Links 8/9/17

Oyster top-up: vending machines on the cards for French seafood sellers Guardian

Bottom of the canal: Pfizer’s billion-dollar tax ploy Sydney Democracy Network

17 States Investigate Dicamba Damage Complaints Spanning 2.5 Million Acres Ecowatch. Holy moley!

Scant oversight, corporate secrecy preceded U.S. weed killer crisis Reuters

The credit crisis landed hundreds of people in jail FT. Senior Wall Street executives prosecuted: 0.

EuroFX: UK pyramid scheme collapses after thousands of Asian investors allegedly scammed International Business Times

Brussels objects to VISA inter-regional fees EU Business

Everything is random: Why history’s overrated for risk management American Banker

The Body Language of Power Handelsblatt

Brexit

Britain prepares to show its Brexit hand Politico

Welsh and Scottish governments demand UK-wide Brexit meeting BBC

It’s official – there’s a £200m hole in the Brexit bus NHS promise New Statesman

‘Genuine’ convergence key for Hungary’s euro adoption Budapest Business Journal (MT).

Imperial Collapse Watch

Michael Brenner – The Linear Mindset In U.S. Foreign Policy Moon of Alabama

Syraqistan

Enhancing the Understanding of the Foreign Terrorist Fighters Phenomenon in Syria (PDF) United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (MT).

U.S. troops are on the ground in Yemen for offensive against al-Qaeda militants WaPo

Venezuela

U.N. decries excessive force in Venezuela’s crackdown on protests Reuters

Venezuela’s ties with US rivals grow as crisis intensifies FT

What’s Left of the Bolivarian Revolution? NACLA

North Korea

US sends pair of supersonic bombers in show of force after second ICBM test Stars and Stripes. From Guam.

Trump Threatens ‘Fire and Fury’ Against North Korea if It Endangers U.S. NYT

Did Donald Trump accidentally threaten nuclear war out of a penchant for hyperbole?: Analysis The Star

Cautious Congressional Response to Trump’s ‘Fire and Fury’ With North Korea Roll Call

North Korea Threatens to Launch Missiles at Guam WSJ

Canadian envoy arrives in Pyongyang, North Korean media says CNN

China prepared to pay the price of North Korea sanctions – foreign minister Asian Correspondent

Trump appears to grant China banks sanctions reprieve after UN deal Reuters

Alaska governor ‘concerned’ about missile hitting state Politico

America no longer sees Kim Jong Un as a joke McClatchy

* * *

Diplomacy That Will Live in Infamy NYT. On Teddy Roosevelt’s Nobel Peace Prize.

David Frum gives a history lesson:

For the record, and since it will arise, here’s GW Bush in 2002. Statement of plans. No threats. pic..com/enBP4Gmexw

— David Frum (@davidfrum) August 8, 2017

“Axis of evil” totally not a threat.

Trump Intel Chief: North Korea Learned From Libya War to “Never” Give Up Nukes The Intercept

Watch ‘Game Of Thrones’ Viewers Completely Lose It During The Show’s First, Glorious Dragon Battle Chicagoist. The flames from the sky come about twenty seconds after 2:20. They really light up the room.

China?

Western firms are coining it along China’s One Belt, One Road The Economist

What is China’s PLA doing in Laos? Asia Times (Re Silc).

Hostage Taking Is China’s Small-Claims Court Foreign Policy

McDonald’s plans to nearly double restaurants in China AP

Book Review: Confucius and the Chinese Way, by H. G. Creel Ian Welsh (MR).

GA Language Log. GANGA.

Who Will Win the Great China-India Naval War of 2020? Foreign Policy

India

India Builds Highway to Thailand to Counter China’s Silk Road Bloomberg

Big names figure among shell firm list; Companies deny tag Financial Express

Manufacturing flocks to new corners of Asia FT

New Cold War

The emerging unholy alliance between hawkish Democrats and neoconservatives WaPo. Emerging?

Republic of Macedonia Eyes NATO to Ward Off Russian Interference Bloomberg

The Enormous Folly of Arming Ukraine The American Conservative

The Functions and Potential (but Fixable) Flaws of the “Protect Mueller” Bills Take Care

Trump Transition

Slouching Toward Mar-a-Lago Andrew Bacevich, The Unz Review. The nukes of August….

Stock on Trumponomics Michael Hudson

Trump deportations lag behind Obama levels Politico. See, but Obama’s deportations were classy.

These frightening new survey results describe a Congress in crisis Vox

‘May you die in pain’: Another GOP lawmaker grilled at health-care town hall WaPo. Left: #MedicareForAll Liberals: Lol no.

Huge fentanyl and heroin bust on Upper West Side ABC7NY (BC).

N.H. Files Suit Against Purdue Pharma for Alleged Role in Opioids Crisis NHPR

Fixing Law Reviews, NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 17-29 SSRN

Guillotine Watch

Why Do Rich People Love Endurance Sports? Outside. “By flooding the consciousness with gnawing unpleasantness, pain provides a temporary relief from the burdens of self-awareness.”

Class Warfare

Americans Are Dying Younger, Saving Corporations Billions Bloomberg. Not The Onion.

Contaminated Childhood: The Chronic Lead Poisoning Of Low-Income Children And Communities Of Color In The United States Health Affairs

Our Broken Economy, in One Simple Chart NYT

Monopoly power and the decline of small business: big business vs democracy, growth & equality Boing Boing

Most of what you think about inequality is wrong MarketWatch

The media cannot reform itself until it acknowledges its power Mainly Macro

When Silicon Valley Took Over Journalism The Atlantic

A call for less automation, more transparency in digital advertising Kaiser Fung (MT).

Apple staffers reportedly rebelling against open office plan at new $5 billion HQ Silicon Valley Business Journal

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.

128 comments

  1. Carolinian

    That Outside article on endurance sports is actually pretty interesting. Here’s a different quote.

    Ask a white-collar professional what it means to do a good job at the office, and odds are they’ll need at least a few minutes to explain their answer, accounting for politics, the opinion of their boss, the mood of their client, the role of their team, and a variety of other external factors. Ask someone what it means to do a good job at their next race, however, and the answer becomes much simpler.

    “The satisfaction of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence has been known to make a man quiet and easy,” writes Crawford, who in 2001 quit his job in academia to become a mechanic. “It seems to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth. He simply points: the building stands, the car now runs, the lights are on.”

    One could pull out the guillotine and start talking about Marie Antoinette and Le Hameau ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hameau_de_la_Reine ) but this desire for simplicity and to create a more fulfilling personal narrative might not only apply to the richie riches.

    1. Democrita

      Note the sense of achievement expressed with things–the building, the car, the lights.

      One could also find practical fulfillment in simplicities such as: the sick person is healed; the sad one comforted, the ignorant taught…

      1. schultzzz

        Some lefty journalist – Barbara Ehrenreich maybe? – had a great quote explaining how The System perverts these normal, healthy desires for ‘achievement and fulfillment’ through meaningful work, where you can see the good you’re doing in the world as a direct result of your labor:

        (I’m paraphrasing here, but if anyone knows the quote, please fix it):

        Precisely because the ‘helping professions’ are more personally fulfilling, more people want to do them than bullshit jobs, so… by market logic those workers deserve to get paid less.

        (the unspoken flip-side is even more dispiriting: meaningless or harmful jobs deserve the bigger salaries)

    2. ambrit

      The problem here is that the creation of a “more fulfilling personal narrative” requires a stable source of needed resources to just, you know, live. The very insidious beauty of the Precariat, from an Elite perspective, is that it precludes almost anything other than the constant struggle for subsistence. Revolutions, if I’ve read my history right, are designed by upper and middle class ‘intellectuals,’ even if carried out by the “downtrodden masses.”
      To put it more simply, to follow ones’ “bliss,” one needs functioning feet.

      1. Carolinian

        Of course. As a movie fan I see most of the latest H’wood stories about modern life and I’m always struck by how these good looking characters with their romantic complications never seem to struggle over money. Being comfortably middle class is simply taken as a given by these screenwriters who are “writing what they know.” One of the things that made Breaking Bad such a great show (and its sequel Better Call Saul) is that it takes us out into the heartland rather than the usual Brooklyn or Santa Monica. The showrunner Vince Gilligan is from Virginia. Our media as well as our business executives need to get back in touch with the country’s middle.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The original group of “The Simpsons” writers were Harvard Lampoon guys, but they were by and large smart kids from towns in Western Massachusetts or a place like Lowell. Their names weren’t on the dorms at Harvard. Al Gore’s daughter wrote on the Comedy Central Futurama episodes which were terrible, but my sense is the Simpsons is now written by helicopter parented kids where we see he Simpsons have unlimited cash. Yes, they had unlimited cash in the classic episodes when it was needed, but it was usually portrayed as a joke or acquired in a fashion. The show instead of being a satire of American pop culture and public mores seems to dwell on the latest fad.

          Breaking Bad also started on AMC which needed to be more experimental to distinguish itself from network television fare. Fox when launched produced some pretty weird fare which would never get picked up by a respectable network or at least not put in a situation where he could build an audience. With success, they go to what the network execs want to watch. Netflix has some unusual programming such as “GLOW” which would never make it on a traditional network.

          1. Vatch

            Are you saying that Futurama was terrible, or that the episodes that Gore’s duaghter co-wrote were terrible?

            Maybe it’s my enthusiasm for SF, but I really enjoyed Futurama.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              The renewed series was atrocious. There were a couple of winners. Much like “The Simpsons”, Futurama moved from satire of young adults navigating a fairly built up world to parody.

              Gore’s daughter might not be the problem, but the difference between smart kids from Springfield, USA and the children of yuppies has led to thematic shifts. Gilligan isn’t third generation royalty. He’s from a place often referred to as Farm Vegas. His shows reflect a quick unlit of life more recognizable to America life.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                The Simpsons was once a program denounced by 41 in a speech about family values. Today, who hasn’t appeared as their self?

                Families “ought to be more like the Waltons and less like the Simpsons. ”

                The clip was played on the show and Bart responded, “hey we’re just like the Waltons. We are praying for an end to the depression too.”

          2. bwilli123

            https://www..com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/6qz7gk/rating_of_the_episodes_of_the_simpsons_according/

            1. fresno dan

              RabidGandhi
              August 9, 2017 at 11:36 am

              LOL!!! I clicked on that, and I didn’t catch that if was September 9, 2016 – I was thinking those are so pretty good comments, but I don’t remember making them AT ALL – the alzheimers, LSD, and the boxed shirazz wine must really be screwing with my mind….

              The Simpsons link in my post from 2016 doesn’t work, so here is an updated link – so it is from 1:44 to 2:14

              http://kisscartoon.eu/watch/the-simpsons-season-6-episode-14-barts-comet/

              Yeah, I think the Simpsons have deteriorated, but every once in a while they still come up with something pretty good.

      2. Brindle

        Last weekend in my neck of the Rocky Mtns the Spartan Race endurance/ obstacle course event took place. It was very well attended with thousands of contestants from all over the U.S. as well as other countries. High energy music constantly ‘pumped up the volume’. Most of those involved were in their twenties or thirties. Black and red is the color combo of the Spartan Race logo—very heavy metal-ish. The money behind the Reebok sponsored event/series is Raptor Consumer Partners:

        About Raptor Consumer Partners
        Raptor Consumer Partners (“RCP”) is the consumer private equity arm of Raptor Capital Management LP and is led by James Pallotta, John Burns and Andrew Spellman. RCP invests in emerging brands and seeks partner companies that have an out-sized potential for disrupting the marketplace. Partner companies include consumer-facing products, services or technologies that have a unique product offering or positioning, address unmet consumer needs, and have a clear path to accelerating growth.

        http://www.raptorgroup.com/

    3. PlutoniumKun

      I’d be more convinced by the article if it did a comparison with sports activities by people from other backgrounds, or indeed in other countries. For example, while cycling is very much an upper middle class sport in the US, in Europe road biking has always been the sport of small town and country guys – this can apply as much to leisure road bikers as it does to the pros (although it certainly does have its fans among City types).

      I’m also a bit dubious about the notion that the comfortably off are seeking out pain. In what way is an endurance sport more ‘painful’ than doing boxing or martial arts/MMA, all sports really popular with working class males in particular? I know men and women into serious martial arts competitions, they are from modest backgrounds, yet they devote just as much time and money into their sport as dentists doing triathlons.

      1. a different chris

        It’s not the pain, it’s the sense of accomplishment that comes with it.

        The M/A question? Because you are very likely to literally and clearly “lose” at a given Martial Arts event. There goes your sense of accomplishment! Whereas in a running “competition” you are actually likely on most occasions, no matter how far down the list you wind up, do better than you did last time. That’s why the are always taking about “competing with yourself”.. you really are.

        And this is actually a good thing for good people. Now for the skinny white little schmucks we are talking about, they can’t stand losing so this is also better for them. Don’t be surprised to find out, that they feel that if they “just had more time away from the corner office” they would be much, much better.

        It’s a lot harder to tell yourself that when somebody you know has just directly kicked your but.

    4. Ranger Rick

      This is more a consequence of capitalism than anything else (e.g. if you are working for a wage you are a failure and also losing at capitalism). People yearn for a fulfilling occupation and have to invent one, often out of whole cloth, to make their 9-5 seem interesting when talking about it to other people or even just falling asleep at night. Otherwise they have to admit they’re making widgets at a pittance. Burnout is just around the corner.

      Not everyone can have a job that can enumerate success in terms of houses built for the poor, meals served, lives saved or wilderness acres conserved.

      1. Rojo

        I think if you listed the most popular hobbies you’d find: gardening, fishing, hunting, carpentry, ceramics, needlecraft and others near the top of the list.

        The common thread is those are the activities of human subsistence.

        It’s hard to shake it out of us.

      2. artiste-de-decrottage

        Fantastic comment, how well said, “losing at capitalism”.

        Same to Rojo’s comment as well. I know many people working in tech (including myself), who only are looking forward to one day filling their time with those once subsistence activities that are now practiced as hobbies (that are rapidly becoming unaffordable in time and money luxuries for the urbanized professional).

    5. Cat Burglar

      In mountaineering and rockclimbing I’ve encountered everyone from risk junkies to the totally risk averse in every level of the sport — even though it is advertised as a sport for “adrenaline junkies.” So I am pretty dubious about singling out one psychological motivator for participation in any sport. But, just as in competitive organized endurance sports, getting together with a like-minded network of people and putting effort into a tangible accomplishment is one of the compelling things about the sport.

      But my hunch is that the popularity of endurance sports among the upper-middle class has more to do with class culture, the accessibility of institutions that popularize sports and familiarize people with them, and the economic opportunity (especially TIME available) to practice the sport. As those things have changed, so has working-class participation in sports — and you see that in climbing.

      Mountaineering and rockclimbing were reactions to industrialization, and were solidly middle and upper-class sports. There was always a small working-class participation, but that began to expand gigantically in the early 20th century as outdoor clubs began to promote hiking and mountaineering for both women and men. Working-class participation in climbing skyrocketed after the Second World War because you could earn enough money to pay for the time to go climbing. And in California you could learn to climb for free at weekend Sierra Club climbs at in-city rocks, open to anyone who wanted to show up (this was terminated around 1980 by the liability insurance crisis)! Yosemite climbers still remember Mark Powell was the first postwar climber who figured out in the 1950s that when jobs were plentiful, you could work and save enough money to live in campgrounds half the year — and just go climbing. A semi-resident climbing bohemia existed within Yosemite Valley for at least 30 years after that. Almost all top climbers of the period came from low-income or working class backgrounds; construction work and commercial fishing, because they are seasonal and episodic, are still favored by many climbers. Patricipants tell me similar developments happened in the Pacific Northwest at the same time, with outdoor clubs teaching free or cheap classes and beginner climbs. The UK climbing scene also had a similar change in working-class participation at the same time, for the same reasons.

      As the cost structure of everyday living has worsened, it seems to me that young climbers are more often drawn from the upper-middle class than they were in the 1970s, when I started climbing. You can’t fund the time, the gear is way more expensive, avenues to learn are pricier now, and when class barriers go up it becomes more difficult to encounter someone that might take you climbing.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Excellent. You forgot to mention the Brits, who led the way with “free” and “clean” climbing, all from a British working class point of view, living on the dole so they could push their sport.
        Climbing went from the “sport of kings” (the Duke of Abruzzi etc) to something plumbers (Don Whillans) and construction workers (Joe Brown) could champion.

    6. ChrisPacific

      I think it’s fairly clear why the less well-off don’t do it – it requires leisure time, preferably during daylight hours, and flexible work hours help as well.

      Some reasons why I do it:
      – My job is sedentary and involves sitting at a desk for long periods. I like to get out and exercise as a break. If I was doing a physical job, like house painting, I might prefer a mental exercise like sitting down with a crossword.
      – Building towards a goal can be surprisingly fun and rewarding, as can the race day itself.
      – It’s frequently a social activity and often a business one as well. Many of my colleagues are runners and I have had plenty of business conversations while out running. I think it’s the modern equivalent of smoke break networking.
      – It’s good for my physical health.
      – It’s good for my mental health. Even when I’m not working toward a goal, I find running helps clear my mind and reduce stress. It’s like having a cup of coffee, except it’s more effective and lasts longer.
      – It’s habit forming, to the point where I don’t have to force myself to go and will actually get antsy if I haven’t been for a few days. I’m not sure if it’s the endorphins or just the routine, but either way it’s nice to have this working in my favor for a change (i.e., for something that is healthy and not a vice).

      It does have its downsides. For a free hobby it can be surprisingly expensive at times (shoes, gear, medical care, travel to events, entry fees…) If you have any biomechanical flaws (as most of us do to some degree) then they will inevitably translate to chronic injuries unless you address them, and the process of doing so is time consuming, expensive and requires specialist help. Even that comes with advantages though as I’ve learned a lot more about my body and how it functions. For example, I used to suffer from back pain in the mornings, but now I know what it is, what causes it and how to fix it.

  2. ambrit

    The WaPo article about Yemen repeats the old canard about “Iranian backed Houthi militants.” The drumbeats for war continue apace.
    Off the top of my admittedly flat head, what if North Korea sent some of its’ nukes, assuming that they have more than one, to Iran for, er, “destructive testing,” in, say, Riyadh in the event of some overt move against Teheran? It’d be something like those pesky Russians, through their front groups in Quebec, helping to set up a “Frente Nacional de Liberacion de Ferguson.” (FNLF)
    Off to work.

    1. Rhondda

      Typically, I will not click a WAPO link but there’s been so little “news” about Yemen of late that I did read that article. I noted what you noted and I also couldn’t help but notice that the author’s one-sentence bio emphasizes that he was previously a Marine infantryman. I am so tired of the lies and propaganda.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I clicked the town hall link, only to be greeted by a message telling me to turn on WaPo desktop notifications.

        Uh-Uh.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          To expand a bit on the below, here we see Jeff Bezos, World’s Richest Person, buys probably the USA’s second largest and most influential press megaphone so that he can control it and use it to spread and amplify his toxic oligarchical personal political agenda (remember 13 shameless Bernie smear articles in 12 hours immediately before a critical Super Tuesday primary?) and then he has the unmitigated audacity to insist his personal vanity propaganda publishing project must turn a profit (for the world’s richest human!) and gets so petulant and petty with readers who aren’t paying for the privilege of reading his propaganda he paid millions to buy the platform for, that he can’t figure out any course but blocking them, thus no doubt substantially reducing the eyeballs that his propaganda reaches, thus undermining the very reason he bought the megaphone in the first place. What a delicious irony!

          Don’t misunderstand, I am happy to pay for content as I do supporting this site, but I do it because I support the editorial mission here, not because some gazillionaire is trying to shake me down for pennies in ad revenue by switching off their propaganda megaphones. Bezos and Slim pleading economic necessity is rich. Them petulantly blocking people from reading their establishment dreck and in turn reducing its influence is richer still. My only wish is they’d become far more aggressive blocking and successfully preventing people from accessing their sites by whatever means they prefer. Here’s to a future where a tiny, inbred group of paid subscribers are all that remains of the NYT and WaPo readerships and their influence on the American political dialogue is reduced to near irrelevancy.

      2. Kurt Sperry

        WaPo content has been inaccessible to me for a couple of weeks now because I use an @dbl0cker. I guess Bezos is hurting minus the click-throughs. Ha ha. I’m hoping Carlos Slim will likewise feel the poverty and push the NYT to do the same to save me from reading that cage liner as well. Hopefully, it will tank their reader numbers and prevent significant numbers of people from being exposed to their toxic content.

        1. doug

          why do you think it should be free?
          I am truly curious. Trying to understand that line of thought.
          Thanks.

          1. Kurt Sperry

            Because they want people to read it? And because the publications publishing are owned by two of the world’s richest persons? That said, I’m fine not reading it too. I actually wish the NYT and the WaPo would quit pussy footing around and move to a strict paid-subscriber only hard paywall model with no exceptions to access their content. Then hardly anyone would ever read their propaganda. Everyone’s a winner then.

          2. Ancient 1

            When I pay a good price for an e-subscription, I don’t want to be interrupted by ads. And if the publishers doesn’t agree than I will not subscribe. The Atlantic is a good example. Pay a couple dollars more for a non-ad subscription and peace. Nothing is Free.

          3. clinical wasteman

            “Why should it be free?”
            Because it’s worthless.
            But I thought Kurt was making the opposite & equally valid point: it should be “protected” by a titanium paywall bristling with machine gun nests, because then nobody would read it.

          4. justanotherprogressive

            A question for you: Do you think we should pay for our daily dose of propaganda? Do you think we should pay to watch ads, also? And did you read Kurt’s second paragraph in his original post?

        2. RabidGandhi

          Opening it in an incognito window in your browser should do the trick.*

          *Disclaimer: RabidGandhi Enterprises Ltd. may not be held liable for any ailments, intestinal or otherwise, that may be incurred in relation to viewing said website.

          1. blennylips

            Hiding under your disclaimer: turning off javascript also works at WaPo. Totally not needed to see the content, as the policing scripts cannot run.
            I highly recommend both noscript and requestpolicy browser addons.

            1. JGW

              I recommend “NoScript”. very tune-able for blocking specific page content and “temporary allows” to enable viewing w/o having to explicitly re-restrict.

      3. Judith

        From the American Conservative, an article about Yemen that mentions the concept “weaponization of disease.”

        http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/the-u-s-is-deeply-complicit-in-the-wrecking-of-yemen-2/

    2. Darius

      Saudi influence is peaking. The oil won’t last forever and the country was created and exists for the pleasure of the House of Saud. They just happened to be there when oil happened and will go away when the oil runs out.

      Iran is an ancient and cosmopolitan culture that will outlast oil. That’s who we should cultivate.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        U.S. FP is a about short term power and profit. Iran functionally should be a regional power, and what does a regional power do in a world of super powers or a hyper power? Introduce competition. Client states can negotiate better deals. Threats of being cut off or sanctioned by the U.S. have no meaning in a world with a strong Iran, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, EU, and so forth. What we should be doing from the perspective of us plebes is different than say a CEO who wants a no-bid contract.

        A dynamic and prosperous Iran can limit the ability of the U.S. to run roughshod. The Saudis can pay off people, but their ability to deter the U.S. is limited because at the end of they day all they have is cash. If you want to discuss a regime we can knock over, it’s centered in Riyadh.

      2. Plenue

        Pretty sure it peaked quite a while ago (probably the ‘War on Terror’, where Bandar was in the White House helping to shape US foreign policy while managing to keep investigative pressure off of SA and its role in 9/11). Right now we’re seeing the decline. Low oil prices are hurting their economy, Yemen is the Saud’s Vietnam, and they couldn’t even get tiny Qatar to buckle. The current (and new, after what was basically a coup) Crown Prince (and Minister of ‘Defence’), Mohammad bin Salman, is equal parts ambitious and utterly stupid. He very well may be the end of the line for the House of Saud and their fake-country-as-personal-property.

    3. mirjonray

      About the WaPo/Yemen article I too was reading, reading, reading, ’til finally, yep, there it is, the Houthi/Iran canard.

      I loved this paragraph in the article.

      “While the United States has remained focused on striking al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a terrorist group U.S. officials see as especially potent, a Saudi-led coalition, propped up by U.S. support and munitions, has been waging a parallel war against Iranian-backed Houthi militants in Yemen for more than two years.”

      So who are the terrorists U.S. officials deem to be especially potent? Al-Qaeda? Or the Saudi-led coalition?

    4. Jim Haygood

      U.S. troops on the ground in Yemen …

      And what a dramatic debate it was in the Senate before Congress sent them there … NOT!

      This is how a former constitutional republic now ruled by an unaccountable military-intelligence cabal starts a new war.

      Kongress Klowns learn about it in the Operation Mockingbird MSM, just as we do.

      USA: what a ludicrous excuse for a democracy.

      1. Jim Haygood

        ITA, the aerospace and defense ETF, has returned nearly 32 percent since last November’s election, beating the S&P 500’s gain by a double-digit percentage. Chart:

        http://bigcharts.marketwatch.com/quickchart/quickchart.asp?symb=ita&insttype=&freq=&show=

        Value-subtraction mil spending erodes US living standards. But it allows the MIC cabal to buff up its self image, while displacing hurtful thoughts about all the wars it lost.

      2. polecat

        Kongress Klowns ‘learn’ absolutely nothing … except how to futher line their grifting pockets !

  3. Darius

    I suspect Confucianism, like Christianity, was changed profoundly by its adoption as the state cult.

    Constantine changed Christianity beyond recognition by turning it into an instrument of imperial control, rather than an insurgency. It’s a legacy we all live with today.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You’re right to be skeptical.

      The Four Books and Five Classics, from Wikipedia:

      The Four Books and Five Classics (Chinese: 四書五經; pinyin: Sìshū wǔjīng) are the authoritative books of Confucianism in China written before 300 BC.[1]

      The Book of Documents, from Wikipedia:

      The Book of Documents (Shujing, earlier Shu-king) or Classic of History, also known as the Shangshu, is one of the Five Classics of ancient Chinese literature. It is a collection of rhetorical prose attributed to figures of ancient China, and served as the foundation of Chinese political philosophy for over 2,000 years.
      The Book of Documents was the subject of one of China’s oldest literary controversies, between proponents of different versions of the text. The “New Text” version was preserved from Qin Shi Huang’s burning of books and burying of scholars by scholar Fu Sheng. The longer “Old Text” version was supposedly discovered in the wall of Confucius’ family estate in Qufu by his descendant Kong Anguo in the late 2nd century BC, lost at the end of the Han dynasty and rediscovered in the 4th century AD. Over time, the “Old Text” version of the Documents became more widely accepted, until it was established as the imperially sanctioned edition during the early Tang dynasty. This continued until the late 17th century, when the Qing dynasty scholar Yan Ruoqu demonstrated that the additional “Old Text” chapters not contained in the “New Text” version were actually fabrications “reconstructed” in the 3rd or 4th centuries AD.

      The older one was faked. It was newer, but pretended to be older, and thus, more authentic.

      1. Plenue

        Sounds like when King Josiah invented monotheistic Judaism by ‘discovering’ the Law of Moses while renovating the Temple.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josiah#Book_of_the_Law

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Maybe it’s ‘history is written by the forger,’ instead of ‘history is written by the victor.’

          Note, the forger is not necessarily the victor. He/she could have been the loser.

          I don’t know if Herodotus was a loser many times or not.

          1. Plenue

            I think this type of thing, at least on this scale, is something that could only be done in the past when the majority of the population was illiterate, and pretty much the only people able to read and write were under the direct control of the government. With Judaism it was the wholesale manufacturing of a national myth, through a combination of redacting of earlier folklore and complete fabrication. There must have been popular resistance, probably lots of it. But in the end written text outlasted oral tradition, and people simply forgot about the earlier polytheism and henotheism. Israel Finkelstein thinks the complete transformation might have taken as long as 200 years.

            But then again, in our modern world we have things like Mormonism, where a documented and convicted con-artist was able to make up a completely batshit new religion and convince thousands of people to follow him. So perhaps the extent of literacy doesn’t much matter.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Don’t forget that othe giant scam, “Scientology,” the product of a crappy science fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard. Now run by a guy named Miscavage. Real charmer. They are scary people. And there are interesting echoes and parallels between Mormon and Sc’ology.

    2. clinical wasteman

      Repeated in the 16th and 17th centuries with successive “protestant” (= class, for about 5 minutes every time) insurgencies, swiftly reconstituted as Protestant principalities under Aspirational bourgeois orders.

  4. Barmitt O'Bamney

    Here’s a choice bit for the class warfare files: federal-bank-regulator-drops-a-bombshell-as-corporate-media-snoozes at wallstreetonparade.com

    This article by Pam and Russ Martens tells us that the Vice Chairman of the FDIC has sent a letter to the Senate Banking Committee stating that the top ten banks are plowing 99% of their yearly earnings into share buybacks and distributing dividends. They are not recycling earned money back into the economy, and thus not fulfilling their divinely ordained role of bringing the Groaf. Four of the top banks have in fact been expending over 100% of their earnings on buybacks and dividends. The fertilizing pump of capitalism has elected to blithely insert its money nozzle into one of its own orifices, then pump away like mad for its own pleasure and ignore the consequences for all the miscreants left behind in the deserts of the real economy. Complaints by banks that post GFC reserve requirements are hobbling their lending activities are hogwash. Link encountered via The Automatic Earth.

    1. polecat

      So, what we have is a collective orgy of greedy self-induced credit fisting by the TBTJs, right ?
      F#cking degenerates !

    2. Vatch

      Stock buybacks are important for increasing the value of executive bonuses. What’s more important, the economy, or bonuses for Jamie Dimon, Brian Moynihan, and Barbara Desoer? The CEO of Wells Fargo (whoever the current one is — Timothy Sloan, I think) will probably soon be out of a job, so it’s crucial for him to ramp up the value of his bonus now.

  5. justanotherprogressive

    Re: That Market Watch article.
    For those of you who don’t want to pay the $5 for a copy of his study, here’s something from his web-page. I’m betting his new study is just a rehash of this:
    https://harris.uchicago.edu/files/consumption

    I perused it this morning and I see some glaring issues – looks like a “fun with statistics” type article…..see, if we look at the issue THIS way and manipulate THIS data, things aren’t so bad……

    1. Vatch

      I missed your comment when I posted my comment at 10:51 AM. The article at the link that I posted has a publication date of August, 2017, and the article that you link to has a date of April, 2013, yet the articles seem to be very similar. Hmm. Will there be another similar article in December, 2021?

      1. justanotherprogressive

        My comment was held up in moderation – I think they had to check the copyright rules for the link I posted. I didn’t think to check myself this time, so sorry about that……

  6. EndOfTheWorld

    RE: the Reuters article about weed killer—-I live “out in the sticks” and have heard anecdotal evidence from farmers that some of the herbicide is too strong and kills the wrong stuff. There is one spray ironically named “Liberty” that kills willy-nilly, from what I’ve heard.

    1. cocomaan

      Funny, this year the farmer I live close to had a major problem with his herbicide and fungicide. I wonder if this is related. It seemed like it had been sprayed too aggressively, because he lost one of his hedgerows.

      1. Rhondda

        My understanding is that it isn’t so much “strength” or potency but rather that the stuff is highly volatile such that even after it’s settled and dried — if the weather is hot– it can become a gas again and waft and yon.

  7. NotTimothyGeithner

    David Frum is proof the only reason Versailles hates Trump is he skipped cotillion.

    1. RUKidding

      Snort! This!

      Yes, they look down their snooty, snobby, oh so refined noses at low-brow, gauche Trump.

      Fact is, they love every single one of his policies and proposals to rob the poor to enhance their own personal greed-fed wealth. They just don’t wish to be associated with such a boorish lout. They prefer their criminals, crooks, robbers and villains to exhibit a more refined front.

      1. sid_finster

        To be fair to the lout, I don’t think The Better People are too jazzed about immigration restrictions.

        For the rich, immigrants means cheaper au pairs, cheaper and more compliant labor in general, and ethnic restaurants.

        FWIW, I am generally a fan of immigration and immigrants, but I also recognize that immigration is not cost-free to everyone in the host country.

        1. clinical wasteman

          “…I don’t think The Better People are too jazzed about immigration restrictions.”

          True in the case of certain soi-disant “sophisticated” Better People — and I don’t mean to generalize for North America after too many years away (because: second-order effects of … immigration control) — but at least in the UK, Europe & Australasia, feudal/colonial/Meritocratic asstocrats are still the pre-eminent spouters and funders of Nativism. As in the formidable, Daily Telegraph-led “Brexit” campaign (which is not the same thing as the unsurprising way a manipulative referendum question was answered by a minority of the working class, for whom it was merely symbolic because neither they nor their neighbors, friends and family were “foreigners” under threat).

          Perhaps the “-Shire” proprietors didn’t want their children’s serfs to be Aliens immune to paternal-patriotic blandishments, or perhaps they just spent all that effort and money sentimentally, imagining that the “national” working class would really be any more pliable. I don’t see how we’ll ever know.

          FWIW, even I as an immigrant with an ineradicable horror of Homelands agree that “immigration” is not costless when it’s managed from above to maximize labor market competition. But passing this off as an issue of immigration as such rather than one of state-managed labor competition is the single greatest propaganda coup pulled off by exploiters of labor in recent decades. The same exploiters, that is, who cultivate equally brutal competition between non-migrant workers in different countries.

          Outside a 1930s-type world where neither labor nor capital crosses borders easily (spoiler: ended badly), “allowing” migration means denying capital the advantage of a monopoly on movement and therefore a captive workforce. The point is that labor should be free to move OR to stay put without losing subsistence (or luxuries, for that matter!), and that capital should not be able to decide this at its own convenience. And given that the upper-upscale classes have always been able to go where they please in the end, it also means taking workers’ subjective need to make their own “life choices” (ugh!) as seriously as that of their Betters.

    2. Butch In Waukegan

      To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid; you must also be well-mannered. — Voltaire

  8. justanotherprogressive

    Dicambria damage:

    From the article:

    “Monsanto execs defended its product, blaming growers for using older versions of dicamba or not following directions on the new product label. As reported by Bloomberg:

    The company attributes the drifting problem to farmers using illegal, off-label products that are more volatile—and thus more prone to drift—than the latest versions of dicamba. They may also be cleaning or using their spraying equipment incorrectly, or applying dicamba when it’s windy, said Robb Fraley, executive vice president and chief technology officer.”

    Only in America can you blame your problems on your stupid customers and still expect to stay in business……

    1. Enquiring Mind

      Awaiting Monsanto lawsuits for allowing that wind drift onto land not covered in their EULA.

    2. JohnnyGL

      http://time.com/4772781/barack-obama-italy-politicians-you-deserve/

      http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/trailguide/la-na-live-updates-trailguide-president-obama-to-black-voters-if-you-1475087216-htmlstory.html

      No way, the Dem party has the same business model as Monsanto.

      “They have nowhere else to go” – This is a statement from a position of a monopoly on power (either market power or political power)

      Monsanto does its best to make sure that farmers are COMPELLED to do business with it. They buy up the competition and change laws to make it happen.

    3. cocomaan

      If I was a farmer these days, I’d be filming every single herbicide application I did. Easy to do, could save your butt in the long run.

      1. DH

        Russian dashcams on American farm equipment – a business opportunity. Pretty much every Russian has a dashcam permanently running in their car to provide visual proof against fraudulent lawsuits by people who claim to be hit etc.

    4. DH

      The farmers may be starting to realize that they are on the table, instead of at the table, or supplying food to the kitchen.

  9. Carolinian

    More boycott law pushback–this time Elizabeth Warren.

    http://mondoweiss.net/2017/08/boycott-violates-constitution/

    1. flora

      Thanks for the link. Warren is right. Here’s another link from Jesse Cafe Americain:

      Misguided Legislation Is Directly Repugnant to the First Amendment
      http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/2017/08/misguided-legislation-is-directly.html

      1. Eureka Springs

        It is shocking that this bill has ever gained the traction that it has.

        Laughing. I suppose Jesse has been buried under a pile of gold charts.

        And btw, If money is speech, then not spending money should be speech as well, no?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          An excellent point.

          Let the silence be deafening, and let us focus on the empty space in any good traditional Chinese painting.

          The non-action, or wuwei.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          The BEST link on the “money = speech” question:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjnIajVvWDQ

  10. PlutoniumKun

    What is China’s PLA doing in Laos? Asia Times (Re Silc).

    I pity poor Laos. A tiny, impoverished country, blasted to bits by the USAF during the Vietnam War (it was conveniently overlooked that the ‘Ho Chi Minh Trail’ ran through a neutral country), and now surrounded on three sides by much bigger, and increasingly aggressive nations. They are caught in a real bind – they desperately need investment, but China, Vietnam, and Thailand are not benevolent neighbours. Its amazing it hasn’t been swallowed up already. I suspect that a major railway connecting Bangkok to China will be the catalyst to do just that.

    1. RUKidding

      Having visited Laos recently, I can confirm all that you say. The Laotians appear to be putting up a good effort to hold their own. I wish them well. Only time will tell how this pans out.

      Of course, that region has been riven with wars and hostile-overs of territories/tribes/nations over the course of centuries, so, in some ways, this is nothing new, especially China exerting its muscle.

    2. Judith

      And the bombs the US dropped in Laos are still exploding:

      http://legaciesofwar.org/about-laos/leftover-unexploded-ordnances-uxo/

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s interesting that one of the most valuable books on that area of the world around the 1300’s to 1400’s, does not mention Laos, or La Xang (the kingdom there at the time).

      From Wikipedia, Zhou Daguan:

      Zhou Daguan (Wade–Giles: Chou Ta-kuan; French: Tcheou Ta-Kouan; c. 1270–?) was a Chinese diplomat under the Temür Khan, Emperor Chengzong of Yuan. He is most well known for his accounts of the customs of Cambodia[1] and the Angkor temple complexes during his visit there.[2] He arrived at Angkor in August 1296,[3] and remained at the court of King Indravarman III until July 1297.[4][5] He was neither the first nor the last Chinese representative to visit the Khmer Empire. However, his stay is notable because he later wrote a detailed report on life in Angkor, The Customs of Cambodia (Chinese: 真臘風土記) . His portrayal is today one of the most important sources of understanding of historical Angkor and the Khmer Empire. Alongside descriptions of several great temples, such as the Bayon, the Baphuon, Angkor Wat, and others, the text also offers valuable information on the everyday life and the habits of the inhabitants of Angkor.

  11. Jim Haygood

    Do y’all ever wake up in the middle of the night worrying about the zero year curse? I do.

    Consider the appalling record: according to the NBER [whose wise men retroactively determine business cycle dates], 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 were all recession years. After skipping 1940, the zero-year curse returned with a vengeance. First, 1950 began three months after a recession ended in Oct 1949. Then 1960, 1970, 1980 and 1990 were all official recession years. 2000 was not, but a recession began 3 months later in March 2001, neatly mirroring and bookending 1950.

    Taking the early 20th century as a 100-year lagged analog for the 21st, Woody Wilson took the US into WW I in 1917 [after winning re-election with the slogan ‘He kept us out of war‘]. Orange Jesus shrieking nuclear threats at Kim Jong-un rhymes pretty well. A nice little war could prompt the same sort of inflationary pop we got from 1916 to 1920, when the CPI doubled, followed by a deflationary collapse into 1921. It’s the only way Feddie Fubar [J-Yel’s bank cartel] is ever gonna hit its inflation target.

    Left to its own devices, with fiscal policy frozen in a deadlocked Congress, the US economy likely would slide into recession in 2018. War is the one outlier event that would dial the fiscal taps to eleven, facilitating a final inflationary fillip to extend and then end our glorious Bubble III [Peace Be Upon It].

    1. Vatch

      If there’s a zero year curse, the solution is simple: switch from the decimal numeral base to something else, such as hexadecimal or octal or duodecimal. Then the zero years will usually be different — problem solved!

      1. Jim Haygood

        That’s thinking outside the box! 2020 morphs into 7E4 in hexadecimal. Is this ominous? :-0

      2. clinical wasteman

        Elegant solution, but wouldn’t it just redistribute the curse, all the better for it to take those not fluent in hexi/octal/duodecimal counting by surprise?
        Or then again, is a curse nullified when no-one knows about it?

  12. Phacops

    Re: Most of what you think about inequality is wrong.

    Is this more hand waving from people stretching to justify wealth inequality by failing to tell a story without context? I feel that I’m getting a SISO analysis.

    Why not consumption as a percent of income? What about modes of consumption as with credit fueled consumption v. non-leveraged consumption using one’s wealth or where credit costs less than investment returns? Wouldn’t those give a sense of the stress that inequality causes?

    There seems to me to be a persistent drumbeat of factual, but misleading, metrics designed to obscure rather than illuminate the challenges we face in order to allow wealth to avoid responsibility or consequences for the race to the bottom experienced by many Americans.

    Disclaimer – I am doing well, yet as with many people, those I associate with are generally of the same economic class. Yet, it doesn’t take much to see that there are people in real trouble. In my county a full 30% of households do not make the ALICE minimums for a semblance of life (ALICE = Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) Check http://www.unitedwayalice.org/reports.php

    1. Uahsenaa

      There are a number of dunderheaded assumptions in that study, not the least of which being its implicit taking of credit as equivalent to income, which has the funny effect of completely ignoring the depressive effects of debt on one’s livelihood. It also doesn’t seem to want to countenance how ordinary people feel wealth/income inequality in very direct ways. Take rent, for instance. Housing in my city has increased 50% in cost over the past ten years but wages have only increased by 11%. I have “good access to credit,” which the authors seem to think is a real boon to my circumstances, but if I take out loans or use credit cards to cover the shortfall, I have effectively garnished my future wages, because the growth in my income is not keeping pace with expenses. And housing is something I have to by or go homeless; it’s a captive market.

      This means the owners of capital (or more precisely property, in this case) have seen a 50% increase in their income simply through the possession of wealth, and that increase in their income is a direct tax upon mine, because of where it comes from. It’s not just some aloof millionaire coasting on the 6% historical return from index funds, this is people literally profiting from the steadily increasing immiseration of members of their community.

      But I merely have a humanities Ph.D. What do I know!

      1. clinical wasteman

        “Access to credit” as putative income equivalent is quite breathtaking. I had never seen it put quite so bluntly before. The problems with “basic income” coexisting with capital are well known, but it’s alarmingly instructive to see the sort of thing that those who hate it on “ethical” grounds (“Oh no! Something for nothing!”*) have in mind instead for a future without wages.

        *eg. John Gapper column in Tuesday’s FT. Sorry no link, not even a paywalled one, for ongoing collapsed computer reasons.

    2. DH

      I don’t think they understand that these data are proof that tax cuts for the wealthy won’t improve the economy, despite the numerous claims that it will. The data show that handing more money to the wealthy won’t change their consumption, so it won’t get recycled into the economy, unless buying van Goghs at inflated prices is “recycling”. So the graph they provide is the explainer for why money velocity has plunged and assets have greatly inflated prices.

      Disposable income – consumption = savings (Keynesian thinking, so probably wrong unlike the Laffer curve which is always right despite evidence to the contrary). So tax cuts for the wealthy are really just a way of paying the wealthy to save more, since it doesn’t appear that their consumption goes up as their disposable income rises.

      Meanwhile debt for the middle-class rises and their retirement savings lag as they try to maintain consumption as their disposable income remains flat or declines.

    3. ChrisPacific

      So, if I understand correctly, the argument is that it doesn’t matter if person A earns $20K per year while person B earns $1 million per year as long as they both spend $22K per year (person A borrowing $2K to do so while person B saves $980K) because the fact that they are spending the same means they are not really unequal?

      Sometimes I wonder if these people actually read what they write. The average primary schooler could blow holes in that argument.

  13. kilgore Trout

    Re: “Most of what you think about inequality is wrong” from Marketwatch. The article never mentioned debt load required to keep up with the Joneses. Nor that 2-3 family members doing 2-3 jobs each is what schmoes do to keep up.

    1. LifelongLib

      People aren’t going into debt keeping up with the Joneses. They’re trying to pay for the basics of life (housing, medical, education), the costs of which have skyrocketed while wages have remained stagnant.

  14. bronco

    North Korea is threatening Guam ????? I call fake news on the whole story. Go ask 100 US inhabitants to point to Guam on a map the results should be hilarious

  15. Vatch

    Most of what you think about inequality is wrong MarketWatch

    Here’s the long paper on which the short article is based, which is about the possibility that consumption inequality is less severe than income inequality:

    http://www.nber.org/papers/w23655

    I haven’t read the whole thing, but I’ve read some scattered portions of it, and of course I’ve looked at the pictures. I can’t help wondering whether one reason for the apparently lower severity of consumption inequality is that once one reaches a certain level of wealth, there really isn’t a need to keep buying more stuff. Sure, there are crass exceptions, such as Donald Trump and Steve Schwarzman. Another reason might be that lower income people can sometimes extend their consumption by borrowing. The article says:

    Individuals at the bottom of the distribution, however, have only limited access to debt. . . .

    I wonder whether the authors have considered payday loans and auto title loans.

    Anyhow, it’s a complex collection of issues, and I hope that some people who know more about this than I do will weigh in.

    1. JohnnyGL

      It’s a complete distraction to look at consumption instead of income inequality. Are you going to cut everyone’s income by 10%, but allow them to borrow more so they can maintain their lifestyles, transfer all that extra income to the oligarchs, and act like nothing has changed? And even income inequality doesn’t pick up important changes in wealth inequality, which is what really has an affect on the range of life choices available to someone.

      But, what’s wealth really all about?

      Interfluidity and mathbabe say it’s about risk, more than anything.

      http://www.interfluidity.com/v2/3487.html

      https://mathbabe.org/2012/06/27/the-basic-unit-is-risk/

      Here’s a good quote: “Financial markets putatively push around money, but I’d argue that why they exist and how they actually function is as a way to spread around risk. That’s why the futures market was developed, for farmers to have less risk, and that’s why the credit default swap market was created, to put a price on risk and sell it to people who think they can handle it.”

      Really, the best way to reduce risk is to solve problems collectively. Things like healthcare, utilities, housing, education, and day care are best handled this way. This is why people in the Nordic countries, with their generous welfare states, don’t feel so insecure and stressed like we Americans.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        One wants to spread the risk of diminishing one’s wealth.

        What is wealth really about?

        It’s about

        1. obtaining, keeping and not losing wealth, for power projecting, for one, and other reasons

        2. spending some of that wealth, or all of it (even more than that as well), for various reasons.

        Managing risk is a tool for the former, not the what-is-it-about.

      1. Vatch

        Al Gore is trivial compared to Trump. Here’s why I included Trump as an example of crass consumption:

        http://www.travelandleisure.com/culture-design/architecture-design/trump-tower-donald-trump-penthouse

        Schwarzman, of course, is also super crass:

        http://www.townandcountrymag.com/the-scene/parties/news/a9556/steve-schwarzman-birthday-party/

        These guys are poster chlidren for excessive consumption.

  16. Craig H.

    The Handelsblatt article on Merkel’s body language is mostly old hat but the pictures are terrific. The best part is where Putin tried to sic his hound on her.

    For years that did not prevent Mr. Putin from trying to intimidate the chancellor with mind games. When in 2007 she visited him in Sochi, Ms. Merkel’s advisers, aware of Putin’s black Labrador Koni, had informed him in advance that she does not like dogs because she was once bitten by one. Sure enough, as Mr. Putin and Ms. Merkel sat before a fire place for photos, he had Koni brought in, who began sniffing the chancellor’s crotch. As Mr. Putin leaned back, manspreading with a smirk, Ms. Merkel became visibly uncomfortable.

    I am going to give that one a try where she sways back and forth jiggling invisible air buttons. Also I would be interested in reading more on the subject of Merkel’s body language. Anybody have a source to recommend?

  17. Vatch

    Here’s an article by Jane Mayer about yet another possible James O’Keefe attempt to smear a progressive organization:

    http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/has-james-okeefe-accidentally-stung-himself-again

    James O’Keefe III, the conservative activist famous for undercover stings, has dedicated his life to exposing the “misconduct” of others. But he’s developed a side business in accidentally exposing his own. In the latest chapter of his strange career, the League of Conservation Voters, a national environmental-advocacy group, has filed a complaint against three individuals who infiltrated its operations, at least two of whom, the group alleges, “could be associated with” O’Keefe and have past ties to him. The group’s leaders recently began to suspect that they were being scammed, and decided to go to the authorities before O’Keefe or his alleged associates released any material on their own.

    In a six-page letter of complaint sent to the California Department of Justice on Friday, the League of Conservation Voters, or L.C.V., asked the state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, to open a criminal investigation into the operatives for potential fraud, racketeering, unfair business practices, trespassing, invasion of privacy, and possible violation of the state’s two-way-consent eavesdropping laws. The environmental group filed the letter in California because the “imposters,” as it labelled the operatives, first made with the organization through its state branch in the San Francisco Bay Area. A spokesperson for the California Department of Justice declined to comment, as is its policy on potential criminal investigations.
    …….
    The L.C.V. staff found some of Sandini’s behavior bizarre. At one L.C.V. event, he seemed inexplicably disappointed when he wasn’t able to present a pair of cufflinks to the California Senate’s president pro tempore, Kevin de León, after de León failed to show. The staff also noticed that he had a habit of leaving his cufflinks, and his phone, on tables during get-togethers, which, according to L.C.V.’s letter, “raises the possibility that we have been recorded without consent. We are deeply concerned that if surreptitious, unauthorized videos or recordings were made, these individuals could make deceptive edits to create unfair, malicious, and false impressions.”

    1. bronco

      oh no we have to outsmear the smear guy before he puts out all the stuff he knows about us.

      Do I have to be perfect to criticize anything at all? I’m going to assume the answer is no. Just kidding I don’t need permission . My house is glass and I’m still going to throw rocks, lots and lots of them .

      It’s turtles all the way down

  18. Jim Haygood

    While no one was looking, Dr Copper set a two-year high yesterday, approaching three dollars a pound (up from barely above two a year ago). Chart:

    http://bigcharts.marketwatch.com/quickchart/quickchart.asp?symb=hgu7&insttype=&freq=1&show=&time=8

    China rebound? US defense buildup? Industrial renaissance? Trade war? Beats me, but the good doctor is telling us something.

    1. EricT

      UK, India, EU, all are setting deadlines a decade or two in the future to switch all vehicles to electric. Cobalt, Graphite are two materials that are noted as required to make batteries. The only problem is that battery technology could improve to remove these materials from batteries, so their future scarcity is an open gamble. But, the one material that can’t be replaced easily is copper. Electric vehicles are definitely going to need copper.

    2. Tim

      copper high + oil low = no recession in sight.

      I may not be possible for Fed to overhike under these conditions, at least not in the short term. When the time comes they will need to go below zero in a heartbeat, or else it gets real ugly.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Trump Intel Chief: North Korea Learned From Libya War to “Never” Give Up Nukes The Intercept

    Pandora opened her box…

  20. Altandmain

    Krugman and other liberals still attack single payer:
    https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/08/08/liberals-strike-back-against-single-payer

    I think this was posted before, but the private jail industry is out of control:
    https://www.alternet.org/human-rights/private-prison-demands-new-mexico-and-feds-find-300-more-prisoners-60-days-or-it-will

  21. Craig H.

    The Atlantic piece on how Silicon Valley took over journalism probably does not need to be read all the way to the end. You maybe could stop here:

    With the benefit of hindsight, I might have been more disciplined about the checks we, I mean he, wrote. But he had a weakness for leasing offices in prime locations and hiring top-shelf consultants. I had a weakness for handsomely paying writers to travel the globe. I moved quickly to hire a large staff, which included experienced writers and editors, who didn’t come cheap.

    I made it a little past that point but not much.

  22. John k

    Living less long…
    Once workers retire, what’s the point? Just an expense, no longer usefully breeding new customers and workers. Finally moving towards a more optimal situation…

    1. justanotherprogressive

      +100

      And I think about all the BS and rotten bosses I put up with and all the money I saved (which I obviously should have spend on other things, like a new car every year) just to get to these days when I could actually live my life the way I see fit……ooops! Can’t have any of the serfs doing that either…..they might give other people ideas…….

    2. Cool

      They move to Florida and Arizona, so the process can be different from the traditions of the northern peoples – when they are no longer productive, they can simply walk out of the air conditioning and into the heat wave….

  23. Objective Function

    Let’s flip all the terrified doom porn on its head for a moment. IF President 45 should happen to succeed in ending the Kim god-king dynasty without nuclear war, and in freeing 25 million Koreans from totalitarian time warp, he will have eclipsed the greatest humanitarian achievement of every prior President back to FDR.

    …. Especially the one he resembles closely in terms of personal narcissism and nepotism: JFK, idol of his worst enemies. Stew in that irony for a bit! The man is beyond ignorant, but not at all stupid, as this excellent blog points out daily.

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