Links 10/22/2022

Zoo animals chow down on pumpkins for fall New York Post (furzy)

Wyoming Hero: College Wrestler Jumps On Grizzly To Save Friend Cowboy State Daily (guurst)

Comedy Wildlife Photo finalists – in pictures Guardian (furzy)

Winners of the 2022 Epson International Pano Awards Atlantic (David L)

A Coming-Out Party for Generative A.I., Silicon Valley’s New Craze New York Times (David L)




CDC recommends Novavax’s Covid shots as mix-and-match first booster to Pfizer or Moderna CNBC (Jason B)

Remember, staffing is usually the bigger constraint than facilities. Plus a tent in New England in the late fall????


Not Quite Enough: How the Pandemic Failed to Save Europe Wolfgang Streeck (Anthony L)


Video: The Dalai Lama Has a Stark Warning for Humanity About Global Warming Bloomberg (furzy)

France Becomes Latest Country To Leave Controversial Energy Charter Treaty Guardian

Hydrophone glacier recordings may better measure of how fast they’re melting NPR (David L)

‘Put up or shut up’: can Big Oil prove the case for carbon capture? Financial Times (David L)

In New Mexico, Unraveling the Plight of the Pinyon Jay Undark (guurst)

Think of the Children’s Children’s Children City Journal (Anthony L). Although this includes matters well beyond Covid, 50,000 foot exhortations like this piss me off. We can’t even do basic low cost, low behavior changes like masking and ventilation and free Covid tests. And many people can barely do the things they need to do for them and their families to get by. Being more generous in your behavior, and doing without usually requires surplus in time or other resources, requires surplus.


US Eyes Expanding China Tech Ban To Quantum Computing and AI Bloomberg

No, Capitalism and the Internet Will Not Free China’s People New York Times

Old Blighty

Investors and MPs take fright at prospect of Boris Johnson’s return Financial Times (Kevin W)

The Party is Over Craig Murray (Judith)

While a clever jibe (hat tip Tom H), colonies can be expensive to maintain. One reason the former USSR cut loose what were then Warsaw Pact states was their budget drain:

New Not-So-Cold War

The press is giving less coverage than a week ago to daily attacks on the Ukraine grid and other infrastructure, but they continue:

At least half of Ukraine’s thermal power capacity hit by Russian strikes -minister Reuters. Hard to know what this means in practical terms. John Helmer pointed out that Russia has been particularly targeting transmission line junctions, and this is old Soviet 330v and the West does not have equipment that is comparable. However, the system was also very much overbuilt and Russia allegedly has yet to damage much of the generating capacity.

* * *

War and Regrets in Ukraine Douglas Macgregor, American Conservative

Ukraine war is ‘Biden’s war’ now India Punchline

Europe and the United States Go Thelma and Louise Larry Johnson

Scott Ritter – Ukraine Russia War Latest YouTube. The section starting at 11:25 is making the rounds on Twitter.

* * *

What happens if more buyers refuse metals like aluminum from Russia? The LME doesn’t want to find out MarketWatch (Kevin W)

Top Republicans clash over future of Ukraine aid Financial Times

Wolfgang Streeck: Europe is Being Subjugated to US Power Conter (Anthony L)

Russian-Turkey trade turnover doubles to $47 bln in 9M, could reach $60 bln in year – Econ Ministry Interfax

EU wants to use frozen Russian assets to finance Ukraine RT (Kevin W)


Israel’s occupation of West Bank unlawful under international law, UN report finds Middle East Eye

Washington warns against reconciliation between Hamas and Damascus The Cradle (Kevin W)

Is Iran on the Brink? Center for Strategic & International Studies, YouTube. Robin K: “The CSIS panel seeks a plausible pretext from the present internal crisis for the US to, um, intervene.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

US ‘oil for security’ formula faces setback as Saudi Arabia shows interest in joining BRICS Global Times. Christi I points out that China seems particularly pleased at Saudi Arabia dissing the US by not extending an invite to its “Davos in the Desert”.


Jan. 6 committee issues subpoena to Donald Trump in probe of Capitol riot USA Today


Federal appeals court temporarily blocks Biden student loan forgiveness program The Hill


GOP wave threatens blue-state strongholds The Hill

Will Gas Prices Doom Democracy? Paul Krugman, New York Times. BC:

Does Krugman understand what the word “democracy” means?

Or is this a veiled threat that democracy will be somehow be taken away if the majority votes for a position contrary than what he deems to be in the best interest of the same voters (cancel democracy for their own good).

Our No Longer Free Press

It’s a sad state of affairs when Tucker is the one that steps into the vacuum once inhabited by the left (hat tip Chuck L)

Twitter Tumbles as US Weighs Security Reviews for Musk Deals Bloomberg (furzy). As we pointed on early on, the US threatening to block Musk’s Twitter acquisition is a “Don’t throw me in the br’er patch” opportunity for Musk. But if there were a review, it would an admission that the US regards controlling speech on Twitter as a government prerogative.

Media Narratives Shield Landlords From a Crisis of Their Own Making FAIR

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Inflation/Supply Chain

Inflation is not becoming ’embedded’ in economy, Yellen says Reuters (Kevin W)

Southern California’s Notorious Container Ship Backup Ends Wall Street Journal. Partly due to a fall in imports.

The single-family housing shortage is worst in these cities The Hill

Dollars to Megabits, You May Be Paying 400 Times As Much As Your Neighbor for Internet Service The Markup (Dr. Kevin)

Class Warfare

Company That Makes Rent-Setting Software For Apartments Accused of Collusion, Lawsuit Says ProPublica

Opposition of railroaders to Biden-brokered contract points to breakdown of bureaucratic control WSWS

I don’t understand how this happens but I assume some of this is the balance growing during the forbearance period (when the student is still taking courses):

The hidden homeownership welfare state: an international long-term perspective on the tax treatment of homeowners Cambridge University Press (Dr. Kevin)

Antidote du jour (furzy):

And a bonus (guurst):

Not a normal bonus but what the hell:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Antifa


    What is the Nothing
    Behind what exists?
    When there are no Things
    What persists?
    Imagine no Things
    No atoms no quarks
    No light no mass
    No heat no sparks
    No electromagnetic
    Spectrum at all
    Every last Thing
    Gone AWOL —

    Now what is the Nothing
    When no Things are left?
    The No-Thing after our
    Every-Thing theft?
    Has it a distance
    From this side to that?
    Is it Yes|No stuff
    Like Schrodinger’s cat?
    Has it a there that’s not
    Already here?
    Are these thoughts not Things?
    Oh dear Oh dear

    If a thought is a Thing,
    Then thoughts need to leave
    You can’t keep a thought
    That’s a Thing up your sleeve!
    Yet to think of Nothing
    Is thinking again
    An impossible riddle
    Absolute Zen
    To think to not think
    A thought’s a U-turn
    Yet when thought is not
    We’ve still Nothing to learn

    If this Nothing exists
    If what Isn’t — Is —
    A dimension, or Higgs field,
    Or pre-quantum fizz —
    How to measure
    What is No-Thing
    Just the whatsit from which
    Every Thing that is springs?
    I ponder this daily
    With smoke from my ears
    The void gazes back
    As I’m grinding my gears
    Perhaps you can slice through
    This Gordian knot
    Perhaps you’ll think it through
    But I think not

    1. John Zelnicker

      Antifa – That sounds just like an acid trip I took many years ago. Very enlightening as to the impermanence and/or illusion of everything around us, including ourselves.

    2. Karl

      When the universe finally goes out, quantum fizz is all that will be left.

      Before that happens, the earth will be enveloped by an expanding red sun. So the earth, too, is impermanent–a future nothing that will be consumed in the sun’s nuclear furnace.

      So, if that’s our future, why not accelerate the timetable?

      Let the nuclear holocaust happen. Let it be now. After all, WE MUST WIN IN UKRAINE!

      [Did I read your poem’s meaning correctly?]

  2. Stephen

    “Honestly, someone should take advantage of this chaos and colonize England.”

    I thought the US had already managed to do that, and has extended its reach to most of the rest of Europe.

    To Yves’ point, it might get more expensive going forward though.

    Might there be a Retreat from East of Suez moment?

    These imperial collapses are sometimes more sudden than people predict at the time.

    1. timbers

      USA!USA! should just declare England the 52nd state (right after we declare Taiwan the 51st).

      What’a the English gonna do…revolt and freeze this winter? If we can zap Nord Stream w/o a peep from Germany/Europe, seems we might annex most of western Europe as well. Maybe leave Poland and the Baltic states as buffer zones.

          1. The Rev Kev

            No, no, no. Don’t wanna do that. Give them Florida and within 60 years they’ll have occupied Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina as well.

            1. LawnDart

              They’ve had Florida for at least 60 years… at least their cougars and crocodiles sun themselves there in the winter months.

            2. nippersdad

              They prolly do not want to invade Georgia, Alabama or South Carolina.


              General fundie view:

              The universe has structure, and the only rationale for Israel to exist is to provide a landing pad for Jesus at the last trumpet, when Jews will be wiped out to make us all feel better about ourselves. That is why we give them so much money to stay over there; so that they can pay the rent until their raison d’etre is fulfilled.

              They can prolly have Florida, it is not a real Southern state anyway, but they have a function and they need to fulfill it. It is sad for them, but we don’t write the rules.


              I think the fundies could give them a run for their money. Jewish crusades in Georgia would be frowned upon.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The GOP wouldn’t want to risk 5 Team Blue Senators, and what would the UK bring it doesn’t produce already?

    1. Towardwork

      Would you mind explaining this and some examples of UK colony regime working towards the colony central?

        1. Towardwork

          The colonizers usually extract resources from their colonies and get their colony to implement policies that are mostly beneficial to the colonizer, not the colony.
          What has Russia or SA extracted from UK and brought back to the central?
          UK is definitely colonized by oligarchs from different countries, that‘s for sure, but the only state-run colonization in the UK is American.

  3. timbers

    The single-family housing shortage is worst in these cities The Hill

    Homes in my neighborhood are still in selling like hotcakes mode. As in family friendly highly functional desirable split level ranch layouts. Immediate neighbor and just now the house across the street from immediate neighbor, continue usual pattern of going under agreement within a week of the first open house. If the pattern holds, they will close over asking price.

    Would also add that so far looking at a few graphs, home sales are in a general range of pre pandemic but there is a lot of bouncing in the figures. That’s arguably normal or even highish as in ZIRP highish because we had ZIRP then, not a collapse. But things are changing fast. When sales fall below ZIRP & eternal QE levels, that would be normal. When sales fall far below ZIRP levels, that would be a problem.

    1. griffen

      I am wondering what we observe in the months to come, as in activity dipping on those Mega or McMansions priced north of $700k or $750k that could linger on the open market a bit longer. Separately, this scenario could tip the scales just a little more towards those all cash or mostly cash offers (so no need for that pesky 30 year mortgage).

      I recently visited south Florida, Fort Lauderdale appears to be doing pretty well overall but did not venture out much. I’m curious about the efforts to be the bitcoin HQ of USA USA is working out (okay that’s Miami but near enough for agency work).

    2. Adam Eran

      Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing by Josh Ryan-Collins, Toby Lloyd and Laurie Macfarlane is an MMT-friendly look at real estate based primarily in the U.K. Their conclusion: 80% of real estate price appreciation comes from land.

      In California, land speculators can purchase ag land for a few thousand dollars an acre, then, after persuading local governments to approve development, sell it to builders for 50 – 100 times more than they paid for it. If they exchange out of the land to income-producing property (apartments, shopping centers, industrial parks) that 5,000% – 10,000% gross profit is tax-free, too.

      In Germany, the developers have to sell the land to local government at the ag land price, then buy it back at the development land price. All of that “unearned increment” accrues to the benefit of the public rather than some private speculator. And, as many problems as Germany has, it still has first-rate infrastructure (in contrast to the U.S.) free tuition for its universities, and the arts budget for the City of Berlin exceeds the National Endowment for the arts for the U.S.A.

      Trying to blame our shortage of affordable housing on restrictive zoning really doesn’t pass the sniff test. Those speculators regularly get zoning changes when they want them. Then Nixon stopped the federal government from building affordable housing, and Reagan–as he was cutting taxes on the wealthy–also cut HUD’s affordable housing budget by 75%. I believe I got this link from NC. It’s title: “How affordable housing was destined to fail.” It’s worth looking at too. The cry to “deregulate” housing that I’ve heard even from “environmentalists” is baloney. We need to treat housing as a necessity rather than an investment.

        1. juno mas

          Developer bribes to local government are much higher than that__but it’s “off the books”, so Zero.

          Honestly, you’re right! As an architect/planner my fees are well above zero. And so are the attorneys and engineers who work on land development projects.

  4. fresno dan

    War and Regrets in Ukraine Douglas Macgregor, American Conservative

    The Ukrainian-victory narrative admittedly benefits hugely from Western media that actively “tune out” opposing views and depict Russia and its armed forces in the worst possible light. The fact that nearly half a century of the Cold War conditioned Americans to think the worst of Russians certainly helps.

    Yet there is also a measure of “true faith” at work, a condition of national narcissism, inside the Beltway that believes Washington can control what happens thousands of miles away in Eastern Ukraine. The message resonates in Congress because it rests on a critical strategic assumption that American citizens have yet to challenge: that American national power is limitless and unconstrained—as though a series of strategic failures, from Vietnam to Afghanistan, never happened.
    I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that humans who are in a good enough situation engage in self destructive conduct, e.g., smoking, excessive drinking, drunken driving, etcetera. And so the country as a whole, despite example after example of what not to do, continues to do it. It seems to me the USA will keep doing this until it can’t do it – rational thinking will have nothing to do with it.

    1. hk

      The disturbing thing is that American citizens HAVE challenged the idea: whether one likes Trump or not, the reason “make America great AGAIN” resonated with so many was exactly that. But after all that, our so called leaders are still insisting that “America already is great and will always be” and are hellbent on wasting the finite resources for their delusions of greatness.

      1. digi_owl

        Great is a very context sensitive term.

        Who knows what Trump meant, but i think many of the people that voted for him wanted a return to USA of the 50s-60s. When USA, rather than China, was the factory of the (western) world.

        A USA with respectable industrial jobs that payed enough to live by, and housing most could afford to buy or build.

        Sadly Trump mixed that in with “they are taking our jobs”, where they being migrants from across the mexican border. Thus the whole border wall idiocy.

        1. JBird4049

          >>>Sadly Trump mixed that in with “they are taking our jobs”, where they being migrants from across the mexican border. Thus the whole border wall idiocy.

          The elites are forcing the migrants to come here to push down wages and crush unions by replacing American workers after having destroy the economies of the migrants’ home countries. The Wall is a silly thing, but the migrants are one of the tools being to pillage America and destroying the lives of the people already here.

          1. digi_owl

            And said elite can use them that way because they are coming in illegally, rather than clear up the process so it can happen legally. Because by doing so, the immigrants would both be more involved in national politics and perhaps also organizing/unionizing.

        2. marym

          He did have some harsh immigration policies, some of which Biden continued. I don’t know if those policies materially improved the lives of his supporters or they just liked the idea of it.

          He also campaigned on major investments in infrastructure, and better-than-Obamacare healthcare. “Infrastructure week” became something of a joke among anti-trumpers because from time to time he’s say he was about to announce his plan, but never did. He supported the Republican attempt to repeal Obamacare with no replacement. His followers didn’t seem to mind.

    2. David

      This is a point I have been making for some time. There’s a kind of sado-masochistic relationship between the US and a range of other countries, where the US thinks it’s all-powerful, and leaders of other countries pretend that it is, normally as a cover for something they want to do anyway. But a disturbing number of Americans, in my experience, actually believe that their country can control everything that happens on the planet. And a disturbing number of non-Americans seem to believe they are right.

      1. hk

        A crusading mentality: we are the chosen of God, and as God is all powerful, we will surely win and anyone who says otherwise is a blasphemer. Rhe irony is that the modern crusaders fancy themselves the exact opposite of this since they usually don’t subscribe to old fashioned religions. We never grew out of this, I guess.

        1. digi_owl

          The Calvinist puritanism run deeps. Didn’t some poll around the time of Bush the younger show that most Americans would vote for a Muslim over an atheist?

          1. The Rev Kev

            Small anecdote here. During the Iraq occupation, atheist US soldiers would get a lot of flack, especially when you had units that would have a group prayer before going on a mission. One such soldier was told by his NCO that the insurgents were better than him because at least they believed in a god.

            1. digi_owl

              Not really surprised. Not sure when or where, but i have encountered the claim that the US military is religious in a peculiar fashion. Something to do with how they do court martials was one example i think. I really should try to source the books the claim was from, if i can still find it.

      2. eg

        How many of the non-Americans “believe it” because they are effectively paid to do so as local oligarchs complicit with American corporate looting of their fellow citizens?

    3. anon in so cal

      “rational thinking will have nothing to do with it”

      Such as the 101st airborne in Romania ready to cross the border into Ukraine…

  5. LawnDart

    Re; Is Iran on the Brink?

    Caught this a few hours ago:

    Iran to file lawsuit against US for its direct role in recent unrest: Top Judiciary Official Saturday, 22 October 2022 7:47 AM

    Iran says it will file a lawsuit against the United States for its direct role and involvement in the recent unrest in the country.

    A court in Tehran will determine the damage caused and will issue the necessary verdict against the US, said Kazem Gharibabadi, Deputy Chief of the Iranian Judiciary and secretary of the High Council for Human Rights.

    Gharibabadi talked about how destructive the role the US-funded Iran International and BBC Persian TV Networks played in instigating violence, mobilizing the riots, and sabotaging public and private property in Iran.

    “These two networks and their agents should be added to the list of terrorist groups and individuals. Also, documented cases about the actions of these networks are being compiled and judicial actions will be pursued against them in domestic and foreign courts soon.”

    “…judicial actions will be pursued against them in domestic and foreign courts soon.” And not the ICC, I presume.

    1. nippersdad

      And on the other side of the Straits of Hormuz, the Saudis are getting uppity as well. I saw on Medhurst’s show last night that MBS’s cousin has declared jihad on anyone who threatens the Saudi state.

      Starts at the 6:10 mark

      There seem to be a lot of people annoyed with us.

        1. nippersdad


          China of late seems particularly gleeful about it. It seems to me that they are usually somewhat reserved in what they allow out, so that article in the Global Times looked like an anomaly. I don’t know enough about them, but the new B&R/BRICS initiatives with Saudi Arabia appear to show them throwing reticence to the winds.

          That may just be for public consumption during their Congress, but the change of tone seems significant.

  6. SocalJimObjects

    This is starting to make the rounds in Western media.

    At least 99 children have died in Indonesia due to acute liver failure. This is currently attributed to the sale of unregistered medical syrups although the authorities have yet to find a direct link.

    Then just one or two weeks ago, there’s the death of 69 children in Gambia, which is also potentially linked to Indian made cough syrup.

    1. bwilli123

      Unregulated, out of control: Drug manufacturing in India

      Earlier this month, nearly 70 children in The Gambia died, reportedly after consuming India-made cough syrups contaminated with toxic chemicals. Two years ago, doctors in Jammu encountered similar cases of kids dying from kidney failure after drinking cough syrup manufactured by Digital Vision, a Himachal Pradesh based company. Investigations revealed the presence of an industrial-grade solvent — diethylene glycol (DEG) — in the medicine.

  7. ProNewerDeal

    Is the US in a Long Covid Denial and Covid Organ Damage (plus T-Cells) Bubble?

    If even 20% of USians took Covid Risk serously, would that reduce economic activity (restaurants/indoor sports arena/etc) that in itself would create a recession?

    What is the Covid forecast for this winter and beyond? Is there realistic hope that a nasal vaccine or other PIs/NPIs could sufficiently mitigate Covid Organ Damage risk? If so, when? Is this Covid Risk say through 2023, 2025, or for now indefinitely?

    My crystal ball remains cloudy.

    1. Skip Intro

      Long covid symptoms like brain fog and micro-level vascular damage seem to have society-level analogues, with top decision making centers and low-level mechanisms of basic interaction becoming increasingly dysfunctional. Perhaps the UK has just suffered a mini-stroke, in this society-as-body metaphor.

      1. ArvidMartensen

        The human race will gradually lose the ability to think clearly, as they accumulate more and more damage to neurons etc from repeated Covid infections.
        If everybody is stupid, then nobody will notice.
        Or maybe the stupid will kill those who are still functioning for being witches and warlocks – being able to “foresee” things that only “God” should know.
        Or maybe the Chinese will just be able to walk in when the West can no longer remember how to operate and fix their F-35s and HIMARS and all the rest, and are reduced to throwing rocks.
        Or maybe the young who still have functioning T-cells will have to take over because everyone over 50 is drooling.
        And I am intrigued to know how many times the US oligarchs have caught Covid, and do they take any special precautions like air filtration that they discourage in the common, valueless people.

  8. The Rev Kev

    ‘Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford confirmed to ABC News it is in talks with the National Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Association as it explores the possibility of setting up a tent on the hospital’s lawn.’

    Further down she says that ‘Pediatric emergency rooms across New England are reporting an unprecedented spike in respiratory illnesses.’ Logic would dictate that a database be put together of all these kids, find out if they have been infected with Covid, if so when they were infected, and then test those kids to make sure who has and who hasn’t been previously infected. Having said that, I seriously doubt that any such thing will ever be done as they may not like what they find. Better for all parties not to go there. Well, maybe not those kids but they aren’t voters, are they? I hate this timeline.

  9. fresno dan

    Scott Ritter – Ukraine Russia War Latest YouTube. The section starting at 11:25 is making the rounds on Twitter.
    I have always been struck at how straight forward Putin’s public comments appear. Read a Putin speech, and read a US Presidents speech, and you see reality versus fantasy. For a long while I just thought Putin was particularly clever at obfuscating his hidden agenda. But what was really going on, is that being an American, I understand that no US politician ever straight forwardly describes what they truly believe. Every action is to garner campaign money, and manipulate how they are perceived and presented by the media. Black is white, up is down. Hearing a leader put forward his view of things, in accord with reality, to me, is kinda like having a spaceship land in my front yard, and Elvis knock on my door with BigFoot, and tell me that universal health care for all Americans has just been passed by the US congress – It is beyond what I believe can happen in reality…
    When I hear all the time about “our democracy” and I look around at the policies contrary to the interests of the vast majority of citizens, I realize that I am living in The Matrix – a world of screens where the world is presented completely opposite of reality. The Matrix could have been a documentary, except this matrix is far less benovolent than the movie version.

    1. timbers

      Love the spaceship, Elvis and Bigfoot comparison. Unfortunately what’s mote likely to happen is Liz Truss will step out of that spaceship in your front yard and knock on your door to tell you she’s getting a 130,000 pound/yr for life pension and free Healthcare for working 45 days as PM and ask you to help her find Russia on a map.

      1. ambrit

        Send Liz on over to Sarah Palin’s place. The two semi-politicas can sit on the back porch and discuss that giant, shadowy country seen just over their western horizon.

    2. hemeantwell

      Ritter just demonstrated how much can be done in less than 3 minutes of a youtube video. I particularly like how he stays away from NATO expansion to focus on Putin’s economic interest, controlling the benefits of trade, securing Russia against the corrosive effects of the Dollar/Wall Street system, or whatever you want to call it. I hope that commenters can add nuance to Ritter’s character sketch. I’ve never seen much on that, it’s usually filled in with “former KGB officer,” implying he’s got pliers in his back pocket.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I’ve had one or two people tell me in a conspiratorial tone that Putin was once the head of the KGB and is now President of Russia. When I tell them that America had a President that was once the head of the CIA, they tend to slip a cog or two.

        1. digi_owl

          And another was being lined up as a candidate until an affair was used as an excuse to nope out.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Putin seems to have what was cited as one of FDR’s strengths, a first class temperament. He is also very smart, a very hard worker (reads all reports in full, none of this executive summary bullshit), is an excellent negotiator and has a freakishly good memory. And he seems to listen to his staff. Plus he’s gotten very good people around him and they’ve been there a long time, like Lavrov and Nabuilina. Medvedev is a hothead but he seems not to kick over the traces.

        Russia is still authoritarian with a very powerful presidency. But Russian people seem to trust him as being dedicated to what he thinks is best for Russia, even if they don’t agree with how he goes about doing that. The fact that GDP per capita increased >5x in his time in office per Western stats is reason alone for most to give him the benefit of the doubt.

        But I don’t know if he has built the structures that will carry on well after he leaves. Ordinary Russians are generally very distrustful of government. They think the bureaucracy is too easily corrupted.

        1. Stephen

          I think it might have been one of The Duran guys (not sure if it was specifically) who argued a while ago that succession issues were one of the reasons that caused Putin to act now in Ukraine rather than to continue to play the pure diplomatic game.

          This argument runs that the succession in any autocracy is always tricky, and it has been through Russian history too right back to Soviet and Tsarist times. Smooth successions have been the exception, it seems. Ukraine was a pending issue that needed resolution and could not be left for someone else to pick up. It could easily trip up and destroy the anointed successor.

          Not sure how valid this is but personal drivers typically matter in all these things. Given how the west personalises conflict and was already vilifying Putin pre February 2022, a succession that goes wrong would be personally painful beyond any issues within Russia itself. He will be very aware of what happened to Milosevic, of course.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I don’t think that it was a matter of Putin choosing to take on Ukraine now while he had power. Back in February, the Ukrainian military launched a massive barrage on the Donbass Republics and had a huge army on their borders. They were about to launch their invasion of the Donbass when the Russians made their move first. In other words, Putin’s hand was forced and he seemed to be unhappy about the whole thing. And in any case it would have not been Putin deciding this but Russia’s ruling elite. I have the firm impression that a consensus has to be reached in Russia about major issues which may be why Putin always ticks the boxes of all legal requirements when he does something big.

            1. digi_owl

              Yeah he seemed unusually emotional when announcing the order. Almost like he was disgusted by his western counterparts for letting thing escalate to that point, having been given multiple opportunities to rein in Zelensky and co.

            2. anon in so cal

              Michael Brenner talked about that at the time. He had email contacts in Russia who said Putin had to receive the full approval of the Duma, many of whose members are significantly less pacifist than Putin.

              1. digi_owl

                Funny thing is that Yeltsin shelled the Duma for refusing to play along when he was granting himself “emergency power”. Yet Yeltsin was the good one, while Putin is the scary one from a “western” viewpoint…

                1. hk

                  The funny thing I remember from that was that, the day after LA Times carried two nearly identical op ed pieces from Robert Scheer and pat buchanan condemning Yeltsin.

            3. Stephen

              Yes, my sense is that a number of things contributed at the same time. I watched his speech at the start of the SMO and it was clear that this was not a man actively seeking a war. He also turned down the original request from the Duma to recognise the Donbas republics, I recall. Which is very consistent with the comment that many members are less pacifist than Putin.

              Agree that Russia is not some form of one person state in the way that western media sometimes wants us to think it is. The support of multiple constituencies is clearly essential within Russia. It usually was in Tsarist and Soviet times too.

              If there is anything in the succession smoothing argument then it would be as one decision driver amongst several. My own sense is that a number of such things came together in February that forced Putin into a position where he felt he had no other choice. The discussion at the Munich Security Conference where Zelensky was allowed to opine that he wanted nuclear weapons, with zero pushback also feels relevant, for example.

        2. Adam Eran

          To focus just on the 5 x increase in GDP per capita remark: I’ve read that in the wake of Yeltsin’s mismanagement of the U.S.S.R. and its breakup, living standards fell 40%. “Make Russia Great Again” would probably work as a campaign slogan.

          For a little comparison, incomes in the U.S. fell ~35% in the Great Depression.
          Also: Remember the surge of Mexican immigrants? In the wake of NAFTA, Mexican median real income fell 34% (which is saying something in a country where half the population gets by on less than $5/day).

          The only other comparison I can think of is Cuba, when the Soviets withdrew their subsidized oil. Another 34% decline, and some serious re-thinking of agriculture (no fertilizer!). I’ve read that the average Cuban lost 15 lbs.

          So…who can blame the Russians for liking Putin?

        3. Tom Stone

          I view Putin as the greatest Czar since Peter the Great and will be mightily impressed is his successor is of the same quality.
          Men of Putin’s quality are never thick on the ground.
          Neo-Liberlism’s selection process makes it impossible to elect good leaders, once you legalize bribery as the US has done your Country is done.

        4. Tom Pfotzer

          But I don’t know if he [Putin] has built the structures that will carry on well after he leaves.

          This has been bugging me for months.

          If anyone has insight into Putin’s administration or other likely stations for successors to be groomed, please comment.

          What is the typical succession mechanism, or was the Putin-Medvedev rotation the only precedent?

          What are the key programs/themes that delivered that 5X GDP increase….are there still 5-year plans…what institutional momentum is there? And what are those key institutions?

          Putin seems way too smart to leave all that work’s continued momentum to chance or personality.

          1. ArvidMartensen

            Hope he doesn’t go to Indonesia in November. The world needs some sanity somewhere.
            The Secret State have too many ways to count to kill him with plausible deniability – injection of cancer cells, infection with the new improved Boston SARS-CoV-2 variant, mystery disease of unknown origin.
            They aren’t spending all that money on secret biolabs for nothing you know.

          2. Polar Socialist

            It’s my understanding that Yeltsin’s entourage (or “family”) selected Putin as his successor because he was the one they though they could trust to keep his word not to persecute them when gaining power. And he kept his word.

            Now, I don’t have any more insight to the current system other than is available in here and some other (some Russian) places, so all this is just guesswork or thinking aloud from my part.

            The current official ranking is Putin on top, PM Mishustin #2 and chairwoman of the Federation Council (upper house of Duma) Matviyenko #3, chairman of the State Duma Volodin is #4.

            Semi-officially in top are also secretary of the Security Council Patrushev, and deputy chairman of Security Council Medvedev.

            Personally I was quite certain that Medvedev was done when the relations with West soured, but then the deputy position was created for him and his tone changed completely. So if I really had to bet on Putin’s successor, at the moment it would be Medvedev. He’s kept close to the places where decision are made and he’s doing a lot to prove to the security faction where his loyalties are.

        5. Greg

          A Russian on one of the telegram channels i follow commented once, as an aside, that Russians preferred a strong leader specifically because they distrust government and elites (due to history going back to the court of Peter). Authoritarian government means they only need to trust one guy, and rely on him to keep the corruption in check.

      3. Stephen

        I do not know so much about Putin but comments I have heard suggest not to over index on him having been in the KGB, as you are also saying. It was simply a key place to go if you were ambitious in his youth in the USSR, is what I have understood. Think McKinsey or Goldman in the west more than the CIA equivalent. Simply a place to build a career.

        He is also a lawyer (the KGB had these it seems!) and allegedly this pervades his whole approach to things. So all the Russian Federation legal niceties were observed when the Donbass republics joined Russia, for example. Ditto with the partial mobilisation. This is not a pure dictator carrying out arbitrary acts in the way that western media portrays. Does not necessarily mean that the classic rule of law applies either, of course. But the formality of the law is followed. Which may not be so different either to our societies, especially these days.

        Whenever I listen to him I do feel too that he is very rational and actually answers questions. His recent press conference in Astana was a prime example of that, and the questions were not just softballs. He was even called out by a Russian (I think) reporter to answer one question that be had missed by accident and courteously did so. Even apologised. Suggested to me that at least in part the questions were spontaneous and not a pure teleprompter rehearsed exercise ala Biden.

        Western media is therefore super keen to make sure that people do not listen to him or Lavrov (for example) speak in anything other than heavily edited snippets that they can “interpret”. For obvious reasons when you see Putin perform.

        Am sure he is not a saint by the way. Nobody in such a role ever will be. But he outperforms nearly every current western leader and they are certainly not saints either. We need a very large mirror in the western world and then to use it.

        Others may know more.

        1. Kouros

          “Does not necessarily mean that the classic rule of law applies either, of course. ”

          Reading this thread it is impossible to avoid the ingrained biased existent in people, that they are from a rule of law place regardless of current situation and Russia is deeply, profoundly authoritarian and the rule of law doesn’t matter.

          My personal experience working in a provincial government in Canada was that rule of law is always an afterthought and dis-considered as much as possible. And if you consider it too much you might find yourself in a different position.

          Yes, Russia has a presidential system, but that doesn’t make it authoritarian. Because if one says that one MUST recognize that ALL executive powers are fundamentally AUTHORITARIAN by their nature. Some people push for the full extent given to them by the existing laws, others not so, and many trespass that line fingers’ crossed they won’t be caught. Even MbS has to observe certain things…

          1. Stephen

            Oh I do not believe we have the classical rule of law in the UK. As my next but one sentence states. If we did, Julian Assange would not be in gaol. For example. Nor would our disgusting government be able to sanction individuals and freeze assets with zero court and jury oversight.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Actually in the Communist system, you didn’t get to pick where to do. Putin had wanted to be in the KGB, I suspect for the reasons you described, and found out he had to do well in a serious program to have a chance, so he studied law. Per his interview with Oliver Stone, he was still surprised to have gotten to go there.

          Also in Germany he was a public KGB officer. He would meet with people as a member of the KGB and I assume had a KGB business card. No idea what one would do in that role. Negotiate prisoner exchanges?

          1. Michaelmas

            Yves S: Actually in the Communist system, you didn’t get to pick where to do.

            Interestingly, you also didn’t get to pick if you didn’t want to be a KGB officer sometimes. If you held a high position in the Soviet system, you often were required to hold a second job as a ranking KGB officer.

            I talked to Ken Alibek, who ran Biopreparat, and that was true of him, and some other section chiefs there, although those extracted by the West after the Soviet collapse had legends about how they’d independently come West and would necessarily play down — lie about — that side of their Soviet-era careers.

            I was never able to pin down to what greater or lesser extent this was true. Still, from poking around in various histories and accounts — and I’m not a Russian speaker — my impression was that there was this whole shadow network of people numbering in the tens of thousands (or maybe hundreds of thousands) who, simply because they were required to, had shadow careers as KGB officers — spooks, we would say — spread across the USSR. It seemed slightly science-fictional twenty years ago; less so today, with all the CIA Democrats and Western society as it is today.

            At any rate, being in the KGB was a little more that just having a stint at McKinsey on one’s CV.

            1. Kouros

              Are you sure you are not talking about “informants”? Which security services use in abundance everywhere in the world?

          2. Polar Socialist

            Pretty much every country has “official spies” within their embassy staff. Their task is, in an official position, to collect open information of the host country – read newspapers, observe TV, chat with local officials and even diplomats from other countries.

            Their reports are more about the zeitgeist in the host country than any cloak and dagger stuff. Kinda like what the diplomatic personnel report to the foreign ministry but reporting to the intelligence service instead. They can also act as a semi-official channel between intelligence communities.

            And if, say, a wall separating parts of a country is about to go down, these intelligence officers are more likely to have a hunch before any deep cover asset or a diplomat.

          3. Stephen

            It really does not sound so different from taking an MBA at Harvard to be able to join McKinsey!

            Taking the MBA does not mean one loves business studies, or the case study approach. It’s just a requirement.

            A structured system with a defined entry path.

          4. David

            He would have been intelligence liaison with the Stasi, I presume, which is to say he would have been accredited to the GDR government and known to be KGB. The KGB kept a pretty close eye on the NSWP services, and relied on them for various things – notably penetration of the West German government, where they were very successful. As a Lt Col equivalent, he may not have been the top KGB man in the country, given its importance.

            Most major nations have people deployed like that. In addition, of course, there are both intelligence agents under diplomatic cover, who are declared as diplomats but are actually something else, and what the KGB used to call “illegals” who are under deep cover, pretending to be journalists, NGO workers, businessmen etc. The difference is that the latter don’t have diplomatic status and hence diplomatic immunity.

          5. Kouros

            Actually you did.

            After finishing University, all graduates in a particular field, regardless of the University they attended, where placed on a roster according to their grades, and the available jobs in the field where also listed. The best ones had the ability to choose their placement.

            I had to go through that system myself.

      4. JohnnyGL

        There’s a series of interviews on paul jay’s ‘the analysis’ (can be found on their webpage or their youtube channel) with matt taibbi who recounts his experience of russia in the 90s and the rise of putin under yeltsin’s wing, as guided by the west. They’re the best i’ve heard on the topic.

        Taibbi pulls no punches on putin’s use of violence and points to the likely use of false flag terrorist bombings to justify the 2nd war with chechnya.

        1. anon in so cal

          Take Taibbi with a huge grain. He’s had a grudge against Putin since he was reprimanded for exploits. It’s the US that launches false flags. Syria, most recently. Wasn’t the US, UK, Turkey funding jihadis to foment chaos in Chechnya and Dagestan?

          1. OIFVet

            Well, I wouldn’t exclude the possibility that Putin did orchestrate a false flag in order to get a war on, victory in which would consolidate his power. Russians do respect rulers who win wars and protect Mother Russia. Putin is calculating and he can be ruthless when he has to be. In that, he is no different than any other ruler, including our own “democratic” rulers.

            That said, the simplistic caricature of Putin as a KGB henchmen is incredibly stupid, especially if it colors the thinking of our elites. He is complex, he is smart, and he is determined to preserve Russia at any cost. Unless our own elites recognize this, we will keep going down the path of escalation which will not end well.

            1. nippersdad

              “Unless our own elites recognize this, we will keep going down the path of escalation which will not end well.”

              Mercouris was just saying that the 101st Airborne has been sent into Romania, and the lead officer is saying that he is fully prepared to go into Ukraine at the first provocation.

              They seem determined to push Russia into a corner. I don’t imagine that headlines about the 101st airborne getting knocked out of the sky would do much for Democrats election chances, but it would give Republicans a rallying cry for continuing to engage in the conflict.

              1. OIFVet

                I saw the CBS video of the general and the colonel talking tough. As former US military myself, my biggest worry is that these officers may be just delusional enough to believe that going on an adventure in Ukraine is a good idea. I mean, they actually said that this is “a war deployment” which, delusional or not, they wouldn’t have said unless instructed by their briefs and PR handlers to say.

                The US is escalating. I don’t think they are bluffing, they actually think that Russia is bluffing. It’s insanity wrapped in stupidity wrapped in hubris.

                1. nippersdad

                  Jack Ripper personified?

                  Which reminds me of something you see on here about 1984 a lot: Paraphrased: ” Dr. Strangelove was meant to be a cautionary tale, not an instruction manual.”

                  One often hears about how the air force is rife with Christian fundamentalists. Millenarians bringing on the last judgment they have long awaited is a scary idea. The Pentagon needs to rein them in, pronto.

                2. Irrational

                  They are utterly nuts if that is the plan.
                  Larry Johnson has a piece today suggesting that the 101st is merely replacing the 82nd, which calmed me down a bit. New Atlas’ take is more in line with the CBS piece.

            2. Kouros

              Why did Putin and Russia need a false flag for the second Chechen war when, by rights, Chechenia was integral parts of the Russian Federation and quashing that rebellion was legitimate from an international standing – especially since Russia never de-legalize the use of Chechen language and other kind of nonsense spewed by the Ukrainian ultranationalists.

              1. fjallstrom

                In the 1997 peace treaty, force was renounced by both parties. And there was also public opposition after the disatrous first Chechen war. So for the war to re-started legally and perhaps more importantly with public support in Russia, Chechnia needed to start it.

                In 1999 Yeltsin was deeply unpopular (support in single digits), fighting of impeachments, and was using up Prime ministers in a rapid pace. The 2000 election was coming up. Zyuganov (communist) probably won in 1996 if you discount the cheating, and he had a good chance at winning in 2000. Zyuganov, or any victor not beholden to Yeltsin, could have had heads rolling from the corruption, attacking the parliament and all the other crap that went down during the Yeltsin years. It would in fact been an easy way to shore up support after a win.

                Right on cue Chechnia re-starts the war in August-September 1999 by the invasion of Dagestan and the apartment bombings. Prime minister Putin gets to wrap himself in the flag and rally the nation. Yeltsin steps down, appoints Putin as acting president. Putin gives Yeltsin immunity and goes on to win the 2000 election as incumbent.

                That is the motive. And the government as a rule has means and opportunity. I am not going to argue that the state did it, or didn’t do it, because that is a hole as deep as the 9/11 theories. Been there, done that, realised that until archives are opened and diaries and letters are published, there won’t be a historical record to build anything on.

                I am going to note that in 1999-2000, arguing that the Russian state would bomb apartment buildings in Russia to get a war on was considered wacky conspiracy theorism, and happened mainly on leftist internet sites. When Putin stopped being “Our man in Russia”, theories that the Russian state was behind those apartment bombings went mainstream. And it was exactly the same theories built on exactly the same grounds. Felt like something out of 1984.

                1. Kouros

                  Pertinent information. However, why would the apartment bombings be necessary when you state that the Chechens engaged in an obvious act of war, against the existing treaty: “the invasion of Dagestan”?

    3. Eureka Springs

      When a former employee of the Soviet KGB becomes leader of Russia and demonstrates to the world truth is far more damning to those who have contempt for it than anything else. This alone earns far more respect from me for leadership in Russia today than I have ever had or has ever been deserved by U.S. leadership of at least the last 75 years.

      Next thing you know Russians will make much of their own goods, feed themselves well, have 5.00 monthly phone and internet bills, almost no homelessness, lengthen their life expectancy with better health care, help feed much of the rest of the world, truly design a military for defensive purposes, occasionally knock down an oligarch run amok…. Oh wait!

    4. Lex

      Russians, with good reasons, tend to be very cynical about government, media and power in general. There’s an assumption that government types are lying and corruption is endemic. Putin is the outlier. It’s not 100% of course, but his approval rating is directly related to personal trust in Putin. Which he has because of how he speaks directly and quite frankly, for a politician, to them on important matters. He’s even been known to take personal responsibility for state failures. Russia is fairly authoritarian, but it may be the first modern authoritarian built on personal trust in the ruler.

      1. OIFVet

        In Russia and in some other Eastern European countries, the populations tend to stick with the “good tsar and bad boyars” belief. Hence, the czar is basically good but it is the boyars (aristocracy, here to mean the bureaucracy) who are the scourge of the people behind his back. Whenever the commoners manage to let the good czar know about his bad boars, he simply fixes things by ordering the boyars to behave and make amends. Notice how Putin is definitely playing to this in answering questions by saying he will looknintobproblems and issue orders to the bureaucracy to fix things.

        This tends to explain why many countries in the region tend to prefer a “benevolent” strong man to a democratic impotent. The strong man can and will issue decrees and orders to fix bureaucratic abuse and negligence fast, whereas in a “democracy” things have to be studied, considered, and in the case of a Democrat-controlled US, a complicated “policy” written and implemented in order to avoid fixing issues by making the fix unworkable and exclusionary for most people. Now, the strong man does not fix things because he is benevolent but simply because it does help him to stay in power.

        Seems to me that countries like Hungary may basically agree that it is better to have an illiberal strongman in power than an ineffectual toady, especially after witnessing the subjugation of the EU and the ongoing destruction of its economy, the price of which will be paid not by the ineffectual liberal elites but by the regular people.

        1. hk

          Is this unique to Russia or even Eastern Europe? The same theme held for thousands of years in China. Heck, Bernard Bailyn argued that the same sentiment was true in the 13 Colonies until just a few years before the American Revolution. The idea of “good emperor, bad ministers” seems to be a good strategy if you are not planning “big”–if the “emperor” is the problem, you have to overthrow the entire regime and build the whole institution anew from scratch. In practice, most people have just some limited set of grievances that don’t require the trouble of remaking the whole political and social order.

          I think this is actually the reason behind virtually every form of political inertia, or, rather a stage thereof. Phase 1 might be denying that there is a problem (perhaps where the Democrats in US and Western elites are now?); Phase 2 might be where people recognize that there are problems, but they are not fundamental and fairly minor fixes (replace the bad ministers/lords, vote the bums out, etc–most societies get there fairly often, I think); Phase 3 is where we are getting into a revolutionary state–must tear down the entire edifice and hopefully we can build anew. Big chasm between 2 and 3: far more likely that nothing new can be built once the original set of institutions collapse, so most societies stay in 1 or 2.

          1. hk

            PS: the act of “studying” the problem, I think, is a variation of “denying” that there are problems–if the problems are so obvious, why should it be necessary to “study” the problem? Even in “democracies,” problems recognized to be serious by a large enough fraction of the prople (or, rather, the elites) get dealt with fairly fast.

            1. OIFVet

              “Even in “democracies,” problems recognized to be serious by a large enough fraction of the prople (or, rather, the elites) get dealt with fairly fast.”

              I respectfully disagree. Exhibit A: Obamacare. They “dealt” with the problem by entrenching its source even more firmly while extracting ever larger chunks of Americans’ income for “plans” that are so carefully constructed that you will pay no-limit out of pocket expenses for every single health need you ever have.

              The question is, are Americans capable of making the leap from Stage 2 to Stage 3? I submit they are not. TPTB have seen to that dividing us along identitarian lines. Class unity is the ONE thing that the rotten emperors and ministers in DC will never allow.

              1. hk

                I may have to concede that point: I started thinking about actual examples after I wrote that and everything that I could come up with were, well, highly problematic–mostly military and security related stuff that were dubious, at least. Not many examples dealing with domestic life-of-common people issues and none that’s with past 60-70 years that I could come up with that seemed like “good” examples.

                1. Eureka Springs

                  What democracy? The U.S. federal government, a Republic, doesn’t ask what we want, doesn’t listen if we try to say something, offers no alternative to the bought and paid for duopoly. Neither do the parties.

                  From the very beginning, with ever increasing belligerence, the U.S. federal government has extreme contempt for democracy, at home or abroad.

                  I’m sure democracy has many failings. Perhaps someone should try it before condemning it.

          2. Keith Howard

            The laws of nature are majestically impartial, and not subject to political considerations. Those laws, sooner or later, will get us from Phase 2 to Phase 3.

          3. digi_owl

            Both parties, as well as most of the European “elite”, have been stuck on phase 1 since 2008.

        2. Kouros

          This shows how full of common sense the folks are and how deeply the understanding of power works in that part of the world.

          In the trifecta: tyrant, oligarchy, demos, the demos is always on the loosing end, because the power is so diluted – lots of power, but is like gravitational force. The oligarchs, with their networks, have the most permanent power. As such, the only possible balance that the demos can have is an alliance with a tyrant. this is why in the ancient Greece, tyrants didn’t really have a bad reputation, they being ultimately populists.

          The idea of full fledged democracy, with sortition, etc, and a tight control of executive by the elected people was tried only for a very short time, but long enough to scare the hell out of oligarchs such that the idea of “mob rule” being circulated relentlessly when talk of more democracy comes to fore. I imagine that a paw-waw of oligarchs gathered together to come with an idea to denigrate democracy (the way republicans came with “death taxes or death panels) and somebody came with mob-rule (mobster), given their fear that the voting masses would vote for land redistribution, depriving them from their well earned/inherited properties…

      2. bdy

        Lee Kuan Yew was as authoritarian as they come. I haven’t been back to Singapore in over a decade, but by the late aughts the whole benevolent dictator thing was still in place, having passed smoothly through two successions (it was an open secret that he guided the state from behind the scenes until his death in 2015). People were happy, healthy, wealthy and wise with their overbearing rules, fines, imprisonment and yeah, caning for pretty much whatever (I remember testing positive for weed was a felony: “In America taking drugs is legal, but owning them is not. Crazy!”).

        There was a veneer of denial over deeply entrenched, institutionalized racism towards Malay workers, and apartheid by gerrymander for for the ethnic Chinese minority. But the cult of personality was strong for a guy who was refreshingly soft, open and pragmatic about the hard line stance he took on purt near everything and everyone. Strong parallels to Putin IMO.

        Rem Koolhaus’ Singapore Songlines is one of the finest pieces of Social theory out there, and captures a functioning Confucian state through a western window well enough to get Rem banned there for years after.

        1. ArvidMartensen

          Passed through 3 years ago after 17 years away and cracks were beginning to show. Street urchins harassing tourists. Taxi driver having a big whinge about how things were going down hill.
          Hotel that used to be top notch 5 star now a four star if that …..Not so clean. Service lacking.
          Didn’t personally like it that everybody shops underground now and nearly nobody goes outside. Just looks like a giant western mall.
          But on the plus side, visit to doctor was top notch, quick and cheap.

    5. The Rev Kev

      Listening to that Jack Devine, you can see that once you are in the CIA, you never really leave. Here he is just repeating CIA talking points and the narrative which you could tell were total bs. Here is his Wiki entry-

      Nice to see Scott Ritter calling him out on all that disinformation which the judge did not seem to welcome.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Opinion | No, Capitalism and the Internet Will Not Free China’s People”

    Why would Capitalism and the Internet free the people of China when it is Capitalism and the Internet that is taking away the freedom of people like us in the west? As proof, I submit 1970s America which had far more freedom as it was an era before Neoliberal Capitalism and the Internet. Then compare it with 2020s America. I rest my case. But the Chinese artist writing this article is really writing it for western audiences and trying to push the right buttons when he says for example ‘They are reduced to an anxious servility, lining up like sheep in long lines for their coronavirus tests, or scrambling for food before sudden lockdowns.’ That is a conservative talking point that which you might hear on Fox News. When I read articles like this, I can really see how our elites really hate the Chinese but not because they are Chinese. It’s because they did not get with the program when they opened up.

    1. The S

      Yeah, Ai Weiwei is just Gordon Chang for the NPR marketing niche. The idea that the Chinese are free and have exactly the government they want is verboten in US media.

    2. zagonostra

      You don’t have to go back to the 1970’s. The FBI, it appears, disappeared, possibly, James Gordon Meek. At this point no one really knows where he is. They just know that his award winning journalist who covers national security and was preparing a book that was going to be damning about Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. You would think that NYT’s would have that as their number 1 issue. no? Instead they are asking silly and misleading questions like the in the Lede. Now I wonder why that would be.

    3. digi_owl

      They convinced themselves that it was a yearning for capitalism and democracy that made USSR collapse. And thus that they could fast track the same process by opening up to China.

      but that is a very western post-enlightenment individualistic world view. China, and the other Asian nations, do not subscribe to that. They are more along the lines of the government being the national “elder”, and one’s elders are to be respected even when they are being stupid. End result is that the people would happily take capitalist money and toys, but not the ideology.

      1. Dftbs

        They are more along the lines of the government being the national “elder”

        Its even simpler than that. They believe that government should work towards the benefit of its citizens. This is plainly seen in how they define and participate in democracy. For them it isn’t a system defined solely by electing decision makers, but by popular input and direction over the decisions themselves.

        This thread about how the leadership selection process works has some embeds about how democracy in China works.

        And I suppose the proof is in the pudding, where are people becoming healthier, mire educated and more prosperous. It’s not Stateside, thats for sure.

  11. marym

    >Judge rules letting NYers vote by mail due to fear of COVID unconstitutional

    From the NYP link: “In her ruling, Freestone said that the Democrat-controlled Legislature “appears poised to continue the expanded absentee voting provisions of New York State Election Law…”

    So much for the “independent state legislature theory” when it’s “Democrat-controlled.”

    I’ve posted this link already, but DeSantis is making it unconstitutional easier for Republicans to vote.

    “More than 1 million voters in Charlotte, Sarasota and Lee counties will have more time to get to the polls for early voting in the upcoming general election and will have more ways to file a mail-in ballot under the order the Republican governor signed Wednesday.”

    1. The Rev Kev

      Least they could do is to have volunteers handing out free N95 masks outside those polling stations with those stupid ‘I Voted’ stickers on each one to keep them safe. After all, a dead voter will be of no use to them in the 2024 US Federal election and they may need all they can get by then.

    2. marym

      Adding: from the NYP link

      “The 28-page ruling by Saratoga County Supreme Court Justice Dianne Freestone ordered local boards of election to stop counting the absentee ballots they’ve already received.

      Instead, officials have to “preserve” the ballots until after Election Day or the resolution of a pending suit filed by state and local GOP and Conservative Party leaders.”

      One of the reasons Trump 2020 legal challenges were thrown out of courts was judges saying no to disenfranchising people who voted in good faith under the rules that existed at the time.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        So, just to finish the quote from the article in your first comment regarding the “Democrat-controlled legislature”:

        “appears poised to continue the expanded absentee voting provisions of New York State Election Law … in an Orwellian perpetual state of health emergency and cloaked in the veneer of ‘voter enfranchisement.’”

        And for further context:

        Last year, state voters rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed no-excuse absentee voting in New York.

        But lawmakers subsequently enacted a measure that allowed people to vote by mail if they feared catching COVID-19 by voting in person. That expansion of absentee voting is set to expire at the end of this year.

        This is on the “legislature.” “The voters told them NO without an “excuse,” and the legislature couldn’t get creative enough in coming up with one.

        1. marym

          To be clear, I don’t know enough about it to say whether the not yet expired NY law is better or worse at ensuring voting rights than the previous NY process. And “Democrat controlled legislatures” should definitely pass good laws, not bad ones.

          However, it’s conservatives/Republicans, not me, who have proposed that in federal elections the “independent state legislature doctrine” is independent of the state constitution, the will of the voters, state courts, and the governor.

        2. hk

          I was going to add this wrt Western commentary about Novorussian votes, but i think this applies more generally:

          When the other guys have elections, those are sham.

          When we cancel elections, stuff ballots, or otherwise mess with the electoral orocess, it’s democracy.

          I don’t want to praise or attack any side, in any context. Rather, I think the healthier approach is to strip “democracy” of all the undeserved sanctification. Ultimately, democracy is a mechanical-mathematical process where people are formally given a set of choices, rules are set up under which they are to express their choices, and the formulas are set up under which their choices are translated to some allocation of formal political power. The only requirements are that the choices expressed are more or less accurately counted (more or less because the act of counting is imprecise) and that the political power allocated as the result of vote counting is meaningful in the formal sense, ie they actually have the power to do something–whether they actually do anything or not.

          Obviously, this opens the way for all sorts of abuses–like almost everything we know of about the West. To talk sanctimoniously about “democracy” as a moral proposition (whether claiming that “democracy”–ie status quo–must be defended or that the existing state of affairs are not really “democratic”) misses the point, I think. It is, rather an engineering problem. You can’t actually “solve” big, poorly defined problems, but you can address small, well-defined problems at a price if you are clever enough.

          Most political insiders have figured it out: “gaming the system” is nothing more than addressing “their” problems by understanding how the mechanical-mathematical properties of specific democratic institutions work. But the sanctimonious talk of “democracy” obscures even what the problem is.

        3. CitizenSissy

          I’m mystified why this is an issue. In-person voting, often run by civic-spirited retirees, was in staffing trouble due to the threat of COVID, and now by the looming threat of political violence. Far fewer poll workers make elections well-nigh impossible for many voters, but that’s probably the goal. Reminded that a Tuesday Election Day goes back to a 19th century accommodation to farming life – Tuesday was between Sunday Sabbath and Wednesday market day.

          Saw a twitter post yesterday linking to a Bannon affiliate whose organization was going to send “monitors” to drop boxes to prevent “mules.” The same poster also helpfully linked to an Amazon site selling Mule masks. I may have to get an Eeyore costume for next year’s dropbox trip.

  12. greib

    I don’t understand how this happens but I assume some of this is the balance growing during the forbearance period (when the student is still taking courses)

    The negative amortization is often due to income based repayment. The period when they are taking courses adds to it.

    1. LawnDart

      The whole thread on student loan debt is kinda depressing. A bankruptcy is punishment enough for defaulting or lacking the means to pay– it’s damaging for years, but at least you have a chance of working your way past that, given time.

      1. Dave in Austin

        The problem with using the bankruptcy metaphor for student loans is that in the case of a student loan, the former student gets to keep the property, the transcript and the degree. In most personal banrupctys the defaulter loses the property which is sold to pay off at least part of the debt.

        1. hunkerdown

          Bankruptcy is a particular process, not a metaphor. Was that category error politically motivated by neoliberal “human capital” ideology?

          I would take that further: it should be a LOT easier to declass PMCs who engage in faithless, fraudulent designs against the general will. Ideally it would be as easy to recall them as it is the average county-level irritant.

        2. jsn

          Education is a public good.

          A healthy society can’t reproduce with out it.

          It should have been free in the first place, and those who dreamed up “student debt” should be in jail as the predator fraudsters they are.

          1. ambrit

            A “healthy society” would be H— on fraudsters, so, to advantage fraudsters, go for the “unhealthy society.”
            Add in short term (financialized) thinking and you have today in an elevator pitch.

          2. hunkerdown

            “Health” has to be unpacked. In the context of an authoritarian class system, malnutrition and a head full of pseudo-facts, myths, and paralogic might be “healthy” because it keeps the order of that society “alive”.

            1. jsn

              Until it doesn’t.

              That version of “health” of predator society is currently driving towards species extinction.

              Not healthy to my mind

    2. Mark Gisleson

      “I don’t understand how this happens”

      Churning. If you have a private lender, they’re allowed to resell your loan after one year. And each time your loan is sold, they tack on about $1,000 in processing charges which you have to pay before your payments reduce the balance.

    3. Mo

      There are endless ways to scam young people with student loans, and it has been going on for decades. They desperately need the money, so what choice do they have?

      Years ago I got my second student loan after paying for a couple years on my first. During that time interest rates had fallen a lot, by several percentage points. But my new loan couldn’t be given at the current low rate. It had to be at the previous rate which I think was 9%. Of course there could be no good reason for this. It was just a rule invented to cheat me, which I was forced to agree to since I wanted to continue my education.

  13. griffen

    Due respect to her, I grudgingly submit, but I fear those leaders like Janet Yellen will continue to be wrong on the future prospects of inflation coming down further. We are still in the clutches of how much longer the Federal Reserve is going to maintain their stance; talking heads on CNBC are still spouting they must stop or shortly curtail their plans.

    I think (just my opinion) inflation in 2023 will continue to be a problem. I think as well the Powell-led FOMC is in Fight Club mode, and the increases will go on. There are signs at a minimum that the monthly inflation reports are trending in the right / lower direction.

    Added, I am giving serious consideration to investing a small portion of savings into 3 month Tbills and let them roll. Some wise soul has espoused that suggestion here before, in recent weeks.

    1. Dftbs

      Inflation is not so much “embedded” in, as it is the economy. We have trillions of dollars in “demand” that have limited outlets for consumption due to our limited productive capacity, and the regulatory constraints we’ve placed and are placing on our commercial relations. In plain speak: our “economy” is a bunch of paper promises to pay later, we don’t make anything, and we are now enemies with the people that make things.

      As to 3 month bills, they’re really appealing at north of 4% now in light of all the market volatility. I know this isn’t a forum for investment talk so forgive the following if it appears beneath the bar set by our host. But if you are a prisoner of the Western world then TINA. We only have the tools of this system to put ourselves and our families in the best possible position (no one is storming the Winter Palace).

      To paraphrase: As the new world is birthed, we are in the “time of monsters”. IMO The best protection then is to hide behind other “monsters”. I think the inflationary dystopia the US and West are heading into will be best navigated by those malignant actors that placed us here. I think 3 mos are smart, next week they will be yielding slightly below the market expected terminal rate. They mature right in time for the capitulation that will happen when the Market realizes the Fed is looking to make everyone (except the rich) poor, and will hike beyond current terminal rate expectations. And so you can make your decision on which “monster’s” shadow to hide behind then.

    2. juno mas


      Try a large portion of your savings in 4 or 8 week T-Bills (curently 3.8% to 4.4%). That’s a maturity in which you can use the 25 day credit card float for any emergencies. I, too, believe that inflation is NOT transitory and have a large position in a 5-year TIPS. Go here for more info:

      1. griffen

        Once again, I am grateful for the insight and depth of knowledge to be found here. Appreciate the helpful suggestions!

  14. hemeantwell

    Highly recommend Craig Murray’s piece on the hollowing out of the UK’s major parties. It could go into an appendix of Peter Mair’s Ruling the Void (2013), a requiem for mass-based parties in the western democracies, replaced by consultant-guided, entrepreneurial organizations. His objection to state funding, aka trough filling, of parties is sound, though it does put a hole in one of the panaceas I’ve clung to.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Southern California’s Notorious Container Ship Backup Ends”

    Right now, Joe Bidden is seeking to have a permanent solution to California’s container congestion problem. So, following Trump’s example, he will likely get the US into a full-blown trade war with China which means pretty soon, nothing will be arriving from China by ship at all. See? No container congestion then. Problem solved.

  16. griffen

    Animal links today, maybe view the zoo animals with pumpkins initially before reading the grizzly attacking two college wrestlers article. Yikes. Both are lucky to be alive, and it brings to mind the scene from that film with Dicaprio where he is probably dead by all counts.

    1. Joe Renter

      Wrestling with grizzlies. This reminds me of a guy I know who was attacked by a juvenile mountain lion in the foothills of the Olympic national forest. He was mountain biking at the time. When stopping to take a break he was attacked. The biker was an collegiate wrestler from Oregon and also a MMA practitioner. He put his skills in use as they went at it. Luckily he managed to get the cat in a leg lock around its neck and the cats eyes rolled back as the wrestler was barely able to continue the lock. He released and the cat got up looked at him and determined it was too much work. He was interviewed on TV and the local ranger said he was probably tracked by the mountain lion for several miles. After this event he was called “cougar boy” by his friends. I knew him from the coffee shop next to my employment. Not all attacks end well for hikers and bikers. I am glad the guys from Wyoming lived to tell the story.

      1. Rory

        The story about the grizzly bear and the brotherhood of the Wyoming wrestling teammates called to my mind “toxic masculinity” and what does it really mean. I mourn for all of the 20 year old men (on both sides) who have lost their lives in the Ukrainian war for what reason. I know that women have died too, but the loss of so much young male energy has to be harmful.

        1. ambrit

          Read mainstream literature from Europe from the period after WW-1. Robert Graves, Ford Maddox Ford, Remarque, Rebercca West, etc.

          1. LifelongLib

            I don’t think any literature can be called mainstream today. It’s very much a minority interest. Studying books isn’t the same as reading them.

      2. Lexx

        I read ‘wrestlers’ but heard ‘honey badgers’. Probably trying to make weight. Smells bad all the time, hostile attitude, constantly foraging, tenacious, made of mostly bone and gristle. On the mat, my money would be on the badger surviving.

        If it had been football players, my money would be on the grizzly.

        The best part of that story though was about the bear spray.

      3. Wukchumni

        Generally one must turn themselves into prey to be attacked by a cougar, running or riding a mountain bike is typically the best way to go about it. Very unusual for the attack on the fellow you know, if he was just sitting there.

        I know a few people who run in Mineral King and no way-no how would I ever do that, besides if you go too fast on foot… you might miss something.

        I was within 4 feet of a yearling mountain lion a couple years ago, with another yearling about 20 feet away, probably siblings. The only thing I could have used to ward them off would be this very same laptop I was perusing the internet on @ about 4:20 in the morning when my chance encounter came.

        I was transfixed by the tail of the the close encounter cougar as it walked away after seeing me on the other side of a 5 foot wide pine tree, damned thing was erect as a you know what and didn’t move 1 iota as the big cat distanced itself from my purview.

  17. Lexx

    ‘I will leave it to you to decide if Europe is Thelma or Louise. In either case, this is a suicide pact that the United States and Europe are jointly executing without taking time to think about the ultimate consequences of their current actions.’


    Usually people who contemplate suicide don’t want to die; they just don’t want to live as they have been and so death is an end or a transition to another state of being (or not), but change either way. They feel they can’t go back or stay as they are. A forward of their own choosing is all that’s left. It’s their lives and their choice.

    Thelma and Louise are on a road trip because they’re in pain; they took it with them on the road where all their choices were informed by their pain. Prison will be worse. Despite how that movie scene is framed, sometimes suicide is both sensible and logical. All the questions I would have asked a caller as a crisis clinic volunteer were answered, all the boxes checked**.

    No, I don’t think all life is sacred*, but ‘liberty’ might be. I support all legislation for medically-assisted suicide.

    Thelma and Louise are the only ones in the car.

    ‘But Lexx, this is about Europe and the U.S. committing political suicide.’ I know. I’m hoping a commentor will come up with a better comparison than Larry’s, that one is a non-starter. Anyone got evidence of these two countries intentionally committing suicide? Just because these empires are dying… slowly…. Jackpot style… doesn’t mean that was the plan all along.

    * or needs eatin’.
    ** In three years of answering the phones, I never talked to a caller who checked all the boxes. They didn’t want to die and they hadn’t worked through a plan.

    1. Joe Renter

      Lexx – Thank you for your time and energy answering the phones for those who are suffering.
      I think everyone knows someone who took their life. I agree that it may be a logical action in some cases. Currently and in recent pass many taken that path. Drug overdoses were over 50k in 2019, I read. For many it was a suicidal act. I, like many think the way our society and the world at large seem to be headed it might be a option to consider.
      Such inequality and it seems compounded annually.
      We have to work hard to keep our sanity and willingness to not shed this mortal coil.

    2. Kouros


      US and European population want nothing of sorts (maybe except the Balts and the Poles, but they are a different kind of stupid).

      EU and US leadership really goes for the “sky is the limit” reach of taking over the world, if they can get by this winter, and Russia and China will fall and all will revert to “normal”. This “virus” that got into them could only be exorcised by having them being individually beaten with canes whitin inches of their lives, dispossession, and public shamed for their entire lives, plus ostracization of their kids and grandkids… Only then they will fill the error in their ways…

    3. Acacia

      How about what the Japanese call muri-shinjuu, a.k.a. murder suicide?

      I.e., A has an obsessive, dysfunctional relationship with B, but then realizes that B is breaking it off to form a more healthy relationship with C. A entreats B several times to come back, but B wants to be with C and refuses. Then, A loses it, and says “die with me!”, while taking B’s life.

      At the outset, neither A nor B want to commit suicide, but A cannot psychologically or materially survive without B, and is enraged by the possibility that B could have a happy relationship C, leaving A to live alone.

      Substituting A for the US, B for the EU, and C for Russia, does this work better?

  18. Eclair

    Under Class Warfare, ‘The Hidden Home-Ownership Welfare State,’ explains what I was trying to in my comment yesterday, but didn’t. Or couldn’t. The authors call it: asset-based welfare. And they compare its existence, or lack of, across various countries. Disclaimer: I skimmed the article because, bless their academic hearts, their writing puts me to sleep.

    Basically, US tax structure is set up to give breaks to home-owners. And, they do mention its contribution to asset ‘bubbles,’ but don’t really elaborate.

    But, one example, from US federal tax regs: the amount of tax-free profits one can realize from the sale of one’s personal residence. And the number of times one can take advantage of this ‘asset-based welfare.’

    Back in the ’60’s, US residents could realize a tax free gain on the sale of their personal residence, once. That’s right, just one time. And, I believe it was aimed at retirees, who were downsizing and wanted to sell the family house. And, the amount of non-taxable profit was minimal.

    Compare to today: Married couples can realize $500,000 tax-free profit on the sale of their personal residence. Basically, every five years. And, if you make over that half million in profit, that is taxed at the lower capital gains rate. Think about the incentives that generates. Asset-based welfare. Benefiting those who lived in the right location, had the resources to initially buy a house, were aware of the tax laws, bought and sold at the right times, etc.

    1. Wukchumni

      Similar to you and yours, we sold our abode in the City of Angles in 2007 near the top of housing bubble numero uno, and made a smidge more than the $500k tax free gig, it was like stealing candy from a baby.

      To put things in perspective, my bank won the lottery circa 1999, 18 bank employees split $17 million on the 25 year deal which included balloon payments towards the end.

      In theory every ‘winner’ won $964k, but reality was more like $200k for right now money, and after 40% tax, it was a measly $120k.

      We didn’t even need to buy a lottery ticket…

    2. Lexx

      We have such a couple across the street, and another who are working on three houses in the neighborhood.

      Mysteriously, while Couple #1 was out of the country, their basement flooded requiring a months long (ongoing), extensive, and expensive remodel. It had been a finished basement but dated and basic, with a second kitchen and a patio door to the backyard.

      When they moved in they started out completely remodeling the upper floors, but now every floor has been redone, and after their deductible paid for by their insurance company. This something like their fifth or sixth house. Flipping houses is what they do “for a living”.

      I know it’s small of me but I kinda wonder if there have been other expensive mishaps in homes they flipped. They’ve owned this one for four years. Not ‘lived in’, mostly just owned; they spend half their time elsewhere. Based on your comment, I’m half hoping to see a ‘For Sale’ sign go up next year, for a price I’m sure will be considerably more than they paid, but maybe not quite $500k more. Ka-ching!

      1. SteveB

        In order to get the tax free gain on the sale of a house it must be your PRIMARY residence for at least the last two years prior to the sale.

        I’ve done it several times. It’s not fun moving and my wife hates it but it’s (IMO)
        the best tax break they give to the average person.

        1. Lexx

          Pretty sure it is their primary residence, but there must be rules regarding how ‘primary’ is defined, likewise secondary homes and ways of getting around those definitions. Last year the husband ceased to be ‘in residence’, but he shows up here once in awhile, stays a bit then leaves. No, they’re not separated and/or getting divorced. I think they’ve established a beachhead elsewhere – the next house.

          We have our fingers crossed.

    3. Mikel

      Indeed. Whether interest rates are up or down, the class war is in effect.

      Housing became the go to ATMs as wages and compensation for workers stagnated and/or fell.

    4. Dav in Austin

      I keep waiting for the “marriage repo”, the single person with a valuable house finds a likely mate, makes a prenup and marries. Then the couple sells the house, gets the $500,000 tax free profit and divorces under a clause in the prenup which says the original owner keeps the profit, pays any taxes and give the willing ex-partner a fee. Tax planning is not illegal and prenuptial tax planning is probably not illegal either. And marriages should be encouraged.

      1. hunkerdown

        No, Calvinist religious institutions shoud not be encouraged at my expense, and how dare you steal from me for your ridiculous social ideals.

        In fact, marriage status should not even be recognized by the state. Keep your church to yourself unless you want another religious war.

        1. eg

          I don’t think in this case marriage is remotely about religion — it’s a property contract as originally constructed when women and children were not legally complete persons but mere chattels.

    5. Amateur Socialist

      The windfalls of course cannot be evenly distributed. Like so many things in the USA, a lot of where you end up depends on where you start out… Before I abandoned the exurbs of Austin TX it was pretty routine to meet people and couples who were basically making very good living buying and flipping houses. I knew one married couple both highly trained engineers with good corporate gigs that left tech to flip houses. It was just a lot more money most of which could avoid a lot more taxes. Chest Lah Vee as they say in Oklahoma.

      Speaking for myself, I did pretty well selling my house in Austin, probably netted over $100K profit over a 10 year 200K investment, not bad, and no taxes. But over the last 30 years I’ve sold 3 other houses and lost money on all of them, including abandoning a 2 year old $50K upgrade to solar which did not eventually reflect in the selling price. I’m not complaining, all of my “losses” managed to provide significant income tax relief thanks to the deductible mortgage interest.

      But Trump’s $26K standard deduction means many first time homebuyers may not see any tax savings from their mortgage. And without the tax write off who would take on the risks? As many are now learning, homes do not only increase in value. Chest Lah Vee as they say in Oklahoma.

      1. ambrit

        Oklahoma must have a lot of Courier de Bois bloodlines. Down in Louisiana we say it “C’est la vie.” The locution ‘chest la vee’ sounds a lot like a pole dancer at the strip club out by the big Interstate truck stop. (We even have one of those outside the City Limits here. It primarily “services” the Camp Shelby ‘troops in training.’)
        As the Democidal Democrats discovered early, (at least as early as “Bubba” Bill and his trained snake, maybe even Wilber Mills,) there is money in sleaze.

      2. anon in so cal

        In Los Angeles, houses get flipped for 2 million+ profits within one year or less. I assume LLCs are doing this.

    6. MrMac


      Like the movie camera?

      Don’t forget that two guys or gals can “get married” and pull that same rule following stunt. They make the rules, we pretend to follow them for reported income.

  19. Carolinian

    Craig Murray on the Tory scramble.

    It is fascinating that both the Tory and Labour parties have now adopted exactly the same mechanism to prevent the membership electing a leader again with views outside the narrow Establishment consensus – in both parties that mechanism being an increase in the number of MPs who have to nominate, before a candidate can get their name before the party membership.

    The professionals are to radically limit the options of the members.

    The Labour Party had under Jeremy Corbyn the largest mass membership of any political party in Europe. The current leadership has succeeded – quite deliberately – in losing half of them. The Labour members elected Keir Starmer on the basis of ten pledges to carry out the kind of left wing policies the Labour membership support. Almost all of those pledges have been summarily broken

    Meanwhile here in the States you have a Dem party and president constantly prating about democracy when it’s obvious that they too are only interested in a democracy that gives the right result. And the Repubs, if they were the ones now in power, would likely be doing the same via faux populism. The best we can ever hope for is a “lesser evil.”

    Of course we talk about this here all the time with no solution in sight. But perhaps we can at least do something about the rebrand of oligarchy as “democracy” and name the thing for what it is.

    1. MaryLand

      In the US we have a choice between the Dems, currently the war party with the possibility of a nuclear exchange, and the GOP with the likelihood of suppression of various rights. What a choice!

      1. Carolinian

        To me the Ukraine war makes the Dems very much the greater evil at the moment. Of course lots of Repubs like my idiot senator are gung ho for nuclear brinkmanship but not so much as the Dems. After all nuclear winter will be bad for business.

        1. GF

          Did anyone see Neil deGrasse Tyson on Bill Maher last Friday Oct. 14, 2022? He presented a new (to me) theory (I guess it is a theory) that the current crop of nuclear weapons don’t have the radiation fallout of the older Hiroshima types:

          Does anyone know if this is true? I recall that the total numbers of nuclear weapons were reduced dramatically by both sides. Were the ones removed from the arsenals the older types and all that was left were the hydrogen versions which Neil states don’t produce radiation fallout? And there was no mention of nuclear winter.

          1. Carolinian

            I heard about that and it would be interesting to hear more. However I think Carl Sagan’s nuclear winter idea was that the dust from thousands of hydrogen warheads would obscure the sun not unlike what happened when the asteroid landed next to the Yucatan. It wasn’t about radiation.

            BTW there’s a book out with best guess about what did happen when the asteroid killed the dinosaurs including widespread fires from the ejecta and a tremendous burst of atmospheric heat that only those animals underground could survive. Then some years of asteroid winter followed.

            1. Carolinian

              If I’m allowed to link this here’s a Reddit comment that seems to know what it is talking about

              Modern hydrogen bombs are less dirty than atom bombs, but the huge increase in explosive power more than compensates for that reduced fission fraction.

              A modern missile warhead of say 500 kilotons derives about half of its explosive power from fission. This is because of the fast fissioning of the uranium tamper which contains the fusion fuel in the warhead as the fusion reaction bombards it with fast neutrons.

              So a modern nuke might derive 10 kilotons from the fission trigger, 250 kilotons from the fusion fuel and an additional 250 from fast fissioning of the uranium tamper.

              Some Hydrogen bombs in the 50’s did away with the uranium tamper. Those bombs were relatively clean. They were not widely deployed though because they were only half as powerful as they could be for a given weight. During testing though the weapons often had their uranium tamper replaced with lead and were tested at half power to avoid excessive fallout.

              The Tsar Bomba, tested by the Soviet Union in 1961 was almost purely a fusion weapon, about 97% of the energy was through fusion. The US tested similar weapons during operation Dominic shortly afterwards.

              These might be the weapons NDT is referring to.

              On a modern ICBM however, maximizing the power-to-weight ratio of the warheads is very important so using lead tampers really isn’t done anymore.


              Also Tyson may have just been talking about tactical nukes.

      2. Felix_47

        Better Red than dead. Vote Red like your life depends on it…….because it might. That is not an ideal strategy but it is the only one I can think of unless one has other priorities than continued war. I pretty much see war as the worst and most damaging problem for humans. Others might see varous isms as the problem and they need to vote Blue. A red congress will investigate why Biden did a 180 on Obama’s Ukraine policy. He has not articulated why. The voters have a right to a cogent explanation as to why and a healthy debate. We are at war and no one is debating why that I see. Hunter cannot be the only one to pocket millions from Uk oligarchs. Apples do not fall far from trees. Of course, Hunters payout could just be a one off but where there is smoke there is fire. A blue congress will not investigate as we have seen. A blue congress wants to investigate Trump.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Top Republicans clash over future of Ukraine aid’

    One could make the argument that it is not so much top Republicans clashing as top Republicans clashing with RINOs. By now most people recognize that the Ukraine is a rat hole as far as money is concerned. That $50 billion that they want to ram through this Congress to see the Ukrainians through 2023? Somebody grabbed a pencil and the back of an envelope and worked out that that money would only last the Ukraine till about April. They are going to need more. A lot more. So when you have Mitch McConnell say that the money printers have to go brrrrr to send to the Ukraine, you are having a lot of Republicans wonder why should they fight so hard for Biden’s war in what is essentially a Democrat project. Sure the Republicans would prefer going after China but the point is that I am willing to bet that a lot of Republicans are seeing which way this war is going and there will be a lot of recriminations on all that money sent to the Ukraine. They could tell their voters that only a fraction of that money would have finished The Wall and get a lot of agreement – and votes.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      By now most people recognize that the Ukraine is a rat hole as far as money is concerned.

      Sadly, No. I watched an online poll of people who believed 83% – 4% (the rest Not Sure) whether the Ukrainians would be pushing the Russians out of Kherson “this week.”

      Most people believe what they want to believe. Go over to Daily Kos sometime. I am amazed at the lack of questioning of the official narrative and the bloodlust.

      1. hemeantwell

        “Sadly, No. I watched an online poll of people”

        Oi. Polls of that sort are as bot-ridden as a rat carcass is with maggots on a hot day.

        The manipulation of mass communications during wartime is nothing new. I, like most of us, have never seen this degree of assimilation though. It may be that I’m still bollixed by the early calls for war supporting propaganda platformed by the MSM, which was only what has always been the case becoming explicit. But it’s the candor, the stated expectation that a journalism of truth, already desiccated, should shapeshift into a journalism of “just” war, that I just can’t get over. I’ve said this before, but social demish opinion leaders like Tooze, who know this is the case and yet choose to serve as a rectum for crap distribution, are the most reprehensible. The can help put the brakes on a crisis that can spin way out of control, and they’re playing credulous.

        1. Fred

          Its messes with your head to see how enthusiastically westerners are lapping up the propaganda, it really is like watching people being hypnotized in front of you.

          I think its appeal to base emotions has caused a kind of mass hysteria.

          The thing with hysteria is it can be over as quickly as its whipped up.

          1. hunkerdown

            It just takes the right slap to the right face at the right time before the right cameras. I am firmly convinced Will Smith averted premature and possibly strategic heating of the Ukraine affair.

          2. The Rev Kev

            ‘it really is like watching people being hypnotized in front of you.’

            That’s not a bad metaphor for what is happening. I see the same myself and people who should know better fall back into the Putin is bad, m’kay routine.

      2. hk

        I think “this week” is the key:. They are for it as long as it’s going to end fast so that you won’t be sending tons of money to Ukraine forever. I wonder how people will react if they are told, credibly, that this will be a 1,3,5, ,10, or 100 year project. I think some GOPers are reacting as they are because they are realizing that this is going to last a long time, if not forever…as long as “Ukraine is winning.”

    2. Kouros

      It is not money that Ukraine needs urgently, but weapons and men, which are all in very short supply in Ukraine and in the West. money could be conjured from thin air. But not factories to build tanks and planes and ammunition and air defense systems, etc., etc., etc…

  21. Wukchumni

    Was listening to the NWS forecast, and a deep freeze storm is coming our way, with the kicker being 90-105 mph winds later tonight in the higher climes. That’s Ian like hurricane winds, yikes!

    This is a disaster in the making, as Sequoia NP (as opposed to Yosemite NP) has allowed campfires in campgrounds from 6,000 feet on up all summer, and it being as cold as a witch’s tit, campfires will be quite popular tonight.

    All it would take is for one campfire’s embers to set off another conflagration @ night, and we’d be looking at yet another disastrous wildfire…

    1. Carolinian

      And not just campfires but bonfires if my experience is any guide. When I was in California staying at Lassen there was one fellow camper who would head off into the woods with an ax and return dragging an entire small tree. IMO Western parks should ban campfires altogether or at least have campground mangaers to keep things under control.

  22. Carolinian

    Re The Markup on internet service–while I would be the last one to defend AT&T, their argument does make sense up to a point. Clearly fewer people in poor neighborhoods will be able to pony up the price gouge for internet service which is hugely profitable for the provider, so they have less incentive to install broadband lines. Where the Markup misses is in saying that download speeds are the issue when the issue is actually the price gouge that has been enabled by our telecommunication law. Therefore the solution is not for the Federal government to subsidize the gouge for poor neighborhoods but to regulate internet prices in the same way electricity and other utilities have been regulated. This of course is exactly what AT&T doesn’t want and they have the lobbying dollars to ensure their favored arrangement.

    Americans pay a lot more for internet in general than other countries. To a degree that is about density but the telecoms have been allowed to take that argument all the way to the bank.

    1. no one

      As it stands, the Federal Communications Commission is allowing poorer neighborhoods to subsidize weathier people. I was so mad about the FCC’s neglect of this matter, which is doubtlessly unconstitutionally discriminatory as well as faciallly unfair, that I contacted the White House. Much more effective would be a lawsuit.

  23. Wukchumni

    Among all of us here, I know probably less about computers and high technology than anybody else, my mind ain’t wired that way.

    Presumably somebody turned the internet on once upon a time back in the day, could it be turned off?

    It seems to me that our foundering fathers now in charge in the west, might need to quell dissent sometime in the immediate future, and no internet means largely an information neutered populace at this point, as the fishwraps tend to lift all their news from the internet, and few have physical newspapers anymore. They’d also be neutered.

    1. chris

      In the US? Maybe something close it.

      You could shut down the servers. You could make it really slow. You could certainly shut off parts of it. But all of it? Short of physically destroying connections and severing power supply, that’s really hard to do. The closest you could come would be crippling or shutting down AWS. That would remove a tremendous amount of data transfer from many different sources. Public and private.

    2. hunkerdown

      Sort of but not really. “An” Internet is a collection of networks and devices that can address and access one another using Internet protocols. “The” Internet is that collection of networks and devices that can be accessed on a commercial basis using Internet protocols. Other Internets exist, for example, the Pentagon has one for non-secret data and one for secret+ data.

      Internets can be split or fragmented, but not really turned off. Local mesh networks could still be internetworked and connected to one another if every ISP went dark, but it would take some (inter)personal coordination.

    3. Acacia

      Remember, the Internet descended from the ARPANet. As in, yes, DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

      The decentralized design was for a communications network that could withstand a nuclear attack and still be functional. If some or even many nodes are disabled by nuclear strikes, the other remaining nodes would dynamically re-route traffic between senders and receivers.

      That said, some services like DNS are centralized and most protocols have set timeouts, so while the basic network is very resilient, name-lookup services could fail and traffic flows could become so unequal that the network as a whole might become inoperative for many services. Also, the way web apps are designed now, lots of pieces don’t even come from the server you’re connected to, but CDNs.

      Moreover, doesn’t the WH have some kind of “off switch”?

  24. Lex

    Russia is breaking tendency by working on the weekend and hammered Ukrainian electric infrastructure today. Apparently Ukraine has now switched to all diesel trains which is problematic. Claims about generating capacity is moot. Helmer’s pieces have discussed it; these strikes are primarily about grid management. Without that and the transformers, generation doesn’t matter. As warfare goes, it’s an elegant application of power. When this is over, Russia can likely restore power in Ukraine quite quickly (assuming it has transformer stores and/or is currently manufacturing replacements).

    1. ambrit

      Re. “…all diesel trains…” Perhaps that’s why Russia struck a diesel tankfarm with supposedly 56,000 tons of diesel fuel in the south of the Ukraine yesterday.

  25. The Rev Kev

    ‘Olga Tokariuk
    Russia has just sent another barrage of missiles into Ukraine. It seems the West of Ukraine is particularly targeted: explosions reported in Volyn, Rivne, Khmelnytskyi regions. Missiles intercepted over Lviv and Chernivtsi regions. Electricity, water supply disrupted’

    What this will do will be to bring the war home to those in the west of Ukraine. They seemed to have an active party life at clubs and the like in places like Kiev while their soldiers suffered and died at the front. You could see the disconnect and you wonder how many of the young people managed to wangle their way out of having to do military service. With the lights and the heat out, it may serve to concentrate their minds on what is going on with this war and bring it home to them. And apparently those Shahed drones flying overhead with their moped motors going ‘brrrrrr’ have really rattled some of them.

    1. chris

      I wonder how much longer Russia will almost be out of missiles. Or how much longer we’ll hear about their desperate and unprecedented attacks. Or how they’re being forced to use old and ineffective weapons. Or how they don’t have any equipment and are harvesting supplies from kitchen appliances. Seems like those headlines have been going on for 6 months. And yet…

      The Scott Ritter interview had many things right that seem to be completely absent from discussion in the media lately. Cold, hungry, ill equipped people, don’t fight well. All of Ukraine is now experiencing those conditions. I find it hard to understand why so many in the US assume starving frost bitten troops will perform further miraculous feats against the Russian aggressors.

      Especially since the most virulent pro-war people I know in the DC area don’t even want to camp when the night time temperatures drop below 45 F.

      Also, there’s a bizarre kind of amnesia going on too. From the tweets and other information we’ve read here and in others places, Israel does not like Ukraine. For obvious reasons. Zelenskiy and others were apparently demanding that Israel supply Iron Dome tech to Ukraine this week. Even Krystal and Saagar noted that there has been no response from Israel ro the request. Can it really be true that we can’t even acknowledge that currently sitting congress people passed legislation in 2018 to prevent arms sales to Ukraine because of their neonazi ties? And the reasons that even we found giving Ukraine arms problematic would be even worse from the perspective of Israel?

      1. tegnost

        I find it hard to understand why so many in the US assume starving frost bitten troops will perform further miraculous feats

        This is the US, run by people like larry summers who think that if you give your workers a raise they’ll quit working, where capitalists hate competition, and the pushers of democracy over there hate democracy over here. The only way to make sense of any of it is to follow the money.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Israel did say it wasn’t giving the Iron Dome because there was no point. It is designed only v. Scuds and so not very/not at all effective v Russian missiles and drones.

        Of course that is not how you are supposed to play the game. You give the Big Z what the wants whether it will do any good or not.

    2. Old Sovietologist

      I’m I the only one who thinks that US/UK won’t sit quietly and watch their plan for Ukraine collapse as it seems to be.

      There’s a week between the US mid-term elections and the G20 in Bali. A nuclear provocation on the territory of Ukraine blamed of course on the barbarian Putin.

      Just before the G20 such an act would allow them to declare Russia a terrorist state, make it a pariah and call on all countries like India to join the sanctions.

      1. chris

        You’re not the only one by a long shot. But I think a lot of us have no idea what or how the US can actually do right now.

        I can imagine there’s a lot of shrill conversations between Kagans, Rices, Nulands, and other Bloboids right now. I can imagine some are insisting we jump NOW and turn the tide NOW. I can also imagine the same forces that resisted doing more than leading from behind in Libya and Syria are fighting back. The CIA has no doubt developed copious amounts of “intelligence” to convince all the recalcitrant congress critters that TINA isn’t just the name of a nice girl in Farragut, it’s a way of life. Specifically their lives if they buckle.

        I also have no doubt that we’ll see gas prices increase again, people freak out over filling their propane and oil tanks for the winter heating season. Food costs will continue to swell. It also seems like the bird flu raging through the country will dent the turkey harvest for Thanksgiving. People should find out about that right in time to vote in November. Republicans will no doubt scream about all of this and blame it on Biden. Biden will of course continue on his trip through senescence and insist all the Democrats vote yes on Ukraine. Then he’ll wrap it up by calling any one who complains a turd mouthed monkey humper as if that will bring citizens to his point of view.

        There is no doubt in my mind that we have people at all levels of the MICC looking for an opening to justify anything they dream up. But absent some really big mistakes on Putin’s part, or more support from our “allies” I have no idea how that will work. I can’t see them having a clear shot with a trajectory that doesn’t obviously point back to the US.

        The only thing I can think of is if they push Zelenskiy over the edge and drive his forces into mass suicide in places like Kherson, then maybe we’ll see a heartfelt plea from the president that we can’t let their sacrifice mean nothing. We have to pick up their pieces and rebuild Ukraine in the name of the fallen, victorious, dead. And then maybe we’ll see a big nasty bomb go off in a populated place and our government will proceed without telling anyone what it’s doing. Theyll all plead that things have been overtaken by events. That could maybe happen. But I have a sense given the financial turmoil we’re beginning to hear about even the most hawkish hawks in the Pentagon are thinking twice about that kind of decsision.

      2. hemeantwell

        Particularly when the AUK is floundering, I just don’t think the claim would wash, and so would very likely be a final blow to US cred in the area. There’s a whole history of brutal US actions the moral-political consequences of which hang like an avalanche mass over the US’ image. It’s a core feature of “exceptionalism.” A nuclear blast would likely set it going downhill. They’re desperate but not that stupid.

          1. Old Sovietologist

            I think were approaching a turning point in the Ukrainian crisis. The fear that Russia will win sometime in 2023 is starting to dawn.

            US/UK either have to double down and escalate or try to achieve a graceful exit via mediation by the likes of Turkey. The G20 conference could well be the starting point for some sort of exit. However, all the rhetoric suggests they will go down the escalation route.

            1. The Rev Kev

              There have been reports that Biden’s appearance at the G-20 is being carefully orchestrated so that he does not meet Putin, even by accident. And just to double down, he won’t be meeting Saudi’s MbN either. I guess that old Joe will only be meeting with ‘loyal’ countries.

          2. Gc54

            Agreed. If 101 airborne is really nearby, i expect them to react to a false flag blast and loop down into Odessa.

            1. ambrit

              I’m wondering if the Ukrainians are waiting for a false flag to give them cover for asking America to send in the ‘air cavalry?’ Thus, the rumours of the American 101st Airborne being in Rumania gain credibility.
              The question then becomes; will the Russians shoot down the 101st’s air transports before they can deploy? Seriously, would the Russians attack the 101st inside Romania if there is a false flag? I don’t think we have seen how well the Russian S-400 anti-air systems work yet. I read that the Israelis had some of their aircraft that attacked Syria recently damaged by Russian anti-air fire. This would presumably be the “lowly” S-300 upgraded systems.
              “Things” can become very ‘hot’ very fast.

    3. chris

      According to Reuters, in videos below their main articles today, Mr. zelenskiy just informed the European Council that Russia has mined the dam and the aggregate above Kherson. Mr. zelenskiy asserted that the only reasonable response to this impending terrorist attack was a pre-emptive strike.

      I suppose we’ll hear about all those details just like everyone involved has been so transparent about the NordStream bombings…

  26. Joe Well

    >>the balance growing during the forbearance period (when the student is still taking courses):

    I had loans from that era, and then (no idea now) if you enrolled full-time the loans entered “deferment” not forbearance and no interest accrued. What I guess we are seeing is that 1) the borrower was making the absolute minimum monthly payment, 2) possibly these were not typical federal loans like Perkins, Stafford, etc (I am rusty on the terms) but some kind of private but federally guaranteed loans that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

  27. chuck roast

    So I’m guessing what happened with Elon was that he took the back-door cash from the national security state to do his Ukie/Starlink scheme. When his cyber security proved inadequate to the task, they told him “You fix it.” Unfortunately, Elon was laboring under the illusion that he was dealing with the SEC marsh mellows. Now his short arms will be required to dig way into his deep pockets at precisely the wrong time. A lesson from the boys who really run the show. And it was so much fun doing simple stock manipulation!

  28. The Rev Kev

    “A Coming-Out Party for Generative A.I., Silicon Valley’s New Craze”

    That’s kinda the point. It is all crazes. I mean once you had Silicon Valley bringing out useful stuff like the iPod but that was over twenty years ago. And the time where people could be waiting for the latest iPhone coming out or the latest computer operating system seems so long ago. Perhaps I am prejudiced but when was the last time that Silicon Valley came out with something that is as revolutionary as it is useful. And now? They chase after Crypto which is a scam or they go after the Metaverse which is another scam and now they are running after Generative AI. It all just seems a waste of all the talented people in Silicon Valley and all the billions. So maybe the potential space for new ideas to do with computer technology is closing out hence this drought of ideas. Or maybe, like Hollywood, the people that have good ideas never make it past corporate control.

    1. hunkerdown

      They chase after these things to avoid creating generalized use value without exchange value.

      “Potential space” for new ideas rental streams isn’t running out IMO, and neither is the notional space (to use Greer’s term) for computer technology in general. As long as higher math advances (and what is AI/ML but high-style curve fitting) there will be a need to efficiently compute it. The problem is most of the applications of computer technology that are of actual use value to just plain folks, diverge from capitalist ideals, and therefore will be built and operated on spare time and spare change or not at all. (I blame Ehmke and her neoliberal cultural march through the computer science field for salting the FOSS fields for capital.)

    2. SocalJimObjects

      That’s what happens when software has literally eaten the world. That’s what Marc Andreseen said after all “software is eating the world”. The VCs setup an ecosystem where people are incentivised to write software, any kind of software, and now we are looking at the consequences.

      I’ve said before in a different thread, that the Fed raising rates will at least flush some of these scams away.

  29. KD

    Student Loans:

    Federal student loans have a repayment option whereby you pay 10% of your gross income for 10 years, then the loan is forgiven. Now, if you do qualifying nonprofit or government work, it is totally wiped away, if not, you incur taxable income from forgiveness of debt. So, if you do a crap job at a nonprofit and you pay 10%, you may not even cover the interest, and it starts ballooning pretty quickly. Technically, you can get relief after 10 years, but there has been–actually reporting–on how the government foregiveness process is hyper-technical (creating a basis for rejecting applications for the equivalent of not signing in triplicate and in blue ink) and overwhelmingly rejects most applicants even though they actually qualify. Biden actually pledged to fix it, and maybe they have. . . (and good luck getting public servant on the phone to explain the byzantine process.)

    I have always thought that making your best-and-brightest into debt slaves was not a good long-term plan for social stability. Maybe some brilliant legal mind can figure out a way to make medical debt and student loan debt survive death so we can enslave any ancestors as well, it would really help on reviving the late Roman Republic vibe we’ve been working on so diligently.

    1. hunkerdown

      How else would you indenture your best and brightest to a social order that, on its own merits, ought to have been abolished entirely decades ago?

  30. Alice X


    Why is Amazon banning books from prominent authors they don’t like? We investigate.

    So I thought I would look for one book that might have been banned, it was, apparently for a week. This from 2020:

    Amazon has reinstated Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ after quietly banning the book last week

    I was going to include a link to Hitler’s 1932 election speech but youtube has removed it do to purported violations of hate speech. Actually the speech was quite measured, and would have been very informative to anyone at the time.

    1. Gregorio

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m of the understanding that the US/Russia sanctions make it impossible for any US company to legally remit a payment to anyone in Russia.

      1. Alice X

        Yes, that seems to be correct, but Tucker was also asking for a list of other banned books and that seems not to have been forthcoming. Also at issue is the implication of including literary works in the sanction net as that implies censorship, which is Tucker’s central point, I suppose.

      2. KD

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but there is a First Amendment to the US Constitution, which makes it impossible for the government to regulate speech except for narrowly defined exceptions, and that any lawful sanction regime issued by the US would have to conform to the First Amendment or be unconstitutional. Further, if they sold books of a Russian on a sanctions list, I don’t know that they would have to remit payment, they would have to escrow payment unless or until the financial rules change. This isn’t about royalties–if Dugin disavowed royalties, they still wouldn’t allow publication or distribution.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Because a private corporation is doing that of it’s own “free will”, the claim is made that the First Amendment does not apply. It is the same where Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. censor people on their platforms because they are a private corporation – and then it comes out that government officials have phoned these companies to make that happen.

          1. LifelongLib

            We’ve never defined just what those platforms are. When they want to censor people they’re publishers. When they don’t (or don’t want to be held responsible for content) they’re utilities.

  31. Michael Ismoe

    “…colonies can be expensive to maintain.”

    I know of one such instance when a colony in Eastern Europe cost an unnamed country almost $100 billion in less than 9 months.

    1. hk

      6th empire since 1700 being brought down by misguided wastes in Eastern Europe:. Sweden, France, Tsarist Russia, Germany, USSR, and now US/NATO?

      1. OIFVet

        You didn’t mention the EU bit I will. The EU was brought down by letting Eastern Europeans and Baltics wag its dog. A stupider would-be empire has never existed in the sordid history of Earth empires. It’s not like the US didn’t telegraph the plan way back in 2002-2003 by dividing Europe in Old vs. New. The US has used Poland and the Balts in particular to bring down and subjugate the EU, though by saying that I risk to seriously downplay the considerable contributions of people like Scholz, the German Greens, von der Layen, Macron, and the rest of the EU 🤡 show.

        Let me also mention the considerable contributions of the Bulgarian 🤡 show. The latest article by Bhadrakumar is making me particularly irritable, for it could have been Bulgaria instead of Turkey that would be an important energy hub, along with the autonomy and profits that such role provide. But in June 2014 a group of US senators, John McCain among them, ordered the end of South Stream while visiting the country. Not even the Secretary of State, but John frigging McCain. Humiliation doesn’t even begin to describe it. Now we have 🤡s that are even more servile due to the fact of their Harvard education.

        So yes, Europe deserves everything it gets. The US is the big winner in the short term. In the long term it will lose also, and lose big. The question is whether it will go down gracefully. I’m not an optimistic that it will.

        1. digi_owl

          As i understand it, UK was the member nation to push for fast tracking the new eastern applicants to full membership. The original plan was to place them in a half way scheme, similar to (most of) the remaining EFTA members.

        2. hk

          Good addendum. I knew EU and NATO probably should count separately, but I don’t have enough knowledge to explain.

        3. David

          It’s a coincidence of at least two things, really. One was the idea of a kind of Destiny for Europe (the word used was finalité which is in turn a French translation of the Greek telos, from which we get “teleological.”) This saw not only an ever-expanding Europe geographically, but, more important, European norms and values (as represented by the EU) taking over the whole continent, and bringing the savages into the light of day. Europe’s “destiny” was to be a single, harmonious, political and economic space, run according to rational principles, with no more tedious nationalism, culture, religion etc. This vision is the unthinking religion of an entire generation of European leaders and advisers. It was, of course, also appealing to those who wanted a larger Europe without internal borders as a source of cheap labour, as well as those who thought that Europe had some kind of a duty to integrate poorer nations on the fringes, to try to make them more stable. These are not three separate, groups, but rather three relative emphases in one rather incoherent Euro-ideology.

          The other was the machinations of the British, who encouraged such thinking partly for economic reasons (cheap labour etc) but mainly because they correctly realised that you couldn’t both deepen and widen Europe at the same time. By putting the emphasis on enlargement, some of the steam was taken out of the deepening initiatives. And having saddled the EU with a membership that’s actually far too big to be effective, the British then shoved off. No wonder they are loved.

          1. OIFVet

            Perhaps it started as a coincidence, I will in fact concede the point. But as Ukraine became an issue in 2013-2014, the US did seize upon “New Europe” as a tool to sabotage the EU. Let’s just remember how active Poland was in that time period in furthering the US agenda, and how reticent the Merkel-dominated EU. It got to the point where Sikorski was caught on tape lamenting how Poland was harming itself in the EU doing America’s bidding (which he described as Poland being on its knees and servicing the US Deep Throat-style, perhaps getting a pearl necklace for its trouble). The new facts on the ground do favor Poland and the Balts though, and by that I mean the departure of Merkel and the arrival of Scholz and the Greens in power. That has proven to be disastrous for the EU and Germany. And here’s Poland demanding reparations and possibly having a hand in sabotaging NS2. I submit that none of these things would happen unless it had firm assurances that the US has got its back.

            As it happens so often in life, an idea gets hijacked and used in a different then the intended way. The EU enlargement is one such idea, and it boggles the mind that Scholz is talking enlargement yet again even as the EU is this close to exploding due to social unrest this coming winter. He may be an American asset or he may be extremely clueless. Either way, I do wish him and the Greens go away and Mutti or a clone come back. Never thought I would be saying such a thing…

            1. The Rev Kev

              Just to show you how things are being done in Germany at least, here is an anecdote from Alexander Mercouris. I mentioned it before but since then he has been able to confirm this as being true. So people go to Robert Habeck and tell him that there is not enough gas for Germany going forward or that more and more major corporations are shutting down because of lack of energy. So right after hearing from these people, he immediately has the services investigate these people and maybe even have them removed on the grounds of repeating Putin talking points. This is literally true this.

              By the way, I would not feel to bad about Bulgaria. At least they did not sign up to buy nuclear-powered submarines for an unknown amount of money and having to wait a coupla decades before we even see the first one. It sounds like the punch line to a bad joke that.

          2. Soredemos

            I’m not saying you’re wrong, but this all seems to suggest an elaborate plan with a lot of intentionality. Can you point in the direction of real evidence for this narrative? Because to me a lot about the EU, and especially about the UK in regards to the EU, just seems like a series of often not terribly bright short-term decisions.

            No one is actually piloting this boat, or if they are, the captain is an idiot.

            1. David

              Don’t forget that “telos” means “objective” and even “destiny” in the Aristotelian sense, and from the beginning in the 1950s, the European objective has been soaked in quasi-religious vocabulary. There isn’t, and never has been, a detailed plan with stages, just a vision – closer now than thirty years ago – of the single European space, finally unified after centuries of war over religion and nationalism, run by enlightened technocrats headquartered in Brussels. This was never a single vision (the French and the Germans had somewhat different views) but there was a large measure of overlap, and a common vocabulary and way of thinking. The British never understood this, and had no vision of Europe themselves other than a giant market. This was why they were outmanoeuvred so often, because they knew what they were against, but could never put forward any constructive ideas of their own. As far as the Europeans were concerned, it was enough to be going in the right direction, even if it took several more generations to get there.

              The weakness of this teleological approach, of course, is that it requires a stable international environment. The mature form of the telos is very much a product of the end of the Cold War, and the belief that there were no further security problems in Europe. So it’s all about further developing and deepening European integration, while dispensing charity to less fortunate nations around the periphery and in the Global South. Needless to say, the wheels have come off this vision, and nobody in Brussels has the least idea of what to do.

              To be honest, there’s very little written about the European telos in English: allegedly pragmatic and highly experienced British diplomats used to dismiss it as “Euro-froth” in my hearing, for example, and never bothered to study its origins. Even those who dealt with European institutions directly tended to regard such ideas as an amusing affectation. No wonder they never achieved anything.

          3. Kouros

            While everyone was encouraged to forget the small prints. And when people read the small prints and voted against, they were told to repeat the vote or that their vote doesn’t matter.

  32. JAC

    Regarding COVID and the Microglia; hate to play the harp for no one, so if you are interested, this is all related to Z1nc and the uncoupling of Inductible Nitric Oxide Synthase in the Microglia.

    If you want to read about how this is important in the brain please read:


    I have a genetic deficiency in NOS1AP which lowers my NOS1 (nNOS) causing immune deficiency and mood issues which is why I know so much about this.

  33. chris

    Anyone in the Commentariat with news of Italy or France? I saw snippets of protests and there were a handful of articles about financial issues, but then nothing. I can believe that Germany could coast for a while with minimal unrest even in dire circumstances. But Italy? France? Anyone on here with news that isn’t reaching the US about what is going on in countries that financially and socially have been more precarious for a while now? Thanks.

  34. Tom Bradford

    I say, Jacob old boy. What the Deuce is going on?

    Jeeves actually asked if I could see a my way clear to upping his wages a smidge as he wasn’t managing very well any more. You could have knocked me down with a feather. I mean, I upped them a bit to mark the Millennium and had thought I might add a couple of quid more for the jolly Coronation as they don’t come around very often either, but it really was bad form for him to ask. Most unlike him. If he wasn’t so damn necessary, and good at it, I’d have sacked him on the spot.

    But it seems it costs five times his weekly just to fill the Rolls for a trip out to the races these days, and when he told me the price of a pint these days it positively floored me. For Heaven’s sake it cost less to fill the damn bath with the stuff at the old alma mater, as I recall. Tho’ he told me it was of no matter as there soon won’t be any pubs left to sell it anyway. Where that will leave the plebs after the factories turn out beggers me and it sounds like a recipe for mischief if they’ve nothing to do but I’m confident your people are taking the necessary ‘precautions’. Free tellies, perhaps?

    He says, too, there some sort of energy crisis brewing and we might be up for blackouts again. Told him I thought our dear departed Maggie T. had sorted out those uppity miners once and for all but do you know what he told me? That all the bally mines have been closed and we’ve been running on gas and oil from the North Sea, of all things. Gas from the North Sea! Who’d have thought it. But it seems it’s running out now and we’re having to top it up from the Arabs and Ruskies, only the Arabs are cutting back on what they’ll sell us and we won’t buy from the Ruskies even though they’d sell it to us.

    Makes no sense to me, old boy. I know things haven’t been the same in wog-world since the Yanks stabbed us in the back over that Suez business we don’t like to talk about but I did think we still had a few of our chaps in Aden to remind the Arabs what’s what. Jeeves says we haven’t, tho’. Jolly careless on someone’s part, I say. Not on your watch, I hope!

    But what’s our beef with the Ruskies? Some sort of dust-up in the Ukraine, Jeeves tells me tho’ he can’t tell me why we should have a horse in that particular race and he’s usually on top of that kind of thing. Arse-end of nowhere, isn’t it? Let them sort out these little local squabbles by themselves, say I. If we need gas and they want to sell it, what’s it to us whose aperture it comes out of?

    Also Jeeves tells me the gilts my father left me are hardly worth the paper they’re written on now. Apparently I should be worried but I’m sure you have it all in hand and the jolly lucre will start flowing again tout suite.

    And what’s this about you getting involved in some sort of scuffle in the lobbies? Not on, old chap. And it wasn’t even with the bally lefties, I hear, but with our own lot. I know that Johnson fellow was the most frightful oik but he weaseled through that Brexit thing you wanted him for and you quite properly ditched him asap after. Now just hit the flush, wash your hands of him and pretend the whole unpleasant business never happened. Ditto that Truss woman. Right ideas but not the right stuff. And a Chancellor called Kwasi? Never going to happen, old boy. Seems to me you need to get a grip. Plenty of the right sort of chap still around and open to offers, I’m sure.

    Anyway Jeeves tells me my bath is ready so I’ll pop along now. Don’t doubt all the above is just a hiccup and you’ll soon have things all squared up and ship-shape again, with everything in its place as God intended. I’m confident my investment in the seat your bum warms in the other place is still paying out and know you’re looking forward to joining us over here in due course. Toodle-pip.

    1. Robert Hahl

      Could the Nord-Stream pipes be salvaged and used to build the new TurkStream? That would be some world-class trolling right there.

      1. Carolinian

        The thrust of the article is that the Russians may abandon Nord stream and sell gas to the Europeans from the south–if they want it. Involving NATO member Turkey makes this much harder to block.

  35. fresno dan
    The firing of Maldonado is a first baby step into what must be done.

    More than 90 law enforcement officers and agents responded to the school shooting yet protocols were not followed. Law enforcement officers take part in drills to prepare for such events yet no one followed what they were taught to do. For more than 70 minutes law enforcement stood outside the school or in a school hallway and did nothing to save the children and teachers in that classroom. It’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that absolutely nothing was handled according to training. The people who were trained and responsible to serve and protect only served and protected themselves that day.
    When one considers all the video evidence, it sure seems this is taking longer than necessary. We’re talking about firing people, not convicting them (although I think many of the law enforcement should be prosecuted for derelection of duty).
    And of course, there is the Parkland shooting
    The MSD Commission disputes Peterson’s version. The commission maintains that Cruz was still on the first floor when Peterson arrived at the 1200 Building at 2:23 p.m. It asserts that there was “overwhelming evidence” that Peterson clearly knew the threat was coming from “within or within the immediate area of” the building. The report also declares that, in the era after the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, it is “well-known” among law enforcement that the response to an active shooter is “to move toward the sound of gunfire and engage the suspect(s).”

    Either way, investigators pointed out that Peterson had his last active-shooter training in April 2016 and “knew through his training that the appropriate response was to seek out the active shooter.” Instead “he remained in a mostly visible position,” the report notes, “which would be an extremely dangerous position if he truly believed there was a sniper.” And he stayed there for 48 minutes total, even after backup arrived and breached the building.
    Peterson’s explanation, they concluded, was bullshit.
    First, most of the time, I think most police do a satisfactory job, and many an outstanding job. I would be afraid to be a cop. But they are not drafted – they are all volunteers. And they are not all heroes, or even capable of doing a merely satisfactory job. As these incidents have shown, wearing a police uniform alone means nothing – it is what you do in that uniform that counts. And failing at this job should carry greater consequences this failing at being a barber…

  36. KD

    Taibbi has interesting discussion 0f Musk’s run in with the Deep State:

    Shares in Twitter fell as much as 16% in pre-market trading Friday after Bloomberg released a blockbuster story — sourced to anonymous “people familiar with the matter,” it is true — suggesting that “Officials in the U.S. government and intelligence community” are “weighing what tools, if any, are available” that would allow them to “review” the business ventures of Elon Musk. This would include SpaceX and especially Twitter. The story suggested officials are considering having the seldom-mentioned Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States review Musk operations for “national security risks.” The CFIUS has only been invoked on a few occasions, usually in tales involving acquisitions of American companies or subsidiary operations by Chinese-run firms.

    I wonder if this an attempt to bock the deal for domestic political reasons, or a shot across the bow that if acquire Twitter and you won’t play ball with us, we’ll break you.

  37. Karl

    RE: US and Europe is Like Thelma and Louise

    I personally think it’s a great analogy. If you watch that last scene in the video clip Larry Johnson provides, you can see Thelma and Louise having a final conversation.

    Here’s what I think that conversation is like between the U.S. and Europe right now:

    Europe: You want us to go over the cliff for Ukraine?
    Biden: Well, just keep revving the engines until our mid-terms are over.
    Europe: But Russia is raining missiles and drones on targets farther West over Ukraine’s energy system every day. Zelensky is chasing after us, screaming.
    Biden: To paraphrase Vic Nuland, screw Zelensky.
    Europe: Well, what happens after the mid-terms?
    Biden: That’s classified. But I can tell you this: it will be big. So hang tight and keep revving those engines.
    They kiss.
    Fade out.

    1. will rodgers horse

      Help me out here:
      why is it de rigueur to announce ones covid positive status as a leading official who trumpeted how these vaccines will make sure you are fully protected?
      I mean, cui bono?
      as a display of we are all in this together? Or is this the type of propaganda that some speak of , where it is most effective when it is least logical or accurate?

      1. Pat

        I think it is one of the prongs. Even if you do get it it won’t kill you. Your symptoms will be mild because you are vaccinated and boosted. It may be reported that so and so got it but no one dies of it. You will also never hear, at least not for a long time, that they’ve got long Covid.

        It is contradictory, but they really have managed to get the populace to believe that Covid is over, but if you get it, it is no big deal.

    2. ChrisRUEcon

      Never wears a mask. Never talks about masking. Obviously “washing her hands” frequently did not help here.

  38. Jason Boxman

    Finally, but just as significantly, third-party candidate Betsy Johnson, a Democrat-turned-independent, could complicate things further by siphoning off votes from her former party.

    An Emerson College Polling survey released earlier this month showed Drazan leading Kotek 36 percent to 34 percent, within the margin of error and effectively tying the two. Kotek’s campaign blamed Johnson for being a disruptor in the race and taking away crucial votes.

    Note the insidious framing. The liberal Democrat is owed votes by anyone that might consider a third party candidate. If the Democrat candidate for governor failed to make an effective case for why these voters should support the Democrat, that’s on that Democrat’s campaign. Not on voters. Nothing is being “siphoned”, which is here tantamount to stealing. It’s not.

    This is just vile.

    I guess next time they’ll try (harder?) to get the third party candidate knocked off the ballot, as was attempted with the Green Party in NC.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      I had to vote for a Libertarian in Arizona last week because the Dems had the Green Party removed from our ballots.

      1. LifelongLib

        Here in Hawaii there are often third-party candidates for President and U S. Senate/House. I suspect the Democrats tolerate this because they win anyway (Hawaii is pretty much a Dem state), and because among the third parties the Libertarians generally outpoll the others, “siphoning” votes from Republicans.

  39. Chas

    Does anyone actually know (or have a theory other than the “durrrr” reported in the MSM) what is going on with pediatric hospitalizations for respiratory illness? I’m as cynical as the next about the COVID sweep under the rug, but even then I have to believe someone hospitalized will have been tested for COVID, and positive tests would be reported, so these can’t just be unaccounted for COVID cases…

    I can think of a few possibilities, but I haven’t seen anything to convince me one is more probable than the others:

    1. There is an ongoing base level of child COVID hospitalizations such that when an otherwise normal surge in respiratory viruses rolls around with the cold weather, suddenly we are at bed capacity everywhere.

    2. Something about prior COVID infection(s) that makes one more vulnerable to other future respiratory illnesses, so we are now paying the Piper for “let it rip” in schools.

    3. Lack of exposure to a typical annual respiratory virus season (flu season was basically nonexistent) for the past 2 years has left a cohort of younger children’s’ immune systems collectively untrained and unprepared.

    4. Durrr is all there is?

    Anyone have any insight?

    1. ambrit

      No insight about the absent flu season and it’s consequences, but the tents in the parking lot suggests that Triage is in the offing.

    2. Shellbay

      My eldest son had an isolated asthma like attack a few months after having covid. Doctors (in the UK) told us many children were experiencing long term complications from covid.

      Baby son got chicken pox for a second time after covid. Apparently also common. Chicken pox admissions to hospital have increased.

    3. Basil Pesto

      2. Something about prior COVID infection(s) that makes one more vulnerable to other future respiratory illnesses, so we are now paying the Piper for “let it rip” in schools.

      This is, I believe, the drum that Anthony Leonardi (who you may have seen cited approvingly here) has been banging for 2.5 years now, essentially. Damage to immune system that many will sustain following covid infection will make children and adults alike susceptible to more illness going forward. Depletion of naïve T-cell subsets after infection, which occurs in some infectees, should theoretically also see an increase in cancer going forward, if that hypothesis holds.

      He recently approvingly retweeted this tweet (from a mostly otherwise execrable account) which points to this idea of immune system damage caused by Covid infection leading to ongoing consequences getting some mainstream attention in the Washington Post, possibly for the first time.

  40. Wukchumni

    Holding a not quite dead yet séance for My Kevin’s (since ’07) hopes of being the head honcho, the big cheese, kahuna of all kahunas, etc.

    He rode in on the teetotaliatarian’s coattails, which are fraying at the seams. He’ll still be a Bakersfield hand, so there’s that.

  41. Wukchumni

    ‘Dr. Doom’ Roubini predicts NYC will be destroyed by nukes, storms in next 20 years (NY Post)
    Count Formaldehyde is in fine form these days, kinda reminds you of him in his prime back in the aughts.

    1. SocalJimObjects

      I think that moniker of his should be retired permanently. NYC gets hit by a nuke and he’s still expecting to survive somewhere? Like seriously?

        1. Wukchumni

          It’s just your dive talkin’
          You’re telling me doomy lines, yeah
          Dive talkin’
          Your accent a disguise
          Dive talkin’
          So misunderstood, yeah
          Dive talkin’
          Your record since 08′ not so good

          Oh, Dr. Doom
          You’ll never know
          Just what you mean to me
          Oh, Dr. Doom
          You got so much bad ju ju karma
          You’re gonna take away my energy

          With all your dive talkin’
          You’re telling me doomy lines, yeah
          Good apocalyptic lovin’
          The boy that cried wolf in my eyes
          Nobody believes what you say
          It’s just your dive talkin’
          That gets in the way

  42. The Rev Kev

    Here is an unusual story-

    ‘The US government is outraged that the French cement giant, Lafarge, has admitted to wheeling and dealing with terrorists in a war zone, paying $6 million to Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra jihadists in Syria. Nothing that a fine of nearly $800 million leveled against it by Washington can’t fix, apparently. But why is the US never held accountable for similar schemes?

    Lafarge’s factory between Aleppo and the Turkish border had just opened in the year prior to the conflict in Syria popping off in 2011 – yet another Western proxy war in an energy-strategic state. Western-backed “Syrian rebels” ultimately failed to oust President Bashar Assad, all while jihadist groups flooded the zone to exploit the chaos. So how does a company keep operating in an active war zone? By paying off jihadist groups on the battlefield where it’s trying to run a business, apparently. Lafarge, which merged with the Swiss multinational Holcim Group in 2015, just pleaded guilty in the US earlier this week to what’s characterized as a sort of employee and executive protection scheme, agreeing to pay a fine of $777.8 million to the US Treasury, marking the first time a company has been convicted in the US of backing terrorists.’

    The unusual bit? This very same cement plant that they are talking about was used by US special ops teams as well as French special ops. It was their base in this part of Syria while they supported, errrr, fought jihadists. So much for gratitude. And in a final twist, I found a long time ago that Hillary use to have shares in the company that owned this very same cement plant. How about that.

  43. Michael Stover

    You lost me there, Lambert

    Does Krugman understand what the word “democracy” means?

    Or is this a veiled threat that democracy will be somehow be taken away if the majority votes for a position contrary than what he deems to be in the best interest of the same voters (cancel democracy for their own good).

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