Links 1/23/2020

Scientists probe soil biodiversity’s effect on crops and carbon and Planting crops with trees drives ‘magical’ reforestation in Costa Rica FT. “Turnaround success demonstrates key plank of sustainable farming.” The FT in birkenstocks (!).

Australia’s Largest Mining Company is Worried Bushfires are Affecting Coal Production Vice

‘A long road back from here’: Small winemakers feel the pain of Australian bushfires Channel News Asia

Trudeau and His North Van Climate Minister Are ‘Wrestling’ with a Massive Oilsands Decision Leave it in the ground.

What the GOP’s proposed climate policies would, and wouldn’t, do MIT Technology Review (UserFriendly).


Brexit bill clears final UK parliamentary hurdle ahead of January 31 exit Reuters

Brexit: silence may be preferable EU Referendum

Paris breathes a sigh of relief as transport gets back to normal after strikes The Local

Raids in 6 states as Germany bans ‘Combat 18’ neo-Nazi group Deutsche Welle


Saudi Crown Prince Hacked Jeff Bezos’s Phone, Analysis Suggests Bloomberg

Why communist Romania’s endgame has lessons for Iran Politico

Netflix, Iran and the Documentary as Geopolitical Weapon FAIR (UserFriendly).

How Britain helped Iran’s Islamic regime destroy the left-wing opposition Declassfied UK


As intensity fades, Hong Kong protesters mull tactics Agence France Presse. Not LegCo, Lego:

* * *

How China’s slow response aided coronavirus outbreak FT. As shown here:

Sihanoukville picks up pieces after gambling chaos Southeast Asia Globe


‘I got four hours sleep’: Takeaways from opening arguments in the Trump impeachment Senate trial USA Today

24 hours in, senators flout quaint impeachment rules AP

Adam Schiff’s Moment The New Yorker

Not “was.” “Will be.”

It’s almost like the Democrats are trying to lay the groundwork for something…

Republican Lawmakers Questioned Trump’s Withholding of Ukraine Aid, Documents Show Foreign Policy

Noam Chomsky Torches Democrats’ Narrow Trump Impeachment: ‘A Tragedy’ That ‘May Send Him Back to Office’ Law and Crime. Pelosi set a precedent by not impeaching Trump over emoluments, just as she set a precedent by not impeaching Bush over Iraq WMDs, warrantless surveillance, or torture. So, the scope of what is impeachable and the hysteria and gaslighting are inversely related?

The FBI Scandal Eli Lake, Commentary. If you want to know why the Mueller investigation was a damp squib, and why Schiff is still trying to leverage RussiaGate, even though nothing about Russia figures in the articles, this is a good starting point.

New Cold War

Making sense of Russia’s new cabinet Gilbert Doctorow

Ukraine’s illegal amber mining boom is scarring the earth and making criminal gangs rich ANC Australia

Weaponizing Fascism for Democracy: The Beginning Yasha Levine. Stage 1 Identity Politics?

Trump Transition

Of course Davos loves Trump The Week

Donald and Ivanka Trump Were Involved in Inauguration’s Inflated Payments to Family Business, New Suit Says ProPublica

Pentagon Racks Up $35 Trillion in Accounting Changes in One Year Bloomberg. Impressive.

The Cost of an Incoherent Foreign Policy Foreign Affairs


Shaky Joe Biden, Billionaire Bloomberg, and the Global Race to the Bottom Black Agenda Report

The Bernie-Biden clash over Social Security, explained Vox

Sanders, Biden, and the Rewriting of Iraq War History The Intercept


Over Gun Rights, Virginia Bleeds Deep Red, And Blue The American Conservative

That Pro-Gun Rally in Virginia Wasn’t Exactly “Peaceful” GQ

“I need to claim my first victim”: Alleged white supremacists hoped Virginia rally would spark civil war, documents allege CBS (motion).

Virginia Senate approves ‘red flag’ law allowing temporary seizure of guns from someone deemed a threat WaPo

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

How AI and facial recognition tech could reshape Las Vegas casinos Nevada Independent

Exclusive: Apple dropped plan for encrypting backups after FBI complained – sources Reuters. So The Cloud is a surveillance tool. Nobody could have predicted…

Our Famously Free Press

Brazil Calls Glenn Greenwald’s Reporting a Crime NYT

Brazil’s attack on Greenwald mirrors the US case against Assange CJR

* * *

The Empire’s War On Oppositional Journalism Continues To Escalate Caitlin Johnstone

Consortium News Sends Libel Notices to Canadian Signals Intelligence Agency and Major Television Network Consortium News (Re Silc).

How Amazon, Geico and Walmart Fund Propaganda Gordon Crovitz, NYT. RT and Sputnik, the horror! Crovitz owns NewsGuard, and is talking his book: “Other sites labeled as unreliable include InfoWars, the Daily Kos, Sputnik, RT, and WikiLeaks.”

Boeing 737 MAX

Airlines scour the world for scarce 737 MAX simulators Reuters

Imperial Collapse Watch

Outrage Culture Is Ruining Foreign Policy Foreign Policy. From the people who brought you the ventilator babies… .

An interview with Lula. Part One Brasil Wire

Antidote du Jour (via):

Outside, at the window of the Eastman Reading Garden in the Cleveland Public Library (which will be striking February 4 if there is no agreement today).

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.


  1. John Beech

    Trudeau and His North Van Climate Minister Are ‘Wrestling’ with a Massive Oilsands Decision

    This is so funny. Like they can afford to make a decision to curtail flows into the coffers.

    1. Winston Smith

      In order to fully assess this situation, one needs to be aware of the political situation in Canada. The liberals have a minority government. They and the other parties (Bloc Quebecois, NDP and greens) ran on making climate change an important issue. Only the conservative party supported the unchecked development of fossil fuel extraction. The reason for this is simple, the province of Alberta, home of the tar sands, is their exclusive political bastion. The premier of Alberta, Jason Kenney, is doing his best to stir anti-Trudeau/federal govt sentiment in oreder to deflect from his own govt’s failings. Alberta and the Trudeau name have a long and acrimonious history. This state of affairs was starkly illustrated by the latest electoral map: the liberals do not have a single seat in Alberta or Saskatchewan. On the other hand, the Trudeau govt is committed to complete the Trans Mountain pipeline to get tar sand oil to markets. One could say that this is a difficult situation for the Trudeau govt given their political commitment to climate change mitigation, pipeline construction and the need to avoid estrangement of western Canada. Complicated question. This is without discussing the actual economics of tar sands.

      1. CoryP

        As a Canadian, though not representative of most of my countrymen:

        The Conservatives already think Trudeau’s a wuss, and the parties to the left of them already think he’s a liar. Given that many people judge politicians by what they say and don’t pay attention to what they do.. I think his situation isn’t really that difficult.

        Drill baby drill, and then offer nice platitudes about how that’s not what he’s really doing. Enough voters will buy it, the Cons will still hate him even if they get what they want, and our military budget will increase at least 70% instead of funding our extremely threadbare social safety net.

        I don’t even care what they do, which is why I’m so tragically obsessed with the US election.

        The three main parties NDP/Liberal/Conservative (centre-left-to-right) are all pro-Israel, pro-US foreign policy, pro 5-eye intelligence integration, pro trade liberalization, and pro-creeping-privatization of our public wealth. They differ on identity politics and the degree to which they pay lipservice to environmental and Indigenous concerns.

        (English Canada, that is. Quebec has some interesting sh*t going on that I sadly can’t be part of)

        A coronavirus on all of their houses!

          1. CoryP

            (I’m so sorry I’m culturally illiterate but I do need to see this film)

            I do not have the gravitas to tell someone “this here music is OVER!”
            But I’ve said on several occasions how once Bernie gets shafted, I’m susceptible to radicalization, being a (relatively) rootless (relatively) young male.

            Knowing I’d be an inspiration to others will solidify my resolve.
            Thanks, brother :) (err..gender neutrality)
            Thanks, cousin!

            1. Wukchumni

              O Brother Where Art Thou is perhaps the ne plus ultra of the brothers Coen, but then again The Big Lebowski is no slouch, or closer to home for you, Fargo.

        1. Winston Smith

          I agree with your assessment of the libs and Cs but I don’t think you can lump the NDP with those guys where Israel, healthcare and trade liberalization. Not that it matters enormously since the NDP hold 24 seats out of 338

          1. CoryP

            I respect that opinion and I hold it some of the time. I wasn’t speaking for the NDP electorate, which is much more anti-imperialist and further left than the party apparatchiks.

            I recently had a lot of faith in them and maxed out my donation for Niki Ashton’s leadership run, though she is also imperfect. She lost anyway, and Jagmeet is pretty milqtoaste on a lot of things. I was happy to see that he ran a less-than-terrible election campaign.

            I see almost eye-to-eye with the Laxer who blogs at theleftchapter.
            I’m a paid supporter of, but I feel the distance between us growing day by day.

            There’s a good blog by a disaffected BC guy who was a candidate/actual rep for BC NDP. He speaks about his experience with the party and reasons for concluding that there is no hope there….I cant find it in my shit bookmarks. I probably found him through Laxer.

            Given all that, and our FPTP system that is more open to marginal parties than the US… I should just join the Communist Party of Canada. (you can read some of their writings/press releases at Canadian Dimension website).
            LOVE the logo, not that that matters.

            I haven’t paid up yet, but I leant that way during the Fed election. I got their member package; I just haven’t sent the thing in yet.
            (I’d have to adjust all my Patreon subs to accomodate paying dues) (Which they are obviously entitled to ask for and are crucial to accomplishing anything)

            If you’re into canadian stuff and haven’t heard of him I can find this mysterious NDP person

          2. JMM

            It was my impression that NPD was at least a bit different from the other two guys. But I am not paying close attention yet. I’m in Quebec as a permanent resident but can’t yet vote; planning to get citizenship next year, and then I’ll have to really decide.

            1. CoryP

              That’s what they’d like you to think. And that’s what I’d like to think too.
              But I don’t think the real answer is that simple.

            2. Roland

              NDP went Third Way BS, like almost all the centre-left parties in the developed world during our generation.

              As for foreign policy, guys like Svend Robinson used to go out on a limb for the sake of Palestine. But he couldn’t win a seat last election.

              Guys like Jim Fulton (a fine gunloving leftist) would raise hell in the House.

              Today’s NDP is anodyne PC bandwagon posers like Taylor Bachrach.

          3. CoryP

            or if you’re secretly ‘Rick Randall” who shows up in his contrarian glory(!) in all of these sites.

            or if you’re just another Canadian as … fed up .. with everything as I am. It might be good to get to know you, Winston.

            I make no promises for radical direct action but I will at least sympathize.
            And it would be really nice to talk to someone who isn’t speaking from inside our “corpractoracy” (good word. whatever.) mindset.

            I hope to hear from you. I’ve also been called cptastic on tragic mayhem social media.

        2. Roland

          Unfortunately Quebec’s usually been all about the idpol. When I grew up in Montreal in the 1970’s, my working class family was in a dilemma: the only social democratic party didn’t like our ethnic group! So I think my parents got stuck voting for the bourgeois.

          Today the governing CAQ is a nationalist party (although not separatist) that passed a law to prevent the hiring of visible religious minorities in the public sector (Bill 21). The Quebec Solidere is a more promising development–a genuinely leftist party.

          BTW as time goes on, I have to come to admire Rene Levesque. His thesis in “Option Quebec” is substantially correct: unless Quebecois use state power to protect their language & culture, they’re finished. Levesque himself was never any sort of bigot.

          Nevertheless, ethnic politics sucks, even where it’s justifiable. Over half a million of us Anglo-Montrealers ended up emigrating. We’re not missed. But an Anglo-Montrealer is never a Torontonian or Vancouverite or Calgarian.

      2. Roland

        I’m not sure Trudeau actually wants to build the pipeline. I think he bought it just to bail out the investors. As for the five bil, what the heck, just-print-it-because-that’s-what-everybody-does-nowadays.

    2. mpalomar

      What flows in flows out. Not enough said in the article regarding the burgeoning toxic tailing ponds that will be left behind for the government to clean up, whether local, provincial or federal about the time that the various extraction subsidiaries declare bankruptcy. The parent companies will have ‘extracted’ the profits to safe legal distance.

      1. CoryP

        Yeah we’re on the hook for endless amounts to cleanup their filthy waste ponds. And no doubt it will just never happen. The land is blighted forever, at least in human terms. (I’m sure they’ll call humans something else in 1000 years if it goes that way)

  2. The Rev Kev

    Re the figurine on Hong Kong Hermit Twitter-

    By gad, it’s Richard Branson! I haven’t seen him since he tried to stir up a revolution on Venezuela’s border too. You can see it is him by the bundle of cash he is holding.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      Show me a government insufficiently subservient to the global capitalist cartel and I’ll show you a Branson type with fistfulls (or more likely planefulls) of hundred dollar bills yearning to “bring democracy” to it

        1. smoker

          The CPA™ $9 Billion theft of Iraq, the World’s Record (at least at that time). I’ve always thought that acronym was deliberately created – with the words Coalition Provisional Authority™ fitted around the acronym – (as some utterly corrupt Congressional Bills seem to attempt, e.g. the despicable, Bipartisan supported, Obama signed, 2012 JOBS ACT™) because it mirrored so well, Enron/Arthur Andersen 2001, and the Big Four who Remained on Paper, London Inc., et al.

          (I hope you and Phyl are hanging in there.)

  3. Ignacio

    RE: Why communist Romania’s endgame has lessons for Iran Politico

    I find this article literally disgusting in the sense that it looks like a misguided justification of US-Iran sanctions as a tool for regime change. The article plays the bidding game on let’s see how it works: pessimists will think that any regime change in Iran could certainly lead to an even more corrupt and belicose government that shields and feeds itself on anti-american populism while optimists believe literally that “Iran will be able to shake off the Guards, judiciary and basij paramilitaries and make the same success of its journey away from autocracy as Spain or South Korea did”. Letting aside the fact that US sanctions damage all the country, not just those pesky Revolutionary Guards, and feed resentment, looks like the vision of the so-called optimists is rather implausible. Iran today has no similarities with Spain or South Korea in their historical moment, I regret to say.

    1. Wukchumni

      Money comes in all forms & guises, and in Romania in the 70’s & 80’s, it was all about 1 particular brand of cigarette as the standard bearer of currency…

      In Romania, a pack of Kent cigarettes can work wonders.

      This socialist country’s unofficial currency, Kents have been used not only to grab cabs in heavy traffic, but to buy an endless range of other goods and services, including a hospital operation, a massage and a decent cut of meat.

      According to Romanians, payment in American cigarettes is often preferable to money. The lei, Romania’s official currency, has been so overvalued that it is “too common to use for some purchases,” as a Romanian schoolteacher put it. Dollars, deutsche marks and those western currencies used for black-market trade in other Soviet bloc countries are banned from public possession in Communist-ruled Romania.

      No one knows how Kent became the brand preferred over Marlboro, Camel or other imported cigarettes. One theory is that it crept into the market as part of airlift packages from the United States after the disastrous 1977 earthquake in Bucharest.

      “In any case, the Kent fad caught on,” Adrian Ionescu, director of the official news agency Agerpress, said in a conversation here, “and everyone has become convinced that they taste better than all the others, although they don’t.”

      1. Ignacio

        Kent cigarettes were somehow popular in Spain long ago though not as much as in Romania from your account.

  4. maria gostrey

    re antidote – cleveland public library: the owl, of course, is associated with athena, goddess of wisdom who was not afraid of the fight. go, librarians!

      1. RWood

        Um. This may be interesting:

        Bernal also argued that Athena was a descendant of the Egyptian goddess Nēit and a near cousin to the Canaanite deity ’Anat. All three were powerful figures—bloodthirsty warriors “of renewable virginity,” as Bernal put it.

        [masticated] In other words, the proudest treasure of what we persist in calling Western Civilization, its tradition of empirical and critical reason, was until the eighteenth century in fruitful and more or less constant conversation with esoteric works of Egyptian, gnostic mysticism attributed to the grandson of a trickster god.

        Ben Ehrenreich

    1. Wukchumni

      The commonest silver coin of the ancient Greeks circa 400 BC was the Tetradrachm of Athens with an impressive design of an owl on one side and Athena on the other. Almost the size of a half $ and quite thick.

      In terms of artistry on money, nobody came close to what the Greeks were capable of until the 16th century, with money looking more like lumps of metal during the long Dark Ages.

      1. Stephen V.

        Thanks Wuk. Historians say coinage had to be “relearned” in the Middle Ages.
        But we forget that coins did not bear number denominations until the 16th C. Therein lies a tale or should I say “taler?”

        1. False Solace

          According to Graeber’s Debt, eras that make widespread use of coinage are also eras that coincide with chattel slavery and pillaging land armies. Soldiers need to get paid — coins serve as a portable form of booty. Slaves are divorced of their social context just like coins, which allow you to complete a transaction with strangers in times of chaos. Coins weren’t invented until around 600 BC. Credit/debit systems had been in place for thousands of years in Sumer and elsewhere.

          In periods like the Middle Ages, there wasn’t a big need for coins. Peasants were yoked to their land. Everyone relied on credit/debt ledger based money just as they’d done before the Classical period. Then Europe discovered the Americas and suddenly slaves and coins became popular again.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Partly true. In the Middle Ages one of the primary commerce events was the annual fair, merchants from all over gathered to exchange wares and network. All goods had to be purchased with brachteate, the local currency (coin) minted by the prince who oversaw the fair. You could bring brachteate from last year’s fair but they only traded at a 25% discount…so you were encouraged to spend this year’s coins this year. Given the current velocity of money (abysmal) …probably a lesson there

    2. tegnost

      There’s a barred owl on Blakely Island that has it in for some of the residents…

      I’m on a nearby island and I think some of this owls progeny have been making my mink problem go away (weasels…they’re really smelly and they have serious teeth, I came face to face with one in the crawl space and lucky for me we both slowly backed away…) The eagles may get them from time to time, but the barred owl is the ruthless killer. They tend to sit on tree branches about 10′ off the ground, then when a bird or small mammal (squirrel, mink) ventures by they jump down on the prey, and cover it up with their wings while they deliver the mortal bite, in the event that the claws didn’t get the job done. I’ve seen this happen. Mostly I find piles of feathers, a couple of days ago the road was strewn with the tail feathers of a coopers hawk. My dime store forensic finding was that the coopers hawk snagged a songbird, and while lunching himself became lunch because of an accident of timing…and speaking of ruthless killers last year we had a northern shrike in the near vicinity. I would find little piles of breast feathers, but no wings… the coopers usually clip the wings before eating, the shrike goes for the heart and hangs the songbird up in a tree for a while to soften up, I guess…

      1. pretzelattack

        they’re probably really quick, too; i surely wouldn’t want to tangle with a mink in an enclosed space.
        i’m sometimes surprised by where animals rank on the food chain.

        1. Norge

          Sredni Vashtar went forth,
          His thoughts were red thoughts and his teeth were white.
          His enemies called for peace, but he brought them death.
          Sredni Vashtar the Beautiful.

          1. pretzelattack

            great story! one of my favorites from a book i read in childhood, great stories of terror and the supernatural i think.

      2. Wukchumni

        About 5 years ago a then spry 72 year old fellow cabin owner wanted me to know how to get to the Diamond Tree and the AD Tree, passing on the knowledge if you will.

        We went with his friends from the UK, some of the longest distance big tree fanciers i’ve ever met. This was their 6th time visiting the aforementioned duo, which is all off-trail and steep as an added bonus. It’s a 6 hour traipse.

        We’d visited the objects of our affection, and had stopped for lunch and were nearly finished when one of our group noticed an owl about 20 feet up in a Sequoia 10 feet away from us peering down on the feast. Quite stunning.

      3. Judith

        I do not think there is anything ruthless about this. Predator catches prey. Predator kills prey. Predator eats prey. It is not as if owls and shrikes can go grocery shopping.

        1. ambrit

          This is compelling because this is the sort of social relations the Neo-liberal Dispensation imposes.
          By appealing to “natural law,” the neos try and pull off a real fast one. The assertion is that humans lack agency, either individually or in concert.

          1. Wukchumni

            ‘Donner party of 87, we’re ready to (s)eat you’

            We’re down on cannibalism in a big way, but sometimes you get hungry for a snicker.

    3. Buckeye

      That’s a Barred Owl, quite common here in Ohio. But it IS unusual to see one in the city. And in daytime no less. They prefer the deep woods around rivers and swamps.

  5. John A

    Re Why communist Romania’s endgame has lessons for Iran Politico

    More wishful thinking by American ‘analysts’.

    For reference purposes, the Queen also rolled out the red carpet for Ceauşescu the year before his overthrow. Will Politico apply similar analysis to the Brits? We too, may face harsh US sanctions if we go with Huawei for 5G and refuse to eat chlorinated chicken or GMO food.

  6. PlutoniumKun

    Shaky Joe Biden, Billionaire Bloomberg, and the Global Race to the Bottom Black Agenda Report

    The article makes a very good point, that the entrance of Bloomberg into the race means that a possible rupture in the Dems is not (as I think everyone has assumed), a progressive/left split away, but a centrist split away led by Bloomberg or another billionaire, leaving a ‘rump’ progressive Dem party and a corporate dominated new centrist party.

    This would, I think, be an amazingly good result for US democracy and for the left. I hope they are ready for it.

    1. James

      You’re going to have to ‘splain to me how adding yet another corporate dominated “centrist” (i.e.; hard right globalist) party to the mix is going to provide a good result for anyone, other than corporate dominated “centrists,” of course.

      1. Ignacio

        I guess the good thing would be that the liberal mask would definitely be removed from such centrist party so obviously created by and for billionaires.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        Its quite simple. The record of new parties succeeding is very poor, and the entire system is set up to benefit the existing duopoly. If Progressives split from the Democrats to set up a new organisation, they would instantly face enormous obstacles to success. However, if they inherit the Democratic party apparatus and name, it will be far easier for them to organise and succeed. Even with all the billionaire cash, a new Centrist party will almost certainly get squeezed out by established parties in the same way that bland centrists got squeezed out in the UK when they tried to find space between Labour and the Conservatives.

      3. EGrise

        One good thing I can think of in the event of a center-right split away from the Dem party, leaving the progressives in charge: ballot access. *Any* third party is automatically hamstrung because of (bipartisan) state laws enacted in the wake of Ross Perot’s run. If the progressives retain that access, and force the corporatists to fund their own lawsuits, lobbying, etc. to get on ballots, that would seem to give the progressives something of a head start.

        ETA: or, er, what PK said.

  7. Tom Stone

    The VA legislature is doubling down by passing a “Red Flag” gun law.
    Any tie the authorities claim the right to seize private property without due process of law it should concern every one.
    And we are talking about a form of property that is explicitly protected by the second amendment.
    Not a precedent I’m comfortable with.
    And one that seems in conflict with both “Heller” and “Macdonald”.

    1. curious euro

      And we are talking about a form of property that is explicitly protected by the second amendment.

      So cash is not property that is explicitly protected by the constitution? Cash has been seized for years now, in much greater numbers than guns which one can replace easily with cash. Oops, that cash that’s been seized, so nevermind.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      all of this feels engineered, to me…a shiny object rolled through the romper room to distract.
      the “democrats” in VA had to know that such actions would elicit a response.
      reckon they were hoping for a charlotte style response, with plenty of camera ready flag wrapped people waving firearms.
      reinforces the Lesser of Two Evils Paradigm, provides a launching platform for arguments about why the so far weak and silly impeachment process is Important, and…when small-l libertarians(people with a care for civil liberties) come to the defense of the flag and gun wavers, they can be further lumped in with “populists”(trump=bernie).

      and yeah,lol…i don’t like such hypercynicism, either, but it’s where i’m at.

      1. jefemt

        Hypercynicism of the informed precariat. Inevitable. I O C O*

        * Intuitively Obvious to the Casual Observer

      2. tegnost

        the timing of the shiny objects supports hypercynicism, imo. Warren baited into attacking sanders right before the hulu garbage? Too convenient. Had Bernie taken the bait he’d be getting torn up like your pet dog who went out to play with those affable coyotes. Then here we have a set up for the gun people. What’s next? I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough…

    3. a different chris

      1) Where have you been? They’ve been seizing property indiscriminately since the beginning of the “War on (some) drugs” at least.

      2) It’s not “explicitly protected”. Nobody knows what the fudge the 2nd Amendment was actually supposed to mean

      3) You’re not “comfortable” with that premise, so I guess you’ve been agitating your whole life against what I noted in point #1? Yes?

    4. Rex

      This is confusing.

      Do you support mentally-ill individuals being able to purchase, own, and use deadly weapons? Do you support their right to refuse treatment? Do you believe that a history of violence, poor impulse control, and uncontrolled mental illness should all be ignored in determining who should possess guns?

      1. Roland


        Anyone who can count knows that when it comes to shootings, the goons and the crooks kill way more than the kooks. So I’ll take my chances with the kooks.

        What I can’t understand is why somebody would support the authorities’ desire to arbitrarily deny constitutional rights.

        Tell the PMC to get stuffed! I don’t care about their hired opinions about who’s sane or who’s not. Instead I say, “AR’s for all the people.”

        The Second Amendment should be the sine qua non for an American socialist.

        1. Rex

          Then we wish to live in very very different societies. Perhaps you haven’t had much experience with kooks–I wonder if you’d be singing a different tune if you’d ever had a loved one with paranoid schizophrenia…the last thing someone in a paranoid fugue struggling with violent voices needs is easy access to deadly firepower. You seem regard everyone being armed and ready to engage in deadly violence as a polite society, I regard that as extremely oppressive. There is no freedom in living ready to kill or be killed. There is no free pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness when any deranged fellow citizen can instantly render you collateral damage from crossfire. I do not believe that any right drenched in the blood of innocents is either just or defensible, nor do I believe that increasing the net potential for deadly violence with “ARs for everyone” is at all a reasonable path to mutually-assured destruction and thus peace. What I wish for, then, is for people like you who love to be armed and want their peers to be armed to have their own reservation where they can live out their self-determined utopia far away from me and my loved ones. Enjoy your rights somewhere else where I can choose to not suffer for them.

  8. Rumplestilt

    The interview with Lula is brilliant and incredibly depressing. But it brings clarity and understanding to the clusterf++k that is today’s reality.

  9. zagonostra

    Social Security- Sanders/Biden

    No matter how Vox tries to spin and spin and spin the issue the statement below says it all, Biden will compromise with Social Security and Sanders won’t, and when Vox writes “at the end of the day, it turned out not to matter” it couldn’t be more revealing.

    They miss the common unspun truth that motive and intent are key, not whether the opportunity is ripe.

    Biden did for a long time buy into the idea that it was critically important to try to reach a bipartisan deal on deficit reduction, even if such a deal entailed significant cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Sanders and Warren, by contrast, always opposed such deal making. At the end of the day, it turned out not to matter, because Republicans weren’t interested.

    1. Pat

      But they are also ignoring a very big point by not examining why weren’t the Republicans interested. While not talked about this is also major in this continuous battle that we seem to be in.
      The whole point of cutting Social Security and Medicare is to make sure that not only do the wealthy and corporations not pay more in order to fund them, but that they actually get a bonus of paying less going forward. Without more and more release from the tax liabilities facing most of the American population, the political class and their ownership have not achieved the goals advanced by faux deficit concerns. This need for more tax cuts is matched by continued services to our corporate and oligarchs, from free money from the Fed to wars to guarantee access to natural resources for our fossil fuel companies to more public funding for private schools and so on and so on and so.

      Despite any claims to the other, Biden, and all other deficit hawk Dems, knows exactly what the end game is regarding cuts to any social services, it is about making sure that the money goes to the right people and the costs to the wrong ones.

    2. False Solace

      One wonders whether the naivety displayed by those cretins at Vox is intended for their audience or wholly genuine. The moment we hit another downturn Biden will start bleating about the deficit again. He’ll rush into the arms of Republicans to Bonny-and-Clyde style slice up Social Security and Medicare. Sanders is the only candidate we can rely on not to surrender to zombie-eyed granny starvers (as Paul Ryan was once described).

      We’re several years overdue for a recession. The amount of debt that’s accumulated in the private sector is staggering, which means whatever’s coming is gonna hurt. So the deficit will explode. Right on cue, a conveyor belt of ghouls will rotate through cable news to explain why it’s necessary for us (we the working class, never them, never the rich) to starve ourselves to back to health. Declining life expectancy among the middle aged? They’ll expand it to the next few age groups up.

    3. Oh

      I read the article and found that Vox author was twisting himself into a pretzel trying to justify Biden’s and Obama’s actions in his attempt to say that they were not against cutting Social Security.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Brexit bill clears final UK parliamentary hurdle ahead of January 31 exit’

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement: “Parliament has passed the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, meaning we will leave the EU on 31 January and move forwards as one United Kingdom.”

    Scotland, Ireland & Wales: ‘What you mean we, white man?’

    1. jalrin

      While Remain did win by large margins in both Northern Ireland and Scotland, Wales voted for Leave (even if it was by a narrower margin than England).

  11. PlutoniumKun

    Sihanoukville picks up pieces after gambling chaos Southeast Asia Globe

    Depressing piece – Cambodia, like Laos, seems to be one of those small countries doomed to be a plaything for more powerful neighbours. It would be nice to think that its rejection of gambling money was based on a rational assessment, but its most likely that they are just doing what the Chinese have told them to do. Big Chinese funded gambling projects are sprouting like giant concrete mushrooms all over the poorer parts of Asia, but its doubtful if locals are getting much benefit.

    18 years ago now I cycled across Cambodia – I reached the border with Thailand covered in red dust. I was greeted with one of the most astonishing sights I’d ever seen – after bumping over broken roads, reinforced with rocks the size of grapefruits, I hit one short tarmac stretch before the border and found that the end of Cambodia was marked with a gigantic wall of gleaming casinos- surrounded by cheap karaoke bars and other detritus. I was told they were serving the Thai demand for cheap gambling, banned in Thailand itself. There was a wave of weary looking day workers shuffling past the border – crossing into Thailand was like going into Switzerland by comparison, everything clean and tidy and (comparatively) organised and prosperous. It didn’t bode well I thought for the future of Cambodia. Now Chinese money is in the mix with Thai and Vietnamese ‘investment’s’.

    1. Ignacio

      I very much hate how gambling businesses are spreading. Depressing as you say. In Spain gambling shops have mushroomed during the last 5-10 years and when I go to villages and small towns around Madrid (the belt that votes populist anti-migrant proto-fascist) I see these gambling shops occupy central places where before one could find a newspaper kiosk, a bar or some other venerable old business.

      1. Wukchumni

        Gambling really took off in the USA when Atlantic City was afforded the chance to have casinos in the late 70’s, followed by Native American casinos in the 80’s. I am about a 2 hour drive away from say 5 or 6 Indian casinos to give you an idea how pervasive they’ve become since.

        I’d guess every 3rd or 4th tv commercial or billboard on the highway is a paid advert by the casinos, one of their messages is “Where Winning Is Fun!”

        It’s a ‘Broken Widows Economy’ check out this billboard in Wisconsin, whew!

      2. PlutoniumKun

        What type of gambling shops? In Ireland, most betting shops (traditionally for horse and greyhound racing only) have been shutting down – the big profit now is all online.

        1. Ignacio

          Yes, sports and online betting shops as well as online poker and other gambling. There is no tradition in Spain for those and have exploded lately. There is some timid reaction against them now.

      3. skk

        Its shocking to see how its advertised on TV in the UK now. And not for betting that requires some modicum of study – like sports or horse betting – I’ll bet on sports ( its really really tough to even break even ) – but crappy “bound to lose in the long run” stuff like a bingo style “game”.

        But of course the bloody government sponsored Lottery, which of course is gambling, has been on TV for god knows how long – with an entire program for it on Saturdays…. once anyway.

        I remember the 70s in the UK when there were at least 2 pages of racing form stuff in the tabloids like the Sun and the Mirrror, working class men in pubs avidly read them too, when the front windows of the betting shop were whitewashed so you couldn’t peek inside, they called themselves “turf-accountants” and you couldn’t fill out betting slips in the pub that was, inevitably, next door. ( not that it stopped anybody).

        Then “fruit machines” were installed in pubs.
        Gambling is still a shady business and should be treated as such. Tolerated but never encouraged. BUT… the governments never have a leg to stand on when they themselves run the lotteries, with odds significantly worse than bingo, online poker betting.

      4. Big River Bandido

        This never occurred to me, but you are spot-on, and it’s true for the US as well. The salient fact about Nevada that we were taught in my 5th grade geography lessons (in Iowa) was that it was the only state that had legalized gambling. A few weeks later New Jersey re-legalized gambling in Atlantic City. Then Iowa allowed casinos on Mississippi and Missouri riverboats underway, later expanded that to riverboats at the dock, and then to “riverboats” that, apparently, don’t even float and can be located along interstate highways, miles from the Mississippi. And then I’m reminded of the proliferation of slot machines, racetrack betting, and lotteries (the most blatant of the state-sponsored scams)…just weeks ago New Jersey voted to legalize sports betting. I guess American football needs something drastic to keep from dying naturally.

        A few years ago when a gambling-related provision was before voters in Massachusetts (I don’t recall the particulars), one of my teaching colleagues there put forth an argument that gambling is a major cause of the economic destruction wreaked on cities and communities, but I disagree. All those signs of economic dislocation and destruction (including the proliferation of gambling) are natural symptoms of of a societal dystrophy caused by the application of neoliberal policy at home and neoconservative policy abroad. Run a society based on meanness, violence, and austerity for all but a tiny, arrogant, and stupid elite, and of course people suffer more dysfunction and are willing to resort to more desperate measures to survive. For the most part, it’s a dwindling set of choices. The only sectors growing are the parasitical ones, gambling being one of them.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      The locals never get much benefit from casino deals. I lived in WA state when they made gambling legal which was going to make all the First Peoples prosperous. When I drove through reservation land years after the casinos started up there were old vehicles up on cinder blocks in driveways in front of crumbling houses. Somehow all that money (some of it mine!) the casinos took in never did manage to trickle down to those it was supposed to benefit.

      I don’t mind casinos per se, but there doesn’t need to be one on every street corner.

    3. anon in so cal

      Reminds me of the recent hotel construction collapse in Kep, one of the last remaining idyllic places in Cambodia. Building a 7-story hotel there is blasphemous. Hun Sen and Chinese developers.

  12. PlutoniumKun

    Weaponizing Fascism for Democracy: The Beginning Yasha Levine

    How Britain helped Iran’s Islamic regime destroy the left-wing opposition Declassfied UK

    Two pretty depressing reads. Confirmation, if anyone needs it, that obsessive anti-communism (and current anti-Russian/Iranian hysteria) is so deep that even the most truly repulsive movements can be considered a potential ‘ally’ if the are useful. The real beliefs of those in charge can be shown that moderate progressive or left wing movements can never, ever, be considered useful or friendly in the same manner that far right or ultra religious groups so frequently are.

    1. Ignacio

      Yasha Levine’s story was a Must Read for me. Thank you, Lambert. PK guilty for driving my attention to it.

    2. David

      As usual, the actual documents are less exciting than the headline would have you believe. Tudeh was not some cuddly group of social democrats, it was effectively the Iranian Communist Party, an underground organization during the time of the Shah, and like all such covert parties, (the PCE in Spain for example) very hard-line and directly controlled from Moscow. It had heavily infiltrated the government – the Chief of the Navy turned out to be a member. When information became available from a defector about who was directly working for Moscow, the logic of the Cold War pretty much dictated that it would make sense to share it with the Iranians. That said, it’s usually suggested that it was the US that did the sharing, as part of the Iran-Contra deal. As the documents make clear, the British were not worried about Iran siding into the Soviet orbit (though the Soviets had initially welcomed the Revolution). Rather, the Embassy judged that the regime was simply going round picking off all possible contenders for power. In that context, Tudeh must have seemed a major threat to the regime: a disciplined and organized party with a popular base, with decades of clandestine existence and beholden to a foreign power on Iran’s borders. The past is another country ….
      What the documents do show, actually, is that the British line on Iran was much more nuanced than was publicly admitted at the time. There was some hope, if I remember correctly, that the regime would liberalize and become more secular if given the chance. In any event, the British diplomats in the telegrams seem to have been rather better plugged in to the realities of the time than their predecessors in the 1970s, who completely failed to see the Revolution coming.

    3. makedonamend

      Very sober reading. The book ‘The Embers Still Burn’ seems like a must read. The article also makes you wonder about Steve Bannon’s visits to certain Eastern European regions and the current anti-Russian hysteria in light of what the article highlights. I’ll certainly be reading the next article in the series.

    4. makedonamend

      Been reading some more excerpts of ‘The Embers Still Burn’ that I could get a hold of with my web fingers. It’s really eye opening stuff about how poorly many Jews post WWII were treated in “occupied” Europe when they were supposed to be have been liberated.

      It’s pretty sombre stuff about how certain groups, especially political and cultural groups, were fair game even after the immediate horrors of WWII. It seems when the dogs of war are let loose, it’s hard to cage them again. It is all too easy to argue that we are presently still fighting variations on war arising from the ramifications of WWI, if not before.

      I can only have total sympathy for the Jews left to fend for themselves in post war West and East Europe. It’s hard to sympathise with the Bolsheviks, and I don’t. (And I most certainly sympathise with the Russian people post WWII.)

      However, the cartoonish depiction, post war, propagated by Western Intelligence which suggested that all communists were “controlled” by Moscow, whether in Iran and elsewhere doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Both China and Yugoslavia showed that the so-called total control by Moscow of all variants of communism is bunk. What cannot be argued against was that all communists were opposed to Western Capitalism and its dominant governments. They were therefore considered a threat whereas non-communist Dictators were considered stable allies.

      However, what this particular article begins to illuminate (and hopefully the next issues will further clarify) is that a fairly simple and not so sophisticated Western Military messaging along with introducing the incessant conditions for possible physical conflict allied with cultural stress into many diverse societies can alter and control the narratives. It was effective then and it’s effective now.

      It’s really hard to stomach the story that the Western Military Industrial complex (MIC) was simply hoping to liberalise the non-communist Dictators. More often than not, all the MIC essentially accomplsihed was to uphold brutal dictatorships will punishing anyone who opposed Western total dominance, whether they were communists or not. And what better way to justify your repression and brutality by claiming your opponents are respressive and brutal.

      It’s lucky for the Saudis that they are Wahhabi and not commies.

  13. allan


    Just when the Swiss mountain spat between U.S. President Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg seemed to have blown over, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took a new dig at the young climate activist on Thursday.

    Asked during a news conference about Thunberg’s call to divest from fossil fuels, Mnuchin said: “Is she the chief economist? … After she goes and studies economics in college, she can come back and explain that to us.”

    Steve, here are some books to read: ECONNED. Treasure Islands. Economism.
    After you read them, you can come back and explain that to us.

    1. a different chris

      I can’t believe these people. It’s like you have a gun pointed at your head and they wander by and ask about your retirement portfolio. You say “hey this guy’s gonna kill me can you call 911” and it doesn’t even register.

    2. False Solace

      A koan of deep understanding from bailout baron and homelessness generator Steve Mnuchin, who earned his $300 million from the monstrous failure of mainstream economists to recognize or halt the GFC.

  14. inode_buddha

    Is CNN out of their collective minds, or are they simply hoping that so many people failed civics class? We The People damn well *can* determine things via an election whether CNN likes it or not. They will just have to deal with it.

    1. Acacia

      It may not be malice. They live in a self-reciprocating bubble of stupidity, which only makes them more and more stupid.

      1. Off The Street

        Aubergine’s Razor: It is dangerous to attribute to stupidity that which could be the result of malice or guile.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Yes, but that’s Adam Schiff. Quoting Hamilton and dismissing elections, it’s quite clear this guy would be a member of the John Birch society 25 hears ago.

        1. flora

          It’s almost like the Democrats are trying to lay the groundwork for something…

          Better to destroy the Dem brand before the primaries than let Sanders win with new voters (who might vote the “wrong way”) ? no… that can’t be the reason… /s

      1. divadab

        Adam “Crock ‘o” Schiff seems to lie with every utterance. Who is this guy working for with his constant attacks on the reliability of elections? His attempts to undermine and create doubt about US elections leads me to ask – is he a Russian agent?

      2. Susan the other

        Schiff and Nadler both are dogged twisters. They have dragged out all the dead bodies from the Muller investigation; the assertions are resurrected untarnished – it’s a miracle! Schiff in particular has droned on about the firing of 1 corrupt Ukranian prosecutor whom he claims was fired for blatant corruption by none other than Joe Biden – when the facts are that Biden actually fired the clean prosecutor because he was getting too close to Burisma’s dealings with Biden and his son and several other high US government grifters (John Kerry’s son, the Heinz kid and others; I think Nancy Pelosi was implicated, etc.) But I’m sure the agenda for the entire impeachment is to twist away because they know it so stifling and deadly boring and repetitious that nobody could possible pay attention or even give a damn. I did like Lindsey Graham’s rant. Woke me right up.

  15. Wukchumni

    Ukraine’s illegal amber mining boom is scarring the earth and making criminal gangs rich ANC Australia

    There’s an interesting parallel with New Zealand and ancient Kauri tree gum (amber-like resin) which was the subject of many a digger (where the term for a NZ soldier in WW1 came from), on account of it being one of the finest wood varnishes in the days before petrochemical finishes held sway. Workers came from Dalmatia to dig for gum, and many Yugoslavian-New Zealanders can trace their family history back to those days. Compared to present Ukrainian prices for amber, it’s worth almost nothing. I’m holding a piece about the size of a child’s fist in my hand right now that set me back a buck or 2.

    Kauri gum (/koʊˈri/ is a fossilised resin extracted from kauri trees (Agathis australis), which is made into crafts such as jewellery. Kauri forests once covered much of the North Island of New Zealand, before Māori and European settlers caused deforestation, causing several areas to revert to sand dunes, scrubs, and swamps. Even afterward, ancient kauri fields continued to provide a source for the gum and the remaining forests.

    Since the kauri gum was found to mix more easily with linseed oil, at lower temperatures, than other resins, by the 1890s, 70 percent of all oil varnishes made in England used kauri gum. It was used to a limited extent in paints during the late 19th century, and from 1910 was used extensively in the manufacture of linoleum. From the 1930s, the market for gum dropped as synthetic alternatives were found, but there remained niche uses for the gum in jewellery and specialist high-grade varnish for violins.

    Kauri gum was Auckland’s main export in the second half of the 19th century, sustaining much of the early growth of the city. Between 1850 and 1950, 450,000 tons of gum were exported.The peak in the gum market was 1899, with 11,116 tons exported that year, with a value of £600,000 ($989,700). The average annual export was over 5,000 tons, with the average price gained £63 ($103.91) per ton.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Impeachment” – CNN Newsroom

    Rep. Adam Schiff: “The President’s misconduct cannot be decided at the ballot box, for we cannot be assured that the vote will be fairly won.” Nor the Courts either as they take too long he says. So if I reads this right, Schiff is saying that Americans can have no voice on Trump’s fate as they may get it “wrong” and the Judicial branch can be sidelined as well. Uh, yeah.

    Saw a few seconds on his speech in the news a few hours ago when he started going on about Alexander Hamilton. It was then that I realized which Americans that he was talking to – the DC establishment. Hamilton is not a real hero of the American republic but people like Jefferson and Paine are. Hamilton is in the lineage of modern day players like Obama and Clinton and Bush which is why they went gaga over the woke play “Hamilton” when it opened.

    In other news, CNN is getting a new theme song-

    1. inode_buddha

      Adam Schiff, CNN, and the Dem Establishment collectively just gave a huge middle finger to the voters. How do you think they are going to feel about it, and how do you think they will respond?

      1. Monty

        65% of them are probably blissfully unaware of who Adam Schiff is, let alone what he said yesterday.

          1. Monty

            I was going to say that, but i think Trump’s “Shifty Schiff” taunt put him on the radar for the right.

        1. ambrit

          More importantly, what percent of those who usually vote are aware of the Disinfotainment going on in the Senate right now.

        2. lyman alpha blob

          A week or two ago there was a Congressional Representatives category on Jeopardy. They showed the rep’s picture and mentioned that he was 1/53rd of his state’s Congressional delegation. None of the three contestants, all presumably intelligent, well read, and aware of current events, even attempted to answer the question.

          The rep was Adam Schiff.

          1. False Solace

            Schiff is the guy who went on Tucker Carlson’s show and called Tucker a Russian agent. Tucker laughed out loud.

      2. Carolinian

        Agreed that Schiff’s statement is astonishing in its bald contempt for democracy. Trump and the Republicans claim that impeachment is really all about the next election and he admits it. Here’s hoping this will all be over in a few days.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Judging from the comments on that tweet, the implications of schiff’s statement did not go unnoticed. I’d imagine he might like to have that one back, not because he doesn’t believe it, but because cnn chose to shine a spotlight on it.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I don’t know. Much of Team Blue has adopted the positions of old patrician Republicans similar to 41 and Romney. Their contempt for popular decision making is palpable.

            Outrage by the peasants is just simply outrage from the peasants. Schiff wouldn’t care.

        2. Carey

          >Agreed that Schiff’s statement is astonishing in its bald contempt for democracy.

          The softening-up continues.

      3. marym

        Despite the fact that Democrats have wished to negate the 2016 election starting with trying to persuade electors to break faith, the impeachment process doesn’t do that. If it did, a Senate vote to remove would make HRC president, which it won’t (though it would have under the original Constitution!).

        Strong-arming the president of another country to dig up dirt on a political rival in return for a photo op is wrong, and maybe illegal. Withholding Congressionally approved aid is illegal. Trump and his cronies have confirmed that he’s done this. Refusing to provide witnesses or documents to the impeachment inquiry is obstruction. Obstruction was an article of Nixon’s and Clinton’s impeachment. Dems should add another article now for obstructing the Senate trial.

        Ukrainegate was hardly the worst thing Trump’s done, and choosing to call him on only this is absurd, but the voters who flipped the House in 2018 voted for accountability. The concept of impeachment as a means of holding a president accountable – rather than taking it “off the table” – shouldn’t be in dispute.

        1. Carolinian

          impeachment as a means of holding a president accountable

          I’d say Schiff’s statement tells us that this is not so much an indictment of Trump–you yourself call limiting the trial to these charges “absurd”–as of the voters who put him there. In today’s Chomsky piece he makes an interesting comparison to Watergate where the Dems chose to go after Nixon, not for his true high crime of conducting a secret war in Cambodia, but for attacking them with Watergate dirty tricks. The problem with “lawfare” is that it turns the law into a political weapon rather than an objective assessment of right or wrong. In such circumstances we have the right to judge the prosecutors just as much as the defendant and question whether they are people of good faith.

          In this case I’d say they clearly are not.

          1. inode_buddha

            I would say that we have the right to judge both sides regardless, since we are both voters and taxpayers, as well as citizens. I take the actions of my government personally, as if my name is upon it. Because in some small way, it is. It’s called, “taking responsibility”, which seems to be a foreign concept to our business and political leaders.

          2. marym

            If we want to argue that presidents should be impeached for Cambodia, or Iraq, or torture, we shouldn’t also argue that impeachment overturns an election. It doesn’t, no matter how many other legal or political arguments of there may be against a particular impeachment.

            The VP chosen by the president and elected by the same voters becomes president. The administration and the appointed judges remain in place. Laws and regulations don’t get undone.

            1. Carolinian

              You miss my point which is that some things really are a high crime morally speaking and some are not. Do I care whether Trump encouraged the Ukrainians to investigate Biden as part of a quid pro quo (not at all proven btw)? Not in the least. Those who say this is about holding presidents accountable have a very selective sense of outrage when it comes to Obama, Bush (both of them), Reagan.

              Common sense not to mention their own statements say that the founders did not intend impeachment to be used as a political weapon by competing factions. Clinton’s impeachment by the Repubs was just as wrong and one cause that led some of us to the web as an alternative to the decayed MSM.

        2. inode_buddha

          Pot, kettle, black. Dems really don’t have the right to say anything until they clean up their own back yard as far as I’m concerned.

          1. ambrit

            This shows that both the Repubs and Dems share a common “back yard,” and it’s on ‘K’ Street.

            1. Brian (another one they call)

              I wonder what will happen if they have to close Wuhan DC. K Street may end up a burial ground of those that chose to stay and fight for their right to bribe, loot and kill. The dark ages were not that long ago. Nor did they end.

        3. Matthew

          If you want to use impeachment to hold a president accountable, then you are liable for what you choose to hold them accountable for, and also what you don’t. The combination of what is considered impeachable in this case, versus what has been let go in this and other cases, is not just absurd, it is risible.

        4. lyman alpha blob

          As much as I don’t like Trump, maybe illegal isn’t enough to remove a president. He did not withhold aid, he delayed aid. That Ukraine did get the weapons after a rather short delay is not in dispute. He went to the courts to have them decide on witnesses, etc., as is his right, and the Democrat party couldn’t wait for the courts to decide. This is something Obama did too and no one wailed and gnashed their teeth about impeaching him. Nor did they try to impeach him when he made it clear he was against sending weapons to Ukraine, one of the few smart things he did.

          I agree that the articles the Dems chose are absurd. They want to impeach for war crimes, fine, but otherwise stop wasting everyone’s time and insulting their intelligence with this dog and pony show.

          1. marym

            I don’t disagree with most of the criticisms here of the Dem decisions on whether to impeach and on what grounds, except with comments at the start of the thread (as I read them) about impeachment somehow being an affront to the voters.

          1. marym

            Hah! IANAL but the link says “there is no definitive legal ruling on executive privilege,” so I guess everyone just opportunistically takes their best shot pro or con as suits their current agenda. Trump’s currently whining that he doesn’t have to provide witnesses or documents to the Senate because the House (where he also refused) should have gotten the info. I agree that Congress through the years has ceded too much to the executive, and Trump’s the current beneficiary.

    2. inode_buddha

      What gets me is, they could have begun the impeachment long ago, on the basis of publicly available info. They waited until now just so they could put their fat thumb on the scales while singing BS about unity and democracy, two concepts that they honor more in the breach than in the observance. This is what Washington DC is so toxic to me: their hypocrisy doesn’t cost them anything. But maybe this time it will, it’s becoming very noticeable.

    3. David J.

      Hamilton is not a real hero of the American republic but people like Jefferson and Paine are.

      Actually, none of the three are heroes, but they each made substantial contributions to the Republic. That musical was a travesty and did no justice to Hamilton at all.

      Me, I like Hamilton and appreciate his contributions to the founding of this nation. And I say that as someone who is ancestrally related to Jefferson, which meant that young David read a boatload of material about the founding. And still does.

      1. amfortas the hippie

        he’s near the bottom of my list of fave founding fathers
        always been a jefferson guy
        followed by franklin and madison
        but hamilton wasn’t some proto neoliberal either
        just a proto capitalist, with much suspicion of the rabble…. which might explain the strange hagiography in hillaryworld

          1. David J.

            For me, as the years have passed, my admiration for these people has risen in a more realistic way. I’m no longer the idealistic (and naive) youngster sitting on my grandfather’s lap hearing stories; I come to learn that despite the flaws and imperfections of all the individuals, they managed to hash out some mighty fine principles.

            If I were to list my personal favorites from the period, it would be Franklin foremost, then Hamilton and Lafayette, and then (stretching the time frame a little) John Quincy Adams who as a youth handled some pretty important tasks in the early Republic.

      2. JEHR

        Just a little sidebar. We do not invoke our first Prime Minister as the example for all future PMs to follow; John A MacDonald was an alcoholic and a schemer who enriched himself. Except for being a Scotsman (always a good thing in those times) there is nothing he can tell us about how we should govern ourselves today. We need to re-enforce our moral and ethical values for today not based on what was done more than two hundred years ago. We have to build our politics and democracy on the tools we have today and not look back nostalgically for what was achieved then. We have to look inside ourselves now and decide what is best for the country today and what is present in today’s world that should be incorporated (bad word!) into the best democracy we can build. We build on today’s standards for the future and use the best of the past on which to build it without using the past as the ideal to reach for. There Is No One Ideal! It has to be worked for, diligently, every single day.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Re John A MacDonald being an alcoholic – Australia’s first Prime Minister Sir Edmund “Toby” Barton, GCMG, PC, KC was also nicknamed “Boozin’ Barton” by his contemporaries which was an achievment in itself. And I doubt that one in hundred Aussies could name him as the first Prime Minister so he is never invoked for anything.

        2. Roland

          Macdonald managed to form a federation of dissimilar, widely separated colonies, with relatively little violence. His cabinet included mutually antagonistic races and sects. Macdonald also pursued a national economic policy to build up industries in the fledgling Canada. The eventual success makes it all seem more natural than it was. But I would say we could do well imitating Macdonald. Canadians haven’t had a definable national economic policy in a generation.

          The leaders of the American War of Independence are rightly admired for their political writings. Many of their stated ideals are of general and enduring application.

  17. PlutoniumKun

    Brexit: silence may be preferable EU Referendum

    A good example of this is one of the most recent propaganda offerings from the fanboy gazette which parades the “shock-horror” headline: “EU preparing to give UK worse trade deal terms than Canada or Japan”, augmented yesterday by one of those fatuous “explainers”, which serves to illustrate how little its author actually knows.

    In the original piece, we have Peter Foster using that irritating formula, telling us that the Telegraph has “learned” that the European Union “is preparing to offer the UK a trade deal on tougher terms than its deals with Canada, Japan and a host of other leading trade partners”.

    As a statement of the bleedin’ obvious, this really does take some beating. Even with the paucity of media coverage, you would need to have lived on a remote desert island for a couple of months not to be aware that this was the EU’s intention. How many times does a Commission spokesman have to repeat this before it’s no longer news that the Telegraph deems fit to print?

    As North points out, it seems amazing that the British media and establishment still haven’t go their head around the notion that the EU has no incentive whatever to grant the UK a favourable long term deal. No doubt this will be portrayed in the media as an example of intransigence or bad faith from the EU rather than a simple pragmatic calculation. As he also notes, the lovely distraction provided by the soon-to-be-ex royal couple is admirably allowing everyone to pretend Brexit isn’t really happening and doesn’t have to be talked about. I suspect Bojo is more than happy with this. He really must be the luckiest politician since… well, since Trump.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        That’s a bit long for me to do more than scan today, but Dunt is always worth a read. Much of this is beyond my paygrade too – its so complicated that I doubt many people understand more than a small subset of how it all works.

  18. Ignim Brites

    Loose lips sink ships, it used to be said. “… we cannot be assured that the vote will be fairly won,” lead impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff…” Taken literally, this would imply a call for a military coup after Trump is acquitted. Fortunately we know that Schiff is not a literate man, but rather a fool. Speaker Pelosi put him front and center for that reason. Ms. Pelosi will maintain control of the Democratic caucus but she will lose the House. Schiff will be featured in Republican advertising. “A vote for a Democrat is a vote for re-impeachment”, etc…. But hey, it is better to lose the election than lose the party.

    1. Jomo

      I think Adam Schiff is saying that Republicans will cheat to win elections. IMHO, From the evidence of recent events in Georgia (the USA state), North Carolina, and Ukraine, the Republicans will cheat to win elections. Mr. Schiff’s statement has nothing to do with coups or voters getting it wrong.

      And for the 2nd Amendment extremists, in case you haven’t noticed, mass shootings are occurring every day. It seems reasonable for a legislature to vote to temporarily remove guns from a person deemed a threat.

      1. JTMcPhee

        And We should always remember that Dems of course would never, ever, cheat to win elections. Surely not in Chicago, known as the place where Da Mayor, Richard Daley, and the Chicago/cook county political machine “allegedly” delivered the win in the 1960 presidential election, giving someone the opportunity to annul its result by killing John F. Kennedy:

        And of course the Dems would never stoop to rigging their private-club electoral process in caucuses and primaries to elevate the Golden Child, HRC, over Bernie.

        “The best politicians (and political economy) that money can buy.”

        1. RWood

          Henry Wallace strong-armed from Vice Presidency

          Led by Robert Hannegan, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, local and state party bosses quietly lobbied FDR to replace Wallace with Truman. Going into the 1944 Democratic convention in Chicago, Wallace was strongly favored to keep his position as FDR’s running mate. Too ill to attend the convention and too busy overseeing the American war effort to get in the middle of an intraparty battle, FDR let it be known that either Wallace or Truman (a little-known senator from Missouri with few accomplishments to his credit) would be an acceptable vice presidential pick. On the first ballot, Wallace beat Truman, but lacked sufficient votes needed to secure the nomination. Then the party’s conservative influence-peddlers went to work making deals with leaders from different states to gain votes for Truman. They maneuvered successfully and handed Truman the nomination.

          The DVD of Wallace’s political history depicts a much more vicious crushing of popular support at the nominating convention.

      2. Tom Stone

        Jomo, I actually hadn’t noticed that Mass shootings happen every day.
        Can you back that statement up with facts?

        1. Duke of Prunes

          According to Wikipedia, there is no commonly accepted definition of “mass shooting”, but some organizations say “4 or more shot indiscriminately in one incident”. By this definition, there are at least a few mass shooting every month in Chicago (according to a Chicago crime website with a somewhat NSFW name – heyjacka**.com, there’s already been 2 this year – not including last weekend – and January is a traditionally a slow month because of the cold weather). However, these don’t make the news since the MSM has decided that we don’t care about poor folks killing other poor folks… usually of color. It also undermines the gun control narrative as Chicago has strict gun laws. However, when I listen to the mayor and the recently disgraced police superintendent crime is down!

          I don’t know, if we add together stats from high crime urban areas like Baltimore, Detroit, New Orleans. Memphis, Camden, etc., there probably is a mass shooting every day. However, there’s already laws against this so I’m not sure how more laws are going to change anything.

          In fact, many people charged with gun crimes in Chicago are released the same day with either no bond or a low bond because “justice reform”. The police have been calling this the “catch and release” program since at least 2014. Here’s one example (, the end of the article references other recent cases as well.

          1. JTMcPhee

            States attorneys I knew in Chicago years ago referred to poor people killing each other as “misdemeanor murders.” Not much changed, I guess.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “How Amazon, Geico and Walmart Fund Propaganda”

    This article is by L. Gordon Crovitz, a co-founder at NewsGuard which tells you all you need to know about his ideas. NewsGuard is a browser extension which will tell you which articles are “true” and which are “lies”. As expected, it is funded by the US government, neocons and monied interests.

    So it says that Fox news is reliable but the UK’s Daily mail is not. Go figure. In essence. it wants to censor the internet of independent journalism and you can bet that if it was adopted as a standard, that NC would get constant red-ratings. Here is more about this scumbag operation that Crovitz helped found-

  20. ptb

    Dunno if this is a temporary effect of impeachment, but I took a glance at 538’s generic ballot poll page and it seems the RV number is getting shaky, going from a steady high-single-digits advantage for D with an occasional outlier, to several low-single-digits reads. A small warning sign to keep an eye on.

    1. petal

      Interesting, thanks. I was behind a Tulsi Gabbard-wrapped van this morning(assume it’s their local campaign vehicle), and a few more Mayo Pete signs have popped up along the route I take to get to work. Getting to crunch time now.

      1. tegnost

        Yes, I saw lamberts counter last night in WC and was surprised a bit at how soon it’s all going to get going

        1. petal

          Feb 11th is the NH primary. It’s coming on rather quickly now. The candidates are either showing up or sending surrogates(Warren is sending Ashley Judd for 2 events this week, Ben & Jerry are doing an event or 2 for Sanders). Biden and Gabbard also have events. Former VT gov Peter Shumlin(Biden), former NH gov John Lynch(Biden), and John Kerry(Biden) are being pulled out, as well. Stay tuned!

            1. petal

              Ha! I’d go test your theory, but MA Kerry won’t venture anymore north than Manchvegas. Go figure. He gets Manchester and the seacoast-maybe they think he’ll go over better with that lot.

              1. Wukchumni

                …a very short leash on Kerry trade

                If Rove only had a chance @ Eisenhower, he would’ve had D-Day veterans doing tv commercials telling us what a lousy guy Ike was, and Adlai would’ve gotten the nod.

  21. Phacops

    The Vox article is far too kind to Biden by merely suggesting that his most recent accounting of his position vis a vis Social Security was a measured response from recent history. A cursory search for historical context reveals his support for cutting that program multiple times during his tenure in congress, including C-Span video.

    A subtext in the article not emphasized sufficiently to my mind is the complicity of Democrats in acceeding to repub moves to cut social insurance we have paid for.

    Funny how pentagon waste is not an “entitlement”.

    1. Tim

      I was pondering yesterday how the term “Entitlements” is subconsciously derogatory as “entitled” is clearly viewed as a negative connotation word. No accident for sure.

      The 1% views the 99%’s social programs in that light. The 99% are just feeling we are entitled to something we don’t actually deserve is their perspective and they let us know.

  22. Tom Stone

    The Dem establishment seems bent on shredding any vestige of legitimacy that they might have had a claim to.
    Speaking of which, I think there’s about a 1 in 4 chance that HRC wil come out of a brokered convention with the Nomination.
    If that happens she’s going to need to appeal to potential Warren and even some Sander’s supporters, not just Republican Soccer Moms.
    And to win the General she’s going to need to fire up the Dem base enough to beat Trump.
    Her best bet to do so is to adapt some of Bernie’s talking points to her own style, “I’m with Her” won’t cut it.
    “Not us, Me” might do the trick.
    Other suggestions?

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      “…Other suggestions?…”

      Fly to Hong Kong, take the speedy train to the outskirts of Wuhan, wander in through the cordon at night, go to any public market and inhale deeply. Bonus points if one can gin up some preexisting conditions that will help the virus feel right at home.

      ‘Coronavirus in 2020’?

    2. Acacia

      Other suggestions?

      She could pull off the mask (cf. V: The Series), to reveal her inner reptile, banking on many of her fellow covert reptiles getting fired up over such a brave act.

    3. Big River Bandido

      Clinton will not be the nominee this year, and there will be no “brokered convention”. That scenario has never been more than a fantasy by a few who truly hope for it and quite a few who are willing to believe the most-implausible worst case.

      1. pretzelattack

        i thought if there isn’t a clear leader, then the superdelegates can come in play in the second ballot, but i may well be worng.

        1. Big River Bandido

          The only way for their *not* to be a clear leader is for the vote to be divided in small percentages across numerous candidates. Among the clowns there isn’t one who has a reason for running, other than to stop Sanders.

          1. ambrit

            Not only are there a superfluity of ‘clowns,’ but there is also the attested to phenomenon of vote rigging in the primaries.
            Expect more sophisticated versions of statistically curious coin flips. Add in the obvious ‘weaknesses’ of electronic voting machines to the mix.

            1. Big River Bandido

              I grant you the point on vote rigging and all the other mechanations you listed. But not the brokered convention. That scenario requires the superfluous candidates to be able to continue raising money and winning delegates — but not so many delegates that they dominate. In other words, several candidates have to get around 15% of the vote each, maybe even 5-10% if certain candidates do well in some states while others do better in others. But you can start to see how mathematically this is pretty farfetched. All the pieces have to fall just so. How well did that work for the Republicans four years ago?

              On the other things that the party establishment will do: yes, it’s a very dangerous landscape. But in the last week or two, I have felt increasing confidence:

              1) Yes, the establishment are powerful and ruthless. They are also now fully alerted to the threat and in hair-on-fire mode. But they are the heirs of their faction, not the builders, and they have not the vision nor the cleverness nor even the basic competence of their predecessors. In short, their faction is out of ideas and energy. All they know how to do is apply the old, proven “solutions” more rigidly. This has been poll-tested for several cycles now, and it has failed.

              2) I have to trust that Sanders has successfully built a turnout model in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. From what I have read, I get a sense that he has done so.

              3) If that succeeds, Sanders will be very hard to stop, even with all the party maneuvers against him. Money follows victory. Victory follows victory. Fraud by the establishment doesn’t work if you win by enough, and that’s looking possible, given the early-state numbers.

              4) Sanders’ final vote share has always beaten his polling numbers. It might be that the corporate media is grudgingly putting out the story of his surge — because they were rigging the earlier polls and they can’t stake a loss of credibility if their final polls aren’t closer to the end result.

              I completely admit in some ways my confidence is nothing but a fairy. But it does *feel* like that’s what’s happening. I also have to remember that Sanders has been in politics a long time, he lost a lot of elections before winning a lot of them, and he’s no fool as to how this game is played. I have to trust that he’s built a great organization. There’s good reason to believe him. But for another 11 days, this belief and intuition is all I have.

              1. Acacia

                What, then, is the purpose of the superdelegates? And I assume you saw the news (covered here at NC) that the DNC lawyers have argued they have every right to decide the candidate in the proverbial smoky back room?

              2. ambrit

                I empathize with the fraught hope of a Sanders win. I share it, but, as I have learned, one cannot be too cynical about politics. There are literally no limits left.
                How low can they go?
                When legitimacy is lost, all that is left is raw power.

          2. Little Creeker

            Remember the 15% qualifying rule to get any delegates at all in a primary. The more numerous the candidates the bigger percentage of delegates to Sanders. A lot of them are running for career (bezzle), more than “political,” reasons.

  23. The Rev Kev

    “Australia’s Largest Mining Company is Worried Bushfires are Affecting Coal Production”

    Yes, I lose a lot of sleep worrying about coal production being affected by half the continent burning down. Those selfish workers who abandoned their coal shits to save their homes burning down is the height of irresponsibility. What a nerve! Don’t they realize that falling coal production could effect executive bonuses? Won’t anyone think of the GNP?

    Good god, man. What if a coal mine caught fire and it went underground? How would you put that out? Consider all the water wasted fighting fires when it is needed for mining. This looks like a job for Scotty from Marketing. Unfortunately, he is busy dealing with a major scandal where his government handed out $100 million to sports clubs before the last election to buy votes.

    1. Mel

      :-] “We had counted on mining a whole stratum of coal in that area 300 million years from now. After these fires, there will be nothing.”

      1. BlakeFelix

        I think that they could have when it happened, but it would have cost like $50 million and they decided to keep their money. Now the fire is big and old…

    2. marieann

      Auchengeich mine disaster in 1959 a fire that killed 47 men ….every class in my school had someone affected.

    3. inode_buddha

      Ja, that’s just incredibly misplaced priorities. Amazed to see it happening at that level. I don’t follow Aussie politics enough to know any detail, but it’s easy to spot a complete sociopath.

  24. DJG

    I recall Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.

    So here we are: Today’s New York Times.

    He Waterboarded a Detainee. Then He Had to Get the C.I.A. to Let Him Stop.

    An architect of the C.I.A. interrogation program testified that to persuade his superiors to let him stop torturing a captive, he had them stand in the cell and watch.

    I cannot stress how degraded this behavior of a so-called physician, so-called intelligence agency, and so-called newspaper is. Torture corrupts everything, and torture left alone, without indictments of torturers and those who abetted torture, corrupts absolutely. As commenters have pointed out here repeatedly, the reason Nancy Pelosi is so selective about reasons for impeachment is that she is implicated in the illegal wars and immoral torture.

    So we now get crazy talk from the Democats and stupid talk from the Republicans.

    Let the indictments fall like rain from the heavens–by the hundreds.

      1. newcatty

        Or like frozen iguanas from trees in Florida. IIRC reading: to soften the blow of the spector of iguanas being dead, the reader is reassured that they are not dead, just cold. Hmm, there are many reptiles among us. Cold blooded and colder hearts. Important, imho, to remember the observation that these beings are not often just “stupid”, “foolish “, or “ridiculous”.

  25. Henry Moon Pie

    Eli Lake and the FBI–

    This article is quite extensive and contains some well-organized facts I hadn’t heard before along with the usual propaganda, but I think it’s basically a rats-fleeing-a-sinking-ship piece as much as anything. After all, Commentary is like the sipapu from which the NeoCons emerged, and we’re hardly going to read something there that isn’t wholeheartedly supportive of Full Spectrum Dominance.

    So according to Lake: CIA = OK; FBI = BAD but necessary; Brennan under the bus; Shifty = DOUBLE PLUS BAD. I just hope the ball gets rolling so that as many of these people as possible point fingers at one another. Both institutions need to be abolished despite Lake’s pleas.

    1. pjay

      An accurate assessment, IMO. Lake, a noted “national security correspondent,” seems to spend a lot of words trying to convince us that there were good reasons for the original investigation, even if some over-zealous partisans later ignored “exculpatory” evidence. His conclusion:

      “From Comey to Clinesmith, the investigators responsible for the Russia investigation really believed that Trump was a unique threat to the republic and that they were justified in taking the steps that they did. The problem is that their theory about Trump and Russia was wrong, and the shortcuts they took to prove the theory true blinded them from seeing their folly sooner.”

      Sounds sort of like Ken Burns on Vietnam – an endeavor “begun in good faith” by well-meaning patriots who were only concerned with the national interest. Warms the heart, really. If only these “resistance” fighters in the FBI would have listened sooner to their wiser brothers in the CIA…

      I agree there is a lot of good information here, and some deserving villains do get scorched (Schiff, WSJ reporters Fritsch and Simpson who founded Fusion GPS, the Obama administration). But there is also plenty of spin and omission, especially on the role of Misfud, the CIA and its foreign intelligence partners. And Russia is still the Evil lurking in the background hacking the Democrats and sowing chaos.

      Limited hangouts can be informative, as long as we recognize them for what they are.

  26. JCC

    The article at Bloomberg, “Pentagon Racks Up $35 Trillion in Accounting Changes in One Year” is too true, and as an employee of the US Military I’ve noticed a lot of weird stuff over the years.

    This particular observation is, money-wise, relatively small potatoes and for those whose eyes don’t glaze over, just another anecdote.

    As an IT Systems Admin, I’m responsible for purchasing Operating System licenses for two small groups (Red Hat,specifically). Due to changes about 1.5 years ago in how and where we purchase these licenses, I am now dealing with justifying, reconciling, and verifying license purchases made, and expired, years ago as various top-down spreadsheets need updating.

    Since licenses were purchased in very small batches directly from Red Hat, the Red Hat people would create new invoice/contract numbers for each purchase by the same account holder… perfectly normal practice. The Section of the DoD that I work for now pays for all in-use Red Hat Licenses in bulk and then bills each sub-section individually. With that changeover, Red Hat has consolidated in-kind licenses (such as workstation, servers, etc) into single contract numbers. It makes perfect sense from my perspective. Now I can go to Red Hat and get a direct count of Cluster licenses, server licenses and workstation licenses, for example, under 3 separate Contract numbers instead of 15 or more, many historical, Contract numbers. No longer do I have to count Contract 1, made 7 years ago with 2 workstation licenses and Contract 2 made 5 years ago with 1 workstation license, etc.

    However, I now get a spreadsheet in my email at least twice a month that I am supposed to “verify” with hundreds of Red Hat contract numbers as well as some internal designation numbers which no one will explain to me their purpose or what they represent, and a final bill – for last year- of over $250,000.00!!!. When I asked the sender what all this meant, (s)he told me that they had no idea but would I verify my part of these numbers.

    So, in order to simplify (God Forbid!) this whole process, I sent them a screenshot of Red Hat’s contracts with us. Three contracts, 3 types of licenses, and the amount of licenses per contract, less than $20K. Simple, right?

    No! After doing this multiple times over the last 10 months, I am still getting copies of this same damn confusing spreadsheet with the same bad information and a request that our sub-department pay our internal bill of nearly 1/4 million dollars for Red Hat Licenses we don’t own.

    A major part of this problem is that probably over 1/2 the people in these various internal billing departments have no idea what it is that they are looking at. All they know is that they are responsible for one out-of-date spreadsheet describing numbers that mean as much to them as Egyptian Hieroglyphics. Just the time alone in sorting all this crap out costs millions.

    Like I said, in the DoD world, this is very small potatoes. In my little section, though, it has been an on-going, and time-consuming, Royal PITA. I cannot, Thank Goodness, imagine what Acquisition people go through in programs like the F-35.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      It’s a little elliptical to the direction of your comment but I’ll suggest it anyway. You should hunt up an old Perl programmer. If the spreadsheet you received is in an electronic format it should be possible to obtain a representation of the spreadsheet as comma separated lines, one line per spreadsheet line. You can probably do the same for the Red Hat accounting data. With Perl you can treat the two lists of comma separated lines as ‘databases’/accessible datasets. Perl is much more flexible than SQL for manipulating this sort of data. A relatively short Perl program should enable rapid processing of your data.

      1. JCC

        Jeremy, being a sed and awk guy, I did that… unfortunately it clarified nothing :-)

        And the historical Red Hat data is inaccessable, all I have are the three simple contract numbers with quantities of each and downloadable in csv format, which I sent to the accounting dept multiple times (as well as actual screen shots), and it also seemed to clarify nothing.

        Bottom line, in the world that I work in, the Left Hand has no clue what the Right Hand is doing, and vice versa. And that causes some severe accounting problems.

  27. The Rev Kev

    “The Cost of an Incoherent Foreign Policy”

    Actually it is not incoherent at all. It is good old-fashioned “Machtpolitik” which is a German word meaning “power politics.” We know it as “might makes right”. Trump pushes around countries when he can using international trade as a club via sanctions. He will bomb a place if he can get away with it but is not into starting a war. So he can’t bomb places like Russia, China, Iran or North Korea as they would strike back but he will bomb places like Syria if he can get away with it.

    Trump is at heart a bully when it comes to the weak but is a coward when it comes to facing the strong. He is also into divide-and-rule. It is that simple. Add to that a layer of political expediency in only worrying about the here and now as it affects him and not being bothered with any long-term aim which does not interest him and, well, you have the current US foreign policy. But long-term blowback is going to be a b****.

    1. trhys

      RE: Power Politics

      Forgive me, but, from Thucydides, “… since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

      And it isn’t just Trump. Hasn’t American foreign policy been animated by this sensibility for a very long time?

  28. JTMcPhee

    Re Boeing, Dead Corp Walking: A shout-out to Yves in yesterday’s post by bernard at Moon over her well-researched and thought-out observations on Boeing’s accounting practices:

    Future MAX pilots will have to take mandatory simulator sessions. That makes the new plane less attractive to airlines that fly the 737 NG. While Boeing has 5,000 orders for the MAX on its books that number is likely to shrink significantly. Boeing will have to ask for higher prices or it will have to cut its margin on each future plane. The cash cow that the MAX once was might well turn into a loss creating product.

    That is why Yves Smith had warned that Boeing’s unusual accounting practice could kill the company:

    If Boeing and the FAA are still at loggerheads in six months, with still no date for the 737 Max going into service, it isn’t just that pressure on Boeing’s suppliers and customers will become acute, perhaps catastrophic for some. Boeing’s practice of booking future, yet to be earned, profits as current income means persistent negative cash flow could lead to an unraveling. The last time we saw similar accounting was how supposedly risk free future income from [Collateralized Debt Obligations] was discounted and included in the current earnings of banks. Remember how that movie ended?

    1. cnchal

      The rot of financialization turns out to be a catastrophe. We know these planes handle funny under certain circumstances, and Boeing is gonna code it’s way out of it, and then put 5000 of them in the air, eventually, when it’s all clear by the FAA. Guaranteed future disasters related to this issue. Guaranteed.

      Instead of doing it right, a clean sheet, mega botch by the deciders. That plane should be written off. Putting 5000 of them in the air is asking for trouble.

      1. Tim

        No, the FAA is woke now. No way that plane goes back up until it’s safe, and yes it can still be made safe.

        Whether or not Boeing is taking the right approach at this point is TBD. Once the simulator training is required why not dump the MCAS and just train to deal with the modified handling characteristics, rather than a failed MCAS scenario? I’m not enough in the know to comment there.

        It may kill the investors of Boeing in the end (bankrupt) given their accounting methods and the amount of disruption, but Boeing can’t go out of business. Too important to USA GNP.

        1. Carey

          >Whether or not Boeing is taking the right approach at this point is TBD. Once the simulator training is required why not dump the MCAS and just train to deal with the modified handling characteristics, rather than a failed MCAS scenario? I’m not enough in the know to comment there.

          Some worthy comments on that in this thread, if you can plow through it:

          My guess (that’s all) is that the MAX is not certifiable WRT stability without MCAS, though maybe that’d be changeable with aerodynamic devices (as recommended by the first MAX chief Test Pilot, IIRC).
          They’d lose some efficiency, though, and it’d also be an embarrassing walkback.

    2. voteforno6

      Does anybody think that Boeing won’t be bailed out? That could explain some of the behavior of their executives. I don’t think they would be necessarily wrong, either, if they thought that way.

  29. pjay

    Re: ‘Weaponizing Fascism for Democracy: The Beginning’ – Yasha Levine.

    Yasha Levine’s ‘Immigrants as a Weapon’ project is shaping up to be a very important contribution to our “hidden history” about which most Americans are oblivious. Support for neo-Nazis in Ukraine is not a bug, but a feature of postwar US policy.

    1. Alex

      I’m surprised this is considered eye-opening. Obviously the US wanted to use every possible tool they could find to weaken and if needed fight the Soviet Union. And obviously the Soviet Union did the same by supporting various anti-colonial insurgencies and Communist parties in the West.

      1. pjay

        Few would be surprised at our using immigrants for propaganda purposes (realizing the “American Dream,” etc., which Levine has discussed at length). But I don’t think many are aware of the degree to which we protected, organized, and weaponized Nazis and fascist groups to prepare for the next war against our “allies” the Soviet Union — a process that started before WWII had even ended.

  30. Wukchumni

    How AI and facial recognition tech could reshape Las Vegas casinos Nevada Independent
    Once upon a time I had a gambling problem, my issue being a common one, I bet too much when I was losing and not enough when I was winning.

    Casinos were the original surveillance state in our country, eyes in the sky above peering down on punters like so many paid peeping toms whose job it was to see patterns. Eventually their jobs went straight to video where it allowed even more surveillance potential. I’d like to think that Pavlovegas et al would warmly embrace the chance to inquire to the nth degree about their clientele, as they are a proving ground when it comes to pushing the envelope and steaming open a letter.

  31. tegnost

    Ha. Mentioning organic food in a comment has switched my ad display from the coat I was shopping for last month to orgnanic chips and an iphone for my ageing mom…

    1. ambrit

      It’s called “scraping by.”
      I see similar effects, usually in the “options” offered by Google when I search for something. The lengths to which the system goes to force my hand is becoming absurd.

      1. Brian (another one they call)

        try duck duck go. Many problems disappear as though they were caused by the guggle. You even get real results and there are only a couple pages of bullsearch to go through.

    1. pretzelattack

      good for the vote, i couldn’t take watching much of bari weiss though. i would ask how she can be so ignorant, but then i realize wolf blitzer set the standard for that long ago.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I’m amazed he had Bari Weiss back (or that she would come back). His epic takedown of her ignorance was one of my all time highlights. Maybe she’s too stupid to realise how stupid he made her look.

      But its good news for Sanders that Rogan is talking about him positively – its hard to understate just how influential Rogan is with a very important demographic. And Rogan’s interview with Sanders has something like 11 million hits on youtube – compared to the 7 or 8 million who watch the debates.

      1. Carey

        I expect Rogan’s endorsement of Sanders will carry some real weight, and with the
        former’s viewing numbers, well..

  32. Wukchumni

    ‘A long road back from here’: Small winemakers feel the pain of Australian bushfires Channel News Asia

    That’s a shame, takes a long time to get back to ‘business as usual’ for Mother Nature isn’t in any hurry.

    Many supermarkets have hundreds of different types of bottles of wine for sale, is there any other food/drink product so well represented in terms of variety?

    1. JTMcPhee

      Toothpaste? “Feminine products?” Cookies?

      And of course regarding wine and other alcoholic beverages, “trade” makes it all possible, thus the wines from Portugal and Spain and France mingle with the wines from South America and Africa, all delivered for our personal delight and delectation on wings of Petroleum…

      Enjoy it while you can, right?

      1. Wukchumni

        We all have rather short tethers on our fast times, i’d imagine hardly anybody among us (myself included) have any more gasoline on hand than what’s in the tanks of our cars on the driveway.

        It’s not easy to store, highly flammable and goes bad quickly, yet it keeps our world going almost effortlessly, and I for one am not ready to go from 190 horsepower down to 1 as saddle sores ain’t me babe, so yes enjoy the ride while you can, why not.

        1. Brian (another one they call)

          No need for worries Wuk, you have enough sunlight to power the battery charger that is our future! In Sol, we trust.

        2. JTMcPhee

          Yup, enjoy it while you can, why not?

          That’s kind of why the species is in danger of self-extinction, taking a bunch of other species down with us. But hey, the Sun is going to go nova in what, 4 billion or so years, and it’s all part of the Great Circle of Life, so present and coming pain of others is really No Big Deal.

          And that gasoline in the car or cars in the driveway or garage, in all our cars, and the jet fuel in the tanks of all those Pleasure Platforms that can waft one off to exotic destinations at Mach .85, and the bunker crud in the tanks of all those ships, gets there, as do the toothpaste and wine bottles and “artisanal stuff” in the Market, courtesy of burning a whole lot of petroleum and other fossil carbon. No problem, mate! Our individual inputs into the heat balance are so minuscule, and the pleasure derived is so great!

          1. Wukchumni

            You go ahead and save the world, i’m not up to it.

            We all know the whole shebang is set to blow, we’re clueless about how it goes down though.

            I’m content to wait and have fun until the cows come home and/or ‘market forces’ force my hand and deliver me back to a 19th century way of life.

  33. Samuel Conner

    JB is a deficit hawk, and proud of it, and boasts of his ability to work with Republicans, who will not agree to tax increases or reductions in military spending.

    So of course non-discretionary programs — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — will be cut.

    This isn’t hard.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I flew around in helicopters in Vietnam. A common observation among the aircrews was that “airplanes want to fly, helicopters don’t.” And that a helicopter is 11,000 parts flying in loose and vibrating formation, all busily shaking the helicopter apart.

      Looks like profit-seeking has generated a bunch of airplanes that carry hundreds of people around but don’t have the inherent stability and predictability and reliability that was a salient virtue of fixed-wing aircraft…

      “If it’s Boeing, I AIN’T going.”

      1. Carey

        The pilots: “We don’t want to fly it.”
        The flight attendants: “We don’t want to work on it.”
        The passengers: “We don’t want to ride on it, or pay to do so.”

        The Corporations: “YOU HAVE NO CHOICE.”

        Mmm, we don’t- until we suddenly, suddenly do.

        Autonomy through Solidarity 2020

  34. Trent

    An idea to run past the NC crowd:

    I know Bernie and Elizabeth have both advocated forgiven student loans, but in a debt based society I foresee this causing problems. Once you do this everyone with big debts will want it forgiven. Why don’t we put negative interest rates on school loans? Thoughts?

    1. Fraibert

      Negative interest rates would still be in effect partial loan forgiveness, and therefore I think would still create the same kinds of objections.

      The most obvious response is that education is special–a basic need for the citizenry and for an advanced economy. That’s fairly reasonable.

      However, underlying the entire student loan forgiveness argument, I see two possible justifications. One is that the loans are immoral because of the burden they place on the youth. The second is that the loans are causing economic harm to the students and consequently to the economy as a whole.

      Both arguments have been invoked, sometimes in the same breath. But, I think they need to be viewed separately.

      The first, moral argument logically requires that all outstanding student loans be forgiven and any amounts paid any time in the past towards loans be returned, except perhaps to the extent that the loan payments are viewed as “reasonable.” Basically, the moral argument mandates that all student loan borrowers should receive restitution. It is logically incoherent and indefensible that only borrowers who have not paid back their loans should receive relief.

      The second, practical argument is framed in terms of benefiting the economy. In that case, a clever argument as to why only outstanding borrowers should receive relief can be crafted. But, a wider view suggests that broader restitution (as described above) would create more possible consumption–think of how much money citizens would get if all student loan borrowers from the past were to receive back their loan payments plus reasonable interest (and for true restitution, interest on the restitution amount is definitely required).

      I distinguish the two arguments because I think that both Mr. Sanders and Mrs. Warren invoke both arguments and it’s helpful to further explore the issue. In any case, negative interest rates on student loans just don’t add up to my mind–you must address past student loan borrowers as well as present ones or you are simply trying to buy votes.

      1. inode_buddha

        Per your third para, I think the immoral part was not so much the loans themselves, but the fact that the government is backing them without doing *any* cost controls or due diligence. It also did nothing to stop that “giant sucking sound” that Ross Perot spoke of.

        1. Fraibert

          Even under that position, restitution would be required for the difference between the reasonable cost of education and the amount actually borrowed under the inflated system.

          1. Monty

            All you need to know is that there are 45 million Americans with student loan debt vs. 235,248,000 eligible voters. If you think 190 million Americans are gong to give the others a freebie, you have not been ‘reading the room’. Charity ends at the front door in most American households.

            1. flora

              meh. There are tax deductions for home mortgage interest payments because the politicians or the public decided home ownership was a good idea and should be subsidized through interest deductions.

              It’s also a good idea that the next generations both get the education/training/skills they need to make contributions to the US economy and society AND that they not be so burdened by debt to get these skills that they delay or never marry, have children, buy a house, etc. It’s about what’s good for the country’s future, not what’s good for any particular individual.

              1. BlakeFelix

                But I kind of feel like the home mortgage deduction is awful. It drives up house prices and encourages debt, making the system far more fragile than it could be. Education is good, and kids in bondage are bad(unless they are consenting adults into that kind of thing, even then they should have a safe word lol) but it’s hard to come up with a fair way to do it. Maybe allow students to go bankrupt on the loans if they want? That way you aren’t paying off the loans of rich people who can pay them but borrowed anyway, but people can get out of debt if they have to. And there should be free schools, but not like the schools we have now where they have acres of stadiums on prime city real estate tax free. Giving them a blank check would be shockingly expensive I am afraid.

                1. inode_buddha

                  Having government backed loans effectively has been a blank check while banksters tossed lending standards out the window. Student loans existed long before the Feds got involved. Education costs were much lower and lenders were much more cautious. I think the answer is to eliminate the federal support and make the loans dischargable particularly in cases where the government did nothing to protect jobs in the relevant field.

                2. JTMcPhee

                  There’s precedent for resolving large numbers of claims for corporate abuses, in the asbestos litigation process.

                  The Banksters got a multi-trillion mulligan. They were part of the giant scam that got the US treasury to underwrite and backstop the student loans, including crafting the legislation that enabled the whole game and effectively barred discharge in bankruptcy. Please note that bankruptcy is not a lay-down source of relief, and bankruptcy judges are a very mixed bag with great power to hang debt on people they don’t like or people who aren’t represented by counsel, as in can not afford legal representation.

                  The Banksters, as with the home mortgage scam, know how difficult it has been to unwind oppressive and fraudulent transactions. They they and other lenders count on this as a shield against having to answer for their rottenness and corruption: “Oh, how are we ever going to decide who was ripped off by the cabal we were part of, and who should have to pay what part of any judgments that might eventually be reached by litigation where we can bury plaintiffs in paper and take advantage of the rigging we have accomplished in changing the rules of civil procedure and standing requirements for class actions and similar kinds of redress?” Maybe Jamie Dimon ought to have his bloated looting clawed back as part of the process, speaking now of relative moral risk. Student loans for many institutions are unarguably a scam on the public, as was the whole runup to the GFC.

                  I’d note that the national problem of asbestos exposure and liability resulted in tens of thousands of claims against Johns Manville and other malefactors who knew very well and very effectively buried the evidence of asbestos’s carcinogenicity and physical toxicity. The administration of the distribution of many billions of dollars of judgments and settlement money is still ongoing as new claims arise, but has wound down to a great degree. So let’s not fall on an argument that “Oh, it will be impossible to resolve all this.”

                  Here’s some scholarship on how that huge mass of liability and disbursement of huge sums was done, so let’s not claim it’s impossible:

                  That it was not done for the many who lost their homes through a very similar kind of fraud pulled off by colleges and beauty schools and Universities and loan originators and banks is a travesty that has been worked over here at NC. Why just accede to another travesty?

    2. False Solace

      > Once you do this everyone with big debts will want it forgiven.

      Sanders also has a plan to forgive all medical debt.

      Thanks to Joe Biden’s bankruptcy bill, student loan debt is nearly impossible to discharge in bankruptcy. That’s a big reason it’s such a problem. It’s impossible to get rid of. If you as a parent cosign your kid’s private loan and your kid dies, they still come after you for the balance. All those loan forgiveness plans have ridiculous requirements that result in 99% of people paying for years then getting rejected. And they garnish your Social Security when you retire. It’s insane. Student debt has grown so fast in the last ten years it exceeds credit card debt. It’s a huge problem getting worse.

      Many people believe that mortgage writedowns ought to be allowed during bankruptcy. That would have prevented a lot of foreclosures ten years ago. Instead we tossed families out on the street and sold their houses for pennies on the dollar to private equity sharks.

      Student debt and medical debt are immoral and destructive. So is a lot of other debt, thanks to flat and declining wages, but you have to start somewhere.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Huge debts have already been “forgiven,” no? Like the bank bail-INs after the GFC? Like the pension obligations of all those companies that via vulture capitalism and bankruptcy? There’s lots of examples.

        And of course us mopes “forgive” the debts being run up in the form of freeloading externality shedding by all the yuuuge Corporate contributors to climate collapse — of course the “forgiveness” is no act of free will, but just extortion of the wealth generated by mope labor turning fossil resources and the ores laid down in the cosmic processes like planet formation and tectonic motions…

    3. The Rev Kev

      Debts that can’t be paid, won’t be paid. In our current society, eventually all debts will be non-dischargable in bankruptcy as the fees to be made on people in debt are too lucrative to be ameliorated.

  35. Bugs Bunny

    Re: “Paris breathes a sigh of relief as transport gets back to normal after strikes”

    This is BS from the usual suspect at The Local. Please heavily vet this guy. There are ongoing movements and the Metro is shut down again tomorrow – “TOTAL BLOCK” is called for by the unions and personnel.

    Sorry, it’s in French but translators work pretty well.

    1. David

      Yes, I was going to say the same thing but I didn’t have the strength. I don’t know where these people get their information from. This is the end of the tactical pause I talked about in my post the other day. Tomorrow looks like being very bad indeed in Paris. Although most if the mainline trains are running there are all sorts of other activity taking place often without real coordination. The latest idea put out by the largest trades union today is a strike affecting rubbish collection and disposal.

  36. PKMKII

    That FP article was nauseating. It’s insulting both to portray foreign diplomats as being incapable of grasping the politics in play with burger and sneaker boycotts, and even more insulting to insinuate that those boycotts are no different than one’s position on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Then his both-sidesism critique of the reactions to the Suleimani assassination and the Yemen conflict smugly derides people for not helping “understand the origins of the conflict,” while his “helping” consists of nothing but pointing out that the Houthis and Iranians don’t like America. No consideration of the history of American actions in the middle east that led to such attitudes, nor the difference between America the government and America the people. Plus, as was pointed out on Chapo Trap House, once you open with “he attacked Americans,” any sort of nuance about risk of action goes out the window because one side looks like hand-wringing about diplomatic procedures while the next plot against Americans gets carried out, while the other looks strong for taking out the threat now, namby-pamby paperwork later.

  37. Oregoncharles

    “Noam Chomsky Torches Democrats’ Narrow Trump Impeachment: ‘A Tragedy’ That ‘May Send Him Back to Office’”
    And yet Chomsky calls for “lesser of two evils” voting. (Why is a self-described anarchist issuing advice on voting?) He’s getting old and soft, emphasis soft. (And I’m old enough myself to call that a factor.)

    Interestingly, the article calls him a “libertarian socialist,” rather than anarchist; the former term is actually more precise, as he sometimes acknowledges that government can’t really be eliminated. His choice of term reflects traditional associations: “libertarian” with the right, “anarchist” with the left, even though the two are technically only a degree apart. His values are left-wing (for lack of a better term), so he prefers “anarchist.”

    And speaking of age: Chomsky’s been around long enough to have seen the results of lesser-evil voting for himself – and he’s certainly well informed. The experiment has been done and the results are in: it gets you more evil, just as you would expect. Over the last 40 years or more that people have been yielding to political extortion, our politics have moved ONLY to the right, driven by the very Democratic party he calls less evil.

    On a personal level, I’m not comfortable questioning Chomsky’s logic, because I’m well aware of his brilliance. But on this point, his nerve fails. As do a lot of people’s.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Professor Chomsky always did expect a lot of credit for calling himself a “syndico-anarchalist” or some such clever thing.

      1. ewmayer

        ITYM anarcho-syndicalist – as sent up in the “help, help! I’m being repressed!” scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

        Re. LO2E voting, as Obama showed, that tends to get you better-spoken, smoother-talking evil. Which is arguably the more dangerous kind because it attracts less scrutiny – and often quite the opposite, in form of fawning MSM coverage – making it more effective at “getting things done”, as the Obamas, Clintons and Bidens of the world might say.

        1. Oh

          In the case of Obama, he happened to be at the right place at the right time. Bush had completed his second term and McCain was so bad that Obama had a cake walk.

          I do agree with your take on LOTE; and I happen to disagree with Chomsky, whom I admire.

          1. Carey

            >In the case of Obama, he happened to be at the right place at the right time.

            I think there are explanations that better fit the facts- having to do, maybe, with a fresh new face being needed to paper over same-old,
            same-old policies. Mr. Obama was well-vetted, groomed, and very ready for duty.

    2. Dirk77

      I disagree with Chomsky. On foreign policy, Trump appears less harmful so far than either Bush or Obama. He’s talked a lot, but he hasn’t invaded anywhere new that I’ve seen. As things are going it may not last but it might. And the whole Trump Ukraine episode seems more reasonable in light of Hunter Biden’s prior payoff at the MBNA. I mean, given that, why not ask for a restart of the Ukrainian investigation of Burisma, especially as Hunter’s dad was the one to kill it in the first place? I’m unclear about the border stuff, especially as immigration has always been a scam.

  38. Off The Street

    Fighting against monopoly power and economic concentration is a topic of importance in the lives of most Americans. Here is today’s addition to the subject from TAC.

  39. Oregoncharles

    From “Shaky Joe Biden, Billionaire Bloomberg, and the Global Race to the Bottom”:
    “The best outcome in 2020 would be a break-up of the Democratic Party, creating space for a genuine political debate in the belly of the imperial beast. It now appears that such a rupture is at least as likely to come from the Right, from Bloomberg-organized billionaires, as from the Left, through a mass defection by Sanders supporters infuriated by yet another round of the Party’s dirty tricks.”

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