Links 8/19/2020

New species of “supergiant” isopod uncovered National University of Singapore. The pictures…

Don’t freak out, but it’s almost time for tarantulas to crawl around Colorado in search of love Denver Post

Will Uber and Lyft shut down in California? Fortune

Citibank sent a hedge fund $175 million by mistake. Now it’s struggling to get the money back CNN. This keeps happening.

Magpie-swooping season could be worse in Victoria this year as face masks confuse birds Guardian


Functional SARS-CoV-2-specific immune memory persists after mild COVID-19 (preprint) medRxiv. From the abstract: “[M]ild COVID-19 elicits memory lymphocytes that persist and display functional hallmarks associated with antiviral protective immunity.”

In situ structural analysis of SARS-CoV-2 spike reveals flexibility mediated by three hinges Science. “A stalk with three flexible hinges connects [the spike protein] to the viral membrane.”

Coronavirus pandemic now driven by younger adults, WHO says NBC

COVID-19 symptoms are most likely to appear in a specific order, research finds ABC Australia

Coronavirus smell loss ‘different from cold and flu’ BBC

What the immune response to the coronavirus says about the prospects for a vaccine Nature

About SalivaDirect CovidTracker

Cellphone Data Shows How Las Vegas Is “Gambling With Lives” Across the Country ProPublica (Re Silc).

Missouri Lags Behind With Limited Mask Mandate in Prisons US News. See J-LS here on San Quentin.

The pandemic appears to have spared Africa so far. Scientists are struggling to explain why Science

Pourquoi le vraquier n’a-t-il pas été arraisonné et pourquoi avoir attendu 15 jours pour monter à bord? L’Express. Google translation (or at least it ought to be; I can’t get Google to translate). Colonel Smithers: “More and more questions are being asked. As per this article by a Belgian captain, why did the ship’s captain cease communications with Mauritian authorities for at least two hours and enter Mauritian waters without permission and it took so long for the authorities to board the vessel. The author also wonders if people or illegal cargo were being dropped. The former may explain the life raft and jackets from ship found washed ashore nearby and reported by a local doctor after a stroll.”

Mauritius Arrests Officers and Tows Wakashio as Questions Persist The Maritime Executive


China, the World Bank, and African Debt: A War of Words The Diplomat

US and China to double weekly flights, handing lifeline to grounded carriers facing industry’s worst travel slump South China Morning Post

China Seeks to Use Access to Covid-19 Vaccines for Diplomacy WSJ

How Japan Talks About Security Threats The Diplomat

The Koreas

Cluster infection originating in Seoul’s Sarang Jeil Church spreads nationwide The Hankyoreh


How Did the Eastern Mediterranean Become the Eye of a Geopolitical Storm? Foreign Policy

UAE deal shows– world leaders see Israel lobby as a gatekeeper in Washington Mondoweiss

Why U.A.E. Struck a Deal With Israel and Why It Matters Bloomberg


How Scotland’s dream of independence came back into play FT

Preparing for my Trial Craig Murray

U.K. Scraps Public Health Body in Shakeup of Pandemic Response Bloomberg

Ofqual’s ‘underqualified’ £200,000-a-year CEO, its two-days-a-week ex-journalist chairman who flunked his A-Levels and the top DfE civil servant hated by Gove-ites: Three accused of overseeing exams chaos – as the axe hovers over regulator Daily Mail. How did Orwellian names like “OfQual” start proliferating, anyhow?

New Cold War

Putin warns western leaders over ‘meddling’ in Belarus FT

Belarus: Are neoliberalism and nationalism the only options? Yasha Levine, Immigrants as a Weapon

The Return of Great-Power Competition—Cold War Lessons about Strategic Antisubmarine Warfare and Defense of Sea Lines of Communication (PDF) Naval War College Review


Senate report describes closer ties between 2016 Trump campaign, Russia The Hill

Clinesmith, the Russia Lie, and the Deep State National Review

Justice Delayed or Justice Denied? A Response To Andrew Weissmann And Ryan Goodman Jonathan Turley

Trump Transition

I Have Spent My Career Advocating for Fair Housing. It’s Good to See Obama’s Rule Go. Planetizen

Democrat National Convention

Democrats nominate Biden for epic challenge to oust Trump AP

Democrats Drop Demand To End Fossil Fuel Subsidies From Party Platform HuffPo (MT). “Incorrectly included.” Well done, well done. Fire the intern.

“They have learned nothing….”

“… and forgotten nothing.” Thread:

Here’s a blow-by-blow description of NBC’s AOC debacle:

The Convention Has Finally Become What It Always Was The Atlantic


Election Beat 2020: Focus on America’s two largest recent immigrant groups Journalist’s Resource

Our Famously Free Press

How We Could Wind Up Banned From Discussing An October Surprise On Social Media This Election Caitlin Johnstone

The Press that Cried Wolf Matt Taibbi. This:

CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times and the Washington Post are now following the same script with the Trump panics. The pattern is consistent. Day one involves spectacular claims of corruption. By day two, placard-bearing protesters are hitting the streets… Almost always, by day three or four, key claims are walked back: maybe there was no direct “promise” to a foreign leader, or the CIA doesn’t have “direct evidence” of Russian bounties, or viral photos of children in cages at the border were from 2014, not 2017. By then it doesn’t matter. A panic is a panic, and there are only two reportable angles in today’s America, total guilt and total innocence. Even when the balance of the information would still look bad or very bad for Trump, news outlets commit to leaving out important background, so as not to complicate the audience response.

By now, my killer T-cells go to work on minute one of hour one of day one…. Unfortunate if there’s the media equivalent of a cytokine storm, but here we are.


USPS to Suspend Changes Until After Election WSJ

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Researchers Can Duplicate Keys from the Sounds They Make in Locks

How Northern California’s Police Intelligence Center Tracked Protests The Intercept

Miami Police Used Facial Recognition Technology in Protester’s Arrest NBC Miami

Facial Recognition Lobby Urges Caution on U.S. Zeal to Regulate Bloomberg

Groves of Academe

New law requires students to complete ethnic studies to graduate from California State University NBC

Sports Desk

Indian cricket’s sticky wicket FT

Imperial Collapse Watch

SOCOM didn’t consistently document whether more than $800 million in gear met key performance metrics or not Task and Purpose

Democracy Always Prevails In Great Power Competition—Well, Almost Always The American Conservative

Guillotine Watch

Bookstore Operator Denies Raiding Little Free Libraries for Stock Washingtonian

Class Warfare

Will you pay my mortgage? Bank of mum and dad withdrawals squeeze sandwich generation FT

Covid-19 rips through motel rooms of farmworkers who pick nation’s produce The Counter

The Unprecedented Gun and Ammo Shortage by Larry C Johnson Sic Semper Tyrannis

Antidote du Jour (via):

Not strictly an antidote, but surely functionally so:

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

      Ben Meng might be calling it NeCap now [/rimshot]

      PS Many thanks to the NC mods for their quick help. FYR, when I lately cleared my cache I set Brave to “block all fingerprinting”. That causes comments not to go through when I hit post.

  1. David

    On the Mauritius tanker story, I suspect the problem with Google Translate was that the original text included English as well, and so the poor little AI got confused. I’ve run it through again with the English paragraphs taken out. It says:

    The Wakashio was able to continue on her way to our shores without being worried as she did not respond to calls from the National Coast Guard (NCG). The captain said, before cutting off all communication for two hours with land, that he was making an innocent passage through our territorial waters. This is what the Prime Minister said to a question from MP Buisson Léopold on August 4th.
    What is the innocent passage? … .. (English text …)
    But who can say as the Indian captain did that his ship was “innocently passing” as it headed straight for our shores? So is it enough that a ship’s captain affirms that he is making an innocent passage to calm our coast guards, who did not set out to meet the Wakashio but only tried to enter into radio communication? with the latter? Article 221 of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea also provides: –
    1. Nothing in this Part shall affect the right of States under international law, whether customary or conventional, to take and enforce beyond the territorial sea measures proportionate to the damage they have actually suffered or are threatened in order to protect their coastline or related interests, including fishing, against pollution or a threat of pollution resulting from a marine accident, or acts related to such an accident, of which one can reasonably expect detrimental consequences.
    2. For the purposes of this article, “marine casualty” means a collision, grounding or other navigation incident or event on board or outside a ship resulting in property damage or an imminent threat of property damage. for a ship or its cargo.
    Didn’t the fact that the ship’s route was more than suspicious justify that the Mauritian authorities should access it as soon as possible as soon as it grounded, especially since they had not boarded it earlier as soon as it entered our waters? territorial? In addition to the Wakashio’s suspicious journey, shouldn’t the silence of the ship when authorities attempted to contact it have alerted them? Especially since our borders are closed, as the Prime Minister himself recalled on August 11. “There was no distress call either,” he added the same day, even though the ship had completely deviated from its normal course. But all of this has hardly aroused suspicion on the part of our decision-makers.
    Therefore, absolute respect for the innocent passage by our authorities while the ship openly violated this right! And the government will not rush to raid the ship soon after the grounding despite the violation. It is not until August 9 that the CCID will access it, which is 15 days late. While waiting to know who decided not to react, the government itself has chosen to put forward legal arguments which make it clear that the decision was taken in high places.
    According to the Belgian captain, Marc Robert, in an interview in our columns on August 14, the ship had no engine failure, no electricity and therefore communication. He also ruled out any possibility of voluntary grounding to claim the insurance and did not find the argument that the ship wanted to pick up the internet or wifi convincing. And he cannot explain the reason for the ship’s journey. So there would only be the option of illegal unloading of cargo or illegals. Had the captain taken migrants on board for payment without the shipowner knowing? Or did he take and land an illicit cargo ship? All these questions remain unanswered.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks David. I was sceptical at first, but it does seem like there is something fishy about the official story. If someone has a subscription to marine maybe out of interest they could trace previous journeys of that carrier to see if its made some odd detours or stops on previous journeys. If you look at the ‘live‘ screen now, plenty of bulk carriers pass the island, but they don’t usually seem to go much closer than 20km or so offshore.

      Btw, as a poster below has pointed out – I”m sure you didn’t mean this error in your first line – but it wasn’t a ‘tanker’ but a bulk carrier. A lot of the media seem convinced its an oil tanker. If it was, the disaster would be orders of magnitude greater, the pollution is from its own fuel stores.

      1. David

        Yes, I admit I hadn’t checked the translation before I posted it. But there’s no doubt about the meaning. “Vrac” in French means loose goods of any kind sold in bulk (fruit and vegetables typically), and so “vraquier” is literally a bulk carrier.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the problem with Google Translate was that the original text included English as well, and so the poor little AI got confused. I’ve run it through again with the English paragraphs taken out.

      Thank you for this clever technique

  2. PlutoniumKun

    How Japan Talks About Security Threats The Diplomat

    This is interesting – of all countries, Japan is one where you must show most caution in interpreting the precise meaning of words used in translations. Its way beyond my language skills to comment, but I’ve had interesting conversations with professional Japanese-English translators over how political language has changed (largely, for the worst) in Japan over the last couple of decades. This is also a source of a lot of confusion on writings about the 1945 atom bombings, as so many of the writers known in English are not Japanese language specialists, and so frequently misunderstand their sources (this works in both directions). This can of course allow commentators to put pretty much any interpretation they want on original Japanese sources.

    The writers of the article however gives away their own prejudices in expressing so much surprise that Japan does not see Russia as a major threat. Even going back prior to WWII, Japan recognised that Russia was a land power, and so not a threat to an ocean power like Japan, unless Japan itself confronted it (as it attempted in the 1930’s, to catastrophic effect). Even during the Cold War, the Japanese didn’t particularly fear direct Soviet attack, they feared getting caught in the nuclear cross-fire. Even the very powerful anti-Communist strain within Japanese politics has always been anti-domestic-communism, which was always a very different beast than the Russian/European variants. Despite the proximity of the landmass, the Japanese have always seen Moscow as distant from its concerns as any European capital.

    That said, Japan does have a long standing dispute with Russia over the northern islands. However, this is very much a ‘cold’ dispute, nobody has seriously thought it could lead to direct confrontation, although there is always the possibilities of misunderstandings leading to something nasty happening. But its very much held by a fine balance – while Russia has a much more powerful military than Japan, its also noticeably weak in amphibious warfare, so its not in anyones interest to stoke up tensions.

    Seeing North Korea as a major threat is entirely logical for Japan, which is directly in the cross-fire if the North ever did go full on pyscho with nuclear weapons. And of course the North has kidnapped innocent Japanese civilians and may still possibly hold some. But in a deeper sense this is a reflection of the deep anti-Korean prejudice within much of Japanese society and a refusal to behave as a grown up in apologising properly for its colonial history on the Korean peninsula.

    1. Clive

      Yes, most journalism on or about Japan from European or US outlets is either pure hokum as a result of old, tired serotyping and biases or hokum as a result of maybe trying to aim for accurate and insightful reporting but getting hopelessly confused. The former, we can’t do much about, it’s endemic in our wonderful modern media. You just have to identify it on sight and not waste any time on it. The latter is not helped by the language barrier but the biggest impediment is not being able or willing to undertake original research and rely on superficial and partial understandings.

      The Diplomat’s piece is the latter. They get bogged down in so much of the boilerplate style of Japanese written communications — endless sentences and phrases which are used in a way which looks like the sort of padding out an English speaker may employ to give an impression of gravitas but in Japanese, it’s more a verbal (or written) “throat clearing” and scene setting which conveys, so the author hopes, their seriousness and diligence in the matter.

      As you say, for Japan, Korea is the only big worry. The rest are in the “keep an eye on” category.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, reporting on Japan is generally terrible. Ironically, its the writers who know a little about Japan who get it most wrong – its a bit like economics that way, a little bit of education about the topic tends to obscure its underlying complexity. The more honest writers on Japan I’ve read tend to admit that they don’t know very much.

        I’ve also noticed an increasing tendency to write about Japan using a very US oriented lens (even UK writers have followed this house style). I follow a couple of NYTimes writers on Japan and while some, like Motoko Rich, are very talented writers, they can be very annoyingly politicised in their writing, which makes me suspect they have a very narrow lens. I recently read Pico Iyers latest, and even he has fallen into a ‘oh, how funny and weird these Japanese are’ trap. I guess that sells.

        I do think though that Japan does more than just ‘keep an eye’ on China. There is a lot of jostling around as everyone is plotting not to be a loser in the post-US Pacific hegemony world. And contrary to the assumptions in the West, Japan and South Korea don’t see themselves as natural allies at all.

    2. David

      I’d be the last to suggest that public language on security issues isn’t important – I spent a chunk of my life producing it. But a well-known failing of academic commentators is to assume that public statements by governments constitute policy, and are identical with what governments actually think and do. That’s far from the case, of course, and generally speaking, public statements like this take into account what the government wants people to believe, what outside actors, domestic and foreign, may want, what it is acceptable to say, what it is obligatory to say, and many other factors. Language tends to be conservative from year to year because differences are quickly noticed, so language in general changes slower than reality, except where a new idea or meme suddenly comes into existence, in which case it gets used, even if there has been no change in reality itself. So this kind of analysis doesn’t really “explicate how Japanese strategists and policymakers think and feel about the intensity of security threats,” but rather how a government wants (or is obliged to) portray its thinking in public.
      These problems of interpretation are, of course, massively increased when you are dealing with a translation, especially from a language like Japanese, which is studiedly ambiguous, and where many things are not said. Although the authors seem to have some connection, at least, with Japan, they are generally discussing the English text, which is of course yet one more step removed from reality: it’s the Japanese government’s best efforts to portray its thinking, in a second language, to a very varied international audience that wants and expects different things. Few if any of the readers will have enough Japanese to compare the translation with the original.

      Yes, by the way, the Japanese have never been that worried about Russia: it’s N Korea that worries them, since every major Japanese conurbation is within striking distance of NK conventional missiles.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes – this is one reason why I can justify my military hardware nerdiness – I firmly believe that you can best understand what a countries political/security establishment is really thinking, not by reading its policy papers, but by looking at what it spends its hard cash on.

        For example, South Koreas massive investment in ballistic missile technology for its submarines is a very eloquent statement on what it sees as its countries future. Japans strong emphasis on ambitious assault vessels and long range air superiority aircraft similarly tells a story (albeit a sightly more complex one). And anyone who doubts Taiwan’s determination to stop China moving in should look at where it is putting its spare cash (no, not off-shore, but on mid-range anti-shipping weaponry). The Vietnamese are going all out to buy the best Russian submarines they can afford, that is clearly where they see their vulnerability.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            For raw facts, Wikipidia is surprisingly useful. But you need to read a lot about tactics and strategy (not to mention engineering) to really make sense of what buying X weapon really means (assuming there is a strategy behind it, and it isn’t just a general or politician getting a kickback). There is no end to the bottomless pit of time wasting obscure discussions you can get into if you follow military affairs, and 95% is nonsense by armchair generals and ‘yah yah, my countries tanks are better than yours’ type ‘analysis’. For unadorned discussions, the related youtube channels Military History Visualized and Aviation Military History Visualized are very good, although not so much for modern weaponry and tactic (they focus on WWII, but the general principles are applicable more broadly).

            For Asian history and analysis, there is an obvious difficulty in that very few western historians/analysts have a grasp of the key languages and cultures they are writing about, hence so many histories of the Pacific War and aftermath are so bad compared to those about Europe. It also doesn’t help that there seems to be a default that most military historians and analysts tend to be pretty right wing for fairly obvious reasons. My reading has just scratched the surface of whats out there, and I’m certainly not a specialist.

    3. Jessica

      I lived in Japan for most of the 1980s. I was fluent in Japanese by the mid-80s and did not live in an ex-pat bubble.
      Japanese did not seem to see the Soviet Union as a direct threat, but there was a nationalist dislike, even contempt for Russia that was highly encouraged.
      The one big military success that Japan could still celebrate then was that of the Russo-Japanese war. (Anything related to WW2 or to Japanese invasions of China was taboo.) The Soviet Union had seized and re-Russified southern Sakhalin, and four tiny barely habitable islands (the “Northern Territories”) that the Soviets also seized after WW2 were constantly mentioned by the Wagner-loving right-wing extremists and were actively used by the government as a reason to avoid constructive engagement with the Soviets (and later with Russia).
      This was also connected to the ongoing marginalization of the Japanese Communist Party. Curiously, when any issue around basic human rights came up, for example police torture of suspects or state support of religion or celebration of war criminals, the two groups that always stood up for human rights were the Japanese Communist Party and Japanese Christians.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thats for that Jessica. There seems to have always been (and it still exists) a very strong and extreme right wing nationalist movement in Japan, but its never clear as to how much support they have. And yes, from the little I know about them, the Japanese Communist Party were well and truly marginalised, despite being ‘communist’ largely by name only. I recall one writer saying that by most standards they were pretty mild social democrats, but as always, every political movement in Japan takes on a peculiarly Japanese nature. And Christianity in Japan for whatever reason has tended to be a lot more positive than the toxic variety of evangelism that took root in South Korea.

        Although interesting, Kim Dae-Jung (today is the 11th anniversary of his death), who was a very important voice for progressivism in South Korea, was a catholic. Among many other things, he introduced universal healthcare for Korea and is largely responsible for the apparatus that led to that countries very successful Covid response.

  3. John A

    How did Orwellian names like “OfQual” start proliferating, anyhow?

    Basically, think how ‘gate’ has been used as a suffix after Watergate for all manner of scandals etc., and then ‘of’ as a prefix after privatisation in Britain. These Ofxxx are supposed to be regulatory bodies that police privatised utilities so the companies on these now privatised markets play nice:
    Ofcom – telecom
    Ofwat – water
    Ofgen – gas and electricity
    I suppose some genius thought up Ofqual for the qualifications fiasco,

    1. David

      Yes. There’s a much-believed story that when the railways were being privatised, and a body was needed to supervise the new companies, the first suggestion was “Office for Railways” or “Ofrail.” But somebody spotted it in time.

    2. Chris

      How did Orwellian names like “OfQual” start proliferating anyhow?”

      I suspect that it’s more a case of Orwell being scrupulously observant about the way politicians and the civil service used language to deceive. Orwell was a great writer, and it’s not a new trend.

  4. Ramon Zarate

    I’ve had to skip to the comments. Belarus. Ok, it’s clear something has to change. But if you look at any country the west has “helped” in the last couple of decades it is dramatically worse off.
    If The West is to retain any trappings of civilisation as it slides slowly down the totem pole you would think we could step in and help these people rather just just drain the country of resources and use it as a nuclear forward firing post. Not optimistic.

    1. Alex

      It seems to be a mostly internal affair, with neither West providing much support to the protesters nor Russia helping Lukashenko (which is smart because if Lukashenko goes whoever replaces him will be able to maintain good relations with Russia).

      1. Olga

        The west not providing support, you say?
        Then what do we call threats of sanctions if Belorussia does not follow what the west demands?
        Support comes in many flavours these days.

      2. Maxwell Johnston

        It seems that Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania have their fingerprints all over this clumsy attempt at a color revolution; but other than this trio, I agree with you. Lukashenko is an oaf and needs to go; VVP has never liked him and will likely use this situation to push him out. I don’t think the Russians were caught totally by surprise (a la Maidan in 2014); a Russian FSB jet visited Minsk yesterday, so apparently someone very high up paid a visit. And the Ukrainians recalled their ambassador ‘for urgent consultations’ two days ago, which could mean that things aren’t quite going to plan. It looks more to me like a repeat of the Armenian unrest in 2018 (contested elections, street demonstrations, etc.), which ended up with a peaceful transfer of power and Armenia still very friendly with Moscow.

        1. Olga

          Thanks for telling Belorussians what to do… (“… needs to go”)!
          I imagine you have a plan for what should happen next and who’d replace Luk.
          And EU just refused to recognise Bel. elections – but that is not meddling…

          1. Maxwell Johnston

            Given Lukashenko’s recent comments about women being incapable of leading the country, and given Belarus’ bad demographic and economic situation, I would definitely say that he needs to go after 25 years. The Russians are fed up with subsidizing him. And I don’t see that refusing to recognize election results is ‘meddling’, unless you actually believe that 80% of Belarussians voted for him.

    2. km

      Anyone who thinks that the West in general and the CIA (and its Polish, Baltic and Ukrainian lackeys) is not in this to the hilt is kidding themselves.

      Any Byelorussian with as much brains God gave a turnip ought to look across the border at Ukraine and ask themselves whether that is what they want to be.

    3. Kurt Sperry

      The article linked to, “Belarus: Are neoliberalism and nationalism the only options?” is paywalled and I doubt a single reader here is a subscriber to the obscure website, “Immigrants as a Weapon” hosting it.

      I get that writers need to be paid, but nobody on Earth but maybe a few hundred people who are already fans of the writer will ever read this, which makes it essentially completely irrelevant. It’s like the proverbial tree falling in a forest with nobody around to hear it.

    4. Procopius

      I decided after 1956, Hungary, that we simply should not “step in” in any case. No, we do not have a “responsibility to protect” any minority group, like the oligarchs in Nicaragua whom we helped by arming and funding the Contras. Since the Founding, our State Department has always supported the bloodiest tyrants, because they represent “stability,” which means the lavish profits of somebody with political connections. I wish we would just stop.

  5. zagonostra

    >AOC endorsement

    If only she had the guts and courage…but alas there are no heroes, there are no politicians with the mettle to unseat the unholy seed of mammon that has corrupted the Democratic Party. Sycophants and cowards, profiteers and scoundrels, to the deep with all their rotten bones says I…time for some prozac…

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I’ll argue this is even better. Centrists are very publicly demonstrating how brand dead and vile they really are.

      They are out defending a mass murderer, John Kasich, Cindy McCain, and so forth and attacking AOC for following the rules. USian liberals are simply trash.

      I would argue the appearance of AOC speaking up is what really annoys the faux “woke” who would prefer minorities that followed orders like Colin Powell.

      1. jr

        I still cannot believe they let Bill “Horndog” Clinton speak at the convention. The man has been publicly accused of pedophilia. Are the Clinton’s so powerful as to override what must have been the serious objections raised behind the scenes? How degraded are these people? There seems to be no bottom line.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          An open attack on AOC, Warren speaking at the native American conference, and war criminals. On one hand, Team Blue is Bill Clinton’s neo-klan, but I suspect many are looking for the exits to avoid the responsibility of governing.

        2. Dr. John Carpenter

          Especially telling that it happened on the same day pics came out of Slick getting a massage from one of Epstein’s victims. Yes, it was a fully clothed shoulder rub from a legal aged woman, but the contrast is striking.

          I don’t assume there were behind the scenes objections though. Look at how they handled Harvey Weinstein for instance. Look at how they handled the Tara Reade allegations against Biden. For that matter, look at how they’ve supported and enabled Slick over the years. “Believe all women, except…” seems to be the SOP for these people.

        3. The Rev Kev

          I saw the article that showed Bill Clinton getting a massage for one of Epstein’s “sex slaves” so is he to be listened too? And Colin Powell is just a broken vessel since his UN performance. Michelle Obama gave her performance yesterday but somebody found a clip with her talking about how Harvey Weinstein is a “wonderful human being, a good friend” so what does that say of her character. None of these are people that you would want babysitting your kids but this is the best people that the Democrats can push forward. And the Republicans are no better. Just a broken system-

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Even before. It’s not like he didn’t know Cheney. He knew exactly who they were.

            His original claim to fame is the Mai Lai massacre coverup. Just a monster.

          2. anon

            Wasn’t Colin Powell one of the people who “misled” Joe Biden into voting for the Iraq war? Interesting that he was an invited speaker.

          3. Lambert Strether Post author

            > None of these are people that you would want babysitting your kids

            Four years to fix the party after Clinton’s 2016 debacle and what we get is… Biden.

      2. Oh

        “centrist” is DimRat code word for DINOS, right wing nuts, Neolibs and right wing Cons. I’m sure you’re aware of that but many people believe that there’s a center in the DimRat party.

    2. Brindle

      Yes, using “colonization” was effective and accurate.

      Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Retweeted
      Melissa Mark-Viverito
      specifically mentioning colonization in her speech was incredibly powerful. As someone actively engaged in movement to decolonize #PuertoRico, felt seen that’s for sure. Gracias Congresista. #DNC2020 #DemocraticConvention

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Jonathan Chair, Obama’s favorite reporter, is complaining about AOC using big words and proclaiming people who didn’t go to “highly selective” universities wouldn’t be able to understand those words. Hmm…I wonder what he is saying about predominantly white universities…and the people who don’t go there.

      2. Aumua

        Yes well, colonization is America’s big elephant in the room. It wasn’t that long ago, and major after effects of what happened still linger. We haven’t even really come to terms with it yet as a nation.

    3. km

      AOC’s speech is the logical conclusion of thirty years or more of “we don’t have time for purity tests or standards, maybe next election cycle but now we gotta fall in line to beat Bush/Dole/Dubya/McCain/Romney/Trump!

      The only thing any leftist of guts and courage can do is to burn Team D, flat to the ground.

      1. Wyatt Powell

        Hear, Hear!

        I might not like the Orange Bad Man occupying the office (honestly cant point to a single thing that he has done WORSE than his predecessors. Certainly sent less brown people to an early death than Obama/Bush) but no way in hell im voting for a propped up corpse. Especially since anyone with one working eye and half a brain can see that corpse is just a stepping stone for a “nasty woman” to get her hands on power**

        **For all the women out there (and the future generation/history books) how does it feel/how is it gonna look that the first woman president wasn’t elected to that office but got jumped in because her handsy boss kicked the bucket? Isn’t that gonna tarnish that legacy somewhat?

        There will be
        “First Woman President”
        “First Woman Elected President”

        ..ohh god im starting to think like Idpol Democrats…

  6. Stephen Haust

    One interesting point about the vessel. It is referred to in this title as a
    “vraquier”. In translation this means “bulker”, or a vessel designed to carry
    bulk dry goods such as wheat, coal or ore. Such a vessel is NOT a tanker,
    as it has been called in our famously accurate press. Although tankers and
    bulkers are equipped differently, both can be adapted to carry either liquid
    or dry cargoes.

    The photo in L’Express (Mu) reveals everything. This ship was a bulker.
    You can see this from the hatch covers on deck. A tanker, by contrast,
    would have a lot of piping on deck for pumping access to individual tanks.
    There would also be ullage covers for access to tank measurements.

    In other words, she would not normally be equipped to transfer oil to
    other vessels, such as barges, etc. All that would have to be supplied
    externally, making transport of crude oil in a bulker a significantly
    more risky operation with respect to spillage, fire, explosion, etc.

    1. Stephen

      I believe the oil leaking from the stricken ship is not its cargo, but rather its bunker fuel, which is a very heavy grade a barely-refined heavy fuel oil.

  7. allan

    How’s that reopening going?

    Notre Dame moves to online classes, closes public spaces for 2 weeks to stop COVID-19 spike

    [South Bend Tribune]

    The University of Notre Dame on Tuesday amped up its effort to slow a rash of COVID-19 case with a series of new measures, including online classes and the closure of public spaces, for at least two weeks. …

    The speech came the same day Notre Dame reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections on campus continued to spike Monday. …

    Going into Monday, the university had reported a total of 58 infections since the beginning of August. That total jumped to 147 infections after another 89 cases were confirmed on Monday, nine of which were backdated to before the weekend.

    The rate of tests coming back positive for the infection also remained well above the World Health Organization’s suggested threshold of 5% positive for a state to reopen. Last week, the rate jumped to 8.3%, then it was 44% over the weekend. … about 120 of Monday’s tests were for football players, so that means about 26% of non-athletes tested positive.

    Students on Tuesday were exchanging stories of frustration on social media, saying they had trouble getting tested on campus and being notified by contact tracers that they had been exposed to others who’d tested positive. …

    But it’s not the school’s fault. How were they to know that young people with time on their hands would act irresponsibly?

    … Notre Dame spokesman Paul Browne said late last week that the increase in cases was a reminder that the university’s coronavirus plan would work only with full cooperation from students. He said at the time that many of the COVID-19 cases have been traced to an off-campus party where students did not wear masks or practice social distancing. …

    Old-timers will recognize Mr. Browne’s name from a decade ago, when he was NYPD spokesman,
    routinely telling tall tales about female Occupy protesters assaulting officers with their breasts
    or how an anti-Muslim training video got made.

      1. John A

        In Britain, apropos potential rise in infections, Thatcher era tory politician Edwina Currie, famous for 2 things – having a secret affair with Thatcher’s successor as PM John Major, and being forced to resign as a minister over a salmonella in eggs scandal – has just piped up that as the government expects people to behave responsibly, the government cannot be to blame if there is a 2nd wave. At least her generation did resign when they messed up, unlike the current crowd of ministers and advisors.

      2. PNWarriorWomyn

        I’m standing by for the Mitch Daniels TV announcement about closing Purdue. Probably won’t be televised given his tee-vee appearances, but that will be the big one for me. IU has the medical school. If they close IU first, one wonders how long it will take Purdue to do the same thing?

    1. SD

      As a resident of western Mass., I’ve been watching the Williams College reopening plan unfold with great interest (as well as a front-row seat thanks to a family member who’s on the faculty).

      The basic elements of the plan:
      1. All returning students must take a COVID test upon arrival and then immediately quarantine in their dorm rooms. No family members or friends are allowed to help them move onto campus, and students are being encouraged to pack light.
      2. During quarantine, food service workers will deliver meals to a common area in each dorm building. Every dorm room has a mini-fridge and a microwave and Williams is leaving a “care package” with shelf-stable snacks and microwavable food in every dorm room.
      3. Williams is working with the Broad Institute program being run by MIT and Harvard to process tests quickly and is counting on a 48-hour turnaround time. Once cleared for on-campus access, students, faculty, and staff are required to take two COVID tests per week.
      4. Students who test negative after finishing quarantine will be allowed to form small “pods,” i.e., with a half-dozen or so of their suite- or housemates where mask-wearing and social distancing will not be required.
      5. Interacting with people outside of your pod, including other students, staff, and faculty, will require both mask wearing and social distancing indoors. Social distancing outdoors.
      6. Although the college has formulated a rather strict enforcement mechanism–including disciplinary measures up to expulsion for routine rule-breakers–it is nevertheless acknowledging that this won’t work unless everyone follows the rules.
      7. Faculty were given the option of either conducting online only classes or using a “hybrid” teaching approach–in-person classes before Thanksgiving break and online only classes between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. I’m honestly not sure how the hard sciences are handling lab work, but I’m assuming those students and faculty will need to be on campus. My faculty connection teaches in the humanities.

      If any institution can pull this off, it’s probably Williams (about 2,200 students), Amherst, Middlebury, or similarly well-resourced but small and geographically isolated schools. I hope they do, but I have my doubts, especially given what little I know of human behavior and my own undergrad experience. I will definitely keep NC posted with any interesting developments.

      1. bassmule

        Smith College had an elaborate plan for testing students twice a week, all the usual distancing stuff, and of course “deep cleaning” everything every day. What we found out they didn’t do was survey students for their opinions. And that they knew they couldn’t protect the town from off-campus student behavior. The last straw was when they were asked if they’d share testing facilities with the town and they said “No.” The college got the message, and Smith will not be reopening the campus to students this year.

        1. SD

          Williamstown was really pissed off about not being consulted or even informed about the Williams College plan. We’re smaller than Northampton up here, but I think ultimately Williams will have same outcome, i.e., sending everybody home. And the same access to rapid-turnaround testing applies here: It’s only available to college students, faculty, and staff. Not great for town-gown relations for sure.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > they knew they couldn’t protect the town from off-campus student behavior

          True for all universities and colleges, which is another way of saying the entire project is hosed.

      2. Judith

        Tufts has a similar plan regarding students and is also using the Broad Institute for testing. I seem to recall some other MA colleges are also using Broad for testing. That’s a lot of testing. How can that possibly work?

        Local people here have also complained about the lack of community input into Tuft’s plans.

        It is definitely about the money. I am guess one or two off-campus parties and the school will shut down.

    2. Kurtismayfield

      But it’s not the school’s fault. How were they to know that young people with time on their hands would act irresponsibly?

      It was irresponsible for the college’s to opening the first place. The only reason they did is to get their tuition checks and get the kids to commit to housing. They have been protecting their rice bowls and have zero concerns about the health of the students.

  8. Amfortas the hippie

    1. i wouldn’t let my kids(or my self) stand that close to a giant machine.
    2. the operator of that machine has real talent…such precision! Not easy to do! (I’ve rented analogous equipment, and can say without hesitation that i could not have performed that maneuver without hurting someone)

    1. The Rev Kev

      What was that discussion in yesterday’s Links about unskilled workers? That is a lot of skill right there. I think that a lot of this attitude is a hangover from 19th century attitudes about classes. A few days ago as part of a project, I was transcribing the passenger list of a small liner that ran between Australia and New Zealand. Instead of having 1st and 2nd class passengers, where it came to their calling the Saloon passengers were called “ladies and gentlemen” while the Steerage passengers were called in the records “labourers and domestics.” And we have yet to shake these attitudes.

      1. Brian (another one they call)

        Is it time to reconsider guilds and trades? One way to advance those that actually work and create. It meant a lot to our relatives. It offered quality, respect, real wages and a variety of rewards. I for one respect my mechanic more than I do my government. But that is the easy one. The mechanic actually does something useful every day. It is the embodiment of free trade. A skill can’t be taken away and the skilled become teachers.

        1. Procopius

          It offered quality, respect, real wages and a variety of rewards.

          Errrmmm… According to Henri Pirenne’s Economic History of Medieval Europe, there were frequent riots by the apprentices in most cities over bad living conditions, wage theft, poor food, etc., from at least the eleventh century to the fifteenth The regulations governing the guilds seem to have tried to make the apprentices and journeymen into serfs. The German motto, “Stadtluft macht frei,” “City air makes you free,” had a lot of strings attached.
          ETA: I don’t mean to contradict you, there were enormous advantages from the revival of cities that led to more freedom. Just wanted to remind everybody that things were more complicated.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      1. Yes, that was my first thought, one error and those kids would have been swiped. But then again, we allow people to whizz next to kids at high speed in SUV’s without a thought, so I wouldn’t be too upset about it.

      2. I love seeing an operator with real skill like this. For the past 6 months I’ve been daily idly watching out my window at a construction site just across the street from me. Its the restoration of an early 20th Century building, and all the work has to be done from a very small courtyard. The various crane and digger operators have to work within inches of workers on the ground and on scaffolding (far closer than standard safety would permit, but there seems no choice given the nature of the site), and its a wonder to see how huge loads of blocks and wood and slate can be delicately manoeuvred without an accident.

      1. jsn

        I hope there’s no way to trace who the operator was in the video because whoever it was broke a dozen major OSHA rules and would certainly lose certification (necessary to get on most construction sites).

        A beautiful display of the kind of skill that if generally supported would make OSHA unnecessary.

    3. Rod

      Just another manual work day for that crew–often the Machine Operator is the most trusted person on a Road or Excavation team for their skill and awareness– in my experience.
      Not to mention the that the Operator recognized what those kids wanted–stopped–backed up–and with Kid Gloves slid the spoils right into their smaller gear. Two girls? maybe see another Career Choice??
      Obvious a Parent was close filming.
      Nobody seemed to have “Liability” anywhere in their consciousness–although I would bet a dime to a dollar the Trac Hoe Operator recognized this was the most delicate and important move of the day.
      Exploring limits is how children learn and i expect something was said when they began tapping that bucket and i was so glad they didn’t get “snatched back from the possibility of maim and death” — ; ]

    4. Mark Gisleson

      I was impressed but not overly so. Every child who grows up on a farm spends time around heavy equipment. Anyone who’s run heavy equipment for an extended period of time develops a deft touch with hydraulics (and really do make better lovers).

      What I loved was the boy reaching out and touching the bucket. That’s what reminded me of growing up on a farm. Dad would drive by in a huge tractor (by 1960’s standards) and we’d slap at the wheels with sticks or our hands. None of us three boys were ever injured, but if you like I can show you several scars from my decade in a tire factory where injury was all but unavoidable despite constant OSHA presence.

      The difference? Farmers use equipment as an extension of themselves to do more than they could without machines, but the result is the same: crops and a harvest. In a factory, machines do unnatural things that humans can’t do without mechanical assistance. The equipment is much more complex, the human operators far more skilled. But whereas I still use skills I developed on a farm half a century ago, my industrial skills were all worthless after being laid off. Other than being able to stand on one foot for ridiculous periods of time, none of my rubber cutting/splicing/handling skills have had any impact on real life. (Other than to make me a better lover : )

  9. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: centrists dishonesty in regards to AOC

    -centrists are idiots. They are very proud of it.

    -without the specter of Hillary the inevitable and Orange Man Bad, this is a warm up for the msm to go back to their early 00’s and 90’s behavior. I bet msnbc has a bunch of ads ready to go for after the election about MSnbc will be sprinting to the right.

      1. jsn

        Right! The only space between the Ds and the extreme right is filled with Republicans.

        So now the best Ds can hope for is electrolysis, sharing electrons with the dissimilar mentals they’re pressing up against on their right.

        1. Synoia

          Imagine our beloved leaders in Cloud, as a giant green/purple mass with a little red on the right and a little blue on the left, both rapidly fading into a sea of purple, with green highlights; green whose incandescent brilliance overshadows all other colors.

  10. fresno dan

    Clinesmith, the Russia Lie, and the Deep State National Review

    I think the author fails to emphasize the main point – Carter Page was well known as a CIA source. It took dozens, if not perhaps hundreds of people who should have known something was fishy to have an aggressive ignorance not to know that Carter Page’s surveillance just didn’t make sense. ONCE!!! 4 times is like – preposterous.
    Again, if Trump hadn’t been elected, this never would have come to light. If Trump had been a standard politician, this never would have come to light. Again, go back to the Horowitz IG report, and it is simply beyond credulity that this was all just a series of blunders. Will any HIGH officials be prosecuted, not to mention actually convicted. The complexity gives all sorts of potential alibis. Its DESIGNED to allow for any outcome that the higher ups want and to generate rationalization and alibis afterwards. So many, many layers of review and sign offs…yet, failure…OR WAS IT.
    And yet, FISA court still exists. And yet Trump reauthorizes the “Patriot Act” – so is Trump just pretending to be outraged, or is he just incapable of doing anything about it? I always make the point that medicare is complex, and is designed that way, to perpetuate the status quo (i.e., the rich get richer). Does the republican senate or house seem all that interested in following up on this? There really is a bipartisan consensus that the CIA and FBI is performing as expected and desired. If Page, or Trump, had been chewed up by the scheme, well, that is just the price of fighting the commies and terrorists…
    Everybody knows how much I loathe Trump – but here it is, a conspiracy to rig a presidential election.

    1. ambrit

      The other “conspiracy to rig a presidential election” of note recently is Obama’s “Night of the Long Knives” to eliminate Sanders.
      On a related note, even though Larry Johnson over at SST might be characterized as an old fashioned “conservative,” (PaleoCon,) he has made a very interesting observation concerning the zeitgeist of the American present and now former ‘middle class.’ People are scared. Frightened people often do irrational things. Frightened people can be manipulated into doing things that are, when viewed from a rational and disinterested point of view, counter to their best interests.
      Various political ‘actors’ have trotted out the ‘demagogue’ trope to demonize Trump. They ain’t seen nothing yet!

      1. PeterfromGeorgia

        Agreed, it is the ones from the right that come after the right realizes Trump did not accomplish as much as expected that worry me . . .

      2. fresno dan

        August 19, 2020 at 8:33 am

        People are scared. Frightened people often do irrational things. Frightened people can be manipulated into doing things that are, when viewed from a rational and disinterested point of view, counter to their best interests.
        I agree. It seems to me that all the progress made in the sixties was due to widespread prosperity and confidence. Undermine that and people want to hang on to what they have, and fear anything new…

    2. The Rev Kev

      What that article fails to mention is the most important thing about the Carter Page case – the Two Hop Rule. This is where under a FISA court ruling, you not only get to spy on the target – Carter page here – and his circle of contacts but you get to spy on their circle of contacts as well. And in this case, this means that by spying on Carter Page, you legally get to spy on Donald Trump as well. How about that.

      And that was precisely why Page was targeted in the first place. The spooks wanted to spy on Trump to undermine him and perhaps get him thrown out of office. Yeah, I don’t care about Trump either but since when did the spooks get to say who was President?

        1. Martin Oline

          I was told that too, and I like your remark, but after reading Mafia Kingfish: Carlos Marcello and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, I believe it was entirely mob related. The author says Carlos put out the rumor of CIA involvement to cover his tracks. A link to a Goodreads review (a quote of Marcello, referring to Bobby Kennedy, the Attorney General):
          When you cut off the dog’s head, the tail dies</a

          1. Synoia

            Who can discern the division between the Mafia and the CIA? Both appear equally lawless and ruthless, and could easily work together for their own ends.

              1. tegnost

                I think they divested from one another, the mob took wall st and the CIA got the media and DARPA/ Silly con valley…they still collude on back room deals, as interested parties often do…

                1. jsn

                  If you read the Mint Press, Whitney Web series on Epstein all they way through, it’s pretty clear that the Reagan election was a mob takeover of the Whitehouse.

                  They couldn’t have done it without CIA complacency or collusion, hell, Bill Casey ran the campaign and Lew Wasserman was his main financial backer. And the result was the rapid expansion of what Shaxon calls the Treasure Islands who’s role is to keep significant international cashflows out of the US banking/taxing system.

                  Since then a neoliberal resource grab has been gathering steam globally outside any legal jurisdiction with the US military and special forces seeing to it that multinational corporate agreements are “honored” in all the lawless places of the world from the triple border with Brazil, Columbia and Venezuela or the oil fields of Syria and Iraq, or the opium fields of Afghanistan.

          1. jsn

            My list on the OSS, CIA:
            US clandestine agencies, and the State Department and Pentagon to varying degrees, have been involved in non-stop regime change efforts towards the global integration of populations and resources in this system of private, capitalist control. Mostly successful since WWII, these efforts began with Greece in 1948, followed by Syria in 49, Albania from 49-53, Iran in 53, 54 Guatemala, Syria again in 56, Haiti in 57, Indonesia 57, Laos 58-60, Cuba 59-present, 59 Cambodia, 60 Ecuador, 60 Congo, 61 Dominican Republic, 62-64 Brazil, 63 Iraq, 63 South Vietnam, 64 Bolivia and Brazil, 65 France, 65 Indonesia again, 66 Ghana, 67 Greece again, 70 Costa Rica, 71 Bolivia again, 73-75 Australia, 73 Chile, 74 Portugal, 75 Angola, 75 Zaire, 76 Argentina, 76 Jamaica, 79-89 Afghanistan, 79 Seychelles, 80-92 Angola again, 80-89 Libya, 81-87 Nicaragua, 82 Chad, 83 Grenada, 82-84 South Yemen, 82-84 Suriname, 87 Fiji, 89 Panama, 91 Albania again, 91 Iraq, 93 Somalia, 99-2000 Yugoslavia, 2000 Ecuador again, 01 Afghanistan again, 02 Venezuela, 03 Iraq again, 04 Haiti again, 07 to present Somalia again, 11 Libya again, 12 to present Syria for a third time, 14 Ukraine, Brazil again in 16 and Bolivia and Ecuador in 2018. Ongoing destabilization efforts are underway in Venezuela, Iran, Russia and China.

      1. km

        “Yeah, I don’t care about Trump either but since when did the spooks get to say who was President?”

        Going forward, the Spooks will have a de facto veto over nominations by either legacy party. If any candidate starts getting too close to the nomination and the alphabet agencies do not approve, expect legalized spying, dumps of opposition research collected under color of law, quiet conversations with party bigwigs, etc..

        In fact, we can be sure that if law enforcement will turn a blind eye if it becomes necessary to rig the election to make sure that the disfavored candidate loses.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Just an extension of what has long been the reality of “smoke-filled rooms”,, picking which kleptocracy-friendly figurehead we mopes are allowed to play out the charade of “democracy” with, there not being a real shred of “rule by the people” in any of this.

          Yet still so many of us believe in “our freedom…”

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      Will any HIGH officials be prosecuted, not to mention actually convicted.

      Not if biden manages to get elected. In that event, it’s a dead issue. I’d go so far as to say that ending any and all further inquiry into what’s gone on these last four years, and restoring the corrupt status quo of federal “law enforcement” is the primary mandate of a biden presidency.

      This all started with the obama administration, of which uncle joe was an integral part. At least to hear him tell it.

  11. ambrit

    The ‘digger’ operator in that little video clip of the kid’s having their “dump trucks” filled is a seriously skilled person. I have used ‘diggers’ and front end loaders on job-sites and can attest to how difficult it is to maintain that level of control over your machine and ‘load.’ It takes practice to get that good. I hope the operator is paid well. He or she deserves top pay.
    For those who might worry about the safety of the children there, I heard a female voice on the clip and figure that someone’s Mom was there and supervising.

    1. Jessica

      My guess is that the digger operator was Dad. If not, then an uncle or at least good family friend.

    2. Phacops

      I was amazed at the skill.

      It also points out what many of the PMC miss in their MBA haunted lives; that there are skills that result from expertise and experience in ALL work that defies the neoliberal assumption that workers are fungible and labor is subject to arbitrage.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “New law requires students to complete ethnic studies to graduate from California State University”

    Will ethnic students get extra credits? What happens if an ethnic student fails ethnic studies? Will Elizabeth Warren transfer to California to teach?

  13. Tom Stone

    No coverage of California Wildfires?
    Depending on how the wind behaves over the next 24 hours we may see a mid sized town or two burn, Guerneville and Healdsburg are both at risk.
    I evacuated last night.
    I hope to know whether I will become homeless by late evening or early tomorrow morning.

    1. Clive

      A terrible situation to be in and I can only imagine what it is like sitting there and wondering what fate has in store. I’ll keep everything crossed your home is unscathed. I know we’re not supposed to tie ourselves to material things but for many of us, a house isn’t just four walls and some furniture. It’s part of us. I’ve no special words of wisdom to help. It’s just, like so much else’s in life, something you have to go through and come out the other side.

    2. mle detroit

      Sheesh, Tom, keeping my fingers crossed for you. Also nothing about Colorado (I-70 is closed) or the hurricane in Iowa. The internet has isolated us.

      1. furies

        Me, too, Tom.

        Also have that daily worry here in far northern Cali. Smoke lingering in the valley, daily thunder and lightening, power flickering then going dead…and that huge fire in the Shasta/Trinitys…

        Life just seems to get harder, doesn’t it?

        Best wishes to you.

        1. Michaelmas

          It’s like THE SHEEP LOOK UP by John Brunner out here in Norcal today. Somewhere approaching the book’s midpoint.

          I just went out on some business to San Ramon, which is an outlying annex of Silicon Valley essentially and slightly less than 40 miles south of where Tom is.

          Everybody going about their business in masks (because of the pandemic) amid air pollution/smoke that only lets you see 2-3 blocks and is caused by miles-wide fires not so far away (in turn because of a heatwave resulting from anthropogenic climate change.) On Sunday, the local temperature was 108-110 F. so there was a power outage in Alamo and environs, not far away. Businesses shut because of no power. Safeway had a generator, but then that broke down because of the heat, and they were replacing their frozen goods yesterday when I went there.

          And yet even as this is going on, the mainstream media is force-feeding their moronic coverage of the virtual DNC convention to the masses. .

          Maybe we’re working our way through Brunner’s ‘Club of Rome’ quartet of novels.

          We’ve done THE SHOCKWAVE RIDER (theme: computer network takedowns of the social order; the first popular appearance of the term ‘computer worm’) and STAND ON ZANZIBAR (theme: overpopulation: world population is now way over what Brunner was worried about). We’re in the middle of THE SHEEP LOOK UP (environmental degradation and breakdown).

          The last one left is THE JAGGED ORBIT (theme. U.S.’s insane arms industry and gun culture and bloody social breakdown; see NC commentariat discussion below).

    3. marcyincny

      Here in CNY I’ve been reading about the fires all morning. I can’t imagine.
      Wish I could do something more than just hope you’re spared…

    4. Wukchumni

      Best of luck to you…

      Each afternoon the past 4 days we’ve had a torrent of thunderstorms in the High Sierra, with no lightning strike fires so far-so good.

      1. newcatty

        More good thoughts, Tom and all who live in Nortern CA. We have traveled there over the years. Beautiful. Have had mystical experiences in the Shasta area. Our daughter and grandchildren live in CA and they are always on our minds. Such strange times that we are all living in. Like Clive so elegantly said: something you have to go through and come out the other side.

    5. anon in so cal

      Sending you best wishes! Such a beautiful area. Horrible and scary to be evacuated under any conditions but especially during a pandemic.

  14. zagonostra

    >Black Agenda Reports on Kamala by Paul Street

    It’s an old game in American politics: Democrats posing as populists and progressives when they are owned by the nation’s imperial ruling class.

    As with Obama, Harris’ identity attributes – her technically nonwhite racial status and her gender – help cloak her captivity to the capitalist profits system that the right religiously supports. At the same time, as neither of the two major U.S. parties will ever admit, the United States could use a good dose of the socialism that Kamala Harris and other top Democrats are absurdly accused of supporting. Like something straight out of, well, Marx, the nation’s capitalist ruling class is grinding the American “democratic” experiment into arch-plutocratic dust, rendering longstanding majority-progressive public opinion irrelevant while wealth and power concentrate yet further upwards and millions of ordinary Americans are thrown out of work, off of health insurance , and into poverty and misery in the middle of an epic pandemic.

    1. marcyincny

      I don’t know. I’ve been hit with new sense of dread this week. The open display of Republicans involved in the Democrats’ convention seems like something more than the “old game”. It’s seems like final confirmation that the US is a one party state of inverted totalitarianism.

      1. sd

        Thank you for putting into words so succinctly something I’ve been feeling this week but could not verbalize.

      2. Dr. John Carpenter

        I feel the same. Were it just one outlier Republican, I’d say it was just politics. But that’s not what’s happening. I think the “moderate” Republicans are starting to abandon their party, leaving it to the monster they can no longer control, the Trumpers and Tea Partiers. And the Dems are practically giddy to welcome these people into the “big tent”. Interesting times and all that.

        1. Brian (another one they call)

          hear hear to you and the observations! I feel bad about the claim above about centrists. Once the populus goes crazy, they might recognize that their troubles are from being party to the R and D nightmare. Going back to what benefits everyone, beginning in the middle will make the politics far less important as we remove those that violate the will of the people.
          Let’s find out what we want to begin with. But that conversation can not involve the sociopaths this time.

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          to pat my own head a bit…i predicted the emergence of a Big Center Party of Adulting and Pragmatism as far back as 2015.
          Machine grows tired of the show…the Tea Party didn’t quite work out as planned…and the now constant threat of an actual Left Tea Party…or, heaven forbid!…a Left Right Coalition Tea Party(as in a Worker’s Party transcending the wall to wall divisionary efforts)…better to relegate all challengers to Fringe Status in the Round File of Conspiracy Theory.
          “only fools listen to the left right fascist socialists(=”Populists”)

          this development looked pretty obvious, to me, when frum and a host of other gop people went so blatantly for Hillary.
          from within Versailles, this might seem a good play…”we’ll just present the remaining voters with common sense, reaching across the aisle…it’s what they really want!!”….the AI in the basement agrees, of course…according to the focus group inputs and various robotic push-polls.
          But, for all their power and ability, i just don’t think the Machine can pull it off.
          Too much lies exposed…and the very confusion of tongues and distrust of media that they have engineered over the last 50 years has worked too well….and people no longer trust anything.
          Of course, this doesn’t mean that the People will suddenly embrace each other in a brother and sisterhood of democratic togetherness…the possibility of that is a casualty of the Mindf**k, also.
          I expect low turnout…lower than can be explained by the various bipartisan anti-voter shenanigans….especially if conditions ex-versailles get worse.
          They’ll likely declare biden/harris the winners….but few will care.
          focus on the Local….on what and who is within walking distance.
          the numbers of soon to be homeless, and of the jobless and helpless, do not bode well…and what if there’s a fire at a port?…a hurricane in Houston?…or some problem getting fuel for the Warehouse on Wheels?
          Our civilisation has always been the thinnest of patinas, and that patina is wearing thin in a lot of places.

          1. zagonostra

            And yet the Market hit new high today. I know that 50% of folks own no stocks at all and small sliver at the top own the majority. And yet, people see the headlines and think what a great system this is…It’s true people don’t believe anything, and yet they tune in to the MSM/corporate media…my own theory is that we want to know what the rulers decree and so we know they spew out lies, but we’re interested in those lies anyway.

            1. Tom Bradford

              I know that 50% of folks own no stocks at all and small sliver at the top own the majority.

              I’m not sure that’s true. Sure many if not most folk don’t own shares directly but how many have a stake in shares through pension funds?

              And the problem here is that every week or month or whatever tens of thousands if not millions of widow’s mites get paid into the coffers of these funds which the funds still have to invest for them, whatever the market is doing. What are they to do with it? Cash is paying next to nothing, and even less after inflation. The funds don’t have the expertise or structure to take on direct property investment so even if they see it as a viable investment they do it through listed companies. And the rest? There is only one place it can go. The share market. And all they can do is hope to ‘play the market’ successfully. That, I offer, is the reason the market seems disconnected from the ‘real’ economy.

              I do have a few shares, always intended to give me a little extra in retirement. And fortunately, now I’m in that retirement, my pension with a little dividend income usually exceeds my outgoings on a monthly basis allowing a small surplus to requirements build up over a few months. What am I to do with it? Splash out buying stuff I neither need nor want? Let it sit at the bank earning 0.1% on my cash account or 2% on a 2-year term deposit? Or ‘invest’ it in the stock market where I’m not actually worried by its ‘overvalue’ or ‘undervalue’ as long as it gives me a slightly better return by way of dividends than the banks are offering.

              Anyone who has paid into a pension fund and is now in drawing on it in retirement is probably highly invested in the stock market even if indirectly and would be in deep trouble if the system fell apart. And I suspect that’s a lot of folk.

              Is the system a good one? No. Is there a better, fairer way of allocating resources? Yes. But I have to work with the system I have rather than the one I’d like and if you want to destroy that system we have I want to know what you’re going to replace it with, and how.

  15. Alex

    Re the Bloomberg East Med article it’s amazing how Turkey has antagonised nearly all of its neighbours. (the article forgets to mention Russia btw). I wonder if they think they can bully smaller ones one-on-one and then somehow agree with the larger ones.

    On a different note, I was flying recently to Moscow (family matters) and a connection via Istanbul was the only practical way to get to Russia. I had a few hours to walk around the city and it’s as beautiful as always and the people are as friendly and helpful as always.

      1. Alex

        Thanks for sharing this. Excepting the claim of total control of the US by a certain Middle Eastern nation (sigh) it sounds plausible.

        If they are right that the US are counting on Turkey to become the policeman of the Middle East, we’d see a normalisation of relationship of Turkey with other American allies/NATO members in the region (internal-use rhetoric non-withstanding) and worsening relationship with Russia, Iran and Syria. Soon we shall see if this is the case.

        1. Procopius

          Given that Turkey still needs to get along with Russia and Syria in Idleb Province (where Al Qaeda [client of Turkey] is in control on some of the ground) we may not see any change in their relations. The fact that they bought the S-400 air defense system also got them out of their commitment to buy the Flying Swiss Army Knife (F-35) is overlooked by the mainstream press. Things are so complicated there (and in Libya) that it will be difficult to read the tea leaves.

  16. Off The Street

    By now, my killer T-cells go to work on minute one of hour one of day one…. Unfortunate if there’s the media equivalent of a cytokine storm, but here we are.

    Do those T-cells include Tendentiousness-killer cells?

    How long can the press keep up its faux-journalism?
    Oh, yeah, as long as they are able to buy ink by the barrel and keystrokes by the intern.

  17. bob

    Why U.A.E. Struck a Deal With Israel and Why It Matters Bloomberg

    This is the “ruler” of Dubai and PM of UAE. Funny how no one in the “business” press ever mentions any of this. Are these typical negotiation tactics in the ‘business’ hub of UAE? It seems like bloomberg’s readers might want to know these things.

    “Abduction, forced return, torture and a campaign of intimidation. On Thursday the damning allegations made against the billionaire ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, by his former wife, Princess Haya Bint Al-Hussain, became established fact, published in a series of judgements by the High Court in London. “

    1. Vichy Chicago

      Private Eye UK is doing terrific work tracking that story on Princess Haya Bing Al-Hussain.

  18. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Senate report describes closer ties between 2016 Trump campaign, Russia The Hill

    O.M.G. Russiagate will not die. Manafort again.

    Sundance at has written extensively about this. He has exhaustively documented that the SSCI (the senate intelligence committee), issuer of this “report,” was up to its eyeballs in the coup to oust Trump called Russiagate.

    When james wolfe, “security director” for the SSCI, was indicted for leaking classified material to his “journalist” mistress, he was allowed to plead to the lesser charge of “lying” to the fbi in an effort to prevent a trial, which would have exposed the complicity of ranking member mark warner and recently deposed, insider trading chairman richard burr. Aware of the complicity, wolfe’s lawyers threatened to subpoena all members of the SSCI as witnesses leading to the plea bargain. You may remember that feinstein was also on the committee at the time. She “resigned” quickly thereafter.

    It is a complicated but important story, and Sundance documents it better than I can. I’d imagine that’s the reason for such a voluminous “report”–the baffle ’em with bullshit approach–that is easily mischaracterized.

    Here is Sundance’s latest:

    1. Carolinian

      Your link a bit “shocked to see gambling is going on” for my taste. Didn’t we already know that the Holder DOJ–which became the Trump DOJ–was corrupt? Indeed they may have gone after Trump to paralyze him and keep him from clearing out that particular swamp. Same deal for the intelligence agencies.

      And any further revelations will probably sink without trace since the MSM will make sure of it. If we are going to have government reform we will probably need media reform first.

    2. km

      All I’ve seen are “six degrees of separation” type claims. As if it’s now illegal to speak to a Russian person or knowing a Putin administration official is now prima face evidence of election fraud.

      1. RMO

        It was over 20 years ago now that I read a Chalmers Johnson book where he stated that his belief was that either the CIA (and the associated unanswerable intelligence agencies) would have to be destroyed or the US as a democratic republic would be destroyed by them. He figure the odds were strong that the latter would be the case.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thats a nice essay.

      But for me the big question is why did IdPol take the direction it took, and why has it completely dominated all other discourse? Up until a few years ago, it was just one of many strands of thinking.

      My own guess is that it is because it suits a whole range of people in power, from administrators up to the billionaire class – for the same reason that political power groups have so often been keen on promoting ‘official’ religions and stirring up religious division among the masses. It both gives them legitimacy while simultaneously dividing people on the shop floor.

      1. David

        I wondered the same thing. I think a large part of the answer is that IdPol requires little or no actual thought or intellectual effort: it’s largely devoid of intellectual content, and what there is, is largely wrapped up in impenetrable jargon understood only by converts. Which is to say it’s a cult, rather than a discourse, still less an academic subject, and it should be treated as such. I actually think that patient attempts like this to analyse it, and the work on the otherwise estimable site New Discourses give Id Pol far more credit than it deserves, and Sullivan’s approach of scorn is better. Id Pol needs to be treated like Scientology.
        It’s appealing because it means that you can be part of a group, chant slogans and even rough people up, even while not having to really think. It’s the ultimate form of belonging for a generation (and their teachers in some cases) who were told to “be themselves” but couldn’t find anyone to be. With its fondness for action before thought, its herd mentality, its exploitation of grievance, its worship of power and strength, and its sanctification of races and other groups, it’s the closest the western democracies have come to a fully-fledged fascist ideology since 1945, and need to be opposed on that basis. (And don’t forget how popular fascism was among intellectuals.)

      2. Laputan

        It could be that, although I wouldn’t attribute too much of it to the strategic brilliance of the elites. My take is that it’s a confluence of factors – an intersection, if you will – that led to the dominance of IdPol in political discourse:

        1) The innate narcissism and tribalism of social media which the author of Harper’s piece covers thoroughly.
        2) The ease with which it can be accommodated – it doesn’t require material sacrifice, it has academic credibility with the imprimatur from schools of Sociology, Social Work and the like, and it plays to the bureaucracy’s fetishization of rules.
        3) Money – the rush to grow and generate as much revenue as possible has created the student-as-customer the prevailing business model for colleges and universities. Those students-as-customers now feel empowered to define what they should be taught.
        4) The absence of any popular political-economic alternative – Marxism, for all of its faults, still offered a countervailing narrative to the neoliberal paradigm. Academics reared in that tradition are now mostly gone. Once history ended, there wasn’t anything to replace it. And all that’s left are the IdPol remnants because of #2 above.

        …just to list a few. There are certainly more since I’m mainly focusing on academia, but this essay is probably the most comprehensive critique of the IdPol movement writ large I’ve come across. I wonder if this will spark an honest dialog where we can actually show that reasonable people can disagree on this topic.

        Ah, who am I kidding? The poor guy might have just put his job on the line.

      3. Jeff W

        …why did IdPol take the direction it took, and why has it completely dominated all other discourse?

        Vivek Chibber draws a line from “post-colonial theory,” a culturalist approach to capitalism and colonialism, which, starting in the literature departments of academia in the early 1970s, took over an academic Marxism in the 1980s. Referring to Hillary Clinton in 2016, Chibber says

        What is interesting is, as you say, that [Clinton] is drawing on this current aspect of intellectual and political culture to justify this kind of dishonest move that she’s making. What she’s drawing on is, basically what has happened in the past twenty years, is what it means to be left-wing or radical has been very successfully redefined by the academy, by professors, and by grad students.

        And the way it’s been redefined is starting with a correct premise, which is that class, people’s economic condition, isn’t responsible for everything awful that’s happened in their lives. There’s also the purely racialized oppressions that they face and gendered oppressions they face, and that’s absolutely true. Starting with that correct premise, it leads to the deeply incorrect conclusion that, therefore, if you talk about people’s economic conditions, you are not addressing the core and most important aspects and liabilities of their lives.

        [emphasis added]

        So, you have a co-optation of a putatively leftwing/radical theory (which, in its emphasis on cultural contingency and its refutation of universality, is not Marxist) by the corporate establishment that excludes economic conditions and further says, if you include them, you’re insufficiently anti-racist.

        There’s also an apparently separate line, in the US, where issues having to do with race and poverty, previously linked (from the 1930s to1960s) to economics and universalist approaches by mainstream African-American civil rights leaders like A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin (as described by Touré Reed), became particularized as “cultural” ones, starting with Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s famous (or infamous) 1966 report The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, which posited racism and black social pathology—separate from economic factors—as the root cause of black poverty, requiring particularized solutions. That became, according to Reed, liberal orthodoxy.

        So it seems you have these two lines—both of which focus on cultural issues (“racism”) and particularistic approaches to the exclusion of underlying economic factors and universalist solutions—coalescing as identity politics. IdPol gives the appearance of being broadly progressive—who isn’t “against racism”?—while enabling and buttressing conservative ends.That it excludes underlying economic factors and universal solutions, that it compels that exclusion, is no accident—it could be the point of identity politics.

      4. vidimi

        i think it’s because it can be used as a very useful weapon to hurt those who cannot be assailed with facts, e.g. bernie sanders

    2. nycTerrierist

      thanks, good piece — more nuanced than the recent Andrew Sullivan,
      and more incisive, imho

      1. newcatty

        Groves of Academe are now businesses. Rice bowls are filled and captured by sources of money in this world. Corporations, “foundations”, Think Tanks, and MIC fill the bowls. Is it any surprise that ID politics are the methodology of the administration ensuring that the college or department’s curriculum supports the sources of funding? From kindergarten to graduate school the agenda is fulfilled. The erosion and ridicule of public education is a necessary feature to ensure the kids become ” good citizens”. It is for the best interests of the public good. Charter schools and private schools will ensure that outcome. Betsy was a harbinger of the future. As, is often said: The future is now.

  19. Clive

    Re: FT / Scotland’s independence dream

    It’s not Scotland voting independence that’s the real dynamic in play. It’s England and an English desire for independence that’s just as much a driver

    My reading of the mood of the country (England, that is) is just as error prone as anyone’s. But there’s definitely a sense in some quarters (the polling is suggestive of it too, but of course you can’t place any eggs, even hard boiled ones, in the polling basket) that we’re at the limit of how much more whining we’re prepared to tolerate and disgruntled carping we receive in return for substantial fiscal transfers to keep Scotland — or, to be more exact, the Scottish political and academic establishment which is where most of it comes from — in the lifestyle it’s become accustomed to.

    If, too, Scotland thinks the EU is going to welcome another supplicant Member State queuing up to get added to the not inconsiderable ranks of EU regional development fund-funded welfare queens it’s already got on its books or that it can join the euro running 10-15% structural government deficits and get that past the Frugal Five, it’s welcome to try.

    1. Ignacio

      Clive, I agree with you that money (spending) is too frequently a political tool/excuse for nationalistic arguments. In the case of Scotland and England, if I recall correctly, there is an important divide regarding the relationship with the EU and this IMO goes beyond money. This looks like a deep political divide though I don’t really know how real is it. Is the pro-EU stance in Scotland genuine or is it simply another nationalist tool?

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The Scottish connection to ‘Europe’ is long standing and pre-dates the EU. Historically, the Scots have often had alliances with France in particular, and have tended to see themselves as more ‘European’ in outlook that the English. And plenty of Scots – especially on the left wing – saw the EU as a means of softening the impact of rule from London.

        Much of this is self serving myth of course, but there is also a grain of truth to it – for much of its history, if you set sail from any Scottish port it was easier to get to Scandinavia or much of northern Europe than anywhere in England.

      2. Count Zero

        There’s also the matter of England electing Tory governments that for many years then ruled over a Labour-majority Scotland. Once upon a time it was assumed that a government governed in the interests of the whole population and was sensitive to the interests of those that voted differently. Mrs Thatcher saw things differently. She thought she had a mandate to rule without any reference to the majority — who hadn’t voted Tory. A particularly crass instance was the launching of the disastrous poll tax in Scotland before it was tried out in England. An elected dictatorship indeed. She never had the votes of the majority of British people.

    2. bob

      Is it any wonder ‘they’ don’t want to be in a country with people who, hard boiled or scrambled, can’t say what they think except to pose it in polls or assert some sort of superior self depreciation?

      “My reading of the mood of the country (England, that is)”


      1. Clive

        Ahh, a writing style troll! You don’t see these in the wild too often, but that doesn’t mean they are extinct unfortunately, as you prove, the species is alive and well.

        The way this trolling works is (for those who aren’t familiar with it or sometimes inadvertently fall into its trap) is based on the inevitability that, when we want to make a point in written communications, you have to use the written language. You cannot use facial expressions, tone of voice, gestures, pauses and so on. If I’m in a conversation, I can express uncertainty by a frown or furrowed eyebrows. If I want to show that I am limiting the scope of what I’m describing, I can make a pushing my palms together movement or something like that.

        And for both written and verbal communications, there’s space and time constraints. We can’t talk and talk and talk without boring our audience or giving them a chance to speak.

        But written correctly communication is more stilted than verbal, so we have to use shortcuts. Such as “here’s what informations source A states, I think A may be right, but neither of us really know for sure, that though is what I’m asking you, the reader, to consider”. Because if we don’t, what we end up doing is writing something like “X, Y and Z are true, that’s the truth, that’s how it is, I’m telling ya. FACT!”.

        The latter is clearly ridiculously misplaced and would rightly open up the writer to charges of just making unproven and unsubstantiated assertions. But the former is a somewhat bookish style of writing and, in the absence of non-verbal cues and modifications can come across as a little affected and pretentious. There’s nothing the writer can do about this. The more self effacing you try to be, the worse the accusation of humbug looks.

        So as trolling goes, it’s somewhat effective.

        But of course, with any trolling, it always has its own Achilles Heel. The troller has no substantive argument, they only take issue with what they try to make the new centre stage, their problem with the method of expression. Not what is being expressed. They can hide their trolling, but it always, like a drag act’s unmentionables, pops out in the end. As bob shows.

        So bob, back to the cave you go. Save your trolling performance for someone more dimwitted than I am.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Preparing for my Trial”

    So the Crown Office is trying to block ALL of Craig Murray’s witnesses, ALL of his evidence and even his own witness statement. Just who the hell does the Crown office think that Craig Murray is? Julian Assange? Next thing you know Craig Murray will find himself in Court in a sound-proof plastic cage. There is nothing like British Justice. And this is nothing like British Justice.

  21. zagonostra

    >DemCon Day 2: Collin Powell

    I knew Kasich was speaking but didn’t know about Colin Powell.

    The most notable element of yesterday’s proceedings was the decision to feature remarks from former general Colin Powell and a video highlighting the “unlikely friendship” between Biden and former Republican presidential candidate and Senator John McCain…

    One has the distinct impression that if the Democrats could get George W. Bush or John Bolton to speak at the convention, they would jump at the chance. Perhaps this is still to come.

    1. Olga

      J Kerry also spoke:
      “Kerry referred to the strength of Biden’s “moral compass,” citing his support for war in Yugoslavia in the late 1990s, though avoiding reference to his vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq.”
      Good to know that Biden’s moral compass allows for an illegal destruction of a country – by bombing it relentlessly.

      1. hunkerdown

        Yugoslavia was a working socialist country. That’s the only moral compass that interests the ruling class: their own supremacy.

  22. DanP66

    The article on ammo and guns is about right.

    EVERYONE I know is trying to get guns either for the first time or to add to what they have. Cannot begin to tell you the number of people that have asked me for advice on what to get over the last 4 months or so.

    Personally, I finally broke down and bought an AR and 1,000 rounds of ammo. Figure that it is going to take about 500 of those to get decent with the thing, keep 40 in two clips in the safe and the rest for practice and because it looks to be hard to get. Even thinking about starting to do my own reloads.

    Cannot quite put my finger on it, but I feel that there is a LOT more violence and rioting to come after the election. No idea who is gonna start it, the left or the right, but you sense this underlying tension that needs to explode. My neighbor said he and his wife sensed it too.

    I have no idea if I will ever need that gun or if I will ever need to use my sporting shotguns for home defense. I seriously hope not. I hope that AR never does anything but sit in the safe or go to the range.

    That said, I have learned a few things, among them is that fact that the future is unpredictable and you never really know what is coming. Also among those, is that the time to buy and learn to use a gun is before you need it. As a longtime gun owner, few things scare me more than people who dash out to get a gun for the first time because they all of a sudden feel they need one. I’ve spent years learning to use, store and care for a firearm. I can strip them down, repair them, shoot straight and safely store them. Maybe most importantly I have spent a lot of time thinking about how not to have to shoot a gun and when and how and under what conditions I WOULD use one. You do not get that overnight and without work, study and practice.

    1. Carolinian

      An expensive hobby. Last time I was in Cabella’s (a fun if bizarre place to wander around) AR-15 rounds were about a dollar a bullet. Johnson says 9mm is about .25 per bullet and complaining that they now cost much more if you can find them.

      Of course I was just window shopping since I don’t own a gun. Things are still calm here in the boonies.

        1. Wukchumni

          I wonder how hand cannon fanciers will handle the idea that they have to sleep eventually each and every night where their considerable guard will be down?

          Is the concept that they’ll have shifts where somebody is always armed and dangerous in this war against an implacable foe, us?

            1. Wukchumni

              I’m relying upon a coterie of moggies armed with semi automatic feeders to keep us safe from marauding menaces. I reckon if they do as much as arch their backs, bad guise will flee in abject terror.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            we have a defense plan for the farm…for whatever it’s worth.
            practice it, in a sense, when someone hears a coyote too close for comfort.
            but if there’s that level of unrest…I’ll hear about it elsewhere, first.
            we’re hard to find, even by people who’ve been here their whole lives.
            and unless you know we’re here, and who we are/what we do…there’s no reason to venture down this horrible dirt road(especially impassable when it rains).
            I know exactly which trees to fell to block the road, too.
            But i don’t expect any of that out here…until the cities and suburbia are picked over, and a guarded peace emerges between warlords.
            then, and only then, will anyone think to come out here.
            By that time, witnessing the chaos from afar, i expect to have plenty of ears, among even the local bigwigs, about the need for civil defense.
            Moving the farm from the outskirts of houston to this far place is likely the best unilateral decision my mom has ever made.

            (and remembering Lambert’s common retort(Who gets the Nukes?)…i wonder if…in all the myriad wargames and tabletop exercises…if anyone has thought to contemplate what will happen to the nukes, etc should the country descend into anarchy..)

            1. Samuel Conner

              > what will happen to the nukes, etc should the country descend into anarchy..

              I’ve wondered the same re: the possibility of a constitutional convention. Reportedly, the move by conservative legislatures to convene an Article V. convention is nearing success

              This is a dated item; I’m not aware of the present status:


            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              > what will happen to the nukes

              That would include the nukes at sea. London, CT at the very least. I’m not sure where else. I wonder if the Navy has a contigency plan.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Dave Chappelle also has a similar take – but his approach is to get every African American to apply for a carry license on the same day. It would be very amusing to see the reaction if that happened.

          1. rowlf

            Guess who are most of the customers buying firearms around me? More power to them. They are also filling up classes to learn how to safely handle their purchases.

            The Black Agenda Report website has had many articles over the years arguing for people to buy firearms.

        3. PlutoniumKun

          Although on a more serious point, this is actually policy in Ireland. Weapons laws are far stricter here, but one key rule is that it is almost impossible to import ammo legally. All ammo must be made within the premises of gun clubs (its pretty much impossible to buy a gun without gun club membership here). This makes it far easier for the police to monitor usage, and it makes it very difficult for criminals to use stolen guns as they just can’t get ammo.

      1. jr

        There are less lethal alternatives to firearms out there:

        They are carbon/nylon bullet shaped rounds for magazine fed paintball guns with rifled barrels. They aren’t toys, thats for sure. They will punch through thin metal and shatter bones. Not as powerful as a firearm but cheaper and oftentimes less legally complicated. Two to the head would be a wrap.

        If I could, I would have one of the auto carbines and the yellow pistol but airguns are considered firearms in NYC. I have no desire to use one but I’d like to own them in case things ever went south of south around here. I don’t like guns but I do like a fighting chance.

        You can also buy compressors and pumps so you don’t have to buy your air. Ammo never goes bad. Won’t blow up. Much quieter than a firearm and it’s not hard to, um, “turn down the volume” although severely illegal in most places. Less dire accidents. Mix the load with some pepper balls and you’ll ruin someone’s day for sure.

        To that point: a coffee buddy told me people have been jacking packages from his building like crazy. If they can get in the building, they can get in my place.

        1. chuck roast

          jr…I’m fascinated by your posts…it’s like you are on the front lines…keep us posted. btw, there are three bridges to my little island, should we begin mining them just in case?

          1. jr

            Is it only the “front line” posts you find fascinating? I have so much more to say cr! As for mining your bridges, I hope you never have to. That island sounds cozy! However, I have drawn up a schematic for a mechanism that drops chloramine gas and marbles into a hallway in the event of a building wide invasion. Can’t you see it? Dozens of champagne bottles filled with bleach or ammonia shattering at the booted feet of the intruders….buckets of marbles pouring from the landings down the stairwell…toxic fumes swirling as the cannibal gang leader and her cohort choke on their searing lungs…

            There is a devil
            Who lives in my head
            Who dances and jigs
            As I lay in my bed
            All the horrible thoughts
            And things that I’ve said
            Is how my sweet devil
            Gets happy and fed
            The gnashing and tearing
            The skull shattered dead
            The wailing and weeping
            The sky leeching red
            The tangles of limbs
            The gutted and bled
            A feast for my devil
            And the one in your head!

    2. Charger01

      I hope that AR never does anything but sit in the safe or go to the range.

      I think this is the most.likely outcome. A righty democrat like biden or second term for trump will not upset the nation.

    3. occasional anonymous

      Not directly related to the article really, but Sic Semper Tyrannis is such a bizarre blog. It can be extremely informative on issues of military action and intelligence, but on pretty much anything domestic or social Lang and his co-writers come across as laughably clueless old men.

      That article opens with fear-mongering about the “Democrat campaign of supporting rioting and chaos in major cities”. In what world have the Democrats done anything other than virtue signal on these issues? And there really isn’t any ‘rioting and chaos’, certainly not in Portland which gets the bulk of the media attention. I have exactly no sympathy for the idiot anarchists who crawl out at night to set fires and launch the occasional assault, but things at not remotely chaotic outside of a handful of specific blocks during specific hours.

      All sides of this whole thing are morons. The peaceful protestors have no real plan or clear demands, and the edgelords who come out at night (the ones who aren’t undercover cops anyway) are almost entirely bored kids with very vague notions of ‘all cops are bastards, yeah! like, smash the system, man!’ (there’s plenty of video of these types being interviewed. They’re clueless kids).

      Meanwhile the right is trying to elevate this motley collection of well-intentioned but clueless activists and adrenaline addicted posers into some sort of existential threat, a burgeoning Bolshevik revolution. And then you get some idiot black bloc type who commits an assault on video, or a bunch of lumpenbourgeoisie and lumpenproletariat who use protests as excuse or cover to smash windows and loot shops, which just gives the lunatic right more propaganda to spin.

      1. Carolinian

        Lang is a retired military man and has never claimed to be a leftie–just the opposite. But he does have a great deal of experience and probably insight into the Middle East in particular.

        As for the looting, it has been a lot more than just a few bad elements.

        And finally if “the right is trying to elevate this motley collection of well-intentioned but clueless activists and adrenaline addicted posers into some sort of existential threat” the left or at least the Dems are surely doing the same thing with the cranks on the other side and arguably more so. After all if your premise is that Trump is Hitler then anything is justified to save the world from Hitler.

        The problem is that Trump isn’t Hitler and this is a very shaky basis to try to elect Joe Biden. If the Dems were smart they would tell those local Dem politicians to get the violence under control.

      2. Keith

        Exactly. I live in an inner-city neighborhood and if you’re working-class and up in income terms and not looking to buy drugs it’s about as safe as most suburbs. These protests haven’t touched us either. The only problems have been either downtown or in some of the retail business districts in the city. My impression from talking to those i know who go out to protest is that bored kids and either cops or right wing nihilists are probably responsible for most of the damage.

        However, almost everyone i work with out in the suburbs would be deathly afraid of even driving through my neighborhood in broad daylight. They won’t even come and see for themselves what’s happening. I’d probably have to kidnap them at gunpoint to get them anywhere near where i live.

        These people would rather buy guns and ammo than calm down and learn what the real problems are.

        1. JBird4049

          >>>These people would rather buy guns and ammo than calm down and learn what the real problems are.

          Of course. It’s much easier to do that than ask questions and think.

      3. Foy

        Yep, Lang has been one of my go to guys for Geopolitics, Middle East, Ukraine, Military, RussiaGate, The Borg etc for years, but man have the more recent thoughts on the blog for the last few years, and the comments, on internal US politics/COVID etc sounded pretty far out there to me from Downunder.

        One of their occasional bloggers, Walrus who is from Australia, put up a post supporting Australia’s approach to COVID and got severely shredded by SST’s commentariat, “socialist, marxist, country, who would want to live there under those Victorian premier’s dictators commy rules” etc. Think I know where I’d rather be for any number of reasons. But I still read his blog from time to time just to stay familiar with what is being said on that side of the spectrum. It can be enlightening sometimes! Keeps my ducks in a row and got to know one’s enemy!

        1. rowlf

          Isn’t Lang’s argument as an intelligence analyst that you have to look at information from several sources and decide if the information is good even if you do not like the source? He gets a weird conglomeration of contributors and in the comments section.

          1. Foy

            Yep exactly, he has often said that, and I agree. And I remember a post from Larry Johnson a some time before Sanders got railroaded on that big primary weekend, with his analysis that the numbers were not looking good then for Sanders in various states for a variety of reasons and therefore couldn’t win the candidacy. I remember reading that and thinking I wasn’t hearing that at the time from the likes of Krystal Ball, who I also listen to, who was very bullish in her Sanders outlook. And Larry was shown to be correct in that circumstance.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > And then you get some idiot black bloc type who commits an assault on video, or a bunch of lumpenbourgeoisie and lumpenproletariat who use protests as excuse or cover to smash windows and loot shops, which just gives the lunatic right more propaganda to spin.

        I’m looking at the Portland imagery and seeing a “shield wall.” Very good tactic, made of wood, etc.

        And what do I see on the shields? A raised fist, a logo. Given real estate like that, Hong Kong protesters would have had a slogan and a list of demands.

        I don’t know where these protests are going, and I don’t think anywhere good.

        On a slightly different note, I would like to know how many riots there really are. That strikes me as an undercovered story. The only maps I can find conflate riots and protests, and the two seem to me to be completely different (different people, different classes, different motives). I mean, the damage to Blue City Enclave Minneapolis was extensive. How much of that is out there?

      5. Duke of Prunes

        I guess we have different definitions of “rioting and chaos”. What happened in Chicago the other weekend was “rioting and chaos” to me. Maybe it didn’t hit the national news as much as Portland because it doesn’t support the BLM / cops bad narrative very well.

        Do agree that it’s morons on all sides.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > you sense this underlying tension that needs to explode

      Yep. At best election day will precipitate this (as opposed to solving it). Perhaps this accounts for my sense of angst and existential dread. I’m reminded of this passage from Frank Herbert’s very under-rated and very timely The Dosadi Experiment:

    5. vidimi

      it’s absolutely crazy to read about all these americans preparing for the disintegration of their society. totally mad. while europe is certainly not heading in a good direction, things are so much saner here. this is your new normal, america.

  23. MT_Bill

    Ammo shortage – One part of the ammo shortage that seems to be overlooked is how virtue-signaling by the big box stores affects the supply chain.

    Back in September of 2019, walmart annouced it would no longer carry handgun ammo or rifle ammo that could be used in “military” style rifles. This lead to some massive clearances and great deals on ammo back in December 2019 as inventory was liquidated by the compqny.

    Of course this was before the Troubles. But the manufacturer response to Walmart and ramping down production hit right before record demand by millions of first-time gun owners. And if everyone of the just under 4 million people who received a background check in June purchase a handgun and 500 rounds of ammo (bare minimum required to become marginally proficient through practice and break in the firearm), then that’s 2 billion rounds in just one month.

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      Weird, i hadn’t realized this….I wonder if the big box stores that did that are maintaining this policy even with so much $$ to be made in the current ‘buy it all up!!’ climate?

      1. ambrit

        In our local WalMarts, the ammo ‘downscaling’ is still official policy.
        The bigger “Sporting Goods” outlets, such as Academy, are also low on ‘common’ ammo calibres and firearms. When I innocently asked one of the gun department clerks at one such outlet about the availability of ‘spam cans’ of various calibres, I was literally sneered at. (This was not entirely unexpected because it was one of the places a few years ago where I was accused of being a “dirty leftist.” When someone accuses me of being a socialist, which has happened over time, I usually speak up and say, “Yes I am, and proud of it.” The general response to that is pure incredulity.)
        Stupidity and tribalism is alive and well in the ‘Heartland.’
        In general, I suspect that most sane people do not believe in mindless violence until it happens in their vicinity. Be prepared.

  24. JacobiteInTraining

    On the gun and ammo shortage – having lived through successive waves of that,since the first ‘assault weapon’ bans of the 90’s, & typically driven by impending/actual election of a ‘D’ President I have had it pointed out to me by several friends who are firearm aficionados lately….but didn’t know about it through personal experience.

    Why? Well, I come from a family that has always been pretty well armed, and ‘ammoed’ (if thats the word.) Got pretty much everything I might want to go out target shooting from a teensy .22, to .44 mags, to milsurp/WWII bolt actions and semi-auto SKSs, to AK-47s utilizing good ol russki 7.62×39 & also an AK-74 chambered in NATO 5.56. (no socio-political favorites when it comes to finding ammo) Hasn’t been a need for me to replenish the stocks, as they go pretty deep.

    I know thats probably an odd position to see for someone who is as far-left as me — but dont kid yerselves, theres a LOT of ‘closet’ weapons and ammo aficionados tucked away in any given bunch of leftists. And generally speaking, though it is an enjoyable hobby (target shooting) and is used regularly to put meat on the table during hunting season – there is a great degree of self defense involved in the hobby.

    Anti2A views may suck more oxygen out of the room….and it may be de rigeur to mock folks as ‘gun nuts’….but a lot of us are of the opinion, well: ‘we just dont want to get killed for lack of shooting back’

    And in the event of a water landing – do other leftists (and liberals) *really* want only the fascist paramilitary death squads to come to the party ‘heeled’? Anyway, my ‘commie’ Grandfather born in Finland under the heels of the Tsar didnt think so. :)

    1. jefemt

      I have seen some humorous bumper stickers here in Bumphuc Flyover* along the lines of

      Gun-toting Liberal Voter.

      * Bozeangeles Socali Del Norte

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      we’ve always had guns, too. I never cared for them…and never “got to know them”, until the Prowler started his campaign of sneaking and dead cat displays.
      I’ve always been a natural with proficiency…for some reason,lol…like Zen, or something.(it’s the same with a recurve bow…i rarely miss)
      but it was the care and feeding that i needed to bone up on.
      stepdad is a master gun person, so that worked out well.
      “Hippies with Guns” is not something our more rabid right brethren like to think about.

      1. ambrit

        Right on. I like to tell the more vociferous right wing zealots that most Leftist Revolutions were carried out by Leftists with guns. My number one example is Trotsky and the Russian Civil War.

    3. Lost in OR

      I can confirm the run on guns. Even my Ex, a neoliberal IdPol college professor, armed herself. As DanP66 alludes, this is crazy. She lacks the fiber, training, and perspective to use it effectively. She is more likely to have it taken away and be clubbed by it.

      I’m so far left I’m right and I’ve been armed (and ammo’d) since I was a kid. And I practice. I train (pre-covid) in a MMA club. I believe there is more to being a stalwart citizen than voting and paying taxes.

      As we draw closer to the consequences of unsustainable, the threats to well-being are coming to the fore. Before Covid, my car had, in 6 months, been broken in to three times in three different locations. As state-sponsored violence (cops, evictions, unemployment) moves forward, it takes our sense of comfort and safety with it. And I know, I too could be part of the homeless.

      As sort of discussed in yesterdays “Real American Resistance” thread, a huuge gap in preparedness of (armed) lefties is organization. Aka, community. If it comes down to chaotic rebellion with citizens battling each other, the wingnut militia will own us. The inability of the left to organize is a curiosity to me. It is a matter of grave concern.

      It is so weird to be writing this stuff. What have we come to?

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        “…it takes our sense of comfort and safety with it….”

        – true that, although I still try and be an optimist that the ‘water landing’ of which I worry is *not* gonna really happen…at least not in the form involving paramilitary death squads, because the History Major in me knows very well that sort of thing soon devolves into squads from the right *and* the left, and every squabbling sub-faction in between.

        “…It is so weird to be writing this stuff. What have we come to?…”

        But yeah, so much of the last few years has been for things I never really thought i would see…..may the ‘where we are going’ timeline veer back into saner territory ASAP!!… :)

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The inability of the left to organize is a curiosity to me.

        That’s what NGOs* are for; preventing the left from organizing.

        NOTE * Best thought of as a component of the party, and as a substitute for, and an obstacle to, a functioning state.

        1. JBird4049

          A deliberate attempt to create a nonfunctioning state? But not having a functioning state may mean not having a state at all. I don’t think Somalia is something to emulate especially in a country of 300 million plus people. Even if someone managed to get to another continent from the United States, the chaos would follow them wherever they went.

    4. RMO

      “I know thats probably an odd position to see for someone who is as far-left as me”

      I like guns too and I’m not only far left but a far left Canadian at that! All I own now are low powered airguns for target shooting but I like shooting the ones that burn powder too. I have noticed a big cultural and mindset difference between the Canadian and US firearms enthusiasts I’ve interacted with though. None of the Canadians ever seem to think about using their guns for self defense whereas it is usually a big concern for the US ones.

      1. rowlf

        There are still high schools in the area I am living in that have shooting teams, usually 10 meter air rifle but also sometimes 22 rifle and 10 meter air pistol. I always get a kick out of seeing men shooting rifles poorly at a range while having knowledge that many high school girls could out shoot them every day of the week.

        I try to spectate at ISSF World Cup when it comes to the US even though they dropped my two favorite events, 50 meter pistol and running target. Too bad the US doesn’t have a better farm league system like other countries do for international competition. We have a few good shooters on the team but you would think we would have more, but most people in the US think precision shooting is too hard.

    5. Tom Bradford

      After the shooting attack on the Christchurch mosque here in New Zealand a firearms amnesty was declared and a lot of very nasty weaponry was surrendered with no questions asked. I’ve very little doubt that there’s still a lot of nasty weaponry out there, much of it held for the reasons set out above. However it is now very, very difficult to get hold of, even for ‘legitimate’ reasons, and the ammunition for it even harder to get.

      That said there is still the game hunting fraternity and the rural folk who have firearms for ‘genuine’ reasons, and even I have a rarely used .22 for dealing with rats, rabbits and stoats when they get too bold. Too, my wife has an air-pistol (no licence required) she can carry in her handbag that looks more dangerous than it is, tho’ I wouldn’t want to take a slug in the face from it at close range.

      Which would be my point. I can’t speak to the US, but from the comments above it seems that the fear is of a descent into lawlessness and a civil war with armed factions fighting it out a’la Spain 1936-39, and because one side now sees the other side arming itself for just a conflict – or just thinking it is – decides it needs to arm itself hence triggering an arms race. Here, and I’d propose in most of the west, that raw, passionate political divide approaching fanaticism we look at in horror in the US doesn’t exist. Here if law and order did break down the worst we would face, hopefully, would by small gangs roaming the streets out for what they can get easily, and who if faced with my little gun and the missus’ even smaller one would decide to try their luck elsewhere, with no-one getting hurt.

      If it escalates beyond that point I doubt heavier weaponry would make any difference, but hopefully I’ll never have to put it to the test.

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        “…fear is of a descent into lawlessness and a civil war with armed factions fighting it out a’la Spain 1936-39, and because one side now sees the other side arming itself for just a conflict – or just thinking it is – decides it needs to arm itself hence triggering an arms race….”

        Nail, hit right on the head. Self-fulfilling prophecy. Arms race.

        It doesn’t help that my Senior thesis in University was about POUM/CNT in Catalonia. To NZ peeps, Canadians, and others in (say) Euro or Asian countries, man…guard against that whole demonization of ones political opposition thing. It doesn’t tend to end well, apparently. :/

        Edit: and, the irony of course is that I am completely self-aware that in a society that is *not* awash in guns, I would have so much less of a perceived need. In a country that *cared* about its people, rather then saw them as an enemy (or serf) I wouldn’t be so paranoid.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      stay safe, Tom.
      we don’t get those kinds of fires out here…not enough “fuel”, and few tall trees…but they’re still pretty scary when they get close to home and hearth.

      1. tegnost

        I’ll take this chance to add that ChiGal and Col. Smithers have been in my thoughts lately as well

  25. Alex morfesis

    Advocating for fair housing ?? Most self proclaimed defenders of the fair housing act have almost always milked it for their non profit grifter gruel. The law was written by President Johnson in his quest to “fix” the”n’s” he was hell bent on destroying despite all the orwellian nonsense about what he was doing for the “n’s”…the urban institute, his secret Storm troopers, continues it’s regular “advocacy” of destroying black america by “projecting” failure and then working policy to make sure the failure happens….day in and day out…

    The fair housing act was designed to water down a ruling by SCOTUS that everyone knew was coming in 1968…Jones v Mayer…which confirmed the private right of action based on the last surviving piece of post civil war black rights laws. Section 6 of the 1870 enforcement act is still good law, but all the do nothing fake and shakers insist on ignoring it and blurting out the false narrative of “needing” enforcement of the fair housing act.

    1. SerenityNow

      I agree with your criticism of the fair housing complex and the non-profit industry that reproduces off of it.

      Over the past year or so I have spent a fair amount of time looking through the Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing reports published by cities who recieve HUD CDBG money, and it is amazing how often these reports ignore some of the largest impediments to fair housing at all: local exclusionary zoning policies. It’s sort of like being worried about your room being too cold, but not thinking to check if the window is open…

  26. sd

    This is for Wukchumi, hunting season has started and I’m hearing there are no deer in the Sierras around Kings Canyon and no one knows why.

    1. Wukchumni

      I saw a 10 point buck last week in a gaggle of 6 or 7 deer and another deer on the way up to Franklin Lakes, but they’ve been scarce in Mineral King compared to the last few years where I saw hundreds in the summer months. Black bears are practically non-existent with only 2 sightings to my credit, and more importantly in around 150 miles of walking on and off trail, i’ve not seen any bear scat. It’s one thing getting to see a bruin, but if their calling cards aren’t around, they aren’t either.

      Saw a gaggle of 4 archers in the Disney Parking Lot (actually the Eagle-Mosquito Lakes parking lot-but it’s owned by the Disney Corporation, part of around 30 acres they bought in 1963-64 in anticipation of being awarded the contract to build a ski resort that never happened) who were headed over Farewell Gap to hunt deer in the Golden Trout Wilderness, a 9 mile backpack each way.

      The deer on the way up to the gap are protected, as it’s akin to ‘Animal Switzerland’ in the NP, no hunting allowed.

  27. The Rev Kev

    I don’t know what it is with all these guns. Even the police find it a hassle to gear up to go down to the shops to pickup some donuts-

    There must be some neighbourhoods where you would be wanting to suss out which of them are packing and who would be a danger to themselves and others if they decided to bring out their guns. Remember that rich couple in St. Louis was it that came out to meet a crowd passing by? They are the really dangerous people who are to be watched carefully.

    1. Larster

      That couple has been given a speaking role in the Republican convention next week. Strange times indeed.

  28. Wukchumni

    Rotisserie League notes:

    One of my favorite roadside springs went dry this week, and it took said spring a couple years to go dry in the midst of our 5 year drought, and only a few months this go round, in going from zenith to nadir in terms of snowpack from a couple winters ago to this last stanza in our winter of missed content, a harbinger of further dryness perhaps?

    The spring fed creek that supplies some of the water in our cabin community is petering out and we’re all supposed to be on our best behavior in not overusing the resource, as we typically stay through October and I doubt it’s gonna hold out that long. BYOW will be in order.

  29. chuck roast

    The Taibbi article was good. He keeps his eyeballs on the corporate propagandist so I don’t have to. But the NY Post cartoon had me rolling on the floor it was so funny. NC should deliver a cartoon every day…because you don’t have enough to do. ;-)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think you mean the Daily News photo? (Nice to see that hardy perennial trope, Trump and Putin as gay lovers, in the cartoon. Because gay people are disgusting, after all.)

  30. Wukchumni

    Troubles with Tribbles, or how I learned to live with the Tussock Caterpillar

    The last time we had a full-on invasion of these inch long green beasties dropping from trees was in 1999, and the ‘airatroopers’ have been falling all over the place here in Silver City, and talking to an NPS employee, they’ve been particularly bad @ the Sherman Tree parking lot in the main part of the NP.

    They can cause a bad reaction if allowed to linger on your skin.

  31. Wukchumni

    The timing is not quite right, but old yeller is @ $1971 almost to the date 49 years ago when Tricky Dick ended the set Gold Standard price of $35 an ounce which had endured since Bretton Woods.

    The idea that the mighty greenback has lost about 98% of it’s value since when measured against something that matters will be lost on most, and to be honest that last 2% will prove hard to attain, but I have confidence in U.S.

    1. Duck1

      Of course you can still buy industrial civilization with a greenback, or an account balance with a lot of trailing zeros. The mighty 200,000 tons of Au that has been mined counterbalances all that, right?

      1. Billy

        “Fifty Foot wide cube”

        Total above-ground stocks (end-2019): 197,576 tonnes

        Jewellery: 92,947 tonnes, 47.0%
        Private investment: 42,619 tonnes, 21.6%
        Official Holdings: 33,919 tonnes, 17.2%
        Other: 28,090 tonnes, 14.2%
        Below ground reserves: 54,000 tonnes

        World Gold Council

      2. Wukchumni

        Nothing could counterbalance the last 90 years or so of money conjured out of thin air and backed by nothing, the amount being so very vast.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          For math lovers: annual increase in M2 money supply since 1900 = 7%. Annual increase in the gold supply = 1.6%. This quarter’s increase in the M2 = 24.5%.

          So of course today it takes 2 *trillion* of those USDs to buy The Apple Computer Company.

          Yes yes yes this is “the barter theory of money”. The other theory is “the state theory of money” that insists that all money is debt that is borrowed into existence.

          (But I’m staring at a small gold coin in my hand and cannot for the life of me figure out who I am indebted to by holding it. Many apps now make it possible to exchange gold freely and globally, and even tap and pay at merchants. Is that money?)

          And for the record JP Morgan did not say “gold is money”. He said “Money is gold, everything else is credit”. Big difference.

          We recoil from the idea that Nature could make money, surely Man is clever enough to do it himself. But it’s precisely the physical attributes of gold that have made it money for thousands of years, and the mere fact that the schemes of Man cannot corrupt it.

  32. The Rev Kev

    “SOCOM didn’t consistently document whether more than $800 million in gear met key performance metrics or not”

    So if I got this right, SOCOM purchased near a billion dollars on gear that they did not really need and never got around to trying them out much. And now a lot of that gear is probably sitting in a bunch of warehouses until they can get rid of it. Sounds like a case of Boys and their Toys here.

    1. RMO

      The key performance metric is really that it cost $800 million. Whether it works or not isn’t even a secondary consideration. As long as it lets that money to the deserving hands of the MIC grifters it’s done its job.

    1. Wukchumni

      There was plenty of reasons to despise evangs heretofore, but they’ve really ramped up rancor.

    1. tegnost

      It seems to me there is almost no interest in the convention which I think should concern dems.
      The whole republican angle is nothing if not surreal…Thanks to NC when I get close to the food fights I have a garbage disposal and a big compost bin…

  33. SerenityNow

    For anyone interested in the larger cultural context of children and earth-moving machines, I highly recommend this book Bulldozer:

    The bulldozer functioned as both the means and the metaphor for this work. As the machine transformed from a wartime weapon into an instrument of postwar planning, it helped realize a landscape-altering “culture of clearance.” In the hands of the military, planners, politicians, engineers, construction workers, and even children’s book authors, the bulldozer became an American icon.

    Some incredible images from that book have been available here.

    1. Duck1

      Remember seeing the Rome plows lined up at the Oakland Army terminal when you came off the Bay Bridge in the early seventies,
      From the conclusion of the article:
      Richard Falk, a professor of international law and a prominent opponent of the war, wrote in 1973: “I think it is not easy to conclude that Rome plowing, however much it offends ecological consciousness, constitutes a violation of existing standards of international law.”[6] Citing post-World War II indictments against nine German officials who had overseen “the wholesale cutting of Polish timber to an extent far in excess of what was necessary to preserve the timber resources of the country”, however, he also concluded that “it is possible to view such environmental devastation as an instance of ‘a crime against humanity’ in the Nuremberg sense”.[6]

  34. Wukchumni

    At the root of this failure, according to community advocates and residents, lies a polarizing rightwing, anti-establishment sensibility that runs deep through the Central Valley – a sensibility, they said, encouraged by the messaging in the actions, or lack thereof, of local leaders during the pandemic.

    The tale of two cities in Fresno has bloomed into a tale of two Americas, a microcosm of the national political discourse playing out in the agricultural capital of California.

    “The best way I can describe this is one side is fighting for dining out without masks while the other side is picking the crops and putting food on your table while begging for protective gear, just asking to survive,” said Miguel Arias, Fresno city council president.

    They really hit the nail on the head, idiotic evangs in the Central Valley Bible Belt that can’t abide by the rules and largely unprotected Hispanic field workers, all living in the same space.

  35. Billy

    Note the ads next to the Fair Housing article: If ever there were an example of bureacratic overreach and a waste of taxes that could go to local health clinics, schools or infrastructure maintenance. What do these people create or produce?

    ” Jobs
    Community Planner II
    Hillsborough County Planning Commission
    Planning Director
    City of Malibu
    Senior Planner
    Bossier City-Parish Metropolitan Planning Commission
    Secretary to the Planning Commission
    County of Mono”

    1. Adam Eran

      From Jane Jacobs: “Modern planning is positively neurotic in its willingness to embrace what doesn’t work and ignore what does… It’s a form of advanced superstition, like [19th century] medicine when Doctors thought bleeding patients would cure them.”

    2. SerenityNow

      Planners are important to the system because they maintain and enforce the land use rules which preserve land wealth. What looks like bureaucratic waste is in fact a very complex form of value insurance for property values…not saying it’s good or bad, just what it is.

  36. allan

    Seattle fishing boat outbreak suggests antibodies protect against coronavirus infection [Seattle Times]

    Crew members from a Seattle-based fishing boat that experienced an explosive outbreak of the novel coronavirus have serendipitously provided what could be the first direct evidence that antibodies can protect people from reinfection.

    Blood samples collected before the vessel sailed in May showed that three of the 122 people aboard had robust levels of neutralizing antibodies — the type that block the virus from entering human cells — indicating they had been previously infected and recovered. All three were spared during the shipboard outbreak, which quickly spread to more than 85% of the crew. …

    It wouldn’t be ethical to deliberately expose humans to the virus — even people who have recovered from infection. But in this case, researchers from the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center were able to analyze results from a natural experiment that played out in the close quarters and isolation of a vessel at sea. …

  37. kareninca

    I volunteer at a library book sale; a huge one. We are given about 30,000 books a month. Well, we are shut down at the moment, but that’s something different. Anyway, we GIVE AWAY the books we can’t sell to whomever wants them. A lot of the people who take those free books are dealers. That is totally fine with us!!! If some book dealer can survive by having some free books, that is a good thing. I don’t see the problem with a dealer taking books from “little free libraries” to sell.

    I grew up in a rural area in the 70s with only one crummy book store (mostly romances) and it would have been a great public service for dealers to have gotten more books out to our area. Book dealers and book store owners should be cherished. I’d draw the line at their stealing from actual libraries, but even there I’m ambivalent since libraries discard huge quantities of books; they treat them as precious and costly up til the day they dumpster them.

    I can’t believe that the woman who set up the library in the article has any shortage of books. There is no book shortage. She is just a control freak.

    Right now book dealers are in very bad shape. In ordinary times they are impoverished, timid creatures like something out of Gissing. Now they can’t get to their ordinary sources and they are truly desperate.

  38. EoH

    The Press that Cried. Matt Taibbi includes the graphics, misses the point.

    As an I’m-above-it-all castigation of the “breaking news” mentality the press has become addicted to, his critique has merit. But he is weak at bringing it home, suggesting he chose the wrong topic. As a critique of the problems DeJoy and Trump are causing the Post Office shortly before a national election, his story is light on facts, light on context, and lighter on argument.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > light on facts, light on context, and lighter on argument.

      Taibbi’s post is a media critique, not reporting on the USPS. Since Taibbi is the only one doing the first, and would only be part of a large chorus doing the second, I’m not sure what the problem is. It sounds like you wanted Taibbi to write a different post.

    2. EoH

      My point is about the post he did write. Taibbi seems convinced about his thesis, that representative media coverage of many topics is panicky and exaggerated, presumably to drive revenue rather than to inform readers.

      That might be true; it probably is. But a guy who labeled a Wall Street bank a vampire squid has a hill to climb about exaggeration. I don’t think that critique climbed it. That’s because he chose a topic – Trump and DeJoy’s abuse of the USPS in the run-up to an important election – whose representative coverage doesn’t seem to support his thesis.

      I don’t agree that Taibbi is the only one critiquing the media. The spectrum seems to run from Dan Froomkin to Howard Kurtz. We probably disagree, though, on where Taibbi fits along that spectrum.

  39. Maritimer

    The pandemic appears to have spared Africa so far. Scientists are struggling to explain why Science

    “Another possibility is that regular exposure to malaria or other infectious diseases could prime the immune system to fight new pathogens,…”

    I have seen this possibility mentioned elsewhere. It is encouraging to see that some researchers are pursuing such a possibility. That is, that exposure to natural diseases may aid in resisting other diseases. But, in our treatment of Covid 19, it is mask up, prevent this virus and many other agents from contact with humans. Maybe, throw the 50,000 year old baby out with the Covid bathwater. In the long run, this is a prescription for a weakened natural immune system. And more dependence on unnatural solutions, fixes. A never ending cycle of interventions. A very profitable model for the intervenors.

    Thus, in our desire for the quickest fix (just like 2008 WS Bailout), we do not even consider alternative possibilities for a solution. Sweden may turn out to have had the best approach, take a bigger up front hit but let Nature run its course while, of course, proceeding with caution and calm.

    In the long run, Swedish health may be far better off with such a policy while elsewhere there will be more dependence on unnatural systems and an unhealthier population more and more vulnerable to diseases.

Comments are closed.