Links 9/26/2020

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Brainiacs, not birdbrains: Crows possess higher intelligence long thought a primarily human attribute STAT

Kitty see, kitty do: cat imitates human, in first scientific demonstration of behavior Science

When the pandemic quieted San Francisco, these birds could hear each other sing National Geographic (nvm).

First Evidence of a Planet in Another Galaxy Discover

Zombie storms are rising from the dead thanks to climate change Live Science (dk).

Expect Plagues of Locusts as Climate Change Gets Worse, Say Scientists Vice (Re Silc). On plagues of locusts, see NC here, here, here, and here.

Debt collectors bulk up to deal with US property loan defaults FT

Revenge of the Money Launderers Matt Taibbi

The Trouble with Carbon Pricing Boston Review

Will Gavin Newsom Stand Up to Big Oil? Capital & Main


Clustering and superspreading potential of SARS-CoV-2 infections in Hong Kong Nature. From the Abstract: “For SARS-CoV-2, the degree to which [Superspreading events (SSEs)] are involved in transmission remains unclear, but there is growing evidence that SSEs might be a typical feature of COVID-19.”

Immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection in hospitalized pediatric and adult patients Science. From the Abstract: “These findings demonstrate that the poor outcome in hospitalized adults with COVID-19 compared to children may not be attributable to a failure to generate adaptive immune responses.” A negative result.

Saliva or Nasopharyngeal Swab Specimens for Detection of SARS-CoV-2 (letter) NEJM. “Our findings provide support for the potential of saliva specimens in the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

‘Sputnik V’ developers respond to Western critics, but the debate might overlook the vaccine’s biggest problem Meduza

‘Any breed could do it’: dogs might be a Covid tester’s best friend Guardian

At the Brigham, ‘battle-weary’ staff may have allowed virus to slip in Boston Globe

Here’s How the Pandemic Finally Ends Politico (Re Silc). Not with a bang…

Not Much Progress on PPE ‘Reshoring’ MedPage Today


How Xi Just Saved the World Adam Tooze, Foreign Policy

Opinion: Let Market Forces Spearhead China’s Post-Pandemic Growth Caixin. So much for the “Communist” part of CCP….

National security law: pair arrested over weapons haul suspected of inciting secession, October 1 rally banned South China Morning Post

The Real Strategic End Game in Decoupling From China The Diplomat

To help defuse US-China tensions, Asian states must agree on America’s role in region South China Morning Post

Rat-ical hero: Landmine detection rat Magawa wins gold medal for ‘life-saving’ work in Cambodia Channel News Asia


Boris Johnson Is Hurtling Into a Winter of Discontent Bloomberg

Dominic Cummings’ data law shake-up a danger to trade, says EU Guardian

Private equity-owned companies win access to UK emergency funds FT

How Estonia’s Management of Legacy IT Has Helped It Weather the Pandemic IEEE Spectrum

New Cold War

Press review: The ‘all or nothing’ New START bid and Lukashenko’s hush-hush inauguration TASS

Four Myths about Russian Grand Strategy CSIS

The Deportation Machine (Review) NACLA

Trump Transition

Trump Approves Final Plan to Import Drugs From Canada ‘for a Fraction of the Price’ KHN. Small ball…

What the Intelligence Community Doesn’t Know Is Hurting the United States Center for American Progress. It doesn’t know who reads their memos:

Despite what the IC may know about other things, it tracks almost no data about those who consume intelligence, including the president and his or her national security team; policymakers; law enforcement; the military; and the U.S. Congress. This shortcoming means that the IC cannot observe customer-related patterns and trends, provide insights into what its customers value, or inform business-related decisions such as which collection platforms will yield the highest return on investment.

Neera carrying water….

Trump downplays impending arrival of Galactus, Devourer of Worlds. Duffel Blog


Trump Pledges To Call For Violence Regardless Of Election’s Outcome and Reporter Presses Biden On Lack Of Own Plan To Trigger Widespread Violence The Onion

Investors anticipate Joe Biden election win FT

Supreme Court Battle

Trump expected to announce conservative Barrett for court AP

Notable legal opinions of Trump’s planned U.S. Supreme Court pick Barrett Reuters

Republicans prep lightning-quick Supreme Court confirmation Politico. Democrats Manchin, Donnelly, Clinton Vice Presidential nominee Kaine all voted her onto the U.S. Court of Appeals, so what’s the issue?

Democratic senator to party: ‘A little message discipline wouldn’t kill us’ The Hill

Destroying The Court To Save It: Democrats Wrongly Use Ginsburg Push Court Packing Scheme Jonathan Turley

What Exactly is the Liberal Position on the Supreme Court? Matt Bruenig, People’s Policy Project

Progressive group buys domain name of Trump’s No. 1 Supreme Court pick The Hill. Yeah, that’s the ticket….


Julian Assange’s extradition decision won’t be made until after the US election Sydney Morning Herald

Assange ‘binge-watched’ suicide of ex-Bosnian Croat general AP

Julian Assange: Press Shows Little Interest in Media ‘Trial of Century’ FAIR. Access journalism from here on in, I guess….


Boeing Year-End Goal for 737 Max Return Gets Boost in Europe Bloomberg

Boeing Board Accused in Lawsuit of Lax Oversight During 737 MAX Crisis WSJ

Airlines Face Desolate Future as Attempts to Reopen Crumble Bloomberg

Riots and Protests

Actual Anarchists Talk About New York’s ‘Anarchist Jurisdiction’ Designation Curbed

Imperial Collapse Watch

‘I Feel Sorry for Americans’: A Baffled World Watches the U.S. NYT

Class Warfare

Harvard’s Chetty Finds Economic Carnage in Wealthiest ZIP Codes Bloomberg

Like, Subscribe, Invest The Baffler

These Forbes 400 Billionaires Made Their Fortunes in Healthcare MedPage Today

Former YouTube content moderator describes horrors of the job in new lawsuit CNBC

People expect technology to suck because it actually sucks Tonsky

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday Link 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. Nealser

    The ‘Revenge of the money launderers’ is a great recap of the jaw dropping frauds the major banks have been operating. Even after years of reading it still makes me gasp ? ?. I work at a start up for digital currency. If we launched a product without the required KYC AML processes which are a real pain, we would be busted. Regulations for the little people only…

    1. notabanker

      In my view, this is not a banking sector issue, it’s a TBTF issue. A mid sized regional wouldn’t get away with this. You need massive scale, first to obscure the numbers, second to to prevent any meaningful penalties, because “systemic risk”.

      Preaching to the choir here I know, but one of the many side effects of the bailout. The whole thing should have been left to fail, AIG, Goldman, JPM, BOA, Barclays, DB, HSBC. They should have all collapsed and let the pheonix rise out of the ashes. Derivatives are a scourge. They all should have been wiped out to zero. But then the US Government would have had to , you know, actually govern.

      1. JEHR

        My sentiments exactly! I followed the “fortunes” of Goldman Sachs for years and they never learned anything about being ethical or doing the morally right thing. What they learned was to promise (many, many times) not to do that bad thing anymore and then proceeded to do it again. That bank has spread its ideology all over the world and we will be reaping its benighted harvests for a long time into the future.

      2. Glen

        I view the point where Obama SAVED the crooks on Wall St as the point where Donald Trump, or his equivalent became inevitable.

        Because Obama FAILED to uphold the Constitution and do his duty. He was VOTED IN to PUT THE CROOKS IN JAIL.

        So today we have this FEVER PITCH of “OMG, we have to vote out Trump to SAVE THE CONSTITUTION.”

        Yeah, whatever…

        1. JJK

          Yes, and Lanny Breuer to the rescue, again.

          Points to Mr. Taibbi for noting that Breuer was only hiding out in-between gigs as banker’s lawyer.

          President Obama’s only historical defense will be a claim of utter naivete.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Excuse me, but the digital currency industry is regulated?!? That news to me. If it were regulated properly, it wouldn’t exist. Around here digital currency is referred to as ‘prosecution futures’.

      1. Nealser

        Anyone working in digital currency on ramps or off ramps to usd (Exchange) is regulated.
        There are bad actors in all financial markets. I’ve seen the ‘prosecution futures’ comment from Yves for many years. I’d suggest there there is some good in the crypto market.

  2. Wukchumni

    Does this give the MMT crowd any angst that Unabankers would be in charge of the kitty, sort of speak?

    Their brazen illegal activities resulted in a few financial slaps on the wrist, with stern wording not to do it again, nudge nudge wink wink say no more about the matter, and then when the truth comes out many years after about their modus operandi, ignore it and hope it goes away similar to the Panama Papers.

    It’s tantamount to a free booze giveaway orchestrated by Capone, with apologies to Big Al for the character defamation.

    1. hunkerdown

      Any system can be abused by predators. That fact predates humans. Obviously, humans have been insufficiently diligent about eliminating predators in their midst with the Austrian counterrevolution, whose entire content can be boiled down to “Predators are friends, not pests, the maul marks on your arm aren’t real, stop being a silly boy bleeding all over the place”.

      1. Upwithfiat

        Any system can be abused by predators. hunkerdown

        And then there are systems that are inherently predatory such as our government-privileged credit-for-usury cartel, aka “the banks.”

        1. Yves Smith

          Oh come on. Banks were well behaved and even generally well liked until neoliberal policies became predominant. Did you miss that the officialdom extolled providing easier access to credit? That’s treated more seriously as a right (particularly with respect to mortgage loans) that health care as a right.

          1. pendaran

            I’m afraid I disagree with this. Banks were “well-behaved” because it took them so long to dismantle the bank rules established after the Depression. The government took away many of the predatory options for banks, so perhaps they were more “liked” than before (I am not a fan of “liking” nameless faceless institutions). Maybe banks were just hated a little less? America’s history is pretty full of anti-bank fervor and rhetoric…

            Anyways, the period before neoliberal policies became dominant was still an era of empire. The banks weren’t good guys then, anymore than now. I also do not understand at all why “easy access to credit” is a good thing in any way, shape, or form. Sure, it’s good for enabling the American empire to keep churning away, but it’s not good for the world.

            Moving back into a world where the government puts more check and balances in place on banks and financial institutions just means we move back into a world where the apex predators have been chained and shackled a little. IMHO

            1. Yves Smith

              All you’ve done is given yet more fact free opinion.

              I had Citibank as a client in the early 1980s. It wasn’t “banks” that were leading deregulation. Citi then was virtually alone, and at considerable expense, pushing for deregulation.

              And one huge impetus for regulatory responses, which would up being deregulation give the ideology of the time, was high and volatile interest rates, which started in the 1970s. Banks before then had been kept stupid and predictably (and not hugely) profitable. The saying was 3-6-3: Borrow at 3%, lend at 6%, and leave the office at 3:00 PM. When interest rates rose to as high as 22% for short-term borrowings, banks were hemorrhaging losses, above all S&Ls that had long-dated loans by virtue of being in the mortgage business.

              The idea that banks were ever and always predatory is false. For instance, from our Clive:

              Let me continue with the self-disclosure, but it’s perhaps more of a confessional or appeal for absolution. I’ve spent almost 30 years working in the FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) sector, my entire adult life. When I first started, it was viewed as a most suitable career choice for middle class not particularly aspirational sorts who wanted security, respectability and a recognisable position in the community. It was never supposed to be a passport to significant wealth or even much more than very modest wealth. It was certainly never supposed to be anything which oppressed or harmed anyone.

              By the early 1990’s the rot, which had started to set in during the mid-1980’s, had begun to accelerate. Most regular readers of Naked Capitalism know how the movie ended. If only it was just a work of fiction. For those of you who have suffered financially, emotionally, physically (or all three) through an unlawful foreclosure, fee gouging, predatory lending, junk insurance or scam financial products you will know what the consequences of an industry which threw away its moral compass and any sense of a social contract are.

              For those of us on the inside, we don’t deserve any sympathy. But I’d like to offer a glimmer of insight into the conflict that those of us with any sort of conscience wrestle with because it is a conflict which is going to shape our societies over the next generation.

              Increasingly, if you want to get and hang on to a middle class job, that job will involve dishonesty or exploitation of others in some way. Industries such as finance have seized and held onto larger and larger proportions of the economy.

              The same disproportionate growth can be seen in financialised healthcare and finacialised education

              And cheap loans by banks had absolutely zero to do with empire. The US was more dominant as a hegemon in the 1960s than in the 1980s, yet banks were tame then. By contrast, when the US was supposed to be reaping the peace dividend, in the early 1990s, bank deregulation accelerated…due to the fact that banks has successfully persuaded regulators that they faced an industry-wide profit squeeze (see McKinsey partner Lowell Bryan’s book Bankrupt for proof). Having Ayn Rand disciple Alan Greenspan as a long-tenured Fed chairman didn’t hurt either.

              Cheap loans (which was part of the purported profit squeeze) was the result of the shift to a neoliberal economic paradigm, favoring capital over labor. Before, rising real worker wages was the objective of policy. Companies used the extended bear market of the 1970s and the reasonably popular view that unions were too influential to move towards policies that favored companies. Corporations ~ 1976 stopped splitting the benefit of productivity gains with workers (Kennedy had threatened to make that profit sharing law but US Steel capitulated and retreated from their effort to deviate from that post WWII norm).

              Easier consumer access to credit was the neoliberal fix to allow for rising living standards with stagnant worker wages. That is obviously self-limiting over time.

              1. ChrisAtRU

                Easier consumer access to credit was the neoliberal fix to allow for rising living standards with stagnant worker wages.


                Having Ayn Rand disciple Alan Greenspan as a long-tenured Fed chairman didn’t hurt either.

                Few truer words e’er spoken …

              2. Upwithfiat

                The idea that banks were ever and always predatory is false. Yves

                Not intentionally perhaps (exception: redlining of minorities) but it’s the nature of bank credit creation that purchasing power is transferred from those who can’t or won’t “borrow” to those who can and do; e.g. try to save to buy a house.

                Now there’s probably no practical outlawing of private deposit creation, even if that were desirable, but how in the name of equal protection under the law do we justify government privileges for it?

                1. OpenthepodbaydoorsHAL

                  If they are the bankers I suppose that makes us the bankees. Here in Australia the regulator just handed out a $1.3B fine, the biggest in Australia corporate history. The miscreant CEO? Off to head up a different big bank. Until there are perp walks the behaviour will never change.

                  1. skippy

                    “The application of economic reasoning to a whole range of problems in law, sociology, history, and political science has had a far‐​reaching impact on the way social problems are currently investigated and has given rise to the Law and Economics movement and to Public Choice Theory. This procedure is best summarized by one of its most important practitioners, Gary Becker, who maintained: “The combined assumptions of maximizing behavior, market equilibrium, and stable preferences, used relentlessly and unflinchingly, form the heart of the economic approach as I see it.” That almost any social problem is amenable to economic analysis (i.e., that is allows one to reach original and valid conclusions) does not, of course, preclude approaching these same problems in more traditional ways, as some critics of what has been called the Chicago School’s “economic imperialism” have contended. It simply allows new and different insights into a particular set of social questions and permits conceiving of problems in terms of people attempting to maximize certain values. The economic approach of which Becker writes seeks not to dislodge the more traditional modes of analysis, but to supplement them. This approach, possibly more than anything else, is the defining characteristic of the modern Chicago School: its emphasis on price theory and its unrelenting application to problems of public policy. For all practical purposes, this approach was initiated by Friedman and extended and refined by Becker.

                    Libertarians are indebted to the proponents of the Chicago School for bringing to bear their analysis of economic phenomena on misguided political policies and for energizing political forces around the world in support of the free market.”


                  2. skippy

                    The above would seem to explain a much broader sociological back drop of which banks are part of but only a fraction of the whole.

              3. Yik Wong

                Bad practice to read minds, but maybe pendaran is referring to a much earlier time, well before the 1930’s, where the likes of Brown Brothers Bank and the US Marine Corporation went hand in hand in South America, etc. These banks, like original JP Morgan, were more like Blackrock than banks on the high street.

                Now the industrialist and speculators employ K-street and no longer have any shame to hide behind the pretense of being civil bankers,

              4. pendaran

                “All you’ve done is given yet more fact free opinion.”

                Epistemologically, I agree with you. Regardless of any discussion about the nature of facts, here are some sources for my opinions, presented chronologically.

                1. America’s history is pretty full of anti-bank fervor and rhetoric…

                Outside of the many controversies surrounding the Bank of the USA, 1st and 2nd edition, there are still laws on the books from people’s fear of banks in yesteryear…


                “The homestead exemption was written into the Texas Constitution in the 1870s, thanks in large part to the Grange Movement spurred
                by rural Texans wary of banks, big business and Northern carpetbaggers who came South after the Civil War.”

                There was also William Jenning Bryan, whose “Cross of Gold” was really about the banking houses in the East.

                2. the period before neoliberal policies became dominant was still an era of empire. The banks weren’t good guys then, anymore than now.

                The Marshall Plan may have been a good thing to help Europe recover from WWII, but there was an obvious imperial give-and-take behind it.


                “The standard procedure involved the intervention of an American bank, known as an assignee, which was selected by the official agency responsible for US aid to Europe and given the power to finance the authorised exports.”

                Closer to home, redlining was a thing, from the 30s to the late 60s officially, and obviously unofficially it continued after that to some extent or other. Do we give the banks a pass since it was strongly encouraged by the government?


                Of course we can’t forget the time the bankers planned a coup just before FDR became president and enacted all his reforms…


                3. Banks were “well-behaved” because it took them so long to dismantle the bank rules established after the Depression.

                Call it what, 25 years before the banks got serious about dismantling the rules? Glass-Steagal was 1933, The Bank Holding Company Act was 1956, and by 1961 James Saxon, former attorney for the American Banking Association and First United Bank in Chicago was busy shifting the dialogue in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.


                “By the mid-twentieth century, the “narrow” interpretation of the bank powers clause, found primarily in some early judicial decisions, had largely lost its practical significance, as courts consistently allowed national banks to offer services and undertake activities not explicitly enumerated in the bank powers clause. The real debate over the proper boundaries of the “business of banking” unfolded primarily between proponents of the highly permissive “broad” view and supporters of the more cautiously circumscribed “intermediate” approach seeking to keep the expansion of bank powers within certain limits. Since the 1960s, the OCC has been an increasingly strong advocate of the broad interpretation of the bank powers clause “

                I suppose it’s possible to imagine that the OCC was simply changing according to the profound beliefs of a majority of the nation regarding bank regulation. To me it’s more likely that we are looking at the beginnings of an earnest effort at regulatory capture, one which we now acknowledge in hindsight…


                4. Moving back into a world where the government puts more check and balances in place on banks and financial institutions just means we move back into a world where the apex predators have been chained and shackled a little. IMHO

                This is an opinion. I have no sources, except the ones already listed, that show an industry that instantly reverts to being a bad actor the moment the government loosens controls just a tiny bit, while doing it’s best to use regulatory capture to loosen those controls.

                In my opinion, the banks are just like the police. Tools for the wealthy and powerful to use to maintain power and wealth. Now it’s easier to see the injustice that policing in the USA has been about for a long time, at least a century if not longer. Financial predation is not easily documented on social media, but it’s there, and if American history is anything to go by, it’s been going on for a long, long time.

                I am not trying to denigrate anyone who worked in the industry with the best of intentions (I did my time as well), and never saw any of the things that happened behind the scenes, documented or otherwise. This is the system we live in; the same can be said of almost any industry. That said, dealing with banks feels like dealing with a drug addict: you know they’re coming for your money, even though they’ll tell you this time they’ve changed, this time they mean it, this time they’re regulating themselves, this time they’re going to be a good actor and not a bad actor.

                1. Yves Smith

                  I hate to tell you, but your entire argument appears to hinge on your OCC point. The OCC was almost irrelevant as a banking regulator in the 1960s. The OCC regulates national banks. Banks in the 1960s were state only. Interstate banking didn’t become a thing until the early 1980s, and even then there were regional deals, not full interstate banking. And even then, OCC influence was limited until former Covington & Burling bank partner Gene Ludwig (who I know personally), who Clinton appointed as Controller of the Currency took a very aggressive and expansive view of what the OCC could do. He took great pride in end-running the Fed under Greenspan on some issues.

                  The OCC was a tertiary bank regulator until Ludwig. The big kahuna were the FDIC, the Fed, and state banking regulators.

                  Banks were allowed then to set up nationally chartered banks for very narrow business services, like foreign exchange. And First Chicago built a pretty successful FX business for a non-money-center bank.

                  And in keeping with my discussion, you have no evidence that the 1960s wooing of the OCC led to meaningful deregulation, much the less consumer harm. You have still failed to prove your assertions. Go read Simon Johnson’s 13 Bankers. He focuses on the deregulation of banks and his account of key events (ex 1977 Marquette, a Supreme Court ruling which allowed banks to sell credit cards across state lines and enabled them to circumvent state usury ceiling) shows they didn’t get rolling in a serious way until the 1980s, and at least in the early 1980s, were to a significant degree a failing around response to deal with the imminent collapse of the S&L industry, with deregulation as one bright idea they could throw at the problem. The difficult time banks were having with high and volatile interest rates broke the old 3-6-3 model and regulators had no idea as to what to do instead, so deregulation seemed not crazy, since the status quo was not working.

                  And for the record, I never worked in banking. I was an investment banker (as in Wall Street) and later consulted to banks on the wholesale side of the business (corporate banking and securities).

                  1. pendaran

                    I provided a link that goes deep in the OCC specifically to point out that the regulatory environment was already shifting by the 60s. My argument is that the banks were already working on changing the regulation landscape in the 60s, even if the tangible effects of that push weren’t evident for a decade or two.

                    So yes, there was, as you point out, effective regulation that held up for decades after the 1930s, although there were still plenty of places where banks (or bank-like institutions populated with banker-types) were bad actors. It held up for almost 50 years, but that doesn’t mean the banking industry sat on its hands for 50 years waiting to get out of regulatory prison.

                    I acknowledge the difficulty in providing hard proof that banks were colluding to weaken regulations almost well before those regulations went away. The best I can point to is the shifting intellectual argument behind the scenes. My evidence that the work in the 50s and 60s bore fruit is what happened in the 80s, 90s, 00s, and 10s. We know that not just the OCC but the FDIC is captured by the industry, and the question really is when did this regulatory capture start, and when did it take hold? My argument is that the banks started working on regulatory capture long before say the Huffington Post started to notice, or the whole edifice started coming down. How long before? That is the question.

                    Also, you mention a supreme court ruling from 1977 – I will have to learn more about it, but the mere fact that this case was heard means there was significant work done in the background well beforehand to prepare the soil for the ruling.

                    The FDIC does have a discussion of banks in the 80s and early 90s, where there was a large wave of bank failures. They acknowledge that along with the difficult economic environment, banks were bad actors in the early 80s (and obviously, the 70s as well, since the fallout takes time).

           (emphasis mine)

                    “First, broad national forces – economic, financial, legislative, and regulatory – established the preconditions for the increased number of bank failures. Second, a series of severe regional and sectoral recessions hit banks in a number of banking markets and led to a majority of the failures. Third, some of the banks in these markets assumed excessive risks and were insufficiently restrained by supervisory authorities, with the result that they failed in disproportionate numbers.

                    Further, I do not separate the S&L scandal out of the banking industry. The “thrifts” that went under were yet another example of the finance world being a bad actor. Similarly, I group Countrywide Mortgages and all of their shenanigans under the banking world as well. That one’s easier since they were bought by BofA.

                    For the record, I am aware of your background as a consultant. Clive’s comment, however, which you included in your response, indicated that he did work in banking.

                    1. Yves Smith

                      You have yet to provide a single example of an actual change in regulatory policy in the 1960s, let alone one of consequence.

                      Banks were kept dumb and profitable as a matter of policy. Banking was a sleepy predictable business by design.

                      Again, you need to bone up on Simon Johnson. His classic article, The Quiet Coup, points out that average wages in the financial services industry were on a par America generally in 1980 (and he did not point out that that included Wall Street, with comparatively few but generally very well remunerated workers). Compensation levels started moving up after then as regulatory policy shifted to favor deregulation.

                      I had Citi as a client in the 1980s, and McKinsey then had a substantial banking practice. Even then, most banks weren’t hungry (Citi and the acquisitive NCNB, which later acquired BofA and took its name, were among the handful of exceptions, and recall the industry was much much more fragmented then than now). In fact one of McKinsey’s self assigned roles was to get them to be more on the ball.

                      It was McKinsey, and not the banks, that developed the evil art of fee gouging, for instance (I personally know the consultant responsible, it was on a check pricing study for Citi, and her changes to how Citi charged for checks increased their profits by $30 million. McKinsey started pushing “pricing studies” at other banks, since the immediate profit boost justified McKinsey-level fees). And that was in 1985!

                      Another tell: in my day at McKinsey (mid 1980s), the Financial Institutions Group was looked down upon by the rest of the firm because bankers were dumber than industrial company execs and McKinsey types thought their business questions were less challenging too.

                    2. pendaran

                      Here is a source that goes into greater detail about the “reforms” under James Saxon in the early 60s.


                      “Saxon’s term as Comptroller was actually quite exciting. He took a much more active role than his predecessors and instituted many reforms in both the agency and the national banking system. These included expanding bank powers, overhauling and streamlining procedures, and lifting restrictions on certain banking products; granting approval to many new banks and branches to encourage expansion and increase competition; creating a network of regional comptrollers with more authority, as well as an international banking unit; adding a new department of trained economists; and raising hiring standards for bank examiners.”


                      I am not arguing that major regulatory changes happened in the 60s. I am arguing that the banks started working on pushing the regulatory environment in a more favorable direction in the 60s, playing a long game that came to fruition in the 80s, 90s, and 00s.

                      I also wonder if some of our disagreement is linguistic. When I refer to banks and the banking system, I am definitely including other financial institutions (S&L thrifts, Countrywide Mortgage, etc.) that were not technically banks yet provided some services that would normally be considered banking services.

                      Regarding McKinsey in the 80s, I obviously do not have the knowledge or experience to discuss your experiences much, but it does seem that if McKinsey was pushing the banks in a certain direction, then that direction had to be coming from the people at the top of the bank, or else McKinsey wouldn’t have been brought in, correct? So even if the banking institutions themselves weren’t yet fully up to speed, the leadership was pushing in this direction. Surely for McKinsey to even start in this direction meant that there was support within the banking industry leadership for the changes they helped implement.

                    3. Yves Smith

                      You have yet to provide a single example of a meaningful deregulatory action taken by the OCC in the 1960s. The section about Saxon actually serves to confirm that nothing of consequence happened, since the intent of your extract is to tout his accomplishments, yet 2/3 is internal the the external bit is vague and flabby.

                      Moreover, you continue to try to talk past the fact the OCC was not an important regulator in the 1960s and did not become important until the 1990s. One big reason you continue to ignore is that banking was balklanized, with banks limited to specific charters and having their own regulator. The FDIC was the primary regulator of depositaries, meaning retail banks. State bank regulators were also important because banks could have branches only in one state and they had to answer to the state authority. S&Ls were insured by the FSLIC until they started hitting the wall in the late 1970s with the super high interest rates. The early 1980s fix was to create Federally chartered S&Ls that were allowed to do more…like invest in Drexel bonds! The Fed regulated primary dealers and large banks with substantial large corporate/international operations. Etc.

                      As to McKinsey, again you fail to understand that the banking executives of that day overwhelmingly grew up in the era of sleepy banking and were shell-shocked by the impact of volatile interest rates, in Texas and the Southwest, by the oil bust, and by deregulation, like the growth of interstate banking. One fellow bank consultant at McKinsey called it “veterinary consulting: They can communicate that it hurts but they can’t tell you where.”

                      And the most aggressive firms don’t need to hire consultants. Two more sayings about consulting: “The problem with consulting is you are hired by the problem” and “The most profitable clients are the most diseased.”

          2. lordkoos

            I don’t care to keep a lot of money in a bank or credit union any longer — what’s the point, when they are only paying you .05 % interest?

            Although my credit union will pay a whopping .48% on a savings accounts, but only with a minimum deposit of $1,000,000. Not that helpful for most of us.

            1. pasha

              my credit union is now paying 3% on deposits, so long as we use their credit card ten times a month. i believe this is accomplished by sharing with depositors some of the federal interest paid on required reserves.

              1. John Wright

                The interest paid on excess and required reserves is at 0.1%.

                So not a lot of required reserve interest to share as the credit union would need to have reserves equal to 30x of the depositors who took advantage of this offer to equal 3%.


                It seems far more likely that your Credit Union expects a goodly number of their credit card users to start racking up interest on credit card balances.

                But would these same customers not use their deposits to pay off their credit cards?

                I have known people who want to have nominal “savings” while maintaining a credit card balance, so maybe that is what the Credit Union is expecting.

        1. hunkerdown

          Predation is an act and a relation. A relation that is never performed is of less concern than a relation that defines one’s identity and focuses the nature of one’s actions toward an ideal. One can style oneself as whatever they like to provoke a response — that’s what self-styling’s for — but beggars don’t get to choose the degree or kind of the response, and prey who remember that are that little bit less prey.

          Other tribes and civilizations make no great deal of culling the predators in their midst, and some have semi-formal processes for it. Mennonites disconnect them. Inuit and neocons alike arrange hunting accidents for them. We offer our flesh up to them and beg them to feed us our own pre-chewed gristle. Weeeeird.

    2. Krystyn Podgajski

      I have a friend that banks with Wells Fargo. I asked them if they would leave their money with a guy who was convicted of fraud and had to pay over $20 billion in fines. They say, “Ahhh, no, why are you asking me that?” Then i showed them the Wells Fargo violation tracker. They were shocked but they said it was “Too hard to change banks.”

      1. Off The Street

        Some parts of the business world boost Search Engine Optimization.
        Darker pattern corners include Deoptimizing Existing Account Transfer Helots!

        As you navigate any financial services website, for example, keep track of just how difficult it is to do the following:
        1. Get a straight answer
        2. Find a telephone number
        3. Talk to a live person, not a chat bot
        4. Do anything you want besides buy

        1. Clem

          3-b. “A live person who grew up speaking English.”

          Sick of financial service company employees in the Phillipines who do not get nuances, inferences and who have to be talked to like a third grader. The long silences, repeated questions, repititions and just not getting it, makes me *almost* cheer for A.I.

          As far as home service companies, if the person you are talking to is in a foreign country, hang up and try a different company. Robocalls are all fraudsters, especially the “we just happen to be in your neighborhood and will be willing to offer a discount.”

          A skilled workman with proven abilities is your best referal to other trades. Cash benefits both parties and it deserves a discount.

          1. D. Fuller

            A skilled workman with proven abilities is your best referal to other trades

            You must not live in Eastern Pennsylvania. Finding an honest skilled trades person is nye impossible. Roofers among the worst being the subject of Sheriff’s sales after a customer gets a judgement from the courts. Mechanics are tied with roofers in dishonesty. No surprise there given that mechanics (and other trades persons) are legally allowed to deceive a person as long as the are not being (or being compensated) paid by a third party to do so. Supreme Court decision has said that is so.

            Never mind building inspectors who, A. Won’t do there job and B. Are in bed with the contractors and builders. In my neighborhood, a small city bordering on being a large town? If building inspectors actually did their job? Many contractors and trades people would have their licenses yanked so fast that their heads would never stop spinning. However, the building inspector is always ready to recommend his buddy who he knows so well that he does not have to inspect the work.

            Oh, and most homes would be condemned if ever inspected properly. Shoddy work by contractors. Inspectors not doing their job in the first place.

            America’s infrastructure does not only include roads and telephone poles. America’s homes are falling apart.

            American Business Leaders & Politicians made everything about money. There is plenty of work to do. However, why do all that work when you can rig the system to give out enormous profits for only doing a fraction of that work?

            The MBA States of America.

            I was sitting at a bar in Poland discussing business with a VP of a Polish company. He announced that they were hiring an American MBA and how excited they were.

            Him: “What do you think?”
            Me: “Have you researched what became of the companies he worked for?”
            Him: “No, we haven’t.”
            Me: “I suggest you do.”

            The next night.

            Him: “We permanently banned all hiring of American MBA’s.”
            Me: “What’d you find?”
            Him: “Every company that he was junior or senior VP at, bankrupted.”

            Actual conversation. Rot from the top to the bottom of American society. Is now entrenched at even the most basic level, in our communities.

            Everything is about money. And when money is the #1 through #10 factors in decision making? One is already doomed.

            1. Clem

              I live as far away from Eastern Pennsylvania as you can get. Seems like a differen ethos where you are. Customers are getting judgements against roofers, or vice versa?

              The unstated in my reply was that one can do the work themself, knows what needs to be done, how it’s done correctly, but would rather hire a pro to do it for reasons of time, fatigue and spending money that’s losing value sitting in the bank relative to inflation.

              For example, lumber prices are up fourfold nationally. It might be wise to wait until next year when they could plunge, or maybe not because of supply disruptions.

              The building inspector problem is solved by avoiding permits. What has local government done for you lately? Did they provide health care for seniors? Masks, PPE? To hell with them, we are on our own.

              1. D. Fuller

                Customers are being handed judgements by the courts against roofers and others. More than once I’ve assisted others in obtaining said judgements against trades people.

                I’ve lived on the West Coast and The South also. I find the West Coast trades people to be slightly more trustworthy. The South? Forget about it. I wouldn’t throw them a bone in their direction, anytime.

                I can do the work myself. I know what needs to be done. How to do it correctly. And I have time, money, and effort to spend. Yes, I could hire a pro. I know they will charge me extortionist amounts. I can’t do the work myself. Why not? Building inspectors who are in the Good Ol’ Boy network with trades people in a system designed to raise costs. It is Capitalism at its finest.

                Lumber prices are up 4-fold because Trump’s trade war, the decline of forests (98% of woodlands in PA are young, from the last 70 years), deforestation, climate change turning woodlands into grasslands, etc.

                Avoiding permits? Easy to do in rural localities unless you are an outsider. Building inspectors up here? Or my neighbors, are just waiting for something.

                To hell with them, we are on our own. Yes, and our governments from local to State to Federal? Have made sure of that. Why, Tom Wolff – Democratic Governor of PA – when one calls the State Covid-19 hotline? Gets the Economic Development Board. Thus, his priorities are exposed. No different from the Republican legislature.

                Simple solutions & words such as “avoiding permits” and “to hell with them” simply will never solve the problems. Sure, once can get away with such for awhile. That does not last. At least, not in most of the US. Live in a rural remote area? Easier there. Still, you run into chief and their fiefdoms, even in the small towns and counties.

                Someone is always looking for their cut, now that The U.S. is solely about money. People need it now more than ever. It only gets worse from here on out.

                  1. JBird4049

                    Honestly, it wasn’t always just about being a humanoid parasitic, vampiric squid-beast. Our neoliberal overlords of the past forty years have financialized and corrupted everything.

                    Too many people have internalize their ethos and made it theirs.

            2. The Rev Kev

              “We permanently banned all hiring of American MBA’s.”

              Reminds me of one Sol Trujillo, an American business honcho who was brought out to Oz to run Telstra, our largest telecommunications and media company because apparently nobody in a country of 25 million people knew how to run a telephone company. When he left there was a helluva mess as he fought with unions while getting rid of 10,000 jobs and fought the government but he got to walk away with over $33 million plus 170,000 Telstra shares for four years work. Everybody was glad to see the back end of him.

      2. BobW

        It was much easier to change banks back in the dark ages of no online auto-pay. Just tracking everything down can be a major task, now. When was the last time you wrote a paper check? Paid with cash? I used cash until fairly recently, but have had just the same $1 bill in my wallet for months.

        Do not really like auto-pay, but sometimes it is difficult to opt out of it being the default choice.

        1. flora

          When was the last time you wrote a paper check? Paid with cash?

          Both, yesterday. And will again today. It’s my preference. I’ve avoided a lot of the ‘banking efficiency’ entanglements that way, and changing banks would be easy for me if it comes to that. (Some things I pay for by cc, too.)

          1. Clem

            Plumber charges $100 to snake your pipes.
            You pay by check, or credit card. Plumber loses approximately $40 of that to taxes, social security, unemployment, disability.
            His profit is $60.

            You offer plumber $80 cash to snake your pipes.
            You saved $20.
            His profit is $80.

            That’s how and why it’s done.

            1. flora

              I pay for work done by check or by cc, depending on the work done and vendor. The check/cc bill becomes my receipt that I did pay should questions arise. ymmv.

        2. Oh

          Use a credit card to pay and you can change the auto pay with them. (I don’t care to support the credit card crooks but it’s a better to use them in some cases)

        3. lyman alpha blob

          The last time I wrote a paper check was yesterday for the NC fundraiser. Copycats are encouraged!

      3. lordkoos

        I have some liberal friends who I tried to talk into leaving JPM Chase, encouraging them to join a credit union instead. I got the same thing… “too hard to change banks” because you have to update all your online payments blah blah. It’s too arduous for people to do the simplest thing — it’s not really that hard. No wonder this country is so screwed.

    3. diptherio

      That question makes no sense. I guess, you’ve failed to understand that MMT is how things already actually work. The “MMT crowd” just wants people to understand that and policy makers to stop pretending that the Fed’s checkbook is just like your family’s checkbook.

      1. Wukchumni

        The “MMT crowd” just wants people to understand that and policy makers to stop pretending that the Fed’s checkbook is just like your family’s checkbook.

        Ever consider that MMT might just be slang for ‘Am Empty’

          1. hunkerdown

            Or invested. I might have some sympathy for someone living off of bonds that they “bought” if they didn’t think public policy owes them a living.

            1. occasional anonymous

              And MMT doesn’t say there is either. Maybe just once you should actually read what MMT has to say.

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              At the most basic level of biophysical existence, all life itself is powered by Free Lunch. The solar, lunar, earth core and deep space energy which comes here or acts here without having to be paid for.

              The sun shines and shines ” for free”. All we have to pay is attention. And the effort needed to gather some of that free energy.

              Work and money come in when people set up all kinds of chokepoints and tollgates to force other people to work for the chokepointers and tollgaters, one way or another.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Not enough Gold in the world to allow for all the necessary-to-life, let alone the financialists’ froth, transactions.

          And obviously, the US enterprise has been the genocidal looting of a continent, and then various imperial colonial genocidal looting, kept operating as well as it has by an overcoat of people who try to make an honest living to keep on creating the full faith and credit wealth of nations. As long as there’s enough people just doing the farming and building and teaching and caregiving to keep that imaginary coffer full, the looting can continue.

          My take is that this political economy is a long way from being “empty.” Money to my mind is a belief structure — it has value only as a shared belief. And in the same way that TV evangelical preachers can get old people living on Social Security to send in “tithes” in the hope of salvation or at least God-engendered personal prosperity, mopes will “go risk-on” in the Market and “buy” money market shares and ETFs and other chimaeras.

          Caveat all that with an observation that pandemics and the additive effects of looting by ever larger numbers of humans may shortly exceed the regenerative capacity of the political economy. Which would be that “Empty” state.

          MMT of course just describes the operation of a monetary sovereign. Obviously the vampire squids with their blood funnels deployed will suck up every bit of real and imaginary wealth they are allowed to or, by owning the legislative and executive and judicial modulators of political economy, whatever they can get away with.

          Good luck to the “reformers” who so ardently hope to “gain control” of the engines of legitimacy by the perverted political processes. There’s a “moral bankruptcy” that’s already been declared to be the normal operation of everything. And for the “moral” who want their “rights” recognized as against the Bignesses in all parts of the political economy, until you can figure out how to enforce those ‘rights” you are just baitfish balls, swarmed up for the sharks and barracudas to slash through…

          I see where gold has been “volatile” lately…

          1. Wukchumni

            It’s a good thing there’s an unlimited amount of fiat to get us out of any mess we make, and for now there really isn’t any penalty other than it’s not worth trying to save anything, as it might take 1,000 years to double your money with niggardly banks paying bupkis, and who has time for that?

            Talking about time, decade traders never sweat day to day nonsense, that’s for teenagers on Robin Hood.

            Time by The Alan Parsons Project


      2. scoff

        Extend that to the ludicrous notion that we need a “businessman” to lead our government. It just doesn’t follow.

        Our government wasn’t designed to be run like a business. It’s not there to make a profit (except for the benefits to its nominal owners, we, the people,) and it doesn’t have to compete with other governments in this country.

        1. hunkerdown

          It was designed to be run like a plantation, which is merely a different aristocracy that’s a tiny bit more adjacent to and responsive to select realities of productive material life, while they shear the sheep and make them work for their miserly rations and downtime calculated to prevent effective revolt. It’s been like this in most human societies, except for Gramscian interregna.

          > It’s not there to make a profit

          Well, no, it’s there to consolidate profits to the aristocracy that founded the whole thing and to whose benefit the system was designed to inure. The marketing hype does not describe the actual design, features, or operation of the system. It serves only to make the system attractive enough to the feedstock so they still feed themselves into it.

          > it doesn’t have to compete with other governments in this country.

          Except for the corporations and oligarchs who have private police forces and money enough to hire one half of the working class to kill the other half. You’re correct that they don’t have to compete with them, and indeed every extant English-derived government treats employers in general and large employers in particular as strategic partners and subcontractors to the plantation; in a word, as lords.

          1. D. Fuller

            Any system devised by humans is subject to what you describe: being run as a plantation.

            Jehovah’s Witness friend of mine in Arizona operated a garage. He had no problem helping out others. He’d even fix the odd car or to if one was too poor to pay. Those to poor to pay made up for it in other ways. What was the problem?

            The local leaders of The Jehovah’s Witnesses thought themselves privileged enough to have their cars serviced for free. Every time. They became so onerous in their expectations that his garage went out of business.

            Modern Libertarians believe in some fantasy that if we just rid ourselves government and turned everything over to private industry? The world would be right as rain. We have turned government over to private industry in many ways. The results speak for themselves. Nothing good.

            Why? Because the system is run by self-interested – and quite frequently, predatory – individuals. A Libertarian fantasy society would be subject to the same human foibles our society is currently subject to. What’s the option to restrain such human desires?

            Government. Which will never be perfect. There will always be some measure of corruption. It is human nature and unless once can eliminate such behaviors from people who would be corrupt? No society will ever be “perfect”. One purpose of government is to minimize the occurrences of corruption. The mechanism for doing so is harsh measures, through laws. To curb the baser nature inherent in humanity.

            Communism fails because its run by people. Many former Communists are now rapine Capitalists. Capitalism is great for delivering what one wants; fails at delivering what one truly needs. Socialism – depending on which Socialist framework one is referencing – is a mix.

            Capitalism is for wants: iPhones, XBox, Perfume, designer clothes.
            Socialism is for needs: water, electricity, Internet (now since so much depends on The Internet), public utilities.

            Modern Libertarian thought ends up being: who has the bigger gun to enforce one’s will. I tell those to go to that 2ndA, no government paradise known as Somalia and practice their Libertarian beliefs. So far, no Libertarian will step up. Or Honduras. Or El Salvador. Or Mexico. South Africa. Etc.

            Those Libertarians who always fail to practice what they preach by visiting those countries, know what would happen: that Big Daddy Government will not be there to save them. They would want Big Daddy Government to save them.

            You see that with anti-Government Libertarian types when hurricanes & tornados rip through their communities. Their hands are always out for Big Daddy Government money. They DEMAND it.

            Government has a role. Government can be corrupted. Too many voters will be voting for either party when they KNOW that neither party truly represents them. The votes are just for appearances of legitimacy as either party in power begins the doling out and dividing of taxpayer loot to their friends, family, and Big Money Donors.

            That’s not a government problem. That’s a problem because of voters. The only bad Government that is practiced? Is because the voters voted for it. And not even a majority. The US is lucky if the party in power even garners 26% of the vote from all eligible voters.

            1. hunkerdown

              I have a problem with the hegemonic claims of bourgeois liberal democracy (i.e. democracy for bourgeois liberals only) being the only game in town. It may be true, but there are many other games.

              I also have a problem with blaming voters for voting “wrong” (i.e. taking the choices that have not been undemocratically vetoed ahead of time, and I hope you’d explain why you ignore this extremely pertinent factor), in a system that was designed from the start and deliberately to keep voters from affecting policy, and unironically counseling as a remedy exactly the sort of Herculean garden path to success that “cannot fail, only be failed”. That’s gaslighting again, no matter how many people actually believe it. Worse, it’s the same neoliberal stance of treating others’ free labor as a solution to systemic problems.

              I don’t have a problem with not calling Libertarians by their right name neoliberals, but I personally enjoy outing them as the leeches they are. Still doesn’t mean only bourgeois liberals should have democracy.

              While I agree that resources need to be husbanded (not “managed” thank you), it takes a particular cultivated arrogance to believe that commoners need to be ruled when they’ve generally gotten along much better without feeding a dead-weight “middle class” to kick them all the time.

            2. Procopius

              There were reasons, from thousands of years of previous experience, why Hammurabi included in his tablet of laws rules about honest weights and not watering the beer. That’s one of the things governments are supposed to do, and the libertarians are mad to think that is somehow an imposition on their liberty.

      3. D. Fulelr


        The current monetary policy of The US is simple money printing with no other features of MMT being there to balance the money printing. Current policy is known as: trickle-down economics, Reaganomics, looting, etc.

        To be fair, Reaganomics would not have been possible without Democratic collusion with Reagan in the form of Tip O’Neill.

        The only economic growth left in The United States? Is inflation. To satisfy demand for more profits from a relatively static customer base, the consumer. The growth of money production outstrips the birth of new consumers. Stock prices must go up. Dividends must be paid.

        The problem with current Capitalism is that demand has a limit. A limit that is an obstacle to the expected exponential growth of profits by Capitalists on Wall Street and in financial centers around the world.

        When everyone has a reliable TV that they like? No new TVs are produced except to replace one’s that fail. Hence, planned obsolescence which is nothing more than Capitalists producing crap products that are designed to break, in order to force demand upon the public. Natural demand for quality products that last? Is supplanted by the creation of artificial demand – market distorting at that – through such mechanisms as planned obsolescence.

        Instead of quality Capitalism based on quality products and outcomes? We have Sh*t Capitalism designed to artificially create demand – a true distortion of markets.

        The closest one ever gets to Capitalsm as fantasized by many, is the local business. Too many lack the education to distinguish between forms of Capitalism, mistaking one form – such as local business – with other forms i.e. Financial Capitalism. Which are practiced in very different ways.

        1. Tom Doak

          To your last paragraph, note how the PPP was designed to use banks as gatekeepers, so that
          (A) banks’ best customers (those most in debt) got first dibs, and
          B) smsll businesspeople eouls be encouraged to see banks as their lifeline, instead of taxpayers, and also so that
          C) government could gand bankd 3 percent under the table for doing thr paperwork, saving PMC jobs

    4. jsn

      No expert on MMT, but in outline I’d note that bad policy and unpunished criminal behavior don’t change the mechanics of the monetary system.

      That the pirates have taken over the Fed doesn’t alter the fact that the Fed is the only CB in the world willing to maintain a balance sheet with enough liabilities to underwrite global trade.

      That the pirates are now using access to the liabilities as a tool to extort competing brigands and warlords remains the largest risk to the dollar as it encourages those other purveyors of goods and violence to find other means to trade.

      As they succeed and as trade dwindles, the purchasing power of the dollar in foreign markets should erode, but only in proportion to the scale of the shift in trade financing.

      What you’re calling unabankers and I’m calling pirates all have the aligned self interest in asset value protection. They completely dominate the Anglo American core, but their own periphery is pulling back: Canada, Australia, Scotland and Ireland have all maintained a semblance of lawful government and that region of the Anglo American empire appears to be conserving it’s real economic base while the US & UK try to liquidate theirs, so there’s still a lot of space for correction within the footprint of the dollar system, even within the English speaking world. BoJo and the Orange One not withstanding, the dollar system still serves a lot more elites than it hurts, so i don’t see the dollar going away anytime soon.

      1. rob

        the “pirates” didn’t “take over” the FED… They created it… jp morgan,mellons,rockefellers,warburgs,etc…. they created the system, wherein they get to MAKE the money…. and the US gov’t creates debt…. to pay for it… But there will always need to be more money… and there will always need to be more debt to be repaid…
        the biggest concern about MMT, is people thinking that the banks that are the fed…. really work for the people… and not themselves..
        The people who drank the MMT kool-aid.. think these bankers won’t fleece everyone…. they got a badge called … gubmint….
        The monetary reform option that has been floated since the 1930’s, is to end the federal reserve act, put fed holdings and functions back into the treasury, where no debt need be created to supply the country and the economy with US dollars.. In so doing we can eliminate the national debt. We can stop feeding the monster of wall street speculation and mind-think that perverts the nature of our republic to the core.
        The new version of the old chicago plan was proposed in congress by dennis kucinich in 2011/2012
        HR 2990 112th congress “the NEED act”

        1. jsn

          So I’m reading “Pirates Nest” and “Treasure Islands” side by side, the British set up empire on a foundation of piracy 400 years ago and their piratical infrastructure has all been normalized into neoliberalism, but in Britain since Elizabeth 1 its always been there.

          The Fed just imported the institutional infrastructure from its progenitor the BOE. The bankers thought they could take the world financially but the New Deal stopped them until the 70s.

      2. JWP

        Unless, and a big unless, the confidence of states in the federal government combined with lack of funding to meet the balanced budget requirement, causes them to create their own banks and currencies. How could the US dollar stay afloat with the California dollar undermining it and often being more stable? Eventually, the perceived health of certain states could be greater than the country as a whole and the USD wouldn’t be as much a safe haven. Doubt this would stop all the elites from piling into the Wyoming dollar and calling it the most stable one and pouring enough cash into the state to support their own cause, but at least it would allow for state level m4a and proper school and infrastructure funding where it’s needed.

        1. jsn

          If you watched the Syriza debacle you’ll understand the impossibility of rolling out a new currency over night.

          More likely in my mind, given who’s interests are served, is that the the US falls apart leaving only the Fed standing: as the Spanish empire rotted away, its specie remained the west’s money until the consolidation of the British empire made Sterling the currency of trade, co-opting Spanish silver into the new system.

          It will be interesting to watch the trillions in off shore havens trying migrate to a different trading system.

    5. Susan the other

      I’m not surprised that the end of capitalism turned into a frenzy of bone picking. I do not blame the “Fed.” I’d always blame government leaders who do not know the meaning of the word “government.” And insofar as the “banks” are concerned, there are banks and then there are banks.(We should reserve our deepest concern for what we use as money.) Still the biggest problem is the black market. Soup to nuts, but mostly drugs these days. Real estate is just the vehicle. So if drugs were legalized we’d start to fix the problem. Then there are arms dealers; If war became obsolete, problem solved. Just solve the problem. If people are hungry there will be a huge black market in food. Contraband, sex traffickers, etc. Wherever anything is illegal it will be smuggled. So how do we deal with egregious and capital crime? I’d rather not have the answer come from religious dogma. That’s what got its here in the first place. I’d rather it came from the effort to achieve social and environmental equity. This is all a good question for the future. Beginning now.

  3. Toshiro_Mifune

    People expect technology to suck because it actually sucks

    Yes. I’d put together my own list but then we’d be here for several hours. The one that annoys me the most is how bad text entry is on any sort of mobile device with a touch screen. Doesn’t matter iOS or Android. It’s horrible. It’s been horrible since it’s inception and has only had minor improvements in the intervening decade. I’m almost positive if you ask most people they would all have the same “it’s awful” response…

    1. Carolinian

      Well there is speech to text which works pretty well for search purposes. One could argue that smartphones themselves are a square peg into round hole situation as the engineers pound a laptop into something that fits into your shirt pocket.

      And yet given the premise they work remarkably well for the millons (billions?) of users. A more important question might be whether we should be devoting so much human ingenuity to Steve Jobs’ notion when more important problems press.

    2. anEnt

      bbEdit, text editor for Mac goes by the slogan: “It doesn’t suck.” On a couple hundred dollar (now $50) text editor something for which there are free alternatives. Finally all these years later I understand why that slogan wasn’t as lame as I thought – I had previously thought it was merely targeting cynical software developers. Instead it’s a promise that it hasn’t been crappified.

          1. Chris

            To be fair, when I tried MS’s grammar check back in the day, it would frequently suggest that I replace my acceptable grammar with a version that wasn’t.

    3. chris

      Yes. And how about all the internet of things devices that require a near infinite amount of permissions on a device before they work via their apps? I recently ordered a wifi connecting microscope to see if it would be fun for kids to use and also help with some things for work. It got good reviews and only cost $30, so why not? Turns out it requires permission for a device to make phone calls, access contacts, location, memory, etc. Etc. Why? The only reasons I can think of are nothing good for me. That’s why modern tech sucks so bad. When it works, it’s because you’ve bent your life and schedule around it. You spend money for the privilege of accommodating it – it occasionally does what it says its supposed to do for you.

      1. The Rev Kev

        It’s more than that. By giving those devices virtually unlimited access, you are now the product instead of the device itself.

      2. hunkerdown


        Reason 1: The “share” button. It seems to be some sort of norm that apps should be capable to compose and send messages via a broad variety of networks and cooperating apps. To do so, they “need” access to contacts so you can choose one then choose their address and network. Memory access is required in order to save snapshots locally. The other stuff is indeed sus, yet may be required for some corner case that merely looks bad, like avoiding drawing over the screen during an incoming call.

        Reason 2: Domestic regulatory requirements leaking into export products, which can be witting, unwitting, or just nobody’s paying anyone to care enough to strip them out for export. Nudge, nudge, say no more!

        I take pains to not buy hardware or services that can’t run without “their” app. Modern devices have on-board browsers which are fully as capable as any mainstream desktop browser, and which will allow you to manipulate data on services almost as deftly and in a sandbox not designed to leak like a sieve. I prefer USB to wireless, every time, because USB offers royalty-free standards for particular device classes and many semiconductor designers put a modicum of effort toward USB class compliance in their designs.

        Hopefully they’re using something standard like mDNS to advertise a very standard service that speaks a very standard media player protocol that can be used by any free/open-source client software as if it were any other webcam. It’s worth trying other generic webcam viewers or media players, preferably those you can side-load/download from github or other site that has anti-malware terms of use, and a user base who is competent and motivated to detect and report suspicious code in the package.

        The Internet is anarchic and hostile, even predatory. One shouldn’t, but one must, interact with it accordingly.

    4. Solar Hero

      Could it be — gasp! — an Apple issue? I have an old android phone and don’t experience any of these things

      1. RMO

        I have an Android phone which is about five years old and have experienced issues with it much like the ones described. My experiences with Apple laptops led me to abandon them for a Windows machine (which I may get around to moving to Linux of some sort though my first attempts at that were failures in that I couldn’t even get the three versions I tried to install). It has just as many annoyances as the last couple of Macbooks I had but at least it was cheaper and I don’t have to deal with the insufferable arrogance that I found so common on support forums when trying to solve the Apple problems.

  4. jr

    Re: Locust Entertain You

    What if people ate the buggers? Sorry if this has come up here before. Build some sort of lure, pheromones or something sciency, then trap em. Suggested names:

    Nibbler Nibbles! Flying Popcorn! Sky Shrimp! Hopper Poppers!

    Can’t you all see it? It’s so beautiful…

    Also, I see our homegrown locusts are practically non-existent. We have already been invaded by Chinese bitter melons or something. What if someone dumped locusts into our ecosystem?

    1. edmondo

      Americans will eat locusts – but only if they are deep-fried and covered with Cheez Wiz. Instant Iowa State Fair.

        1. JacobiteInTraining

          ranch dressing? oh no….barbarians!!

          whats wrong with a lite vinaigrette???! the next thing you’ll tell me is that people are taking to wearing Braccae as they gather their locusts….

        1. Wukchumni

          We had booked a flight to Africa in order to indulge, but then the pandemic came along and wrecked our plans, although now Americans can fly to Zambia sans restrictions, so there’s hope.

          1. ambrit

            Why would anyone go to all the trouble and expense of flying to Africa to get some Zambs when they can easily be ordered over the internet?
            Indeed, I am prompted to recall that the taste treat is popular among hockey fans. It is endemic in the Northeast and far North. Wherever there is flat ice available…..

            1. Wukchumni

              I remember going to LA Kings games when I was a kid and devouring Hawaiian shaved ice treats made from leftover hockey ice flavored with blood orange syrup, ah memories.

              1. ambrit

                Weren’t those ices sold on a sliding scale?
                Anyway, I ‘m also reminded of the major Philippine port of Zamboanga. I never guessed that it was named after it’s most famous export commodity!

                On a more serious note, someone mentioned junk silver bags a few days ago. Did you ever have to deal with that aspect of the trade? What’s the lowdown on that item? I hear all sorts of horror stories from people I meet who dabbled with those pokes.
                Hope you get back to an intact “Cat-tle Ranch Aerie” soon.

                1. Wukchumni

                  Weren’t those ices sold on a sliding scale?

                  I don’t know about that, but once got 25 Cents from the tooth fairy after a game when I found a bicuspid in the bottom of the cup.

                  Pre-1965 Junk silver coins are a good way to go if you’re so inclined.

                  Each $ in face value has a little over 7/10’s of a troy ounce, and there isn’t much opportunity to get screwed on the transaction when buying from a reputable dealer, as it’s pretty straight forward.

                  I’d prefer buying privately minted 1 oz .999 fine silver rounds (not American 1 oz Eagles-way overvalued) if I was an argent provocateur, which i’m not.

                  1. ambrit

                    Thanks. I get the ‘security’ issue that .999 rounds counter, but consider “le junque” for day to day transactions if and when ye SHTF. Not everything one buys is worth fifteen or twenty dollars per item.
                    Still, I can imagine a situation where there is nothing useful available to purchase.
                    Be safe!

    2. Lex

      I’m going to post this link because I’m aware of how often the idea of eating insects has come up lately. Also because the two biggest pests in our garden this summer were crickets and T-rex sized grasshoppers, that were quickly and messily dispatched with gardening pruners… after screaming and peeing on myself a little because they’d landed on my arms and stared at me like I was a Disney princess and they were waiting for me to break into a plucky song of courage and fortitude.

      But I draw the line at eating insects, even those large enough to chart out prime cuts. If revenge is a dish best served cold, I’ll pass. I’d rather starve.

    3. Oso_in_Oakland

      jr, some of my family in New Mexico have eaten cicadas, i’ve seen them being fried up but never tasted them. they tell me they taste pretty good in tacos, prepared like pork or goat or any other meat in tacos. I would imagine locusts might be edible the same way.

      1. jr

        Like the commenter above, I would struggle. It’s not a rational thing but I would never be comfortable eating insects. As for those burgers made from meal worms, they make me want to hurl just thinking about them…

        1. Wukchumni

          As long as there was copious amounts of chives, butter & bacon bits served with them, i’d imagine baked potato bugs wouldn’t be that bad.

    4. rowlf

      US General of the Army George C. Marshall, in the interview tape recordings made with Forrest Pogue, mentioned while being stationed in the Philippines that the US soldiers would help the local farmers drive locust into large nets for collection. He also had a humorous story of the housekeeper for his quarters preparing a tasty locust paste for a party his wife was having with other Army wives on the post. The paste, served with crackers, was very popular with everyone but Marshall’s wife was reluctant to explain what exactly it was when asked.

      I like Marshall’s story as It reminds me of all the times my Thai and Hmong friends and family get me to eat something tasty but when I ask what it was, they say I don’t want to know. My only practice is to eat only what they are eating to avoid practical jokes.

    5. HotFlash

      If necessary, I would eat insects rather than starve, but there is much good food around for the growing/taking. Enough insects have eaten me that I feel ethically OK with eating them, but I wonder if that big ‘eat insects’ guy, Bill Gates, is ready to make it a major source of his protein? I sis, once at a party, after severl glasses of wine, eat some BBQ crickets. Dry, prickly, like eating pine needles but not so tasty. Perhaps they just weren’t prepared properly?

      OTOH, many of the critters I find pleasant to eat, eg, chickens, guinea fowl, are delighted to eat locusts and their 6-legged relatives. In this deal, I find that the fowl are not mere middle, um creatures, but truly add value. Chickens, meet locusts; locusts meet your doom.

  5. Nealser

    ‘The trouble with carbon pricing’ gives a good analysis and critical review of carbon pricing schemes attempted around the world. It recommends alternatives which are more effective like clean energy standards. But it doesn’t address a key plank of climate change policy which depends on carbon pricing which is negative emissions or carbon capture and sequestration (ccs). The IPCC assumes growth in negative emissions to keep warming increase below 2C. How do we grow negative emissions without carbon pricing? I don’t know. CCS by the way includes natural processes like carbon farming and afforestation not just industrial carbon capture machines.

    1. jefemt

      The thing that appeals to me about carbon pricing and trading is that we get Goldman and JPM C in there!

      Heady stuff! Those guys are SHARP!!

    2. John Steinbach

      A good discussion about the failure of carbon tax/tradable emissions schemes due to low carbon prices & opposition by fossil fuel industries. Their solution is industrial policy targeting “clean an affordable” carbon free technologies.

      Of course, such technologies don’t exist and are unlikely to be developed, at least in a time frame to prevent catastrophe. The reason for fossil fuel’s role in enabling the industrial revolution is the large amount of concentrated energy embedded in coal, natural gas, and especially oil. Renewables provide limited amounts of relatively diffuse energy insufficient to power more than a small fraction of current energy use. Nukes are exorbitantly expensive and time consuming to build, not to mention the environmental costs.

      By default the result of climate change/resource depletion in the near to mid future will be a massive decrease in energy consumption (the Jackpot). The inevitable transition to a much lower level of energy consumption will be either planned or chaotic. Regardless, the population is totally unprepared for this.

        1. John Steinbach

          Not claiming limits for renewables limit is reached. Just that given physics, space, time limit & energy concentration constraints, they can’t replace fossil fuels at anything like current energy usage. IMO the time constraints are the biggest problem.

          If education, radical conservation, population control & serious renewable development had been undertaken seriously 40 or 50 years ago, the situation would be somewhat less dire.

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        “ Renewables provide limited amounts of relatively diffuse energy insufficient to power more than a small fraction of current energy use.”

        Fractions are a neat thing. They make concepts like geometric and exponential growth far easier to visualize and understand. In the previous decade, U.S. wind power generation has increased by ~200 TWh and solar electric generation by ~76 TWh. Together with hydropower they now account for only ~1/10th of U.S. primary energy production, or ~760 TWh (2019). But in 2009, renewables accounted for only ~1/20th of our primary energy use, or ~421 TWh altogether. The assumption that this increase trend will level off completely starting in 2020 is frankly unrealistic. And your “we will inevitably see the Jackpot” scenario is wholly dependent on that counter factual assumption.

        Your assertions about the static inevitability of highly expensive nuclear energy are similarly problematic, but currently it is renewables that are doubling in use, not nukes.

  6. Upwithfiat

    While insisting “no one is above the law,” Holder pointed out that some criminal charges carried automatic regulatory penalties that “may even trigger the loss of that institution’s charter.” This, he implied, is not always a good thing. from Revenge of the Money Launderers [bold added]

    To the contrary, destroying criminal banks SHOULD always be as healthy as small natural fires to save forests from burning down later by keeping the undergrowth in check.

    However, that’s not the case since we’ve allowed, by default, private banks to hold the economy hostage via their monopoly on the use of the Nation’s fiat in account form.

    Great article by Matt Taibbi.

    1. flora

      +1. Great article.

      On December 11, 2012, U.S. Justice Department officials called a press conference in Brooklyn. The key players were once and future bank lawyer Lanny Breuer (disguised at the time as Barack Obama’s Assistant Attorney General in charge of the DOJ’s Criminal Division), and Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and future Attorney General. The duo revealed that HSBC, the largest bank in Europe, had agreed to a $1.9 billion settlement for years of money-laundering offenses.

      The next years would follow up with a flurry of similar settlements extracting sizable-sounding fees from other transnational banks for laundering money on behalf of terrorists, sanctioned businesses, mobsters, drug dealers, and other malefactors. Firms like JP Morgan Chase ($1.7 billion), Standard Chartered ($300 million), and Deutsche Bank ($258 million) were soon announcing settlements either for laundering, sanctions violations, or both.

      Even seasoned financial reporters accustomed to seeing soft-touch settlements scratched their heads at some of the deals. In the case of HSBC, the stiffest penalty doled out to any individual for the biggest drug-money-laundering case in history — during which time HSBC had become the “preferred financial institution” of drug traffickers, according to the Justice Department — involved an agreement to “partially defer bonus compensation for its most senior executives.” If bankers can’t get time for washing money for people who put torture videos on the internet, what can they get time for

      And now we have the DNC making sure 2 bank protectors – Biden and Harris – are the candidates. As Joe says, ‘under his administration nothing much will change.’ People are aghast that T used lawyer Roy Cohn as a legal rmentor/political fixer. Seems like the banks and wall st use the DNC as their political fixer… in exchange for ‘donations.’ This makes CalPERS look like small potatoes in comparison. (Too cynical?)

      1. flora


        The [FinCEN files] story has been covered around the world, but some press accounts particularly here in the States seem to have missed the punchline, i.e. that the banks figuring most prominently in the FinCen leak are exactly the same institutions paraded before the public as subjects of “message-sending” punishments back in 2012-2014.

        Thanks, Obama.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Used to be that corporations often lost their charters (equivalent to death sentence for a real person, I take it.) Here’s an article that describes how corporations were a rare bird with a limited range of behaviors not so very long ago, and what civil society could do to rein in and extinguish the pirates and predators:

      Our Hidden History of Corporations in the United States

      When American colonists declared independence from England in 1776, they also freed themselves from control by English corporations that extracted their wealth and dominated trade. After fighting a revolution to end this exploitation, our country’s founders retained a healthy fear of corporate power and wisely limited corporations exclusively to a business role. Corporations were forbidden from attempting to influence elections, public policy, and other realms of civic society.

      Initially, the privilege of incorporation was granted selectively to enable activities that benefited the public, such as construction of roads or canals. Enabling shareholders to profit was seen as a means to that end. The states also imposed conditions (some of which remain on the books, though unused) like these*:

      Corporate charters (licenses to exist) were granted for a limited time and could be revoked promptly for violating laws.
      Corporations could engage only in activities necessary to fulfill their chartered purpose.
      Corporations could not own stock in other corporations nor own any property that was not essential to fulfilling their chartered purpose.

      Corporations were often terminated if they exceeded their authority or caused public harm.
      Owners and managers were responsible for criminal acts committed on the job.
      Corporations could not make any political or charitable contributions nor spend money to influence law-making.

      For 100 years after the American Revolution, legislators maintained tight control of the corporate chartering process. Because of widespread public opposition, early legislators granted very few corporate charters, and only after debate. Citizens governed corporations by detailing operating conditions not just in charters but also in state constitutions and state laws. Incorporated businesses were prohibited from taking any action that legislators did not specifically allow.

      States also limited corporate charters to a set number of years. Unless a legislature renewed an expiring charter, the corporation was dissolved and its assets were divided among shareholders. Citizen authority clauses limited capitalization, debts, land holdings, and sometimes, even profits. They required a company’s accounting books to be turned over to a legislature upon request. The power of large shareholders was limited by scaled voting, so that large and small investors had equal voting rights. Interlocking directorates were outlawed. Shareholders had the right to remove directors at will….

      1. Upwithfiat

        Great article, thanks.

        Initially, the privilege of incorporation was granted selectively to enable activities that benefited the public, such as construction of roads or canals. Enabling shareholders to profit was seen as a means to that end.

        This sounds to me like Gold Standard reasoning whereby corporations were granted privileges by government in exchange for private finance of public projects.

        But surely that reasoning is obsolete now that fiat is inexpensive and can be created in unlimited amounts for public projects?

        Then the problem is not corporations per se but privileges for corporations including a government-privileged credit-for-usury cartel for the benefit of the most so-called “credit worthy?”

        But sure, go ahead and regulate the Hell out of corporations since they should be subordinate to government, no doubt, but if their explicit and implicit privileges are left intact – and this especially applies to banks – then we still have the problem of welfare for private interests.

        1. RMO

          I found a BBC article about this, focusing on the address where one of the companies Matt mentions (Ergoinvest) is listed as residing.

          “The way the schemes work is intentionally complex. Criminals in Russia and other countries who want to launder their money”

          Of course there are no facts anywhere in that BBC story stating that Ergoinvest (and the others using the address) are laundering money for Russians at all, but Russia is the only country named (other than the UK of course). I’m sure there are criminals in Russia landering money, some through the western banks shown by FinCEN to have been laundering money with impunity for years but the constant shoving of the “RUSSIAISEVIL!” down the news pipe is really getting to be a bit much.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “‘I Feel Sorry for Americans’: A Baffled World Watches the U.S.”

    I’m labeling this a New York Times psyops piece meant for domestic consumption. Perhaps conflating Trump’s actions with a diminished US role in the world is part of a subliminal message that if you only get rid of Trump, then everything goes back to the way it was. Not going to happen. But regardless – as to the question of ‘How did a superpower allow itself to be felled by a virus’ the answer is simple. It hit America in its most vulnerable place – the American healthcare system (or lack thereof). Corporate healthcare has gutted a once proud system in the search for outrageous profits and now the bill has come due – but with those corporations still reaping the profits.

    And if the New York Times was halfway honest, they could take that image of ‘Belarus soldiers in Minsk last month’ and juxtapose it with one of ‘American ‘para-military police in Washington the other month. It seems to be a bunch of random people saying ‘Orange Man Bad – poor America.’ I’m not sure why the feel good story about the US supplying medical gear to Thailand unless it is because this article’s author lives there but the fact of the matter it was Trump hijacking medical gear that will be remembered more. Finally, I thought it funny where she said ‘Despite the low caseload, most Thais continue to wear face masks in public.’ That should read ‘As most Thais continue to wear masks in public, this results in their low caseload.’

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      It’s a psy op piece, one that pleases the editors, the owners, and the most loyal and lucrative subscribers. The writers and most of the readership know what the problem is; as you said, it’s the extortionate health care system and the general destruction of public health capabilities. I.e. the CDC, an agency that could effectively engage in nationwide contact tracing in the past. Over the past 40 years it’s been the Republicans who have taken the lead in destroying these things, while centrist Dems have whined and done little to stop them.

      The Times and it’s PMC subscribers really do not want to upset their own applecarts. At all. So pieces like this one appear pretty regularly in the Times. To be taken like a Xanax by the readers, as needed.

    2. Chris

      …if you only get rid of Trump, then everything goes back to the way it was.

      As noted on NC a few days ago, Trump is the stench, not the rot.

    3. mpalomar

      if you only get rid of Trump, then everything goes back to the way it was. Not going to happen.
      Au contraire, the problem is that’s exactly what is likely to happen.Trump is a symptom manifesting a fetid, corrupt duopoly that has permeated the body politic for decades; vote Republican or Democrat, nothing seems to change except perhaps for the worse.

  8. timbers

    “Democrats Manchin, Donnelly, Clinton Vice Presidential nominee Kaine all voted her onto the U.S. Court of Appeals, so what’s the issue?”

    Maybe the presumed to Nominee Amy Coney can address the notion there being no real substantive difference btwn the 2 major parties while at the same time carve out a distinguishing career mark that sets her apart from, for example, a potential Democratic nominee, to the Supreme Court. She might do this during the testimony/question session with Senators (if is one).

    Coney can separate herself and lay to rest suggestions the 2 major parties aren’t really different, by emphasizing her intention to judicially uphold that Corporation are are just MERE people – they are EXTRA SPECIAL EXCEPTIONAL people.

    That would put the Court on a good bipartisan footing (but one will have say it’s not bipartisan for appearances sake) as a marker of what to look for in Supreme Court nominees in the future as well as a possible guiding light for future rulings. After all, we know that’s what both major parties want.

    1. flora

      Pretty much.

      There Should Be No Doubt Why Trump Would Nominate Amy Coney Barrett

      Amy Coney Barrett’s elevation would fulfill former Justice Lewis Powell’s plan to transform the Supreme Court into a forum friendly to business interests.

      The neoliberal Dem party elite and the DNC are on quietly board with that assignment. No wonder Manchin et al voted to comfirm her onto the Court of Appeals. The blather about hot-button social issues is a distraction aimed at misdirecting the voters.

  9. Ohnoyoucantdothat

    Just an update from here in the Republic of Crimea. As many of you know, we’ve been under severe water restrictions for the last month. The major reservoir feeding Simferopol is almost empty and there is little relief in sight. To say there has been some “upset” over the utter failure of our leaders to address this ongoing issue in the last 6 years since joining Russia would be an understatement. When leadership fails in the most fundamental of its obligations to the populace then it is very hard to justify their continued rule. All the other improvements they have made to the infrastructure … new expressways, the new airport, road upgrades … mean nothing when potable water is no longer assured.

    So it was a very welcome announcement by Putin yesterday that a crash program has been authorized to build desalination plants to rectify the problem. The Israelis have agreed to add their considerable expertise to the effort. Not sure of the timetable but no expense will be spared to see this project move forward with the greatest speed. I suspect it will still take a year to get it done but at least there is movement and a sense of urgency. I only hope the usual corrupt forces don’t screw this up. Having the Israelis involved gives me some assurances that at least technically there is reason for some confidence it will work in the end. Keep your fingers crossed.

    1. edmondo

      When leadership fails in the most fundamental of its obligations to the populace then it is very hard to justify their continued rule.

      They should print this on the ballots they are mailing out – but I suppose if people really thought about it, there’d be no reason to return the thing.

      1. D. Fuller

        Nice slogan. Fails since there are no alternatives.

        Biden? I’m not voting for him. There are five other voters in my family not voting for him. None of them will be voting for Trump. But we will vote. Why you may wonder? Simple.

        HAMP foreclosure fraud.

        My father lost his job in 2008. Fell behind on mortgage payments. Obama was elected along with Biden. Democrats held Congress. The Obama-Biden Biden Administration touted HAMP (& HAMP II) as helping homeowners.

        So, my father signed up. Actually managed to catch up on his payments and present – through HAMP – his last house payment. The bank was required to take it. Except that they did not. And filed for foreclosure on his home. My father could not afford a lawyer.

        When homeowners defrauded by HAMP/HAMP II – touted by Obama and BIDEN – started filing lawsuits? U.:S. AG Eric Holder – first appointed by Reagan to the Federal bench – preempted all homeowner lawsuits related to HAMP foreclosure fraud – by filing his own lawsuit against the banks.

        The banks duly lost, or rather, signed a nice deal.

        My father received a $1,000 settlement check. The bank kept the $114,000 he had already paid. And sold the home for an additional $90,000.

        All thanks to Obama, Biden, and Eric Holder.

        There are millions of homeowners – former that is – that were screwed by Obama & Biden & Holder & Democrats. So much so that 8,000,000 Obama voters went to Trump. Former Democrats who lost their homes, their children who remember how Democrats screwed their parents. And friends & family of those people.

        What Democratic Misleadership fails to understand? Politicians lie. Lies can be forgiven. Politicians who betray? Betrayal is FOREVER.

        Which is why the current Democratic strategy of winning over voters – is to focus on suburban Republicans as their new base. Rahm Emmanuel & Steve Israel & Pelosi & Schumer & Obama found out the hard way how well that works: 2010 destruction of Democratic power.

        They still haven’t learned that lesson, in all actuality.

        1. Janie

          The fraudulent foreclosures, the mass signing of documents, MERS and the improperly registered deeds – all down the rabbit hole with no punishment and no recompense.

          1. D. Fuller

            My father has health issues. Will work until the day he dies. Is pursued by The IRS due to his home foreclosure. Can’t afford the lawyers. And when he dies? The IRS gets everything.

            Thanks, Biden. And Democrats.

            I’m not angry. I simply know what they did. I prefer cold logic when making decisions. Trump is the culmination of our corrupt system.

            Actually, the system is not corrupt. The leaders running it? Are.

            Government is not the problem. The leaders of government and their financiers? Are.

            The ultimate problem? Is the voter. For voting for it and not choosing wisely. The corruption is far less when voters reject the false choices, instead choosing more appropriate choices.

            The politicians and corruption are simply because of the voters. More so those who do not vote. They willingly or not, consent to the results. They did not even try to effect change. Personally, i always tell those non-voters that they have no say since they did not even try. Trying is better than nothing.

            1. furies

              Where are candidates worthy of voting for?


              Your post is confusing; are you scolding non-voters (for not voting for corruption?) or ?

              Your dad’s story is horrifying…makes *me* angry!

            2. Felix_47

              The best punishment for the Dems is to vote for Trump. He is terrible but then we get another shot in four years. Don’t forget the Dems gave us Trump. He was the hand picked candidate, the Peter Pan Candidate, chosen by HRC. We learned that from Wikileaks. And the plan backfired on the Dems. All the whining about Trump is whining about their own monster mistake. As a practical matter the Dems have been in power since WW2. Eisenhower was drafted to be a Repub. Reagan was a response to the Carter economy. The opposition by the Repubs has been enough to create the impression there is a two party system but we really have a right wing and a not so right wing now. And Trump has started no wars and seems unlikely to start another one. Voting for Trump is a statement and don’t forget that the Dems gave us Trump and now they are shoving Biden down our throat. They get less than my vote. They get a Trump voter. The dems learned nothing from 2016. We would benefit if they were beaten again. Biden was not presidential material in 1988 and nothing has improved with time. The next election might bring us something better ……one can hope. It was the dem attorney/PMC/finance/health insurance forces that gave us a choice of HRC or Trump and once again we are getting a similar choice. In a blue state one can vote third party, in a red state one can vote third party. In a swing state one might want to vote for Trump if you want any chance of breaking the attorney/finance/war cabal.

    2. Eclair

      Thanks for the comment, Ohno… I did a quick search on Crimea and water and lo, I had no idea that it was a semi-arid region (like, say, Southern California), dependent on outside sources of water (like, Los Angeles.) The major water source, a canal from Ukraine, was closed off by that country (citing unpaid water bills) in 2014.

      1. Ohnoyoucantdothat

        The same Ukraine that owes Russia for the stolen natural gas during the Yoshioka presidency. And Crimea offered to pay for the water but Ukraine refused. All about punishing Crimea for leaving. Zalinski, president of Ukraine, is afraid of nationalists and fascists in the West of the country.

        1. Olga

          Even back in 1960s and 1970s, water was a problem in Crimea. The infrastructure was less than adequate (but there were not that many people), and Ukr. in 25 years did little to fix problems. In fact, a couple of years ago, many areas seemed the same as 40 years ago. Back then, the population was not growing much, but there are efforts now to reverse this. Yalta has traffic jams, when previously it was a quiet town. There is a lot of new construction.
          Developing Crimea is a double-edged sword – while VVP needs to prove that he can deliver a higher standard of living – the fragile natural environment can only take so much “development.” The interior is quite dry – but perfect for growing grapes and making wine.
          And yes, Ukrainians will do all they can to scuttle progress in the region.

          1. Ohnoyoucantdothat

            About right. Crimea was honey pot for Ukraine elites. Many had summer estates here but they took more than they left. I doubt infrastructure is even close to what existed 40 years ago. Water has been a big issue for all 15 years I’ve lived here. Constant problems. Also electricity during Yushenko reign as Temoshenko, the prime minister at the time, was stealing much of it. Place was a wreck when Russians came along. They were shocked by the disintegration of the place.

            As for traffic, lots of cars on roads designed during Soviet union which was mostly buses. No places to park and mostly narrow roads. And construction on top of third world infrastructure. You would be agast at the rats nest wiring in our Breznev era “baton” apartment building. Even after 6+ years of Russian investment much of the place barely works. But at least they replaced the rickety elevator which threatened to fall every time we used it. They also upgraded the local government medical clinics but there’s a major exodus of doctors to the private sector where money is better. So one step forward and one step back. It’s what happens when infrastructure is neglected for a long time. There’s a lesson there for America and others who think they can let it degrade without consequence.

            Oh, by the way, dollar is, as of today, 78 rubles. 6 months ago it was 68. Wife says this is deliberate so government gets more rubles for their export commodities. Great for us as we trade dollars to live but locals are being crushed.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I don’t think that it was a matter of unpaid water bills. The Ukrainians were trying to really load on the pressure to the Crimeans by cutting of their water, their power supplies, trains, transport and whatever else they could – plus the occasional sabotage group. Probably smart thinking by the Russians to hire the Israelis to build those plants. If it was any other country, Washington would be threatening them with sanctions and asset seizures like with Nord Stream 2 but with the Israelis, they are kind of stuck as the Israelis can tell them to go pound sand.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Sounds kind of like the US Empire’s “maximum pressure” sanctions and effective blockades. One piece of that includes Crimea,

          All nice and legal, of course.

          Are there any countries not currently subject to US “sanctions” and embargoes of one sot or another? Under older international law, as I recall it, much of these would be construed as acts of war. But then in Exceptional America, whatever “we” do is ok. As my ex-wife used to say, when she did something it was ok, but when I did the same thing it was wrong. Wonder if the rest of the world will get around to divorcing the US?

          About that “maximum pressure” hybrid war on Iran, Pompeo says in a masterful bit of hapless irony, hypocrisy and projection, “ Our maximum pressure campaign on the Iranian regime will continue until Iran stops spreading chaos, violence, and bloodshed.”

        1. Ohnoyoucantdothat

          After the “coup” in Ukraine, the resulting government in Kiev was extremely hostile to Crimea and Donbas. There were threats of punishment and violence. I was here during that time and we were very concerned. Crimea had only the Russian naval base in Sevastopol to protect us. At the time, most people here were glad when the “little green men” appeared. Not so much now but then it was a lifeline against a very dangerous situation. We could have easily joined Donbas in the civil war. I don’t fault Putin for the bad water situation. It was the local government that failed to properly gauge the severity of the shortage.

          1. Carolinian

            Well what exactly could the local govt do about it other than pray for rain, ask Russia for help or complain on international fora about the Ukrainians using water as a weapon? Re that last a web search suggests that the usual Russia bashing suspects are seeing this crisis as an opportunity in their unending campaign to isolate Putin.

            I have seen an article that claims 80 percent of the people in Crimea are still happy to now be part of Russia. Meanwhile being a US Atlanticist catspaw seems to be doing very little for the Ukrainians (as opposed to their oligarchs).

            1. Ohnoyoucantdothat

              The local government was given obscene amounts of money to repair the damage inflicted on the area by the corrupt governments in Kiev before the coup. But it was more important to build the 3+ billion dollar bridge, the equally costly Tavreda highway from said bridge to Sevastopol, the “best in class” terminal at the airport plus a long wish list of other “necessities”. Add to that the replacement electrical system across the Azon Sea. Of course there was the usual graft that lessened the budgets but this was business as usual so expected. But water wasn’t sexy and we had good rains for most years so the disaster could be kicked down the road until it couldn’t. Now we have a big problem and only Putin has the clout to focus those errant local leaders to really get busy. Now we’ll see how well they get the job done with “the Vlad” breathing down their necks. I’ll be surprised if the big shots are still in command when this is over. They ought to be in chains somewhere.

    3. jef

      Lets hope that the Black Sea, which already has stagnant periods, doesn’t become a dead sea like Gulf of Oman from De-sal.

      1. Ohnoyoucantdothat

        Black Sea is very large and very deep. Doubt desal will have any impact. And several large rivers (including Niper and Volga) discharge into it. Will literally be a “drop in the ocean” compared to everything else going on.

      2. Felix_47

        The black sea is a focus of the US Navy. One of reasons Joe Biden was in Ukraine was to work on getting Ukraine into NATO. That way the US Navy could bring full force into the Black Sea. They would simply put a Ukrainian in charge of the warship and claim it was a Ukrainian exercise. This is to get around the Treaty of Montreaux which was signed almost 100 years ago. Otherwise the US Navy can’t get into the Black Sea enough to threaten Russia. With a Biden presidency we can expect this activity to continue and increase. This is one reason to favor Trump. He has shown little inclination to bulk up NATO on the Russian border. War with Russia would be very expensive. Putting a carrier battle group into the Black Sea would be like the Russians putting warships in Lake Superior or Lake Michigan or building a naval base in Tijuana. Our neocons are salivating at a Biden victory.

    4. Rod

      Thanks for something pressing from your part of the world. Water shortages and Climate Crises go hand in hand.
      Is this Climate Changed Water Cycles there, or increased demand or failing infrastructure??
      I see from the Wiki that your areas yearly rainfall totals are somewhat light–<500mm whereas for comparison my part of the USA has 600-800mm. Has there been change in population or industrial use that has had the effect?
      Simferopol is inland, is your coastal 'Riviera' being affected also? The Salinization Effort would seem directed to this area.
      What are the impacts on you and How do you think this should be addressed?
      Is this a Legacy problem left from Ukraine or one attributed to Russia's recent 'involvement" ?

      1. Ohnoyoucantdothat

        Crimea has historically had water problems. Not climate change but probably aggrevated by it. The solution was the canal from the Niper River during the Soviet era. Ukraine cut that in 2014. Crimea is an agricultural area, mostly fruits and grapes. That uses lots of water. The water system is also old and still in poor repair. Lots of water is lost due to leakage. All things the local leadership knew 6 years age and did little to fix. Different areas are being impacted more or less with Simferopol the worst hit I think.

        We get low water pressure during parts of the day and none the rest of the day. Water quality is degraded and cannot be used for drinking or cooking without running thru a charcoal filter and boiled. I’m worried about the longterm impact of reduced flows in the sewer system which is also old and prone to problems. Obviously we need a new source of water. Desalinization is one very expensive solution but water quality will be excellent. They can draw from deep in the Black Sea to avoid most surface contamination. I also suggested taking water from the Volga near Volgagrad and piping it across the Azon Sea to Kirch but the water isn’t really too good. Would require lots of processing but much of that infrastructure already exists for the old system. Also very expensive solution. I think Putin is adverse to asking (or forcing) Ukraine to reopen the existing canal due to strategic concerns. Ukraine doesn’t want the water used by Russia’s military and could try to disrupt flows in an emergency. So it’s desal as the final solution. Got my fingers crossed it’s not a huge boobdoggle.

    5. Clem

      The Ukrainians always have Chernobyl II, III and IV, plus other reactors essential to power the desalination plants.
      What could go wrong?

      1. Ohnoyoucantdothat

        Chernobyl is completely shutdown. Power for desal comes from new electrical system under Azon Sea. They may have to beef that up as desal uses lots of power. Think source is reactors in Krasnadar region. Seems I heard new system isn’t enough for current power demand so they may need a few more lines. They’ll figure it out eventually.

  10. Wukchumni

    It was the 130th anniversary of America’s 2nd National Park yesterday, and how it came about was so typical of the era when railroads dominated. A socialist utopian group which played by the rules was a victim of the choo-choo cancel culture of the time, which didn’t want a competitor in the lumber business.

    The Kaweah Colony posed a political and economic challenge to the dominance of capital in general, and to Southern Pacific in particular. With the support of Southern Pacific, the act that created Yosemite National Park was amended in secret at the last minute to expand the newly created Sequoia National Park, in order to expropriate lands that the Kaweah Colony had settled.

    Southern Pacific had its way, and the days of the Kaweah Colony were numbered. The road that the colonists had hacked out of the wilderness with their collective labor was stolen by the park service, without compensation, and served as the main route into Sequoia National Park for decades. The giant sequoia that the Kaweah colonists had named the Karl Marx Tree, by volume the largest known living tree in the world, was renamed the General Sherman Tree.

    Berland did some serious investigation, and uncovered a Southern Pacific map, which shows the new boundaries of Sequoia National Park, as delineated in the Yosemite National Park bill, dated October 10, 1890.

    “On that date,” Berland writes “neither the colonists, the local conservationists, nor the California press were yet aware of the park’s enlargement. Congressional documents not excepted, this is the earliest reference to Sequoia Park’s enlarged boundaries extant!”

  11. Stephen V.

    Speaking of law for little peeps: I was informed by a client yesterday that the DOJ is now auditing people in bankruptcy. Been at this for decades and have never run into this. Has anyone else heard of such?
    Further, local hospitals feeling the pinch are filing collection lawsuits for amounts as low as $150.
    Last time I checked median income in ozarkysaw is around $35k. Cheers!

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The federales audit. They tend to target higher than median bankruptcies for the area. I think its less of an audit of the individual in bankruptcy than the system or its supposed to be, they likely don’t do enough to find patterns.

    2. ambrit

      We had much more “intense” dunning from a Physician’s Management Group for an $86 USD bill this spring than we have ever experienced before. The time to dunning was shorter than other cases we have been involved in, and the frequency of contact was higher than before. (In ‘the old days,’ two or three weeks would pass between calls for payment. This time, five or six days between calls, even though I told them we were waiting for the Social Security cheques to come in before paying.)
      Has anyone seen evidence of commissions being paid for bill collectors at medium and big entities? This last round of dunning calls had a desperate “feel” to it.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Democratic senator to party: ‘A little message discipline wouldn’t kill us'”

    As Senator Brian Schatz is from Hawaii, I am sure that he knows all about Democratic discipline. Such as how the Democrats there were more disciplined in fighting progressives and people like Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard instead of others – such as Hawaiian Republicans for example.

    1. John k

      Progressives are the enemy. Reps are the secret brothers. They must have a real laugh when they get together.
      Like Obama’s and bush’. ‘I started the biggest war!’ ‘Yeah, but I started way more!’ Peals of laughter.

  13. anon

    On the ACB decisions article, if those are her most controversial rulings can someone tell me what is wrong with any of them on a constitutional basis?

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Destroying The Court To Save It: Democrats Wrongly Use Ginsburg Push Court Packing Scheme”

    What could possibly go wrong with stacking the Supreme Court if the dems get in. Unless the repubs think of the same idea when they come back in power. It would be tit for tat as each party came to power. And what would the Supreme Court look like after a few decades of this?

    Reminds me of a film clip that I saw of a wedding a few years ago. Not wanting to offend either friends or family, you had a situation where the groom and bridal parties totaled over forty people. There were more people in that long, wide line at the front of the church than were sitting in the church pews themselves.

    1. edmondo

      We could all be lawyers and all of us on the Supreme Court, each of us deciding which laws are legal and which are not. And, we’d all get great heath-care as government employees!

      1. Bruno

        The alleged “power” of the SCOTUS to “allow or disallow” legislation is a total abuse of the Constitution, which specifies that its sole power is the power to “decide cases,” not to declare laws “constitutional” or disallow them. That abuse was the enduring work of one man–John Marshall–who dictatorially declared that it is “emphatically the province” of SCOTUS to make such decisions. “Province,” which is nothing but a contraction of *pro vincia* which means “from conquest,” reveals that even Marshall knew that his assertion was a naked power grab. The explicit text of the Constitution defines it as “The Supreme Law of the Land,” a status shared only by legislation adopted “persuant to the Constitution.” How can a “law” directly violating the explicit provisions and limitations of the constitutional text possibly be constitutionally valid no matter whether or not some prescribed legislative procedure was used to adopt it? It obviously cannot. It was Unconstitutional and therefore absolutely invalid *ab initio*. Judges are citizens, and as such have the *duty*, not the “province,” to refuse recognition to unconstitutional laws. That is the right and duty of every citizen in the true sense of that word. But even the correct opinion of any citizen, even that of the “honorable” Justices, is merely that–an opinion–and never, ever, in itself “Law.”

        1. upstater

          While SCOTUS is an abomination, Arundhati Roy has written about the Indian Supreme court. Like the US, the Indian court has successively expanded its powers and authority by leaps and bounds to benefit the billionaire class. Criticizing the Indian Supreme court carries draconian penalties. Makes the US system look positively wonderful.

          The solution to the problem of the federal judiciary is to end lifetime appointments. Pass a law for 10 year terms and phase it in with 20% of judges subject to mandatory retirement every 2 years, starting by seniority.

          Speaking from experience, as an individual or a small business, you’re screwed in federal civil courts even when you win. Corporations are on home turf, and the magistrates and judges let you know that.

  15. ptb

    Re: Tooze, China, Carbon Neutrality

    Big move by Xi. If Biden wants to be president, he should make the same commitment.

    1. AnonyMouse

      I think Biden’s current platform is that he will “Ensure the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050.” That’s from the climate page of his website.

      Of course, any electoral promise made by Biden prior to getting voted in is worth taking with as much of a grain of salt as Xi’s promises, given the Congress, Supreme Court, etc.

    2. neo-realist

      I don’t know if the carbon neutrality will be that big of an issue in the election when Trump doesn’t take that seriously, nor does he take seriously anything that is said by anybody at the UN.

  16. JacobiteInTraining

    Just so everyone can get a feel for the right-wing players in the Portland OR area, here is some intel kindly gathered into one place:

    And yes, it is a certainty that clicking that link gets you on a list somewhere. Not even a joke anymore, eh? :)


    1. Wukchumni

      I heard the Proud Goys wanted to march against the Zions in Utah, but it turned out to be a big misunderstanding that the Mormons were old school Jews.

      1. Clem

        All volunteer Shabbos GOP members?

        Learn a new term: “Shabbos Goy, a non-Jew who performs certain types of work (melakha) which Jewish religious law (halakha) prohibits a Jew from doing on the Sabbath.”

      2. Carolinian

        You clearly haven’t been reading your Book of Mormon.


        As for Portland and Proud Boys, all those Californians move to Oregon and are shocked, shocked to learn that gambling rightie activiism is going on here.

        1. Wukchumni

          Mormonism seems similar to Scientology, albeit with a 175 year head start on it.

          Lots of gobbledygook in their book.

          1. The Rev Kev

            There are sure a lot of gods about, some reputedly working on Wall Street by their own accounts. Robert Heinlein wondered what would happen if, at the end of the day, that the one true god was found to be Mumbo Jumbo, God of the Congo all along.

            1. Wukchumni

              You kind of wonder which gods those 3,000 warriors referenced the other day were killing each other over 3,000 years ago?

              And every Wehrmacht soldier wore a belt buckle proclaiming god was with them, and truth be said, they must have had her good graces in the first half of the war.

          2. kareninca

            And so, another day, another number of religious people – in this case Mormons who might stop by – lost to the progressive cause. Due to their most cherished beliefs being treated with casual contempt on a progressive blog. I don’t actually think you’ve been hired by the Republicans, Wukchumni, but if you had they’d be getting their money’s worth.

            But fortunately Mormons don’t have the vote, right?

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        Likely you have seen this one too then, but this is also a good (but long) dissection of the politics of Portland and the protests over the last few years – focusing on why the local political machine (despite being labelled in some circles as wild-eyed-bomb-throwing-reds themselves) has left a bad taste in many peoples mouths…not least the far left.

        Like any seemingly intractable problem, it can never be understood solely on the basis of a facile binary good/evil left/right paradigm. I mean, unless ones true goal has nothing to do with actual solutions.

        1. JWP

          The mayor, who is often labeled as a left winger, was a registered republican who is member of a conservative timber family. he has basically shifted opinions to remain in office but is a neoliberal at heart. The local ruling class manages to piss of all sides except the 4 or 5 wealthier neighborhoods by trying to balance neoliberal fiscal stuff with progressive social policies. The results don’t work out, but the city is so beautiful and has enough of a community feel to keep people’s minds distracted. If Wheeler wins the mayoral race, the norm stands, but if he loses, people are extraordinarily pissed off.

          As for the proud boys, they all live at least 15 miles away and come into town just to be annoying and get into confrontations. It’s anger than their town’s and jobs depend on Portland and its “liberals” but hate the policies and culture that comes with it.

    2. martell

      Thanks for that very informative link. I had no idea that there are crazy people with bad tattoos in the Portland area. Good to know.
      As for today’s rumble at Delta Park, any word on whether the Portland sleestak will be making an appearance? And, if so, for which team will he/she (they?) be playing?

      1. Clem

        Followed the link, watched an old H.R.Pufinstuf VHS tape that’s been sitting in our bookcase for decades to see what it’s about.
        Holy living F! That’s like an hour long acid trip on a skimpsy soundstage, right up there with The Carpenters, weird yet charming, an alternate vision of what our culture’s zeitgeist could have become had it wandered off in a very different direction.

    3. hunkerdown

      RCAntifa really needs a web auxiliary. Posting multiple 2MB images without thumbnails and without a cache is inexcusable. I gave up after 2 minutes. Yes, intel needs detail, but they’re only hurting themselves and just begging for a DDoS to cost them money and reach, under the best of conditions.

      If I’m not on a list, they’re not doing their job very well.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Zombie storms are rising from the dead thanks to climate change”

    Let’s see now. The year 2020 has had massive bushfires in Oz, assorted wars from Syria to Yemen, oil price collapses, a world-wide pandemic, a self-inflicted economic catastrophe, the Olympics cancelled, general locks-downs around the world, wild fires in California that turned San Francisco into a Bladerunner landscape, murder hornets, shenanigans in American politics, etc. So zombie storms? Sure. Yeah, take a number zombie storms.

    1. Wukchumni

      We just had a zombie storm here that emanated out of the dirt and lurched around aimlessly reanimating itself on a diet of slurs and innuendos from a cloud based server.

  18. Wukchumni

    In the midst of the AirBnB boom here, any house that worked would be snapped up quick, leaving the market left with a bunch of iffy properties for sale, quite a few of them lingered for many years.

    These were real dogs, the kind of houses that were listed for $300k, but needed $150k worth of work to make them viable as vacation rentals.

    But that was then and this is now, and denizens of the Big Smokes must want out of their useless megalopolises, as damned near everything you see in a drive-by has a ‘sale pending’ sign now.

    1. marym

      At least the early #resistance™️ attempt to recruit “faithless electors” had the popular vote as an argument!

    2. John Wright

      One can suggest that a lot of these “Trump will cheat his way to the Presidency” reports are simply “get out the vote” and fundraising campaigns by the Democrats.

      From the 2016 election wikipedia entry for “Faithless electors in the 2016 United States presidential election”

      “As a result of the seven successfully cast faithless votes, the Democratic Party nominee, Hillary Clinton, lost five of her pledged electors while the Republican Party nominee and then president-elect, Donald Trump, lost two. Three of the faithless electors voted for Colin Powell while John Kasich, Ron Paul, Bernie Sanders, and Faith Spotted Eagle each received one vote. The defections fell well short of the number needed to change the result of the election; only 2 of the 7 defected from the winner, whereas 37 were needed to defect in order to force a contingent election in Congress (a tally of less than 270). ”

      Doing this end run might be very difficult to pull off and could damage the Republican party in future elections.

  19. farmboy

    3 NFL coaches fined $100k each for intermittent mask wearing on game day, teams fined $250k ea. Pete Carroll of Seahawks says sometimes you have to get coached up, sangfroid to say the least

  20. rhodium

    Trump approves plan to get Canadian drugs imported… Apparently this is specifically aimed at swing states though, who cares if everyone else in other states pay extreme prices… Regardless, the expanded black market potential on top of that has Trump pissing in the pharmaceutical industry’s pool big time. I forget my hierarchy of lobbyist efforts in the U.S. but I thought the pharmaceutical industry was one of the largest if not the largest.

    They’ll have a target on Trump’s back now. They’ll do their part to ensure Biden wins. If Biden pushes medicare for all then they’ll lobby to make sure the government still pays current extreme pricing levels. The Dems won’t care because fed mmt can pay for it, meanwhile the pharmaceutical industry will be richer than ever in the dollar flood. The Repubs will continue whining about deficits and dollar debasement while eagerly taking pharmaceutical lobbying money to keep the prices high. They will say, no, the American people, not the Fed, should be enriching the pharmaceutical companies, but since the American people are broke the pharma companies will see the benefit of sucking up mmt dollars and the Repubs will end up being the same windbags that they’ve been for the last 12 years.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Probably big pharma knows that this is all Theaterspiel and is not serious. Consider that the population of the US is about 335 million while that of Canada is about 38 million. Even if all the drugs went to the US, it would only serve a fraction of US needs. And I am sure that the Canadians would never allow so much to go across the border and leave them zip as that would be electoral suicide. This is just another Trump promise and behind the scenes he would have had one of his staff go around those corporations telling them so. He is not so stupid as to let himself be found out assuring corporations that under him, nothing will really change.

      1. wilroncanada

        The Canadian government has already objected. He is pissing Canada off also. The reason prices are lower here is that both federal and provincial governments have negotiated better prices. So much for the great free enterprise of the US. Those prices are for Canadians first. It is likely that many drugs will be limited in quantity, and some may be embargoed entirely. You’re right, Kev. Big-mouth bullies who make promises should never be believed.

  21. semiconscious

    re: Here’s How the Pandemic Finally Ends Politico (Re Silc). Not with a bang…

    ‘A vaccine by early 2021, a steady decline in cases by next fall and back to normal in a few years—11 top experts look into the future.’

    i’d say that, by then, for the millions who’ve lost their businesses, jobs, & homes, it’ll feel a bit more like a scream than a whimper… not that the professional class need worry. they, as always, will be just fine, & continue to be free to discuss all the ramifications of this on sites like politico…

    1. fresno dan

      September 26, 2020 at 1:11 pm

      When I was child, there were people who frequently the Rescue Mission that was 2 blocks west of where I lived. They occasionally worked. They were called tramps, hobos, maybe even bums. But it was a small, select group* Undoubtedly, some were alcoholics. But these individuals were not mentally ill (perhaps eccentric).
      Now we have the homeless. Never when I was a child could I have imagined a future when masses of people who are obviously mentally ill, families, and people who are without shelter because the economy does not provide enough jobs at sustainable wages, would develop and be allowed to continue for decades. Incredibly, it is simply something that that this society chooses to accept.
      I have read everything from 30 to 60 million have lost their jobs, very many permanently. A month before a presidential election, and it really isn’t treated as much of a big deal – something we can live with – for months, or years, or decades. Incredible…
      Daniel Patrick Monihan – defining destitution down

      *On the Bowery is a movie about such individuals.

      1. judy2shoes

        I mentioned on this blog several weeks ago that I have a sense of surrealism when thinking about all the things you mentioned in your comment, Fresno Dan. All that is combined with the pandemic, crazy-making politics, people with whom I interact acting as if nothing is wrong EXCEPT Trump, and much, much, more. If I didn’t read comments like yours and others here, I would think that the problem lies with me and how I view the world.

        This place is an anchor for me, so I thank our wonderful hosts and all the commenters here who provide a breath of fresh air and sanity in a world gone mad.

        1. John Wright

          Two neighbors on my block have “Orange Lies Matter” and “Byedon 2020” anti-Trump signs..

          I talked with one acquaintance who believes it was a moral imperative for the Democrats to create the Trump impeachment experience.

          Huh? Why wasn’t it a Democratic moral imperative to pass some laws to make citizens’ lives better?

          There seems to be massive denial that the Democrats have not been a true opposition party looking out for the lower classes.

          Electing Biden might be the only way to get the system on the path to reform.

          It won’t be reformed by Biden, or his possible replacement the neo-liberal Harris, but by wider exposure of the feckless/venal nature of the Democratic Party.

          Might as well get the temporary sugar high of electing Biden and then watching Biden voter disillusion manifest itself.

          Then the political system MIGHT be positively reformed.

          1. judy2shoes

            “Might as well get the temporary sugar high of electing Biden and then watching Biden voter disillusion manifest itself.”

            John, most of the Democrats I know have never seen through Obama’s fake progressive act and blame Republicans for his lack of action on progressive issues. Basically, they were just ecstatic to be rid of GWB (whom they are now embracing) and rolled over and went to sleep…only to wake up to Trump.

            I fear a repeat of the above scenario if Biden is elected, and I don’t believe the Dems I know will be disillusioned. They are wedded to the Party even though the Party isn’t wedded to them (and they don’t know that). That kind of uncritical loyalty makes them believe that Dems will always be the party of good and Reps will always be the party of evil. It’s mind boggling.

            They seem to be comforted by Biden’s connection to Obama, and by his fake “good old Joe” persona. Many of them look at the Obama presidency as representing a return to normalcy after GWB, and I know they feel the same about a potential Biden presidency. Personally, knowing what I know about Biden and Harris and their policies, there’s no way I could vote for them and live with myself. Couldn’t vote for Trump either.

      2. howseth

        California: I’ve lived 2 blocks from a homeless shelter the last 8 1/2 years – in Santa Cruz. There’s woods and the San Lorenzo River too. The neighborhood has hundreds of “tramps, hobos, maybe even bums”. – in tents – some tucked away – others not so tucked away – it has increased since The Covid pandemic. The city seems to be pushing the more into our neighborhood – perhaps due to less public visibility than the very obvious ‘Ross Camp’ abutting Highway One last year – that was condemned as a health hazard (It was). Very expensive cleanup too.
        I’ve lived in NY and Chicago – those places had nothing to match this by way of visible destitution – I suppose the weather contributes to this West Coast tent lifestyle. Many of the local homeless – I could call them ‘campers’ – are still young and healthy, or so it seems – well, they are young anyway – most, I assume, are ‘substance abusers’.
        This is a disturbing phenomenon. Something big is needed. Serious programs and housing – maybe a FDR type – or Peace-Core style program. A job and clean up program I don’t seem anything major in the pipeline.

  22. CH

    The piece about Chetty perplexes me. Why does he assume that elites want to increase economic mobility for the American populace? That seems at odds with history. Everything elites have done in the last forty years has been expressly designed to *decrease* economic mobility. Economic mobility would give currently exiting elites and their pampered offspring more competition, something undesirable from their standpoint. More mobility would also make people less easy to exploit for gain. Why would any current elites want that?

    Which means however much data he collects, none of it will matter, or lead to any changes. Does he seriously believe that most elites in America are well-intentioned and pro-social and not just craven and cynical opportunists? Is he naive or just in denial? Or is it just something to do?

  23. McWatt

    Regarding the Post Office: I have been looking for first class mail for the past few days and only been getting junk. I had a chance to talk to my regular carrier this morning and asked him if they had “thrown” any first class
    this morning. He said they haven’t had any first class for a few days. It’s all being held at a distribution center.
    All he had in his sack was junk mail.

    This is politics at it’s most ruthless. These people are trying to destroy not only the post office, but everything we hold dear. I have some French words I’d like to hurl in their general direction but I am too polite for that.

    Play fair or don’t play. We learned that on the playground.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Play fair or don’t play. We learned that on the playground.

      Did we? I moved quite a bit. Average more than one school a year over several States, various low, mid, upper mid brackets. What I learned is you better be prepared to put the hurt on someone or be hurt by someone… or both, no matter where you are.

      Life ain’t fair is the real golden rule.

    1. marym

      Thanks for the link. Some horrible anti-labor rulings in that article, and she’s only been a judge for less than 3 years.

  24. chris

    Here’s something that happened this week that I didn’t see in NC. We have our first big law suit related to the CDC eviction moratorium. Apparently we’ve had similar arguments fail in the past so we’ll see where it goes from here. As I see it, the plaintiff’s may very well have standing and the ability to show that they’ve been injured here because they’re not getting any compensation for the government limiting their property rights. The landlords are also being denied access to the courts. I wonder which side the courts will come down on given that the federal takings related case Love Terminal Partners v. US was decided by a federal court last year and the SCOTUS declined to pick it up after the decision. That decision essentially said that if a property was not making any money the government didn’t have to pay for it if it was seized via eminent domain. So, will be interesting to see what happens…

  25. Pat

    Banks as money launderers are guaranteed when regulations are for show. Oh sure they will go after the smaller fish, especially if they can asset seize, but the banks…

    IF, our government was serious about this and corporate governance in general the following would only be the beginning of SOP:

    Fines are never tax deductible.
    All fines must at minimum be 50% more than any profit.
    All CSuite officers and Board members MUST pay half their compensation for the year toward the fine.
    All governing officers are subject to immediate prison terms of no less than one year if the corporation violate the law again in the next ten years. All meaning any one in charge from the agreement until the ten years are out, current and past. All incoming officers must become signatories to the agreement and be informed of this requirement.

    IOW, there are real costs to the business AND to the people running them Including that the clock doesn’t restart after the fine is paid.

  26. rswojo

    Cats imitating humans.

    We have a cat named Millie that opens drawers. When we wake up there are drawers open all over the house. She must have learned this by watching us.

    I finally caught her with a phone in my hand and got a nice little video of her technique. Very talented cat. I’d like to share it but I’m not opening a Google account to do that with YouTube. Any suggestions?

              1. HotFlash

                My dear amfortas. Nice ‘shrooms. Hope all at Castello Amfortas are well.and sending my very best blue healing rays to Sra Amfortas. And to you.

  27. rowlf

    I mentioned interview tape recordings made with Forrest Pogue of US General of the Army George C. Marshall above and wanted to share another of Marshall’s recollections in regard to the news media. Marshall was the top dog, big cheese, head honcho of the US Army in WW2 and was involved or knowledgeable in the planning, deployment and follow up of all operations in nine theaters of US operations around the world. In the interviews he has a candid moment with Pogue about how poorly the news media covered events during the war and consider this was when news media still sent people out in the field. Marshall complained how the news media got things wrong, sensationalized stories and often missed the bigger picture of what was happening around them.

    One of my favorite parts is when he contrasts how the news people followed General George Patton around and mostly ignored General Courtney Hodges. So now we have a myth about Patton when review of German reports is the Germans were not concerned or knowledgeable about Patton, or when he was once recognized, the Germans wondered why he did not take advantage of German mistakes in the field.

    I like to keep this viewpoint in mind when reading current news stories, as looking backwards at events in history usually shows problems with the news reports compared to detailed interviews with participants and filed records afterwards.

    (I would suggest comparing our host’s book Econned to what the news covered at the same time as a similar media versus facts comparison.)

  28. Wukchumni

    Wow, the same amoeba (Naegleria fowleri) a person dies of about every 5 years from putting their head under the water in natural hot springs, is on the loose near Houston, in tap water!

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