions.
                  Expect mass bloodshed and destruction, no matter who “comes out on top” after this looming crisis of legitimacy in America begins.
                  Also, to your example, remember that the Post-Reconstruction began with the “Deal of ’76,” whereby the Federal Government removed the last vestiges of the occupation of the South in exchange for some political double dealing to secure the Republican Hayes the Presidency. Secured even though the Democrat candidate Tilden, won the popular vote in the election. So, consider that the subsequent ‘Jim Crow’ era was aided and abetted by the Northern elites of the day. Who were those elites? Why, the Usual Suspects from back then on down to today: the Financiers, Merchants, and Stockholding class.

                  Reply
                2. Big Tap

                  Worse coup d etat in American history was in 1898 Wilmington, North Carolina. A black and white reform slate was elected to run the local government and a white mob just took over the city with up to 50 black deaths involved. While this was happening the black leadership asked for Federal assistance from President McKinley. He refused saying it was a state issue only.

                  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilmington_insurrection_of_1898

                  Reply
              2. Procopius

                I don’t want to pretend to be an expert, but from my studies of Thai history I learned that Burma is a very heterogeneous entity. There are seven ethnic groups large enough to be called “nations” within the federation. One group, the Shan, seem (on linguistic grounds) to have descended from the same migrating people who settled in Luang Prabang, Lan Na, and Sukhothai. The Shan just kept on going. From news reports I gather that one reason for enmity against the Rohingya is that they are Muslim, rather than the more widespread Buddhist. I don’t really know the reason for their persecution. Maybe the generals wanted a scapegoat to unite the other peoples against.

                Reply
                1. ambrit

                  Agreed about the scapegoating.
                  A classic case of, “Look! Look! Over there! (Don’t look over here.)”
                  Equally worrying here is that the Rohingya are split between Burma and Bangladesh. Considering that Bangladesh will soon be flooding, expect the migration to reverse course. The “local” Burmese having already shown a murderous antipathy to their “own” Rohingya, the result can only be horrific.

                  Reply
              3. inode_buddha

                There’s nothing noble about being a victim or a statistic. There is a lot of stupid, when it is preventable. It seems lots of people want to sit there and get wiped out. Because guess what, that’s exactly how that goes.

                Reply
          2. Aumua

            Yeah but when right wingers with guns confront the federal government in multiple standoffs, they get a slap on the wrist and then pardoned. What really is not to be tolerated is left wingers with guns. If armed lefties try anything whatsoever in the U.S., they get murdered.

            Reply
            1. JBird4049

              I think that the number of pro-gun, or more ply pro-self defense, groups is increasing. Everyone from alt-right white supremacists to Sovereign Citizens to socialists to the Pink Pistols.

              Sorry people. Violence and guns are as American as apple pie and is so across the entire political and social spectrum.

              People either have this weird idea that the police, some departments of which are completely racist, will protect them or that all the heavily armed groups are rightwing nut jobs. Neither is true. The American political establishment has often overacted using extreme repression, inside the United States itself, if it feels threatened. It is not really the regular American conservatives or leftists that starts with the violence. It’s the extremists. Usually of the right. The then current white supremacists or the latest armed version of the John Birch Society.

              Since there appears to be a growing number of armed civil rights or leftists types for defense, if nothing else, who are then automatically, with few exceptions, labeled as suspicious or as suspected terrorists. But not the armed alt-right groups, which is interesting.

              Add in the increasing infiltration of police departments of racists, if not outright white supremacists, and we are getting into matches, gasoline, and rooms full of dynamite territory. Or perhaps nitroglycerin.

              Reply
              1. Yves Smith

                The fact that those groups are getting press does not mean there are more of them. The media is generally anti-gun and is highlighting pro-gun white supremacist groups and others who might be depicted as contributing to the mass shooter phenomenon.

                I would see this all the time in my consulting days: the same factoid, repeated in 5 different media outlets, would be given 5x as much weight by clients as an equally important factoid that had not been propagated. Correcting for that was an easy way to earn my keep.

                General attitudes suggests otherwise. From a Pew study:

                The share of Americans who say gun laws in the U.S. should be made stricter has increased from 52% in 2017 to 60% this year, according to a survey conducted in September 2019.

                https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/10/22/facts-about-guns-in-united-states/

                The same report pointed out that even though the rate of gun deaths has risen, at 12 per 100,000, it is still lower than the rate in 1993 of 15.6 per 100,000.

                Reply
            2. ambrit

              Today, I will assert that anyone who opposes the elite Establishment will be “murdered.” The composition of that elite has shifted somewhat. Party affiliation or political ideology are tools used to divide groups and pit them against each other.
              As for “right wingers” being ‘coddled,’ well, I assert that this is a function of the ‘conformity’ of the group “in the crosshairs” to elite purposes. Real Libertatians, who I will argue are not strictly speaking Establishment ‘right wing,’ are treated with violence too. Ruby Ridge and Waco were wake up calls for that ‘movement.’ The Government killed “social deviants” in both occurrences. There was supporter of Bundy who was shot and killed by State Police in Oregon.
              The list of the dead is long and rainbow hued.

              Reply
          1. Alfred

            It is not individually totemic artifacts (handguns, for example) that define recognizable social identities. Understanding their meanings depends on context, on the relative positioning of several totems within a single social ‘space’. Hence it is a certain combinations of artifacts — the cohesion of artifacts into a cultural assemblage — that means. It is thus not the pickup truck to which one needs to attend, but rather the pickup truck together with its lift kit (and perhaps also its rifle rack in the cab, its shiny toolbox, a certain array of decals on its rear bumper, etc.). Nor is it merely the accessorized pickup that matters; what also matters is whether it is observed being driven off-road on hunting expeditions or to rural job sites, or just over the smooth pavements of exurbia. It is not a baseball cap (or a bowtie) per se that signifies but rather the same cap (or tie) as one component of an outfit constituting a habitual mode of dress. When it comes to culture, redundancy matters.

            Reply
            1. Fiery Hunt

              Thank you for this.

              Can’t count the times my attire (felt hat a la Indiana Jones) gets me “profiled” as a Trumper, both by Trumpets and Neoliberals both.
              Take off the hat (with my long hair) and I get pigion-holed as a pot-smoking Blue No Matter Who. By both.

              And they’re always wrong.

              Reply
        1. mpalomar

          Because of the wealth and political power of the oil, gas, and coal barons. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

          – I assume, perhaps incorrectly, it is not Upton Sinclair type denial but an understanding, or an informed wager, at Koch level wealth and power that tech can and will solve the environmental apocalypse bearing down on the planet and they will be in a position to profit from it because they will be the purveyors of the tech fix.

          If there are some submerged islands and coastal areas, desertification and environmental collapse, well population decline is in the cards and not necessarily a bad thing. All will be absorbed and rectified by markets, i.e. the natural order of things, and plans are underway for sitting pretty in New Zealand or, despite Mark Blythe’s claim, even the Hampton’s, where they’ll be protected by an obedient Boston Dynamics security staff.

          Reply
          1. Paradan

            I don’t think they care about an apocalypse. They probably figure they problem will solve itself when the population drops under a billion. Their wealth guarantees their children will be among the survivors.

            Reply
            1. JBird4049

              I agree that probably most of the elites believe that they will survive any collapse of civilization.

              Maybe I am wrong, but isn’t their private army personal security that is armed? Probably being crude here, but if if there is a group of security specialists, and like most people they have family and friends, when the crops fail, just who becomes the long pig for whom? Whose children gets fed?

              And if you don’t have armed guards, if anyone finds out that you are a member of the 1% during the apocalypse, what will happen to you?

              Reply
              1. Procopius

                I have always enjoyed this quotation from Al Franken’s book:
                “Any time that a liberal points out that the wealthy are disproportionately benefiting from Bush’s tax policies, Republicans shout, “class warfare!”
                In her book A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century, Barbara Tuchman writes about a peasant revolt in 1358 that began in the village of St. Leu and spread throughout the Oise Valley. At one estate, the serfs sacked the manor house, killed the knight, and roasted him on a spit in front of his wife and kids. Then, after ten or twelve peasants violated the lady, with the children still watching, they forced her to eat the roasted flesh of her dead husband and then killed her.

                That is class warfare.

                Arguing over the optimum marginal tax rate for the top one percent is not.”

                Reply
      1. Janie

        Re: OH at 0926. Yes. For some time i have felt that “if we do thus and so, we can solve the problem” may be true, but thus and so is not gonna happen. Was it Expat2Uraguay who said he feels liberated by accepting that? So do I.

        That does not mean to be cavalier about the effect of one’s actions; we do need to do what we can as individuals to ameliorate the situation while recognizing that small-scale fixes won’t even begin to fix it.

        Reply
  2. Ignacio

    RE: United Kingdom to embark on ‘agricultural revolution’ in break from EU farm subsidies Science. First good news on Brexit I’ve heard.

    This indeed has the potential to be really good news if done sensibly and correctly. This means expanded government intervention in land management and I thought that it was against Johnson ideology so I find it quite surprising.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Given the history of UK agriculture, which was a leader in Europe in industrial Big Ag and a major opponent of restructuring when in the UK, I’d reserve judgement until I see it happen. This looks to me like a clever little way to send yet more subsidies to the owners of grouse moors and so on. I’d also question whether it would survive a US trade deal. Big landowners have always had a hugely disproportionate level of influence in Westminster.

      Reply
        1. amfortas the hippie

          as ive alluded to, there’s been a slow motion land grab going on, from the nw hill country where i live and on into west texas… where unknown rich folks are buying up large ranches and “doing things” in feedstore parlance
          ive wondered since i noticed it if they didn’t know something the rest of us don’t…whether conventional doom or like what you say about dyson

          as for the u.k. ag revolution…wait and see.
          this sort of ag reform is what i hope to see with a gnd…. refocusing subsidies towards small, sustainable and local

          Reply
          1. JBird4049

            I think that there has been a slow motion housing grab as well, which would explain the housing crisis. Buy and hold, but don’t rent.

            Reply
        2. Synoia

          I suspect Dyson’s dip into farming has a direct connection to Death Duties (Inheritance Taxes) and estate planning.

          This is just my speculation. I don t see investing in arable land in Norfolk (a UK county, average 8 ft above mean sea level) as being a good long term investment.

          Reply
      1. vlade

        Moreover, it’s being sold as “under the EU, we could not do it”. Duh. I know that say Austrian farmers were receiving “countryside” (i.e. all those picture-perfect Alphone meadows don’t come around just on their own, you know) subsidies for a loooong time.

        As you say, I suspect it’s a ruse to give more subsidies to grouse moors and the likes.

        Reply
        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Speaking of Austrian farmers, Terrance Malick has a new movie out, A Hidden Life, thats about a farmer drafted by the Nazis who is a conscientious objector.

          Spoiler alert- Its 3 hours long!

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            ja…it’s on my list the next time we have to stay overnight in san antone.
            one of the artsytensious theatres with scones is playing it.

            Reply
    2. xkeyscored

      Yes, it does sound like great news indeed. I am, however, reminded of Margaret Thatcher, who briefly went green, even saying we must fight climate change. Until, that is, a decline in car sales, at which point her concern for cars overcame her concern for the environment, of which little more was heard from her.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous2

        Richard North is very knowledgeable about this and has had some discussion on this on his website the last few days.

        Personally I suspect that it will turn out to be less than it seems. At present farmers receive money relative to acreage but have to meet conditions on responsible land management set by the government if they are to receive full payment. In future it seems , if I have understood correctly, they will sign contracts that stipulate how they will manage the land or related assets before they get paid. The CAP gives more responsibility for sensible implementation to national governments than is often realised. For example they can decide whether or not to pay large landowners as much per acre as smaller ones. In the UK the government pays the same pro rata regardless of size of land holding and suggest this an EU requirement when in fact it’s their own decision. So the usual UK dishonesty.

        Reply
        1. vlade

          Re CAP – indeed. In fact, IIRC, the EU push in the last few years was for the governments to severely limit subsidies to large agri companies.

          Reply
        2. JTMcPhee

          Long term productive use of land for food — for how many? Rich folks only? “Surplus population?”

          And what I have read of gardening and farming indicates that it’s kind of specific to soil and crop and a whole host of interactions that maybe our ancestors knew enough about to feed themselves, but now? a relatively few small farmers have learned enough to demonstrate sustainable interactive complex biome preserving and improving skills and practices, some of which I bet are not “teachable” because of the complexity involved and the sensory Information (taste, “feel,” and so forth) of the “soil steward” types, as well as the “measurable parameters” of nutrients and bacteria and grain size and pH and the rest. So how is “government,” warped by “interests’ that inevitably are short term profit maximizing, going to “mandate” the kinds of farming that might be allowed and encouraged by “subsidies” and rules on land use that are tied to old concepts of exclusive ownership and control of “property”? Are there enough master farmers who know the terrain to make any difference to the millions on “this sceptered isle,” let alone 8 or 10 billion people? Industrial agriculture, turning soil into monoculture growth medium loaded with toxic crap, is probably a bit complex, especially with the “inputs” all being financialized with looting as the driver. But “sustainable” (a term needed a common definition agreed to by enough of us) seems a whole couple of orders of magnitude more complicated — fitting technique to terrain and mixing plant and animal “inputs” in a way that both produces and prolongs soils that everything worthwhile needs to grow.

          And how many “land owners” are about to turn their “exclusive legal right to use and enjoyment (whatever “enjoyment” means, see “grouse hunting”) to anything that might benefit the larger population long since evicted from any claim or connection to the soil substrate our species feeds on?

          The New Deal, that brief aberration, worked to the extent it did in part because there was a substrate of food production via wise farming (with, of course, many exceptions like the horrors of fence line-to-fence line soil looting, destruction of windbreaks, and resultant Dust Bowl.) And because the resilience and recoverability of the whole world system was not as close to collapse as it seems to be today. Having the already-captured “government” establish rules for land use (how well has that worked in Florida, for example, or in the California valleys?) doesn’t seem to be a winning strategy except for those who own stuff, including legislators and state and local executives, already…

          Reply
          1. Janie

            Yes. We hear of the loss of industrial knowledge, but loss of knowledge of the land is rarely mentioned. Today’s mobile population also means that, however much you knew about your land, it does little good when you move.

            Reply
          2. Procopius

            I have to object to this:

            The New Deal, that brief aberration, worked to the extent it did in part because there was a substrate of food production via wise farming (with, of course, many exceptions like the horrors of fence line-to-fence line soil looting, destruction of windbreaks, and resultant Dust Bowl.)

            Perhaps I misunderstand you, but the Dust Bowl had its origins in the malpractices you cite long before the ’30s. In fact, one of the great successes of the New Deal was funding the Department of Agriculture to encourage better practices. My grandfather showed me pictures of a large erosion gully on his farm that the county agent helped him repair through contour plowing. The DoA also helped millions of farmers plant trees to create the windbreaks that had been cut down decades before. I believe the giant agribusinesses are cutting them down again, because they restrict the size of fields.

            Reply
            1. JTMcPhee

              My points exactly, too much detail to capture in a brief comment. Elements of the New Deal patently helped dig out of one age of corrupt badness, for a time. A patch over a big hole that has a lot of greedy people picking up shovels to dig it deeper again. Scrabbling for nuggets, whacking each other over the head when they get the chance, forming temporary coalitions, some tiny few trying to work together on “solutions,” to do what? “Make the world a better place?”

              Now the USDA runs the school lunch program that is being slowly turned into a starvation machine? And it’s getting fouled in so many ways, going way back, https://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/oig42.htm.

              What’s the minimum proportion of “good” people needed to keep the “bad people” from overwhelming the systems that can be apparently fairly easily moved in the direction of death? How many farmers, real farmers not industrial-agricultural factotums, are in the population mix? how many in executive positions at the USDA and the other “agencies” of power in the US? In other nations?

              By whose lights?

              What goals and standards?

              Reply
      2. Susan the other

        I was just wondering the other day if maybe Maggie shut down the UK coal industry because she was being pro active over climate change. That was back in the 80s wasn’t it?

        Reply
    3. Pelham

      This is slightly off-topic, but Tucker Carlson the other night had an alarming segment on the EPA changing rules to allow dangerous levels of the herbicide atrazine into the nation’s drinking water supplies. The only other reference I’ve seen was the following link to Carlson on Alex Jones’ InfoWars:

      https://www.infowars.com/tucker-slams-epa-for-allowing-more-atrazine-into-u-s-water-supply-to-protect-big-agriculture/

      Now Jones has a personal interest highlighting such subject matter because he sells products touted as reversing the effects of poisons in our environment. Still, why should one need to access the likes of Carlson and Jones to get this kind of info, or at least to see it highlighted in a way that grabs public attention?

      Reply
  3. Henry Moon Pie

    With the political events of the past week in the background, this passage from the Tao te Ching #38 struck me like a lightning bolt this morning:

    Failing Tao, man resorts to Virtue.
    Failing Virtue, man resorts to humanity.
    Failing humanity, man resorts to morality.
    Failing morality, man resorts to ceremony.
    Now, ceremony is the merest husk of faith and loyalty.
    It is the beginning of all confusion and disorder.

    Pictures of pompous marches across the Capitol and a duplicitous “friend” with arms folded were flashing in my mind, but so were some questions. When was the last time our politics aspired to the level of “humanity?” LBJ was the last President calling us to support the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the War on Poverty. McGovern was the last major party Presidential nominee, calling us to peace not only to prevent American casualties and American expense but also to save North Vietnamese lives. Carter made some calls to morality, especially as he pleaded with people to stop shooting one another over five gallons of gasoline. Obama called us to “hope and change” and delivered Rahm and Geithner.

    We haven’t heard a call like Bernie is making for quite a while. If it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t have heard it at all in 2016, What a bleak political year that would have been without Bernie. We all see through the ceremony, the performers devoid of faith in the people or any ideal, loyal to nothing but money and power, so can we choose Bernie and humanity over confusion and disorder?

    Reply
    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      What a good post. We rehabilitate the man who decided our nation can now kill people without due process and he is welcomed with hugs by our “best” “liberals” (GWB). We lionize the man who enshrined this as law and extended it to American citizens (BHO). We fete the woman who decided the man who made the people of his nation the richest on the African continent deserved rectal bayonetting (HRC). We fist pump as we rain flames of death on impoverished grandmothers in the Yemeni desert (DJT).

      Each of these is received as basically a “good” person, not rejected as deserving only our abject scorn for their utter lack of morality.

      Please find me a speck of humanity in any of this.

      (Sorry for the inconvenient vitriol, you just struck a chord, that’s all).

      Reply
  4. Ignacio

    Questions for IP about the 2nd antidote: 1) I guess Acinetobacter has more motility Than E. coli in agar and that is why it colonizes the whole plate so fast. Does the former “push” E. coli cells with its movement? 2) Is the picture showing GFP fluorescence? If so, is GFP expressing only in E. coli?

    Nice picture!!!

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      Yes, the Acinetobacter move faster: “A. baylyi can move so quickly because it has little hair-like bristles called pili that act like legs, propelling it where it needs to go. This ability to move is called motility. By contrast, E. coli has no pili. It is non-motile.” More pictures and a video:
      https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-discover-stunning-flower-like-patterns-when-bacteria-combine
      I’m not clear about the fluorescence techniques, but the elife article has this:
      “We used E. coli MG1655 and A. baylyi ADP1 (ATCC #33305). The E. coli strain carried a plasmid that constitutively expressed mTFP and a kanamycin resistance gene. A. baylyi had a kanamycin resistance gene and the mCherry gene integrated in the genome. We also constructed a T6SS− A. baylyi (Δhcp) mutant by first fusing the tetracycline resistance marker (TetA) from pTKS/CS to approximately 400 bp homology arms amplified from either side of hcp (ACIAD2689) in the A. baylyi genome, and mixing the donor oligo with naturally competent A. baylyi. The pilTU− strain was constructed similarly to delete the genes ACIAD0911-0912. All A. baylyi strains used in this study retain their endogenous immunity genes to T6SS attack.
      E. coli and A. baylyi cells were taken from −80 °C glycerol stocks, inoculated in LB with appropriate antibiotics (kanamycin for E. coli and T6SS+ A. baylyi, tetracycline for T6SS− A. baylyi) and grown at 37 °C separately. When their OD600 reached about 0.3, both E. coli and A. baylyi were concentrated to OD = 1, still separately. They were then mixed at specified volume ratios, and 3 μL was inoculated on the surface of 10 mL LB agar in the center of an 8.5 cm Petri dish. The plate was incubated at 37 °C. The images were taken using a custom ‘milliscope’ fluorescence imaging device unless indicated otherwise.
      When the colony development was to be observed under a microscope, a 5.5 cm Petri dish was used with 15 mL 1% base agar (without LB) and top 10 mL LB agar (1% agar). After the cell culture was inoculated and dried, it was put on the stage of an inverted, epifluorescence microscope (Nikon TI2). The magnification was 4X. Fluorescent images were acquired using a 4X objective and a Photometrics CoolSnap cooled CCD camera in a 37 °C chamber. The microscope and accessories were controlled using the Nikon Elements software.”
      https://elifesciences.org/articles/48885

      Reply
    2. xkeyscored

      Moderation appears to have swallowed my previous reply, so at the risk of repetition:
      Yes, the Acinetobacter move faster: “A. baylyi can move so quickly because it has little hair-like bristles called pili that act like legs, propelling it where it needs to go. This ability to move is called motility. By contrast, E. coli has no pili. It is non-motile.
      When the two bacteria are placed in the agar plate, E. coli rides the expanding outer wave of the A. baylyi, and this is what produces the pattern, the team found. The drag produced by the E. coli destabilises that boundary.
      Where there are fewer E. coli, the A. baylyi colony pushes outward faster; but larger concentrations of E. coli move more slowly. This is what creates the flower-like shapes in the shape of the combined colony.”
      More pictures and a video:
      https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-discover-stunning-flower-like-patterns-when-bacteria-combine
      [Clicking on the little “via” usually takes you to the source.]
      If you want to know more about the fluorescence techniques, I’m out of my depth, though I think it was only the E. coli that got an mTFP plasmid. The original eLife article has more details:
      https://elifesciences.org/articles/48885

      Reply
      1. Ignacio

        Thank you, it is then what I suspected. It is interesting to see how motile bateria can help the spread of sesile or slow motion bacteria.

        Reply
  5. xkeyscored

    Re Iran, and especially Suleimani:
    For readers unfamiliar with Suleimani’s life and history, BBC World TV broadcast an excellent “This World” 50 minute documentary today, titled “Shadow Commander: Iran’s Military Mastermind.” It follows him from a commander in Iran’s fight to defend itself against Iraq’s 1980 invasion, through his assistance to the USA in 2001, following al-Qaeda’s attacks, the fight against ISIS, and his role in supporting militias in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. The documentary was finished before his assassination, which is mentioned in some text at the very end, including the assertion that Kateib Hizbollah attacked the K-1 base in Iraq, killing a US contractor – something Kateib Hizbollah has consistently denied, and which various other groups might well have seen as being to their advantage. And that, to my rather great surprise, was one of the very few things over which I disagreed with the filmmakers. Overall, I thought it very fair, factual and balanced (definitely not something I automatically say about the BBC!).
    All in all, if you hadn’t really heard of Suleimani before this year, and want something watchable and generally accurate to make some sense of what the fuss is all about, I highly recommend this piece.
    It is available on the internet.

    Reply
    1. Janie

      Thank you again. Am i the only one who was keep awake that night, fretting that the assassination would be the new Sarajevo? It’s not over – long memories in the Mideast. An old documentary about Alexander showed interviewees discussing his incursion as if it were recent.

      Reply
      1. flora

        fretting that the assassination would be the new Sarajevo?

        I don’t think this assassination will be the new Sarajevo because the assumptions then are different from the assumptions now.

        Then: a matter of satisfying honor, it will be a short war, the boys will all be home by Christmas with honor satisfied and life will go on as before. There was no understanding among the leaders and generals of any of the countries that the maturation of industrial production of war materiel and new weaponry had fundamentally and silently changed the nature of war fighting. The generals were still planning around cavalry charges and mass bayonet charges, into the face of Maxim machine guns. Industrial production kept the guns coming. The ‘quick war to satisfy honor and everyone home by Christmas’ became a disaster.

        Now: we’ve been at war in the ME for the past 20 years at least. No one I’ve read thinks ‘quick war to satisfy honor and everyone home in 6 months time’. Everyone is keenly aware of the many pitfalls of escalating and bringing in larger allies aligned with ‘the other side’. Everyone is walking very carefully through this potential flash point; everyone except the neocons, who pine for a ME armageddon (imo), although even Bibi backed away quick from the assassination and said it was American craziness. my 2 cents.

        Reply
        1. JohnnyGL

          Yes, very good summary, flora. I’ve been listening to the first few episodes of Dan Carlin’s ‘Countdown to Armageddon’ and he adds the point that advancements in artillery, even more than machine guns, were a huge leap forward in pushing up body counts. The Germans, in particular, had some really accurate, long range stuff.

          The only other thing I’d add is that each of the parties thought they could win in WWI.

          Today, Iran, Russia, China have all improved their capabilities in recent years, but they don’t have the capacity to organize and deploy the huge numbers of troops and air and sea power needed to win in a conventional war. They’ve moved strongly away from trying to be able to win a conventional war and more on having strategic deterrence in the form of being able to neutralize America’s superiority in conventional warfare. That’s why you see such emphasis on surface-to-surface missiles and drones.

          In short, they’re not trying to prepare to win a war, they just want to be able to dish out enough pain to the Americans to deter us from starting one. Or, at least, let us know that we’d take some heavy casualties.

          Reply
          1. JTMcPhee

            There are US Generals and “think tanks” who still think the US Empire can “win” a nuclear war, and are exporting their MADness out into Outer Space…

            Reply
          2. Greg

            If China doesn’t have the manpower in boots to win a conventional war, why does the US think it does?
            I would have thought the evidence of the last fifty years was that US doesn’t have the available troops to “win” a conventional war either.

            Reply
          3. Procopius

            advancements in artillery, even more than machine guns, were a huge leap forward in pushing up body counts.

            Yes. My maternal grandfather was a captain of artillery in The Great War. He told me that in several battles it was the French 75 millimeter quick firing field gun that won for the Allies. Not meaning to disparage the importance of machine guns, which the generals had paid little attention to before the war.

            Reply
        2. Robert Hahl

          “…a matter of satisfying honor, it will be a short war, the boys will all be home by Christmas with honor satisfied and life will go on as before.”

          According to Jacques Pauwels that was how they talked about the prospects for war, but what they really thought about it was that socialism was getting too strong and they needed foreign wars to prevent domestic revolution. The great powers were actively looking for a good excuse to start fighting, and the bloodier the better, to renew people’s faith in god and government.

          The Great Class War 1914-1918
          by Jacques R Pauwels

          https://www.alibris.com/The-Great-Class-War-1914-1918-Jacques-R-Pauwels/book/33444611?qsort=p&matches=8

          Reply
          1. flora

            Yes. Barbara Tuchman’s book “The Proud Tower” goes into this at some length. The book was a collection of her essays about La Belle Epoque, called the Gilded Age in the US – the 25 years of rich globalism that preceded The Great War. Amidst the gilded age was rising poverty and discontent.

            What the then 6 great empires achieved was a backfire of the worst sort: destroying the actual existence of 3 of the empires – Turkey , Czarist Russia , and the Austro-Hungarian empires, the defeat of the German empire, and badly hurting the remaining two winning British and French empires.

            Reply
              1. The Rev Kev

                Kennedy read that book during the Cuba missile crisis as it came out the same year. The fact that we are still here indicates that he learned a lot from that book.

                Reply
              1. paintedjaguar

                A couple of the Tarzan novels have Tarzan fighting the Germans in Africa, both in WW1 and WW2 (FYI: Tarzan had already stumbled across a fountain of youth formula in one of the numerous lost cities that littered his fantasy Africa).

                Reply
      2. VietnamVet

        I didn’t sleep well and was relieved when I heard the next day “Iran appears to be standing down.” This was the start of WWIII. Iran has now shown that it has conventional Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) capability. There is no way the USA can build up the forces to invade Iran. They will be destroyed first. The USA is occupying Iraq and Syria without those nations’ permission. That will not turn out well. Either there is escalation of the Middle East War that destroys the world’s economy, at best, or there is a peace treaty and an American withdrawal. The problem are corporations, neo-cons and true believers who love war.

        Reply
    2. The Historian

      I am extremely disheartened that what happened in Iraq is now becoming “all about Suleimani”. I don’t care whether he was a terrorist or a freedom fighter, i.e., your terrorist is always someone else’s freedom fighter. But that is NOT the point we should be considering. The point is whether the US was right to arbitrarily kill a military general from a country that we have NOT declared war against, in another foreign country. And that point is being lost amid all the hoopla about who Suleimani was or was not.

      Reply
      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Your question: “Whether the US was right to arbitrarily kill a military general from a country that we have NOT declared war against, in another foreign country.” — is definitely the question we should be asking — along with many variations on that theme.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          “We’re an Empire now, and we create our own realities.” Empire is never having to say you’re sorry, or abide by any kind of rules except the ones you make as you go along.

          Reply
        2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Paraphrasing Cheney n Rove, ‘We make our own reality.’

          Something Something Unitary Executive Blah Blah

          Reply
      2. jsn

        Right, a hit on a highly regarded general, who had actively supported our early efforts against Al-Qeada, on a mission to meet with the President of our ally Iraq on a subject we had asked the two to meet on, having arrived on a commercial jet. What’s the problem with that?

        We have become a pirate nation.

        There is no protocol any right minded leader in the world can any longer expect us to observe. This is a fine discipline to put on our allies and adversaries expecting full well it will apply equally to us soon enough.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          “This is a fine discipline to put on our allies and adversaries expecting full well it will apply equally to us soon enough.”

          golden rule to kantian ethics to mr rodgers.
          it’s not that hard to understand, and hardly some hidden esoterica, guarded closely by silent monks on a mountain somewhere in Linear B.
          ive known 3 year olds who could articulate–and even follow, more or less–the golden rule, especially if out of pure self interest.
          hell, i cured both my boys of biting the first time…i bit them back.
          perhaps our best and brightest have devolved so far that that’s what it’s gonna take.
          …of course, and sadly, i doubt that even that would work, and will just engender howls of indignation and sonorous lectures about “honor”, and the benthic* antiwisdom of an eye for an eye.
          trump, for all the yelling and rending of garments, wasn’t a radical enough change
          all of which is a sad, sad thing.

          * https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwjD0MiFv5DnAhUGO60KHSM4C2EQjRx6BAgBEAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.aquarium.co.za%2Fblog%2Fentry%2Fwelcome-to-the-midnight-zone-a-deep-sea-learning-experience&psig=AOvVaw03dbM3cjUBJB86VHWcSK_c&ust=1579551757129791

          Reply
        2. notabanktoadie

          We have become a pirate nation. jsn

          Inevitably since government privileged banks have always been a cartel of privateers – looting their fellow citizens? Now as a nation, we loot the world – to prolong the existence of an unsustainable (because based on theft) system?

          Reply
      3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Good question! While we’re at it maybe we should also ask whether we should drone assassinate an American citizen and his 16-year old son.

        That question would need to be asked of the previous occupant of the Oval Office, the Mellifluous Melanoderm himself.

        Al-Awlaki became the first U.S. citizen to be targeted and killed by a U.S. drone strike without the rights of due process being afforded. President Barack Obama ordered the strike. His son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki (a 16-year-old U.S. citizen), was killed in a U.S. drone strike two weeks later.

        Reply
      4. David in Santa Cruz

        It was earlier reported by the WaPo that Trump and Suleimani had personally been involved in a tit-for-tat Twitter/Instagram “meme war” since last year.

        This is particularly chilling considering that CNN, WaPo, and The Guardian are now reporting that Trump was recorded this past Friday privately telling a large gathering of donors at Mar-a-Lago the following:

        He was saying bad things about our country, like we’re going to attack, we’re going to kill your people. I said, ‘Listen, how much of this shit do we have to listen to,’ right?

        In other words, Trump has now admitted that he was merely acting like a typical street thug in retaliation for being “disrespected” on social media by a rival gangster.

        Where are the pearl-clutching Democrats? Let’s throw out a century of international law, just as overpopulation and climate change are about to cause global conflicts on a scale never before seen.

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          LOLOLOL “throw out a century of international law”

          That was most spectacularly done in this sphere by G. Bush and enthusiastically extended by one B. Obama in a fully bi-partisan manner, but let’s pile on The Orange Man, Orange Man Bad, So Bad, See How Bad

          Reply
      5. Oregoncharles

        Again: not just Soleimani. It was essentially a declaration of war with Iraq, too, supposedly an ally; and in particular, with the Shia militias that constitute Iraq’s real military – the same ones that did the heavy lifting against ISIS. There’ve been a couple of rocket attacks, but those chickens have still not come home to roost. They’re in a perfect position to retaliate against the American troops still in Iraq – why Pompeo wants to keep them there escapes me. That taken-back letter indicated that the military were more than ready to get the heck out of Dodge. Which is a lot more like Dienbienphu, to evoke some old memories.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          The reason escapes you? The reason seems very simple.

          Pompeo is one of the people who want to regime-change Iran. That would probably require a hotter form and level of war. Pompeo wants our soldiers and contractors left in place in Iraq in the hopes that someone or something will kill and injure some of them or a lot of them. Pompeo will then attribute that attack to “Iran” and seek “retaliation” against Iran. In hopes of setting a wider war with Iran into motion.

          That is why the Pompeos want to keep our soldiers there in Iraq. As bait.

          Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        The BBC doco more or less begins with that. Which did surprise me; I was expecting more of a “diabolically evil” (to quote one interviewee) line.
        Is it pointless to ask if the USA’s mainstream media has noted Suleimani’s, and Iran’s, willingness to co-operate against al-Qaeda and the Taliban before Bush’s axis of evil speech?

        Reply
        1. hoki haya

          an allegiance would have been organic. i remain among the optimistic few who believe it still could be; tho with his unlawful-by-any-stretch assassination, the blockage has deepened. unthinkable. such an action will not wash out in any news cycle.

          i would like to add that if ‘freedom’ is measured by an inner state rather than material wealth and mobility, gained and enhanced by a basic comprehension of one’s historic, cultural and religious background whether one believes in or adheres to dogma or state or not, by these standards, iranians are much more ‘free’ than 95% of the souls and situations i saw growing up in the united states.

          Reply
          1. hoki haya

            sry, ‘alliance’, not ‘allegiance’. i’m lucky to be able to type anything halfway coherent on this rudimentary phone/connection. would like to say thanks to all here for keeping non-sanctioned, unenforced thought – hence optimism – alive.

            Reply
            1. xkeyscored

              I wish I could share your optimism about an alliance. But I don’t think the USA has ever forgiven Mosaddegh’s attempt to steal ‘their’ oil, nor the ‘totally irrational’ distrust shown by Iranians when they finally shook off the Shah. And Trump seems determined to fulfill his nation’s historical mission, or Manifest Destiny as they put it – to be at war, overt or covert, economic or military, with every other country in the world. I see Iranian alliances with China and Russia as a reality that will probably only strengthen, with Europe as a possibility, but with the US as remote. That said, I also think their empire is in terminal decline, and its fall will be rapid. I only hope it goes out quietly, with a whimper and not a bang.

              Reply
        2. Amfortas the hippie

          Iran may as well move altogether into the Memory Hole as far as the us– and the usa public, especially– is concerned.
          post 9-11, i was astonished at the ignorance of so many people regarding even recent history, but ignorance of Iran topped that of just about every other country.

          Reply
  6. Tom Stone

    I see that the WaPo is covering the events in Richmond in its usual fair and balanced manner.
    Seeing “Blackface” Ralph Northam denouncing White Nationalists made my day.
    o keep in mind that the South had “Sensible Gun Laws” in the decades following the Civil War, Dancing around a burning cross while wearing white robes is NOT something you do if the homeowner ( And Neighbors) have repeating rifles…for long, anyway.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Both sides of the cylinderella story are shooting @ a moot point, guns won.

      In other news:

      If my life depended on it, I couldn’t have named an Eminem song heretofore, and wow what a powerful statement combined with using cinéma vérité and wit as witness from the kook depository on the 32nd floor.

      Plastered on a bunch of stuff in sin city is ‘Vegas Strong’ and i’m not sure what that means exactly other than wording short enough to remember a catchy phrase, but in reality nothing whatsoever has been done to stop another Paddock from leaving the stable.

      Reply
    2. dcblogger

      we have a bunch of gun nuts threatening the state legislature. Whatever you think of Northup and rest of them, the gun nuts are a threat to all of us.

      Reply
  7. ALM

    Finally, the Sanders campaign is going after Biden’s long and awful record on Social Security, something I care deeply about. Why did it take so long? Is it possible that the Sanders campaign wanted to catch Ridin with Biden flatfooted and heavy with his Iraq War lies? If so, it’s a very risky strategy.

    Reply
    1. tegnost

      Risky why? The primary is right around the corner and Bernie wants to win it. Would you rather have his team dilute the message over time?

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The other side is noise. There were arguments for dilution of the vote, but candidates who sucked Biden support also made noise that prevented from Biden being on display. Every question to most of the candidates is really a wasted chance for Biden to do his best Trump impression.

        Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      With Biden it would be like shooting fish in a barrel to put together a tape showing all the things he has done in the past like supporting the Iraq invasion, wanting to cut Social Security, his racism, his boasting of getting a Ukrainian official fired at the threat of cutting off aid (sound familiar?) and for those young voters his “I Have No Empathy” For Millennials speech. And it would all be in his own words.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I don’t think the Sanders campaign is really going for the jugular on this. A compilation like you suggest should have been the opening gun. In fact, there should be a website devoted to it. And notice how Warren softened up Sanders so that Biden, too, can claim “he’s lying.” Looks like a tag team, to me.

        Reply
        1. nycTerrierist

          “And notice how Warren softened up Sanders so that Biden, too, can claim “he’s lying.” Looks like a tag team, to me.”

          Indeed — sure looks that way…

          Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Maybe the Sanders campaign or surrogates or free-lance supporters can find a best time and place to inject the media zone with doses of ” Biden and Warren sure look like a tag team”.

            Reply
    3. Kurtismayfield

      The real question is “Why is Sanders the only one going after Biden on SS?”. They are all behind Biden, and should be piling on him Especially about one of the Democratic party’s third rail.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        That was the “third rail” of your Grandad’s Democrat Party. Today’s Democrat Party “third rail” is globalism.

        Reply
    4. Jeff W

      Krystal Ball, in conversation with Michael Brown, says the Sanders team “were all ramping up to make a major critique of Joe Biden” and mentions specifically Biden’s stance on the Iraq War but that critique was derailed temporarily by the Warren brouhaha.

      Given Sanders’s relative weakness with older voters, I would think Biden’s “long and awful record on Social Security” would be something that the Sanders campaign would have pursued sooner and above Biden’s position on the Iraq War but, perhaps, the campaign was planning to pursue both in that major critique.

      Reply
    5. Bill Carson

      Isn’t it interesting that Social Security was not mentioned at the debate? In fact, the campaigns send signals to the news media to indicate what issues they might want to bring up next. I have no doubt that Sanders’ camp sent such signals about SS and Biden, and CNN promptly decided not to ask any questions related to the matter.

      Reply
  8. Ignacio

    RE: “Like, I’ll Tune in When There’s Two Weeks Left”: Why Trump Has a Huge Advantage Over Dems with Low-Information Voters Vanity Fair (Re Silc). I dislike the “low information voters” trope, not least because it privileges information over wisdom and knowledge. One might also ask “low” with respect to what, and compared to whom? Perhaps what is really stigmatized is “Low-Information Voters” as such. The failure of the New York Times editorial staff, in its interview with Sanders, to follow through on his mention of “deaths of despair” and falling life expectancy among the lowly in flyover supports this idea.

    Isn’t it anything but the evolution of the deplorable meme? Why don’t they ask themselves why Trump has a huge advantage because lots of people increasingly don’t give a [family blog] on the “information” provided because it never deals with their problems?

    Reply
    1. Craig H.

      In 2016 the information vendors were saying Ms. “Why am I not ahead by 50 points in the polls?” Clinton was practically a lock.

      I will tune in after they establish a track record of validity. When is that going to happen? 4chan had it correct and the New York Times had it wrong.

      Has the New York Times ever acknowledged this?

      Reply
    2. xkeyscored

      I’ve only skimmed the article quickly, being rather uninterested in the tedious details of the US election circus. But I do agree with your point about ‘the “low information voters” trope, not least because it privileges information over wisdom and knowledge.’
      I’d frame it slightly differently. ‘Non-deplorables’ (yuk, but you know who I’m getting at) often have information at their finger-tips, if not on the tips of their tongues. They’re the ones who had heard of Suleimani prior to his assassination, for example, and they’d probably be able to tell you the percentages of US citizens earning such and such and paying whatever for their food or housing, and their criminal records and work histories.
      Yet in my experience, most of them have absolutely no idea what it’s like to be poor. They know what the poor earn or receive, and what they have to fork out just to survive, and think there’s no way they would or even could do that. But they continue to ask patently daft questions. Why don’t they save? Why don’t they do a huge weekly shop at an out-of-town supermarket? Why don’t they eat a better diet? Why don’t they…?
      Living among the poor, or plain living poor, would soon provide answers. As the article puts it, “But for many of the people in Favreau’s focus groups, politics isn’t real life, either.”

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Not only do they have limited information (the elites and ten percenters), but much of the information they do have is misinformation. One should point out that while Trump’s approval rating may not be that high, the news media approval rating is consistently much lower. Americans in general may not be obsessed with politics but they know when they are being sold a bill of goods.

        In The Wizard of Oz the wizard solves the scarecrow’s head full of straw by giving him a diploma. This may be that great work’s sharpest bit of satire.

        Reply
      2. jsn

        “Low information voter” is just another condescending trope from Versailles.

        What the completely indoctrinated elite are talking about is really the low ideology voter.

        The problem the Republicans should have learned about but probably failed to 4 years ago that the Democrats are now getting an up close look at themselves is that the un-indoctrinated have a pretty clear understanding of elite indifference/hostility in our formal politics.

        The un-indoctrinated stay away until they see some hope for fundamental change: Obama presented as such but was a slick con artist; Trump presents as such but is an obvious con artist. In 08 & 12 it was the Left being conned. In 16 it was the Right that fell for it. Now everyone’s seen the game and it looks like psy-ops and electronic voting machines are the “establishments” only hope.

        Reply
      3. Phacops

        I have friends who are part of that “professional” class talked about by Thomas Frank in Listen Liberal. They remain blindingly ignorant to the lives of anybody outside their class and rarely associate with those not solidly upper middle class. They are profoundly gullible to identity politics propaganda. Unfortunately, a couple are involved with the local Dems and show no understanding of how neoliberal and corporate-centric policies have ruined the lives of so many.

        They are aghast when I express my intent to not vote for any but progressive candidates. I just tell them that if they are going to vote blue no matter who, they need to sit out the primaries and let us, who understand issues, select the candidates.

        Reply
    3. T

      “generally aligned with the Democratic Party on issues—especially the idea of reducing health care costs and expanding access”

      Trying to find the energy to dig up exactly what was going on in these focus groups. Are these poor drooling low-information voters really aligned with “expanding access”?

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        This Is a key problem with spoken arguments versus text based arguments. “Access” just becomes a word loss in a flurry of words about “Healthcare.”

        Unless one is primed to catch these words, they sound innocuous and are meant to produce an outcome without pinning the people behind the focus group down on anything.

        Twitter might have limited characters, but it’s a more honest medium of communication than radio, public appearances, TV, and anything audio where it’s hard to check what was said. It’s very much like of the critique of Obama’s oratory of leaving people amped but not able to remember what was said.

        I would say anyone who watches cable news for reasons other than self punishment is a low information voter, maybe the lowest of the low. Twain had a quip about there being two types of people: those who don’t read newspapers and no those who do or the uniformed and did the misinformed. I would say it’s far worse than Twain could imagine.

        Reply
    4. The Historian

      “Isn’t it anything but the evolution of the deplorable meme?”
      +100

      I watched the last debate and it is the last one I will watch because all I felt afterwards was disgust. I am not going to pay any attention to the political squabbles any more because there are things that I know that their daily battles just can’t overcome:

      1. I know that all the politics I see lately are just our form of gladiator games, and that Trump will always be the winner because he has spent his life being a press hog – he knows more in his little finger about how to keep his name in the headlines than any other politician will ever learn.

      2. I know that if any Democrat – excepting Sanders – gets elected or if Trump gets re-elected, nothing in my life will change that much. The next four years will be the same old same old downward drift, so what does it matter whether I pay attention to all their nonsense or even vote or not?

      3. I know that if Sanders gets elected, nothing much will change immediately. Do you really think that the powers that be in this country will NOT fight him tooth and nail – that they will suddenly roll over and declare that they have lost? Ah, no, they have way too much invested for that! But what a Sander’s Presidency WILL do is change the Overton Window in this country so that more and more of those people who will not run for Congress right now, will consider giving it a go. And perhaps we can change the complexion of Congress in the next four years, and then MAYBE we can start addressing some of our problems. The ONLY reason I will vote for President is if Sanders gets the nomination. Otherwise I refuse to be a participant in their games.

      Nothing that happens in the daily foofarah is going to change what I already know. So call me a “low information voter” or a “deplorable” because I won’t pay that much attention to the games any more. I have other ways to entertain myself.

      Reply
      1. flora

        I’d say you’re a high information voter. The information you have, that’s necessary for you to have in your life, is NOT the information the beltway pundits have that is necessary for their life. In so many ways, the beltway pundits are low information voters. (Did you see the looks on the faces of the NYTimes staff when Sanders was explaining to them why T won? The could not – or would not – take in what he was telling them. So, who is the low information voter?)

        Reply
        1. jsn

          What our “betters” mean by “information” is “ideology” who’s socially generated ideas, having been generated by themselves to satisfy their agreed doctrines, they mistake for facts and become instantly frustrated when anyone points out their flimsiness, that their ideas cannot support claims of factuality. And it’s increasingly time consuming to indoctrinate people enough to get them to buy these ideas as facts, another huge frustration our “betters” lay on us for our “ignorance” and general “deplorability”!

          It was an ideological idea that Trump was a Putin stooge. It was an ideological idea that Trump asking the Ukrainian President to investigate possible crimes committed in Ukraine was a “high crime.” It was an ideological idea that claiming Sanders said a woman couldn’t be elected to Elizabeth Warren in a private conversation made such a statement attributable to Sanders.

          Like I said above on a different thread, the propaganda isn’t cutting it any more, it’s down to psy-ops and electronic voting machines to keep the establishment in power now.

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            ive been seeing exactly that everywhere from the feedstore to the beer barn to the hospital elevator to the san antonio street corner.
            disillusionment with and distrust of their own party(mostly gop where i live and move), evolving into actual loathing of “the Ruling Class”(on the lips of republicans and the more unwashed levels of the righty continuum!)
            illegitimacy is the order of the day, and that bodes ill for the usual methods of distraction/indoctrination.
            the parasites are gonna hafta either Lihop some violent disaster, or consider letting more than crumbs fall from their table.

            Reply
      2. Jeremy Grimm

        I am inclined to quibble item #2. While I agree with your statement “…nothing in my life will change that much…” understood in the sense that there will be no change in the direction of slide toward a collapse — I disagree with that statement in the sense that I believe things could change a great deal if things continue their slide toward collapse for four more years. I feel the fabric of our Society nearing the stress past which it tears and rends and shreds what remains of that cloth.

        Reply
        1. Tomonthebeach

          I think The Historian meant by nothing will change is that we will continue on a downward slide of decay into authoritarian lawlessness and moral decay; not that things will remain the awful mess we experience at the moment.

          Reply
          1. Jeremy Grimm

            I was attempting to suggest we were at a point where “downward slide of decay” — essentially a linear process as often conteimplated — fails to take into account the possibility we are nearing breaking points — tipping points — in those decay processes.

            Reply
            1. Oregoncharles

              I agree with that, and it’s pretty scary. Even in the 60s, I never thought we’d be sliding into outright collapse.

              Reply
        2. Phacops

          When classes in a society lose touch and there is no coherent mythology nothing will prevent collapse. I think we are there already.

          Reply
      3. Expat2uruguay

        But the irony is, Bernie Sanders needs a movement to do the things he’s promised, and a movement requires high information voters/movers. So if you think that your participation ends at voting every two or four years, you’re not going to get the future that you need and want. We’ve got to be ready to participate when the opportunity comes to actually make change. All the powers-that-be that you’re worried about are banking on you/us being too immersed in daily life and survival to get into the street.

        Reply
        1. Oh

          You make an important point. Most people think that voting every two or four years is democracy. If they don’t participate every day in pushing the politians to keep their promises and making things better for the people, things will slide.

          Reply
          1. neighbor7

            “Not me–us.”
            And AOC and others at the Los Angeles rally repeatedly underlined that “we are just beginning,” there’s so much to be done, this is a movement for the long haul.

            Reply
          2. Pookah Harvey

            This is a point Richard Wolff makes at Democracy at Work. People spend most of their lives at work in a dictatorial system where they have no voice in how their lives are managed. So they don’t have daily (or even weekly, monthly, etc) experience participating in managing their present or future. They don’t know how a “democracy” is supposed to work and think it is only the meaningless vote every 2 or 4 years for a candidate chosen by George Carlin’s “Owners”. A working democracy requires people proficient at participating in a democratic society which should include the workplace.

            Reply
            1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

              Yuuuup.

              People need to see that their political participation affects change in the USG. I cant tell you how disheartening it is fighting against the New Orleans City Council.

              Everybody: No new Gas Plant.
              NOCC: Entergys run by 3 black men.

              Everybody: BDS Resolution which actually passed.
              NOCC: Ummm, AIPAC has changed our minds.

              Reply
        2. Tomonthebeach

          Sanders is the only candidate (ignoring MAGAs) that HAS a well-established movement.

          I am a bit surprised at how few comments I am seeing on this issue reflect any knowledge of the political environment around the only true Progressive president in our history – FDR. People seem unaware that Social Security was widely opposed. Many of FDR’s programs were challenged in court and lost. Despite the need for a WPA, it too was opposed at every turn.

          If he was alive today, Roosevelt would probably say: “The only thing we have to fear and loathe is fear and loathing itself.” And, according to the late Hunter Thompson, the party of fear and loathing is the Republican party.

          Reply
        3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          The 1% are digging their own grave. The more people suffer and starve, the more they began to pay attention to politics. 10ish cities are capturing a 1/3 of GDP? When I took a political survey class in ’06, our textbook said less than 10% of people knew what was goin on over the last 6 months.

          I bet those numbers are upwards of 20% now.

          Only a matter of time before factions of the Hard Left and Hard Right unite around Economic Interests and agree to an Identity Politics truce. Neoliberalism can only divert and divide attention for so long. Gen Zs gonna get bored real quick soon is my guess. Plus the Internet is filled with Revolutionary Voices like NC!

          Half the worlds in an uprising!

          Reply
      4. Lobsterman

        Deplorables are the folks lining up to be guards at the Trump concentration camps. If that’s not you, it’s not you.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          False argument. Obama, he of sainted name, did not close down Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba after he was elected. So, using your argument, all those still manning the watchtowers at Guantanamo and elsewhere in the American Gulag would be, what, Proto Deplorables?
          Now, take that argument and stand it on it’s head. After a DNC/Clintonite becomes President, (through hook or crook of course,) won’t the ‘deplorables’ be the ones standing in line to be immured in those FEMA camps?

          Reply
      5. dcblogger

        sure Sanders will enact his program, and in the first two years. FDR got his program thru and so will Sanders. A Sanders’ victory will bring many new progressives with him. As Nelson Mandela put it, it is always impossible until it is done. That is what revolutions are like.

        Reply
    5. Mo's Bike Shop

      I just finished reading a few tabs I had open regarding ‘Electability’ that had failed to enthuse me. Seems to me that Electability is just trying to second-guess one’s imaginary models of who the ‘deplorables’ are and what motivates them. ‘All these people telling us what they want is a distraction from deducing what all these people want.’

      And we laugh and point at augury nowadays.

      Reply
    6. jrs

      It’s also of course why Biden has a huge advantage and might well be the Dem nominee even though he can’t speak a coherent sentence without fumbling. If you don’t watch a single debate, bad as they are, then you don’t know the guy is losing it, therefore hey vote for him anyway.

      Reply
    7. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps we should or could neutralize the meme “low information voters” by coining the counter-memes
      “low disinformation voters” or “low fake-information voters” or etc.

      Reply
  9. Philo Beddoh

    Deaths of disparity: po’ folk who don’t buy into NYT, WaPo, Vanity Fair, etc. victim blaming tropes, that “opioids are the religion of the proletariat,” their stereotypes seem blithely to confuse cause with effect? Conglomerate media is by, of and for the 9.9% Creative Class™ (to the benefit of the 0.01%) Our purported Disneyesque mass-suicide by carcinogenic air, water and toxic GE monoculture crap, gavaged to CAFO pink slime isn’t solely indicative of our piss-poor impulse control. This perspective isn’t all that pervasive (or persuasive) once across the Hudson.

    Reply
  10. a different chris

    So I see a uniform on what is apparently a software coder’s body (because it sure doesn’t look very fit) which has “Space Force” patches stuck on a velcro patch? WTF?

    Reply
        1. ambrit

          How many varieties of camo have we had up to now? A few, I’ll agree.
          I like Flecktarn myself. (On my budget, as in, Thrift Stores and bottom scraping e-bay, I take what I can get, natch.)
          Did you notice the four stars on some accoutrement placed in the middle of the chest of that jacket? What’s with that? The Space Force already has it’s own General?

          Reply
            1. ambrit

              That is, officially, “Spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace Cadets!” (With the echo chamber effect for emphasis.)
              The Space Force marching band will all play solar powered theremins.
              Will there be a Space Force One? President Musk will definitely want one.

              Reply
          1. Bill Carson

            I’m ready for the new Space Force anthem to hit. All of those armed forces medleys that we’re forced to endure are going to have to be rewritten to include the Space Force Hymn.

            Also, can’t the Space Force be under the umbrella of the Air Force, the same way the Marines are under the Navy?

            Reply
  11. Carolinian

    Re Consortium News and “the new wild West”–there’s an excellent documentary about the wall called The River and the Wall. A group follows the Rio Grande from El Paso to the Gulf using bikes, horses and canoes. The show maintains an even keel and talks about both the smuggling and the great environmental damage and pointlessness of building a wall across large sections of basically empty space. In much of Big Bend National Park the geography itself is a wall.

    And re Macron, another excellent analysis from Diana Johnstone.

    https://consortiumnews.com/2020/01/17/french-popular-uprising-revolution-or-frozen-conflict/

    Reply
  12. The Rev Kev

    “Your online activity is now effectively a social ‘credit score’’

    This article mentioned the Black Mirror episode “Nosedive” but another show called “The Orville” took it further in aligning your social ‘credit score’ with that of your daily behaviour. Don’t laugh as it could very well happen-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpUMVGRW5wQ

    Reply
    1. Eureka Springs

      Tape a phone to a drone programmed to fly patterns which best raise n maintain high credit lifestyle patterns.
      After you cash out be sure and send google and facebook a thank you note from your undisclosed offshore banking retirement locale.

      Reply
      1. jefemt

        That is really funny!!!

        I wonder if the Banff Mountain Film Fest would screen it next year?

        Part of ‘Mountain Culture’ in the New West— gated communities, private jet-ports and heli-pads in Private Idaho…

        Reply
      2. skk

        yeah.. I’ll start looking for ways of spoofing this score. No doubt computing-literate Chinese, who really already need it, have figured out ways and I’ll search for techniques and specific tools and apps.

        btw, I found I can spoof my fitbit’s count of # of steps – when I ride my motorbike for an hour or so, the fitbit step counter tacks on another 3K or steps. Handy if I had one of those fintech bank accounts ( the aptly named FITNESS bank ) that pays extra interest if you average 12.5K steps per day ( 10K if over 65).

        Reply
          1. skk

            not in a car though – my cars in the Los Angeles exurbs at least. I wonder if its the rough roads and and the distance between the suspension and where you are seated ( in a bus ) in your case ? I’m in Puerto Rico shortly – in the mountainous roads too. I’ll test it out there. Would be worth understanding – literally worth it in this case :-).

            Reply
    2. xkeyscored

      If I’d written the article, I’d have given a lot more emphasis to the similarities with China’s social credit system. The only major difference I see is that one is state-administered, the other based on private companies. And it’s a bit academic anyway, since the NSA probably has access to everything Twitter, AirBnB or Instagram have.
      O brave new world, that has such algorithms …

      Reply
    3. John

      It’s looking more and more like Blade Runner had it right.
      Most people in the world living close or in poverty and being tracked like animals.

      Reply
      1. Tomonthebeach

        The sad thing is that those bleating people being herded are eager accomplices in their own manipulation. Who needs Stasi when you have FB and Instagram?

        Back in 2018, while enjoying spring in our house in Bulgaria, one of the teenagers visiting from a nearby village showed me on his phone that he had over 2000 Facebook friends. The kid was only 15, and he lived in a village of about 150 people! I asked him how it is that he even knew that many people much less was friends with them. His response made it evident that his generation collected FB friends like Boomer kids used to collect baseball cards.

        I have a puny 154 FB friends. I know them all, and nearly all are friends I have had for over half a century. I am lucky if I can get through all their daily posts, especially given Zuck’s advertising clutter. But it does one thing very well, and that it enables intelligence agencies to create a valid social network knowledge and form a political profile of people. At my age, FB enables me to keep up with my shrinking social network as friends post pics of grandchildren getting awards, travel selfies, and make comments about our awful government – esp my overseas friends, and of course, learn who passed away.

        Ironic is it not that the same technology has both beneficial and insidious applications?

        Reply
  13. chuck roast

    Interesting to see the old neocon and Zionist Martin Indyk do a 180 on the Middle East. I’m curious who is paying him now.

    From the way-back machine: here is a long and fascinating debate at Cooper Union sponsored by the LRB that includes Indyk, Dennis Ross (long-time Zionist operative) and the late, great, historian Tony Judt. The debate too place when John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt published their blockbuster book on the Israeli Lobby. Mearsheimer is also on the six-man panel. Get a cuppa…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJoq5y5ofnE

    Reply
  14. Winston Smith

    “The tacit alliance of militia members and Border Patrol agents is getting out of control”
    Reminds me of chapter 6 (Be wary of paramilitaries) in “on tyranny” by Timothy Snyder. “When the pro-leader paramilitary and the official police…intermingle, the end has come”. Hardly, but worrisome nonetheless.

    Reply
  15. allan

    Dems College Republicans in disarray:

    Nationalist ‘antics’ or the future of the GOP? College Republicans are at war
    [USA Today]

    … [Charlie] Kirk and his fellow Republicans used to be some of the most vocal conservative voices on college campuses. But some young Republicans view him as too moderate.

    Jeremiah Childs, vice president for the College Republican group at the University of Maine, pushes an “America first” agenda that’s unabashedly Trumpian …

    He said groups such as Turning Point spend too much time talking about economic issues rather than cultural ones, such as the anti-abortion movement. Childs said he worries about the rise of concepts such as nontraditional gender roles and “third-wave feminism.” …

    Childs said he doesn’t think conservative critics understand the circumstances of poor and rural Americans. He said they probably come from prosperous backgrounds. …

    Too much time talking about economic issues, not enough time talking about third-wave feminism.
    Oddly, or not, by pushing culture wars ahead of class issues, Mr. Childs and his ilk are serving the purposes of
    not the merely prosperous, but of the .01%. Jay Gould approves of this message.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, when the Third Way DLC Hamilton Project Clintocrats took over the DemParty and added just enough “New DemParty” support to the Republican core of support for Free Trade, the New Clintocrats got some key parts of Free Trade passed and sped up the process of mass jobicide throughout non-rich America. That created the opening for Childs to operate in.

      When the ex-working classes realized that the DemParty was their class enemy just like the Republican Party was . . . but at least the Republican Party seemed like a “cultural issues” friend, they voted Republican.

      Reply
  16. jfleni

    The Pesticide Industry’s Playbook for Poisoning the Earth The Intercept.

    GIMMME THEY SAY, G I M M E, G I M M E; meanwhile all the bees die.
    The best possible penalty for these morons is being stung to death
    by HORDES of dying bees in the ultimate hours of their demise!

    Reply
  17. The Rev Kev

    “The Soleimani Strike and Self-Defence Against an Imminent Armed Attack”

    This article tap-dances around the words imminent and self-defence but it totally ignores important points. Soleimani at the time of his murder was a diplomatic envoy at the behest of Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Generally speaking, murdering diplomatic envoys is a big no-no for some reason. I don’t think that China has forgotten the time that the CIA hit one of their Embassies with missiles and killed three of their people. The massive military build up by the Chinese can be traced back to this incident.

    And Pompeo came out in a speech five days ago and admitted that it was part of a program this murder. The implication there is that the US might kill a Chinese official in say Myanmar or perhaps high ranking officers in Syria. Oh wait, the later has already happened. If a small country like Iran could slam US bases with ballistic missiles with impunity in reaction to an Iranian official being murdered, then how would Russia or China react to this? Generally speaking it is a bad idea to shoot at people that can shoot back.

    Reply
    1. Pat

      Forgive my disrespect for most of our military and political brain trust, but until Iran hit American bases with relative pinpoint accuracy (and I’m assuming a whole lot of knowledge of what was being done where) I don’t think they even considered this could happen.

      They have spent decades having relatively little pushback on their aggressive nature and ignoring what there was as it was not pushback that really might affect them. There are now some qualms among some. They recognized the targets could be on their own backs. Pompeo and others even further on the top not so much so there is still room for more stupidity.

      And it isn’t just physical shooting, don’t forget how much of our system is vulnerable to hacking done CIA style…

      Reply
    2. xkeyscored

      That’s not how I read it. To me, it says let’s for the sake of argument take this extremist interpretation of imminent (possible in the future, to paraphrase crudely), and see whether the assassination was justified according to that. It seems to conclude that it probably wasn’t, and was almost certainly unwise and counter-productive, assuming the aim was to deter future ‘Iranian’ attacks. (And, so far as I know, Soleimani’s diplomatic status seems a bit of a moot point.)
      As the article puts it, in somewhat legalistic terms,
      In conclusion, even if we took the US views of applicable international law on their own terms, fully accepting that self-defence pursuant to Article 51 of the Charter extends to imminent armed attacks, embracing an expansive, non-temporal conception of imminence, and accepting a wider scope of permissible goals in self-defence, it would be difficult to argue that the killing of Soleimani was lawful under the jus ad bellum (I leave aside here the issue of the legality of his killing under international humanitarian law (if it applied) or international human rights law). The US self-defence justification is factually contingent on a number of points.
      It is only if the US could establish that (1) Soleimani was operationally involved in the planning of future attacks against US assets and personnel; (2) that Iran was committed to pursuing these attacks, i.e. that it was virtually certain that they would take place because a final decision had been made in that regard; (3) that killing Soleimani would in fact have disrupted those attacks; (4) that killing him was the only way of disrupting those attacks, i.e. that no options short of the use of force would have succeeded in disrupting the attacks; (5) that killing him in Iraq, at the time the strike took place, was necessary to disrupt those attacks – it is only then that the strike against Soleimani could arguably be lawful, even under broader theories of self-defence that the US government espouses. This would require a much more detailed disclosure of the relevant evidence and facts than are currently available.

      As for Trump’s threat against Iranian cultural sites, “it lays bare the total arbitrariness behind the proposed use of force, which cannot be reconciled with any legitimate conception of self-defence in international law.”

      All in all, I thought it great to see such an overwhelmingly critical article from an international law journal.

      Reply
      1. David

        I’ve been worried about the “imminent attack” argument for some time. If you actually look at Art 51, it’s essentially a tidying-up provision, making the obvious point that, although the UN is essentially responsible for international peace and security, a state which is attacked by another obviously has the right to defend itself while waiting for UN forces to arrive. That’s it. Nothing more. An extreme, but probably allowable, interpretation is that, if your enemy is massing forces on the border and has publicly declared his intention to attack, then you would be justified in acting first. But the provision was never remotely intended to apply to circumstances like this. So, as you say, it’s good to see a critical article in such a journal, though even then there’s a risk that writing about such specious arguments gives them a status they don’t deserve.
        On the “pin-point” Iranian attacks, on the other hand, we shouldn’t get carried away. It’s not absolutely certain which missiles were used, but they probably have a Circular Error Probable (CEP) of about 100 metes, which is not bad for a ballistic missile. This CEP means that on average 50 0% f the missiles can be expected to land within 100 meters of the target. They probably shot for an area of the base which they expected to be largely deserted, guided by good intelligence from the ground.

        Reply
        1. xkeyscored

          Have you seen the satellite photos of the damage at al-Asad? It looks to me like, even if some missiles missed or failed, some were spot on dead accurate. Buildings appear to have been taken out with a direct hit to the centre. I read somewhere they got the very hall where Trump had addressed the troops in 2018, when they were still there under the pretext of fighting ISIS, and not just, erm, in order to protect their presence there. (You may take that ambiguity as you see fit.)

          Reply
          1. David

            Yes. You need a statistician to explain this (I’m sure there is one in the house) but this sort of thing has been going on since the days of the V2, when Londoners (including my mother’s family) were convinced that the Germans were operating off intelligence about targets, because there were some direct hits on important targets. But really, it’s just the arrangement of a random pattern within a small area. With enough warheads (and the Iranians have apparently said the warheads had submunitions) the chances of a direct attack on an important target are quite good. Most of the reporting I’ve seen has suggested that the Iranians tried to minimize casualties, and, given that the attack was at night and that they would have known where the accommodation blocks were, they would have tried to target areas where there would be few people at that hour. It was certainly an impressive feat, but within certain parameters.

            Reply
            1. Monty

              I wouldn’t be surprised if the US installed homing beacons on the buildings it was acceptable to hit. The whole thing was probably stage managed at a high level.

              Reply
            2. jsn

              3 for 3, perfectly landed with identical locations relative to the spherical tanks at Aramco by the Yemeni version and dead center, picking specific buildings and hitting them too on their center lines in Bagdad.

              In “Gravity’s Rainbow” one of the central conceits is the signal in the noise of the London Blitz, but what the Iranians have been showing recently is a lot less random than your comment suggests: it’s not reading into the data to see accuracy here.

              Very precise hits on very specific targets. The only real noise here is that we don’t know what the miss rate was.

              Reply
        2. xkeyscored

          Debka had this yesterday, which could of course be scare-mongering propaganda, but sure agrees with what I see in those satellite photos:
          … the GLONASS global navigation system, which corresponds to the American GPS, and had the effect of reducing the Iranian missiles’ targeting error to just 10 meters.
          The same sources report that the Iranians launched altogether 19 missiles against the Ain al Asad base n western Iraq, of which 17 struck dead center of their targets.
          DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the accuracy of impact amazed US and Israel intelligence, which had not been aware of this Iranian capacity.
          https://www.debka.com/russian-sources-moscow-gave-iran-the-high-precision-tech-for-missiles-that-struck-us-bases-in-iraq/

          Reply
          1. hoki haya

            one can be sure that any further escalation was immediately advised against in the strongest terms on the highest international levels of governance, including from the financial world outside the MIC & its parasites, and that any further aggression toward iran will meet with a symbiotic response from iran and its allies. it is not a small or isolated country. it is more of a natural partner to the ‘western’ world than the Saudis or the Turks or the Israelis, and all know it, whether figureheads state it explicitly or not.

            Reply
          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            We all analyze “The War” as though it was some 19th century exercise designed to capture resources and expand influence. It’s not. The CSF (critical success factor) is not whether one side “wins” or “loses” terrain and influence, it’s the relative effectiveness of that side in maximizing the flow of taxpayer dollars to enrich the country’s military supplier billionaires.

            The old analysis simply results in head-scratching: why would Country A do X, Y, or Z (fight in Afghanistan for 19 years for example) when that strategy clearly has not, cannot, and will not win? Answer: the DFC (Dollars From Chumps) ratio is off the charts. It IS a winning strategy.

            We should just become like Troy, a society entirely constructed around the waging of war. Or we should acknowledge the hatefulness of this economic justification of murder, and turn our swords into plowshares.

            Reply
    3. ahimsa

      Please see “Bethlehem Doctrine” referenced and linked to here at NC:

      When “U.S. officials” say “imminent,” they are applying the “Bethlehem Doctrine,” explained by Craig Murry here:

      What very few people, and almost no international lawyers, accept is the key to the Bethlehem Doctrine – that here “Imminent” – the word used so carefully by Pompeo – does not need to have its normal meanings of either “soon” or “about to happen”. An attack may be deemed “imminent”, according to the Bethlehem Doctrine, even if you know no details of it or when it might occur. So you may be assassinated by a drone or bomb strike – and the doctrine was specifically developed to justify such strikes – because of “intelligence” you are engaged in a plot, when that intelligence neither says what the plot is nor when it might occur. Or even more tenuous, because there is intelligence you have engaged in a plot before, so it is reasonable to kill you in case you do so again.

      Reply
  18. Eustache de Saint Pierre

    Quantum physics being unknowable has been the position of the physicist Marcello Gleiser for quite some time. He worked in String Theory but abandoned it due to what he called it’s unprovability & points out that each answer reveals a whole new set of questions of which we are increasingly in the position of not even knowing which ones to ask.

    https://marcelogleiser.com/

    Reply
    1. petal

      He is a faculty star at Dartmouth College(our local institution). He won the Templeton prize in 2019. “The John Templeton Foundation announced Tuesday that Gleiser has won its prestigious award, given out annually to an individual “who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.””

      Reply
      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        I like his humility which after keeping an eye on science & it’s predictions since the 90’s, appears often to be sadly lacking. Neoliberalism I think has had a negative effect…rice bowls need to be filled, hype etc.

        I think it is only an assumption that we are capable of unlocking the secrets of the universe & i don’t believe we deserve such power considering the history of our species.

        Reply
  19. ChiGal in Carolina

    eminem has more of a social conscience than practically everybody in DC combined. Plus the music is great. Why is this creating controversy? I didn’t hear any mention of Ariana Grande.

    thanks for posting

    Reply
    1. Robert Hahl

      My impression back when he was getting so much air time, was that white people wanted to turn eminem into Elvis (or the Beatles), but he wouldn’t go there.

      Reply
    2. xkeyscored

      The BBC reports these lyrics: “I’m contemplating yelling ‘bombs away’ on the game/Like I’m outside of an Ariana Grande concert waiting,” though I didn’t hear them, and they don’t appear in A-Z Lyrics’ version. Maybe there are two or more takes out there. As for controversy, I’m hardly surprised. Eminem is plainly putting himself in the shoes of a mass killer.
      People start to show up, time to start the show up
      It’s 10:05 PM and the curtain starts to go up
      And I’m already sweatin’ but I’m locked and loaded
      For rapid fire spittin’ for all the concert-goers

      And I’m glad he is. We’re deluged with the opinions of academics, politicians and pundits as to the reasons for these events. An original viewpoint, from someone well outside their bubble, can only help illuminate. Thank you, Eminem.

      Reply
    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Does attacking Eminem jeopardize an invite to the inaugural ball or cause friction at a Pelosi cocktail party? Does attacking Mark Warner for his years of support for the NRA and doing nothing since his post Sandy Hook conversion jeopardize an invite and so forth?

      It’s not terribly different than the GOP huffing about Hollywood. Politically Hollywood is limited in reach and not capable of flipping GOP districts, so why attack it? It doesn’t put most of the GOP at risk of being disinvited to a DC party.

      Useless gun control advocates and fundraisers will jump on this to cover up their support for the Third Way types who have recruited much of the pro-gun Team Blue types anyway.

      Reply
      1. Synoia

        It’s just envy by the Right Wing Males who are not in consideration as partners by the Leftish Females in Hollywood.

        Reply
  20. John

    Saw the clip with the audio of Warren and Biden after the debate.
    Of course, they started it after he offered his hand and she didn’t shake it.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      You can bet that Warren rehearsed that whole little episode with a bunch of advisors telling her what she should say & do depending on Bernie’s answers. I wonder who played the part of Bernie?

      Jimmy Dore postulated that they were hoping that they could catch Bernie say something that could be recorded (hence the hot mics) that could be used against him. It was a set up.

      It would have to be rehearsed as when Warren is confronted with something out of the ordinary, she freezes and it is painful to watch. Not the person you want answering the phone at three in the morning.

      Reply
  21. Pelham

    Re the US Space Force: China now has satellites that can hunt down and destroy other satellites, including those that our military urgently depends on. So, effectively, China has a space force. I’m thinking we probably need one, too, and ASAP, even if Trump thinks it’s a good idea.

    Reply
    1. Plenue

      Space was already militarized, and has been from the start. We shouldn’t have a space force for the same reasons the US shouldn’t have any military beyond a token coast guard. But it isn’t an insane concept, from the point of view of the empire.

      That people think this is just another thing to attack Trump over (the Netflix comedy about it is still happening) says more about them and their dimness than it does about him or the Pentagon.

      Reply
          1. Pelham

            OK, forget the “urgently depends on.” Make it “uses.” The point is that China, and maybe others for all I know, has already militarized space. It’s regrettable, but there it is. What, if anything, should we do in response?

            Reply
  22. JohnnyGL

    Re: Ryan Grim article on Warren as VP and Treasury Sec.

    Anyone else read that as a kind of “see what you missed out on by backstabbing our camp?”

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      It interests me because it would solve one of the most obvious botches in the Constitution: the VP, theoretically the country’s second-best politician, has nothing to do (unless they’re actually the puppeteer). If they were also a Cabinet member with executive responsibilities (should have been Sec. of State), that would solve the problem. Makes me wonder why that hasn’t been the norm, if it’s constitutional.

      Reply
      1. Pat

        Considering that Secretary of State is fourth in line to succeed the President as long as they are eligible, I’m pretty sure it was never intended that the Vice President also be a seated member of the Cabinet.

        Please keep in mind that nothing precludes the Vice President from being invited to and taking part in Cabinet meetings or in meetings with the joint chief of staffs. There is also nothing that stops the President from assigning some project to the VP.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          Putting the SoS in line of succession is fairly recent legislation, not original. Even so, maybe not the best choice. Yes, VPs generally are given some project (what do you suppose Palin would have been doing, heaven help us?). But a Cabinet job or the like (UN ambassador? – cabinet rank) makes sense to me. The original plan was for them to preside over the Senate, but that didn’t work out because it puts an executive in charge of a legislative body. Now it only happens when a tie-breaking vote might be needed.

          Reply
      2. Big River Bandido

        Most presidents are forced to choose a running mate who shores up a weakness or perceived political need. Rarely is it a close confidant. Often it’s not even someone who could be trusted to carry out the standard-bearer’s program, since the nominee needs someone on the ticket from another faction in the party. For all these reasons, the VP choice is often a less-than-ideal compromise, the least bad of the available options. From George Washington’s day ever since, the way presidents have dealt with the vice-presidency is to squelch it.

        Reply
  23. D. Fuller

    Silicon Valley economy. They wanted the 4th wave of information to replace the real economy. What have we gotten?

    “AI” that is nothing more than man-made algorithms that can be biased. Information trading – which leads to bad ads on the webpage, crappy search results. Faster and more GUI-impaired programs that existed decades ago… complexity equaling vendor lock-in.

    In other words, a bunch of fantasy and some overly complicated programs. Though there have been massive improvements in the underlying hardware and in some programs.

    Silicon Valley made the illusion of a market – information replacing real economy – and now trades in it. Many facets of the Silicon Valley economy are nothing more than self-made markets where they trade among themselves using vast sums of money. Mostly re-inventing the wheel.

    Reply
  24. steve

    The Sanders Campaign Researched Whether Warren Could Be Both Vice President and Treasury Secretary at Once

    This is some high level trolling from Sanders’ team.

    Reply
      1. John k

        I hope not.
        I used to think she was his most practical veep pick, certainly not now.
        Keep your enemies closer…
        Treasury is close enough for an enemy,
        Let’s have a real progressive for veep.

        Reply
  25. David

    On yesterday’s violence in France. There are actually two separate processes going on here, not necessarily compatible with each other. The piece by Diane Johnstone also linked to above, though quite well informed, fails to understand this.
    The first process is essentially traditional: trades unions and organized professional associations in the street, strikes and demonstrations. The proximate cause is the pension reforms the government wants to introduce. There is actually a strong case for reform of some kind: there are indeed 42 separate schemes, and if you have had more than one job in your life, the chances are that you are a member of at least four of them. This makes understanding your contributions very difficult (try decoding a French salary statement) and it also makes it extremely complicated to find out how large your pension will be, let alone when you will get it and how much it will be. This is because, as with many things in France, the pension scheme is the result of an accretion of individual schemes over many generations, for very different reasons. The situation is to bad that the government has had to set up a central service to try to coordinate the treatment of individual cases. So there’s a good case to be made for reform, and a government that actually wanted to improve things could have introduced a scheme that would have satisfied most people. This is what happened last year with income tax deduction at source: another controversial scheme (he French are a profoundly conservative people) but one that’s now in place and working well. But instead, the government seems actually to be seeking confrontation, and is adopting a superior and condescending attitude, refusing to negotiate about anything important, and seeking effectively to starve the strikers back to work. This looks like it’s working: the largest transport union in Paris is suspending its strike for the next few days to give its members a chance to earn some money.
    The strikers were essentially working from an old script; whereby large enough mass demonstrations and strikes would, after a decent period, eventually force the government to climb down. This actually happened in 1995 when the last similar initiative was launched. But this government isn’t impressed by the politics of the street, and has decided to tough it out, even though the objectives of the strikers have a lot of public sympathy. But the strikers themselves are not united. In spite of what is suggested in Johnstone’s piece, this is not the people vs; finance capital. The strikes and demonstrations are almost entirely in the public sector (very few private sector organizations have been affected) and the demands of the strikers and demonstrators are different, and in some cases opposed to each other. Thus lawyers (barristers in English) have been demonstrating because they fear that their own pension fund, which is in surplus, will be raided to pay for the pensions of others. The trades unions themselves are divided against each other, and the whole movement is united only by a vague (and entirely reasonable) suspicion that Macron is up to no good. Moreover some regimes are more defensible than others: it’s hard to explain why train drivers should be able to retire nearly a decade earlier than teachers, for example.It’s just a relic of their industrial bargaining power in the past.
    If the government seems to be winning the pensions struggle on points, the Gilets Jaunes saga has now metastised into something they can’t control. The GJ, mostly not being unionized and never having learned the rules of street theatre, have been practicing all along a very different kind of protest, which now seems to be occurring in a purer and purer form as time passes. So far as we can tell, the protesters this weekend include some GJ, some pension protesters, some members of fringe political blocks, and quite a lot of people whose origins are unclear. (They tried to burn down one of my favorite restaurants in Paris, apparently because Macron likes eating there); . This looks like the wave of the future: guerrilla strikes, disruption, direct and sometimes violent actions, all over the place and at any time, involving overlapping and shifting coalitions of groups with different objectives. There’s no way the authorities can cope with this, but by the same token if even 1% of those who have been demonstrating in recent weeks turn to this kind of activity, then they can wreak an awful amount of damage.
    The trades unions and parties of the Left are largely responsible for this, because of their historic fragmentation and mutual jealousy. The unions can’t agree on any real objectives, and as a consequence some of their members are taking things into their own hands. We may be stuck for a while between three alternative and unwelcome alternatives: change everything, keep everything or smash everything. It’s not obvious where we go from there.

    Reply
  26. ambrit

    Re. facial recognition systems.
    I was cruising down an aisle in my local WalMart yesterday and looked up at the small flat screen television screen hanging above the aisle. This contraption is placed in aisles holding valuable or “dangerous” items. I waved at myself in the screen as I walked under it. Suddenly, my face in the screen was bracketed by a bright green square, which expanded and contracted to frame my face as I moved across the field of view.
    The Panopticon is now in business.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Last week I was on a gawking mission of the clientele @ Wal*Mart, when the facial recognition machine could take my impossible expression no longer, and uttered overhead that this tape will self-destruct in 5 seconds.

      How many faces & names do you know, in terms of recognition, and be able to pick them out in a crowd?

      For me it’s around 200, a solid core of 150 people with 50 coming & going in & out my life.

      It’s a potent skill for a politician to be able to conjure up name recognition and a talented sourcerer might be able to remember by the thousands.

      Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        How very twentieth century that vision is. Five or six people feverishly following live feeds from their surveillance thingies and making decisions. Today, or soon, the Algorithm will flag you, find you, follow you, and dispatch a drone to dispatch you, all while the agents sleep peacefully, dreaming their loyalty will surely ensure it never happens to them …

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          A couple years back I was followed by supermarket dicks (old timey word for store detectives) out to my car, where they demanded a receipt for foodstuffs I was loading, and I fished it out of my pocket, and then they looked all embarrassed, scampering back into the building.

          They had to be watching me on video in the store, wish i’d asked them why I was a presumed scofflaw?

          Reply
    2. notabanktoadie

      The problem with a thieving economic system is that it – wait for it! – breeds thieves!

      Too bad we can’t have an ethical finance system but instead, per MMT advocates such as Warren Mosler and Bill Mitchell, the only solution is:

      1) Increased privileges for the banks such as unlimited, unsecured loans from the Central Bank at ZERO percent interest.
      2) Wage slavery to government for the victims of the banks, e.g. those dis-employed with automation financed with what is, in essence, the public’s credit but for private gain.

      Except there is another way …

      Reply
        1. notabanktoadie

          I sympathize with your inability to believe because what Warren Mosler proposes wrt banks is so shocking that I was stunned for quite a while into non-comprehension.

          As for Bill Mitchell, I like the man since he pointed out that positive yields on inherently risk-free sovereign debt constitute “corporate welfare.” However, his intransigence wrt a job guarantee is well known.

          We should be grateful to MMT founders for their insights (and hard work in the case of Bill Mitchell) wrt to fiat and credit creation but the pity (and outrage) is wrt to their proposed solutions – we can do much better than those.

          Reply
    3. Amfortas the hippie

      the real grocery store we go to has those at their brand new robot checker aisle.
      but it’s a regular 30″ flat screen.
      green zooming squares appearing to squeeze people moving around on the screen.
      nobody using the robots paid any mind, but the folks in the (rather long line*) with me sure were watching them.

      *-fewer checkers to encourage us to use the robots

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        I have had to several times decline some store employee’s importunings that I use a robot ‘self’ check out line. One CSM I know a bit even once told another employee who was about to do similar; “Don’t bother. He likes to see people work.”
        I expect soon to read about the implementation of some sort of ‘Pre Crime’ predictive algorithm.

        Reply
          1. ambrit

            I missed that opportunity, but do do my bit to keep class consciousness up. What is fun is to see the range of facial expressions such an avowedly pro-social attitude evokes. You can tell a lot about a person’s inner strengths and weaknesses by watching their unguarded reactions to ‘deviant opinions.’

            Reply
            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              This could be an interesting way for us political deviants to smoke out who our fellow co-deviants might be for those times when the deviants have to find eachother for strength in distributed numbers.

              Reply
  27. Carey

    From CJ Hopkins a couple of days ago-

    “..World War III is not going to happen because World War III already happened … and the global capitalist empire won. Take a look at these NATO maps (make sure to explore all the various missions). Then take a look at this Smithsonian map of where the U.S. military is “combating terrorism.” And there are plenty of other maps you can google. What you will be looking at is the global capitalist empire. Not the American empire, the global capitalist empire..”

    https://consentfactory.org/2020/01/13/world-war-iii/

    Reply
  28. Joey

    Bacevich handled the reporter well. Isolationism as racism is the empire’s version of ‘when did you stop beating your wife.’ You’re either an anti-Semite, wherein Nazism is dubiously yet inextricably linked with Israel First, or you don’t care about brown people when you oppose Abu Ghraib interventions.

    We need more articles of this sort where BS is called explicitly.

    Reply
  29. allan

    In Texas and other states, voters face a variety of barriers [AP]

    Democrats believe they have a shot at making gains this year in Republican-dominated Texas, including winning control of one house of the Legislature for the first time in nearly two decades.

    Persuading voters isn’t their only challenge. Voting and registration rules crafted by Republicans in recent years also could prove to be a big obstacle.

    In a state that’s growing rapidly in population and diversity, officials have closed hundreds of polling places, taken steps toward removing thousands of registered voters from the rolls, imposed strict voter identification requirements and made it more expensive to put early voting sites on college campuses — all in the name of election integrity. …

    Apparently, contra Emma Goldman, the GOP does think that elections matter.

    Reply
    1. Bill Carson

      Former Texan here. Good friend is a Texas state senator.

      Every two years it is announced that THIS will be the year that Dems take back the state house or win a statewide election. The close race of Lyin’ Ted Cruz notwithstanding, the demise of Republican hegemony in Texas is premature. It will be a decade or more before the Dems take back control.

      Now, I will say this—there are substantially more Hispanics in Texas than most people realize. If Hispanics ever show up at the polls en masse, then they could turn Texas blue in a heartbeat. To date that hasn’t happened. Why? I couldn’t tell you. Probably has to do with intimidation at the polls.

      Reply
  30. Oregoncharles

    “UK to Embark on Agricultural Revolution…” – uh-oh: ” To ease the transition, direct subsidies will be phased out over 7 years beginning in 2021, and the new payments for environmental services will be tested in pilot projects.”

    This is the Tories, mind you, and the scheme looks very much like the closing of mental hospitals in the US. Mental hospitals were seriously bad for most people, so the “plan” was to move care into communities. That didn’t happen; instead, governments pocketed the savings from shutting down the hospitals but didn’t build up community-based services, leaving most mental patients on the streets.

    The UK gov’t is setting up the same scenario with the ag subsidies: cut the subsidies, let the “pilot projects” wither away. I hope UK farmers and conservation orgs. are better organized than US mental patients were, because they’re going to need it.

    Sorry to pour cold water on the good news, but forewarning might be useful.

    And there’s a disturbing subtext here: why does agriculture need subsidies? It’s the most critical business of all. But the battle over subsidies goes back at least 60 years (that I personally remember) in the US, and was a critical element of the New Deal. Something is very wrong at the very foundation of the economic pyramid. And if I read Michael Hudson’s recent work, it goes back to beginnings of civilization.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I was encouraged by this:

      Under the bill, introduced to Parliament this week and expected to become law within a few months, farmers will be given subsidies not simply for cultivating land—the current EU system—but for delivering “public goods.” These include sequestering carbon in trees or soil, enhancing habitat with pollinator-friendly flowers, and improving public access to the countryside.

      Of course, I’m worried about “services” which seems innocuous but smuggles in the idea of pricing. But I’m not au courant enough with environmental jargon to know whether my intuition is correct. And I’m not sure about paying people directly to produce public goods, either.

      > Something is very wrong at the very foundation of the economic pyramid

      Yes, it’s called agriculture. We should be doing, and should have done, horticulture instead. But we have to start where we are…

      Reply
      1. farmboy

        Farmers are the genesis of culture. For millenia farmers have been used by traders without economic returns. Missing is the necessity of stewardship, the Hippocraties pledge for farmers. Capitalism arose from exploitation by farmers as a model for natural resource use, until now (100 yrs) there’s been no feedback loop in situ. Desire for ag as a spiritual pursuit is further away than ever, survival extracts. Market Facilitation Payments from this administration are unprecedented because they are executive derived, typically federal ag expenditures are driven by congress. The biggest watershed ag legislation was food stamps 1976, still today the biggest percentage of ag federal spending. Bob Dole(R) and George McGovern(D) made this happen, urban pols saw a way to support their most vulnerable constituents and rural pols saw away to support their farmers. If current laws on the books like the Packers and Stockyards Act 1948 were enforced before any new legislation that’d be good.

        Reply
    2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      Oregoncharles.

      You succeeded in also describing the so called care in the community that was enacted throughout the UK in 1990.

      Reply
        1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

          My Dad told me once to keep an eye on what the US were up to as chances are we would go the same way. This is particularly worrying in terms of the NHS, but if we ended up with that which you appear to have I’m pretty sure that on top of everything else that very many would not be able to afford it.

          My Dad also told me that I was very fortunate to have been born in probably the only time in recorded history that had afforded a relatively decent lifestyle for the many, which he predicted would not last as in his opinion we only got it because it happened to suit the predators at the top.

          I imagine going back to something like this would be just fine for some & it appears that progress is being made along those lines.

          https://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/bones-of-the-past-highlight-child-poverty-of-the-present-a4337096.html?fbclid=IwAR3r3w0f0Dw4sHAUhLcCdesWiEt6hd4gXYSn_aJMJn3EMwuKiAw4PJjLZdw

          Reply
      1. eg

        A similar process of closing mental institutions and turning patients out into the streets also took place in Ontario under the Provincial (in every sense of that word) Tories during the mid-90s.

        Reply
  31. Wukchumni

    A sharp drop in the price of honey threatens new harm to an already battered industry that every year provides an integral service to Kern County’s $1.2 billion almond industry.

    U.S. beekeepers say a recent glut of honey imported from Asia and elsewhere has caused prices to plummet during the last 12 months, past the point at which U.S. producers can hope to make a profit. Honey’s flagging popularity as a sweetener has also lowered honey prices.

    But Montana beekeeper Bill Dahle, who expects to have about 10,000 colonies for rental to local almond growers next month after losing 40 percent of his inventory last year, said lower honey prices will “absolutely” lead to fewer bees available for pollination in the future.

    “There’s no way that pollination by itself will pay the bills,” he said. “You just cannot do it on pollination (income) alone.”

    Shafter beekeeper and bee broker Mike Mulligan agreed, saying the lower honey prices will remove about a quarter of some beekeepers’ annual income and “that’s going to be enough to knock some guys out.”

    https://www.bakersfield.com/news/drop-in-honey-prices-clouds-outlook-kern-s-almond-industry/article_db07a97e-397f-11ea-afb0-87135b8551ab.html

    There’s between 125 & 250 million (depends on spacing) almond trees in California. Not quite a mono-crop, but dominant in new orchards or replacing plan A orchards that got old or got unprofitable. (around these parts that would be olives, the tree with the mad professor look are being taken down, no money in it)

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If we had Protectionism, we could hyper-tariff or outright ban honey from Asia to protect the living-price structure for American beekeepers. But we can’t do that because we have Free Trade.

      If Free Trade in this case can be shown to exterminate the Californian “pollination services sector” and exterminate the must-be-pollinated fruit industry in California, perhaps that will generate enough opposition to Free Trade to get all the agreements repealed, outlawed, abrogated . . . and set America free again to protectionize beekeeping and honey producing, at which point beekeepers can afford to exist to arrange for the pollination of California’s fruit crops.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        The actual “worth” of any law lies in the enforcement provisions. A campaign of mass disobedience is in order when the mechanisms of the law have been captured.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          But it would have to be leaderless mass disobedience in order to survive the authorities’ efforts to re-impose mass obedience by finding and killing or otherwise neutralizing a mass-disobedience leadership.

          It would have to be violent in spirit while being oh-so-exquisitely non-violent in practice so that no passive disobeyers can be accused of lawbreaking. Not an Organized Mass Consumption Strike, but a DisOrganized Mass Consumption Slowdown. Massive Passive-Obstructionary non-Compliance. The sullen grudging obedience to all absolutely enforceable law while granting the authorities zero compliance with their wishes and desires.
          I read there was once a Spanish colonial saying: ” I obey but I do not comply”. The old Chinese equivalent might be . . . ” The mountains are high and the Emperor is far off.”

          Uncivil Obedience.

          Make love, not money.
          Slow down, Tune out, Slack off.

          Reply
            1. Oregoncharles

              “Sabotage” = “wooden shoe in the gears.” Which is what workers once wore, and would stop them abruptly.

              Reply
  32. Oregoncharles

    “Filipinos turn volcano’s ash, plastic trash into bricks”
    Building supplies strike me as one of the better ways to re-use and sequester plastic. Caveat here is that the bricks also contain sand and cement, both with large footprints. Probably better if those could be reduced. Pavement would be another way to use plastic, but pavement wears, so it would release micro-plastics. Walls presumably won’t, and should be there a long time.

    Volcanic ash is actually fertilizer when incorporated in the soil, which can take years, but that’s more difficult when it falls on cities or roads; hence the double disposal value in this project. More power to them.

    Reply
  33. smoker

    RE: The Silicon Valley Economy Is Here. And It’s a Nightmare.

    Good piece regarding gig worker nightmarish issues in general. Some niggles with it though.

    Very sick of reading pieces about the Silicon Valley Economy, which is historically in Santa Clara County, which then focus almost solely on San Francisco, never discussing the, also massive, immiseration going on in Silicon Valley Proper (e.g. New report: Homelessness in Santa Clara County spikes by 31% (from January 2017 to January 2019), with Tech Campuses now spread from East Menlo through Google San Jose.

    The author very ironically highlights a Silicon Valley/Santa Clara County Palo Alto gig worker couple as her main example, but the uninformed are led to surmise that Palo Alto’s a city in Metro San Francisco, or San Francisco County, when she notes (emphasis mine):

    But the state’s affluence is spread unevenly, resulting in an increasingly bifurcated economy that privileges the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. This is particularly apparent in cities like San Francisco and San Diego, where the gig economy is most prevalent.

    Second niggle, the author, since she appears to predominantly work out of DC (at least up until mid October), covering technology and the federal workforce :

    I’m a Staff Writer and Associate Editor at FCW covering technology and the federal workforce, based in Washington, D.C. Originally from San Francisco, my work has been published in Scalawag Magazine, Brit + Co., The Baffler, AlterNet, and others. Former intern at The American Prospect and Roads & Kingdoms.

    should have at least noted how rigged and meaningless the Unemployment Rate is in that piece, instead of writing:

    By most official measures, California’s economy is humming.
    Its unemployment rate, at 3.9 percent, is at a record low.

    and leaving it at that instead of at least noting that many – still desperately searching for employment – aren’t even factored into that unemployment rate. Preferably, it would have been noted how those meaningless numbers are calculated. Words containing the ‘root, ‘ unemploy, are found only twice in that piece: unemployment rate , and unemployment insurance .

    Reply
    1. Carey

      Wonder if the author was paid not to know of the U-6 rate, amongst other things.

      “It’s all so confusing!”, they say, as they turn those screws just a bit tighter..

      Milwaukee is going to be interesting.

      Reply
      1. smoker

        I do get the sense that a lot of journalists (particularly regarding Silicon Valley local news) are hindered by editors and other higher ups and yes, their politician friends. If they want a paycheck they better not insult Blue Legislators for one. I didn’t get that sense regarding this author.

        In this particular instance, the author seems very young, and seemingly devoid of Santa Clara County/Silicon Valley history (and possibly the geography of the area, Palo Alto is a 34 mile drive away from San Francisco, and located at the Northern edge of Santa Clara County), having left San Francisco to get a very selective and pricey 2017 BA at Bards in International Studies. She utterly neglected to mention the rampant Race, Class and Age job discrimination and the Nations Largest Gender Pay Gap between males and females with bachelor’s degrees in Silicon Valley. For those who have become homeless, or who are facing homelessness in Silicon Valley due to those factors, reading articles such as hers, purporting to address the misery inflicted in Silicon Valley while not even mentioning its residents, is devastating and outraging. It certainly was for me. Santa Clara County has almost 2 million residents, many at fear of homelessness due to rents. It’s more than twice the population of San Francisco County and up until recently was far more affordable to live in than San Francisco County, and certainly the City of San Francsico, since at least the seventies.

        Reply
      2. smoker

        Just found this excellent, highly explanatory link regarding unemployment stats U1 through U6 for all of the States Alternative Measures of Labor Underutilization for States, Fourth Quarter of 2018 through Third Quarter of 2019 Averages

        The next issuance of the alternative measures of labor underutilization for states, pertaining to the 2019 annual averages, is scheduled for Friday, January 31, 2020.

        Seems like a very good link to provide those able to move and looking for work, or better work. And, of course, California’s stats don’t look near so pretty on that chart.

        Reply
        1. smoker

          It seems like a very good link to provide those able to move and looking for work, or better work. And, of course, California’s stats don’t look near so pretty on that chart.

          Reply
      3. smoker

        I’ll just add this, because the more I think about it, the more outraged I feel. The very young San Franciscan Bard Graduate Author doesn’t even appear to have studied journalism (I could find nothing showing that supports even a minimal education in journalism), yet was instantly and readily accepted as a Journalist. I’m positive there are thousands of young Silicon Valley Californians who graduated from Community and/or State Colleges (where failing grades are actually given), who maybe even studied some, or majored in, journalism, who are far, far better qualified – via their: own; peers; siblings and cousins; parent’s; and grandparent’s Valley nightmares – to be writing an expose on Silicon Valley and being paid for it by the Liberal™ likes of: The New Republic™; Baffler™; The Nation™; Jacobin™; et al. And, they certainly are aware where Palo Alto is located – two counties South of San Francisco County – on the Historic Santa Clara County, Silicon Valley map.

        Reply
    2. smoker

      Shorter version of one in moderation

      On a related note to The Silicon Valley Economy Is Here. And It’s a Nightmare, I might add (and please don’t shoot the messenger) that I’ve always found it particularly disconcerting that House Member Ro Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley’s Bay and County spanning 17th District (that wikipage is woefully outdated as to the magnitude of the Tech Oligarchies’ holdings in that District), has yet to cease with promoting Silicon Valley style ‘economic renewals and jobz’ all across the country:

      His pet project on dealing with income inequality isn’t boosting taxes for the rich — it’s traveling to struggling Rust Belt communities in Trump country with venture capitalists from the valley, pushing them to invest.

      Reply
  34. pjay

    Re: ‘Andrew Bacevich on U.S. Foreign-Policy Mistakes The New Yorker’

    This article was interesting at several levels. First, here is my favorite passage, which reflects Bacevich’s own historical work:

    “I think that the abiding theme of U.S. policy virtually from the founding of the Republic has been expansionism. We buy stuff, we take stuff, we covertly, if you look at the example of Texas, insinuate ourselves into a situation and end up claiming ownership. We have been involved in blatant imperialism. So my argument is that expansionism explains U.S. foreign policy better than any other single term.”

    But second, like other “conservative” ex-military critics of our interventionist foreign policy (e.g. Col. Pat Lang), Bacevich can only go so far in recognizing the depth of this impulse. For example:

    “You remember that, when he ran for the Presidency in 2000, [Bush] was very critical of Clinton. Bush said, “Elect me President, because I am going to have a ‘humble foreign policy.’ ” And I suspect when he said that, as a candidate, he probably meant it. But 9/11 converted him into a Wilsonian—and genuinely converted him. So the initial phases of the global war on terrorism were very much focused on the notion that we are not only protecting ourselves from a recurrence of 9/11 but we are indeed spreading freedom and democracy.”

    Surely Bacevich is not unaware of the Project for a New American Century. Its neocons had plans for expansion into the ME and central Asia in in the 1990s. Then they proceeded to do just that as key officials in the Bush administration. We had plans to invade Afghanistan ready *before* 9/11. We had plans to “take out seven countries in five years” (Wesley Clark) within a month or so after. Even if 9/11 “converted” Bush, he was surrounded by those who had planned this policy long in advance.

    But finally, even Bacevich’s very reasonable argument for more diplomacy and less military intervention becomes a bizarre discussion of isolationism and the America First Movement in which he has to spend the last part of the interview defending himself from the implication of — guess what — *anti-semitism*! My jaw honestly dropped in the last part of that interview. And it started with the interviewer bringing up Bernie’s call for less interventionism, moving to “isolationism” to America First and Lindberg to…. wow.

    Please read this interview. As I say, it is fascinating at many levels.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      I found the slide from interview into inquisition fascinating too. Something like the fascination with seeing a car wreck. That a reasonable and intelligent person like Bacevitch finds it necessary to worry about such journalistic perfidy is instructive.
      I can see the anti-semitism smear being rolled out against Sanders big time.
      Am I imagining that this “interview” is just a stub of a longer conversation? It seems too short to be worthy of the name interview.

      Reply
    1. ambrit

      Oh, aye. They’re out an about! I would not be at all surprised if the “Dirty Tricks People” have multiple smears and subterfuges lined up and waiting to go.

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      This comment makes me think of a possible second chant to go along with the first chant of . . .
      Hey Hey DNA, how many lies did you tell today?

      And that would be to greet Senator Warren at unpredictable times and appearances with signs and/or chants of . . .

      Hey Senator! Who’s the Segretti?

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        An obscure reference even for cynical old me.
        I might yell out: “Will you get a Cabinet post in the Hillary administration?”

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I am showing my age and era, I suppose.

          It reminds me of the satirical “campaign slogan” fake-attributed to the 1972 Nixon Campaign:

          “Don’t change dicks in the middle of a screw,
          Nixon and Agnew in ’72!”

          Reply
  35. Pat

    Had a recent ‘discussion’ with someone about the polls now showing Sanders ahead in Iowa and surging elsewhere in the early states. My premise is that the pollsters now have to actually try to look like the electorate and that until it gets close to the election they are free to use older models that no longer work while they get their ducks in a row for the crunch time. They think I’m a crazy conspiracy theorist, at least until I brought up that someone they are close who deals with polls and has had a couple of stunning failures in the last few years and has in recent times mentioned that the switch from landlines to cell phones and changing demographic models have been slow to be incorporated in the poll models used today. Wjile I might think misinformation drives the pollsters along with trying to save their business model, I think he finally got they really might be playing catch up and my premise is not so far fetched after all.
    My point in all this, is that much of the idea that someone is more likely to be elected than another person is largely based in circumstance not data. Now I do think there is more wide ranging data and evidence to show that Sanders is the one most likely to beat Trump, even with the old Jewish guy thing and the Socialist thing and yes even with the internal dirty tricks. But there is really nothing out there to say that Biden is a better choice than Sanders or even Warren or Buttigieg to beat Trump if that is your criteria. He is polling better is pretty meaningless. I might use Sanders polls on this because I am not above padding the evidence but it is also pretty meaningless. Well unless and until you get down to a county and precinct level and you include much broader pools – and along with all the possible candidates you also ask will you even vote.

    I think of all the people who weren’t supposed to do well, or weren’t supposed to win that did in the last few years. From Sanders deeply cutting into Clinton’s coronation, to Trump and AOC winning, and even earlier when Eric Cantor lost. The last decade is riddled with evidence that a whole lot of people who are supposed to be able to persuade people that electable people really are worth voting for have failed. And that those candidates were not so electable.

    So it isn’t just being electable being a gosh darn stupid reason to vote for someone rather than voting for someone who supports the policies that mean the most to you. No, it is that anyone touting that someone is more electable probably doesn’t have any real evidence for that, but is either paid to say that or has a financial interest in that candidate of a different nature.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Hmm . . . Schrodinger’s electability. one doesn’t really know, does one?

      Could it be that nowadays the act of measuring a candidate’s electability, changes that candidate’s electability? Have we entered the realm of . . . Quantum Politics?

      Reply
  36. LaRuse

    I am sad that RVa (or Richmond, VA for everyone not local) is so heavily in the news. I worked for 12 years one block from Capital Square; I posed for photos for half marathons and one marathon on the steps in front of the Capital. I love downtown (well, I love it more now that I don’t work downtown anymore), I love the foodie culture here, I love the small town Capital City feel. I wasn’t born in RVa, but I just passed my 18th anniversary of moving to the City just last weekend.
    And tomorrow, all hell may or may not break loose.
    This little City of mine deserves better. Or maybe I just like to think so, but then I haven’t driven down Monument Avenue (or Losers’ Lane, if you like) in months. Every time I have to take the traffic circle around Robert E. Lee, you have to wonder just a bit if maybe garbage like a militant gun rally is exactly what we deserve?
    Think kind thoughts for the City of Richmond tomorrow.

    Reply
    1. flora

      “‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first—verdict afterwards.’ ” – Alice in Wonderland.

      http://www.sabian.org/alice_in_wonderland12.php

      The continuation of a 3-year attempted coup against an elected president, courtesy of the intel agencies, is what passes as a struggle for democracy?

      Seriously, this is an election year. Run a good candidate with a good platform people will vote for. That’s democracy. I’m starting to think the Dems don’t like democracy.

      Reply
  37. martell

    Thanks for the excellent article from Streeck. I will have to reread it. Very interesting that Habermas has been arguing for the formation of an army of Europe. Seems he’s also been using a term first coined by 19th century German nationalists to literally belittle his critics. This is quite revealing, rather like Judith Butler’s donation to Kamala Harris. Unlike Butler, who to the best of my knowledge was a progressive neoliberal from the very beginning, I can’t quite figure out what happened to Habermas, who started out as a neo-Marxist. Something seems to have changed between Legitimation Crisis, which I think is his best book, and, well, everything after that, most of which amounts to an attempt to deduce the political and economic arrangements of the Western world circa 1980 (capitalism and representative democracy) from the essence of communication. Whatever the explanation for this change, I’ll bet he finds the developments of the past few years quite embarrassing on the whole, even personally insulting. Rather like Hegel, who claimed that history had come to its rational, preordained end in 1821 and then had the misfortune to live another ten years, long enough for the world to prove him wrong.

    Reply
  38. Wukchumni

    A skeptic tries ‘forest bathing’ National Geographic
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Forests come in all flavors & should there be no trail, your next step is where you decide it should be and for vanilla stick your nose towards the bark of a Ponderosa pine-some claim it smells more akin to butterscotch, or using only thumb pressure, push the bark in half an inch on the soft overbelly of a Giant Sequoia, while traipsing through endless fields of purple lupines interspersed occasionally with thigh high ferns.

    Reply
  39. Idland

    I would sure like more info on the Andrew Peek sacking. Along with Morrison and Hill, do they qualify for the title The Odd Squad? You know, Peek Leak and Stoolie.

    Reply
  40. Martin Oline

    I have written about the Iowa caucus rules a few days ago and talking to my brother who currently lives in Iowa, I was disturbed when he told me that the “undecided caucus goers” could not opt for another candidate but had to stay undecided. This made me suspicious as it sounds like a way to create support for a favored candidate. The initial results go next to the county level and then the state level before they are finished. This could give party insiders an opportunity to change the totals by merging undecided with other candidates totals. Looking for more information, I found this from a story on CNN a year ago.
    “Another significant change will be to the process known as realignment. After attendees enter the caucus, they are asked to separate based on their top choices for president. Those candidates who do not reach a certain threshold, usually 15%, of the total number of caucus-goers at that location will be deemed nonviable and the Iowans who selected them will be given the chance to align with other candidates.
    According to the new rules announced Monday, “only members of groups that are declared not viable shall be given sufficient time … to realign with a viable preference group or to realign with other members to form a viable preference group.” Iowans, Price said, who initially aligned with candidates who were determined viable after the first count will not be allowed to realign under the new rules.”
    Perhaps this supposed rule governing the undecided voters is based on the belief that there will be more than 15% of undecided voters in nearly every caucus group, thereby making them a viable group and unable to merge with another group after their initial preference. That is a guess on my part, but it agrees with the mentioned rule change.
    There will also be ‘Virtual Caucusing’ allowed for the first time for those inconvenienced or too lazy to attend in person. I am sure this will be covered heavily by the media because it’s like a new paradigm, man. Continuing with the story:
    The top change will be the creation of a “virtual caucus,” which will allow any Iowa Democrat to caucus virtually at specific times for six days leading up to the caucuses next February 3 instead of only in person on the traditional Monday night. The change comes after Democrats across the country have pushed for changes to caucuses in order to make them more accessible to people who can’t get free at one specific time, like single parents, shift workers and people with disabilities. Price said there would be no excuse required to participate in the virtual caucus but those who register for it will not be allowed to caucus in person.
    Virtual caucus results will not be released as they come in on the nights leading up to February 3, Price said, but will be made public with the broader pool of results from Monday night.
    In a way, though, virtual caucus-goers will be treated separately from those who caucus in person. Virtual caucus attendees will be totaled and separated by Iowa’s four congressional districts, and each district will be awarded 10% more delegates based on the breakdown of the virtual process.

    Reply
    1. flora

      The Dem central committee has changed Kansas’s caucus system this year, too. Sanders won KS Dem caucus in 2016. It wasn’t even close. He swept the place. He won a bunch of caucus states in the Midwest. Can’t have that happen again! No, siree! It’s a lot harder to cheat the results in a caucus than in a primary. (Although Dem central looks like it’s found a way in Iowa this year.) Now, KS will have a primary, not a caucus, with all sorts of vote total/ delegate award fiddling. Dem central machine is as corrupt as it comes, imo.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Kansas_Democratic_primary

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      What happens if/when sensible candidates find Iowa’s disgusting caucus system so whimsical and arbitrary that they boycott it altogether?

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Then “sensible” candidates will be frozen out of the entire contest as ‘unelectable,’ because of their piss poor showings in the…..Iowa caucuses!
        “Politics ain’t beanbag.”

        Reply

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