Links 7/19/2023

In an Ecuadorian Cloud Forest, Two Mycologists Catalogue Hundreds of Fantastical Fungi Colossal

Are Florida’s Invasive Pythons Adapting to Survive Colder Temperatures? Field & Stream

A Dozen Contrarian Thoughts About Inflation Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture

Blackstone’s march to $1tn marred by trouble at flagship property fund FT


Here are all the positive environmental stories from 2023 so far EuroNews

As Skies Turn Orange, Media Still Hesitate to Mention What’s Changing Climate FAIR

‘Galleries Were Selling Paintings in the Dark’: Flooding Imperiled $400 Million in Art at a Hamptons Fair and Shut the Event Down Early Artnet. “The Hamptons are not a defensible position.” –Mark Blythe

Ground Rules JSTOR Daily. The soil.


Drought leaves millions in Uruguay without tap water fit for drinking Guardian


Top Scientists Misled Congress About Covid Origins, Newly Released Emails And Messages Show Matt Taibbi, Leighton Woodhouse, Alex Gutentag, and Michael Shellenberger, Public. Intriguing for two reasons beyond the origins story itself: first, The regular references to “higher-ups.” Who, exactly? Second, the less frequent but still regular references to “intel.” Which agencies, which agents, and why? It casts a whole new light on the origins story if the spooks were involved in it from the very beginning, certainly not impossible given this documentation.

“So Friggin’ Likely”: New Covid Documents Reveal Unparalleled Media Deception Matt Taibbi, Leighton Woodhouse, Alex Gutentag, and Michael Shellenberger, Racket News

“In Their Labs”: Fifteen Illuminating Passages in The Proximal Origin Chats and Emails Matt Taibbi, Racket News. “You can read the backstory involving these documents in the two pieces linked above. The key characters are Proximal Origin co-authors Dr. Kristian Andersen, Dr. Robert Garry, Dr. Andrew Rambaut, Dr. Edward Holmes, and Dr. Ian Lipkin.” But, as we see above, there are “key characters” whose names we don’t even know. Yet.

Addressing Viral Medical Rumors and False or Misleading Information Hussain S. Lalani, MD, MPH, MSc, Renée DiResta, BS, Richard J. Baron, MD, and David Scales, MD, PhD, Annals of Internal Medicine. From the Abstract: “The rapid spread of medical rumors and false or misleading information on social media during times of uncertainty is a vexing challenge that threatens public health. Understanding the information ecosystem, social media networks, and the scope of incentives that drive users and social media platforms can provide critical insights for strong coordination between stakeholders and funders to address this challenge.” As if the “stakeholders” and “funders” were not themselves responsible for the worst “false or misleading information” (that Covid is airborne, masks work, and the vaccines are not sterilizing are all truths the public health establishment vociferously denies to this very day). Note that “Renée DiResta, BS” MR SUBLIMINAL No kidding is the Research Director of the Stanford Internet Observatory, one moving part of the Censorship Industrial Complex. Do these credentialed buffoons think we are little children?

Biden administration suspends funds to Wuhan lab over failure to provide COVID-related info FOX. Only now?

* * *

US flying blind amid warnings of new COVID-19 surge WSWS. Rule #2:

In one of the sharpest warnings against the flippant outlook epitomized by Leonhardt, last month biologist Arijit Chakravarty told the World Socialist Web Site, “Not only is the pandemic very much not over, but by creating the impression that the pandemic is over in the face of rampant viral spread and continuing rapid viral evolution, we are essentially sticking our chin out and asking the virus to do its worst.”

Chakravarty, whose research team has continuously been proven correct in its pandemic projections, stated emphatically:

I can’t predict the outcome of the next wave. I can’t predict the outcome of the next five waves. But, at the rate that we are going, a prediction can be made with a high degree of certainty that something bad will happen sooner than later along these lines. Keep this pandemic running for another five years, and you’ll face a debacle on a scale that you haven’t yet seen. That’s a given.

(WSWS interviews with Chakravarty starting here.)

Post Pandemic Strategies Are Inadequate To Assure Public Safety Infection Control Today. You can tell that “Post” is inorganic, since it should be “Post-Pandemic” (with hyphen). Pretty sane article, especially considering it’s from IC.

* * *

Study shows dogs can detect COVID-19 faster, better than most PCR tests Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. As I’ve been saying for some years. I think I know what’s wrong: the business model. We need to get Musk to install chips in the sniffer dogs’ heads, chips loaded with software — Hmm, AI? — somebody can charge a monthly fee for. Covid Detection As A Service, brought to you by CyborgDogs™.

* * *

Omicron subvariant BA.5 efficiently infects lung cells Nature. Animal study. From the Results: “The present study and recent reports show augmented lung infection and possibly pathogenicity of BA.5 relative to previously circulating Omicron subvariants, indicating that SARS-CoV-2 evolution might, at least in the short term, not result in attenuation.” Attenuated = milder. Oh well.


China’s Missing Post-Pandemic Rebound Matthew C. Klein, The Overshoot. The deck: “The end of ‘Covid Zero’ was supposed [by whom?] to lead to a burst of ‘revenge spending’, at least after the virus had finished ripping through the population. Instead, the economy has continued to sputter.” “Flippant” is a good word, especially when “after the virus had finished ripping through the population” = “after Covid whacked a million or so Chinese because of an official policy decision” (the same one made by the Biden Administration, only later, I might add).

* * *

US envoy Kerry says China climate talks constructive but complicated Channel News Asia

Xi Jinping underlines China is on its own carbon reduction path during US climate envoy John Kerry’s Beijing visit South China Morning Post

* * *

The fatal contradictions of China-bashing Richard D. Wolff Asia Times


Over 100 Myanmar Junta Forces Killed in Four Days of Resistance Attacks The Irrawaddy

A Deadly Silence Sky News


No Country for Religious Converts The Wire

Medical processes hide the true number of Indians dying from extreme heat Third Pole

Tomatoes: The Modi Government Has Made a PR Stunt Out of a Real Issue The Wire


How Dubai became ‘the new Geneva’ for Russian oil trade FT

European Disunion

US economist Fiona Scott Morton gives up top EU job bid after controversy South China Morning Post. The last thing anybody needs is American anti-trust metastasizing overseas (with the exception of Lina Khan and allies).

New Not-So-Cold War

Russia targets Ukraine’s port of Odesa and calls it payback for a strike on a key bridge to Crimea AP

Kerch Bridge Déjà Vu – Breakdown Simplicius the Thinker(s)

Crimean Bridge bombing: first thoughts Gilbert Doctorow. Is there a UK slang equivalent for “FAFO”?

Slow pace of Ukraine’s counteroffensive prompts military strategy questions PBS

* * *

Azov Brigade commander meets with personnel, announces his return to service Ukrinform. Clarifying!

* * *

Moscow gives UN Secretariat 90 days to normalize Russian agricultural exports Anadolu Agency

Insurers reviewing Black Sea ship cover after Russia suspension – sources Hellenic Shipping News

* * *

After the Ukraine invasion, Russia had secret allies helping out with millions of dollars in aid—American oilfield services companies Fortune

South of the Border

Pemex denies claim that government is hiding huge oil spill Mexico News Daily

Biden Administration

New US antitrust guidance puts private equity and tech deals in focus FT

Meet the Press – July 16, 2023 NBC. Jake Sullivan:

House to vote on pro-Israel resolution amid uproar over Jayapal comments The Hill


The post-Dobbs adoption thud Politico

Digital Watch

Big Tech took your data to train AI. We’re suing them for it FOX First theft. Then fraud. Then cashing out. It’s the circle of life!

AI Traffic Surveillance Can Link Your Driving Patterns to Criminal Behavior The Drive. More precisely, “can be said to link.” After all, AI is a black box, so how do we really know? Say, during a traffic stop?

You Can Help Stop These Bad Internet Bills EFF

The Bezzle

Crypto’s new favourite bank is reluctant to accept the title Bloomberg

Our Famously Free Press

It’s Not The Really Blatant Propaganda That Gets You Caitlin’s Newsletter. Close reading!


CalPERS health premium rates are going up for 2024. Here’s how much more they’ll cost Sacramento Bee. “The vote was split 6-5.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

36. Good Talk #7: David Neiwert (interview) The Truth Does Not Change According to Our Ability to Stomach It

European fascists drew a lot of their ideas from the United States, from America, certainly, you know, I mean, Hitler’s whole idea for Lebensraum was based on the Native American genocide. The Nuremberg Laws were based on Jim Crow laws. The Brown Shirts: the inspiration for them was the Klan. So, you know, these are threads that run through course of our history and our culture. But we’ve never had them coalesce into an actual political force previously, mainly because the proto-fascist elements in America really lacked that one thing that all successful fascist movements have: that’s the charismatic leader. Because they’re so profoundly authoritarian that what they all need to have. Boy, when I saw Trump come along, I got worried.

Neiwert is old school blog-adjacent and has been around as long as I have, maybe longer. I respect his work. But I’m not sure he’s right here; see Robert O. Paxton here (and here) on fascism’s “rooting” (like a tree, not like a pig MR SUBLIMINAL Oh, wait…). My criticism of Neiwert, then but more pointedly now, is that he seems to believe that liberal Democrats are not themselves “profoundly authoritarian,” and moreover that liberal Democrats are not themselves adopting techniques of social control that any objective observer — say, a stabile from the Ekumen — would also regard as fascist. When you have the press, the Democrat Party, and the spooks merged together into the gelatinous mass of the Censorship Industrial Complex, what is that but “obsessive preoccupation with community decline,” a “compensatory cult of unity,” and “cleansing”? (Note I’m not saying that either party, or even both parties together, are “fascist” per se; what I am saying is that both parties are treating fascism rather like a smorgasbord: “Take what you like, and leave the rest.” I mean, what was RussiaGate and the subsequent orgy of Democrat lawfare but a Schmittian “state of exception”? I don’t think, of course, that makes our current plight less dangerous; more, if anything.)

Class Warfare

UPS pilots won’t fly if Teamsters strike Freight Waves

‘UPS dug their heels in’: Teamsters UPS strike plans emerge, could affect 30 percent of parcels The Hill

Inside the slaughterhouse: child labour in the US Counterfire

The Tantalizing, Lonely Search for Alien Life The New Republic

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. griffen

    Flooding at the art fair. Wellie, that’s just a damn shame innit. Asking for a friend, were there perhaps any original pieces of work from an H.R. Biden, a well-regarded artist just emerging into his life’s pursuit? ( sarc yes )

    Not to be confused with an actual artist, one H.R. Giger. Nerds and science fiction fans celebrate the Swiss artist and his works of design on the Alien films.

      1. Etrigan

        Speaking of images in the dark, I believe today’s animal photo is a composite image – the top whale is a photo by Phil Colla and the bottom baby either is a copy/paste/scale or computer generated.

    1. ambrit

      I love how the authors either accept uncritically the “worth” of the “art” for sale, or pull it, full blown like Minerva from the brow of Jove, out of their ‘fundamentals.’
      We have had experiences with the low end “art” trade and can attest that, first, there is no accounting for taste, (“accounting” in all of it’s meanings,) and second, that prices for “art” are like the stock market, in that said prices have little to no connection to “objective reality.” For example, the famous case is that of Van Gogh. Supposedly, he never sold a painting during his lifetime.
      The “art” market, from personal experience, is comprised of one part talent and nine parts hucksterism.
      I recommend Tom Wolfe’s 1975 book “The Painted Word” as a palate cleanser for the serious art observer.
      See also the incomparable comic and actor Louis Nye’s send up of mid-century “artists” in the original version of the 1963 film “The Wheeler Dealers.”
      Watch this clip to the end to see the “Art World” in all of it’s glory..
      See! You will see!:

      1. The Rev Kev

        I also can recommend Tom Wolfe’s 1975 book “The Painted Word”. The art world has ethics that would put a Wall Street banker to shame.

        1. ambrit

          Or, as our Francophone friends say, “Le Loup Guru.”
          An idea for a film; “The Wolf of ‘K’ Street.”
          So many possibilities…..

      2. B24S

        Thank you, Ambrit. Strangely, I’ve never heard of it. It is now on our list.

        “Clement Greenberg” was considered a curse word in my house, if you will.

        My father was a figurative expressionist who refused to play the game, and was relegated for that. He taught at the School of Visual Art for 25 years, and at one point moved from the Fine Art dept. to the Commercial Art dept., as they weren’t full of themselves. He was considered an “artists’ artist”. Greenberg dismissed him as a “slatherer”.

        There was a posthumous show in 2010, along with hardcover catalogue, titled “Glorious Sky”. Here is a somewhat dated website of his work:

        Though it’s a bit clunky, there are also a few audio clips, recorded shortly before his passing. This is my favorite:

        That painting was a major early piece. The Art Institue of Chicago deaccessioned it over a decade ago, and sold it for peanuts, not even the cost of the paint or frame. I presume it was a “favor” to someone. I don’t have very nice things to say about the art world/market.

        It all left him bit bitter. We have numerous images he he made depicting “The Critic” as the whore of Babylon that didn’t make it into the Epilogue/Cartoon page, though I thought we’d removed the one he made of him playing with his easter bunny…

        1. ambrit

          Your Dad definitively mastered gesture. His colour palette is good too. The Museum “deaccessioned” one of his better works for ‘peanuts?’ Sounds like, as you alluded, “the fix was in.”

    1. chris

      Interesting to read that after previous days articles about repressing office buildings as living spaces. If that analysis is correct, the same features that make the sub Class A buildings poor commercial real estate also make them bad for apartments too.

      I really do hate to think about NYC having the same kind of problem as Detroit and needing to destroy so much of the built environment because no one needs it and the city can’t maintain the rest of the infrastructure without shrinking.

      1. Jabura Basaidai

        i’m a Detroit boy who remembers the Vernors plant and walking Woodward from Jefferson to Grand Blvd when there were still burlesque theaters downtown and novelty and magic shops along the way – and the old theaters downtown were majestic places my father took me – my roots go back three generations – recently driving north on Second it was dismaying to see the street turn into a gravel road north of Boston Blvd somewhere – it is sad –

        1. Urban spelunker

          > recently driving north on Second it was dismaying to see the street
          > turn into a gravel road north of Boston Blvd somewhere

          Decaying cities hold a tragic, if morbid, fascination for me. Your comment prompted me to go to Google Street View for a look. This development must have occurred very recently indeed, as the pictures on Google are from July 2022 and show 2nd Ave to be a normally paved city street all the way north to where it ends, at Palmer Park. However, I must say that along the route there are a few abandoned buildings that do look like they might be worth a visit.

    2. Mikel

      They’re re-imagining office space all kinds of ways…except providing more actual offices in the spaces.

  2. flora

    AI detectors are unreliable? Give false positives? / ;)

    Why AI detectors think the US Constitution was written by AI

    There’s also an unintentional language bias in the AI detector models.

    AI Detectors Discriminate Against Non-Native English Speakers

    1. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for that “Why AI detectors think the US Constitution was written by AI” link as it was unintentionally hilarious. I wonder what would happen if they end up programming an AI to weed out all the AI generated text that is on the internet? Good thing that there are hard copies of the US Constitution as well as the Bible.

  3. vao

    Just a comprehension question:

    You can tell that “Post” is inorganic, since it should be “Post-Pandemic” (with hyphen).

    What does it mean that a word is “inorganic”?

    1. Skip1ntro

      I took it to mean applied after writing by a political officer, as opposed to a writer or editor, who would have properly hyphenated that adjective. It is possible however that they meant WaPo by ‘Post’ and were decrying the Post’s inadequate pandemic measures.

    2. SkipIntro

      I took it to mean applied after writing by a political officer, as opposed to a writer or editor, who would have properly hyphenated that adjective. It is possible however that they meant WaPo by ‘Post’ and were decrying the Post’s inadequate pandemic measures.

  4. NotTimothyGeithner

    Kissinger made a “surprise” visit to China “not on behalf of US government.” The Centrists in the White House who cooked this up are the dullest people on Earth.

    1. Benny Profane

      My first thought was, wow, a 100 year old man stuck in a chair flies all the way to China?

  5. The Rev Kev

    Working link for “Russia targets Ukraine’s port of Odesa and calls it payback for a strike on a key bridge to Crimea” article at-

    I don’t think that that is true at all. Once the deal ended, those ports were always going to be bombed as they are bases for attacks on the Russian Navy as well as Crimea. The real payback for that bridge attack has yet to come. Better grab some popcorn. For the Ukrainians, that bridge has become an obsession for them in much the same way that the Twin Towers were for Al Queda. There were far superior targets that they could have chosen – the NSA headquarters building for example – but they went all in on symbol targets. Same with the Zelensky regime. And this feeds into their obsession with Crimea and them wanting to purge that place of anything Russian – including the people.

    1. timbers

      Ukraine did hit one big military target Military Summary calls the largest ammo depot in Crimea. Four towns evacuated. Probably curtesy of UK/US reconnaissance flights.

      Everyone is afraid to involve NATO which is out of ammo, does not have an effective military or military strategy with which to threaten Russia, and are cowards. The emperor is naked.

      Maybe If she is able, Russia should consider declaring the Black Sea a no-fly zone for the US/UK and NATO, based on the US/UK clear history of sponsoring terror attacks on Crimea.

    2. Lex

      The most fascinating part about this conflict for me is that westerners are (on the whole) completely incapable of conceptualizing any of this except in their own narrative terms. It’s true for western supporters of Russia in many cases too, those that demand Russia do some big retaliation that’s either announced beforehand or declared to be retaliation publicly, after the fact. The US would make some monstrous show of retaliation, therefore Russia must also. The US would aim to take Kiev in 3 days and overthrow Zelensky, therefore it must have been Russia’s plan. The US would run out of missiles and fuel in under a month, therefore Russia will run out of missiles and fuel in under a month.

  6. Carla

    @Lambert, re: Neiwert — I cannot thank you enough for your comments on this. It is so frustrating to hear people I dearly love (friends and family) repeatedly call Trump and the Republicans fascist while blithely ignoring the fact that as you, Lambert, so perfectly put it — both parties are dining at the same Smorgasbord. These are not dumb people — they’re people I truly love, respect and look up to for their humanity and good judgement. Yet on this one matter, they’re blind and deaf. It’s heartbreaking, actually.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      And similarly heartbreaking re: Covid and Ukraine.

      I agree with Lambert’s analysis as well, but I’m not too unhappy as long as the Rs seem to be engaged in a cage death match with the Ds, the liberal media and the Blob. May they destroy each other with minimal fallout inflicted on the rest of us. With our institutions, that’s about the best we can hope for while getting ready to compete for hearts and minds afterward.

      1. hunkerdown

        We can hold their coats for them every time they ask us, and let them all go the way of William Henry Harrison.

    2. Boomheist

      Last night I stumbled on a long discussion with Peter Turchin, author of the book “End Times”, about the common parameters that appear to have influenced every complex civilization we have ever seen on the earth – and within this fascinating and long piece are some serious discussions that provide a wonderful context that may help explain why we have the structures and issues we have right now – a dual-party elite now busy beginning to consume itself, with fascist threads emerging everywhere….. if you have the time grab a cup of coffee and listen:

    3. Mark Gisleson

      Had to stop following Neiwert quite a while ago. He simply could not process Russiagate properly and it made him unreadable for me. I had been a huge fan, even mashed up one of his speeches with some music once for him which liked.

      I also met and used to be a fan of Marcy (emptywheel) Wheeler. Ex-fan of Talking Points Memo, all newspaper bloggers, Charlie Pierce at Esquire, and just about every comedy show on air.

      I’m going to stop thinking about this now or my list will just get longer and longer. As a sell-out working in the party, after every cycle you would drink a lot and then you would find yourself working with some of the people who’d been on the other side. You got over it.

      No one gets over anything anymore. Not when the swells never have to admit error, or change any of their wrong-headed agenda. I could forgive all of these people if they simply admitted that the DNC is corrupt and needs to be cleaned out from top to bottom. Absent that they’re dead to me.

    4. GramSci

      Courage, comrades! Just yesterday I received an email from my youngest sister.

      Linking a recent Chris Hedges piece, and conceding, “it looks like you’ve been right all along, GramSci.”

      I did not send her the link, but I have been attentive to Lambert’s lessons on horticulture, planting doubt and nurturing its fragile seedlings.

    5. Bruno

      That the Northite (WSWS) pseudo-Trotskyists always call Trump et. al. “fascists” while never using the same contumacy towards liberals is scarcely heartbreaking–merely, though predictably, typical and farcical.

    6. John D.

      It was the Democrats who brought McCarthyism back. Not the religious nuts, not the radical right, not even the Republican Party. It was the Democrats, our self-appointed, self-described “moderates.” Not the more fascistic elements of the American right. Liberals and feminists did this. You know, “centrists.”

  7. griffen

    Blue whale antidote. Gives new meaning to the phrase, “Big Mama”!! Interesting, one clicks through the antidote to find there is a Blue Whale exhibition playing in NYC at the museum of natural history. Includes narration by Andy Serkis.

  8. cnchal

    > ‘UPS dug their heels in’: . .

    “We have taken a strong position with the White House that — you know, in my neighborhood where I grew up in Boston, if two people were having a disagreement and you had nothing to do with it, you just kept walking. We echoed that to the White House on numerous occasions,” O’Brien said on a call with his union on Sunday.

    [Teamsters, UPS battle may be just a warmup for future Amazon fight, experts say]

    Despite the request, the White House has been in touch with both sides, according to spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre.

    The White House also got involved in negotiations between railroad workers and bosses last year, effectively ending their bargaining process at Christmas.

    Horrors! Whip cracking sadists are inconvenienced returning the crapola bought. The White House better get cracking and fix that.

    1. Lou Anton

      Thanks for the Freight Waves article, Lambert. Good “just the facts” kind of stuff in there. Shows that no one can really absorb UPS’ shipping volume.

      People are going to get angry when they can’t have their free, fast shipping anymore. IDK who they’ll blame.

      1. Carla

        I bet the Republican ones will blame Biden, and the Democrat ones will blame those fascist Republicans.

    2. Darthbobber

      One wonders if they are digging their heels in due to quiet assurances of a favorable intervention by the administration. ‘twould be irresponsible not to speculate.

    3. notabanker

      It is going to be interesting. Barring a last minute settlement, Biden is going to have to step in and force them back to work or the whole economy is going to crash a year before re-election. For sure Mr Market will have a major tantrum. Of course when he does that, the Unions might finally realize he’s not their guy.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        we had one UPS driver…Janet…for about 20 years.
        since she retired its been 2 guys, much younger.
        these people know us and are known to us…stop in their dead run to have a spot of iced tea….shoot the bull for a minute.
        those box trucks have no ac…and i’m told the heater is fer $hit, too.
        ive been advocating a strike action to them for a long time.
        Janet didn’t seem to know what that even meant(so comprehensive has been the Mindf&ck)…but her 2 replacements do.
        one’s a Libertarian, but even he sees the utility.
        the local Fedex guy’s truck does have ac and heat…but he’s getting pretty old, and is just one man…no way he can cover for UPS being unavailable.
        and dont get me started about the local PO,lol.
        —i like all the gals that work there(known them all for 30 years–they call my cell when chicks arrive), but they’ve been underfunded and understaffed and encumbered by rules that make no sense in a place like this…reckon they should prolly strike, too…and at the same time as UPS…to make the Hurt all that much more acute.
        ideally, somewhere nearer to election season proper.

  9. Tim Tuna

    Hitler’s Brownshirts were patterned after Benito Mussolini’s blackshirts, not the KKK.

  10. KD

    But we’ve never had them coalesce into an actual political force previously, mainly because the proto-fascist elements in America really lacked that one thing that all successful fascist movements have: that’s the charismatic leader.

    Was America different? Well, America did end up with President-for-Life FDR. What FDR do? I suppose he put into place capitalist reforms, but left the capitalist system intact, and even stronger as a result of those reforms. Is that very different from Fascist Italy or Nazi Germany, at least before the war? No liquidations of the capitalist class, just higher marginal income taxes, and good luck getting a broadcast license if you didn’t toady up to the Administration. Yes, FDR opposed Hitler and the Germans, but out of the kindness of his heart, or because he saw a conflict between American interests and German interests? Remember, America’s expansion and conquest period was 19th century.

    Was FDR a fascist, maybe not (ask a Japanese-American descendent of the internment), but he was effectively a dictator, just with a slightly different orientation from Hitler and Stalin and Mussolini. He was certainly far more powerful than Donald Trump ever was, or ever will be (in my estimation). [If having a D after your name absolves you a priori of charges of fascism, the lesson may be you need a charismatic authoritarian dictator with a D next to their name in order to fight fascism.]

    1. Darthbobber

      The idea that having your opponents fail to defeat you in several successive elections is pretty much the same thing as getting rid of the whole election thing and jailing and killing your opponents by the thousands is fairly novel.

      1. Bruno

        But how was the “lone nut” removal of Long, the one candidate who would beat FDR in 1936, staged?

          1. Bruno

            The obvious does not need to be formally “proven.” There is no “proof,” nor will there ever be, of *how* the Kirov assassination was staged.

            1. Darthbobber

              But it is by no means obvious. And that Long was “the one candidate who WOULD beat FDR” is even less so.

        1. ambrit

          I have mentioned before that I worked at a lay up farm for race horses once, near the town of Abita Springs, Louisiana. Across the gravel road was a ten or twenty acre property, completely overgrown, with a house right in the middle. One of Huey Long’s bodyguards from the time of the assassination, he was there when it happened, lived in the house. He never spoke to anyone, actively discouraged casual conversation, and was always armed. He collected his mail from the mailbox carrying a rifle, I saw this myself one day. I never saw him leave the place during the day. As the saying went; he only came out at night.
          Many of the locals firmly believed that the killing of Huey Long was an inside job.

          1. Darthbobber

            There. we’re a number of theories, none involving the Roosevelt administration. The most plausible being that the “shooter” only punched Long, and that he was actually killed by ricochets from the ridiculous number of bullets fired by his bodyguards.

      2. KD

        Presidential Proclamation 2537 (codified at 7 Fed. Reg. 329) was issued on January 14, 1942, requiring “alien enemies” to obtain a certificate of identification and carry it “at all times”.[56] Enemy aliens were not allowed to enter restricted areas.[56] Violators of these regulations were subject to “arrest, detention and incarceration for the duration of the war.”[56]

        On February 13, the Pacific Coast Congressional subcommittee on aliens and sabotage recommended to the President immediate evacuation of “all persons of Japanese lineage and all others, aliens and citizens alike” who were thought to be dangerous from “strategic areas,” further specifying that these included the entire “strategic area” of California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. On February 16 the President tasked Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson with replying. A conference on February 17 of Secretary Stimson with assistant secretary John J. McCloy, Provost Marshal General Allen W. Gullion, Deputy chief of Army Ground Forces Mark W. Clark, and Colonel Bendetsen decided that General DeWitt should be directed to commence evacuations “to the extent he deemed necessary” to protect vital installations.[57] Throughout the war, interned Japanese Americans protested against their treatment and insisted that they be recognized as loyal Americans. Many sought to demonstrate their patriotism by trying to enlist in the armed forces. Although early in the war Japanese Americans were barred from military service, by 1943 the army had begun actively recruiting Nisei to join new all-Japanese American units.

        The above all by executive order, not at least Fash-adjacent?

        There is also the National Industrial Recovery Act, which is now remembered as “Progressive New Deal Legislation” overturned by the big bad reactionary right wing Supreme Court. An astute reader might however detect some parallels to a certain Labor Charter of 1927 that made the rounds in Italy.

        And all the evil fascist things, like forced sterilization on eugenic grounds, immigration restrictionism, Jim Crow, etc., while preceding FDR, he did squat to get rid of, despite being President for life. Last thing he wanted was to alienate good ole White Supremacists like Sam Rayburn in Congress so essential to his coalition.

        1. JBird4049

          Nobody, but nobody, is saying that concentration camps like Manzanar were a good thing or that FDR did not do some questionable things, but if you want to see who some people who really were more closely adjacent to fascism, may I suggest reading about the Business Plot?

          Also, someone like Augusto Pinochet’s regime in Chile, the El Salvadoran, Nicaraguan, and Honduran civil wars a few years later, or the Jakarta Method of a decade earlier for more brutal explicitly, fascist, oligarchic, or authoritarian regimes that puts any American government ever with the exceptions of the Antebellum and post Reconstruction South and even then Jakarta was worse for a while.

    2. digi_owl

      USA also didn’t have a external humiliation for the nationalists to rally around.

      Germany had the whole surrender to cope with (as seen when Hitler made sure that France surrendered during WW2 in the very same rail car as Germany in WW1), and Italy got short changed in its deal with UK and France (apparently thanks to US meddling).

      Fascism basically runs on shame and honor. A potent but volatile cocktail that has both made and broken nations in the bast.

      1. pjay

        – “USA also didn’t have a external humiliation for the nationalists to rally around.”

        Well, we’re working on that one as fast as we can.

      2. Darthbobber

        But for all those factors, the pre-depression Nazi vote peaked at 6.5% in the first 1924 Reichstag election, dropped back to 3% in the election later that year, and remained at 3% in 1928.

        Not until the depression (even worse in Germany than in most western countries), and Bruning’s lunatic austerity policies in the face of it, did their support rise to 17%+ in 1930. (in which election the vote total of the communists, who also intended to end the Weimar system, also rose dramatically).

        So the depression and the failed response to it were certainly the detonator.

      3. Henry Moon Pie

        “USA also didn’t have a external humiliation for the nationalists to rally around.”

        The feelings I encountered in the South when I lived there come the closest. I found the Civil War, or the War of Northern Aggression as one of my kids’ teachers called it, to be much more present in people’s minds than that conflict is in the North.

        1. anahuna

          That would fit with digi-owl’s observation that “Fascism runs on shame and honor,” wouldn’t it.

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          i ran across the Lost Cause sentiment/grudge quite a bit in my time rambling through Dixie(my Wild Years, 5 or six years livin in a van)
          mostly within the middle eschelon of the Boss class(like the Landed Gentry thing Lambert linked to some time ago…car dealership owners, etc)
          members of the lower orders who held such grudges were limited to the inbred white trash set…with all their crosseyed superiority.

          as far as “external humiliation” as a needed ingredient in actual fascism…i dont see that coming. even though, objectively, the USA being revealed as a paper tiger in Ukraine…and afghanistan and iraq and so on…seems to be happening soon…it is not the same animal as the Treaty of Versailles.
          for one, americans in general have no “skin in the game”…ie: even at the hight of boots on the ground in all those “conflicts”, only a tiny fraction had relatives with their boots on the ground. there remain more smokers(20%, pretty steady for 20 years) in USA than people within 2 degrees separation from military personnel.(these figures are top of head, and may be somewhat dated)
          our humiliation will be internal, therefore…the masses abandoned by the aristocracy and their own gooberments…at least, once the blame cannons finally trickle up to the actual source of our decline and fall.
          the D vs R, white vs black/brown, straight vs gay, and all the other divisionary tropes that have kept everyones blame cannons pointed in all the wrong directions for so long, appear to be losing their effectiveness.
          i dont get out much…but when i do, i keep my ears open to people talking in the produce aisle…formerly radical attitudes like “we cant afford healthcare, but can send billions to ukraine” are not so radical any more.
          and remember, this far place is decidedly Republican and especially lean Republican…even though the majority do not vote, and dont really participate in politics like us junkies do….and we’re tiny, and everybody knows each other…which surely effects these things in some way.
          but the roads look like crap…there’s at least one week per month when the milk or bread or gasoline trucks dont show(!!)…and nobody can get parts any more…and might near everyone is feeling the pinch from inflated grocer store bills…and so on and so forth…
          ive heard a couple of instances where a card carrying Goptea person attempts to interject whatever latest trans outrage into the produce aisle discussions…but it falls flat on its face…nobody takes that bait.
          it aint 1985…nor 2002…nor even 2012.
          the mind of america has moved on from those times…and dare i say it, might be waking up.
          the next election season, primaries and all…should be entertaining.

          1. Henry Moon Pie

            Very interesting zeitgeist. Sand in the gears all over the place. Covid, Ukraine, and more and more, Overshoot are sand in the gears making an already precarious life even tougher.

            As for Dixie, I once had an office in a building where Sherman spent some time. It had a flat roof surrounded by a parapet. When it got hot, Sherman had the troops pump water up into the improvised rooftop pool, and the Yankees had a nice, cooling swim.

            After he left, it took quite a bit to repair that building, and people remembered and still tell the story. Columbia and Charleston show off the cannonball holes with some pride. That was a fully humiliating conquering.

          2. Jabura Basaidai

            for a hippy that’s a pretty astute observation(joke!) – find myself in agreement that this election season will be unlike all the others i’ve observed in my 74 years – interesting and entertaining for sure – wondering when the dems will pull the husk from the competition and replace him with some other tool able to construct grammatically correct sentences – btw, i still have my ticket stub from the first day of Woodstock and helped build the Hog Farm stage – got there days before it began and had our car onsite and sold my remaining two tickets to some fool in the herd heading in – what a blast!

            1. Henry Moon Pie

              In my opinion, that was one of the two or three most unique and powerful events of our generation even though I only watched from afar.

              Joni wasn’t there, but as another outsider looking in, she got some things right:

              We are stardust (billion year-old carbon).
              We are golden (just got caught up in a devil’s bargain).
              And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.

              So what was Wavy Gravy like? I know him only from the movie and a few docs.

              1. Jabura Basaidai

                wish i could tell you – knew a lot of the Pranksters were there too and kept asking anyone where Neal Cassady was – got a lot of head-shaking – was told he was gone already trying to outrun a train in Mexico – a lot of weed and was advised to stay away from anything you couldn’t smoke – we were driving an old 544 Volvo which was a saving grace when the rain came – drove from Detroit to NYC to buy the tickets then north to Woodstock – very glad we went early, smooth sailing right onto the grounds – glad i kept the ticket stub – Janice’s # was on the back, never knew who that was –

      4. Jorge

        Fascism also requires a charismatic leader, AND an strongly-denied artistic aesthetic. The 30s aesthetic was homoeroticism; today it is neoteny, or Peter Pan Syndrome (think about all the comic book movies).

    3. hunkerdown

      FDR was just an oligarch like every other of his kind, that happened to have a good PR team.

      Ugly, insufferable PMC are just jealous and whining, i.e. breathing.

  11. Henry Moon Pie

    Leonhardt and excess death baselines–

    While the World Socialist Website rightly disputes the implications of the claim from the NYT’s Leonhardt and his accompanying graph that excess deaths have dropped to zero. they do not challenge that contention itself for the United States. In fact, it is a manufactured lie that excess deaths have dropped to zero in the U. S. Excess deaths in this country, measured against the baseline that has been used until the last few months, remain nearly 10% above the pre-Covid death rate.

    In yesterday’s water cooler, Lambert cited a tweet that quoted a July release from the CDC about how they had changed the baseline calculation:

    On March 15, 2023, the methodology for estimating excess deaths was updated [oh I see, just updated] to account for the fact that approximately 160 weeks of data during the pandemic were being excluded in the algorithm…

    Prior to that, the baseline had been calculated by using the death data from the five years preceding the pandemic and averaging them. That methodology compared the effects of the pandemic–and the vaccinations–to a period before either was a factor. Seems logical to me. They also used a simple five-year average, something we could all manage ourselves with access to the data.

    If the CDC were still using that method, this graph from Our World in Data tells us what it would show:

    excess deaths in the U. S. remain nearly 10% above pre-pandemic levels.

    The CDC has done two things to hide this fact. First, as the CDC document quoted in the tweet Lambert cited yesterday states, they are now including data from 2020 and 2021 after Covid had greatly increased the death rate. The obvious effect on the graph is to raise the baseline by including these higher numbers. The implication is that the CDC is now admitting that our death rate will be higher from this point on. There is no expectation or hope that we will return to the pre-Covid (i.e. normal) death rate. Leonhardt is calling this new higher baseline “normal” when it is actually 10% higher–yes, 10%–than the death rate in 2019.

    But even that is not enough. A simple five-year average is no longer used. A parallel change in methodology has been employed by Our World in Data, but they are a bit more transparent about what is happening:

    We use an estimate produced by Ariel Karlinsky and Dmitry Kobak as part of their World Mortality Dataset (WMD).4 To produce this estimate, they first fit a regression model for each region using historical deaths data from 2015–2019.5 They then use the model to project the number of deaths we might normally have expected in 2020–2023….

    Previously we used a different expected deaths baseline: the average number of deaths over the years 2015–2019.8 We made this change because using the five-year average has an important limitation — it does not account for year-to-year trends in mortality and thus can misestimate excess mortality.

    At least Our World in Data still includes the graph calculated the way it has been until March at the CDC. And as noted above, EXCESS DEATHS HAVE NOT DECLINED TO ZERO. We are still operating with nearly 10% excess deaths OVER PRE-PANDEMIC LEVELS!

    My guess is that they could not start including pandemic era data in the baseline without smoothing it using a formula they derived using multiple regression analysis because of the huge waves in the data. It would have made a very hinky looking graph. So they smoothed it, “explained” the change belatedly and with an obfuscating paragraph designed to hide the basic fact that they were constructing a new, higher baseline by including pandemic data.

    None of these machinations were mentioned in Leonhardt’s cheery declaration that all is well. He is a scumbag liar of the first order, and so is the CDC.

    So enjoy your new, permanently higher death rate, America. I’m sure the life insurance companies were not fooled by these lies, damn lies and statistics so you can expect your rates to be going up just like the property insurance rates in Florida and California.

    All hail Business As Usual!

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      I wanted to belatedly check the assertion re: life insurance rates. Here’s a June article from Forbes: “Act Now To Avoid Higher Life Insurance Rates.”

      Insurance companies are starting to reflect lower life expectancy by charging higher premiums on life insurance. Group life insurance premiums were the first to reflect the new rates. Premiums on term life and permanent life also are going to increase.

      So can you ‘splain to me, Leonhardt, why, if everything is back to 2019 normal, that life insurance companies are increasing rates going forward?

      I really wish somebody would rip this guy a new one on Twitter or somewhere.

    2. flora

      Thanks. The CDC is consistent about one thing: moving goal posts to fit the narrative. / ;)

      Meanwhile, Ed Down has analyzed the UK PIP system looking for increases in disease and disability. UK keeps pretty good records at the NHS. “There’s a jaw-dropping increase.” He calls the numbers a “black swan event.” (his words)

      ““We were looking for data like this, and we found it in the UK Personal Independence [Payment] (PIP) system,” announced former Blackrock portfolio asset manager Edward Dowd (@DowdEdward) on the Dr. Drew show. “We need the help of the medical community and the regulators to explain what’s going on because it’s alarming.””

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        No need for alarm. Change the baseline, and problem solved!

        Unless you get caught, and how I hope somebody with a big megaphone outs them.

    3. Jason Boxman

      So my question would be, can we expect the life expectancy numbers to be gamed going forward as well, to stop the appearance of a precipitous decline in life expectancy for those unfortunate enough to live in the US?

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Exactly. Life expectancy is the flip side of excess deaths and a similar discrediting of the Biden presidency. I’m sure some “updated” algos are being prepared.

      2. vao

        There is of course the risk that a revised calculation of life expectancy

        1) either introduces an odd break in the long-term graph of life-expectancy (e.g. the curve suddenly jumping after the introduction of the new algorithm);

        2) or, if the entirety of past statistics is retro-fitted, that the long-term curve exhibits some very odd characteristics (e.g. unbelievably high life expectancy in the past, or strange up and down movements);

        3) or, that life insurance companies refuse to use the new data and rely upon their own computations, more in line with the previous algorithm, leading to embarrassing questions (e.g. if life expectancy is so high, why the discrepancy with what life insurance firms state in their contracts?)

  12. timbers

    Russia targets Ukraine’s port of Odesa and calls it payback for a strike on a key bridge to Crimea AP

    The part that troubles me is, Pro Russian media is explaining the grain corridor was being used to smuggle weapons and launch attacks on Crimea. In other words, this has been going a long time with Russian leadership knowledge.

    Maybe someone in the Kremlin might consider ending those well publicized reconnaissance flights by UK and US over the Black Sea targeting Crimea, which enable to Ukraine to launch terror attacks (and just now to blow up the largest ammo depot in all of Crimea). For example, launch a Freedom of Navigation exercise in the Black Sea and accidentally destroy the reconnaissance missions. Or something, anything. If terminating them angers NATO and Washington, what are they going to do? Nuke Russia? Send more arms they don’t have to Ukraine? Attack Russia with out of weapons NATO armies?

    And if not targeting reconnaissance flights, then what about those decision centers Russia says it knows about yet remain undestroyed? Of what possible benefit is there in holding back?

    Don’t under-estimate the global south. They know what is going on. So many of them have been on the receiving end of what the US is doing to Russia now.

    1. ambrit

      Russia has ‘held back’ for, from what I have read, political reasons. Appearing to be “forced” into escalation by the NATO proxy Ukraine fits the Russian narrative of they, Russia, being “the adults in the room.”
      As for the ‘forward guidance’ here, I must point out that the Neo-cons in charge in Washington and London have floated the premise that they can survive and prosper after a nuclear exchange between America and Russia. Considering the provably delusional policies that these ‘New Cold Warriors’ have already implemented, the prospect of the introduction of atomic weapons into the Ukrainian battlefield is not just worrying, it is downright terrifying.

      1. timbers

        Holding back as Russia has increases the likelihood of nuclear war, prolongs the war, strengthens the enemy, and results in more dead Russians. Russia has admitted it knows of Ukraine decision centers it has not destroyed. This most probably a military error. They should be destroyed.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Azov Brigade commander meets with personnel, announces his return to service”

    After the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour, US Navy intelligence put together an Order of Battle of the Japanese fleet that had hit them. And for the rest of the war they used that list as a sort of check list and they sank each ship, one after the other as a priority traget. I expect that in much the same way those Bradleys and Leopard 2 tanks are priority targets for the Russians, so too will be these returned commanders as after all each of them is actually a war criminal. In Turkiye they were safe and out of reach but now that they are back in the Ukraine, it won’t be duck season, it won’t be wabbit season, it will be Azov commander season.

    1. digi_owl

      For some reason that got me thinking about something i read from Afghanistan, about a Taliban member and father that slept outside each night so as to not risk his family to US drone strikes.

    2. ChrisPacific

      So how’s that ‘denazification’ objective progressing for Russia?

      I doubt it will be possible to eliminate Nazis in Ukraine by hunting them down individually and killing them, any more than it was possible for the US to eliminate Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. On the contrary, the current conflict is playing right to their priors and is easily framed as a race war. Inflict a military defeat without changing their minds and it will simply continue as an asymmetric conflict (see e.g. Palestine, Afghanistan and many others).

      Overall I think Russia has been more sensible and realistic than the US and NATO in this conflict (a low bar, I realize) but on this point I feel like they are repeating the mistakes of the Empire.

  14. vao

    The article about water shortages in Uruguay contains the following sentence:

    The government says previous administrations […] did not invest adequately in water infrastructure.

    This is becoming a familiar refrain in articles dealing with societal failures:

    Because of years of underinvestment…

    1) …in the USA, the bridges / dams / power distribution network / water supply network / fixed communication network / [fill in]

    2) in Germany, the roads / schools / swimming pools / railway tracks / [fill in]

    3) in France, the hospitals / water treatment plants / power plants / low-cost housing / [fill in]

    4) In Great Britain / Italy / Canada / [fill in country], [fill in infrastructure]

    are becoming highly prone to failures / exhibit insufficient capacity / are becoming outright dangerous / are reaching their end of life / [fill in]; it would require [gazillions] of USD / EUR / GBP / [fill in] to renew the infrastructure, bring it up to the necessary standards / capacity / safety / [fill in], and make it again fit for purpose.

    Perhaps I should start some kind of “infrastructure decay bingo”.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Vao.

      My mother was a civil servant at the department overseeing the water authorities in the 1980s. It’s not well known how many reservoirs or areas earmarked for reservoirs and other bits of land, often rented out to tenant farmers, have been sold by the now privatised utilities.

      The utilities and other public services privatised by the Tories, blue, red and yellow, often had land not used for the owner’s primary purpose. Between 1870 – 1980, the British state came to own about 20% of the UK mainland. That figure has more than halved since the privatisations began. The utility real estate is separate from county farms, ministries of defence and transport land, local government housing and commercial development, and educational bodies.

      1. digi_owl

        On that note, Uruguay seems to have had some back and forth regarding privatization of its water supply.

    2. Ignacio

      Infraestructure if It is not some kind of longest undersea tunnel or something similar that serves as good selling point for enginering prowess and others seems now not fashionable. Specially if It is infraestructure that helps the populace at large. Simeone made the point a few days ago that The Economist despises manufacturing. The PMC despises anything that is not their own job: councelling, financing, networking, amassing wealth… People that makes, produce and grow stuff are simpleminded peasants.

      1. digi_owl

        Also, accounting.

        Build something new, and the cost can be amortized over the following decade or some such.

        But any repairs on existing infrastructure has to be deducted in full on that year’s balance sheet.

    3. Bart Hansen

      Under 1) I would fill in our rail network. Don’t know the reasons for the epidemic of our trains jumping their tracks but most civilized countries, e.g. Scandinavia, Russia and China use concrete ties, not our wooden ones.

    4. Expat2uruguay

      Vao, although I agree with your point regarding America’s under investment in infrastructure, that is not the root of the problem here in Uruguay. The previous administration did develop plans and funding to increase the water supply for the city of Montevideo. This was after previous periods of drought that were solved relatively quickly by rain before the situation got as bad as it has gotten now. It simply didn’t make sense to replace the water source at that time because the rains came. The previous left-wing administration would surely have been accused of wasting money, or more likely, corruption with whoever gained from the work.

      Of course the current administration is quoted in the article blaming the previous administration; they are not doing a good job of handling the situation now and they need to politically control the damage.

      This is not a case of prolonged under investment in infrastructure. This is a case of climate change changing the situation on the ground. The previous administration left plans and funding for improvements to the water source for Montevideo in the hands of the new administration back in 2020. The new administration choose to not follow through on those plans and cut the funding. Then climate change came calling. Now is the appropriate time to make the investment and I am confident that this is a temporary problem. Uruguay has excellent water resources, as it is a small country with many rivers including the large Rio de Plata surrounding the capitol city of Montevideo. In addition we sit upon the Guarani aquifer, which is one of the largest sources of freshwater in the world.

      I have provided my own comments below, and they will post once they come out of moderation.

    1. ambrit

      See also the story of the hotel chain in San Francisco recently ‘giving back’ two big properties in that city to the lending banks.
      The commercial property crash might be the Black Swan event that triggers the over all real estate collapse.
      Then there is the “Leaning Tower of San-Fran.”

      1. Delmar

        It’s not the buildings, nor the pandemic, it’s the corruption in city government, lack of prosecutions by the D.A., watered down police presence, sanctuary city, open air drug markets run by “Kamala’s kids”, the Honduran youth she refused to depart when D.A.,
        and the ongoing abandonment of the city by businesses, shoppers and tourists.

        San Francisco is a slow growing political tumor that has been metastasizing to surrounding communities and pumping political cells into higher office, viz The V.P. and Governor’s office. Gavin’s their next Democratic presidential candidate, once they get rid of the unbearable Harris and the human husk.

      2. ChrisFromGA

        I suppose the degree to which this is “contained” to just the bagholders holding the RMBS and bad loans will determine whether it spreads to take down the whole economy.

        I’m not sure but I seem to recall that CMBS is a much smaller overall market than RMBS. So perhaps we dodge a bullet. But, these things are all way too complex to predict. There will be spillover effects, like cities taking big tax hits when the property gets re-assessed much lower, or the owners can’t pay up. And there is no equivalent of Fannie and Freddie, who in effect guarantee residential mortgages with US government backing.

        It seems to be a slower-motion disaster than the housing bubble of 2003-08, but I’m sure there will be some surprises in store.

    2. AndrewJ

      I sure am glad that the elite can default on real estate loans, but that anyone that took on money for an education can get ground in to the dirt. There’s clearly a difference here.

  15. DJG, Reality Czar

    Color me skeptical.

    1. I recall that at the beginning of the pandemic, a few articles came out pointing out that the furin cleavage was a sign of human intervention–CRISPR, splicing, whatever you call it. The commentariat here at Naked Capitalism didn’t buy that. Furin cleavages also happen naturally, right? Wrong? Much seems to hang on furin in Taibbi’s article about embarrassing exchanges.

    2. What is the strategy? What is to be done with the information? If it turns out that the virus was jiggered into lethality by US-sponsored bioweapons research in Wuhan, shouldn’t our collective strategy be to de-fund such research and shut down such departments? Or will the non-strategy be the non-strategy of the Ukraine Project? Gum it all to death.

    3. Meanwhile, RFK claims to have seen an article that the virus preferentially infects “Caucasians” and “Blacks,” two racial categories that are part of the U.S. racial phantasmagoria but that don’t truly exist in the rest of the world. What is a Caucasian?

    What I am sensing here is the latest pile-on. Will any bills be proposed in Congress to address this? Or is this all stemming from resentment about having to wear a mask?

    We are in Debord’s society of spectacle: Reflections of reflections. What political action in such a society can we expect from such knowledge of the origins of the virus?

    1. t

      I dimly recall being told year or so back that both feline lucemia and rabies do this and aftee that every time I saw an lab leak article saying it wasn’t natural I did a search for rabies in the text and sources. I don’t begin to understand viruses so maybe I misunderstood what I was hearing.

      Read all of the Tiabbi stuff and, as a worker, it just sounds like people who didn’t know and wouldn’t know for a while decided not to be pushy. Cover-up of a sort but the CYA type.

      And Tiabbi had something earlier where marketing videos were ‘proof’ of not following protocol. If the lab actually dragged a bunch of VIPs and a crew into a real lab and filmed, then that’s a good shot for a lab leak (but no one ran down who was behind the scenes that day and if and when they got sick.) If you want to show what people do in such a lab, you can just use stock footage because you sure as heck cannot see smiles after the hood is fasted and then sealed with duct tape.

    2. nippersdad

      RFK’s leaked discussion of racial bioweapons reminded me of the facilities discovered in Ukraine that were devoted to finding/creating viruses that disproportionately affect Slav populations. That got memory-holed pretty quickly once it was noted that the Pelosi, Romney and Kerry kids had no-show jobs on their boards like Hunter did at Burisma.

      Seems like they should be a little more careful about going after him on this topic, because he might decide to point out how invested in it those who are criticizing him are.

      1. anahuna

        I don’t know enough about genetics to argue the point, but I do recall a post from a while ago pointing out that “Slavs” weren’t genetically distinct enough to be targeted by bio-weapons.

        1. nippersdad

          That appears to be the general consensus, but does that necessarily mean that such as Nuland (and her financial backers) would not try and find out anyway? Why invest in your own country when there is a perfectly good ideologically backed boondoggle to be had?

    3. Ignacio

      I blame It all to a non-viral, highly contagious disease called paranoia, now in acute phase in the US.

    4. hunkerdown

      Our collective strategy should be to shut down everybody in the USA who has ever touched, defended, or worked PR for the initiative, and ensure they never experience the indoors again.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Had to end some time. Can’t launder that link through the archive site which has grabbed it five times without obtaining the content.

      Archive still works on many sites but like trying to use browser “reader view” options at the NY Post, nah gonna happen. And I respect that. The truth is none of the paywalled sites would “leak” if they chose not to. Like pro sports (NOT soccer) ignoring pirate streams because one way or another you need to grow your audience if you want to survive.

      Ukraine is losing. That’s news you have to pay for. And pay for. And pay for.

  16. Bart Hansen

    Under 1) I would fill in our rail network. Don’t know the reasons for the epidemic of our trains jumping their tracks but most civilized countries, e.g. Scandinavia, Russia and China use concrete ties, not our wooden ones.

  17. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert.

    Further to the link about the appointment of a chief economist at the European Commission’s competition / anti-trust directorate, this sorry affair is only the culmination of the march of corruption in Europe’s government institutions.

    From my time in financial services and trade regulatory policy, 2007 – 16, I noticed, especially from 2008, how influential US firms became, including often being given access to information before even EU firms. French leftist politicians tended to be among the ones pushing back, as now.

    In June 2020, as the first wave of the pandemic receded, the Commission hosted a round table to discuss a relaunch of the EU economy. US firms outnumbered EU firms.

    Denmark held the presidency of the EU over the first half of 2012. Soon after Cyprus took over, many of the lead Danish civil servants joined US firms, including Goldman Sachs. Something similar happened in the UK when the red Tories were ousted by the blue and yellow Tories in 2010.

    The fact that Fiona Scott Morton was an Obama officials makes her even more appealing to the European PMC. Barry is still revered by that lot. The European PMC is deracinated and often has its wealth managed by US firms, so the US influence is strong. Although the European PMC does not need US reasons to hate Russia / Putin and has its own home grown reasons, US money makes that hatred lucrative.

    1. digi_owl

      Yeah, the euro PMC is starting to look more and more like a cargo cult worshiping USA.

      This ot the point that they increasingly seem to forget what nation they live in.

    2. mrsyk

      From the article, quoting EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager responding to concerns that Fiona Scott Morton was too chummy with big tech: “She is not a lobbyist, she hasn’t been a lobbyist, she has been doing some consultancy work.” To quote Lambert “Do these credentialed buffoons think we are little children?”

  18. ilsm

    I bit and read the PBS interview on the presumed Ukraine offensive.

    One, mines are nothing new and that the attackers were not provisioned with adequate engineer functions is troubling!

    Two, the idea 5 weeks and no results in an offensive is routine situation normal is pretty difficult to stomach

    Three: the last quote one should ponder from von Clauswitz is “fog of war”.

    Fourth, is too hard to contemplate!

    The only quote to propose from Clauswitz is: war has three dimensions, a stool so to speak: tactics, strategy, and logistics. As the US Marines observe professionals talk logistics!

    The NATO stool has problems with all its legs! Not just failing to provision…. not only near the Dneipro

    1. The Rev Kev

      Agreed and this interview was just PBS being useless. So to answer that question they had on neocon Kimberly Kagan and retired Colonel Gary Espinas. So who is he when he is at home? Just another member of the security industry that has leveraged his former service to make bank. As an ex-artillery man he should have been able to give chapter and verse on what is essentially an artillery war but gives bromides how the cunning Ukrainians are taking on an incompetent, poorly led and poorly trained Russian military. Here is more about this Espinas character-

      1. ilsm

        Same career track as Alex Vindman, a short time in a combat arms branch and a long time in school or teaching.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, both.

          As the son and godson of former RAF officers and grandson and great nephew of WW2 RAF personnel, my family and I are mystified why the UK MSM prefers to have former US personnel turned Wall Street grifters on instead of British retired top brass. David Petraeus, Ben Hodges, James Stavrides and take it in weekly turns, often from their offices as they have company logos as background. The BBC even found some African American colonel in deepest and darkest Indiana recently. Hamish de Bretton Gordon, linked to Salisbury and the Trump dossier, and Wall Street shill Richard Shirreff are rare exceptions and rarely on even though “reliable”.

          Can’t we have people who speak the king’s English? One reason is former officers like Michael Rose, Richard Dannatt (to a lesser extent) and John Waters don’t toe the party line. It’s the same with diplomats like Rodric Lyne, a former colleague at HSBC, and Tony Brenton.

          1. ilsm

            My working life was in the US military, from commissioned officer to civil servant to contractor consulting.

            My first mentors were WW II veterans, who stayed in service.

            Vietnam was to me a deflection point!

            From then on, too much politics and ‘admiring the emperors new clothes’!

            ‘Go along to get along’ to go ahead in the ‘system’!

            Very expensive, and highly energetic disarmament.

  19. Terry Flynn

    COVID Japan anecdote. Best friend is a Vice Dean in Tokyo. As Nipponised as it is possible to be. Often gives me stuff the western press (auto suggest was “lies” just then haha) misses. He said domestic Okinawa coverage seems very incomplete to him.

    He followed up today. He has COVID :-( & got it from his teenage son. Cough and general malaise are the worst symptoms but I don’t think they’ve said anything about the likely variant. I’ll ask him when Japan have woken up tmw.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Moscow gives UN Secretariat 90 days to normalize Russian agricultural exports”

    Sounds like Russia is going to play hard ball with Antonio Guterres and slap him around with some facts. Like that it was his job to make the deal work which he totally failed to do. Came across a tweeted video today which shows that this deal was so rife with corruption, that even the Ukrainians did not benefit from it. Well, not the ordinary ones. The elites in the Ukraine and the EU made out like bandits though- (1:24 mins)


    1. Bsn

      Rev, who is Lord Bevo? How would he know these numbers and does he have documentation? I wouldn’t be surprised, but I will be a skeptic.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The Lord Bebo account seems to be following this war in some detail and features a lot of videos and information. No idea who he is. That particular video sounds like it was a Ukrainian who has followed the grain deal so I would suspect it to be true. Living there would probably means that he has more access to Ukrainian sources. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was all true though. Remember, this was the grain deal that was going to feed all those people in poorer nations but most of which got sent to the EU where it was used to undercut EU farmers and to feed pigs instead.

  21. Lex

    “(Note I’m not saying that either party, or even both parties together, are “fascist” per se; what I am saying is that both parties are treating fascism rather like a smorgasbord: “Take what you like, and leave the rest.” I mean, what was RussiaGate and the subsequent orgy of Democrat lawfare but a Schmittian “state of exception”? I don’t think, of course, that makes our current plight less dangerous; more, if anything.)”

    I strongly agree with both parties treating fascism rather like a smorgasbord and I assign blame to the general discussion of fascism, specifically Ecco’s famous essay on it. That essay is trash because it sets the smorgasbord table for behavior like this. Western intelligentsia love that essay, probably because it makes it so that anything can be fascism, but not necessarily.

    I’m willing to say that both parties are fascist because I stan Dimitrov’s definition of fascism: the political expression of finance capitalism. No torchlight marches or ethnonationalism expressed as genocidal intentions necessary. The caricatures of fascism that Americans look for as if they are defining factors are the marketing department, not the political philosophy.

    1. pjay

      Good points, and I agree with Lambert’s comment about both sides playing games with the F-word. But for the reasons you mention, my knee-jerk reaction is to push back against any hint of “both-siderism” in regards to Trump himself (I’m not accusing Lambert of this; the rest of his comment is an excellent antidote). Trump has *no* real elite support. The entire Establishment has been desperately mobilizing its economic-intelligence-media-political-legal resources to take him out for many years now. That’s why all this liberal-Democrat crap about Trump’s attempted “fascist coup” is such bulls**t. What Trump *does* have is the support of a bunch of people who feel, for various reasons, disenfranchised and disrespected. Some of these people are racist and authoritarian; many are not. Trump also has considerable skill as a demagogue who can stir such people up; “populist” demagogues are always a danger to elites. He has no consistent “principles” or “philosophy” or anything else. For me, when the entire MICIMATT is on one side and Trump is on the other, I have a hard time taking people like Niewert seriously. Rather, people like Niewert are part of the problem.

      1. GramSci

        In my book, both American parties are “Notsies”: twenty-first century fascists who love the Jews because they saved them.

        Who saved the Jews? In their history it wasn’t Russia.

        The fact that six million Jews died? A tragedy. The fact that 25 million Russians died? A disappointment.

    2. Darthbobber

      I think Dimitrov is just recycling a fairly limited left viewpoint of the postwar era, except that he’s now made it purely a catspaw of finance capital, rather than capital generally.
      Mussolini’s initial backing came from the big landowners, and while German bankers made their accomodations with Hitler he was hardly their first choice. They, like the manufacturers and the army, would have preferred the result aimed for by chancellor’s Bruning, von Papen, Schleicher and the camarilla around Hindenburg to expand rule by decree, invite the Kaiser back, and restore the imperial constitution. Unfortunately for them, they were less adept as plotters than were the Nazi leadership

      1. Lex

        Are we talking about the same person? Because Georgi Dimitrov was dead by 1949. And IIRC, he said that in a speech at the Third International. Given that he was accused of planning the Reichstag fire, defended himself and got acquitted, I think he knew a lot about fascism. What’s always fascinated me about the quote – and because it was said by a serious communist – was the delineation of what kind of capitalism produced fascism.

        1. Darthbobber

          We weren’t, but we could be. There’s a Novo Russian opinionator who uses the name.

          I initially (in the 80s) found the Comintern Dimitrov’s take, echoed in works like Gueren’s Big Business and Fascism, pretty persuasive.

          It’s reasonably easy to show that German bankers and industrialists would have preferred the Nazis to the communists, if it came down to that, but it’s also clear that neither group was , as a group, supporting, promoting, or financing the Nazis. They preferred alternative forms of authoritarian rule. A small number of individual industrialists gave relatively small amounts to the Nazis, but the party was usually on the edge of being broke until very near the end of the rise to power. Not what you’d expect if they were indeed backed by a bankers’ cabal.

          The relationship between the party and the bankers and industrialists after the seizure of power was one in which the party was clearly on top.

          As to Dimitrov’s seriousness (and he was brilliant on the Reichstag fire), he also, until too late-post 1933, advanced the 3rd int and DKP line that it was the Social Democrats (consistently referred to as the Social Fascists) who were the real enemy, and that once things collapsed, even if the Nazis by some chance got into government (a possibility the party didn’t take seriously until they were looking it in the face) there was no way they could rule.

          “After Hitler-us!” was how they framed it. But there were no good grounds for that optimism

          1. KD

            Ever heard of East Germany? As in, after Hitler, East Germany?

            Sure, East Germany is no more, but the Communists blew it all on their own. They seized total power in East Germany, and had lots of tentacles into West Germany as well. And if it weren’t for the CIA, and the efforts of some patriotic Cold Warriros, they might have seized control in the West as well.

            1. Darthbobber

              You are aware of the wee interval in between, during which the existing German communist party was utterly destroyed and it’s leadership slaughtered (by both the Nazis and the soviets)?

            2. Polar Socialist

              As a well established historical anecdote, the “great powers” agreed in Yalta and in Potsdam to retain Germany as a single, de-industrialized and de-militarized state.

              As another well established historical anecdote, USA decided in 1948, against the will of all other allies, to renege on that agreement and instead split Germany into two parts and re-industrialize and re-militarize the western part. Soviet Union protested very strongly, and even blockaded West Berlin in order to force USA to keep it’s promises and return to the post-war security arrangements.

              USA did not relent, and as a security measure Soviet Union started to transfer Eastern Europe in to a buffer zone it felt it needed against the growing western aggression. Until then the Soviet hand had been quite light in how the Eastern European countries very organizing their political systems (after decades of either occupation or dictatorships).

              There’s a brilliant book by Curt Cardwell, NSC 68 and the Political Economy of the Early Cold War documenting how USA needed to stay of war footing after the WW2 to avoid another Great Depression, and for that USA needed an enemy.

              One really can’t avoid thinking that what we’re seeing now is the end of the post-WW2 world of perpetual war crated on purpose by the USA.

              1. Polar Socialist

                Sorry, forgot to mention Carolyn Eisenberg’s Drawing the line – The American Decision to Divide Germany, 1944–1949.

                In contrast to many works in the field, the book argues that the partition of Germany was fundamentally an American decision. US policy-makers chose partition, mobilized reluctant West Europeans behind that approach, and, by excluding the Soviets from West Germany, contributed to the isolation of East Germany and the emergence of the post-World War II US-Soviet rivalry.

  22. marym

    Follow up to the link and discussion in yesterday’s Links on “Curing” the loneliness epidemic. The post in the link started with a reference to a National Health “Advisory” from the US Surgeon General.

    A mere advisory you say? Fear not! The Democrats are

    “introducing a groundbreaking bill – the National Strategy for Social Connection Act. It creates a federal office to combat the growing epidemic of American loneliness, develops anti-loneliness strategies, and fosters best practices to promote social connection.”

    The tweet has a screen shot with some detail as to how the buzzwords will be generated and the rice bowls filled.

    1. Rolf

      Thank you marym for this. I note that the last of the National Strategy for Social Connection act’s ToDo list is to “provide consistent sustainable funding to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s research … ”. Wellie. Now isn’t that money well spent. /S

      Why do I feel like I’m reading Kafka in these tweets?

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      i wonder what they could possibly even attempt that wont be immediately and obviously stupid and coming off sounding like a dictat from Our Betters(tm) on how to play nice….larded generously with PMC’s usual blindness to real world problems.
      i’m sure the innards of the gop electioneering machinery are already beginning to whir with memes and ads against this.

      related, perhaps…now that its been over a year since Wife died…and since the only place to meet people around here are bars and churches…i was encouraged to try out the online dating thing.
      after trying out several different ones, i settled on Plenty of Fish.
      all of them want money, monthly, forever, to be all but rudimentarily functional…but i have been texting a widow for the last week.
      sadly, she’s based 8 hours away…and is currently deployed in Iraq(!)…making the logistics of anything beyond texting somewhat of a challenge.
      the point in al this: both parties have strove incessantly to divide us all up into myriad warring factions, destroying social trust and “unit cohesion”…and even undermining the very idea of shared Reality,lol…all the while, allowing the proliferation of both small arms and hopelessness among the population…and continually “disciplining” the labor force and jacking up rents and destroying pensions and stagnating real wages and so on…all of this, as stated policy, mind you.
      and now the same entity (gov) and the predator class it represents is gonna make a new cabinet agency to fix it?
      it would be cheaper to bulk up and expand social security, food stamps, actually provide healthcare to everyone and raise and enforce a living wage nation wide…and actually sending fiat to every town and county for actually shovel ready infrastructure repair and improvement, with work done by locals, only…paid for by taxing…and collecting those taxes…the super rich and their immortal disembodied egregores(corps)…as well as making the pentagon and raytheon, et alia go cold turkey.
      (and, my perennial pet peeve, kicking the likes of conagra off the dole and paying actual farmers, instead.
      all that would do wonders for a lot of ailments our society is currently suffering from…including loneliness.

        1. JBird4049

          Most of this would be easy to setup even with the hollowed out federal bureaucracy. My inexpert opinion would be two years, but what would it take for this to happen?

  23. mrsyk

    “Blackstone’s march to $1tn marred by trouble at flagship property fund FT” I can’t read the article, but, googling around, I see that office properties are offered up as the problem. Weren’t we just talking about turning unused office space into affordable housing? More to the point I’ve been wondering when rate hikes were going to catch up with real estate investment schemes. Anyway… elites have troubles too, whatever.

  24. Wæsfjord

    In defence of the PBS piece, it was absolutely hilarious. The levels of delusion and cope coming from the West are the best unintentional comedy since lord knows when. Great stuff. Did the 3rd Reich have such funny takes in 1945?

    This whole war is the most grotesque, macabre comedy noir. Bertold Brecht, eat your heart out. Amazing that in the year All Quiet on the Western Front part deux came out, Ukraine is actually re-enacting the ending of that black comedy meisterstück. If you watch All Quiet on the Western Front with a Benny Hill yackety sax soundtrack overlaid, you get “Ukraine: Dead and Loving it!”

  25. petal

    There is a talk tonight at 630 on campus. I wish I had known about it sooner but this was the first time it was advertised. I will try to go. Doesn’t seem like it will be livestreamed.
    “Subject: American Industry and The Defense of Ukraine

    Tonight at 6:30pm in Hinman Forum: What role has the American industrial base
    played (and will continue to play) in the defense of Ukraine? We join The
    Alexander Hamilton Society in hosting Dan Fata, Former Deputy Assistant
    Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO, current CSIS Senior Advisor, to
    discuss pressing issues in arms procurement, NATO policy, and the Ukrainian

  26. Watt4Bob

    About the Covid origins story;

    So, we’ve been thinking that ‘they‘ have done nothing to stop climate change, when in reality ‘they‘ have decided to attack the problem at its source, that being the over-population of the planet.

    It seems to me that somebody (higher-ups) decided that it was impossible to change human behavior as concerns energy use, but that if there were a lot fewer humans on the planet, it would mean the same thing, and without having to enact pesky regulations, or convince anyone of the necessity to act.

    IOW, it looks possible that ‘they‘ have decided to solve our problem by allowing the pandemic to kill a lot of people rather than inconveniencing the 1%.

    Rhymes well with the whole “Hurry up and Die” meme that we’ve been throwing around.

  27. Chris Smith

    I don’t trust David Neiwert. I remember him from the early to mid 2000s on his own blog and on DailyKos. I especially remember when he went full tilt against Ron Paul when some racist groups donated money to his presidential campaign. Of course, at the time Ron Paul was one of the leading antiwar voices in the middle of the Iraq and Afghanistan debacles, and Neiwert only took notice of Paul when he became a vocal opponent of the war on terror. Funny how that works.

  28. Carolinian

    Will have to take word on Neiwert but his statement is either a childlike understanding of Nazism or an attempt to deceive via analogy. Hitler by his own admission was inspired by Mussolini, not the Klan. His racial ideas were fully consonant with the genocidal eugenics being promoted by leading European intellectuals of the time. The notion that Hitler made WW2–no Hitler no war–ignores all the underlying factors that caused the Great War to repeat. Which is to say it all comes down to the poison of colonialism and resultant clashing empires both in Europe and Asia.

    And even if one thinks fascism is about “charisma,” the notion that Trump is anything like Hitler is silly. The Dems are pushing the fascism line as an excuse for their own by the numbers corruption. Meanwhile the Repubs invoke their own phantasms but their shtick is more played out after decades of Reagan and Gingrich. The rest of us need to call bullshit on both sides. IMHO

    1. Daniil Adamov

      Hitler had many inspirations. Mussolini was a big one, but he did cite the American experience as well. Not sure about the Klan but he certainly liked to compare the treatment of Native Americans to his plans for the people of Eastern Europe.

      1. Carolinian

        America itself is of course a colonial enterprise by…Europeans. Hitler also said “who remembers the Armenians?” In other words he said lots of things but trying to enlist America into Nazism more to do with current politics than history I think. To be sure Hitler got support from rightwing forces in the US but those too were often tied to Europe and its quarrels like appeaser and Irish sympathizer Joe Kennedy.

        Think what I’m saying is that Europe didn’t need America to invent ethnic supremacist ideas. They had plenty of their own.

        1. JBird4049

          No, Americans did not invent racism or ethnic supremacy, but after eugenics the word was coined as a start of the British eugenics movement, it moved almost simultaneously to the United States where it was the was the heart of the movement from before the First World War until about 1938 with the Nazis. Until then everyone was feeding off the Americans.

          It was only in 1939 in Germany with the Aktion T4 program and the start of the einsatzgruppen in Poland both of which were precursors to the Holocaust that the Nazis surpassed anything that the United States had done. Maybe it was only until the einsatzgruppen as there had been serious suggestions for something like Aktion T4, but the government was not supportive at all although I have read of ad hoc retail efforts by doctors on babies and not necessarily with the parents’ support, unfortunately. I would be surprised if there had not been the mental institutions doing some work, but that is merely conjecture. I have not read of anything directly. Sterilization was well accepted and was done both legally and openly and on the sly with the support of local government and police in places particularly in the South and Appalachia. Community clinics were a good tool. Go in for some dental work and get something extra. The United States really has some dark history.

    2. Darthbobber

      Charisma is an even fuzzier concept than fascism itself. It gets pulled out of a hat like a rabbit to explain everything that the rest of the analysis doesn’t. And for politicians it seems circularly linked to success. Some people found Hitler personally compelling. Even more found him to be a buffoon.

      The “charisma” worked better once the abilities of a Riefenstahl and a Goebbels could be harnessed with no countervailing viewpoints.

      I note that American and European analysts never seem to list charisma among the attributes of a Lenin or a Castro, though many an individual found the force of their personalities quite compelling.

      1. Carolinian

        If you watch Triumph of the Will he seems like a buffoon. The utter self seriousness of it all invites ridicule. It was all the violence that made it ‘for real’ serious.

        1. Darthbobber

          You maybe have an attitude as jaded as my own. I’ve noticed that my take on an effort like that is no reliable indicator of the average take.

        2. LifelongLib

          Somebody once wrote an alternative history obituary for Hitler, where he takes an extra breath of mustard gas and instead of being a spellbinding national leader is homeless and wandering Berlin, muttering stuff that nobody can understand. At the end he’s found dead on a park bench and a Jewish shopkeeper adopts his dogs. Would that it had been so…

          1. ambrit

            There is also Norman Spinrad’s 1972 book “The Iron Dream.” A classic of the ‘alternative history’ genre, it posits that the Communists took over Europe after WW-1 and German Army veteran Hitler fled to America where he became a big shot of sorts in the Science Fiction genre.
            Welcome to the multiplexial omniverse!

          2. some guy

            Somewhere in my bookpile I have the 4 volume set of Orwell’s collected Letters, Essays, and Reviews.

            Shortly before France was defeated and Britain evacuated its soldiers from Dunkirk, Orwell wrote in an essay ( and I paraphrase), ” if/when France falls and Hitler takes its surrender, you just know that Hitler will take the train-car the Armistice was signed in out of its museum and make the French signers of the instruments of surrender sign it in that very self-same train car. So why not put some hidden bombs in it ahead of time and blow it up when Hitler is inside it to take the French surrender? But of course nobody will do that.”

            I don’t remember which little Orwell article that thought was in, but I remember seeing it. A brute-force iron-butt power-search through all the articles in the few months before the French surrender would find it.

            1. digi_owl

              Guy must be spinning, given that it seems the world took his warning and used it as a manual.

      2. Harold

        The Fuhrer prinzep (strong, infallible, redemptive leader, roughly) is something that had been floating around in Germany before Hitler came on the scene — I think in the circles around Stefan George, IIRC, and even before that in the 19th c. There is nothing like it in the Anglo-speaking traditions, in fact it was probably developed in direct opposition to those Anglo-traditions. I know this is late to comment but I can’t resist

    3. Aurelien

      Hitler was apparently fond of the “western” novels of a German author called Karl May, and as a debating point he would compare Nazi racial policies with what had happened in the US. That’s it. The idea of the motive force of history being exterminatory racial struggle was uncontroversial in much of the world at the time, and was as widely accepted as, say, market competition is today (the two are quite closely related.) Indeed, as early as 1898, HG Wells was satirising it in The War of the Worlds. The Nazis never had an original idea between them, and this wasn’t one.

      1. Carolinian

        This sounds right to me. Churchill is always going on about civilization versus barbarism. Empire needed its excuses.

        But then the defenders would point to the warlords and such that they replaced. Perhaps the diff is that the West did domination on an industrial scale.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Its been a hot minute, but I’ve read some of Churchill’s histories. The first volume wasn’t terrible and he asks interesting questions such as why the Romans couldn’t or wouldn’t turn Briton into a second Latinum despite similar medieval levels of production. Archaeology since he wrote disproved things (England was a much more violent place than the records indicated which matches ancillary evidence Churchill had), but after that, buckle up. Its nuts.

    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      What miffs me the most is laying Lebensarum at the hands of obvious bad guys. It was the Junker class who supported it. They plucked Addie and friends out of obscurity and made them cut ties with their little friends, the brown shirts, when they gave them power, but the vile things of the world aren’t brought by “deplorables” but the local Junker class regardless of how many times they’ve seen Hamilton.

  29. Expat2uruguay

    The article on Uruguay’s water crisis matches my experience. In May I switched to drinking bottled water but still used the tap water to make tea. Well, the next time I went to the doctor I suddenly had high blood pressure, even though I was on a blood pressure medication to treat another issue. Once I stopped using the tap water to make tea my blood pressure gradually fell over the next 3 weeks back to its normal range. Also, in May my nearly New water heater rusted out at one of the valves and had to be repaired. The repair was not covered by warranty.

    So when the guardian quotes the authorities as saying that this does not affect people’s health, that is not true; later in the article there is the admission that over time it does indeed affect people’s health.

    Another difficulty that the article does not mention involves transporting water from the store to my house. I don’t own a car and I have to carry 30-50 lbs of water four blocks to my home every week, assuming I can find the water in the store. I can generally find it, but not always.

    I lived 30 years in Sacramento and I have to say this is quite a different drought then what I had experienced in California because there’s green grass and green trees throughout the city. Of course Montevideo is next to a river and high humidity is typical for the winter time.

    But I’m not alarmed about the situation, nor am I considering relocating to another country. This is because Uruguay is very rich in water resources and I expect that I will be able to drink the tap water again sometime next year. In fact, this problem can be described by the phenomenon of “a victim of our own success”. Because water has always been abundant, a more trustworthy source of water for the city was not developed during previous droughts, even though plans were made and budgeted by the previous administration of Frente Amplio. But when the right of Center neoliberal alliance (aka the Multicolor Coalition!), took power they defunded the project and reduced support for the poor in general. For now they are not doing a very good job of managing the situation, choosing instead to downplay the impacts and blame the previous administration for not doing anything. We will see how that plays out in the next election in 2024. The drought continues and we have gotten very little rain for the entire year so far.

    Uruguay continues to be a great place to live with walkable communities, excellent public transportation, good public safety, and truly affordable health care (with masks mandatory in medical facilities!!). The biggest downsides are that the cost of living here is the highest in South America, and the food, aside from the barbecued meat, is dead boring. Cheers! (Raises a glass of bottled water)

    1. WhoaMolly

      Thanks for Uruguay insights. If I were 20 years younger, would seriously consider moving there. As is, family and age (79) mean I’m probably stuck in declining USA for the duration.

      Our local (California) water is loaded with minerals as a result of falling water table caused by drought. The mineralized water regularly kills water heaters, dish washers, clothes washers, and faucets. Everything lasts about 1/2 to 1/3 as long as expected. We’re planning on putting in a water softener which is said to fix this problem.

    2. IECG

      Hi, I am Mexican. I have read that in recent days Uruguay and the European Union signed an agreement to develop energy based on “green hydrogen”. In social networks I saw a mostly negative reaction from Uruguayans. Apparently, everything is about exporting water from Uruguay, mainly from the Guaraní Aquifer, to Europe at low cost and solely to benefit the private sector. Are you aware of the veracity of this information?

  30. mrsyk

    “Study shows dogs can detect COVID-19 faster, better than most PCR tests” If my memory serves me well, we were discussing this here early on. A quick search produced an article published November 23, 2020 in Nature, “Can dogs smell COVID? Here’s what the science says”. My wife (who has a “credentialed” opinion in this case) has been arguing for Covid sniffing dogs in transport hubs for what seems like forever now.

    1. Jeff W

      “If my memory serves me well, we were discussing this here early on.”

      Well, lambert was at least mentioning it as early as 5 May 2020, according to this post nearly a year later.

  31. The Rev Kev

    “The Tantalizing, Lonely Search for Alien Life”

    Recently I came across an amateur scifi story that was quite good. It points out that not only is there the enormous distances to contend with, but time itself. So we may discover alien signals that are transmitting a wealth of information about themselves but when we turn our telescopes to their coordinates, discover that their sun has gone and so has that civilization – ‘Oh we just missed you’. We are right now trying to send probes to contact other civilizations. But what if when another civilization finally finds one and turns their telescopes to where we are, it is to find that our sun has gone nova and we are long gone too- ‘Oh we just missed you’. I suppose that it is inevitable that this happens and that old film “Forbidden Planet” had that as its premise. So maybe there are other civilizations out there but the ones closest to us are only empty worlds with archaeological ruins only surviving. Or others which are still in their pre-Cambrian level of development. When you stop to think about it, having two civilizations fairly ‘close’ to each other and at an equivalent stage of development would be exceedingly rare. If any are curious, here is that story-

    1. Boomheist

      I have been working for several years om a series of tales set in the year 2190 or so; that is, far enough out there to imagine some form of space travel and even commercial activities within the Solar System, the development of a fusion drive enabling transit to nearby stars in mere decades, and during all the research I have done I have come to understand how vast the distances truly are. It is beyond comprehension, honestly. Just to give you one example, the nearest star to earth is 4.2 light years away. At the speed of the Voyageur probes, which are leaving the solar system and going as fast as we have yet sent anything, it will take 75,000 years to get there. If you can imagine some kind of fusion or plasma drive that allows you to ramp up to some percentage of the speed of light then ramp back down, maybe you can do the trip in, say, 50 years. Just to reach the nearest star! Now try to imagine reaching the Andromeda Galaxy which lies 250,000 light years away (I think).

      But, but…..the degree of discovery we have developed since the beginning of the space flight era is astounding, and as regards life elsewhere, I would say promising. We know life has emerged her on earth and we know the life here is water-based. We know as well there is water elsewhere in the solar system, perhaps enormous oceans of water on some of the remote Jupiter and Saturn moons which appear to have frozen surfaces and then liquid oceans thousands of kilometers deep beneath. We know from our deep ocean probes there is a enormous amount of life miles beneath the surface in total darkness feeding on heat and chemicals from thermal vents. We don’t know how, exactly, water-based life emerged, but it did, here on earth, and it makes total sense to me at least to imagine that if water is found to be common on exoplanets and elsewhere in the universe then surely somewhere, some time, water based life has emerged there, too, given the right combination of heat, chemicals, energy, and time. Maybe the chances are tiny, but it is beginning to look as if there might be billions – billions – of planets just in our own Milky Way that lie in the “habitable” zone (a region where water can be frozen, liquid or gas all at the same time), not to mention in the trillions – trillions – of other galexies in the known universe. I mean, these are numbers impossible to understand.

      So, if water is common, and earth has water-based life, then it is not unreasonable to imagine that on other worlds with water a similar reaction starting life, however that is defined – call it the development of entities that carry DNA and RNA and replicate and evolve – will have occurred. And, given that, it is also not unreasonable to imagine that, as on the earth, whatever forms the life adopts to meet its environmental requirements might arise in similar forms for similar niches, the old form follows function thesis, such that, at its extreme, it is also not impossible to imagine that somewhere else a bipedal sentient species will have evolved to occupy and control the same habitats we humans did here on earth, and those forms might, and probably do, resemble us, as their evolution will have been similar. For this reason – at least as regards water based life – I have no trouble imagining that sentient beings that eventually create civilizations and technology would indeed resemble us, perhaps extremely closely, because they will have evolved on similar planets.

      Of course there may be many other forms of life, not water based, not DNA and RNA based, out there, or even here on and in the earth. It might be for example that there are life forms here that move in such a slow time scale compared to us we believe them inert whereas they are actually alert, thinking, and doing things, just as a scale too slow for us to see and record.

      So, back to the story – unless we find alien signals hitting the earth (and there is a fair argument that such signals should be drifting through this universe, chatter, from all the civilizations that have come and then gone) but there are also compelling arguments why the universe seems silent – recall again the vast distances we face. For example, any star more than, say, 133 light years away from us would have no idea there is any civilization on Earth, as radio waves were not invented until the 1890s) or it becomes the case that the UFO sightings by our military are, in fact, real alien technology, the first real shock to our world view will be when we find water based life elsewhere within the solar system, and this I think will happen when we get to those water based moons beyond Mars, which I expect might be around, say, 2075 or so. That will be a revelation.

      At the same time, the discovery of exoplanets will continue. Did you know that we have now found, and charted, I think, 5000 such planets? Five thousand!! And we now have the ability to determine what their atmospheres are like, whether they have water and oxygen and other elements; we may even be able to detect exhausts from other civilizations. And you know, for sure, that if we do find water based life within our solar system, some among us, either governments or billionaires, will be driven to see what there is on the most likely, nearest, exoplanets…..

      As regards the total lack of alien signals from Out There, maybe we are, indeed, among the first, maybe it takes 4.5 billion years or more, or maybe 13 billion years, to evolve to sentient humanoids. But, and this is where things start ti get wierd, if we humans end up going into our solar system and then sending probes to exoplanets and maybe later sending missions with humans to these exoplanets, well, then, maybe some other human-like species on another world came by Earth, too, and maybe a long long time ago, to find it filled with lizards, in which case they probably moved on. Or maybe they arrived here during the ice ages and saw these humanoid species and knew they were evolving as they had evolved. Maybe they helped us along…

      This is the mystery. The thing is, we are of limited ability to comprehend time and history. Our experience with eyewitness accounts of great events is limited to at most 80 years, second-hand accounts to 160 years, maximum, after which all memory is lost. But what is true is that when I was a kid in the 1950s we were growing up in a world where all we had were telescopes to peer through out atmosphere, rockets were just being developed, and we knew nothing of exoplanets or the water on the outer moons or the Oort cloud or how old and vast the universe was….

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        thanks for this exhibition of true Thaumezein(gr:”Wonder”).
        i feel the same way when looking up(we can see the stars out here…even the entire milky way)
        i am a Nasa Kid…dad worked at JSC from Apollo 12 through Skylab…so..”I’m with you in Rockland…”,lol.
        its humbling to grok, in your bones, just how much we dont know…and to fill it all in with Possibilities.
        but, then again, i talk to trees and squirrels and geese….

      2. Not Qualified to Comment

        Exactly. We don’t know what we don’t know. We think nothing can travel faster than light, but three hundred years ago who could have imagined a light switch? The currently barely understood ideas/theories of quantum entanglement appear to suggest a potential for instantaneous communication across inter-galactic distances. Perhaps in another three hundred years (if we last that long) we’ll be throwing switches that light up rooms on the other side of the universe. (OK, I know the Universe doesn’t have sides but you know what I mean – thought of course not having sides is another known unknown.)

      3. Maxwell Johnston

        Now that was a fun comment to read! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. NC’s comment section is the best; not just for current events and finance and politics, but for everything under the sun and moon.

        The Andromeda Galaxy is about 2.5 million light years away, not 250k. It’s the most distant object that can be seen with the naked eye. I used to be able to see it unaided on dark moonless nights in the countryside, but now I need my binos to see it, even though I know exactly where to look. But it’s always fun (and somehow reassuring) to see that it’s still up there. Up until the 1920s or 30s, it was referred to as the Andromeda Nebula, and was thought to be part of our galaxy (which in turn was thought to be the extent of the entire universe). Hubble settled this issue once and for all. I continue to believe that Hubble’s discoveries about our universe are of the utmost importance and have not yet been fully digested by humanity, probably because the implications (especially for much of religion and philosophy) are too much for most of us to handle.

      4. Ann

        Dark Forest theory is one possible solution to the Fermi Paradox: and:

        Very well explicated in the novels of Cixin Liu, Hugo Award winner:

        The Three Body Problem
        The Dark Forest
        Death’s End

        These three novels totally blew me away when I read them. I will have to wait before reading them again because the ideas are still rolling around like pool balls on the pool table, not having come to rest yet.

        1. Darthbobber

          There’s also his short novel Ball Lightning, where he has a lot of fun with quantum physics as narrative device.

    2. Michaelmas

      Rev Kev: …we may discover alien signals … are transmitting a wealth of information about themselves but when we turn our telescopes to their coordinates, discover that their sun has gone and so has that civilization – ‘Oh we just missed you’.

      This concept has been considered, most prominently in Stanislaw Lem’s novel Fiasco

      “…Even if there are a million civilizations in the galaxy, their duration is so dispersed in time that it is impossible first to communicate with the host of a planet and then drop in on him. Civilizations are harder to catch than a mayfly that lives for one day. We look for pupas, therefore, and not the adults. Do you know what the window of contact is?”


      “All right, then. Having sifted through two hundred million stars, we came up with eleven million candidates … Imagine”—he clapped him on the knee—”that you have fallen in love with the portrait of a sixteen-year-old girl. You set out to woo her. Unfortunately, the journey will take fifty years. You’ll find an old woman, or a grave. If you decide to declare your love by mail, you’ll be an old man yourself before you receive the first reply. And that, in a nutshell, is the basic idea of CETI. You can’t hold a conversation at intervals of many centuries ….”.

      And so in Lem’s novel, because no two intelligent civilizations ever chance to coexist within the galaxy simultaneously, first contact inevitably requires first putting the vessel of the space travelers who will make that first contact into what we would now call a closed timelike curve around a black hole (the term didn’t have common currency when Lem wrote his novel in the 1980s, though the possibility has been known of since the 1930s) —

      — in order to send them back x-thousand years to when the alien civilization still existed. Space travel inevitably means time travel, after all, at relativistic distances.

      1. Maxwell Johnston

        “Fiasco” is my favorite Lem story, even better than “Solaris”. It was actually my RU wife who introduced me to Lem’s works; it seems Lem was popular in the USSR and was on the list of “approved” authors (as were Hemingway and Somerset Maugham and Jack London, among others). Lem wrote an enormous number of short stories, and the ones I’ve read are usually excellent and thought-provoking. His knowledge of human nature is astounding.

      2. Boomheist

        Well the whole issue of time travel is, of course, fascinating. I think the best time travel book ever done was written in the early 1970s, or late 60s, by Jack Finney, Time and Again, a fascinating tale abut a method to send people back about 80 years. That was the only science-fiction thing-y thing about the book, actually, but it was compelling. Great story, too.

          1. Boomheist

            Thanks!!! Of course with regard to time travel, I get it how by travelling close to light speed the time passage on the travelling ship is much slower than on the planet it left from….that I can understand. I can also see that if I fly toward a planet several light years away and I travel at faster than light speed I will arrive at that planet in that planet’s past, for example if I head for a planet 7000 light years distant and I go faster than light, say 2x the speed of light, I will arrive there 3500 years (my time) before the light that left that planet has struck earth when I left earth…so I can see going back into the past of other worlds, though not my own. What I cannot fathom is going ahead in time, forward, that I cannot comprehend.

            Truly mind boggling….

  32. nippersdad

    Cornell West is now at six percent in the Emerson poll!

    “If third party candidate Cornel West was to appear on the ballot with Trump and Biden, Biden’s support decreases to 40%, Trump to 41%, and West holds 6%. Seven percent would vote for someone else and the share of undecided voters increases to 6%.

    “When West is added to the ballot test, he pulls 15% of support from Black voters, and 13% from voters under 35, two key voting blocs for President Biden,” Kimball noted.”

    And he is very impressive in his interview skills. Rational National does a segment on his Hannity interview….

    ….I would love to see him in a debate with Biden and Trump. I have never seen Trump’s debating skills as anything more than a lot of braggadocio, and he would make a perfect foil for West.

    1. S.D., M.D.

      Not getting on the ballot in more than a token number of states, no way no how, unless he gets the green or libertarian party nomination.

    2. some guy

      Trump would just keep talking and talking and talking . . . and talking . . . and talking . . . until a frustrated Professor West would have to say some academic professorial-sounding rewording of ” come on, man. Would you just shut up?”

  33. EssCetera

    re: It’s Not The Really Blatant Propaganda That Gets You Caitlin’s Newsletter.

    I’m reminded of how the WH propaganda machine convinced the American populace that Saddam had orchestrated 9/11, all without actually saying so, by simple use of constant phrasing and repeated word proximity/association. And, of course, all with the assistance and cooperation of news media.

  34. Steve H.

    Just got my teeth cleaned, the periodontist might be back at work at the beginning of the year – brain bleed with stroke-like symptoms, left hand not working so well.

    Two things I did not know from conversing there. One is, the tongue is one of the strongest muscles in the body.

    The other is that 40% of dental hygienists in Indiana did not renew their license this year.

  35. maipenrai

    I am an admirer of Caitlin;s writing but this time i fear she misses a crucial point on propaganda.
    Arrendt tells us that “the point of propaganda is not to make people believe it. It is to foster cynicism so that we don’t know what to believe and come to believe that nothing is true, no facts are reliable, and the world is simply a battlefield for partisan ideas.”

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      from CJ Hopkins, circa 2018 :
      “The truth is a story that power gets to tell, and that the powerless do not get to tell, unless they tell the story of those in power, which is always someone else’s story. The powerless are either servants of power or they are heretics. There is no third alternative. They either parrot the truth of the ruling classes or they utter heresies of one type or another. Naturally, the powerless do not regard themselves as heretics. They do not regard their “truth” as heresy. They regard their “truth” as the truth, which is heresy. The truth of the powerless is always heresy.”

      there was an even more insightful rant from him on the nature of propaganda from 2010, i think…that i saw quoted just the other day somewhere, but i cant find it.

      anyhoo, i’m proud to be a Heretic(gr:”choice maker”)

    2. ArvidMartensen

      Simplisitically, it seems A. one side believes most of everything in the msm, while B. the other side believes mostly nothing in the msm.
      Repetition, bluster and moralistic PR win, so most people are in category A. in my small sample here.
      IMO, this is the happy place for the US oligarchy and its servants, the PMC. Follow the money. So I guess I disagree with Arrendt.

    3. Random

      Putting aside Arendt’s very creative interpretation of what is/isn’t propaganda, totalitarianism, etc. this seems to just be factually untrue.
      Most people in most given societies no matter how skeptical or dissatisfied tend to believe at least the basic premises of their state’s propaganda.
      The majority of Americans (as an example, but take any other country with a strong propaganda machine) accepted and believed the basic premises behind Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. at the time of those events. Statistics suggest that the situation is roughly the same today.
      The skeptical and cynical minority is a minority. People believe what they are told and are expected to believe. It’s not more complicated than that.
      Historically speaking it’s also very hard to argue that a significant proportion the people in the “totalitarian” states of the 20th century that she talks about did not hold very strong political positions and truths.

  36. noonespecial

    Re: Richard D. Wolff Asia Times

    At the end of the article, Mr. Wolff poses this question: Will they [the masses] see through the contradictions of China-bashing to prevent war, seek mutual accommodation, and thereby rebuild a new version of the joint prosperity that existed before Trump and Biden?

    For the US masses who rely on news feeds from the likes of the Washington Times they may not see through the contradictions This paper’s Op-eds might as well lead in with a gif from the wrestling world and its phrase, “Let’s get ready to rumble.” The artwork at the beginning of the article strikes certain propaganda pose.

    Here a sample from the link:

    Why does the relative balance of missile systems thousands of miles away matter? It’s simple: Our American way of life depends on a free and open Indo-Pacific…We cannot allow China to dominate the region, intimidate our allies, or forcibly retake Taiwan. A Chinese-dominated Asia would fundamentally change Americans’ everyday lives.

  37. ArvidMartensen

    There should be a poll in the US asking the question –
    If peaceful aliens with advanced technology landed in the US next week, which of the following 5 choices would you rank as your #1? And which as your #2?

    A. An exclusive US partnership with the aliens to commercialise alien tech ?
    B. A joint alien/US initiative to invade and defeat Russia and China?
    C. An exclusive joint alien/US initiative to build military and commercial bases on the Moon and Mars for US resource extraction and migration?
    D. An Independent alien candidate for the 2024 Presidential race to defeat current Dem and GOP contenders?
    D. A worldwide sharing of alien knowledge given freely to end world sickness and hunger and save the planet from global heating?

    How would the PMC votes pan out? Hmmmmm

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