Links 1/9/2020

2 men accused of gluing winning numbers onto lotto ticket AP

Money from Fired CalPERS Equity Managers May End Up in Direct Lending Chief Investment Officer (KW).

How the oil industry has spent billions to control the climate change conversation Guardian

Australia, where lies and conspiracy theories spread like bushfire Guardian

In 2030, we ended the climate emergency. Here’s how The Correspondent

Brexit

Salami tactics loom for Brexit trade talks Politico

Boris Johnson tees up fight over fishing in talks with EU leaders FT

Paris braced for fourth mass protest over pensions FT

France’s Strikes Show the Unions Are Alive Jacobin

Venezuela’s Maduro seeks oil contract changes with congressional shakeup: lawmakers Reuters

Twitter Suspends Several Accounts Used by Maduro’s Government Bloomberg

Venezuela: Guaido Installs Parallel Parliament After Washington Threatens More Sanctions Venezuelanalysis

Ecuador Ends 2019 with Billions of Dollars Less in International Reserves than IMF Had Predicted, Due to IMF-Endorsed Austerity Measures CEPR

Debt ‘crisis’ in poor countries driving public spending cuts FT

Syraqistan

United States and Iran back away from imminent conflict as Trump says he is ready for peace ‘with all who seek it’ WaPo

At UN, US and Iran invoke ‘self-defense’ for military confrontation Deutsche Welle

Trump asks for NATO help in Middle East Politico. Let me know how that works out.

Little Clarity, Many Theories in Ukraine Airline Crash in Iran NYT

There Is Nothing Left for Americans to Do in Iraq Foreign Policy

The Iranian missile strike: an initial evaluation The Saker (KW).

Russia, the Eurasian Triangle, and the Soleiman Assassination Gordon Hahn

Will This Billionaire-Funded Think Tank Get Its War With Iran? The Nation

Nancy Pelosi said ‘I’ll call him back’ when Mike Pence called to tell her about Iranian missile attacks in revenge for Qassem Soleimani’s death – then she went to a restaurant opening after speaking to him Daily Mail

U.S. contractor killed in Iraq, which led to strike on Iranian general, buried in Sacramento Sacramento Bee

A timeline of the escalation in the Middle East WaPo

* * *

This Is Religious Zionism’s Privatization Generation Haaretz (JT McPhee).

Court lifts ban on Arizona’s controversial anti-BDS law Mondoweiss

Nation’s defense contractors promise no attack against US will go unprofitable Duffel Blog (KW).

Markets Have No Use for Your World War III Memes John Authers, Bloomberg

After Homes Collapse in Earthquake, Puerto Ricans Ask: Are We Safe? NYT. Lol, no.

China?

The Future Of America’s Contest With China The New Yorker

I guess they’d be taking the Negative? Thread:

How swine fever is reshaping the global meat trade FT

Cambodia’s garment workers fret over deadly daily commutes The Star

Building an inclusive city in Myanmar, one trash alley at a time Reuters

Trump Transition

Trump’s Thin Crisis Team Is Scary, Too Bloomberg

Have Americans Usually Supported Their Wars? History News Network

Trump Ratings Remain Low Around Globe, While Views of U.S. Stay Mostly Favorable Pew Research. For example (dk):

2020

Campaign Diary: Notes from the Most Unpredictable Primary Race Ever Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

Can Voters Detect Malicious Manipulation of Ballot Marking Devices? (PDF) Matthew Bernhard, Allison McDonald, Henry Meng, Jensen Hwa, Nakul Bajaj, Kevin Chang, J. Alex Halderman, University of Michigan. No. (See also WaPo, The Cybersecurity 202: Voting machines touted as secure option are actually vulnerable to hacking, study finds.) In light of that result:

Impeachment

Pelosi loses Senate Democrats on Trump impeachment delay BBC. Still waiting for signs of Pelosi’s strategic genius.

McConnell’s win on impeachment trial procedure was months in the making Politico

Our Famously Free Press

The media should spotlight a different kind of war expert: Those who voted ‘no’ on Iraq WaPo. Lol, no.

U.S. Media Outlets Fail to Disclose U.S. Government Ties of ‘Iranian Journalist’ Echoing Trump Talking Points Responsible Statecraft. They never do.

How Political Fact-Checkers Distort the Truth The New Republic

Class Warfare

What does class mean in 21st century Britain? Open Democracy

The Big Plan Blind Gossip

Antidote du Jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

I dunno about surreal and scary. Looks festive to me!

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.

143 comments

  1. The Rev Kev

    “There Is Nothing Left for Americans to Do in Iraq”

    It’s all Trump’s fault because he would not listen. In his last tweet, Qassem ‘Obi-Wan’ Soleimani said: “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” but would Trump listen?

    Reply
              1. wilroncanada

                Hey! That’s the sub-title of a now cancelled CBC television and radio program. Don’t slander good old Canadian farce without intercourse with us mukluk-wearers first,lol.

                Reply
  2. Winston Smith

    “In 2030, we ended the climate emergency”. Over the last couple of yrs, I have been watching a Norwegian series called “Occupied”. The main premise driving the series is that the Russians forcibly take over Norwegian fossil fuel production after Norway declares a climate emergency. Flawed perhaps but interesting in that it is the central premise. The last 30 seconds of the 3rd season is essentially a call to revolt worldwide by the ex prime minister of Norway to fight fossil fuel production.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      I haven’t seen that series yet but what I found interesting, from what I read about it, was that that occupation was a bi-partisan affair. The Russians were acting as the muscle men for the European Union who demanded that Norway not continue cutting fossil fuel production as it had created an energy crisis on the continent. It was submit to the EU or be occupied. It made no sense of course as without Norwegian production, Russia would be getting a higher price for it’s fossil fuel production.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Not so unbelievable when you realize that Russia needs all the energy resources it has to ‘energize’ the “Red Mars” colonization project. Guess just who’s ‘Musk Ox’ will be gored.

        Reply
        1. Synoia

          Russians take over Norway….

          Oh no, the end of roll mop herrings! Civilization is falling!!

          PS: The Herrings are already mostly extinct.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Good point. I seldom see anything now about ocean fisheries collapse, yet I “know” that something is going on. The ‘sudden’ silence seems to be a ‘tell’ concerning any societal sustainability problem.
            The Cynic Metal Head in me imagines some Fukushima mutational process working in the vasty deeps. When Leviathan rises…. (Subconscious Western Monotheism Chiliasm conditioning response perhaps?)

            Reply
      2. Winston Smith

        I would suggest you give the series a try. The occupation is not bi-partisan. The US has withdrawn from Europe completely and Norway has no allies to support against the EU and Russia. It has little choice. There are collaborators, a resistance and well-meaning people seeking to avoid war. There are subtleties although the premise is definitely flawed. The point is that it puts climate change at the center of things politically and militarily. In that sense it is very realistic

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          suggest you give the series a try

          Fair enough. I’ve never seen it–still trying to catch up with latest season of The Crown.

          Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Probably should have complained about films like ‘The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!’ and ‘Red Dawn’ as well.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            There is very subtle Russia blaming going on and it slips into so many movies and shows. Just off the top of my head, the catastrophic collisions seen in the movie “Gravity” were set off by a Russian missile strike on a defunct satellite. I guess that if you want to finance your film, if you blame Russia for something you might find that your financing gets a bit easier.

            Reply
            1. RMO

              I wouldn’t call it all that subtle myself – terrifying maybe. Remember in 1984 there was a sequel to 2001 where the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. cooperate to fly to Jupiter to investigate the Discovery and in the background plot there is so much tension building between the two nations that it’s obvious that a global nuclear war is a probability? Made during the height of the Regan era of the Cold War but at least the film showed the astronauts working together as best they could despite the genocidal insanity of the politicians. Now we have Russian and US (and other nations too) astronauts space agencies cooperating for real but almost every fictional work that involves Russians being almost literal demons. Many of the cold war era films I remember portrayed the people of the U.S.S.R. favorably – regular people who really just want what almost every one of us wants, dignity, peace and being able to live a non-hellish life. Nowadays about the only way they could be portrayed as worse would be if they were to written and presented in the manner the Japanese were in WWII.

              Reply
            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              And in a not-so-subtle pivot to Asia, Bullock escapes to a Chinese space station. There’s a great moment when she discovers she can’t read the manual for the escape capsule.

              Reply
    2. Carolinian

      Russians forcibly take over Norwegian fossil fuel production

      So climate emergency bad, WW3 emergency good? Nuclear winter will also be bad for the climate. Someone should tell Netflix. Cold war memes need to stop.

      Reply
    3. Tomonthebeach

      The Holthaus climate change story is clearly a once-upon-at-time fantasy. Assuming that the fossil fuel industry will become outlaws and even see execs imprisoned is like thinking transcendental mediation will bring world peace. Let us recall that BP and Standard Oil conspired after WW-I with the emerging auto industry to control all the Middle East’s petroleum assets resulting in the UK and the US creating borders that ensured religious conflict within each state in order to distract their governments from noticing that we were extracting their natural resources. When Iran refused to cooperate, the CIA just overthrew the government, installed a Guido-like puppet, and kept on pumping. After Khomeini overthrough the US puppet regime to take back their own oil, Carter was replaced by a very oil-friendly president, and eventually, we got 9/11 and Foreverwar. All that history was violent and unthinkable, but Big Oil and Detroit triumphed.

      Given our history, I expect that we will wind up doing something radical, global, and currently unthinkable once millions start drowning, dying from thirst, and/or unbreathable air. Even if the EU and the US went totally electric, wind, and solar; the rest of the world will still be hip-deep in its own sludge and smoke and that will drift onto our continent just like weather does.

      Planting trees takes too long. Global abandonment of fossil fuel is fantastic and highly unlikely. We just need to cool off. We know that volcanoes and nukes can disrupt the atmosphere and reflect heat, thereby cooling the planet. Although radical sounding today, creating an atmospheric cloud by one means or another (e.g., an airborne seeding of some sort) will likely seem acceptable once people start dying off in the millions.

      Reply
      1. mle detroit

        “Transcendental mediation” (TM), a new practice area for intellectual property lawyers.
        Thanks for this great addition to my collection of amusements from the Wonderful World of Autocorrect. :)

        Reply
  3. GramSci

    In 2024 “We will begin to feel comfortable around each other in public again because we love each other and we always have.”

    In the US, this will be a major consequence of M4A.

    Reply
    1. The Historian

      First of all, you need to explain what M4A means. I’ve seen a lot of M4A plans and they all mean different things – from universal healthcare to ACA Version 2. And I am on Medicare and I don’t think it is all that great. I still need a private plan to supplement.

      Why have people dropped using the term universal healthcare because I think that is what people really want?

      Second of all, that is one great big fantasy that “In 2024 “We will begin to feel comfortable around each other in public again because we love each other and we always have.” That has never been true in this country – we as a nation have a culture that is far too competitive for that – more like Ancient Greece than Ancient Rome. But, perhaps your M4A plan will distribute pot to everyone?

      Reply
      1. jefemt

        +1. Medicare is a cluster, byzantine beyond need.

        Universal care is the desire.

        I caught a little blurb on PBS newshour last night on tailored medicine for the individual and her particular malady. And I could only think, ‘Who gets to access THAT?” I am one of 70 million self-insured, deferred-maintenance slow-trainwrecks-in-the making.

        I personally doubt single payor universal care will see boutique, individualized treatments for each and every citizen. But, if in the Race to the Bottom and Becoming The Other has taught me one single thing— longevity in the 21st Century is a questionable goal, outcome, or desire.

        So much unrealized potential!

        Pipedream or not, I LIKED the article on how we got to Zero carbon by 2030.

        Mister Happy

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          Medicare has copays – $100 for an emergency room visit, for instance. That’s a very cheap emergency room, but still enough to keep some people from going.

          And the “co-insurance” on surgery can run $1500 – ditto, in spades.

          So the “Improved” part is important in “Improved M4All.”

          Reply
      2. marym

        Not sure about the pot, but here are links to summaries of the House (Jayapal) and Senate (Sanders) bills.
        PNHP: https://pnhp.org/system/assets/uploads/2019/02/HouseBillOnePager_2019.pdf (pdf)

        PNHP: https://pnhp.org/what-is-single-payer/senate-bill/

        Sanders campaign website: https://berniesanders.com/issues/medicare-for-all/

        Key Points
        Create a Medicare for All, single-payer, national health insurance program to provide everyone in America with comprehensive health care coverage, free at the point of service.

        No networks, no premiums, no deductibles, no copays, no surprise bills.

        Medicare coverage will be expanded and improved to include: include dental, hearing, vision, and home- and community-based long-term care, in-patient and out-patient services, mental health and substance abuse treatment, reproductive and maternity care, prescription drugs, and more.

        Stop the pharmaceutical industry from ripping off the American people by making sure that no one in America pays over $200 a year for the medicine they need by capping what Americans pay for prescription drugs under Medicare for All.

        Links to the bills:
        https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1384/text
        https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/1129/text

        In the original bill, HR 676, the program was called “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All” retaining the name of a popular and universal (for +65) program while indicating the expansion of services and beneficiaries. Features of current proposals from other candidates like “Medicare for all who want it” are closer to current Medicare as you describe it, as an option, preserving private insurance as a component, etc.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Features of current proposals from other candidates like “Medicare for all who want it” are closer to current Medicare as you describe it, as an option, preserving private insurance as a component, etc.

          Enabling the private health insurance companies to cherrypick the healthy for profit, and moving the sick into the government pool. So adverse selection rears its ugly head again. “Everybody in, nobody out” is the way to stop that, and it also guts all the bureaucracy.

          What’s so ugly about Buttigieg’s “Medicare for All Who Want It,” as well as Warren’s two-bill, calendar-driven bait and switch to the public option, is that it will take another decade to figure out that it, too, has failed (just as it took us a decade with ObamaCare). So, 35,000 * 10 = 350,000 deaths, which is a lot of deaths just to make sure the health insurance “industry” can keep extracting rents.

          Reply
      3. Katniss Everdeen

        You’re right, of course, about M4A and Medicare in general. Just giving everyone “Medicare” as it’s currently set up is not going to get to “universal” any time soon. It’s really going to need to function more like Medicaid or maybe the VA, although obviously no one can say that.

        I suspect most people who are not on Medicare are unaware of how big a part private insurance, with all of its financial warts, plays in the program. As currently constructed, Medicare is compatible with the for profit “healthcare” industry only slightly less predatory than purely private insurance.

        Reply
      4. Xihuitl

        “I am on Medicare and I don’t think it is all that great. I still need a private plan to supplement.”

        From Bernie Sanders’ plan:

        “Medicare coverage will be expanded and improved to include: include dental, hearing, vision, and home- and community-based long-term care, in-patient and out-patient services, mental health and substance abuse treatment, reproductive and maternity care, prescription drugs, and more.”

        Reply
      5. lordkoos

        Part of medicare expansion as I understand it (as promoted by Sanders), will get rid of the need for supplemental private plans.

        Reply
      6. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Why have people dropped using the term universal healthcare…

        Because “universal health care” is a classic example of liberal Democrat brand confusion, whose agenda is fending off the extermination of the wholly parasitic health insurance “industry.” No self-respecting activist would use it, and the competent bad faith pundits know it failed to “take.”

        > because I think that is what people really want?

        People don’t want co-pays, deductibles, denial of care, or hours of fighting with health insurance companies while sick ffs. Keeping all that is what “universal health care” is good for.

        > I’ve seen a lot of M4A plans and they all mean different things – from universal healthcare to ACA Version 2

        That’s because liberal Democrats successfully poisoned the well. There are two “Medicare For ALl” plans; Sanders, and Jayapal. Accept no substitutes.

        Reply
      7. Procopius

        I think M4A has become a code for “universal healthcare.” As you point out, it’s been used to name many mutually exclusive plans, some of which are never going to go anywhere (Buttigieg’s plan, for example). At this point there has been little real discussion, because the Republicans are not going to allow it anyway. Heck, 13 Republican controlled states still refuse to take free money to expand their Medicaid. So pointing out the problem is still good, but in general “M4A” has no well-defined meaning. Yet.

        Reply
        1. paintedjaguar

          No, M4A DOES have a well defined meaning, even though it’s an unfortunate slogan because already existing Medicare was successfully crippled and poison-pilled. However the definition has been quite deliberately appropriated and distorted by corporate democrats just as they did with “universal healthcare”. They have no compunction at all about telling outright lies. Both Hillary’s Clintoncare in the 90’s and Obamacare were sold as “universal” but of course neither was ever any such thing. The rationale is like Yang’s “in the spirit of M4A” or Warren’s “working toward M4A” – all homilies and theoretical aspiration, with no actual intention of providing a concrete benefit. Even Tulsi has been guilty of this with her “Single Payer Plus”, which is by definition literally not single payer. But just try and get a rabid Warren, Yang, or Tulsi follower to admit that they are spreading disinformation – it’s enough to make you throw up your hands.

          Reply
  4. shtove

    The glow-in-the-dark reindeer link also shows a story about the fake news of the new Finnish PM’s policy for 4 day week/6 hour day. Ironic conclusion:

    “It is useful to have a communications team that know how to spot stories that might be surfacing – this is going to be the quickest way to put out a correction as quickly as possible” he advises.

    It’s sound advice, and may have been hindered in Finland by Monday’s public holiday with civil servants and politicians trying to enjoy a day off.

    https://newsnowfinland.fi/politics/how-finlands-fake-four-day-week-became-a-fact-in-europes-media

    Reply
  5. PlutoniumKun

    Campaign Diary: Notes from the Most Unpredictable Primary Race Ever Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

    I do like a bit of Taibbi in the morning – on Warren’s electoral travails:

    Incrementalism is a near-fatal epithet in the Trump era. Once this word appeared, Warren had to act before something terrible happened, like a laudatory column from David Brooks.

    .

    Reply
  6. The Rev Kev

    “Ecuador Ends 2019 with Billions of Dollars Less in International Reserves than IMF Had Predicted, Due to IMF-Endorsed Austerity Measures”

    So I guess that that plan to evict Julian Assange from its London Embassy for a bag full of cash did not work out as well as they thought that it would? So much for gratitude.

    Reply
    1. Mel

      It was a tiny bag of cash.

      See also Tom Perkins’ The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. Many economic projections are, in fact, sales pitches for policies or projects that were never meant to actually work.

      Reply
    2. John A

      Well if you believe the media, Ecuador would have had to spend billions cleaning up all the shit smeared around the embassy walls by their ungrateful lodger.

      Reply
  7. The Rev Kev

    “Campaign Diary: Notes from the Most Unpredictable Primary Race Ever”

    I really do think that what will make the election far more unpredictable is the deliberate interference and manipulations of the media. There have been stories galore of how Sanders has been deep-sixed by media reporting along with Gabbard and Yang but I saw something the other day that beggared belief.

    CNBC had an image of all the candidates on their Squawk Box program but when you looked, you saw that Andrew Yang’s image was of some random Asian dude (because CNBC thinks all Asians look alike?) and Tulsi Gabbard’s image had been replaced by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in a literal case of white-washing.

    https://www.rt.com/usa/477599-gabbard-yang-photo-swap-racist/

    If the media keeps this up during this year’s elections there is bound to be some sort of push-back and revolt but what form that takes I have no idea.

    Reply
    1. Whoamolly

      Great article but Taibbi doesn’t mention one of the most powerful media players— Google search.

      The algorithm is biased for (who?)

      Reply
    2. Acacia

      Isn’t the push back already happening? Alternate media.

      When people begin to smell propaganda, when they get tired of being treated like lab rats, they look elsewhere. The entire younger generation has already moved to the Internet and no longer watches TV for news.

      Reply
      1. jrs

        But where do they get their news? Serious question.

        Because the way I see it a lot of good alternative media is being kept alive almost by the kindness of strangers. It’s how Pacifica radio is kept around. How sites like this one and Counterpunch are kept alive. And we might lose Truthdig to a buy-out and it’s being run by really old people anyway, so how long can any of that last. And what happens to the kindness of strangers in the next recession when there is no dig deep in their wallets to be had? Good public music radio relies on the same thing but that’s kind of off-topic. Twitter has smart people on it, and points out some things but it’s a mob, truly, it’s not how one would want the world run at all, by Twitter mobs, thanks but no thanks …

        Reply
  8. makedonamend

    After three years of President Trump’s multifaceted foreign policy I don’t think world leaders are any longer underestimating him or his government – if they ever did.

    I would argue that President Trump has certain core ideas/beliefs that guide his decision making irrespective of personal flaws, and that his ideas coincide with the USA’s overall foreign policy objective(s), methods and world power status as the only remaining super-power.

    Granted President Trump doesn’t exhibit credentials of academic application, nor a certain refinement expected by the norms of international ‘behaviour’. (Many would argue on the last point is actually a plus in his domestic politics.) However, imo, he does exhibit a couple of core belief/behaviours that guide his actions, and these beliefs/action might prove beneficial in the short to medium term. (The long term is very hard to gauge.)

    Crudely put: 1. he seems to believe that a business leader/CEO need only behave and act the same way when becoming a political leader. The two roles are nearly interchangeable. 2. He is truly patriotic and believes that the USA is unique via its historical achievements and by virtue of becoming the world’s sole remaining super-power. I would expect any USA President to exhibit the latter, but I think the former point might be more problematical in the long run for the USA. Just not sure how, or how that dynamic unravels through time.

    In light of this opinion, I think that President Trump did indeed see the Iranian deal as flawed in as much as it seemed that Iran and Europe benefited economically, and furthermore Iran didn’t have to acknowledge its power relation to the USA nor acknowledge and specifically open up its markets to the USA. (The USA doesn’t need nor want to directly extract resources and value from any given country. The USA and other countries have corporations that can do it far more efficiently and with far less political blow-back.) The Soleimani episode seems to have a been a real risky ‘adventure’ when viewed on the risk/reward spectrum but, if there is no immediate war, then it might be seen as a real positive in real politik terms. (Not that I condone assassination personally.) To deprive a country of a military asset like Someimani (if reports of his prowess are to be believed) is significant.

    From where I sit in the EU, I can’t help but thinking that between sanctions, control of the international financial clearing mechanisms, ripping up agreements, and by being belligerent but staying out of harm’s way that President Trump is handing the EU (if only tangentially) and many individual countries a real whooping.

    This does not mean that the current contretemps with Iran are finished, nor that events might still not spiral out of control. History often serves up periods of seeming quiet before all hell breaks loose.

    Reply
    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Hard to say whether Trump is inside the tent pissing out, or outside pissing in….

      From Bloomberg (whose patriarch will run his Giant Information Machine on an open plan basis. A kinder, gentler Blob?)

      The executive branch and the White House are, among other things, a giant information machine, able to supply a skilled president with expertise on any subject imaginable — not just a single answer, but multiple sources giving expertise from multiple perspectives, all double-checked by White House staffers who are free from the bureaucratic biases that executive branch departments and agencies breed.*

      Except when the administration is badly understaffed, as this one has been from Day One…. we have no Director of National Intelligence, no Dep Dir, no Homeland Security Scretary, no Dep Sec, no head of CBP or ICE, no State Dept Under Sec of Arms Control, no Asst Sec for Europe, and no Navy Sec.

      Sad!©

      * “You’re living in a world of make believe, with flowers and bells and leprechauns and magic frogs with funny little hats.

      Reply
    2. makedonamend

      Thanks for the responses. Particularly enjoyed the Homer reference.

      – Yeah, I did discuss and acknowledge with another commentator on another post that the Trump Adminstration might have cut layers out of the decision making process. Sort of: top managers naturally make tough decisions without all the faff kind of minset. It does seem that the Trump adminstration relies on a limited coterie of advisors, but I still would expect that the most pertinent information reaches Trump. (Might be a bad assumption on my part.) I suppose it might related to point #1 above.

      – I don’t think President Trump will be hiring me anytime soon. My credentials are not up to snuff by a long shot, and my political views are radically different from President Trumps. However, one can still make a non-normative analysis of his actions and motivations. Doing so doesn’t necessarily imply condoning such actions. I don’t.

      Reply
      1. JP

        The man gets his information from talking heads on partizan TV. He traffics in conspiracy theories and is in an open war with half the population he is supposed to represent. I was recently out of country and was surprised to hear what a straight shooter our president is. I could only respond that up close he appeared to be a serial liar. He is just another huckster working without a full deck. Pertinent information doesn’t matter if he prefers misinformation to further his personal agenda.

        Reply
        1. makedonamend

          Not a President Trump fan them? (Truth be told, neither am I. But this is the world we inhabit.)

          It’s interesting that some people also claim that President Trump has been ‘captured’ by the military-industrial complex in light of Soleimani assassination. Whatever the varied claims, President Trump still has a cabinet and that cabinet, whatever its composition or limitations, still functions and delivers intelligence reports and recommendations to President Trump. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to know what other sources of information he uses, including his own personal life experiences.

          On another note, President Trumps policies with regard to trade (which I consider an integral factor of foreign policy) has certainly shook up the order as it had developed – refusing to recognise the EU representative initially – trade war with China – renegotiating NAFTA – withdrawing from the Iranian deal which directly hurt European corporations from France, Germany, Switzerland, etc.

          He has the attention of world leaders at the very least. (actually that’s an understatement)

          I’m just trying to parse out his actions in a non-normative way in order to try and better understand how a very influential US president’s actions are affecting the geo-political arena.

          It’s also interesting to wonder how a President Sanders might deal with foreign policy – how would he formulate a broad policy approach? – what institutional resistance might he meet? – how might his priorities change if confronted with unexpected geo-political dynamics? Might it appear that a President Sanders (or someone like him) might initiate a policy that looked very Trumpian?

          On another nother note, it’s interesting that you found that non-US citizens didn’t necessarily have a negative view of President Trump. To be honest, I’ve had to alter some of my own preconceived notions. Hence, why I’m also using non-normative methods to understand the situation.

          Reply
          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            The Orange Man is everywhere and always misunderestimated and cast as an idiot or buffoon.
            I’m not so sure (but I am sure that agreeing with any portion of his world view and politics is fatal to one’s dinner party invite list).

            I happen to think his “crazypants” negotiating style is crazy like a fox. How better to rock back your negotiating opponent on his heels than to have them believe you are nuts and capable of anything.

            Trump also follows the basic rules of Negotiation 101: *you always start with your toughest possible position because you will only move one direction from there*.

            So when dealing with a country he starts by saying outlandish stuff like “Agree with me or I will use nuclear bombs to flatten your country”.

            The man got big building projects built in New Friggin York City. To do that he had to simultaneously arm wrestle: City Hall; Banks; Construction companies; Labor Unions; and the Mob. The man understands power and how to wield it.

            I happen to believe he is 100% correct on squaring up to China as a strategic adversary. Heaven forbid I would state that however in “polite company”.

            Reply
            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Trump also follows the basic rules of Negotiation 101: *you always start with your toughest possible position because you will only move one direction from there*.

              Reg Inchmale (Spook Country, William Gibson).

              “What did you say?”

              “No. Of course. The foot you always start with, right? No.”

              > I happen to believe he is 100% correct on squaring up to China as a strategic adversary.

              That’s what the Obama administration tried to do with TPP. Unfortunately, they decided to sell our national sovereignty to international corporations via the ISDS system to do it. That was too great a price.

              Reply
          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > It’s also interesting to wonder how a President Sanders might deal with foreign policy – how would he formulate a broad policy approach? – what institutional resistance might he meet?

            I think the institutional resistance to Sanders — not to count my chickens, or, more to the point, any ballots, or any trips in small planes Sanders might take — would be greater than that it was with Trump. If we’re lucky, Trump taking the Norms Fairy out behind the barn and whacking it might allow for new and more sane norms to be built. Honestly, did people listen to those national security loons in the impeachment hearings? The people who believe that the trebuchet-deploying Maidan edge lords we’re funding are like the Founding Fathers? It’s beyond bizarre.

            Reply
            1. Titus

              Lambert – ‘trebuchet-deploying Maidan edge lords‘, nice turn of phrase and yes I’ve listen to the ‘loons’ and you as well. Believe it or not ‘this mess’ we’re in has been happening since the founding of our country and keeps happening. Jefferson and Jackson for starters completely ignored normative thinking about the constitution and the exercise of presidential power. There were actual riots. In fact compared to those two, trump is a wimp. Lincoln had it right if ‘we’ the people don’t take control then it is lost. As we are.

              Reply
    3. Bugs Bunny

      When I was in Serbia recently, I heard some analysis like this as well. People I know there challenged me as to why I thought Trump was such a bad president, and I had to come up with some real answers.

      Bad judges, abandoning Paris climate agreement and basically everything to do with the environment, tax reductions for corps and the rich, handling of the Puerto Rico hurricane, horribly unqualified cabinet members who want to dismantle their agencies…

      I don’t think I mentioned anything to do with foreign policy but I was on the spot. I think his handling of Iran is guided by bad advisors from the rump of the neocons and Adelson, maybe Bibi gets to him. And FOX. The rest of his foreign policy seems OK. I can overlook bellicosity when there’s no war as a result. I can’t believe I’m saying that.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Bad judges, abandoning Paris climate agreement and basically everything to do with the environment, tax reductions for corps and the rich, handling of the Puerto Rico hurricane, horribly unqualified cabinet members who want to dismantle their agencies…

        Yep. He’s a more effective Republican than Romney would have been, for sure, but none of this is out of band for them, and much of it (NDAA, Space Force) enabled by the same Democrats who call him a Hitler.

        Reply
    4. Anonymous 2

      To offer a different point of view.

      On the basis that any country is only as strong as its alliances, I would argue that Trump’s policies so far have been very damaging to US interests. Granted NATO still exists, but I reckon the other members will doubtless be thinking quietly ‘how do we reduce our dependency on the US?’ That can only weaken the US in the long run.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The faster option (faster than in the long run) is to wait for a new president in about a little over 11 months. At the most (and this is not a prediction nor an endorsement) 4 more years.

        It’s not like Russia or other countries where the leaders are around for a long time.

        Reply
      2. makedonamend

        “On the basis that any country is only as strong as its alliances…”

        Yeah, that’s a different angle on the issue and interesting approach in its own right. It’s one that I tend to gravitate towards as a default. But that’s probably because I come from a country that relies on alliances.

        As I see it, the US policy for some time now is to dilute organisations that it feels are hindering its power, such as the UN or the WTO, and dominate organisation which it feels project its power, like NATO. As a superpower, I can understand why the US wants to operate without restrictions (leaving aside ethical considerations). I also can’t help equating the economic neo-liberal idea of destroying regulation and oversight because they hinder business in its pursuit of capital accumulation with the destruction of any international regulation of power that might hinder the pursuit of national preeminence.

        Reply
      3. Oregoncharles

        However, that is an excellent policy. But then, I do not believe the Empire benefits ordinary citizens at all. On the contrary.

        His assault on globalization has been very uneven and I think not very effective – but I do appreciate the thought.

        Reply
    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’ve seen a lot of M4A plans and they all mean different things – from universal healthcare to ACA Version 2

      I don’t love Trump but on foreign policy:

      ‘1) Trump > Bush (no Iraq/Afghanistan on Trump’s Watch)

      2) Trump ≥ Obama (drones are a wash, rebooting the slave markets in Libya outweighs Iran sanctions + pivot to CIA coups in Latin America, and nobody knows what to do about China or North Korea)

      I really try to keep my balance and focus only on outcomes, and not the verbiage, because our information space is so horrible polluted. Perhaps that means I won’t see a real wolf if and when it comes, but….

      Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      2 men accused of gluing winning numbers onto lotto ticket AP
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      A couple of dullard Mississippians have earned a stay @ the all-bar hotel, and no, they won’t leave the lights on for them.

      Reply
  9. Bill Carson

    When is somebody in the media going to investigate Trump’s increasingly bizarre affect?

    Jeff Greenfield on Twitter: Did any broadcast network note that the president’s speech this morning seemed… off? I know NBC didn’t. Seemed pretty obvious, no?”

    Reply
    1. Bob

      Why is it that people with no experience in evaluating people or emotion states continue to raise questions about Trump’s mental health? Looking for anything to be negative.

      Reply
      1. The Historian

        Oh, I don’t know. I mentioned here yesterday just after I watched his speech that he seemed very restrained. Some things are just obvious.

        Reply
      2. a different chris

        Because he’s the most powerful man in the world so we tend to be nervous about how he’s holding up? I don’t think that’s exactly ridiculous of us.

        Reply
    2. Michael Fiorillo

      I try to avoid looking at or listening to Trump, but in recent clips I’ve seen, he does look and sound unwell.

      Reply
    3. elissa3

      It seemed out of character because every word was carefully scripted. He was reading off of teleprompters and didn’t go off on one of his stream-of-consciousness riffs. Whether the script reflected his own thoughts or those of others is something that would be difficult to know.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        That sounds right (didn’t see it). If so, it’s reassuring: it indicates that he’s capable of grasping that he needed to be _very careful_. I wasn’t so sure about that.

        Reply
  10. The Rev Kev

    “Trump asks for NATO help in Middle East”

    That doesn’t sound right. Trump has been saying for years now that NATO is obsolete-

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-nato-past-comments/

    But I do not see what difference it would make as most of the countries in NATO already have troops there. Countries like the UK, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, etc. Only difference that I can see is that he finally realized that he stuffed up in murdering Soleimani and is now demanding other countries step up so as not to leave the US swinging alone in the wind. Remember what they say-

    “Teamwork is essential. It gives them other people to shoot at.”

    Reply
    1. larry

      It may not sound right, Rev, but he did say it. Along with slurring a few words during the latter portions of his speech.

      Reply
  11. nippersmom

    The media should spotlight a different kind of war expert: Those who voted ‘no’ on Iraq

    Surprised to see this in WaPo, of all places. I do note that it was published in the Style section, which is not where one would typically look for political news or opinion pieces.

    Reply
    1. mpalomar

      Haven’t read Wapo seriously in years, possibly decades but at one time the gadfly Nicholas Von Hoffman spouted his unconventional wisdom from the Style section I believe.

      Reply
  12. The Rev Kev

    “What does class mean in 21st century Britain?”

    If they are looking for a new working definition, I have one that I stole from an idea by John Michael Greer. On one side you have wage earners while on the other side you have salary earners plus their billionaire class allies. It is not perfect and there will be a lot of cries of how unfair it is to groups here and there but overall it is not a bad definition.

    Reply
    1. divadab

      Good in the USA but IMHO class in the UK is much more complex. Its attributes are generational and extend deep into the past – family history the key, expressed in attitudes and most noticible in the form of accent/dialect which is a direct indicator of class origins. It’s a deep and self-sustaining system.

      Reply
      1. Monty

        Give it a few years. In a couple of generations, it will be much worse here, if it isn’t already. It might not go back quite as far, but it strikes me there are numerous dynasties lording over us. Most often they are enjoying fortunes from ill gotten gainz e.g. The Kennedys and The Bronfmans etc. Luckily for the real upper crust in modern America, they don’t have to mix with the hoi polloi, even for a moment.

        Reply
    2. Calypso Facto

      Another option could be:

      – those who work for a wage
      – those who make unearned income
      – those who have actual wealth

      In the USA at least this more accurately describes the class relationships than straight hourly vs salary. Computer technical workers are salaried but have to work unpaid overtime (but they can move ‘upwards’ into unearned income or wealth via lucky stock options). Professional landlords with ‘income streams’ from their rents have more control over their aggregate income potential than a wage earner, because they can raise rents (or fees or license costs or whatever the income stream is coming from), and they can acquire enough holdings to move up the next rung to a person with wealth.

      You could probably add a fourth category, Unearned Wealth, for those who inherit or are otherwise bestowed with massive holdings.

      Reply
      1. jrs

        How about we separate workers into:
        – those who have a full time job
        – those doing contract and gig work (precariat)

        Because that’s a real divide. I’ve been on both sides, different worlds entirely.

        “Computer technical workers are salaried but have to work unpaid overtime (but they can move ‘upwards’ into unearned income or wealth via lucky stock options).”

        they can also just as quickly move downward in contract I.T. workers which is much of the I.T. workforce at this point (over 50% of the jobs it seems to me, the 3-6 month, year at most, contracts). And frankly if they do they have many reasons to envy full time workers with full time jobs, who at least have a reliable income (but those wage workers made GOOD choices in life, and did NOT study STEM).

        Reply
      2. Grebo

        Those who work for their income:
        – Employees
        – Professionals / self-employed

        Those who own or control things that workers need for their income:
        – Capitalists
        – Landlords
        – Bankers

        Reply
    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I have one that I stole from an idea by John Michael Greer. On one side you have wage earners while on the other side you have salary earners plus their billionaire class allies

      That would be Marx. Capital, and those who sell their labor power to capital. And around 10% who are kinda helping capital do that, but who have some relative autonomy…

      Reply
  13. tegnost

    Pelosi’s strategic genius was in giving balance billing a pass for her vc overlords, and passing USMCA and in doing so selling out a majority of the population of the US, while looking extremely concerned, even possibly disturbed (that she might be late for the fund raising dinner with all the donors she just showered g(r)ifts upon)

    Reply
    1. Carl

      I wish she’d just stand down. She’s everything I despise in a Democrat politician, and I used to be a Democrat (I think). Her sell-by date has long passed.

      Reply
  14. Ignacio

    RE: Little Clarity, Many Theories in Ukraine Airline Crash in Iran NYT

    And inside we have this gem:

    “In global aviation we would like to think that the technical experts will rule the day,” said Michael Huerta, a former administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. “But given that it’s Iran, we’ll have to wait and see.”

    Because it is Iran. For what I have read experts form various countries including the US rule out the possibility of a missile hitting the plane, which by itself was quite a conspiranoic theory if one thinks twice on the possibility and in. I would signal as a more realistic possibility a faulty maintenance done two days before the crash.

    Reply
    1. L

      At this point I would doubt any “expert” who would rule out anything. The fact is that any facts have to be based upon detailed forensic work not watching a few grainy youtube videos. At this point all that we do know with any certainty is that the plane went down and the people are dead. How that happened will likely take years to be determined, if it is determined at all.

      Reply
      1. Ignacio

        In 2014 an An-140 crashed shortly after taking off at Teheran’s airport. The investigation reported and endless list of failures involving electronic, software, maintenance, overloading and pilot misinterpretation of the manual. There can be plenty of causes but, you know, we now have plenty of theories because Iran.

        Reply
        1. L

          Exactly. Until an actual investigation takes place and data is at hand I assume everyone is taking what little we have which amounts to some grainy videos, the lack of a radio call, and an apparent attempt to turn around, and then fitting it to their chosen assumptions. At this point the potential narratives include the exotic arguments that Iran, or potentially the US, shot it down or mechanical error, or pilot error, or …

          I will reserve judgment until the initial hoopla is over and some more sober analysis is done. Unfortunately I suspect that in the end we may never get further than we did with MH 370 where the world settles into two theories with insufficient data to separate them.

          Reply
          1. wilroncanada

            The investigation is over. Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau has announced nation-wide that the plane was hit by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. Perhaps by accident, he added. So, now the rest of the world can rest easy. The security services of all the countries that count: The US, Israel, Canada, the Netherlands, and maybe even Ukraine, have completed their investigation and have pronounced. Let the increased sanctions, harrassments, and take their course.propagnda

            Reply
        2. Synoia

          and pilot misinterpretation of the manual…

          If the pilot had to read the manual at or just before take off, I’d not be surprised that the plane crashed.

          One hopes the pilot has many hours of simulator training and flying to be familiar with the manual.

          Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      I don’t think its beyond credibility that an accidental shoot-down could take place at a time of extreme high alert, especially in a country like Iran that relies on a hodge-podge of old US systems with domestic copies and Russian imports. Its known that Iran has a highly decentralised command structure as a means of promoting resilience in the face of attack, but this approach does have the risk of individual local commanders making a bad call with nobody to stop them. I did note that in one photo I saw of the crash scene part of the fuselage seemed to be punctured with numerous small similar sized holes, although of course there could be plenty of explanations for this.

      Time will tell.

      Reply
      1. Ignacio

        Beyond credibility isn’t, but quite unlikely is, at least compared with other possibilities. I would guess that any commander in the vicinity of Teheran’s airport must be quite aware that planes take off frequently there and wouldn’t easily shoot missiles against any flying object that appears close to the airport. I believe that we are being quite dismissive with iranians. Aren’t we? Or is it true they are just cranky clumsy guys?

        Reply
        1. Ignacio

          Now american sources say that two missiles were launched shortly before the plain crash. There is supposedly an infrared signature. If true, what a mistake.

          Reply
    3. Biologist

      The Guardian reports: “Tehran crash: plane downed by Iranian missile, western officials believe”

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/09/tehran-crash-plane-downed-by-iranian-missile-western-officials-believe

      “The Ukrainian passenger jet that crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran on Wednesday was accidentally shot down by an Iranian anti-aircraft missile, western security officials believe.
      UK sources told the Guardian that British officials had seen intelligence that suggested that the plane was hit by an Iranian air defence missile.”

      Lots of weasel words there, but here it gets more specific, though the officials of course remain anonymous:

      “Separately, officials told US media they had identified the signature from an Iranian anti-aircraft missile battery being activated shortly before the aircraft crashed into countryside south-west of the Iranian capital, killing all on 176 on board. The officials also said they had identified the infrared signature from two suspected missile launches followed shortly afterwards by the infra red blip from the burning and fatally disabled aircraft.”

      There are also photos supposedly showing a (large) fragment of the missile.
      Some if this story seems to have originated with a UK private security firm:

      “The London-based firm IHS Markit said in a memo it assessed that Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 was “likely to have been shot down mistakenly by a IRGC-operated SA-15 missile”. “

      EDIT: the BBC is reporting the same, apperently from US media sources:
      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-51055219
      https://www.cbsnews.com/live-updates/plane-crash-us-officials-confident-iran-shot-down-passenger-jet-bound-for-ukraine-today-2020-01-09-live-stream-updates/

      Reply
  15. Wukchumni

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Residents are not lovin’ a new idea launched by a Sacramento McDonald’s to deter the homeless from sleeping near the restaurant.

    The sounds of bagpipes play 24/7 from the speakers at the fast-food restaurant.

    Locals say the new method is not working, and have spoken with management in hopes they’ll pull the plug.

    “It actually penetrates through the walls. We can hear it. I’m trying to watch TV or whatever, and it’s going through that,” said Arnold Phillips.

    https://abc7.com/5827694/

    A 7-11 in Visalia was playing Mozart’s 16th Sonata from speakers outside the store, in order to ward off the homeless, while in a bit of cruelty, an ersatz ‘Scottish Restaurant’ went to the bagpipes, oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling.

    Reply
    1. BoyDownTheLane

      I would think a better idea might be to construct/create a small nearby gathering place that has locally temperate conditions, essential high-quality foods (soup, water, breads), and in various corners, a simple health clinic, a social services kiosk, etc., all in an atmosphere that played jazz. The sign could say “Why not frequent our establishment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCSQbxzJyoU on Green Dolphin Street?”

      Reply
      1. Bugs Bunny

        This – and a job placement center for federal infrastructure rebuilding occupations. Training starts today. Anyone who applies gets a job.

        Reply
        1. BoyDownTheLane

          Hear, hear. Or is it Here, here?

          The ability to have meaningful employment and income is everything to one’s self-value. See A Way of Working (D. M. Dooling, editor), Anchor Books, 1979. [I found this for 99 cents in a used book store. It is the best book I’ve ever read on quality, craftsmanship, and the spirit of doing a job well.]

          Reply
    2. ambrit

      The “ghetto” WalMart around here has two “portable” sound and flashing light systems set up in the parking lot. Some sort of WalMart brand of ‘Bro Country’ and ‘Dinosaur Rock’ is on the playlist. The sound level is shifted from soft during the day to louder at night. Curiously, some motor homes have begun to reappear, parked overnight in the far reaches of the same parking lot. Go figure.

      Reply
  16. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. Media Outlets Fail to Disclose U.S. Government Ties of ‘Iranian Journalist’ Echoing Trump Talking Points ”

    If you go to Wikipedia, you will see a very interesting history of her life. It says that she had a meeting with Pompeo about a year ago that lasted for 35 minutes which makes me wonder what was said. Something tells me though that she is like those Iraqis in the west back in 2003 that were quit happy to see their people bombed and killed just so that they could get important positions after the overthrow of the government there. Very much a hard-core critic of both Iran and the Muslim religion she is.

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

    Reply
    1. John A

      Exactly. One of the 2 main Swedish ‘quality’ dailies, conservative Svenska Dagbladet, has a big splash interview today with an Iranian born guy who came to Sweden aged 9 following the fall of the shah in 1979. He, of course, hates the current regime, Soleimani, etc etc. and talks about how evil Iran is. He says he shed no tears for his death and nor does he think most Iranians did either! Were the funeral scenes in Iran computer generated, one has to wonder?
      https://www.svd.se/iransk-affarsman-iran-har-gjort-en-enorm-skada

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        {allow me to change just a few words…}

        Exactly. One of the 2 main Florida ‘quality’ dailies, conservative South Florida Sun-Sentinel, has a big splash interview today with an Cuban born guy who came to Miami aged 9 following the fall of the Batista in 1959. He, of course, hates the current regime, etc etc. and talks about how evil Cuba is.

        Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its hard to see the logic of sanctions on Airbus when Boeing is struggling so much (not to mention the fact that Airbus has a huge manufacturing base in the US). Boeing isn’t in a position to benefit from restrictions, so US carriers would be the big losers. Anyway, there is something like a 5 year orderbook for A320’s, so it would take years for sanctions to have an impact. In this battle, Europe has far more leverage.

      Reply
  17. divadab

    Re: CALPERS Ben Meng investment shift to direct lending

    Well not to be pollyannish, but this might have a good side – if the funds are lent to small and medium domestic businesses that do not have access to the public markets. Thus is an area where the banks have forgotten what their business is in favor of real estate lending, which trained hamsters can understand and administer.

    HOwever, if by “direct lending”, Meng means buying in to packaged securitised real estate loans, well, what could go wring in our bubble environment?

    Reply
  18. L

    About the debate topic I would say this may be an instructive piece. In essence they may not have walked out because they were opposed, in fact the winning team was tasked with opposing it and they asked to have their names redacted as well. Instead they may have walked out because they were afraid of being seen to listen to it or of xiaofenhong, having some zealous classmate report them for failing to object.

    Self-censorship isn’t just for the NBA.

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      How nice. The Middle Kingdom’s version of the Red Scare AKA McCarthyism. If a mere debate topic is enough to apparently flee in fear that does not say anything good about a society’s health unless it is automatic Self-censorship and obedience to the authorities or a unthinking adherence to the Approved Orthodoxy. The United States, the Soviet Union, and Mao Zedong’s China all crippled themselves with this kind of folly.

      Too bad for the Han Chinese, as well the Tibetans, Uygurs, Taiwanese, Hong Kong, as well as all the other neighbors.

      Reply
    1. curlydan

      “I think the effect of having a net worth tax would take people that are starting companies and say, I’m not going to start them in America, but go somewhere else, because it’s such a negative impact,” Rubin adds.

      Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

      Reply
  19. PhilK

    Since 2015, I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of articles written by high-IQ, highly intelligent, highly intellectual people who proudly proclaim their inability to understand Trump’s public statements and behavior. In most of these articles, it’s been obvious to me that these highly intelligent people simply don’t understand teevee rasslin’. Here’s an article by someone who does:
    Operation Kayfabe: How Trump and Iran avoided war while both claiming victory

    Reply
    1. jrs

      And if it had lead to war or if it does in the future? But 2020 hindsight and all that. That couldn’t possible have happened, and if it did who could have possibly foresaw?

      But brinksmanship on war with Iran. Yea uh, are we having fun yet? When the whole escalation with Iran, ie even being at this point at all period, is believed to be unnecessary.

      Reply
    2. Synoia

      In addition, his actions on Iran probably attracted many Israel Supporters’ current presidential campaign contributions.

      Personal I believe attracting these contributions explains many of his past, current and future words and deeds.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Your comment presupposes that there is a gap between the policies and strategic objectives of Israel and those pursued by the U.S., I’m not sure this exists.

        It probably goes something like this:

        1. How can I get power? Oh, I need money and influence.

        2. Where can I get money? Oh, Wall St.

        3. Where can I get influence? Oh, Madison Avenue and Hollywood.

        4. What do the titans in Wall St, Madison Ave, and Hollywood seek in common? Israel first.

        5. Who else can I get to run cover for me? Let’s loop in the Saudis and the Christian Right, waiting for the Temple Mount, move the embassy to Jerusalem, and the rest of the Rapture craziness.

        6. Who else? Oh, Silicon Valley: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/mark-zuckerberg
        https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/sergey-brin

        And: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/sheldon-adelson

        When you go to the doctor the first thing he tries to do is diagnose the problem.

        Reply
        1. JBird4049

          Money. It changes everything.

          Less flippantly, as OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL it is usually just a network of people who want money, power, adulation, and even do somethings like help bring about the actual Armageddon.

          I would bet money that Bill and Hillary, Donald Trump, Jeff E., Gavin Newsom, Mike Pence, Bill de Blasio, Benjamin Netanyahu, Emmanuel Macron and probably Vladimir Putin are all connected. If they don’t directly know someone on this list, they will know someone who does. Favors, owed or debts created like with Epstein, “donations,” phone calls, meetings, maybe a even real friendship somehow.

          Reply
        2. Dan

          “Your comment presupposes that there is a gap between the policies and strategic objectives of Israel and those pursued by the U.S., I’m not sure this exists.

          So all the time, effort, and money the Israel Lobby spends is essentially a huge waste because they’re arguing for things that are going to happen anyway because it’s what the U.S. empire wants. I guess they’re just stupid people.

          The founding of Israel was not supported by the vast majority of the state department at the time. It was a matter of “domestic politics.” And that continues to this day, though Israel and its partisans have immersed themselves in government to such a degree that it seems that U.S. and Israeli “interests” are exactly the same. And that’s been the plan all along.

          https://ifamericansknew.org/

          https://councilforthenationalinterest.org/

          Reply
  20. Adam Eran

    The Ha’aretz article about how traditionally religious Jews support privatization looks like it touts privatization as some kind of excuse for inclusive diversity. “Concepts like competition, individual initiative, freedom of choice and self-definition and even equality are now bursting into the religious world. In a privatized world, every religious group defines the boundaries of religious law for itself, and these are diverse and changing. Under the self-definition of “religious” and “Orthodox,” there are now more varied behaviors and identities than ever before. ”

    …but I’d suggest the author hasn’t read Leviticus…which says the land belongs to God, not private parties. Try to get clear title then! Leviticus also has some surprisingly sophisticated agricultural advice (don’t plow the entire field, leave some diversity, also leave un-harvested crops for the gleaners).

    Anyway, it’s no news that the people saying they’re religious and just Bible-quoting know next to nothing about the book itself. Leviticus also forbid usury, and requires a debt jubilee every seven years… Where are the abortion opponents, and the anti-gay campaigning for that? One of the commandments forbids covetousness, too. Heck, the U.S. has a covetousness industry — advertising. Where are the evangelicals picketing Madison Avenue?

    Oy!

    Reply

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