Links 8/30/2023

The Manufacturing Boom’s Hidden Costs Barron’s 

Russia is set to launch Islamic banking: All you need to know Al Jazeera. I wonder what Islamic banking’s views on cash are.


Hurricane “”Idalia”” threatens parts of Florida with catastrophic storm surge, U.S. The Watchers. As of this writing:

‘Waffle House Index’ is used to determine severity of Hurricane Idalia FOX

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Green Colonialism 2.0: Tree Plantations and Carbon Offsets in Africa Oakland Institute

Carbon offsets aren’t helping the planet — four ways to fix them Nature

The summer ahead The Monthly

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Solar Boom Spreads to Timberlands and Self-Storage Rooftops WSJ

Wind power industry faces size problem as blades get longer than football pitches FT. Gigantism is never a good sign.

Residential development in Erie, Longmont stalled after wells plugged decades ago start leaking oil and gas Colorado Sun


Former Trump COVID Adviser: We’re Living in ‘Fantasy World’ The Messenger. Commentary:


Goldman Sachs bought UK and US companies using Chinese state funds FT

Commerce chief says US firms complain China is ‘uninvestible’ Channel News Asia

China’s moralising of public policy risks eroding gains in human welfare South China Morning Post


Myanmar and the Death of ASEAN The Irrawaddy


Today’s India Has All the Markers of a Failing Democracy. But the Situation Is Not Irreversible. The Wire


Gabonese soldiers announce they have seized power Anadolu Agency


Saudi Arabia: Man Sentenced to Death for Tweets Human Rights Watch

European Disunion

Rod Dreher’s BFF (sorta):

Albania: Europe’s hidden haven for digital nomads Sifted. Some damned thing in the Balkans, dude.

Zijin mulling multi-billion dollar expansion of Serbian copper mine Normally, I don’t like to include links about decisions that might be made, but this is interesting.

Dear OId Blighty

UK air traffic chaos ‘not result of cyberattack,’ says transport minister Anadolu Agency. Well, that’s a relief!

New Not-So-Cold War

Escaping Attrition: Ukraine Rolls the Dice Big Serge Thought. “Ukraine may not be interested in a war of attrition, but attrition is certainly interested in Ukraine.” Grab a cup of coffee, this is an excellent read. It occurs me that we might need a new unit, call it The Zelensky Unit, following the precedent of The Friedman Unit*. The Zelensky Unit = X months starting from when Ukraine trains up a new army and ending when the Russian meatgrinder spits it out, and the cycle begins anew. It’s my impression that Z has been shortening over time, so perhaps Z is not a constant, like the Friedman Unit, but decays. Interestingly, a potential culmination point for our proxy war in Ukraine could be expressed in Z units; in fact, I’d argue we have 1 (one) Zelensky Unit to go. Yves wonders whether there’s a prediction market for the date of Ukraine’s culmination point; given our embubblement and penchant for self-delusion, I’d argue no. NOTE * Coined by Atrios.

Luxurious Villa owned by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Family Discovered On Egyptian Coast Punch. What, no airstrip? (Accompanying YouTube disabled, so I assume the story is authentic.)

An evacuation order finds few followers in northeastern Ukraine despite Russia’s push in the region AP

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Ukraine’s real killing fields: An investigation into the war’s first aid crisis The Spectator

Ukraine SitRep: Topography Shapes The Battle Field – Abysmal Medical Service Causes Death Moon of Alabama. Two, two, two posts in one. The second, “first aid crisis,” cites to The Spectator above.

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Western funding is key to the Ukraine counteroffensive: How long can that support go on? France24. Either well before the Democratic National Convention in 2024, or after the election. Could depend on when Ukraine’s culmination point is, and whether we get that right!

Volodymyr Zelenskyy: The United States and the EU should share the risks of possible elections in Ukraine during the war President of Ukraine

The Case for Negotiating with Russia The New Yorker. From denial, to anger, to bargaining… Now, what would be really interesting is if some “Russian scholar” could come up with an article entitled “The Case for Negotiating with the United States,” from the Valdai Discussion Club or similar. I’m guessing no. Russia mavens?

Ukraine’s Future Isn’t German or Israeli But Korean Bloomberg. Let me know how that works out.

* * *

Why the US and Europe Still Buy Russian Nuclear Fuel Bloomberg

He pleaded for F-16s for Ukraine but died in a crash before he could fly one WaPo. I was guessing the photo would be a baby, but I was wrong; it’s a grieving family.

Biden Administration

After Supreme Court Forces Its Hand, E.P.A. Curbs Wetlands Protection NYT

Democrats Déshabillé

Retirees Crash Adams Event to Blast Medicare Advantage Plan The City (MR).

Digital Watch

AI could choke on its own exhaust as it fills the web Axios. “Exhaust”? Why use euphemisms when you can use a word like autocoprophagous?

Behind the AI boom, an army of overseas workers in ‘digital sweatshops’ WaPo. Naturally. 

ChatGPT is a stunning intellect David Llewellyn-Smith, Macrobusiness. Or post-structuralism is (a) bullshit and (b) massively over-reresented in the training sets.

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The end of the Googleverse The Verge

Web Scraping for Me, But Not for Thee (Guest Blog Post) Technology & Marketing Law Blog

The Bezzle

America’s financial cops say Impact Theory’s NFTs were unregistered securities The Register

Groves of Academe

University cuts itself off from internet after mystery security snafu The Register

University of Minnesota faces lawsuit over potentially massive data breach Star Tribune


Ohio Medicaid seeking public comment on changing estate recovery rules through Wednesday Dayton Daily News. We first posted on so-called “estate recovery” in 2014. Nine years, and nothing has been done.

Zeitgeist Watch

Tracking Orwellian Change: New Meanings of “Deep State” and “Working Class” Matt Taibbi, Racket State. Back in the dear dead days of the Blogosphere, glossary projects like this were a genre. Kudos to Taibbi.

This special ops leader secretly ran a popular military meme page — here’s how it helped him do his job FOX

Class Warfare

Alienation Under Capitalism and the Conspiracy Pipeline Agonas. Well worth a read.

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Labor unions are pushing hard for double-digit raises and better hours. Many are winning CNBC

Regressive and Passive UFT Pales Behind Aggressive and Progressive Unions: Is it the Leadership or Membership? Ed Notes Online

“”Now We Can Begin””: Annotated JSTOR. Crystal Eastman

Of science friction and chocolate fireguards Splash 247. Fun!

Could the Universe be a giant quantum computer? Nature

How to Knife Throw: An Essential Guide to a Very Cool Skill Field & Stream

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. Daniil Adamov

    The Valdai Discussion Club is more interested in the “global majority” these days. At a quick glance, recent articles about the USA all seem to proceed from the (IMO realistic) assumption that there will be no normalisation or significant easing of sanctions any time soon, no matter what. So why negotiate? And the Valdai Club is quite moderate and measured with respect to the West.

    1. Paradan

      Russia should go old school and ask for hostages, like Nulands kids or something. Keep them in Moscow to ensure USA holds it’s side of the agreement.

      1. Lex

        Brilliant! Joe can send Hunter and get two birds stoned at once by removing him from the election and making Americans feel sorry for him and dad because he’s held in Russia.

        1. The Rev Kev

          And on the Russian side, they can threaten old Joe by saying that if he does not keeps his agreements, that they will fly Hunter back to America again.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The behavior of Hollande and Merkel in regards to Minsk (Boris and Biden too and whatever the hell Macron is doing ) have created conditions where the trust to negotiate for anything beyond physical borders simply doesn’t exist anymore regardless of how much a Scholz may have seen the light.

          High profile things like IRS audits of Nuland probably need to happen before a treaty can be entered into. Actions like exile and sacrificial lambs need to be offered up to demonstrate good faith.

          RFK or West make could turn the course as newcomers, but there won’t be a freeze anymore. The time for that push was May before the offensive if that was possible then with plenty of Azov types handed over especially ones with photops with Nuland level types.

          Enforcement of agreements matters. The bipartisan bad faith and rhetoric and oast behavior of opposition parties mirrors dynasties versus transitory power. Medieval rules are what is left.

    2. Bugs

      That article is so full of laugh out loud moments that I recommend not drinking anything while reading it. This is the US foreign policy elite bargaining with themselves so let’s stand back and watch it fall slowly apart. As if Russia is going to negotiate with these fools. I really wonder when reality is going to hit.

  2. digi_owl

    I’m sure there are already bookies taking bets on when and how the conflict in Ukraine will end.

    1. The Rev Kev

      If they did, it would have to be on the down low so nobody could see that they were doing it as it would cause a riot that if known. It would be like a scene from that old Clint Eastwood 1977 film “The Gauntlet.” In Las Vegas he has the job of escorting a hooker/witness and realizes that they have been set up to die. He is shown a betting board that shows the odds for a horse called “Mally No Show” that keeps increasing and that the mob are using this gambling device to bet that he and the girl – Mally – are killed before he can get her to Town hall to testify.

      So should we lay our bets on a horse named “Sniffy” not to finish his race?

  3. The Rev Kev

    ‘Ep. 20 Hungary shares a border with Ukraine. We traveled to Budapest to speak with the country’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán.’

    Very interesting interview this and I find that I have to keep revising my opinion of Viktor Orbán. He reminds me of those old 19th century New York ward heelers. Growing up in the school of hard knocks, hard wired into local public opinion, knowing that he has to deliver on real things to benefit people rather than fob them off and only give stuff to the bosses.

    Macron has offered himself as an envoy to negotiate a peace deal between the Ukraine and Russia but after France’s part in undercutting the Mink agreements, the Russians wont even take his calls. So perhaps Viktor Orbán might be a better choice to help negotiate a peace deal as at least he has a grasp of reality. In passing, can you imagine how many heads would explode if Tucker Carlson succeeds in getting an interview with Putin?

    1. digi_owl

      I suspect the NATO/Ukraine side would dismiss that idea for much the same reason Russia is ignoring Macron.

      At this point i am unsure who can truly be seen as untarnished enough by all sides to be a neutral negotiator.

    2. MT_Wild

      Given the collection of numbskulls we’re talking about, it’s a chance I’m willing to take :)

  4. The Rev Kev

    “Commerce chief says US firms complain China is ‘uninvestible’ ”

    I suppose that is true from one point of view. How the game is played in China is not how the game is played in the US. I don’t know if that is a plus or a minus that. But if they are expecting that if they run to mummy – in this case US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo – and that they demand that she gets China to change their rules for them, it ain’t going to happen. It did not matter how she said that she was firm in her expectations and that she was heard, the Chinese could care less about Commerce Secretary Karen. So maybe those US firms should just quit China and make way for other countries that do want to do business in China. As the US ramps up pressure on China, they will have to get out anyway by orders from Washington. Anyway, learned a long time ago that when you are playing with the other kid’s bat and ball, that you have to play by his rules.

  5. Lex

    The Big Serge piece is a borderline must read. For those who’ve been following the Ukraine conflict closely there’s not much in the way of new information but there is good analysis. For those who haven’t been following closely it’s as good an overview as you’ll find and he’s let the whole thing be free.

  6. Ignacio

    Anotter antidote today! Niiice. But today I am recalling a previous one showing a cheetah running (flying, indeed, all feet well above the ground). That one was a great pic.

  7. Verifyfirst

    I see Biden will address Hurricane Idalia today. Sure hope he shares that heartwarming anecdote about the time his bathtub overflowed……

    1. nippersdad

      And the hundred dollars* in FEMAbucks should go a long way toward their rebuilding their homes as well! His largesse towards the unwashed masses yearning to take a shower knows no bounds.

      *Seven hundred minus the six hundred still owed from the COVID relief plan.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Gabonese soldiers announce they have seized power”

    Josep Borrell: ‘We don’t care.’

    Perenco, Shell & TotalEnergies: ‘Gabon has massive amounts of oil in proven reserves.’

    Josep Borrell: ‘This coup increases instability in the whole region and is a big issue for Europe.’

    1. Aurelien

      Ah well. I have to say I didn’t expect it to happen quite this quickly, but it was obvious that after the appeasement of the Nigerien junta, it was open season for any group of soldiers in the region who fancied reversing the result of an election they didn’t like and taking power. So far, according to the francophone media, the new leaders haven’t got round to presenting the putsch as an anti-imperialist manoeuvre, but it will occur to them sooner or later. The tragedy is that in a matter of weeks, twenty years of patient work by the African Union and its sub-regional organisations to break with the historical image of Africa as a continent of military dictatorships incapable of white-man stye democracy has all gone up in flames. Even now, African scholars are dusting off the books on African military rule published in the 60s and 70s, when that seemed to be the inevitable destiny of the continent.

      1. Darthbobber

        So sad. Soon people will be questioning whether control of the country by a single family ever since independence really reflected a vibrant democracy.

        The way the standard looks is something like this. If a government retains power through some sort of elections, no matter how questionable the legitimacy or how widespread the public outrage, as long as the military remains loyal and suppressed the dissent it’s a good, functioning democracy.

        If the military goes the other way, it’s an evil coup.

        But we’re seemingly back to where we were back when the earliest waves of coups defenestrated a host of the initial independence governments and their pretend western-style parliaments, with no particular outrage or opposition from populations who had seen how those democracies worked in practice.

        1. The Rev Kev

          ‘Soon people will be questioning whether control of the country by a single family ever since independence really reflected a vibrant democracy.’

          Good call that. They mentioned it on the news and it struck me a a funny way of being a democracy. If you have a situation like that in a country, well of course the army is the only other institution that can remedy this so is not to be confused with a military coup in a western country.

      2. Kouros

        It is possible that people are becoming non-plussed by the “white style democracy” since it doesn’t provide any concrete results. If there is more abundance of products in Africa, is only because China became the factory of the world at affordable prices.

        The question, many a time raised in some long and interesting essays I have been reading lately, is how long until the western populations become disenchanted by the “western style democracy” since it produces no tangible benefits for the population at large…

        1. Aurelien

          Yes, well of course we’ve been here before, a number of times since the 1960s, and it’s become painfully clear that the answer to a bad government is not another bad government, and that the answer to a failed civilian government is not a military government, which virtually always ends up failing as well.

          Nobody doubts that the African political class is as bad as the western political class, and nobody doubts that the enthusiastic and uncritical adoption of western-style liberal democracy by the first generation of independence leaders without the history and underlying structures being in place has created huge problems. But then, as African friends of mine are fond of saying, what’s the alternative? It’s not that there aren’t African traditions which can be co-opted–there are, and they can be very helpful–but in the world as it is, it’s impossible to do without structures that at least resemble those of a liberal democracy, with all its flaws.

          And the answer isn’t military governments. There was a time, especially in the 1960s, when development theorists actually thought military governments were a good idea, since military officers tended to be better educated, more technological and more modern than the general population. That’s debatable, but it’s clear that (with one or two interesting exceptions like Ghana) military regimes haven’t done much to stabilise the country or re-launch any kind of democratic system. In a number of countries in Africa, (and elsewhere, actually, Pakistan is a good comparator) military rule becomes endemic, and periods of civilian rule alternate with periods of military rule, as the populations becomes terminally dissatisfied with whatever the last change. was.

          1. Darthbobber

            But it’s also clear that the answer to a bad government isn’t its own indefinite continuation.

            Of course, there’s also the occasional popular uprising, but those are also pretty inconsistent in their results.

            Seems pretty doubtful that external intervention will prove much of a solution to bad governments, military coups, or any other internal problems.

            Seems even more doubtful that French concerns have anything to do with democracy.

          2. Kouros

            It is sad that nobody tries more democracy, just to see how it might work in the modern day, as in election of representatives by sortition, and some very tight leashes on the executive power…

  9. LaRuse

    I-named storms make me nervous. We were without power for 13 days post Hurricane Isabel in 2003 and then 9 days after Hurricane Irene in 2011. I grew up on the coast of Virginia and remember many storms (Danny and Floyd stand out) but thanks to storm-hardened infrastructure, we were never out for more than 6 days on the coast after a bad storm. Inland, where I am now, things are not built as sturdy it seems.
    So, I have been watching Idalia very carefully because early in her existence, it looked like she would run up the I95 corridor. Now that is not the case but is anyone else watching that long range cone after she exits FL/GA/SC? That curve out to the Southeast in the Atlantic, if it holds, will almost certainly rebound back into a west/northwest track back towards the east coast.
    It is far too early to say what comes next but that water off the southeastern coast is still 80-90*F despite Franklin mixing things up a little. I don’t think Idalia is necessarily done after this landfall.

    1. Jason Boxman

      I was in central Florida for more years than I care to remember, and I was there also during 2004 for the triple hits. Two in rapid succession, and lost power both times for a day or two. Fortunately got out okay otherwise, but the whole area had the usual downed trees and so forth. Getting that combined with humidity and no air conditioning sucked even in the early 2000s.

    2. nippersdad

      I saw that on Ryan Hall last night. Can you imagine? That would really suck.

      So, were it to cross the peninsula into yet more bath tub water in the Gulf and then turn northeast again…..Not that I am wishing that on anyone, but a hurricane just circling around the state would be something that we have never seen before.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      So, with regard to Idalia, I’ll just put this in the “You Can’t Make This Shit Up” category:

      The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said late Sunday that gasoline purchased after 10 a.m. Saturday at some Citgo-supplied stations had a strong likelihood of being contaminated with diesel fuel. Citgo identified 29 affected stations — sold at chains like 7-Eleven, BJ’s Wholesale and other convenience stores — in cities including Tampa, Fort Myers, Sarasota and more.

      Those locations with potentially contaminated fuel have been notified and asked by Citgo to halt sales….

      The Port of Tampa contamination is “happening right of the eve of the storm,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at Sunday news conference. “If (consumers) filled up at any one of these stations, they probably don’t want to drive their car — because you’re going to have people potentially just stuck on the side of the road.”

      Citgo says it was “human error.” Hope the storm isn’t bad enough to warrant evacuation.

      But not to worry–those affected can file a compllaint once the storm surge subsides, the power / internet comes back on, and they replace their waterlogged “electronics” and contaminated engine blocks:

      Consumers who believe they may have bought contaminated gas at impacted locations are urged to contact the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to file a complaint. They can also initiate a claim through Citgo’s Good Gas Guarantee program.

  10. Mikel

    Behind the AI boom, an army of overseas workers in ‘digital sweatshops’ WaPo.

    With the help of plenty of authorities in and from those countries.

  11. Jason Boxman

    So on Dr. Birx and the Trump response to the Pandemic, you’ll note that between Birx and Trump’s Surgeon General, there were more people in the Trump administration that took the Pandemic seriously than the Biden administration.

    Make of that what you will.

    1. Steve H.

      May 10, 2020

      > Birx and others reportedly feared that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data-tracking system was inflating coronavirus statistics like death rates and case numbers.
      > Other non-CDC sources have found that daily coronavirus deaths in the US remain at roughly 2,000.
      > Recent research has also indicated that COVID-19 deaths have been severely undercounted, both in the US and around the world, particularly in the early stages of the pandemic.Birx and others reportedly feared that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was using inflated data on coronavirus death and case rates.

    1. hunkerdown

      It’s another act in the epic drama of fixed capital replacing variable capital, portraying the sufferance of workers and their “demands” as a courtesy but not a necessity.

      But this one is more cleverly calculated to blow back against the production of simple use-values in the home without market supervision. It’s exactly the same drama as with 3D printers, MP3s, VCRs, cassette recorders…

    2. Randall Flagg

      Tell you what, when all government officials, billionaires and private equity/hedge fund big shots only use AI as pilots on their private planes, then maybe, just maybe, I’ll trust it. But probably not

  12. The Rev Kev

    “He pleaded for F-16s for Ukraine but died in a crash before he could fly one”

    This guy was supposed to be the Ghost of Kiev. Yeah, that one. Now he is just a ghost through a simple flying accident.

    1. digi_owl

      When that news hit the sites here in Norway i though he had died here, because a few hours earlier there had been a report of a small plane that had crashed.

  13. some guy

    About Myanmar and ASEAN and etc. . . . .

    Either the Junta will exterminate the Myanmar opposition and rebels into abject surrender and utter obedience or the Myanmar rebels and opposition will exterminate the Myanmar Junta and its Tonton Macoutes ( “tatmadaw”) into extinction. And there is not a thing the West can do about it even if the West wanted to. Even if the West were to become “interested”, Russia and China would give the Junta more aid and support than the West could possibly give.

    And if the West gave enough actual war-fighting support to the rebels to actually make any trace of difference at all whatsoever to the rebels and opposition, all the Leftists of the world would immediately accuse the entire opposition and every rebel fighting in the field of being part of a ” CIA Color Revolution”.

    So the NUGies and the rebels will fight the Junta and the TonTatmadaw Macoutes to the utter defeat or extinction of one side or the other. If the NUGies and rebels end up being the winning side, they will take extensive and destructive revenge against every possible Chinese investment in Myanmar. China will move heaven and earth to see to it that the TonTatmadaw Macoutes can exterminate the NUGies and rebels into never ever achieving their revenge against those Chinese pro-junta investments.

    Darwin and nobody but Darwin will decide who wins versus who dies in Myanmar.

    1. Schopsi

      Since when does the US Goverment care what lefties around the world think or say?

      Calling CIA color revolutions out has rarely had much influence on them succeeding or failing.

      Southeast Asia is certainly crawling with extremely violent CIA color revolution operatives and according to Brian Berletic Myanmar just as certainly isn’t an exceptions.

      That of course doesn’t mean the US is in a position to do much (but lefties screaming sure as hell isn’t what is putting constraints on them) or that the Myanmar Military isn’t genuinely monstrous.

  14. Carolinian

    Just in case anyone thought The New Yorker was coming to terms with reality

    I first met Charap in the summer of 2017, not long after the book came out, and in the midst of a maelstrom of anger at Russia for its interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

    The article goes on to line up the usual claims about Ukraine’s great initial victory and Fall, ’22 success. It’s pretending to be realistic without actually looking into the inconvenient facts although this summer many of those have become hard to ignore. So it’s just more noise from Remnick-ville.

    The magazine did run that widely praised on the ground report from Bakhmut which offered grim detail on just what we, and magazines like The New Yorker, have gotten Ukrainians into. But the notion of “our adversary Russia” is always there so the chickenhawks can man the barricades.

    Carson said “buy the premise, buy the bit” but that was comedy.

  15. Michael Fiorillo

    Longtime NYC public school teacher here, regarding your EdNotes* link about the UFT:

    The United Federation of Teachers is both a one-party state and the last of the urban political machines, with an effective patronage structure that provides one of many barriers to a strong opposition. The union has been controlled by the Unity Caucus for over sixty years, and has never been seriously challenged for power. It’s patronage system has effective sticks and carrots, with a caucus loyalty oath providing political discipline, and union jobs (some with double pensions!) providing incentives for compliant and ambitious Chapter Leaders to toe the line and advance. The result has been severe erosion in teacher’s rights on the job, professional autonomy and the future of public education itself.

    Since the EdNotes article is all about the UFT’s political passivity, one historical irony, especially sweet for us freak aficionado/observers of Left and labor history, is that the continuing power of the Unity Caucus is a relic of the organizational genius of Albert Shanker, who made his bones in the union by helping to defeat the Communists who’d had an organic presence in the city’s public schools for decades. Yet Shanker’s longest-lasting legacy, Unity Caucus, makes policy decisions under the same procedures of Democratic Centralism as the hated CPUSA of old.

    Shanker was a fundamentalist Cold Warrior (though he’d started out as a follower of Trotskyist leader/political split meister Max Schactman, who later turned hard to the Right) but he was also a brilliant trade unionist and organizer. His descendants in the union leadership, labor midgets by comparison, cling to power via the political vehicle he created and selling off (when not giving away) the contractual protections for teachers he’d won. How ironic, should a sclerotic, brittle UFT leadership collapse due in part to the contradictions in their political model, which fattened off an intentionally-cultivated apolitical and indifferent membership, and led the UFT to be widely recognized as a paper tiger.

    * Published by longtime friend, colleague and comrade, Norm Scott

  16. Tom Stone

    I think we’re going to see Harris fairly soon,
    Someone will be held responsible for “Losing Ukraine” , and who is better suited for that role than Kamala Harris?
    It’s also interesting that the corruption of the Biden Family is coming out now, they have been brazenly corrupt for decades and their efforts to be discreet were laughable.
    5,400 Emails under another name that are directly linked to Slow Joe…all the SARS reports that were sitting there gathering dust…
    This next year is going to be entertaining.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Someone will be held responsible for “Losing Ukraine” , and who is better suited for that role than Kamala Harris?

      They didn’t let Harris near Ukraine. Perhaps, in retrospect, that was a mistake. (So I wonder who the patsy at the poker table is?)

      1. nippersdad

        They will blame Trump. The conflict was designed to be shovel ready when Hillary was supposed to take the reins, and they even impeached him for not arming the Nazis fast enough. He seems like a ready made fall guy for this, and maybe they can find something more to take him to court over.

        1. ambrit

          ‘They’ might charge him under the 1917 Espionage Act as a “willing puppet of a foreign power.” If Trump wins the 2024 election, ‘they’ will remove him and set up a “Government of National Unity.” The Constitution will be ‘suspended’ for the duration of the “Emergency.”
          “New elections will be scheduled when the ‘Emergency’ is over.”
          A typical back handed “Enabling Act.”

          1. nippersdad

            I could definitely see them trying to pin him on the Espionage Act as they have pretty much already tried to do just that. And then there is this from last week:

            “I fundamentally believe that you don’t mess around with the kinds of highest stakes we’re [dealing] with,” said Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) in an interview when asked about West. “Can you just imagine what a second term of Trump would be? It’s all going to be about revenge.”


            And this from today:

            “…And if you’re president again, will you lock people up?”

            Trump…said there is “no choice.”

            “Well, I’ll give you an example… The answer is you have no choice, because they’re doing it to us,”
            Trump said, adding that he “never hit Biden as hard as I could have.”


            As Tom Stone was saying, “This next year is going to be entertaining.”

            1. Katniss Everdeen

              “It’s all going to be about revenge.”

              I think I remember hearing somewhere that if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

              Sounds about right.

    2. Duke of Prunes

      They will try to pin it on Trump, and the usuals will fall in line.

      Aside from Trump who, so far, has avoided actual accountability, has anyone in DC been held accountable for anything in the last 20 years? Why start now (unless it’s to pin more on Trump)

  17. hk

    The idea that the future of the war in Ukraine is “Korea” seems very oblivious to what was needed to bring the war in Korea to a closure.

    At mimimum, NATO will need to do two things (and it would still take potentially years of bleeding): a NATO “People’s Volunteer Army” in paper thin disguise would need to be inserted to cancel the Russian advantages; bulk of NATO air force would need to be sent in, again with paper thin disguise, to deny the airspace in Western half of Ukraine to Russia. I don’t think these are doable not only because the resources needed are in short supply (I don’t think the West can ever cobble together the equivalent of the million man Chinese “volunteer” army or any aircraft, Western or otherwise, can create the modern equivalent of MiG Alley in face of Russian missiles, which are far more formidable, relatively speaking vis-a-vis interceptors, than US B-29’s, for example) but also because politics don’t make sense. PRC did have a vital interest in maintaining a viable and friendly North Korea. Only Poland has an interest in such a thing in Ukraine, and they don’t have the resources (China had at least a huge number of experienced troops, even if short in arms, for example.)

    So, even if there is a paper thin disguised (or even open) intervention, it’ll be more like what took place on the other side earlier on in the Korean War: the Task Force Smith and the piecemeal deployments of the 24th Division, neither of which went well. The difference, of course, is that Russia is no North Korea, but more like United States to use the Korea analogy–thus my insistent likening of Ukraine to North Korea (which apparently confuses some people). These are recipes for disasters and humiliating defeats, not even a stalemate, which takes a real and costly effort.

  18. Mikel

    Tracking Orwellian Change: New Meanings of “Deep State” and “Working Class” Matt Taibbi.

    “The term working class reached peak usage in 1970, while its replacement, white working class, is at its peak now and still ascending….”

    1971 rears its head again.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      That’s a pretty amazing set of graphs. So explanations? The effect of the Nixon administration and Burger court on labor unions? Kent State? End of Bretton Woods, more as a symptom of a change in the balance of economic power of the U. S.? It starts before the Powell Memo.

      It’s quite dramatic as portrayed in those graphs, so it’s probably several confluent causes operating.

      1. Mikel

        “It starts before the Powell Memo.”

        I doubt the memo was a stream of consciousness creation. So it’s possible the ideas and rough drafts could have been floating around amongst certain players.

        But tipping points could seem sudden…

        1. Yves Smith

          The Powell Memo codified and gave a road map for conservative “roll back the New Deal” efforts already underway. But it did give them an impetus.

          1. Mikel

            In addition, the quote at the end of the 1971 charts website:

            “I don’t believe we shall ever have a good money again before we take the thing out of the hands of government, that is, we can’t take it violently out of the hands of government, all we can do is by some sly roundabout way introduce something that they can’t stop.” – F.A. Hayek 1984

    2. juno mas

      So this is what I witnessed at that time:

      The Summer of Love was 1965; Hippie movement/psychedelia arrives. Ronald Reagan was elected CA governor in 1967 and again in 1971. Vietnam protests exploded nationwide, MLK and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated in1968. National Guard kills 4 in Ohio (Kent State) in 1970. Black Panthers arise in Oakland amid the social unrest.

      The Fed pushed into double digit interest rates in 1974. As a recent grad moving into a shrinking employment market, I decide to flee to a ski town and work for cash. Interesting time.

  19. lyman alpha blob

    RE: AI could choke on its own exhaust as it fills the web

    Well, duh. And there’s no “could” about it. These atrocities are trained on previously existing human generated “content”, with all of its foibles and inaccuracies. But more importantly, human writing takes time to create – Rome wasn’t built in a day and Gibbon didn’t write about its decline and fall in a day either.

    But ask an AI to write 100 different versions of pretty much anything, and my understanding is it can be done nearly instantaneously. And what if people begin to ask AI to generate 1,000 versions, or a million, maybe just for laughs, or maybe to deliberately gum up the works? Petty soon the AI is training itself on other AI-generated content, flaws and all, and there’s much more AI content than human in a very short time. Even the article estimates it will only be a few years before 90% of what’s on the interwebs is AI generated. I suspect it will be even quicker than that.

    The result would seem to be the stagnation of legitimately new information – either that or it will become so difficult for people to find it may as well not exist. So what becomesof all the “innovation” then, techbois?

    1. hk

      Will it be too different from the present day human AI (aka PMC) choking on its own propaganda (that is, AI training on its AI-generated data)? (/s?)

    2. Mikel

      “The result would seem to be the stagnation of legitimately new information – either that or it will become so difficult for people to find it may as well not exist.”

      MH in the Imperialism post today: “And so the only hope that the United States has of maintaining this kind of prosperity for the wealthiest financial class is to freeze the status quo…”

  20. Ranger Rick

    I hope the unions get those double-digit raises. If all you’re getting is an annual 2-3% “Cost of Living Adjustment”, you took a pay cut three years in a row as inflation soared far beyond that.

    1. hk

      This is fascinating indeed. It begs the question as to what’s being imported (more), how they are paid for, where they are coming from and so forth. Whatever Tooze’s biases are, he does tend to do insightful analyses most of the time.

      1. britzklieg

        “begs the question” is another once artful term that has lost its original meaning and turned into shorthand for “compels one to question” when it actually means the opposite: assumes the conclusion.

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