Links 2/17/2020

Ever heard of a snake orgy? One is taking place in Lakeland Tampa Bay Times

The Ride-Hail Utopia That Got Stuck in Traffic WSJ. “Uber and Lyft said they would ease congestion. Instead they made it worse.” Thank you, venture capital.

Cleaning Up the Wreckage Left by Innovation Blooomberg

Central banks’ influence on economies is diminishing FT

Warmest January on Record Globally Weather Underground

Protesters in Kahnawake will remain in place until Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs are satisfied CTV News

RFS denies sacking volunteer firefighter Paul Parker, who swore at Scott Morrison Guardian (sscegt). Social stability is a priority of the regime.

Carbon sequestration in oceans powered by fragmentation of large organic particles


‘We’ll rip each other apart’ – French minister expects battle in Brexit talks RTE. “Mr Barnier firmly rejected a British suggestion that City of London companies could be given broad, permanent access to EU markets without conditions.” No doubt!

Brexit: roll up for the bloodbaths EU Referendum

Boris Johnson rejects EU’s post-Brexit trade deal after Brussels insists on retaining control over UK’s tax rules Daily Mail

The short reign of Citizen Smith RTE

Ireland’s political mess has roots in QE house price distortions FT

Germany’s Conservatives Face a Fight for Their Future Der Spiegel (Re Silc).


Update: ‘A bit chaotic.’ Christening of new coronavirus and its disease name create confusion Science

Coronavirus: China reports 105 more deaths, taking global toll to 1,775, as some cases throw 14-day incubation into doubt South China Morning Post

China Launches a Crush of Clinical Trials Aimed at Covid-19 Wired. All they need are test kits and protocols….

Here’s what coronavirus does to the body National Geographic

‘Wholly inappropriate’ quarantine practices may have helped spread coronavirus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, experts say Business Insider (KS).

Coronavirus shows why you must read travel insurance policy before you buy San Francisco Chronicle

Novel Coronavirus Infection in Hospitalized Infants Under 1 Year of Age in China JAMA

The Uses of Outrage Harvard Public Health


China’s Xi Jinping knew of coronavirus earlier than first thought FT

China postpones year’s biggest political gathering amid coronavirus outbreak South China Morning Post

Coronavirus: Joshua Wong’s Demosisto imports 100,000 face masks to give to underprivileged Hongkongers amid shortage Hong Kong Free PRress

Australia, South Korea, Brazil Are the Major Economies Most Exposed to China Trade Bloomberg

Lift China tourism ban ‘within weeks’ to save jobs Australian Financial Review

We have the technology:


Japan on brink of recession as economy contracts, virus heightens risk Reuters


Is the ‘Axis of Resistance’ in a better or worse position? The Martyr Qassem Soleimani achieves even more than the Major General did Elijah J. Magnier (CL).

The Show Trial of A and B. Kafka comes to The Hague Peter Hitchens, Daily Mail. On the OPCW.

New Cold War

US Embrace of Great Power Competition Also Means Contending With Spheres of Influence Russia Matters

Trump Transition

Democrats fear rule of law crumbling under Trump The Hill v. Bull Meets China Shop: Why The President Tweets Fail Another Causality Test By The Media Jonathan Turley (CL).

Border Patrol Will Deploy Elite Tactical Agents to Sanctuary Cities NYT. A slow-moving nullification crisis.


Borscht belt:


‘A complete disaster’: Fears grow over potential Nevada caucus malfunction Politico

Democrats Plan to Highlight Health Care and Jobs Over Investigating Trump NYT. Lol, 260 days until the election. Why not go for it, impeach Trump twice? Three times, if you count the RussiaGate damp squib.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Abolish CIA & FISA The American Mind

The daughter of former US diplomat John Negroponte is accused of stabbing a man to death CNN

Trump Supporters Are George W Bush Supporters LARPing As Ron Paul Supporters Caitlin Johnstone

Noam Chomsky: Trump Is Consolidating Far-Right Power Globally (interview) Noam Chomsky, Truthout

It is quite remarkable to see how effectively alternative reality is created. Iran is typical, but the successes are far broader. Consider the charge that “China is killing us,” stealing our jobs, joined by “Mexican robbers.” How is China killing us? Did China have a gun to the head of CEO Tim Cook of Apple, ordering him to end the last vestige of production of Apple computers in the U.S.? Or Boeing, or GM, or Microsoft, or any of the others who have shifted production to China? Or were the decisions made by bankers and investors in corporate boardrooms in New York and Chicago? And if the latter, is the solution to wave a fist at China or to change the mode of decision-making in the U.S. — by shifting it to the hands of stakeholders, workers and communities, or at least giving them a substantial role, as democratic theory would suggest? It seems a fairly obvious question. Oddly, it isn’t raised, while the official mantra persists unperturbed.

So Many More People Understand the Meaning of Neoliberalism Today, and That’s a Huge Thing Common Dreams

Class Warfare

Giving money to residents, no strings attached Politico. “Local leaders across the United States are turning to private donors to fund an out-of-the-box policy experiment they think could go mainstream: Giving cash to residents, no strings attached.” Noblesse oblige? Really?

How Britain Got Its NHS Current Affairs

3-D Printed Chocolate to Start Reaching Consumer Market Bloomberg

Keto diet works best in small doses, Yale researchers find Yale News (original).

Antidote du jour (via):

And a bonus (dk):


I’m not sure how good that mongoose’s acting is, though.

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. ObjectiveFunction

    Diamond Princess BBG link needs fixing.

    (Although I must say, Mike Bloomberg’s command of history is refreshing after 3 years of Donald Dunce tall tales about shooting Moro rebels with bullets dipped in pig fat)

    Aggripinila is Messalina all over again. Worse. She’s Messalina with brains! – I, Clavdivs

    1. Ignacio

      Hahaha! Billionaires saying any kind of stupid things. Entertaining.

      Regarding the Princess article: it says that quarantining infected with uninfected was a mistake that would make many become infected basically because mistakes. But think twice, do you wanted to release everyone that was negative on first and second analysis? No. Then you needed a massive new inland quarantine site for more than 3.000, was it available? wouldn’t mistakes there bore more severe risks of turning into a big big infection cluster inland? Though it is true that the risk for those 3.000 thousand kept on board for being infected is relatively high, who wants to extend the risk for the 100.000.000 inland?

      Aren’t we being too easy with critics?

      1. JTMcPhee

        Maybe cruise ships fleecing thousands of people “having fun” are a rotten, stupid, no good, very bad idea? Norovirus, fires, all the sh!t they dump in the sump we call the “ocean,” collisions, sinking with attendant Really Big Rescue Efforts, huge carbon footprints all over the place, all so a vary few special people can have “The Experience of a Lifetime” (maybe a shortened lifetime? And now we got Coronavirus, nature’s way of telling us we have screwed the pooch, big-time…

        “Oh, but I should be able to have MY very special experiences, because I can afford it!!”

        1. Monty

          Could it be a cunning eugenics conspiracy? The intellectually challenged self select to reduce their average lifespan.

        2. Craig H.

          My downstairs neighbors love going on cruise vacations. Having done some short tours working on ships (which seemed like they took 50 X as long in real time) there is almost nothing on planet earth which appeals to me less. You would have to pay me a lot to take a cruise. I haven’t ever told them that.

          Here is a terrific short national geographic video (3 minutes) of meerkats:

          They are immune to scorpio venom and love to eat them.

  2. Olga

    Mexico building a national banking system:
    “… the only way to properly fight the neo-liberal order is for nations of the west to follow the lead of Mexico’s current President Lopez Obrador who recently announced the creation of a new network of national banks- of which over 3238 branches will be in operation by 2021. Obrador’s stated aim is to have 13 000 branches built across Mexico which would far outnumber the total number of all private banks and will also provide a vital tool for the economic liberation of Mexico.”

    1. JohnnyGL

      Me: “That’s funny that Senator Amy Klobouchar doesn’t know who the president of Mexico is. Hmmm…what’s he been up to lately since he tried to clean up the state oil company?”


      Olga drops link….

      Me: “Oh, THAT’s why I don’t know what he’s been up to lately!!!”

      1. Chris

        Wow, exactly.

        What are the odds going forward that we’ll run into some disaster that says the US can only give relief to private banks in Mexico? Something something government corruption something we need a Mexican Guiado something something…

    2. D. Fuller

      There was an article here on NC awhile back that mentioned FDR and WWII and the treasonous behavior of American corporations in insisting that they fulfill contracts with Nazi Germany. In that article, FDR used a government “bank” to fund the creation of companies to supply America’s war effort.

      While not the same, it will be interesting to see if Mexico’s famous corruption results in another failed institution.

      1. notabanktoadie

        While not the same, it will be interesting to see if Mexico’s famous corruption results in another failed institution. D, Fuller

        No additional corruption is needed since the use of the public’s credit but for private gain is inherently corrupt.

        1. D. Fuller

          Not necessarily.

          The use of public credit to finance the creation of businesses in The US in WWII, is perfectly acceptable. There were tangible benefits to society.

          Such is not the case, today.

          The use of public credit – from R&D to business loans – were there is no return? That is a severe problem in The US.

          1. notabanktoadie

            We can have an ethical finance system AND low* interest rates so there’s really no excuse to continue with a banking model that’s an obsolete relic of the corrupt Gold Standard now that fiat is, at it should be, inexpensive.

            And an advantage of ethical finance is it should greatly reduce the need for redistribution since it precludes a great deal of unjust distribution in the first place.

            *via an equal citizen’s dividend and negative interest on large and non-individual-citizen accounts at the Central Bank

            1. skippy

              Ethical is a contractual issue that proceeds money creation, focus on the later steals oxygen from the former …

  3. Biologist

    Big Brother is Watching You:

    UK to promote Chinese firm ‘implicated’ in Uighur rights abuses
    Government to host Hikvision surveillance firm accused of threatening human rights.

    The UK government is to promote a Chinese surveillance company that has been blacklisted by the US after it was “implicated” in human rights violations of the country’s Uighur Muslim minority. The Home Office has agreed to allow Hikvision, a surveillance equipment provider active in China’s western Xinjiang province, to attend the Security and Policing trade fair it is hosting in Farnborough in March.

    I’d say sharing their experience in Xinjiang is the whole point of inviting them, no? We have a lot to learn from them!

    1. John A

      You’ve got to remember that the Guardian is firmly in the narrative camp China bad, Uighurs/Hong Kong protesters good, Putin bad, Maduro bad, Assad bad etc. All reporting reflects this.

      1. Harvey

        However the new direction of UK conservatives is astonishing. Ignoring the 5 eyes WTF?
        So I ask, where did the impetus and a lot of the money for the sustained(over years) Brexit campaign come from? Doesn’t look like it was the USA.

  4. Henry Moon Pie

    MSDNC and NBC are talking about little other than Bernie Bros the last two days. Now part of this is just protecting rice bowls for the self-serving “community” of highly paid talking heads, political consultants, party apparatchiks and NGO execs. The success of Bernie’s movement would spell the end of the gravy train for a lot of DNC and Clinton connected folks, and the alternative left media is growing in viewership as the Russiagate-obsessed MSDNC declines.

    There is another element. Those who are complaining about online harassment are core believers in the meritocracy myth. Their psyches have been shaped by institutions like the Ivy League that both promote and depend upon that myth.

    These true believers in meritocracy accept criticism from their superiors along with those they deem to be peers, but critiques coming from outside their elite circle are not only unworthy of their attention but are also a rude (to them) violation of the very strictly hierarchical meritocratic order. Those complaining about Bernie Bros are defending both themselves and also the order in which they have clawed out a place for themselves and in which they believe deeply because it supports their own idea of their self-worth.

    The problem is that this so-called meritocratic order is, in fact, the linchpin of the class privilege enjoyed by all these millionaires working for billionaires. The geniuses it has elevated into positions of power have brought us PermaWar, a declining life expectancy and an unfolding environmental crisis of existential proportions. The vast majority of the American people (around 85%) know that the myth is BS.

    As the meritocratic myth continues to collapse, these aggrieved hot shots will experience more and more cognitive dissonance (“the world doesn’t make sense to me anymore”), confusion, fear and plenty of anger and hatred. Chris Matthews, already fragile because of his age, is one of the first to fall into foaming-at-the-mouth rants, but others like Joy Reid are coming pretty close. The world is falling apart for these people. They’ve enjoyed huge class privilege as one of their chief targets, David Sirota, points out, as they provide their oh-so-wise hot takes (“HRC can’t lose!!!” the day before the election she lost) on a billionaire’s platform reaching millions. More democratic forums like Twitter allow us mere deplorables to let them know what we think of their propaganda, and it’s too much for them to take.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Thanks for that link. This rang a bell for me:

        However, in addition to legitimation, meritocracy also offers flattery. Where success is determined by merit, each win can be viewed as a reflection of one’s own virtue and worth. Meritocracy is the most self-congratulatory of distribution principles. Its ideological alchemy transmutes property into praise, material inequality into personal superiority. It licenses the rich and powerful to view themselves as productive geniuses.

        Reminded me of this from the Tao te Ching (U.K. Le Guin, trans.):

        Self-satisfied people do no good.
        Self-promoters never grow up.

        “Proportion” #24

    1. KLG

      Yes, indeed. And imagine the cognitive dissonance as it dawns on the more self-aware of this class that “the man” is coming for them, too. I’m a member of the PMC but not of the PMC, and the utter cluelessness of these people is fairly astonishing. The paychecks will eventually cease.

    2. GramSci

      Yes, I greatly prefer critiquing “méritocracy” over “neoliberalism”. I fear the roots go deeper, into (social) Darwinism and the divine right of kings. It is *not* a modern phenomenon, which “neoliberalism” lulls one to believe.

      1. barefoot charley

        And don’t forget the Protestant Elect! Only God knows for sure–but clothes, castles and cush jobs are advertisements that He loves them more than He loves you.

          1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

            Charles Trevelyan who started his career working for the East India Company & was later the man who had the most control of Britain’s reaction to the Ireland’s 1840’s potato famine introduced meritocracy to the civil service, which for all I know might at that time have been an improvement. Not Neoliberal obviously but applied Laissez-faire to it’s extreme & this paragraph he wrote kinda sums this Liberal up :

            ” Trevelyan wrote to Lord Monteagle of Brandon, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the famine was an “effective mechanism for reducing surplus population”, and was “the judgement of God”. Further he wrote that “The real evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the Famine, but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people”.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        I view Neoliberalism as an extremely flexible ideological tool developed over a long period by hundreds of well-supported think tanks. It is a tool for the “méritocracy” to use for maintaining their place and power. It is a multi-headed tool designed to rationalize the continued transfer of all the economy’s wealth and income into the hands of the obscenely wealthy, the International Cartels, and the autonomous large organizations parasitizing our government coffers. In our Society, Wealth and Money translate almost immediately into Power and Control.

    3. Geo

      Great post! Only thing I would add is it seems the Dems have forgotten what a winning campaign looks like. Having a passionate and persistent support base is what wins elections. They’re used to a base that tacitly votes for whichever cog in the machine they’re supposed to pull the lever for this time around.

      They keep comparing “Bernie Bros” to Trump supporters. Trump won last time. They called Obama supporters “Obama Boys”. Obama won.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Ireland’s political mess has roots in QE house price distortions FT

    This is a pretty simplistic analysis (unusual for the FT), and probably wrong – in particular because it strategically ignores two key issues driving Irelands housing crisis – first, the damage done to the building industry by austerity, and secondly the issue of immigration – the article dances around it by saying its Irish people returning, but this is not backed up by the figures.

    First, there is no question but that housing was the key issue in the election – all the polling shows that it comes up as the number one issue, in particular for people who have switched from a centrist party to Sinn Fein (but they also won many votes from other left parties, both the Labour Party and far left PPP alliance).

    First off, building capacity. The Irish construction industry is straining to catch up with demand – there are reports of developers not even getting any contractors to bid. Yet housing completions are struggling to hit 25,000 a year, which is perhaps a quarter of the rate during the Celtic Tiger, when 85,000 or more a year were being built. This is entirely the fault of austerity, which led to thousands of tradesmen, architects and engineers to leave for Canada or Australia, and led to the sale or destruction of physical plant. Because of the pain of those years, many workers are reluctant to return, and there is a particular reluctance in the industry to invest in physical plant (Brexit didn’t help, as many builders were advised to switch away from pre-cast concrete as most of this comes from Northern Ireland).

    The second issue is population – Irelands position as an exemplar of globilisation and free markets has made it perhaps the most boom bust non-commodity based economy anywhere. Ireland attracted a net 34,000 people in 2019 (compared to the natural increase of 30,000), the overwhelming majority of whom were not returning emigrants. This immigration growth alone dwarfs the number of new housing completions (it is also almost certainly an underestimate, many EU and UK workers simply never register as residents).

    Of course, there is a paradox there in that immigration is essential to expand the building industry and keep other businesses thriving, but it is simply not possible to build enough homes for all these people under current circumstances.

    The issue of QE is important, but I think not as important as the article suggests. In fact, QE is probably very helpful as it is encouraging the influx of institutional money which is buying up apartment buildings from plans for long term rental (there is no evidence – as implied in the article – that institutional landlords are somehow more efficient at driving up prices than an army of small time domestic landlords). If anything, they are less likely to go the Airbnb route as they find it harder to evade regulations.

    The lesson? Well, maybe next time use a recession as the opportunity to build lots and lots of houses to keep your building industry healthy and workers at home, and you’ll gain the benefits in the next upturn.

    This is of course a problem for Sinn Fein, and any other progressive party, because there is in reality little that can be done during this economic cycle, you just can’t invent an army of construction workers in 2 or 3 years.

    1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      Is there any evidence of building workers down South from the North PK ? I do know that tradesmen from the North were hit badly post-crash, but many particularly the young headed to Australia, which I think was also the case for at least some from the Republic.

      The other thing i wonder about is whatever happened to all of those so called ” Ghost Estates “.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I don’t know of figures, but there are certainly plenty of Northern building workers in the South, most will be daily commuters so they don’t appear in population figures.

        Around 90% of the ghost estates are now occupied. A few are still stuck in legal limbo for one reason or another – it was rumoured that a few banks believed it was worthwhile to keep them empty to keep local property prices higher. A few deteriorated to such an extend its not in anyones interest to finish them off.

    2. russell1200

      I was reading Peter Turchin’s Age of Discord in which he predicts a troubled 20’s for the US.

      He doesn’t make a huge deal of it, he is using it as a signalling device more than anything else, but he notes that times of heavy immigration into the United States have generally been very kind to the elites and not good at all for the average folks.

    1. xkeyscored

      Another excellent piece by Hitchens regarding the OPCW and Douma, in a rather unexpected place, the UK Mail on Sunday, my idea of archetypal MSM..
      The article mentions a video by Ian Henderson, an on-the-ground inspector in Douma, whose Engineering Assessment was leaked. It sort of summarises his criticisms of the OPCW and its official report, with a few details not in Hitchens’ article. Here’s a link to it (3 minutes):
      – and, to the best of my knowledge, he’s not affiliated in any way with SANA. I’ve seen the identical video without the Arabic stuff and the SANA logo; I guess they found the video and ‘appropriated’ it.

  6. Clive

    Re: Noam Chomsky, De-industrialisation, Manufacturing, Trump (and much else that really can’t fit into a comment).

    It’s worth noting that Trump did, which Chomsky didn’t mention, try to go head-to-head with management in US industries (United Technologies in this example) offshoring manufacturing jobs. The results were, at best, partially effective. So I think Chomsky is unfair in omitting that fact.

    But as the Popular Mechanics article explores in depth, you’d hardly call, despite Trump’s at the time ballyhooing, a retained rump of some manufacturing of Air Conditioning equipment in the US making America great again. That said, Trump did more than anyone else has ever done in a similar position. Clinton, Obama — what exactly did they do? Helped Carrier pack, I’d say, being only slightly snarky.

    Things are never as simple as perhaps Chomsky likes to imagine (I appreciate they have space constraints and must, inevitably, talk in generalities rather than delve into specifics). Residential and light commercial air conditioning is a commodity business. Product lines are standardised, there’s little consumer appetite for Apple-like branding or product differentiation in a market which only looks for, by-and-large, purchasing with an appliance-buying mentality. In the high-cost US, how is United Technologies to do, even if they wanted to, what Trump was asking? The ability to increase margins are, as I’ve mentioned above, limited, in this area of business activity. The ability to reduce costs mean offshoring because, in terms of production, with an existing asset base of factories, equipment and personnel, there’s not much to be stripped from your cost base.

    And competition is looming for the US suppliers which have, hithertofore, dominated the domestic A/C marketplace. The Japanese have set their sights on carving out for themselves a piece of this particularly succulent pie. Japan’s Daikin has thrown $400M at the task — in US investment alone. There’s at least a couple more Japanese companies (Mitsubishi Electric and Fujitsu) which will do similar. And in terms of their product offer, the sophistication, technology and production efficiency makes US-style legacy A/C equipment look like something from the dark ages.

    The writing is on the wall for this particular US industry. There’s little Trump — or anyone else can — realistically do to alter this, apart from outright state aid. This is, of course, an option. But is it really — really? — viable to prop up businesses which have, in terms of their relevance to international / world norms, committed commercial suicide through lack of investment and lazy abuse of an incumbent position?

    So I read Chomsky’s no doubt earnest and heartfelt plea to “change the mode of decision-making in the U.S. — by shifting it to the hands of stakeholders, workers and communities, or at least giving them a substantial role” with a sense of respect for what they are trying to do, but lament at the almost pitiable naivety of what they think might help.

    1. pretzelattack

      to the extent that the plight of the domestic air conditioning industry was caused by commercial suicide by lack of investment, maybe the workers and communities could have done something about that.

      1. Clive

        That’s now in the realm of “should-a, would-a, could-a”.

        Crying over spilt industrial milk isn’t going to put the domestic manufacturing base Humpty Dumpty together again, if I may be allowed to mix my metaphors even more than usual.

        1. pretzelattack

          coupled with taxing foreign proftits, it could bring some of those companies home again. i’m guessing they didn’t invest in improvements so they could increase salaries for executives and boost their stock price. if the supply chain breaks down due to coronavirus, people will still need manufactured products.

          1. Pat

            So not just foreign investments, but taxes on excessive executive salaries, perks, and bonuses, not to mention increased corporate tax rates that can only be lowered by r&d and domestic production investment.

            IOW an industrial policy that is about developing and building products in America rather than finacialization.

            1. pretzelattack

              not to mention increased corporate tax rates that can only be lowered by r&d and domestic production investment.

              that’s an excellent idea.

              1. Clive

                (sighs, despairing at yet more naivety)

                Such systems are an open invitation to being gamed. I do wish people would do the teeniest tinyest amount of research before rushing to open their mouths.

                Such tax breaks become an endless game of cat and mouse between business and the tax authorities. The mice are almost invariably one step ahead of the cats.

                1. Pat

                  Naive I admit. And they don’t even have to pretend right now.

                  What would you do to put a gun to their head encourage them to do what they should if they were really interested in building a business and not an investment strategy for the FIRE sector?

          2. Clive

            At the risk of oversimplification, even the US doesn’t get to “tax foreign profits”. What it can do is impose import tariffs.

            This is your common-or-garden protectionism. Now, we could certainly have a good old debate on protectionism. Although a comments thread is an ill-fitting way of doing that so I don’t intend to here. However, if Chomsky had, rather than the somewhat handwave-y appeal to what I’d have to characterise as the appearance of some sort of worker/management deus ex machina, dug up the skeleton of protectionism and ignited a discussion of whether we should go thorough all that again, I’d have been more inclined to be supportive, because at least it was a realistic exploration of what options there are, practically, on the table.

            The UK isn’t, of course, the US. However, our flirtation with protectionism didn’t end well for us here. And arguably, as argued here, for the rest of the world either, triggering a zero sum gain battle for resources:

            For example, according to Hilgerdt (1935), ‘As bilateralism particularly renders the supply of raw materials to certain countries difficult, it threatens to lead to an intensified fight for influence upon (or the domination of) the undeveloped countries, and thereby to political controversies, which may adversely affect all forms of peaceful collaboration between nations’.

            During the war, Condliffe (1941) wrote that ‘it is now so obvious as to hardly need statement that bilateral trade took on aggressive and destructive aspects as international rivalries were sharpened in the era of what is now known as pre-belligerent’).

            And so it is no surprise that the 1941 Anglo-American Atlantic Charter committed Britain and the United States to endeavoring after the war, ‘with due respect for their existing obligations, to further the enjoyment by all States, great or small, victor or vanquished, of access, on equal terms, to the trade and to the raw materials of the world which are needed for their economic prosperity’,

            So I’m not exactly welcoming that prospect with open arms.

            And yet, you do allude to a powerful force which we’re being subject to. There is more protectionism emerging than free-trading countries can shake a stick at. How long, then, can the US or other free trade country (I’ll leave aside just how free-trading the US and, say the UK really are) carry on pretending that there really is, still, a Rules Based International Order, when everyone else seems to be perfectly happy breaking the rules?

            I so wish Chomsky has used the bully pulpit open to them to get this matter discussed, rather than the dead end which it was shoved into.

            1. pretzelattack

              ok, why can’t the u.s. tax profits made in other countries? don’t allow the companies to do the bulk of their business here and have a headquarters in some tax refuge. don’t allow subsidiary scams.
              if individuals aren’t allowed to hide income from foreign sources why are companies?

              1. Clive

                And how do you propose to collect those taxes? Like, some kind of IRS with machine guns?

                As I said, tariffs are an existing and legal was to do what you’re suggesting. But while you can squeeze this balloon any way you like, there’s certain inescapable consequences to all such actions. It’s not as if this is the world’s first rodeo here. We’ve all been round this loop before, some of us several times.

                1. pretzelattack

                  they can be collected in the u.s., by irs agents. some of these companies still do a lot of business in the u.s., even if they are nominally a subsidiary of a foreign corporation. if the company refuses to pay, i don’t see why legal penalties, under u.s. law would not apply–forfeiting property in the u.s. maybe i am naive, but it looks like a giant scam to avoid taxation entirely.
                  regulation is always problematic in a system like ours; the system is being gamed now. we need better mousetraps.

                  1. Oregoncharles

                    And it is regularly presented, here on NC, as exactly the tax scam you described, enabled by pro-corporate US laws. That whole business of declaring all your profits, in, say, Eire, when you’re Apple or IBM.

              2. David Carl Grimes

                This is a wild idea. Why don’t we invade all these tax havens all at the same time? That way, we can force corporations and billionaires to pay their proper taxes. We’ve had lots of practice with regime change and most of these tax havens are tiny countries. We did invade Panama and Grenada when Reagan was around. We can do it again.

                1. xkeyscored

                  Could be an absolute winner in terms of the popular vote and so on. Look, our military is doing something positive for us, for you, for once. Do Trump and Johnson read these comments?

                2. notabanktoadie

                  As for as US dollars are concerned, except for coins and paper FRNs, they all exist in account form at the Federal Reserve where negative interest could readily be applied.

                  Of course individual US citizens should be shielded from negative interest to a reasonable account limit per the principle that all citizens have a right to use their Nation’s fiat FOR FREE within reasonable limits.

                  1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                    Like when a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank in Singapore extends a loan in USD to a Japanese company so they can pay a supplier in China? The Fed has no idea that ever happened.

                    1. notabanktoadie

                      All the Fed has to know is which are individual US citizen accounts*. Those alone would be shielded from negative interest up to a reasonable limit. The rest would be taxed at a flat rate, a US dollar user fee, so to speak.

                      It’s simplicity itself and, except for physical dollars (coins and FRNs), inescapable.

                      *assuming these accounts at the Fed are allowed for the purpose of shielding from negative interest, that is.

                    2. notabanktoadie

                      Actually, the rate need not be flat but progressive if desired with big users paying more – similar to heavy trucks on US roads.

                    3. Mel

                      I haven’t totally figured this out. But I think it’s true that if the Chinese vendor (or somebody downstream) decides to park the US$ in US Treasury bonds, then the check will clear through the FED, and the FED will be aware. Deutsche Bank will have to pony up the US$ to pay.

                    4. notabanktoadie

                      decides to park the US$ in US Treasury bonds, Mel

                      US Treasury bonds, being inherently risk-free, should return negative too but less negative than account balances at the Fed since they have a maturity wait.

            2. a different chris

              ???? I’m not sure what you are saying ??? What do you even mean nowadays by “for this US industry”? I care that my A/C unit is made here, not that Carrier makes it.


              …and Subaru and Nissan and Honda (which sent Accord station wagons back to Japan, I believe)

              So why can’t they make these “hi tech” air conditioners here? Subarus aren’t hi-tech? Note engineering and manufacturing are like lovers, they don’t tolerate long distance relationships for long so just sending a bunch of parts to be assembled here will, in the long run, bring back the technology itself.

              1. Clive

                The Japanese manufactures enjoy patent protection on their products plus 30+ years of manufacturing expertise in actually building the components. Neither of these things are easily nullified or gained if they are lacking in the hands of the US firms.

                You’ve kind-of made my point in reference to autos. Non-US companies are perfectly happy to manufacture in the US (provided they receive, I’m assuming, incentives from states or the federal government to entice them to do so; I’m also guessing these are Right To Work states?)

                But this simply accentuates the decline in US manufacturing because, unable to compete with the products outputted by these “trans-plants”, they enter a vicious circle of not having any means of matching, let alone regaining, a lead in product designs or manufacturing prowess — which renders them even less competitive and reliant on old designs and outdated product lines which can only be made higher-margin by offshoring.

                So good luck trying, as Chomsky hopes, getting Japanese companies to take notice of or offer US workers input into their boardroom decisions.

                Don’t get me wrong, I’m not celebrating this dismal state of affairs — nor the lack of nice options. I’m merely trying to point out that wishful thinking like Chomsky was doing isn’t going to help.

                1. a different chris

                  Thanks for answering.

                  But I’m not “getting you wrong” at all. What I am doing is disagreeing that the Japanese, for instance, can protect their *real* IP (not stupid patents, but actual get-it-done knowledge) forever when building in the US.

                  Your definition of manufacturing also seems a bit elusive? They are “happy to manufacture in the US…But this simply accelerates the decline in US manufacturing…” Say what?

                  Finally, a lot of parts for Japanese manufacturing facilities are made in the US. For instance, I have an American air conditioner (ironically enough) in my Made-in-America Toyota.

                  The reason I know that is that it’s the only thing that ever went wrong on my car! The same engine in a Japanese-made Toyota has a Japanese unit.

                  >So good luck trying, as Chomsky hopes, getting Japanese companies to take notice of or offer US workers input into their boardroom decisions.

                  Totally different subject, methinks. If we had all US run manufacturing companies, this would be different somehow?

                  1. Chris

                    Well fellow Chris, I have a little insight here that might prove helpful.

                    The trick with the Japanese is that they made decisions to corner the market on the weird parts that you couldn’t build things like compressors without. So the funky clip that you needed to make the pump work? that was only made in Japan after the 80’s. Repeat that kind of a story across a multitude of industries and items and you have what’s happened and lead to the situation today.

                    The other problem is that due to China and cheap foreign labor options, we have gotten lazy with engineering and design of many products. If it doesn’t cost much to pay someone in Asia to make 100 welds on the top of a water heater, why spend the money to optimize the design and reduce the number of welds down to 10?

                    The requirements for what it would take in a variety of industries to bring design and manufacturing back to the US in a big way are to first optimize the design of products to be built with higher cost labor and then make sure that we develop local supply chains to manufacture the necessary parts. I’d add that we’d have to toss all the MBAs in the bottom of the ocean too. Because in that kind of a scenario, they will look at the bonus they’ll get for buying versus the costs they’ll have if they build the required facilities and they’ll choose buy every time.

                    I think we should seriously develop domestic manufacturing capacity using federal resources. I think the pandemic and other issues make it an important national security concern. But I know that is a minority position among the US public.

                    1. Clive

                      Yes, absolutely. An essential and important comment.

                      While so much media attention is given over to the “glam” end of manufacturing in general and consumer electronics especially (all that iPhone stuff) plus sundry other “tech”, you’re eventually going to be fighting a losing battle against commodification.

                      Japanese manufactures do, as you say, master the art — and it is an art, often, there’s no real mystery to the science bit, but there is a unique skill needed to honing and refining how to make certain things in bulk, reliably, repeatedly and inexpensively — of producing those unnoticed, largely unknown and definitely unappreciated collection of bits and bobs which do, in reality, glue our modern world together.

                      I can almost guarantee that few, if any readers would have ever given any thought to anything like this, for instance. A largely incomprehensible and definitely not remotely interesting concoction of sundry mysterious inscrutable things. But things that you simply can’t do with out, if you’re to have a, say, manufacturing base which involves high power (above a few hundred watts) controls.

                      The US could certainly — at a governmental level — sponsor an industrial policy which in, amongst other fields, ensure that higher education, zoning, tax policy, military purchasing, immigration, state ownership of enterprises and research are all fully integrated and aligned with a strategic objective to match, then overtake, within 10 years current world-class production of these and similar essentials.

                      As it is, the US-produced versions of these (or where US companies try to produce them in, say China) are dismal. VFDs fail within a few years and are now notorious in maintenance and engineering circles in the US for appalling unreliability and endless issues in installed equipment.

                      As you so rightly say, there needs to be a lot less MBAs, a lot more semiconductor fabrication and design specialists. This is definitely something the government is capable of influencing.

                    2. skippy

                      I remember when I worked for Clarion Inc back in the early 80s.
                      Union workers damaged around 6K face plates to OEM radios due to being foreign Mfg over Delco.
                      Had to inform them Delco was assembly of Japanese parts by American workers only, so the argument was a glass half full.

                      Anywho all this was front by market memes and shortermism to buff some market metrics, most of which to make packet for the C-suite and big institutional investors. Übermenschen RE and refinery were getting more expensive and had to keep the washed class lines distinguishable from the unwashed – icky.

                      Yet in those days at Clarion inv stock take was all hands aboard with lunch supplied, pre solid state days, still heaps of transistors et al – good luck with that today. I still have flashbacks of Richard Hurtz being loudly broadcast over the company intercom system, nor rocking up to his house at Hanukkah with my Westlake Jewish girlfriend from a prominent family … good times ….

                      Wellie off to sand about 100m of hardwood balustrade, back to bare, after last two jobs done previously completely failed. At least I can take pride in my work.

                2. Oregoncharles

                  ” not having any means of matching, let alone regaining, a lead in product designs or manufacturing prowess”

                  So why is NC so hard on Tesla? I just rode in a Tesla; the owner is ecstatic – and a gear-head electrical engineer who understands machines. Tesla has onshored automotive engineering and production under American control – from scratch. Radical. Maybe his multiple faults should be forgiven.

              2. pretzelattack

                i don’t have a solid grasp of how the international economy works at the nuts and bolts level. is there no way to get at the game of having a corporate headquarters in the caribbean where most of the profits are declared while actually being a u.s. business?
                gm is closing some of its operations and selling a manufacturing facility in thailand. where will the profits of this sale be reported as income?

                1. vlade

                  Where do you want?

                  Basically, on a world stage with little to no capital controls, taxing corporations on profits is pretty much chump’s game.

                  Hence I tend to (now and then, when people get to it) propose that corporate tax should be abolished entirely, to be replaced by:
                  – taxing all distributions (dividends and interest) at the source
                  – liquid-assets levy (over and above some low multiple of working capital).

                  Of course, that is too gameable (especially the working capital), but at least tries to stop corporate hoarding.

            3. Monty

              In the US, corporations are people, and unlike other countries, the US taxes it’s people on their worldwide income. If a person engaged in this cat and mouse “game” with the IRS, it might well be considered tax evasion, and result in a financial penalty and imprisonment.

              1. human

                …it might well be considered tax evasion, and result in a financial penalty and imprisonment.


                1. shtove

                  If the coin toss comes up heads 99 times in a row, what are the odds on the next toss coming up heads?

      2. John

        Residential HVAC equipment is another example of corporate America dumping crap on the modest American consumer. Mitsubishi makes great, efficient, SILENT,modestly priced residential HVAC. These are qualities to be had only at the most expensive end of US HVAC manufacturing.
        Corporate Amrika has no interest in manufacturing things, only paper fantasies for the greed head execs.

    2. Ignacio

      Japan and Germany are probably the best examples of trying to keep and increase their manufacturing capacity for commodity appliances as an explicit policy target. Almost certainly with a lot of public support in different forms since these are not cheap countries, and coupled with beggar-thy-neighbour policies to favour exports. That, again almost certainly, has to do with the mode of decision-making with more central planning there than in the US. It may be that outright state aid is precisely what is needed if one gives some value to manufactures. It is never too late to start, I wouldn’t say the US lacks the necessary resources to do it.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, its perfectly possible to make commodity appliances in high labour cost countries, as Germany, Switzerland, South Korea and Japan demonstrate. I can’t recall the source, but I read a while back an analysis on typical consumer items indicating that labour costs were never that high a percentage for all but the most labour intensive items (even then, you will still find a surprising number of quite mundane products still manufactured in Germany and Japan). The reasons for off-shoring are as much to do with labour arbitrage and scale issues as labour costs.

      2. S.D.

        I know this observation will not be well received here, but didn’t the whole de-industrialization thing, enabled by trade deficits, really take off the minute Nixon defaulted on the Bretton-Woods agreement and ended the final vestige of gold standard?

        Mills and factories of diverse types, some brand new, some that had been successful for most of the century closed almost overnight in the area where I lived. A few that did not succumb almost immediately to an “accidental” fire still stand there rotting to this day, approaching three generations later, and practically none of them(or even the land they stood on)has found any productive use since.

        Just saying.

    3. Ranger Rick

      I recall, in the 90s, scratching my head at the new “Made in the USA” labels on cars. The very next line on the legally required disclosure described how most of the car was actually made in another country. How proud can you be of assembling something when the parts you use to build it are made somewhere else?

      1. inode_buddha

        Amen. And further to this, notice how the price didn’t come down one bit? That is why I refuse to participate in the economy. It wasn’t enough for them to screw American labor, they had to also screw their foreign labor *and* their customers. Then add the financing on top of that.

        Eventually it will come back around to bite them.

        1. JTMcPhee

          The problem with that wishful thought is that *it* never bites the MBAs and CEOs and legislators and regulators who brought about.the situation complained of. “IBG-YBG,” and Tony Hayward and Blair and the head of VW and other malefactors will always “get their lived back” just so very comfortably. $300 million golden handshakes, for some of the worst (from the mope’s standpoint) of them, hey, no big deal. The fix is in, and fixing the “fix” is one heck of a problem.

          I recall a sci-fi bit of fiction where a small band of bright folks got together to Quietly go after the malefactors, both while they were malefacting and if they escaped consequences while Still active in the machinery, then afterwards. Not pleasant results for the mals, but of course the optimistic author believed such could actually happen, and serve as a disincentive to future malefacting…

          1. Chris

            I liken it to pancake syrup.

            A long time ago, all we had was maple syrup. And it was expensive and hard to get in most of the US. So we started cutting it with corn syrup to extend supplies, increase stability, and make it available in more of the US. Then we learned that people wouldn’t really notice if you took corn syrup and just added a little maple flavoring to it. Then we dialed back the flavoring. Now when I have my kids and their friends over for breakfast and I bring out real maple syrup, they don’t know what to make of it and ask me if we have any pancake syrup instead.

            We have been forced to live in such a way that we have forgotten there were ever other options available and if we were suddenly shown the freedom that we say we want, a vast number of citizens/consumers would ask you to close the door and give them poorly flavored corn syrup please.

            And they would thank the people in charge and pay them handsomely, for limiting their options for them.

            That’s why none of them will ever be punished.

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      I read the link:”Noam Chomsky: Trump Is Consolidating Far-Right Power Globally” but I am confused by your comment and comments in this thread if they are supposed to be related to this link. I think this summary sentence from the link reasonably summarizes what Chomsky talks about:
      “Noam Chomsky calls Trump’s foreign policy a deadly farce that is consolidating the global alliance of right-wing leaders.”
      I do not think Chomsky built a convincing case that Trump’s foreign policy farce is consolidating an alliance of right-wing leaders. Trump may indeed be “consolidating an alliance of right-wing leaders” or making the attempt but I do not see how the foreign policy farce he plays on the world stage relates to this supposed goal, and I do not believe Chomsky established that connection.

      Your comments in this thread focus on trade suggest to me you believe there is no alternative to global trade in its present form. Your reference: “The impact of protection on trade: lessons from Britain’s 1930s policy shift” seems odd to me:
      “In the context of the 1930s, the ‘Balkanization’ of international trade not only reflected, but probably also exacerbated, the international tensions of the period.”
      I may have my history wrong — I thought trade as means to bind the world in peace was one of the arguments for Breton Woods, GATT, Nixon in China, and kept raising its head in discussions of TPP, TIPP, et al. What bearing do the trade policies of the 1930s have to the trade disputes Trump has contrived. As for existing and ongoing U.S. trade policies — they appear most concerned about enabling labor arbitrage and capital mobility while protecting patent and copyrights and extending Corporate Power beyond national borders.

      Trump’s trade theater — I hesitate to call it policy — appears mostly related to crude pre-election appeals to Trump’s base in the 99%. Although Chomsky does not make his case, I agree with his assessment of Trump foreign policy: “Efforts to detect some coherent global strategy indeed seem to be a kind of acid satire.”

      1. Clive

        My main beef, which I could not just say, like that, without justification because it is the rightly-respected Chomsky we’re talking about here, was that Chomsky, like many left-leaning commentators was very good at 30,000 ft broad-brush overviews but not nearly as good with the details. And pretty dire at some of the ideas about solutions.

        I am harsh because I’ve seen nigh-on 20 years now of being perpetually disappointed by the left as it manifests itself in its various guises (or “progressives” if you prefer). In short, the left is — as a sweeping generalisation — sloppy, lazy and intellectually incontinent, prone to dribbling out warm but watery outpourings that lack substance. It needs to learn to sharpen up its act if it is to leave its fringe theatre echo chambers and hit the big-time.

        Yes, trade, protectionism, what trade policy is made out to be about vs. what it ends up doing in reality, the Rules Based International Order — and much else besides — need a comprehensive re-examining and public debate. I certainly don’t pretend to know the “right” answers on these.

        However, I can offer, and did offer, a thorough exploration of the inherent complexities by one case-study which I went into considerable detail about, with the intention of showing that Chomsky to a degree misrepresented Trump and that one of the ideas floated about how to potentially fix an issue was not especially viable.

        I do know the left needs to instigate a discussion. Chomsky didn’t attempt this and, at times, seemed unable to escape being captive to Trump Derangement Syndrome.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I appreciate your response to my comment. I like Chomsky, although I must agree with your assessment of his pronouncements. Of late I listen to his youtube lectures on the origins of language and the impacts of language on the evolution of the human mind. While I respect your opinions and follow them [except on Brexit — an ongoing train wreck I cannot understand], in this case I believe you may be responding to opinions Chomsky expressed elsewhere more than those he expressed in this link. Yes Trump sat on an air conditioner company as part of his trade and ‘Made in America’ “initiative”. Yes Chomsky’s idea of “chang[ing] the mode of decision-making in the U.S” is silly in the present political context. I think much of the Left’s analysis and pronouncements are silly and often quaint, besides being “sloppy, lazy and intellectually incontinent, prone to dribbling out warm but watery outpourings that lack substance. It needs to learn to sharpen up its act if it is to leave its fringe theatre echo chambers and hit the big-time.” [You express it much better than I.]

          I do not see any pattern or strategy to Trump’s actions beyond a pattern and strategy related to entertaining, and mesmerizing his base in the 99%. Chomsky did not make a convincing case in the link for his assessment of Trump foreign policy: “Efforts to detect some coherent global strategy indeed seem to be a kind of acid satire.” But I already agreed with that assessment, based on the limited amounts of Trump theater I could not avoid becoming aware of.

    5. Titus

      “So I read Chomsky’s no doubt earnest and heartfelt plea to “change the mode of decision-making in the U.S. — by shifting it to the hands of stakeholders, workers and communities, or at least giving them a substantial role” with a sense of respect for what they are trying to do, but lament at the almost pitiable naivety of what they think might help.”

      Actually, that’s all ‘process speak’, and not and advocacy for a different outcome. Better the everyone get involved in the sinking of the Titanic, say then just the captain. But, anyone who knows Chomsky, knows that indeed he seeks a different outcome. Which would something beyond corporate RoI. That said in Germany, workers do have through their dual supervisory and board of directors setup. So as to what might “help”, that depends on the outcome you seek, and works backward, but how about using an account system, that actually accounts (as discussed here @NC) actual costs and liabilities.

  7. Amfortas the hippie

    One of the most personally uncomfortable aspects of todays political situation, is so often agreeing with Right Wingers about large, important things
    from cordevilla(sp-2):
    “Today these Agencies’ naked threat to the president of the United States, conveyed by the opposition party’s leader, shows a power grab so big that, unless crushed, it puts them on the path trod by the Roman Empire’s Praetorian guard. Like the Roman Emperor’s supposed guardians, they claim to protect the City. But, as Attorney General William Barr noted, they have come to identify “the national interest with their own political preferences,” feeling that “anyone who has a different opinion” is somehow “an enemy of the state.” They now support their party in seizing power, “[convincing] themselves that what they’re doing is in the higher interest, the better good.””

    Of course, radical little me has been advocating the JFK Treatment of the CIA, et alia, since i first started learning about the shenanigans in the late 80’s(head shops and record stores and KPFT, leading to the Library, in Houston)
    I hope that this attitude becomes more widespread, but i also fear that even if it does, a crackdown is coming…and that many of our countrymen will jump right on board, a la Erich Fromm’s ‘escape from freedom’.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Agree, but the top level alignment seems to be People versus The State. Tucker, Saagar from The Hill’s “New Right”, and Trumpism are forms of populism. Ditto Bernie. I’ll take that alignment anytime, (almost) no matter where it leads us. Because it is: by definition legitimate.

      It’s like Mao insisting that the politicians control the military. The extended State (comprising corporate power, the lobbies that support it, the D.C. PMC, the MIC, the Surveillance-Industrial Complex, and the MSM) essentially has the FBI and CIA as their mercenary armies. The Executive must win this battle. I don’t actually care which Executive it is because the battle is a level up: it’s institutional. We can start with a new Church Commission, followed by a new Pecora Commission.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        late, of course(2000 feet of pipe in 2 days. i can no longer move)
        this: “Saagar from The Hill’s “New Right””
        watching him with Ball, i forget that he’s a right winger.
        as for the rest, i agree.
        i’m sick of the dominant paradigm. R/L, gop/Dem…none of the words work anymore, because hillary is a socialist and turtleman is a moderate.
        smaller tents, please.
        and the Cabal…Machine…or whatever it is that’s attempting(or has) to take over everything…must be stopped.
        i am not so sanguine that trump is the man for the job
        (“cometh the hour…”)

  8. xkeyscored

    The first ad today, right above “Links 2/17/2020” –
    Today’s Insane Deals
    Cambodia Bargains

    clicking on which takes me to
    Preah Sihanouk Province: 280 properties found
    3 reasons to visit: beaches, sandy beaches & relaxation
    “Many of the passengers (from the Westerdam) went sightseeing in Sihanoukville after the ship docked in Cambodia, visiting beaches and restaurants and getting massages.”

  9. The Rev Kev

    “How Britain Got Its NHS”

    I’m not sure that the British establishment could have fobbed off the people for a second time. After WW1 was over and in spite of the fact that about three-quarters of a million men had been killed, mostly things continued as before – right up to when the British had to then fight through the Great Depression.

    But after all the destruction and sacrifices of WW2, the people were no longer willing to go back to business as usual. John Pilger in his documentary on “The Dirty War on the NHS” mentions a mutiny by the RAF in Malaysia as indicative that times had changed and if the establishment did not change, then changes would be imposed from below. And so the NHS came in and became a world standard-

    1. dearieme

      Oh the piece is full of hysterical inaccuracy. Start with “A highly unequal country has a socialized healthcare system thanks to a decades-long fight by leftists.”

      That’s just rubbish. What happened was that the social reformer Beveridge (a Liberal not a socialist) wrote a report for the wartime government (dominated by Conservatives, not socialists). He recommended that government-organised health care be introduced after the war. That policy was adopted by both the Conservative and Liberal parties. The Labour Party opposed it. Let me repeat, the socialists opposed it. To be clear, the leftists opposed it. Only late in the day did they cave in and adopt the policy too. That meant – and here I turn from facts to speculation – that they hadn’t given themselves time to work out how the thing should best be organised. So when they won the election they just handed the job to Nye Bevan who choose to set up the NHS on a Stalinist model.

      Years of comparisons with the health systems on the Continent suggest that he did the country a great disservice. Not only comparisons churned out by research studies, but heaps of anecdotes from people who’ve used both the British and French systems, or British and Spanish systems, and so on, agree. The NHS is basically rather lousy. Its main admirers seem to be people who know nothing else, people who live off it, and Americans who are so obsessed with the shortcomings of their own system that they want an idol elsewhere to worship. Perhaps Americans should transfer their admiration to something more intelligently chosen – the Singapore system, maybe.

      1. paul

        While I have used it very little, no one I know (friends and family) has found the NHS to be inadequate and generallyview it favourably.
        Of course I’m in Scotland (which in part predated the nhs by 35 years) where the health service is devolved from a government actively hostile to it.

        The countries you mention spend more of GDP on their systems and also do not seem to want to reorganise it every few years.

        Still, with the Institute of Economic Affairs have moved from the BBC sofa one in no 10. in the shape of matthew elliot’s catspaw cummings, the institution you hate will not exist very much longer.

        That it will be replaced by something better, I strongly doubt.

        1. Monty

          It’s been deliberately and severely underfunded for many years by the same people who now say, ‘it’s rubbish’.

          The NHS might not be perfect, but I much preferred knowing I was not going to be bankrupted by my interactions with it in an emergency. That’s quite unlike the reverse lottery experience you get over here.

          1. dearieme

            If “over here” means the US, then I suspect almost everybody in the developed world outside the US inclines to turn up their noses at your system.

            “It’s been deliberately and severely underfunded for many years”: its funding has increased every year since it was founded, corrected for inflation. The only exception was under the Labour government in the late 1970s.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Assumes that NHS funding at any given moment was adequate to cover mission needs. That funding increased periodically does not counter the point that it has been chronically underfunded and slowly starved.

              Obviously lots of writing ‘proving’ all sides of the argument. Not much argument of substance that the neoliberals intend to privatize and loot the provision of medical care in Britain, but lots of argument nonetheless as pieces of it get privatized, one after the other:

      2. The Historian

        Where are you getting this information? Can you provide links? I’m sorry, but it seems to run contrary to everything I’ve ever read about the beginnings of the NHS in Great Britain. And as far as Labour opposing a NHS, seems to me that Labour was working on getting a NHS at least as early as the 1930’s.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          The article itself gives a very good overview of the history of the NHS – the only thing it leaves out is Bevins ‘I had to stuff their mouths with gold’ comment about how he overcame the medical establishments opposition. An in-law of mine comes from a family of doctors in the UK and he said that their income pretty much doubled after the NHS came into being, because previously they worked on the assumption that up to half their patients simply could not pay for care. As the article says, a consensus had been building up for years that a direct provision system was necessary, but it was Bevins mix of political skill and ruthlessness that led to a reasonably compromise free system being created in a remarkably short time.

          The NHS consistently scores very highly on international scales. Those that score higher in Europe are usually significantly more expensive (Spain being an exception, having both a very good healthcare system, and relatively low costs).

          1. The Historian

            I wasn’t challenging the article – it does seem to fall in line with everything else I’ve read about the British system – I was challenging dearieme’s strange comments about it, especially the part about “The Labour Party opposed it”. I would like to know where s/he came up with that!

          2. vlade

            That very much depends on the metric you use. I’d say that life-expectancy may not be necessarily tied to the quality of health system, as many long-lived people will use the system little, and there are multiple other variables that affect the longevity (or not) of the populace.

            Avoidable-deaths is IMO better metrics, as it’s clearly health-system dependent (of course, the problem then may be the methodology of “avoidale-death”, but…). In that metrics, NHS is pretty much at the bottom – althought TBH, the numbers are very clustered, so the ranking is a bit of a hit and miss.

            Personal experience with NHS varies wildly. Specialists usually pretty good, GPs pretty horrendous, some exceptions on both sides.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              Yes, metrics for healthcare comparisons are notoriously problematic. But I’d suggest that when you look at issues like inequality and diet, the life expectancy outcomes for the UK look pretty good, which is likely to be at least partly down to the NHS.

              The GP system is a significant issue for the NHS, as they’ve never really been able to get to grips with the problem of overuse of local doctors – who wouldn’t want to go to a GP instead of sitting in a hospital waiting room? There is also a huge problem with recruiting GP’s for all sorts of reasons. I think its fair to say that any free health system needs to use local multi-purpose local clinics as the basis for healthcare, not GP’s or hospital emergency rooms. The NHS’s long term failure to do this is one black mark against it.

      3. Monty

        When did people start using the term “leftist” in the UK? I only ever really see it used by right wing Americans online.

  10. PlutoniumKun

    Is the ‘Axis of Resistance’ in a better or worse position? The Martyr Qassem Soleimani achieves even more than the Major General did Elijah J. Magnier

    This is quite an extraordinary round-up of ongoing events in the Middle East. Its hard to avoid the conclusion that Trump may have accidentally found a way to achieve his supposed aim of exiting the region. All the cards seem to be stacked up in favour of the Axis of Resistance, from Yemen across to the Lebanon.

    1. Off The Street

      Middle East Policy: Make them pay for it and do it in their own backyards.
      Corollary: If we must pay, share the burden with, say, EU countries and then make them pay and do it in their own backyards.

      That plays well with Americans tired of fighting endless wars dreamt up by endless politicians who only want to get their share of the grift.

    2. David

      I agree it’s not a bad summary, but (as often with Mangier) it glosses over some points of complexity in search of a tidy conclusion. Iraq is not Iran for this purpose, and neither is Lebanon. Iranian influence is not universally welcomed in the area, and is indeed positively unpopular in some quarters. The situation in Lebanon is actually pretty desperate, and probably beyond the ability of any new government to resolve. Diab’s government keeps many of the Ministries in the hands of the same parties who previously controlled them (notably foreign affairs and defence), and this, for many Lebanese, is actually the problem. They want the current political class out. Hezbollah are supporting Diab’s government (they have two Ministerial positions) but their influence is probably waning, and is increasingly contested. Hezbollah tried very hard to keep the previous PM Hariri in power, and has become identified to some extent with the system against which the Lebanese have been protesting. It would be better, I think, to conclude that (1) the US, and the West in general has lost power and influence recently, (2) that Iran has gained some important ground but that (3) much of this is uncoordinated and the product of happenstance, not of an overall plan. The “axis of resistance” meme is being asked to do more work, I think, than it can sensibly manage.

  11. urblintz

    Chris Hedges on the failure of liberalism:

    “The repeated cowardice of the liberal class, which backs a Democratic Party that in Europe would be considered a far-right party, saw it squander its credibility. Its rhetoric proved empty. Its moral posturing was a farce. It fought for nothing. In assault after assault on the working class it was complicit. If liberals — supposedly backers of parties and institutions that defend the interests of the working class — had abandoned the Democratic Party after President Bill Clinton pushed through the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, Trump would not be in the White House. Why didn’t liberals walk out of the Democratic Party when Clinton and the Democratic Party leadership, including Biden, passed NAFTA? Why didn’t they walk out when the Clinton administration gutted welfare? Why didn’t they walk out when Clinton pushed through the 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act, which abolished the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, designed to prevent the kind of banking crisis that trashed the global economy in 2008? Why didn’t they walk out when year after year the Democratic Party funded and expanded our endless wars? Why didn’t they walk out when the Democrats agreed to undercut due process and habeas corpus? Why didn’t they walk out when the Democrats helped approve the warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of American citizens? Why didn’t the liberals walk out when the party leadership refused to impose sanctions on Israel for its war crimes, enact serious environmental and health care reform or regulate Wall Street? At what point will liberals say “Enough”? At what point will they fight back?

    By surrendering every election cycle to the least worst, liberals proved they have no breaking point. There never has been a line in the sand. They have stood for nothing.”

  12. dearieme

    ‘A complete triumph’: Hopes grow over potential Nevada caucus malfunction

    It all depends on your point of view. Anyway, Kipling recommended you treat the two impostors just the same.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “RFS denies sacking volunteer firefighter Paul Parker, who swore at Scott Morrison”

    I have no doubt that some officers did tell him that he was finished and I am willing to be that they are supporters of Scotty from Marketing. The following quote shows that Scotty is still at it – “There was a lot of things that were misrepresented over the summer. There was a bit of a pile-on. But I’ve got thick skin and work to do.”

    But if they actually tried to sack him, there would be an almighty s***storm the likes of not seen in a long time. Paul Parker has already been mentioned in Parliament so if anything was tried, there would be questions raised all the way to the top with zero support for the government. Sometimes even neoliberals have to learn to back off from fighting unwinnable fights.

  14. Winston Smith

    Kahnawake: potentially lots of bad blood from the Oka crisis (1990). Trudeau is in a very uncomfortable place with a minority govt, a mandate to act on climate change as well as the promise to build a pipeline

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Not long ago, Bloomberg likened Putin’s attack on Ukraine to America’s annexation of California”

    I thought from the headline that Bloomberg must be ignorant of actual history but when you read the article, you discover that the headline is – intentionally – misleading and the WaPo is on the backfoot here. Well he has a point. Texas declared Independence and later voted to join the United States. So did the Crimea. They voted for Independence and soon after voted to join the Russian federation. California is different as it was just militarily invaded by the United States. I’m sure that William B. Ide would agree.

    As for the military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba he also has a point. Sure it was founded in a 1903 treaty with the Cuban government but the head of that government had deep ties with America. It is a fact that ever since the Cuban revolution, the US sends the Cuban a cheque for rent for that base and the Cubans return it uncashed. Not so friendly relations there.

    They also sounded quite miffed when he said that the West provoked him by expanding NATO. The truth is, if the countries of Eastern and Central Europe were desperate to escape Russian control, by joining the EU would have done precisely that and the Russians would have accepted that. But joining NATO which lets hostile forces be stationed on their border as well as nuclear-tipped missiles, well, can you imagine if Russia or China did that for Mexico? In short-

    Bloomberg – 3

    Washington Post – 0

    1. VietnamVet

      Hawaii is another example. More than a century after Russia acquired Crimea in 1783, American Sugar Planters in 1893 overthrew Hawaiian Queen Liliuokalani and the US Navy acquired Pearl Harbor. Even “Hawaii 50” TV Show had an episode on the Hawaii Sovereignty Movement. I really doubt a US President would voluntarily turn over Pearl Harbor to Hawaiians especially if native troops were being trained by Chinese Airborne soldiers on Kauai Island for that purpose. (My old Vietnam Airborne Brigade is now in Saudi Arabia protecting the oil fields after spending time in Western Ukraine training troops there to retake Donbass and Crimea that was another pointless mission).

  16. russell1200

    @Lambert, Yves and other Jackpotters

    Just an FYI not related to anything above.

    I was reading a Locus dual review of Agency

    The second review, Gary K. Wolfe’s, comments that the term “Jackpot” possibly comes from Heinlen’s “The Year of the Jackpot” (Galaxy March 1952) with it’s convergence of disastrous trends.

    You can find a nice copy of the short story here:

    As I said, not relevant to issues at hand, but I thought it was interesting.

    1. Roland

      The cover illustration on that issue of Galaxy is very striking–corpses pouring from the slot machine!

      I had thought this Heinlein story was well known, since RAH is a famous author and “The Year of the Jackpot” was anthologized, remaining in print for decades afterwards. The story itself, while inevitably dated in some ways, is more remarkable for how it isn’t.

      n.b. I had also thought this story had been dramatized on the sci-fi radio show, X Minus One, but I was wrong. That radio program mostly took stories from Astounding.

  17. John

    American corporations tripped over one another in their mad rush to move manufacturing out of the USA in pursuit of ever lower wages and ever looser regulation. Years pass. The USA owes “owe its soul to the company store” somewhere in China or simply to China. Oh my! Oh my! China has become an existential threat. Send for the marines, which might have worked in the 1920s and 1930s but China is not a tiny Central American republic. American business made the bed, fouled the sheets, and as usual when found out says, “Who? Us?”. Yeah you. What is not made in China?
    Thought Experiment: If all imports from China were to stop, how quickly would the economy crash and day to day living become, to say the least, quite inconvenient. China happily took what we offered until in the words of the song, “…we were waist deep in the Big Muddy” and the greedy fools said press on.

    1. coboarts

      “If all imports from China were to stop, how quickly would the economy crash and day to day living become, to say the least, quite inconvenient.” Yes, we would be a little deprived, but we will recover, although what our schools and universities are producing will be hard pressed to step up. I think, especially with NCs concern for reduced consumption, that this wouldn’t at all be a bad thing. And in the long run a good thing. But, let me add, I would bring those politicians and corporate executives who did the off-shoring of US technology and managerial prowess under charges of treason. And, no sh*t, deal with them like that.

  18. a different chris

    BTW, I didn’t comment on this when it came out but…

    MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews, descending to the Red baiting employed by Blankfein, said that “if Castro and the Reds had won the Cold War there would have been executions in Central Park and I might have been one of the ones getting executed. And certain other people would be there cheering, okay?”

    …this little toady would have stood up to Castro and accepted death over dishonor? Hahahahaha he would have worked his pudgy body straight to the top of the propaganda machine. I mean really, it’s amazing when you get a window into how these people really see themselves.

    1. The Rev Kev

      News Flash! Well-known MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews was found dead in New York’s Central Park this morning in what seems to be an execution-style hit. It was reported that the last thing that he managed to do was to form the words “BS” in the snow with his silver tongue. A police spokesman stated that it was a shame that he did not try to identify his assailant with his last breath but merely formed an acronym for a swear word instead.

  19. Eric

    RE: “So many more people understand the meaning of Neoliberalism today, and that’s a huge thing”.

    People may understand the effects of neoliberalism but I doubt they understand the term.

    I don’t like the term myself and I think it is counter productive and over used, especially on this site.

    It may be the right term for describing economic policy, but as one of my mentors said many years ago, “It’s not enough to be right”.

    Does the “Left” want to win an election or a word fight?

    “Neo” implies new to me. To the average man on the street, saying neoliberalism could very well conjure up an image of over educated liberals who supports Bernie Sanders nowadays.

    It’s “High Popalorum”. It makes proponents of the term sound liberal when we know they are not.

    The web site had a great
    article on the origins of fascism back in December. Look it up. The tactic and word “privatization” come up repeatedly. Mussolini and Hitler both did it.

    The term “neofascism” is the better
    term to me. Just like “Medicare For
    All” is a much better term than “Universal Health Care”.

    Words matter. Not to make word salad, but to convey ideas that resonate to the man or woman on the street.

    1. HotFlash

      Neofascism — I like it. Explains several things in a useful way. Than you, Eric, this word is going in my vocabulary right now.

      1. Eric

        Thank You “Hotflash”!

        We need to engage with others and I have found the term “neofascism” helpful in that engagement and in
        understanding the world, especially with upper middle class friends.

        From the article I mentioned,
        “The Economy of Evil”:

        “Benito Mussolini became Prime Minister in October 1922. Nazis rose to power in 1933 in Germany. Mussolini convened a meeting of his cabinet and immediately decided to privatize all the public enterprises.

        On December 3, 1922, they passed a law where they promised to reduce the size and function of government, reform tax laws and also reduce spending.

        This was followed by mass privatization. He privatized the post office, railroads, telephone companies, and even the state life insurance companies. Afterward, the two firms that had lobbied the hardest: Assicurazioni Generali (AG) and Adriatica di Sicurtà (AS), became a de-facto oligopoly. They became for-profit enterprises. The premiums increased, and poor people had their coverage removed.”

        Later in the article:

        “Fascism isn’t the merger of corporations and government that is too vague, and too easy to confuse. Fascism is government functions being replaced by private corporations. Fascism is when the public good is replaced by private profit.”

        It all sounds familiar to me.

    2. notabanktoadie

      neofascism: fascism that does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, sexual practices, etc.

      Yep, that’s all that was wrong with fascism – that the oppressor class was not open to all. /sarc

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      The word ‘fascism’ brings more than a few connotations with it which would accompany the coinage ‘neofascim’. The technical meanings of ‘fascism’ are already so smudged by the other baggage that weights this poor word I fail to see how a new coinage ‘neofascim’ would accomplish much more than further smudging the concepts. I am not overly fond of the word ‘Neoliberal’ but it does have some nice properties — although it is already overused quite indescriminately as a perjorative and applied where it does not truly fit — rather like ‘fascism’. For example Neoliberalism is not at all the same as Libertarianism. However, the coinage ‘neo’ + ‘liberal’ does subtly call into question what the term ‘liberal’ has come to mean in a U.S. context.

      The “Left” does not want to win a word fight. I doubt the word Neoliberal conjures “an image of over educated liberals who support[s] Bernie Sanders nowadays”, “to the average man on the street” … any more than the usage “High Popalorum” conjures the Kingfish “to the average man on the street” [I looked it up — but thank you for the phrase — I like it]. I do not think the phrase “over educated liberals” represents typical supporters of Bernie Sanders … you swallowed some of the Kool-Aid.

      I do not know about other Bernie supporters but I would never start throwing around the word ‘Neoliberal’ with a man or woman on the street or anyone — even the “over-educated” — who is not deep into politics and economics — as I believe characterizes most of the people who read the posts and links on this site. [By-the-way … how can anyone be “over-educated”?]

      I fully agree that “Neoliberal” is not a felicitous term — but how many technical terms in any specialization are. You are quite right about the critical importance of the terms used for making a case. For example consider the coinage “Global Warming” to describe the human caused transition from the nice relatively stable and mild climate Humankind enjoyed to whatever is coming? Some of the same think tanks that work on Neoliberal ideology worked on crafting this anodyne coinage. How about the coinage “Death Tax”? I am open to a better coinage to mean Neoliberal, especially if it protects the technical meaning of this word but “neofascism” … really?

      1. Eric

        Thanks Jeremy for your constructive comment. As I replied to Hotflash, it’s about engaging people with words that resonate.

        I don’t use the term “neofascism” to everyone I meet; I was just pushing back against the term “neoliberalism” used so often at NC and speculating what it might mean to the man on the street. Perhaps a pollster or a psychologist can tell us what either term conjures up.

        I live in Central, PA; an area James
        Carville once described as: “Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and
        Pittsburgh with Alabama in between”. This is Trump country
        and it is particularly difficult to find
        ways to engage Trump supporters.

        And it’s only getting worse. Lately, it’s not good enough to call Sanders a socialist; he’s now being
        called a communist. But Sanders
        polls well against Trump, even here, so there is hope that effective messaging can work.

        If there’s a takeaway from Hotflash and your comment; it’s that we should share what works or doesn’t work to engage people. I personally use “neofascism” to engage upper middle class friends.

        There is a reason candidates hire people like James Carville or Steve Bannon and we need to respect what they do and how they do it.

        Did you know James Carville
        rose to prominence by helping elect Bob Casey, Sr. as Governor of PA in 1988 bc. (before Clinton).

        Whenever I hear James Carville or Steve Bannon, I hear echos of Huey Long. Thanks Jeremy, for bothering to look up “High Popalorum”

        Here’s an excerpt from that

        ‘That High Popalorum is made from the bark off the tree that we take from the top down. And that Low Popahirum is made from the bark that we take from the root up.’

        And the only difference that I have found between the Democratic leadership and the Republican leadership was that one of ’em was skinning you from the ankle up and the other from the ear down — when I got to Congress”

        An 85 year old message that still rings true and resonates broadly. And it was written in era of rising fascism.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          For what it is worth — I find it increasingly difficult to engage anyone in a political discussion regardless of the terms I use. Advocacy and debate are seeking new depths — digging trenches in the deepest ocean trenches. One thing does still seem to work sometimes — I try to elicit more information about some complaint I sensed in someone or overheard them speak upon. If I listen with my full attention some people will continue talking. From there I try to broaden the discussion by placing their complaints into a larger context. I avoid labels and name calling as best I can trying to stick with what’s real in the life of the person I am engaging. I cannot say I have convinced anyone of anything. But, I have been able to learn a little more about how other people feel and think and I value that.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Coronavirus: Joshua Wong’s Demosisto imports 100,000 face masks to give to underprivileged Hongkongers amid shortage”

    Not really a story. A US-supported Chinese activist receives funded supplies from the US in order to make himself look good in Hong Kong.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Thanks for this link! Have forwarded to some friends. One is a good-hearted member of the PMC who IMO has difficulty noticing how class interests cloud objective assessment of policy proposals.

  21. Typing Chimp

    The Bloomberg article headlined “Australia, South Korea, Brazil Are the Major Economies Most Exposed to China Trade” is based on incorrect assumptions and muddled logic.

    Once again, capital flows drive trade flows.

    If China wants to reach its 6% growth target, it can easily do so so long as it does not reach its debt constraints (which it must be approaching soon, actually). It will simply spend until it reaches those targets.

    And it needs to spend on large, useless capital projects to reach 6%, since local demand is anemic and sure as hell isn’t going to pick up this quarter or next.

    And although I am being lazy and haven’t actually looked at the bilateral trade between China and Australia, Brazil, etc., if it spends on large useless capital projects, China will likely need to continue importing from those countries.

    And because it then parks all its funds in US Treasurys, the US trade deficit will likely get a whole lot worse, unless other countries like Japan and Germany cool off their buying sprees (unlikely, IMO)

  22. XXYY

    Democrats fear rule of law crumbling under Trump The Hill

    Wait, didn’t Obama spend eight years directing flying killer robots to assassinate people in foreign countries all over the world?

    1. inode_buddha

      Ja. “It’s ok when We do it!”

      Hypocrisy is the tell of those who have no soul, because they sold it already at the altar of Mammon.

    2. CuriosityConcern

      I am making an effort to understand your comment. You are saying rule of law in the US is defunct because Obama continued a Bush era military policy? Are you and I personally free of the law now?
      I suppose I see a point about selective concern, but I don’t see how that wouldn’t just boil down to bothsiderism which doesn’t really halt our slow but accelerating slide. I don’t see anything positive coming out of this situation unless the bases of both parties hold their own leaders responsible, with consequences for lawless behavior.

      1. Pat

        No they are saying the hysteria about state of the rule of law in the US is not based on the deterioration of said state but on who is in charge.

        I am sure most here would agree with your assessment that leaders of BOTH parties should be held accountable. But it isn’t about both and that is not what the “Democrats” fear in this. That can be seen in the impeachment process where the clearly corrupt actions of the Bidens were largely swept aside or denied.

        1. CuriosityConcern

          Ok, I see the point. I’m not an Obama fan boy, I remember extreme disappointment on the lack of anything other than centrist dog food during those times. And in my gp comment I see how I condemned bothsiderism and then in the next sentence exhorted both sides to do something, but as a dem, what’s my motivation to clean my own house while the extreme right is dragging the country through the Overton window all the way over to the high ceilinged Overton hanger door? And by extreme right I mean the think tanks and astroturf factories.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Think of the allegiance you owe that is one step above your (and my) Dem history: your allegiance to the country and the institutions that make it function.

            BothSiderism is exactly what is prescribed. As in Both Sides need to respect the rules. Dems weaponizing impeachment is just as big a threat to President Sanders as anything institutional the right has done. Obama turning Brennan et al loose to fabricate evidence against a political rival from the other party trumps the very idea of American democracy. The Obama/Holder Doctrine of Too Big To Fail reverberates to this day.

            A cop pulls you over for running a stop sign. Your protests “but the guy before me did it too!” never work, and they shouldn’t.

          2. inode_buddha

            I would think that the desire to have some semblance of credibility would be enough to clean ones own house regardless of what the other guy is doing. Why should anyone listen to the Dems if they are doing the exact same society-destroying crap that the Repubs do? It’s ultimately a moral question: if both sides have the same morals, or lack thereof, then what is the difference between them? Why should anyone care?

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      And their new champion is a guy who defied the court ruling on stop-and-frisk until his position was untenable, and who got rid of the two-term limit. And aren’t those two of the things they’re most concerned about with Trump?

      Maybe the Sanders campaign ought to use Bill de Blasio as their MSDNC surrogate. It would be more difficult to treat him with total contempt, and he could take it on as a way of deprogramming the poor, unfortunate souls that listen to it with the sound on.

  23. Jason Boxman

    Why does the Nevada Democrat Party have a caucus “war room”? Is the vote taking place during combat? Who comes up with these names?

    And where did the 20k for all these iPads come from, anyway, plus cell service? How is this a good use of funds?

    1. human

      The article implied 2000 devices. At $100 each that is $200,000. So, the total is more likely in the neighborhood of $500,000, a more interestimg target for PMC consultant grift.

  24. antidlc

    Bloomberg Has Built a Star Wars Machine to Try to Steal the Democratic Nomination

    from wall street on parade . com

    I cannot get the link to post here.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      I took one for the team and watched the entire Mini Mike interview on the Stephen Colbert show.

      Firstly I can happily report that I do not think this man will be president. His entire persona reads: awkward. From demeanor through to body language through to content. He emits a steady stream of banalities, packaged responses to zingers, non sequiturs, and head scratchers. But most interesting is the effect he seems to expect from his flow of anodyne oddness: he expects oohs and aahs and adulation from it. This is a man who for a very long time has been completely out of touch with any people willing to disagree with him. Noblesse oblige with an enormous dose of entitlement, capped off with the palpable bastardry of the corporate titan. No real vestiges of self-awareness, certainly not any situational humility, even in the face of pursuing the august mantle of the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth.

      I also could not detect any political philosophy, apart from a few trendy catch phrases like “inequality” and “sustainability”. It’s clear that he has programmed himself to say things about those topics, and even spend lavishly on them, but it is not clear in the slightest that he believes any of them. His conviction is clear on only one point: that he can be president if he feels like it.

      He made Elizabeth Warren’s attempts to appear approachable and human look authentic, which is saying alot. I left with the feeling that he is not even a person, more of a brand and a cipher and a corporate construct. FDR had charisma; JFK had charisma; Reagan had charisma; Obama had charisma. This man could bathe in an ocean of charisma and emerge without a single drop on him.

  25. PhilK

    Caitlin gets sarcastic:

    If you can’t take it from me, take it from the cold, hard numbers: if Democrats want to beat Trump, they need to nominate a centrist. Someone who rejects the extremes of Bernie’s far left and Trump’s far right and instead espouses sensible, middle-of-the-road values like endless war and military expansionism, rapacious ecocide, corrupt plutocracy, crushing domestic austerity measures, new cold war nuclear escalations, continued deregulation of sociopathic financial and commercial institutions, police militarization, unprecedented levels of imprisonment, Orwellian surveillance programs, internet censorship, and ever-mounting authoritarianism.

    You know, the moderate position.

    Op-Ed: Dems Should Do The Sensible Thing And Nominate A Moderate Rapacious Psychopath

    1. inode_buddha

      I fail to see the sarcasm in a statement of fact regarding socio-economic and political reality. But then again, I’m an American.

  26. Samuel Conner

    This older item:

    was featured at my home-page advert-gater. I like “Settlers of Cataan”, though the few themed expansion sets I have seen are not IMO as good as the base game.

    The thought occurs that if the Sandersian “political revolution” does not triumph this election cycle, there might be an opportunity for, and utility in, development of a multiplayer board game that introduces players to the various forms of chicanery that the duopoly (but especially the D party) employ to ensure their preferred election outcomes.

    Call it “Primary!”

    Each player (but one — this would have to be at least a 3 player game) would represent a candidate for the presidential nomination of the party. For lack of a better name, one could call the game party the “Democratic Republicans”.

    There would be various “lanes” for the different types of candidates, and one player would represent the DR Party establishment. The DR Party player would have various ways of tilting the field against the public interest candidate. The candidate players would have in-game ways of organizing their campaigns, raising money, making or responding to news, etc, etc.

    There would be either a single winner — the candidate running on a platform aligned with public preferences or two winners, the DR establishment and any one of the candidates running with the intent to frustrate policies aligned with public preferences.

    I have no skill in game design, but there would seem to be endless opportunity for clever game system design that could also serve a political education function into how our rulers keep us down.

    Just thinking out loud.

    Maybe some Sanders people who read NC (and I’m sure that there are some whose job description includes that) would care to start a Kickstarter campaign to design such a game.

    Or maybe the Germans will beat us to it.

  27. allan

    Boeing Taps Feinberg to Distribute Money for 737 MAX Community Assistance [WSJ]

    Boeing Co. BA -0.68% said it had enlisted victim-compensation attorney Kenneth Feinberg to distribute $50 million to communities affected by two crashes involving the 737 MAX.

    The plane maker pledged $100 million last year to support families and communities affected by a Lion Air crash in waters near Jakarta, Indonesia, and an Ethiopian Airlines crash in Ethiopia. …

    Boeing had previously hired Mr. Feinberg to distribute the first $50 million as direct payments to families of people who died in the crashes. Mr. Feinberg and Ms. Biros have been identifying recipients for those funds around the world and distributing the money in equal chunks of about $144,500. They said in an interview that they are nearing the end of that program and have made 304 payments so far.

    The community assistance funds will present a different challenge. Mr. Feinberg and Ms. Biros said they would have to determine which community projects will be the most effective, balancing desires of family groups that have been set up around the world in the wake of the crashes, local communities, and government entities. …

    Fun fact: in the 2018 documentary Always at the Carlyle about the fabulously expensive Upper East Side hotel
    favored by the rich and famous, Kenneth Feinberg is briefly interviewed at the check-in desk,
    claiming to have stayed at the Carlyle more nights than any other person.

    A brutal job, but someone has to do it.

  28. D. Fuller

    Concerning “Bull Meets China Shop: Why The President Tweets Fail Another Causality Test By The Media”.

    If I subscribed to Scalia’s Rule of Law? As embodied by Citizens United… the article would be correct. There is no causality, the article argues. Trump tweeted, the next day The DoJ reviewed and recommended shorter sentencing. There was no EXPLICIT two-way conversation between Trump and DoJ about reducing the sentencing recommendations.

    Human nature is ignored.

    Let’s examine a prior case. The prosecution of Bowe Bergdahl, in which Trump tweeted as Commander-in-Chief. Bergdahl’s sentence was subsequently much reduced. The judges in the case cited “undue command influence” which is very real, that Bergdahl would have used (most likely successfully) in appealing his sentencing. Why did Trump go after Bergdahl? He wanted to please his base. The Right was angry about five Taleban being traded for Bowe Bergdahl’s release despite the fact that The DoD was prosecuting Bergdahl. We now see a potential deal which will possibly see the release of 5,000 with Trump as C-in-C.

    Let’s return to Scalia and Citizens United. In which The Conservatives on The Supreme Court ruled that there must be EXPLICIT evidence of quid pro quo in order to prosecute officials on charges of public corruption. Video, written contract, or similar evidence spelling out an exchange of favors must be obtained. Evidence more than suggest that politicians and public officials will act in the best interests of donors and other special interest in the EXPECTATION of reward. Scalia and the other Conservatives on The Supreme Court call this, “showing gratitude”.

    Trump, by being The President, exerting influence among like-minded individuals – did have a conversation with The DoJ. A very public one-way conversation. Results followed. When what should have happened is that the judge in the case? The judge should have determined appropriate sentencing and if deemed excessive… Stone’s lawyers would have appealed.

    Legally, without EXPLICIT evidence of undue influence in which there is a two-way conversation in which collusion is shown? No actions that fit the definition of the crime will ever be prosecuted without EXPLICIT evidence of quid pro quo.

    That is not how the real world works. The mere expectations by a public official of reward for conducting an official act on behalf of an individual? Is the very definition – centuries old – of public corruption. Even the mere appearance of, undermines public institutions.

    When there are two like-minded individuals in which one-way communications are involved, in which one of the individuals is a subordinate? Undue influence can and does occur. The military recognizes human nature. The article would have us believe otherwise, that human nature is not what it is.

    The President can move markets with a tweet. He damn well can influence his subordinates without two-way communication occuring. Especially when those subordinates are of like mind. At the very least, Barr should resign for undermining public confidence in a very critical institution of The United States of America.

    Then again, Democrats under Obama did that with their Russia!Russia!Russia! nonsense.

  29. John k

    Cv numbers…
    First case detected about dec 1.
    Say transmission began in market around 90 days ago, around nov.18, when two were infected…
    71,000 infected now… this is about 15 doublings at a frequency of six days…
    Say, for those that don’t make it, it takes 12 days to kill from the time of being infected. (mortality calc would be higher if they actually live longer.)
    This means the number that have passed to date all became infected when the number of infected was 1/4 of those infected today. On this basis mortality rate would be 1775/71000 x4 = 10%, about like SARS.
    Confounding issues:
    Number of infected no doubt has been larger Than reported at every point in time, reducing mortality.
    Number of deaths may be under reported, both to reduce fear (labeled pneumonia and cremated) and bc people may have passed alone at home, increasing mortality.

    1. Samuel Conner

      My intuition is that the 10s of thousands of cases in Wuhan/Hubei are surely an undercount of the actual number of infected people because numerous low-symptom patients would not have sought treatment, and some with more serious but not life-threatening symptoms may have not sought treatment because of the “pay before treatment” billing arrangements in the hospitals. Those have since been relaxed because they were deterring infectious people from seeking treatment.

      The deaths in Hubei/Wuhan are likely less undercounted than the total cases. So I think the calculation proposed above will be biased toward a higher than true estimate of the mortality rate.

      I think that the numbers to watch in China are the ratios of “recovered” to “died” in other provinces where the outbreak started later and the public health authorities were better prepared for containment measures. Those provinces are likely to have a more complete count of total cases.

      Currently, per JHU CSSE “dashboard”, if you scroll by # recovered through the provinces (other than Wuhan), the “recovered/died” ratio is typically above 100 for provinces with several hundreds of recovered patients. Deaths in Hubei province are increasingly more slowly now, while “recovered” continues to climb.

      I certainly hope, but also think there is grounds to believe, that the mortality rate will be closer to 1% than 10%. It might be below 1%.

      1. Samuel Conner

        Further to the above, one could simply subtract the Hubei province numbers from “whole Earth” to get a geographically smoothed average ratio of “recovered” to “died” from areas where the reporting is hopefully more complete than it is in Hubei. Per the JHU CSSE dashboard, that ratio is currently about 70. If that’s a good proxy for the outcomes ratio for the future of the epidemic, it would imply a mortality rate of about 1.4%, which is pretty close to the 2% that was being mentioned in the news a couple of weeks ago. I suspect that with excellent supportive care, the rate could be considerably less.

        BTW, this ratio was proposed as a possible proxy metric, in the presence of incomplete data, for mortality rate by an NC commenter (I think some time last week.) At the time, the ratio was much worse than it is now as there were few in the “recovered” category outside of Hubei province (and the ratio in Hubei looked and still looks very bad). Perhaps it will continue to improve.

        1. Samuel Conner

          Make that ratio ~59, and 1/ratio ~1.7%. I’ve started a spreadsheet; am curious to see how the ratios change in coming days and weeks. The JHU CSSE dashboard does not present past data except for the running plot of #cases China, # cases rest of world, and #recovered versus date. If you want to follow specific numbers, you have to keep own records.

        2. John k

          Maybe. The overall ratio is 6:1.
          Other places may be better at keeping the sickest alive bc their med system is not swamped, while the least severe cases are discharged as cured. So ultimately the survival rate will likely be better than Hubei, but not as good as it seems so far.
          In fact this was probably true in Hubei in the beginning, before med staff became themselves infected and sick people kept coming in. They probably also were able to keep the sickest alive for a while, but not now. How long did the now famous doc live after he was infected?
          Lots of data not released…
          What fraction of those that didn’t make it were smokers?
          Male vs female?

          1. Samuel Conner

            updating my spreadsheet about 16 hours after the last check, the “instantaneous” (ie, since last data dump) ratio of “died/recovered” (World ex Hubei) is in the mid ’70s; 460 recovered to 6 died.

            The numbers are small and perhaps there are reporting timing issues that confuse this; things will become clearer as the “Delta T” increases.

            My intuition is that the end state of “recovered” is likely to take longer for infected patients to reach than the end state of “died”, so that the # recovered reflects an earlier stage of the epidemic, with fewer infected, than the # died reflects.

            If that’s right, we can expect the “recovered/died” ratio to continue to climb, and it could climb above 100 for “World ex Hubei”, as is already the case in several provinces in China in which the # recovered is in the several 100s.

            I suspect that the policy change re medical billing (central government started paying for treatment of respiratory ailments to encourage people with symptoms to seek treatment) could have improved early intervention with supportive care, which could reduce the mortality rate.

            That’s a “wake-up”, perhaps, for US if there is breakout into the community.

  30. kareninca

    I live in Silicon Valley and I volunteer at an organization that has about one hundred volunteers. One of them whom I know only in passing, is an extremely nice Asian American guy. I think he was born here, FWIW. He is/was married; his wife was from Mainland China; she went back to visit regularly. On Jan. 19th she died (here), despite massive efforts to keep her alive (of course). She was 49 years old. From what I’ve been told (by fellow acquaintances) she had no apparent health problems. She suddenly had trouble breathing, and then went into heart failure; it was all over in a matter of days if I am being correctly informed (that part is not completely clear). They have two small children.

    So, am I crazy to think that this could have been coronavirus? Don’t get me wrong; I am not avoiding him (not that I see him often anyway) or anyone else; I am not seeing people around me dropping like flies. There seem to be the usual flus around. But this was really strange. Of course it is not being reported as coronavirus.

  31. The Rev Kev

    2020 – “Lift China tourism ban ‘within weeks’ to save jobs” – The Australian Financial Review.

    2021 – “Impose China tourism ban to slow down the rate of sick employers from overseas visitors” – The Australian Financial Review.

    1. Samuel Conner

      The thought has occurred that factories within China could reopen reasonably safely if they could provide at-site housing and living necessities for workers who are known to be uninfected. IIRC, some companies (FoxConn comes to mind) have factory dormitories (and IIRC the workforce in these residences was not especially happy).

      Perhaps its a crazy idea, but keeping in mind the conflicting imperatives confronting China’s rulers, that AEP wrote about recently, balancing public safety and economic activity, … “at factory quarantine” might be a “least unattractive” option, if it is feasible.

      1. MLTPB

        Yves quoted AEP about 10% showing up for work at Guangzhou.

        Concerned about catching it in crowded stations/vehicles and/or crowded factories?

        Will workers in China volunteer to step into quarantined factories?

        Is that palatable for workers in the west or elsewhere?

    2. MLTPB

      1992, Clinton: ‘Its the economy, wise guy.’

      2020: ‘Their best friend to the north under a very witty, intelligent, smart Putin closed their border. Why shouldn’t we?’

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