Links 3/12/19

Science

NYRB. Kant v. Mill.

Press-Herald

ABC Australia. “The scandal included customers being charged ongoing fees by financial advisers — despite not even receiving a yearly review — as well as charges to accounts after customers had died.” Five Eyes elite omnishambles continues apace.

Venezuela

OilPrice.com

NYT

CNN

Netblocks. I wish the Netblocks site weren’t so light on funding disclosure….

TASS. I don’t recall this level of hysteria when Puerto Rico was without power for months. Odd….

Venezuelanalysis

CEPR. Mercs in Haiti.

AP

Brexit

Reuters

Bloomberg

RTE

FT

Daily Mail

Yanis Varoufakis, Le Monde Diplomatique

South China Morning Post. First Piraeus. Then Trieste. Next…. Gibralter?

China?

FT

Foreign Affairs

Radii

India

FT

CFR

The Wire (J-LS).

New Cold War

US-Russia.org. Big if true.

Stephen Cohen, The Nation

New York Magazine. The threads, and the highly successful business model.

Trump Transition

Roll Call

The New Yorker (Furzy Mouse).

NYT

Federal News Network

Federal Times

Miami Herald. Hoo boy.

Mother Jones

Imperial Collapse Watch

Defense One. Since the obvious lessons are that you should never trust the military, the intelligence community, the press, The Blob, and the great bulk of the political class across both parties, you can see why they’d want to do that.

The American Conservative

Health Care

ABC

AP

Obama Legacy

Current Affairs. A must-read; shows the difference between taking office and taking power.

Class Warfare

Medium

Abe Voelker (Reify99). Excellent long-form report. (I had no idea that “manure pipeline” was a thing. Big Ag!)

Phys.org

Contingent Magazine

Antidote du Jour ():

See yesterdays 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.

176 comments

  1. notabanker

    Mexican president article:
    Allowing it in the meantime helps U.S. relations and helped Mexico win a $10.6 billion U.S. commitment for regional development, meant to create jobs in Central America and southern Mexico so fewer people feel compelled to leave.
    We shut down the entire Federal Government for what again?

    “It makes people believe only what he says, against everything that experts or ratings agencies or international organizations say. They don’t matter, it only matters what he says.”

    Gee, something vaguely familiar about that statement.

    Reply
  2. vlade

    Re Brexit:
    It looked to me earlier today that enough MPs might get cover from what May got yesterday to get it over the line.

    Well, Cox went and told them what it meant w/o trying to paper it over (there was a short story that he was told to paper it over but refused)

    So I doubt it’s the case anymore. Pound got pounded (it lost a cent in space of minutes, and is down 2 cents from the top, over 1.5% drop).
    DUP just said they can’t support the deal.

    Unless there’s enough Labour defectors (some sources were saying up to 60), I can’t see how the deal can get voted in today. Which likely means we moved closer to no-deal, despite the fact that the Parliament will most likely vote against it tomorrow. Talk about unicorns and all..

    Reply
    1. Biologist

      Unless there’s enough Labour defectors (some sources were saying up to 60), I can’t see how the deal can get voted in today. Which likely means we moved closer to no-deal, despite the fact that the Parliament will most likely vote against it tomorrow. Talk about unicorns and all..

      Absolutely. Looking at Twitter and comments in The Guardian, Labour-leaning Remainers seem hell-bent on voting the deal down under the assumption / delusion / pretense that that somehow will lead to soft or no Brexit, rather than seeing this deal as the likely last chance to avoid no deal.

      What also annoys me is that many people seem to think that this WA somehow casts in stone the future relationship. It’s only about the withdrawal, including backstop. Assuming May’s reign will soon be over, the government that will negotiate the future relationship is free to pursue a super-soft Brexit if that would be the consensus or their mandate (including SM and CU membership). But no, people want to vote this withdrawal agreement down because it doesn’t spell out their favourite version of Brexit.

      Reply
    2. Mirdif

      This isn’t about winning the vote. That is very unlikely. This is about reducing the scale of the defeat. Anything under 100 and the deal lives. Anything over and it’s touch and go.

      If the deal loses by anything close to last time the deal is dead and possibly May’s premiership. We may in that case get a spate of top ministerial resignations to push May to resign. Leadership campaign teams are already set to go if the rumours are to be believed.

      There will definitely be an extension.

      Reply
      1. Biologist

        But who will ask for the extension if May is forced to resign? There are less than 3 weeks left, do you expect Parliament, after 3 years (well, longer) of delusions, to suddenly efficiently appoint a new government with a clear Brexit mandate? May resigning won’t change the numbers in Parliament.

        And assuming a strong and stable new leader is found, what kind of extension exactly will she/he ask for? And why would the EU indulge more UK navel-gazing? Unless the UK organises EP elections, any extension won’t be for more than till June or July or so. How will such a short extension change anything?

        Seems like the ERG et al. are getting exactly what they want, a no-deal Brexit.

        Reply
        1. Clive

          No-one can “force” May to resign. The government can lose a no-confidence motion which carries a greater than 50% chance of a No Deal Brexit (I’d put it at 80%+ myself) so that’s off the table as far as I can see. And under the Conservative party’s rules, May’s leadership can’t be challenged for another 10 months.

          There’s a fair amount of moving parts still in this, but a few key ones, like deposing May, have been locked down.

          Reply
          1. Biologist

            Thanks Clive.

            If May’s deal is voted down and indeed she stays as a PM, will she ask the EU for a long extension? That seems politically quite difficult for her, as it would require EP elections. A short extension will probably not be a problem for the EU to agree but it will solve nothing, and instead just remove the urgency for agreeing to this deal.

            Just trying to make sense of the politics.

            Reply
            1. David

              I don’t think you can. British politics parted company with common sense several years ago. May can be “forced” to resign in the old-fashioned sense of being handed the revolver and told to get on with it. She can be promised a graceful exit, no recriminations and a seat in the House of Lords, and threatened with mass walk-outs and other sanctions. She will have to decide. But note that the position of Prime Minister and position of Leader of the Conservative Party, whilst in practice the same, are subject to different criteria. The Queen can invite anyone to form a government, and if it were clear that a government could be formed that could take a decision (probably to ask for an extension), then she would probably go along with that. The fact that it’s never happened doesn’t mean that it can’t. The alternative is that May has already been told by the Whips that she will lose, and has an announcement about seeking an extension all ready.

              Reply
          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > under the Conservative party’s rules, May’s leadership can’t be challenged for another 10 months.

            One of the problems seems to be that the British wrote down too many parts of their Constitution. Things would be a lot simpler if the government could be thrown out at any point.

            Reply
            1. vlade

              oh, it can. No-confidence vote can be held anytime, in theory every day..

              the time-limit is actually internal Tory party limit on leadership challenges (as otherwise the Tories would run one perpetual leadership challenge.. they are the kill-the-leader party).

              Reply
        2. Mirdif

          No deal is by far the least likely outcome at the moment. There is an indicative vote about an extension and May will likely put the request in. The positive response will likely be delivered after the March 21-22 Council. Even if May resigned prior to putting in an extension request the caretaker PM would follow the result of the indicative vote for an extension. Even in the highly unlikely scenario that the deal passes today an extension is now needed.

          There is also the possibility May does not go even in the face of ministerial resignations. She is very stubborn.

          There is much more of this to come and it’s getting quite tiresome now.

          Reply
          1. Clive

            Getting a little lost in all the usual dross reporting, the EU has stated specifically that the UK cannot be a Member State past May 23rd unless it has participated in the European Parliamentary elections

            While there’s been a lot of speculation, this is the first time I’ve seen an explicit legal put-up or shut-up from the Commission.

            So any extension can only be for two months as holding an election for MEPs is likely to be third rail stuff. And the election would have to be published by a minister on or around 10th April, so there’s only about three weeks or so to make a decision.

            At least, then, there’s only another two months maximum to go.

            Reply
            1. Mirdif

              This is a political matter and not a legal one. They will suddenly change the legal opinion if they want to. A lot of this is pressure from the EU side for a decision, preferably positive, on May’s deal. It’s also why Junkcer threatened last night if they don’t back May’s deal there may be no Brexit.

              May unfortunately didn’t have the guts to come clean about the real ramifications of all the options and neither did she have the guts to put an indicative vote in December for or against no deal. Once no deal was rejected she then should have put her deal with the threat that if it doesn’t get voted through she will take that to mean no Brexit.

              The major problem is that everybody knows that long term the border will go down the Irish Sea, if the UK persists with going down the FTA route. It’s just at the moment the numbers don’t make it possible.

              I hope there’s only two months to go but I think this might even be going on next year.

              Reply
              1. Clive

                “No Taxation Without Representation” is about as legal a matter as it gets. To say that somehow the Commission (let alone the UKSC) would just shrug their shoulders and say oh, never mind then, about such a fundamental principle is wishful thinking. And I’m being nice there.

                There’s been revolutions and civil wars over this one. And rightly so. To think that the Commission would be happy to fudge it for political reasons is to make a fundamental misunderstanding of what the EU is and how it not just chooses how it works because it quite likes doing things that way but, rather, how it itself has not got any choice in the matter — it must operate on a legal basis.

                Reply
                1. Mirdif

                  I thought the same until I saw the comments by Piet Eeckhout, dean of UCL’s Law Faculty. He’s of the opinion that a long extension would require an act by the Council on the basis of Article 50 as part of the extension decision.

                  Reply
                  1. Clive

                    In matters of EU law, the Commission’s opinion trumps the Council’s (or any other legal musings). That is why Juncker wrote to Tusk. In effect, in diplomatic language, Juncker told the Council there’s to be no messin’.

                    Any lawyer, Eeckhout is no exception, will talk a good case. But in front of the CJEU’s Justices, the Commission’s written advice has far more weight.

                    Reply
                2. vlade

                  EC can, and did, run the legal things on the edge at times.

                  But it will not do so over any length of time. For EP, that means about mid-August at extreme*, which would by now still solve nothing, so it’s not on the cards for a short extension, as that’s when they need to start work on the new budget etc.

                  *) I believe that the July first session date could be pushed back, as seem to suggest the only mandated session is in March, and when the EP reconvenes otherwise depends on when it will vote to do so, and I can’t find any rule saying how long after the election is _must_ convene. After the first session and election of the President it closes up for recess until mid August, so all of that could be in theory pushed back.

                  But again, it’s very likely immaterial, so I’m putting it up here more for curiosity than anything else.

                  Reply
      2. Clive

        And that’s the problem. Everyone knows there won’t be “best and final offers” until the unequivocal end of the runway has been reached. Until the question of what, if any, extension is agreed by the EU27 (or not), there’s still some, perhaps quite a bit, of runway left.

        Wake me up someone when it’s almost over.

        Reply
        1. el_tel

          Rather than sleeping I’m spending practically all my time reading the Daily Mash instead….may as well laugh as we circle the drain….

          Reply
      3. vlade

        I have a feeling that the EU will not do a extension unless:
        – it’s clear red lines moved, and they can get it in quickly
        – it’s a long extension with all bells and whistles, including UK participating in EP elections (which requires primary UK legislation IIRC, but an extension would do that anyways so it may be irrelevant).

        The EU companies which actually did some planning for no-deal assumed it would happen in April, and put in plans accordingly. If it’s put off by a couple of months, it may mean for them that a lot of that planning is wasted. At the same time, two extra months won’t help much those who didn’t help.

        Reply
        1. Mirdif

          The EU will always do an extension. The European Parliament elections are already set to have more populist candidates getting elected – Salvini’s mob are likely to perform very well for instance – and they will use refusal of an extension to reflect badly on the EU. Furthermore, the optics will look like the EU is punishing a country for having the temerity to leave. Also, no deal preparedness in EU27 is nowhere near good enough at the moment,

          My own feeling is that May and the EU believe that the deal will pass sometime after April but before the end of June. As time goes by the chances of no deal will increase quite dramatically then. A lot will depend on the mood on the EU side then. They may well feel they are in a better position to deal with no deal. It will also require moves in Ireland to put the border up. The Irish government knows very well that is what will happen in no deal circumstance and will be looking for ways to blame the UK. My guess is they will head off to the US and we’ll see more sabre rattling from the Irish-American lobby.

          Reply
    3. David

      Cox must certainly have told them that the “instrument” changes nothing substantial. Indeed it can’t, given that the WA has already been signed. I’ve only had a chance to read it quickly, but it seems in practice to be a series of agreed interpretations of the backstop clauses in the WA, and some general remarks about how the system would work in practice. It doesn’t look, or read, like the “legally binding” agreement May says it is, and it’s full of non-treaty language like “recall” and “commit.” The most you could say is that in the case of a dispute, the instrument would have to be read together with the relevant clauses of the Agreement. And I can’t find any references to Brussels saying the text is legally binding. But then who actually thought, in the real world, that the backstop arrangements in the WA could be changed?

      Reply
  3. el_tel

    IT bug and wrongful accusations article: I really feel for these people, particularly given the attention drawn to the enormous IT issues brought to light on sites like this one. However, I’d also like to emphasise the problem on “other side of the coin”, which IMHO too few people realise. Humans at various stages of the “chain of payment” can steal, circumventing all the best electronic security. Your money, or as I recently experienced, your identity.

    A mobile (cell) phone account I closed a year ago was re-activated, used to get a new iphone and make loads of calls. Thankfully, although I didn’t technically NEED to cancel the bank direct debit, I had done so manually (never trusting companies to do so properly from their end). So I lost no money (phew). But I quickly learnt what had happened. The fraud dept of the phone company, of course, never admitted liability clearly, but one operator made comments which made it clear as day who got me – a disgruntled employee of the phone company who probably sold on a load of customer details. Thankfully it was all cleared up very quickly and efficiently but I still shudder to think how it could have gone, having seen other people’s experiences.

    Reply
  4. pretzelattack

    ah so the military still has not learned lessons from the vietnam war. at this rate, they would never learn lessons from irag, either.

    Reply
      1. John

        There will always be a war going someplace as no one reaches high rank in the Pentagon without active war experience. Think of our wars as merely training exercises.

        Reply
        1. barefoot charley

          Careers in FBI, CIA et al (obviously including militarized police) also require/reward combat experience. Murder and mayhem = resume-padding.

          Reply
    1. Koldmilk

      The article fails to mention that “The use of paramilitaries or militias rather than uniformed soldiers, ambushing logistics convoys with improvised explosive devices, and hiding soldiers and resources amongst the civilian population- all staples of the Iraq conflict […]” are all the tactics of an occupied country resisting a foreign invader.

      And that is the key lesson of Iraq, Vietnam, etc. etc.: don’t invade other countries. Wars of aggression are the original crime.

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      Seen this movie before. By the early 60s the US Army was specifically designed to take on the Warsaw Pact countries, especially at the Fulder Gap. This led to some bad decisions being made as to how the forces were composed and structured. This also meant that the US Army as it went into Vietnam was ill-suited to take on the VC. After the war, the Vietnam war had been so traumatic for the US military that it determined to put everything about it in the past, even the lessons learned, as it reorganized itself for the European mission again. And now that Iraq and Afghanistan recede – slowly – into the past, they are doing just as they did back in the 70s and put everything about the war behind it and go back to the mission of taking on a peer competitor. Trouble is that the rules changed while they were fighting in the deserts and it will no longer be so easy to try to fight China or Russia. Recent war games showed US forces being mauled in any such encounter. So of course the solution is more money for the Pentagon which Trump has just demanded.

      Reply
    3. David

      I interpreted it rather differently: armies don’t like counter-insurgency and guerrilla warfare, because it is messy, nasty and almost impossible to win.They prefer “proper” military operations. The US Army is particularly well-known for this – they even sulked the whole time they were in Bosnia, for example. As in the post-Vietnam era, they want to go back to being a conventional fighting force as soon as possible, and not encourage politicians to think that they can be sent into COIN situations again, because they will have “learned” to do them better.

      Reply
  5. The Rev Kev

    “Election Watchdog Hits Jeb Bush’s Super-PAC With Massive Fine for Taking Money From Foreign Nationals”

    Let’s take a trip down memory lane. Remember when Trump went down that flight of stairs to announce his candidacy for the position of the United States? What if he had slipped on his way down those stairs and was totally out of action for the next year or so and that it was impossible for him to have run. Jeb Bush seemed to have been the anointed one back then so assume that he got the right breaks, Hillary still totally stuffed up her campaign by refusing to talk to the peasants, so in November of 2016 it was Jeb with his hand on that bible taking the oath. So instead of Trump fighting off bs charges of Russian!Russian!Russian! the past two years, would we have seen instead Jeb Bush fighting off bs charges of China!China!China! by the Democrats the past two years instead?

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Nope. A Jeb? Presidency would have still seen the DC courtier class maintain their carefully crafted personal networks that lead to the White House maintained for much of DC. Maddow might be on it, but it would be no more than a once a month issue.

      Reply
    2. johnnygl

      …fighting off bs charges of “China, China, China”.

      No, because is DC elite circles, losing to a member of the Bush dynasty is considered a respectable loss. Losing to Trump, after you’d helped smooth his ascent to the nomination was a spectacular act of idiocy that is rarely seen in politics.

      One of Trump’s greatest political weapons is getting his opponents to destroy themselves. Guys like Cruz, Chris Christie, Jebbie, Kasich, and Rubio did serious damage to their own political futures.

      When Trump beats you down…you’re done for a long time…possibly for good.

      If you aren’t sure about this….think about the damage that would result if Sanders wins the nomination and loses the general election. I figure the left is knocked out for at least another decade.

      Of course, clintonites know this and would love to help make it happen.

      I think bernie knows it, too. That is why it’s so important that he’s built up a parallel institutional structure, outside the party.

      Reply
    3. The Rev Kev

      I thought about that point guys, but Clinton was so convinced that she had a right and entitlement to the Presidency, so fully expecting to be having her coronation that night, I wondered if her resentment and that of the other Clintonites might have spilled over in frustration the past two years no matter who the winner had been. Having it be Trump was merely adding insult to injury.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        There would be resentment from the ilk of Mook, but the Scarborough gang (Brzezinksi) Todd, Matthews, the guy at 10 pm who wrote the episodes of the West Wing that praised Republicans the most, CNN, much of the MIC, etc simply wouldn’t care as their positions over the long term would seem to be secure. The relationships to two families has shaped DC for years. All those endearing nicknames such as “turd blossom” became meaningless when Trump came in, and Sanders doesn’t seem like Obama in that he would just appoint the next most senior person. All these people would get consideration or access. Trump has no loyalty to these people.

        Jeb?, the “smart” Bush brother, has less hold over the GOP electorate than the old man and HRC lost a second coronation along with the defeats of Kerry and Gore (who were either connected to Team Clinton or hired Team Clinton). At the federal level, the Clinton have been part of one victory in 1992 but they infest the Swamp. They survived Shrub, but HRC was there to save these people. This is all networking, and access to the two mafia families was their selling point.

        Reply
      2. Pat

        On the Clinton resentment would still be there. But this misses two big points. She would not be as shocked as no one would have deluded themselves that no insert name of identity group would ever vote for Jeb, that illusion was all about Trump. And the usual suspects in Russia Russia Russia would largely have been fine with Jeb. Much of the reason the bull was able to last was the help of the intelligence and MIC community. So no China China China.

        In some ways being able to view alternative time lines would be fun and this one would be interesting. I am not sure who would have won. The Clinton campaign would logically have to be very different. How many people would have stayed home? Who could appeal to the change voters? And would it be clearer that our biggest divide is class, if both were rejected.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The other side is the Clinton Political Mastermind myth isn’t wrecked by Jeb? winning. After all, Shrub beat Gore (campaign manager Donna Brazille) and Bill beat 41. HRC lost to a barely literate, blob of a creature. Trump exposed the Emperor’s New Clothe’s weren’t simply being praised by the courtier class but had been taken up as the style for a long time.

          Reply
          1. nippersdad

            Clinton proved, and continues to prove conclusively, that their political mastermind reputation was a myth when she lost to Obama. While it was a great thing to finally have a person of color in the Whitehouse, the lengths that they went to to try and win it from such a traditionally underserved minority candidate were telling. One might even say that it took a Clinton for a black man to serve in the Whitehouse.

            Just the latest example: Her most recent excuse for losing to Trump is because of Shelby v Holder, in spite of the fact that midwestern states like Wisconsin have never been under Justice Department supervision for suppressing the minority vote.*

            What kind of person insults the intelligence of an audience full of people who would know better and have the ability to say so? Analysis of a potential Clinton Presidency by such as Benjamin Studebaker prior to the election said that it would be better for Clinton to lose to Trump lest worse be elected in 2020. In hindsight such analyses now seem prescient.

            *

            Which is just to say that I think that boat sailed long before her loss to Trump.

            Reply
          2. Pat

            See I don’t think either brain trust was ready for the political climate of 2016. Jeb also lost to Trump. It would really have been down to who had the most die hard fans. Neither were going to appeal to those upset with the status quo. Jeb would have had the advantage of no connection to Obama, but people wanted his brother gone as well.

            I think it would have been an election with even less turnout and a possible third party vote as great or better than Perot’s (Libertarian). It could have been very similar to ’92.

            Reply
            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              41 ran from the perch of VP after losing to an actor. In 1992, guys like Paul Kirk, Mario Cuomo, and Jessie Jackson didn’t run expecting 41’s post Gulf War sheen to last longer.

              Shrub had to cheat to win, but he did unite the various GOP factions in a way Jeb couldn’t with W’s for early black sheep status. I would say neither of these families could win without the other and aren’t ever reflective of the political climate in the country. Team Blue won in 2006 without Obama on the ballot and on a brutal senate map without the Clinton brain trust organizing the party.

              Reply
        2. Kurt Sperry

          The planned Jeb-Hillary contest would have rendered it essentially meaningless which one would have won in terms of policy outcomes. Jeb and Hillary were more alike on policy than many within either party are.

          I question the political engagement of anyone who would have strong feelings either way about the outcome of that scenario.

          Reply
    4. Cal2

      “record fine for accepting a seven-figure donation from a company owned by Chinese nationals who were in business with Bush’s brother, Neil…”

      Wasn’t he in charge of security at the World Trade Center when they were redoing all the wiring for an upgrade?

      Reply
    5. AC

      Answer: Slavoj Zizek. He reasons that because of Trump the Democratic Party is moving away from corporate, moderate and centerist positions. The solutions will lie in globalist remedies to the current post WWII economic systems. Those who enable Trump will be displaced by a radical restructuring of the current economic rules.

      Reply
  6. David

    Since several people expressed interest in the Algerian crisis, and since quite a lot has happened in Algeria over the last couple of days, here’s a short update.

    Bouteflika was brought back suddenly on Sunday night from a clinic in Geneva where he had spent two weeks having “tests.” On that Sunday (a normal working day in Algeria) there had been widespread strikes, and protests involving not only public services, but groups like magistrates and even employees of the state-owned oil corporation, which is the origin of the government’s slush fund. The government had closed the universities early and sent the students on vacation, but they refused to go and the teachers continued to provide lessons. Something was widely anticipated from the government.

    This turned out to be a long and quite detailed statement from Bouteflika on Monday evening, which said that he would not seek a fifth term after all. Indeed, it said that it had never been his intention to do so, in spite of the fact that his candidature had already been declared. After the initial euphoria, people started to look at the text and discovered that Bouteflika will not be a candidate because the elections on April 18 have been cancelled. Rather, Bouteflika himself, (or those acting in his name) are going to organise “an inclusive national conference” which is supposed to lead in time to a “new republic” and “a new era in Algeria.” There will be elections after that. Thus, the statement puts him at the head of efforts to reform the very system he has created, and keeps him in power while that process goes on, without a fixed end-date. There has also been a largely meaningless government reshuffle.

    The thinking is obviously that, by ceding to the only real demands the protesters have in common (no fifth term and political reform) their unity and motivation will be reduced. The government hopes that next Friday’s planned demonstrations will be much less well supported, and that they can therefore regard the crisis as back under control again.

    But the reception of the announcement has been very mixed. The government newspaper El Moudjahid gives the official interpretation: “a frank and unambiguous reply to the demands of recent demonstrations.” It adds that these demands are supported “by the whole political class, by all the institutions of the Republic and by the President himself and the Army, as well as world opinion.” It is “a message of hope.” The accompanying photo is of a much younger man than the invalid last seen in a wheelchair in 2012.
    The response elsewhere has been less kind. The respected independent newspaper El Watan describes the announcement as “Bouteflika’s last trick.” Elsewhere, and on social media, the joke is that Bouteflika has refused a fifth term by extending his fourth. The general reaction this morning from the political class has been sceptical and dismissive.

    Clearly, the government is playing for time. The problem is that it’s not obvious, even with a delay of months, what the solution is. Partly it’s an inter-generational problem. The Algerian state and political system draws its legitimacy from the independence struggle. Bouteflika is of that generation, and the Chief of the General Staff Salah, who is 79, is the only representative of the armed struggle still in uniform. And 50% of Algerians are under 30. The problem is that it’s not clear what the basis of a new political system would be, or where it would get its legitimacy. It’s easy to say “a law-based state” (état de droit) as many critics have, but it’s been pointed out that, on the contrary, the laws already exist, it’s just that they are not being observed. Changing the Constitution will do nothing: the announcement of the delay in the elections is constitutionally illegal.

    The French position will also be important. The Foreign Minister, Le Drian, rushed out a supportive statement last night, possibly before the experts had really analysed the declaration. Macron came out with a more measured statement today. The risk is that the French become themselves enmeshed in the regime’s fight for survival, and suffer a repeat of the 2011 humiliation over Tunisia.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for that update David. Very much appreciated. I saw a film clip the other day of protesters moving alongside a line of riot police. But I noticed that the policeman at the end of the line was bumping fists with the protesters as they went by. Would such a thing indicate that perhaps the police and army are ready to call time on the Bouteflika regime as well? I understand that both institutions are well respected in Algeria.

      Reply
      1. David

        A bit above my pay-grade, but the majority view seems to be that, whilst the Army retains a lot of power, and is feared and respected, it isn’t as united and influential as it used to be. I don’t think that this announcement could have been made without the Army’s agreement, but that’s not the same as saying there is an Army master plan, because there are other actors as well. It’s very easy to get into a conspiratorial mindset, and people will tell you not only that the Army is manipulating everything, but that the French are manipulating the Army. The Police, so far as I know, are no more popular than in any other country in the region, but you’re right that they had friendly relations with the demonstrators, who themselves went to enormous lengths to make the demonstration peaceful. According to people who were there, they were shouting “peaceful, peaceful” as they approached the police cordons. The average policeman is probably as fed up with the situation as anybody else. Perhaps the easiest way to understand it is to say that in the case of the Army it’s what the Generals think is important, whilst for the price, it’s how far the policeman on the streets is prepared to go.

        Reply
  7. a different chris

    On page 9,327 of “economics don’t work” we have the farm industry, where “the amount of milk that a single cow yields per year has more than doubled since the 1970s” would seem to naturally lead to a boon for “small farmers”.

    But no. And note, the one underlying reason given – selling grain to Russia – is as free-market as it gets. I am, BTW, never clear on how Russia pays for this kind of stuff. What do they, and especially what did they then, sell to the world that got them dollars?

    Reply
    1. jsn

      I know this is , its all I could find quickly. It appears that Russia has become a substantial grain exporter in recent years. Russia Insider has been reporting this also for the last several years. I don’t know if it’s real or disinformation.

      Sanctions are requiring Russia to make other trade arrangements, although the Russian central bank still has .

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        RT is correct. Check this Bloomberg story from last year-

        Want to know something interesting about all that grain that Russia is pumping out? It is all non-GM which I think will become more and more important over time. When the west seized the Ukraine, one of the first things that they did was to reverse the agricultural laws so that all the Ukraine’s rich black soil will be growing GM grains. This cannot be done to Russia which is yet another source of frustration to the west’s big ag.

        Reply
          1. Olga

            Yes – so what?
            So is BBC (funded by the UK govt.). Actually, many news services get funding from their governments – one has to listen to them and assess for oneself.
            This is how the NYT speaks of the matter:
            The title in the print edition (which I only picked up because Lufthansa still offers free papers) was ‘Troubled Agency for US Ideals Faces a New Slant.’
            So an agency – Voice of America – we are informed, promotes not propaganda, but US ideals. Well, good to know.
            The article is full of funny angst I don’t really have time to get into (e.g., “The debacles are the latest problems that for years have plagued the government’s efforts to meld journalism and political messaging across its array of radio and television channels around the world.” (promise, it is not Onion)), but suffice it to point to a euphemistic description of VOA as “a global, federally funded enterprise,” while Russia spews “disinformation” through the “Russia state-controlled media.”
            Surely, even you can detect whiffs of hypocrisy and double-standard.

            Reply
            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Yes, so is BBC, as well as VOA. And people can keep that in mind.

              Since RT is mentioned first in ‘I know this is RT,’ and you followed up ‘Just because it’s RT…,’ I didn’t feel the need to bring BBC or VOA, but to say you have valid point, even though RT is funded by the Russian government.

              Reply
            2. jsn

              My inclination is to trust RT for things not about Russia, even for things about Russia I find them more trustworthy than the post 2016 US press.

              Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Reading the NY Times article linked to in the link:

      I get impression the Nixon administration’s Assistant Agriculture Secretary Brunthaver made a bad deal. The Russians got a great deal and although never unraveled by later investigations the president of Continental Grain, Fribourg, might have done very well by the deal.
      “Fribourg, looking back now, will acknowledge that he “took a slight countermargin” in the deal, which brought the selling price below the target price, but he won’t say how much.”
      I remember seeing the price of a loaf of bread jump some time after this little deal.
      “”The American Government, as well as the private grain traders, was well aware that Brezhnev had locked himself into a grain‐gobbling plan to grow more livestock for the consumers. The Americans also had reason to believe that the Russian granaries were almost empty, and it was no secret here that bad weather had already put the new Russian wheat crop in question.”
      If you read through the details selling grain to Russia was anything but a “free-market” deal. Just because it’s the NY Times, does not mean it might not be true or hold some truth. I remember the price of a loaf of bread taking a big jump during the Nixon years and never going down again.

      Increasing production while holding demand the same is most definitely not a boon to small farmers.

      Reply
  8. nippersdad

    More fallout from the Omar thing:

    A point has been won. The Blue Dogs and New Dems are getting frustrated with the Progressives because they cannot rule the debate on messaging anymore. The Progressive caucus has been around for years, but I don’t recall their ever taking power over the debate on anything. The new kids on the block seem to have a better handle on how to do politics than virtually anyone I have ever seen; months in and they have stopped conservative messaging in the Democratic Party on a budget!

    This reminds me of that Dune quote, “The power to destroy a thing is absolute control over it.”

    Good for them! I hope to see a lot of this in the future.

    Reply
      1. nippersdad

        That Obama Bro’s article really was eye opening. Not surprising given what we saw during his Administration, but that even his own cadre of west wing frat boys were fans to the exclusion of anything else. The “drug addled” “retards” of the “professional left” comments now reflect a context not much different from the Daily Kos crowd. One would have hoped for something a little more professional.

        The stupid vs evil debate has concluded and it has been determined that they weren’t actually evil, their stupidity just enabled it.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Ignorance is a sin. Not thinking through the consequences of one’s actions is a sin. The Messina example in the “Obama Bros” article is telling. Here, Messina is shocked after the 2008 election that a Senator from a separate electorate than the President says he won’t help him. Messina doesn’t seem to understand how are staggered system works or understands that McConnell has a different constituency than Obama and nothing to gain. This episode is used in a tit for tat with the GOP not a message things need to change in the Obama White House. Given the awesome power the White House possesses, the Obama White House failed in its responsibility. 1 in 6 kids isn’t food secure in the U.S. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he existed.

          ‘They are Man’s,’ said the Spirit, looking down upon
          them. ‘And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers.
          This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both,
          and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy,
          for on his brow I see that written which is Doom,

          Scrooge’s sin wasn’t greed. He was moved by Tiny Tim upon seeing him. It was ignorance and his focus on his work (the nose to the grindstone). Scrooge knew nothing about Bob Cratchit despite seeming him 364 days a year. In stark contrast with Tiny Tim who wanted the people at church to see him so they might be reminded of their own salvation and find joy. Stupid or evil. Its the same thing. Lex Luthor isn’t real.

          Reply
          1. nippersdad

            I meant to thank you for posting this on watercooler yesterday, and then failed to actually do it. My thanks post hoc, it was a real find.

            It was also telling that Obama specialized in hiring wet behind the ears people to worship him. How much could be expected from such a crowd? There may be a lot of sin in their actions, but it largely looks to be the sin of youth and inexperience.

            Obama, OTOH, was just clearly on the take. He had done politics for a long time by then and had been groomed by the Pritzkers; their excuses cannot be extended to him. Hiring people like that was clearly deliberate on his part. I have always thought that the mere threat of sending people to the Hague would have given him carte blanche to do as he pleased. It turned out that what pleased him was to enable the very people that he was elected him to form a counterpoint to.

            Reply
          2. Pat

            The even scarier thing is how many of those Obama courtiers are now running for office or seeking more political positions. Two were among the crowded field running for NYC public advocate recently. I cannot remember where I saw the first few. But all put their time in the administration at the top of their resumes.

            Reply
        2. JohnnyGL

          I think it was both (it usually is). They were stupidly pining for the approval from evil Republicans because bi-partisanship is the highest moral quality anyone can achieve. The TV told me so and I won’t be persuaded otherwise.

          I tried watching West Wing once or twice and it struck me as so juvenile that it was at like a high school level, at best. Can’t understand how that show was popular.

          Reply
          1. djrichard

            Would there have been a Church of Obama without The West Wing? Who knows. But Obama was certainly the apotheosis of the Church of Obama, lol. Obama can look back and safely say “Mission Accomplished”.

            Reply
            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Yes. Bipartisan approval of bad things made Obama’s outward appearance center and even his name (W is the son of a President) mattered or rewarded people who were beginning to feel disconnected. Shrub like Bill before him did stunts (picking up brush) was so people’s faces, and this is important Obama presented an easy answer.

              Reparations is a difficult question. Take Michelle and Obama and their respective family histories. Obama solves the problem at least on a superficial level. Change is made through hard work. Registering voters in July sucks. Watching the West Wing in July sucks less. Only one produces potential voters in November.

              The Third Way premise is an easy answer.

              Step 1. Give Republicans everything and Republicans will say nice things about the ilk of Joe Biden…

              Step 2.

              Step 3. Profit!

              The beauty is you don’t have to think about poor people at all with the third way or inherent flaws in a system which gives access to an “Obama Boy” access to the President.

              Reply
          2. djrichard

            On a related note, there’s this hand wringing going on now over whether Kylie Jenner is a self-made billionaire (e.g. did she have help?).

            Why are we even discussing this? The facts on the ground are that the Church of Kylie Jenner is successfully established. “Mission Accomplished”. This is what capitalism is about nowadays, making sure such missions get accomplished.

            Another way to accomplish such missions is to use the office of POTUS as a basis for your Church.

            Reply
    1. Eureka Springs

      So it’s all non-binding kabuki? Sounds like the kind of thing which should be decided elsewhere. Probably inside a party which operates democratically (where all Dem constituents have voice and a vote), thus ends up with representatives bound to represent with non theatrical votes in the House. I read recently the Prog caucus in the House is now smaller than New Dem. At least Pelosi is no longer declaring herself a member of the Prog caucus. Now if only the Progs would quit promoting her.

      As I said yesterday when first hearing of Pelosi not interested in impeachment. She stopped the idea with Bush Jr., who certainly deserved it along with Cheney more than anyone. Why do y’all think Trump was more than happy with the idea of her being Speaker again?

      Reply
      1. nippersdad

        While it certainly wasn’t the case with Bush the lesser, I have yet to see a convincing case for impeachment of Trump. The kinds of corruption that one sees in the Trump Administration is so routine for Washington that were they to try it they would only end up impeaching themselves as well. I think in his case Pelosi is prolly right to not go there.

        I still haven’t forgiven her for Bush, though; that made us all complicit for his crimes even before Obama decided to normalize and legalize them. Had she impeached Bush Obama could never have followed in his footsteps and Trump wouldn’t have a cabinet full of war criminals now. In that sense I blame her, specifically, for a lot of what we have become.

        The funny thing is that she doesn’t get it. I saw a quote from her a while back where she was shocked that people are still blaming her for taking impeachment off the table. I have also read that she is crafty rather than bright. Such quotes go a long way toward proving the proposition.

        Reply
        1. WobblyTelomeres

          The kinds of corruption that one sees in the Trump Administration is so routine for Washington that were they to try it they would only end up impeaching themselves as well. I think in his case Pelosi is prolly right to not go there.

          I have to wonder, though, if that is how Alexander Acosta became Trump’s Labor Secretary; if something is there, re Jeffrey Epstein, that’ll burn both houses.

          Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I wonder ( in my tinfoil moments) whether Epstein had so many World Powerful guests at his private Pedo Island that some of them may be able to have him quietly removed from physical existence without finderprints or footprints . . . . in order to make sure no list with their names on it ever emerges into view.

            Reply
    2. Robert McGregor

      “Several senior Democratic aides said it makes little political sense to spend weeks perfecting a messaging document when there are other items with far greater partywide appeal on their to-do list, like an upcoming vote to address the gender pay gap.”

      Perfect. They can’t pass a budget that addresses issues like Climate Change and Medicare for All, but they can “address the gender pay gap.” Is that the greatest example of the misplaced priority of “Identity Politics” or what? It makes you think it is all about “ideas.” Good ideas will rise you up, and bad ideas will sink you.

      Reply
    3. Lee

      The new kids on the block seem to have a better handle on how to do politics than virtually anyone I have ever seen….

      I generally accept the proposition that “generations don’t have agency”. But there’s something to be said for generational as well as class differences in perspective. There are those who have for many years grown well fatted under the neoliberal status quo. In addition, their attachment to things as they are is quite likely reinforced in that they will have shuffled off this mortal coil soon enough to avoid experiencing a parlous future that a growing number of the young now see before them with ever increasing clarity and apprehension that now shows signs of becoming organized into an effective political force.

      Bernie Sanders’ age (which is in the same neighborhood as my own) has always troubled me, primarily because I fear that he might pop off the twig at any moment and that the movement that has mobilized around him would dissipate. Seeing these new kids in action has helped allay those concerns and also warms the cockles of my heart, whatever those are.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Wealth inequality and the 1099 economy have led to a place where there isn’t much of a market for “Steady hands” under the age of 40. Its one thing to compromise when there is a force there. A city with a budget can’t pay its teachers a proper raise and not lay off the police force. Those kinds of things do exist. Not every boomer was bad, but millennials except the rich don’t have the opportunity to be bad. Medicare for All would be a huge improvement for 99%, not 70%. The promise of making it doesn’t exist, reducing the pool in favor of “centrists” (Republicans in costumes) out there. The Centrist Klobuchar’s big idea when she’s not abusing her staff is a tax advantaged savings account to pay for job training with money people don’t have. There is no market for this under 40. If FoxNews wasn’t out there lamenting the generic “tax and spend” Democrat, Democrats might get 4 or even 5 votes because Team Blue sure as hell doesn’t offer anything.

        Obama’s fictional character isn’t attacked openly, but he is more or less being forgotten because the Obama era wasn’t a good time. With wealth being tied to home values, wealth can’t even be inherited. Even the young people with reasonably well off parents are going to wind up with white elephants and no jobs to support those homes where they are located now. Once upon a time, this “centrist” garbage may have worked on them, but it won’t now.

        Reply
        1. JerryDenim

          “With wealth being tied to home values, wealth can’t even be inherited. Even the young people with reasonably well off parents are going to wind up with white elephants and no jobs to support those homes where they are located now. ”

          Thanks to Trump and Paul Ryan, the generous Obama era Estate Tax exemption doubled from $5.4 million per spouse to $11.2 million per spouse in 2018. A married couple can leave a twenty-two million dollar estate to their heirs untaxed. That includes homes, rental properties and commercial properties. In California thanks to Prop 13 you even get to keep your dead parent’s outdated property tax rates. (Even on rentals and commercial properties!) I really don’t know what you mean when you say, “With wealth being tied to home values, wealth can’t even be inherited.” ?
          There’s never been a better time to inherit tax-free wealth, housing stock, or otherwise. It’s truly unprecedented since the creation of the Estate Tax in over a hundred years ago in 1916.

          Reply
          1. Massinissa

            He means that under the current system, the 90% can’t really inherit wealth due to the over-inflated housing market requiring such taxes as to be unaffordable to most of the 90%. Inheritance is mostly possible for/beneficial for the 10%, or maybe even less.

            Reply
            1. JerryDenim

              Yeah, I picked up on the tax implications, but that still doesn’t make sense because you can sell the house and pay zero taxes (assuming it’s worth less than 22 million) or rent it, and have a revenue stream for life. I’m not sure what kind of dramatic effect NTG was aiming for with his statement regarding inherited wealth, but in the USA, in 2019, you can inherit wealth. You can inherit lots of it, and you can inherit it easily. People lucky enough to inherit houses in 2019 have nothing to complain about.

              Inheritance beneficial for the 10%, no arguments.

              Reply
        2. jrs

          But it’s probably FAR worse over the age of 40.

          There is still a gig economy, but with age one might actually be more likely to really need healthcare, but if one can’t get employer healthcare, then it gets ever more unaffordable as the premiums approach the stratosphere with age. And then there is the fact that age discrimination in employment is fully legal now, and widely practiced.

          Reply
    4. flora

      I think this Intercept article is relevant to the issue of the old Dem estab refusing to come to grips with its many failings, and the younger generation saying “enough”.

      The attempt to analogize the Southern struggle for voting rights with her fate in Wisconsin subordinates some uncomfortable, and likely more relevant, truths — in the service of a narrative offered by an element of the Democratic Party that would prefer to see cheating and illegality, rather than politics and policy, as the causes of its collapse. That narrative glosses over a remarkable, decadeslong decline in black economic conditions and political disillusionment outside the Southern, black Democratic firewall.

      After having had three years to grapple with the realities of a vital Democratic base in the Midwest, it seems Clinton still hasn’t learned her lesson. If this is any indication of the party’s 2020 strategy, it may be handing Trump another victory.


      Yet — as Dan Kaufman notes in “The Fall of Wisconsin: The Conservative Conquest of a Progressive Bastion and the Future of American Politics” — Democrats failed to counter the conservatives’ vast political infrastructure with one of their own. Instead of broadly advancing progressive candidates and interests, according to Kaufman, Democratic leaders discouraged grassroots action amid Walker’s attack on collective bargaining, though protestors defied their orders. They also made “a fundamental political calculation to move rightward and support Republican priorities such as welfare reform and school vouchers,” Kaufman wrote in his book. In the face of extreme wealth and income disparities between Wisconsin’s black and white residents, state Democrats have taken the black vote for granted, as Milwaukee community activist Angela Lang told NPR last fall.

      Reply
      1. Olga

        AOC addressed this in her SXSW interview that was linked here y-day. Not directly – more globally, but she certainly gets it. Let’s hope that more people start realizing just how spectacularly the Dem. part has failed – and is still failing – its constituency. The sins of its leadership are unforgivable – AOC wld probably put them under “total lack of courage.” I might put them under “being swallowed up wholesalle-y by the prevailing system, while doing everything in their power to advance it – because money and privilege.”

        Reply
      2. Henry Moon Pie

        “Democratic leaders discouraged grassroots action amid Walker’s attack on collective bargaining”

        I’m glad to see this historical truth appear in print. Remember that an AFL-CIO regional council voted for a general strike as the Wisconsin battle heated up. The Democrats were alarmed and did their best to divert all energy into a Wisconsin Supreme Court election. Of course, they lost that election and the grass roots, radical rebellion was extinguished. Mission accomplished, Democrats!

        Reply
  9. el_tel

    For those (Brits in particular) needing a laugh in these BREXIT times and particularly those who may be annoyed at the Guardian’s “living in a bubble” mentality and remember the nepotism of , there’s been a new case of below the line commenters rapidly bringing the paper to its knees in a bout of uncontained laughter (Tuesday morning GMT).

    The in their “advice” column from Pamela Stephenson Connelly has just provided a section of the internet with a morning of ROFL goodness, resulting in the editors engaging in a mass cull of comments and closing off the column whilst they clean up the carnage, as they ended up doing back in 2008 – when I was (again) fortunate enough to see it all in real time before the culling started. (I really wish I’d taken screenshots in both cases).

    The most highly recommended comment (now gone) was to the effect “seduce the mother….it’ll settle the issue and if everything comes out into the open it’ll sound like crazy talk”. But, being serious for a moment, in this era of fake news, one eagle-eyed commenter found a link to a suspiciously similar column by Marina Hyde from 4 years ago in the Guardian. If the Guardian doesn’t like people commenting “has this newspaper turned into the Jeremy Kyle show?” then maybe they should stop engaging in behaviour that is at best ridiculously ill-thought out and at worst, blatant trolling of their readers.

    Reply
  10. Stephen Haust

    RE: Village postmasters

    Remember this: The Royal Mail, i.e. the Post Office was PRIVATIZED some years ago.
    These “Post Office bosses”, executives etc. defending their actions are NOT public
    officials.

    Reply
  11. nippersdad

    Caitlin Johnstone’s latest makes a good sidebar for the Rollcall impeachment story, wherein a pile-on for RussiaGate is gleefully engaged in by Mate’ and Greenwald.

    Reply
    1. Geo

      Thanks. This piece is a nice chaser to the article in the links about sleepwalking into nuclear war with Russia. The Sabre rattling by the liberal mouthpieces and their flock has been one of the more depressing episodes in modern American political discourse.

      Although, is it another win for identity politics (like the female lead CIA) that the modern day role in Dr. Strangelove, once played by cowboy clown Slim Pickins, will be played by Rachel Maddow, waving a pink knitted hat while whoopin’ and hollerin’, as she rides a nuke into Moscow?

      Reply
      1. nippersdad

        “…Rachel Maddow, waving a pink knitted hat while whoopin’ and hollerin’, as she rides a nuke into Moscow?”

        What a great image! Wouldn’t that make a great play for off Broadway? Man, I wish I had some money and we could propagate that idea in a good cause; updating Strangelove for the Maddow era. My Wife and I often decry the derivative nature of most of our entertainment industry these days, but that is the kind of cover that I would pay a great deal to see.

        Reply
      2. pretzelattack

        that is a very nice image, and yes it’s the kind of “win” id pol seems to go for these days.

        Reply
    2. Off The Street

      Those Pelosi stories go together. No Russiagate admission leads to No Impeachment decision. She recognizes the potential fallout from the past few years, and has doubtless been reminded of mounting risks to her Speaker position and that of the party that she attempts to lead.

      Reply
  12. notabanker

    Thanks very much for the US Russia sleepwalking link. The headline is misleading, there is no sleepwalking here, these are deliberate and conscious choices.

    US is backing out of arms treaties to place first strike missiles in Europe whilst the Russians will be placing subs loaded with nukes off the East coast. These missiles may or may not be capable of destroying the East coast in 5 minutes.

    You may ask yourself, why?
    As US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put it in December 2018, America’s “mission is to reassert our sovereignty [and] reform the liberal international order,”

    Neoliberal capitalism. A business philosophy dreamt up by a couple of Austrians 100 years ago. A philosophy rooted before computers, the internet, space travel, even before nuclear weapons.

    $1.7 Trillion dollars in nuclear armament modernization to “protect” the philosophy that creates wealth inequality. While Krugman and Co spout off on the dangers of funding public health care telling us all we cannot afford it.

    Can’t wait for Biden to libsplain to all of us how the billionaires are really great guys.

    Reply
    1. Robert McGregor

      @notabanker Great encapsulation!: “$1.7 Trillion dollars in nuclear armament modernization to “protect” the philosophy that creates wealth inequality.”

      You see how the political lines are really drawn! The Blog is dead-set on spending $trillions and thousands of American lives to make the world safe for neoliberalism, while the rest of us are determined to dismantle that same neoliberalism.

      Reply
    2. Bill Smith

      “That would give them a 5 minute flight time to precision attack all five main American control and command centers of its strategic nuclear forces including the Pentagon headquarters.”

      Sounds like back to the 1980’s by which time the Soviet Union had learned how to fly their SLBM’s on depressed trajectories and kept a SSBN stationed off the east coast of the US.

      US nuclear war planning assumed that it was likely that the president and the Pentagon would be destroyed before they had been notified of the incoming Soviet missiles.

      See the book Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself‐‐While the Rest of Us Die By Garrett M. Graff

      Reply
  13. integer

    is a short (1 min) yet stunning video of Schumer speaking at the 2010 AIPAC conference, in which he states:

    “For as long as I live, for as long as I have the privilege of serving in the Senate from New York, I will unflinchingly, unstintingly, and with all of my strength, be Schu-mer Isra-el, a guardian of Israel.”

    Reply
    1. nippersdad

      Someone needed to remind Schumer about historically harmful tropes on the divided loyalties of Jews. “Taken out of context” (lol) such commentary could have been very divisive for the Party.

      Which reminds me, I need to send Omar some more money.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Omar now has 734K followers on the Twitter. I can’t find a free way to chart follower growth but my impression is that this number is dramatically higher even than two weeks ago.

        Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      Isn’t a US Senator supposed to take an oath to the Constitution of the United States when taking office? Then again, he is also supposed to have Israeli citizenship. Which comes first?

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Omar herself is a naturalzed citizen (in 2000, per Wikipedia).

        Is she also a citizen of another country, or has she renounced?

        Reply
        1. Another Scott

          The Oath of Allegiance includes the following statement “I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen.”

          This is a stronger statement than that made to serve in the U.S. Congress.

          Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Similar to question 28 of the loyalty test given to Japanese American during WWII, this particular oath is problematic for a native born American.

            For another born here, to renounce allegiance to a foreign state is a tricky one, implying he or she has in the past.

            In any case, the question is, is on’es citizenship the primary factor to look at?

            Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Is the question one of citizenship?

          Can one be loyal while being a dual citizen?

          Can a non-dual citizen become disloyal?

          Reply
      1. integer

        I wouldn’t put too much faith, so to speak, in lists like that. See:

        CounterPunch

        This week I received the information I sought, in the form of a telephone call from a legal officer of the Library of Congress. After reminding me that Congress (and the CRS by its connection with Congress) is exempt from FOIA requests, he verbally confirmed my suspicion that CRS does not currently collect dual citizenship data.

        Without transparency on dual citizenship, Americans remain in the dark, free to speculate on which representatives may have divided loyalties. Current entries on the Internet reveal a wide range of such speculation. The lack of transparency is dangerous, for it erodes trust in government, creating credibility doubts where there should be none and allowing some conflicts to continue undetected, without question or debate.

        Reply
      2. marym

        There are serious issues with the US support of Israel, but this is a recurring right-wing trope. Some of the history is . The “list” is people who are Jewish. At one point I think I recall there was someone on such a list with a surname that “sounded” Jewish.

        Reply
      3. grayslady

        Please do not link to discredited sources. Bernie Sanders, for example, is not a dual citizen of Israel–never has been. To become a citizen of Israel requires an application; it is not automatic just because a person is born Jewish. I sincerely doubt that any of the names on that list are dual citizens.

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          This, from Multiple Citizenship, Wikipedia:

          There is no international convention which determines the nationality or citizenship status of a person. This is defined exclusively by national laws, which can vary and can conflict. Multiple citizenship arises because different countries use different, and not necessarily mutually exclusive, criteria for citizenship. Colloquial speech refers to people “holding” multiple citizenship but, technically, each nation makes a claim that a particular person is considered its national

          Is it up to that nation, and not up to, say, Sanders, for example?

          Reply
        2. The Rev Kev

          In Australia’s Constitution, it specifically states that you cannot be a dual citizen in Parliament or the Senate so you renounce other citizenships or do not run. A coupla years ago it came out that some of our politicians had dual citizenship. What should have happened was that the government do an audit and find out who was who. Instead, they stuffed it up and fought it every step of the way. Instead of a short and sharp process, it went off like Chinese fire-crackers for two or three years afterwards as politician after politician was outed. Even the opposition, after an initial smug reply, was caught up by having members found in Parliament who were dual citizens. Some were innocents in that it happened that a parent of theirs had not renounced their citizenship which went on to the children. But the damage was done. Is it so much to expect your own elected politicians to have only one real allegiance? The big one here is those with dual citizenships with Israel but what if it was a case that all these people had instead dual citizenship of Russia and some had promised to be a protector of Mother Russia? Would that have changed the equation for enough people?

          Reply
        3. integer

          You may “sincerely doubt that any of the names on that list are dual citizens”, but you do not know, and that’s the problem. There is no valid reason why information on congresspeople’s citizenship status, dual or otherwise, should not be made available to the public. In fact, the only reason lists like the one in question exist is because of the lack of official information. That said, and as Craig H. points out, it doesn’t matter much in practice as one does not need to be a citizen of Israel to put its interests ahead of those of the US, and for congresspeople who are not already ideologically invested, Benjamins and/or threats of being primaried (carrot and the stick) from the pro-Israel lobby, appear to be enough to garner sufficient loyalty. There’s also the ever looming threat of negative coverage from the uniformly pro-Israel corporate media. Thank blog for people like Omar who, in the face of all that, are still willing to speak up.

          Reply
      4. Craig H.

        Maybe.

        According to this source, Foreign Policy dot com:

        Yet there is nothing in the public record that discloses the foreign citizenship of House and Senate members. Nor is there any legal requirement for members to make such a disclosure.

        All 500+ of them act they are loyal to Israel first for all practical purposes so it might not matter at all. But I don’t trust your source any more than I trust mine.

        Reply
  14. KLG

    Regarding the Obama Boys, there are many definitions of courage. In politics being courageous means willing to engage in a fight you might lose. It was clear by early February 2009 that the then president would never do such a thing. Adolph Reed, Jr. was correct, in 1996. I, however, was very slow on the uptake. Never again.

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      In that same month, Feb 2009, I recall Martni Wolf of the FT, called his shot perfectly.

      Right after Obama appointed Tim Geithner and Larry Summers, Wolf posed the question, “Has Obama Failed Already?” or some paraphrasing of it.

      I remember having it burned into my brain and wrestling with it for a long time….I wasn’t ready for Wolf’s cold, hard truth hitting me in the face like a bucket of cold water.

      I held out hope for a few months that Obama would change course, or at least do better on healthcare. Watching the car-crash negotiations in Congress, it rapidly became clear with headlines like the “Cornhusker Kickback” that the whole thing was hugely botched.

      I basically tuned out of politics for a couple of years. Obama was a lost cause and Republicans were worse. Gridlock and damage control were the best we could hope for.

      Reply
      1. Olga

        Actually, the news of OHB considering appointments of Summers and his pupil Geithner to high positions in his administration came out soon after the election in Nov. 2008. I recall thinking then something along the lines of “oh, well, all is lost now.” Except for the treaty with Iran, I was not disappointed. (The swearing-in ceremony for those two was a sight to behold, as G. could not stop gushing over S.)

        Reply
      2. Phacops

        I was banned from KOS for remarking that Obama, after his appointments of Geithner and Summers, is our new Herbert Hoover.

        Reply
    2. WheresOurTeddy

      Adolph Reed was right in 1996. Just like Ilhan Omar was right about him in 2019. She should not have backtracked at all. The sooner we kill his faux legacy the better. Republicans and many democrats still worship at the altar of Reagan. Let’s not make the same mistake. We don’t have 30 more years to waste.

      Reply
  15. The Rev Kev

    “Blackout Shuts Down Venezuela’s Oil Exports”

    You want to know what is really annoying? The sort of jerk that writes an article like this and ends it by saying that it was Venezuela’s fault that all the power went out. Do people like that think we are that stupid? That after the initial coup failed and the attempted rushing of the border with trucks failed and the US was spinning its wheels, that by a massive coincidence, the power goes out stopping Venezuela shipping any oil overseas. Sure some people died because of the blackouts but that was just collateral damage that. Can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.
    Since it has been several weeks since self-elected Greedo declared himself President and King of the Sea, I am going with the idea that there was no Plan B. That it was just assumed that it would work first time around because Greedo said the whole country would fall in line behind him. Since then I think that what we are seeing is plans being implemented as agencies think of them. The border fiasco was a plan by the CIA but that fizzled. This latest one is by US cyberforces so I am guessing that they have mapped each and every countries cyber weaknesses and when asked, pulled up their files for Venezuela. Good thing that there will never be any blowback because of this attack on an independent country

    Reply
    1. prodigalson

      Also, that was a good catch at the top about loss of power in Puerto Rico vs. Venezuela and how it’s viewed/reported in the press and by our elites. That was an excellent point, does a good job highlighting the narrative smoke-and-mirrors being played on this issue.

      Reply
    2. h

      Anatoly Kurmanaev @AKurmanaev did a thread yesterday on what he is learning, on the ground, about the power outage. It may be helpful to some folks seeking any info, reliable hopefully, inside Venezuela –

      Additionally, it appears journalist @LuisCarlos has been arrested by Maduros and it is being suggested, not proven/confirmed, that he was arrested for his coverage of the blackout.

      The Caracas Chronicles is reporting this morning the power outage remains.

      Hope this is helpful. It’s been tough to find solid sources reporting on events in Venezuela. I won’t vouch for these journalists but will say they are worth considering adding to your own sources so as to figure out what is happening there.

      Reply
    3. Cal2

      Analogies are an interesting way to clarify a situation:

      Wonder what would happen if China, pissed off because of our high tariffs, declared that Gary Johnson was really the president of the United States because of corrupt elections and imposed sanctions, cutting off all commerce and embargoing replacement electronic parts to the U.S.?

      “Look at the suffering of the American people. Their computer systems are failing, tent cities have sprung up in Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco. People are eating out of garbage cans! Many cannot afford even basic healthcare! That’s the fault of Donald Trump. We want to replace him with the people’s choice, Gary Johnson!”

      “We are calling on the U.S. military to rebel. Our Chinese companies are waiting to take over American industry for the good of the American people. U.S. funds have been frozen or seized for the future use by a freedom loving American living in Havana who is waiting to represent the American people. Chairman Li’s representitives are meeting with him now and preparing him to restore American democracy once the illegitimate government of Donald Trump is overthrown and our liberator is welcomed to Washington!”

      It was either Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. I flipped a coin.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The counter claim could easliy be that Chiang Kai-Shek or his current successor is the leader of China, not Xi.

        Possibly, it is the international community that decides, though the community is made up of humans, and humans are not always reliable.

        So, perhaps, we need an external, unbiased authority…someone divine or just from Mars maybe.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Thus, the ‘Mandate of Heaven.’
          Then again, Napoleon is supposed to have asked, when the Pope railed against something Napoleon did; “How many divisions does the Pope have?”
          As usual, this is a disputed quote. Many attribute the quote to Stalin, but that has been debunked too.
          Something similar from Napoleon though:

          Reply
  16. allan

    Oppo til you drop: [Politico]

    While Sen. Elizabeth Warren was railing against big tech companies, she was taking their money
    — plenty of it. … Warren took at least $90,000 from employees of Amazon, Google and Facebook alone between 2011 and 2018. …

    [Whips out Casio calculator] Let’s see, 90K / 8 years / 3 companies = $3,750 per year per company.
    And each company has thousands of well-paid employees, some of whom might actually be progressive
    rather than bro-bertarian. If this is the best that Politico’s dumpster divers can dig up …

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      Insiders would know better than most just how badly those companies need to be cut down to an appropriate size.

      Reply
    2. Carolinian

      This is a good interview with Warren.

      Right now 49% of all [online] retail sales come to Amazon. For comparison, about 9% of physical retail sales go to Walmart. Any small business that wants to do online retail pretty much has to be on Amazon. They go to Amazon right now, and they’re on the platform and Amazon sucks up information about every buyer and every seller. When it spots a profitable business, it has the option of moving in on that profitable business’ space, undercutting them — maybe only temporarily — on price, moving where they appear on the platform back to page 9, and killing off the competitor business and sucking up the business for themselves.

      My proposal simply says, you can operate the platform. But [the] platform does not own the auxiliary businesses. They have to be spun into their own businesses. It’s actually not that hard to break them apart.

      It not dissimilar to United States versus Paramount back in the 1940s. In that instance the movie studios owned the platform–chains of movie theaters–while simultaneously producing the product and abusing that power to hurt smaller competitors. “Price” was not an issue. Warren’s stand on this antitrust issue seems a lot more important than whether she took a DNA test. Both she and Gabbard are campaigning on issues where presidents can actually make a difference.

      Reply
    3. Michael

      I think the key word is “employees”.
      As in individuals…not PACs…or worse
      Sheesh!
      Fake news = micro plastic

      Reply
  17. PressGaneyMustDie

    I think Yves should create a new category for stories about Amazon like the Medium article: Amazon macht frei.

    Reply
  18. Knifecatcher

    I’m a little stunned that there’s no mention of the news about Marielle Franco’s assassination coming out of Brazil.

    To recap, Franco, an outspoken left wing city council member in Rio, was murdered in broad daylight along with her driver just over a year ago. No suspects had been named or charged until yesterday, when two former policemen were arrested. Almost immediately a picture of one of the accused with his arm around Jair Balsonaro began circulating around . The other accused cop lives in the same gated luxury condo complex as Balsonaro – a place far beyond the financial reach of an ordinary policeman.

    To put this in perspective, imagine if someone like Ilhan Omar (god forbid) were assassinated, and it turned out one of the suspects was a member of Mar-a-Lago. Yeah.

    So far the best English resource on the issue is probably Greenwald’s . Glenn’s husband was a friend and colleague of Franco’s on the Rio city council.

    Reply
    1. Olga

      I think Greenwald noted this in his description of an unfolding scandal around the current prez. But this was in Jan. – if I recall correctly – and I’ve not seen a follow-up.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Pointing out that the elite have lied, cheated, broken the law, stole, murdered, whatever. No. Longer. Works.

        We’re in the post-legal world for the 1%. It’s time for the 99% to catch up. You want change? Go smash something. Start breaking their so-called laws.

        The law that junior Congressmen should shut up and stay in line: break it.
        The idea that you must support your argument with facts: break it. You think Trump is gonna stick to facts and reality in the debates? Just say whatever. He surely will.

        Reply
        1. Olga

          Like your sentiment; would just point out that it is not really ’bout trump. He is but the latest manifestation of a deeply dysfunctional system. Wasting one’s energy on DT seems pointless to me (if anything, he actually performed a service to us all by – however unwittingly – clarifying just how dysfunctional the system really is). Radical change – yes! Sleepless nights over DT – no.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            In the interests of being “for something” instead of “against something,” I counsel interjecting reasoned argument as a de-facto “gold standard” against which to measure the endless manure we are presently being force fed.
            And yes, it is not “about Trump,” but about the system itself.
            Being clear on that point sets us up to be able to legitimately respond to whoever and whatever is thrown against us later on.
            Plan for the long game.

            Reply
  19. Phacops

    Why our acceptance at being ground in the gears of monopoly capitalism and abusive corporate practices? My heart sinks reading about the abuses at Amazon warehouses or the loss of a family dairy farm because of the disconnect between the people creating the conditions and the lives their actions affect. How will this social (and economic) disconnect play out?

    I think the election of Trump is merely a sign of a societal unraveling when the working class, suffering from the neoliberal abuses of corporate Democrats and republicans, gave the middle finger to the elites. It’s only going to get worse as societal cohesion is necessary for us to solve problems from out of control population growth to a sustainable answer to global warming.I don’t hold out much hope as the wealthy and powerful are already displaying a seige mentality and the “disruption” that techies are proud of always seems tailored to diminishing the lives of workers.

    We can still try to do better. As member of my township’s planning commission, we ensured that CAFO operations are banned in our zoning.

    Reply
    1. Shonde

      Thank you for banning CAFO operations in your township. My understanding is normally the elected township boards are comprised of the big is better farmers who then make sure nothing ever restricts their plans for expansion of their operations. So good for you and hope we see many more like you.

      Reply
  20. Foomarks

    “Nothing stopped him from hiring a team of 70-year-old African American and Latina women. He could have taken speechwriters from the labor movement and the Black church. Instead, when you heard Obama’s soaring words, what you were really hearing was the voice of a 24-year-old Yale graduate whose next job would be at FunnyOrDie.”

    Ooof!

    Reply
    1. Summer

      “Nothing stopped him from hiring a team of 70-year-old African American and Latina women.”

      Nothing except everything about him. Every choice he maxe shkwed what and who he valued.

      Reply
  21. milesc

    Re Venezuela blackout, there was a noticeable drop in Bitcoin transaction volume in Venezuela (~50%!), which I find fascinating. Not only that, there was a knock-on impact of TX volume in neighbouring countries.

    Not surprisingly, it has also sparked interest in alternative means of communicating with the Bitcoin network (mobile networks, mesh networks to relay transactions and other date across borders, using satellites to receive date, etc).

    Reply
    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Put enough monkeys in a tiny cage and they will end up sitting in their own filth. Micro-plastics in the guts of tiny crustaceans at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. Bucolic rivers in England full of Viagra and anti-depressants. Roundup in that next bite of tofu burger. Sushi that moves the needle of a Geiger counter.

      In one view we’re just doing what we’re supposed to, using our enlarged brains to find new ways to leverage our environment and exploit our ecological niche. The Reset will come and we’ll all just be an interesting geological layer for cockroach scientists to ponder.

      Reply
  22. JerryDenim

    The Obama Boys – Current Affairs.

    Wow. So good and spot on.

    Obama could have had anybody in the world write his speeches, and he had 20-something dudes from Rice and NYU. It’s discomforting to me in part because these men have such a limited range of life experiences, and yet were tasked with crafting the message of the presidency. To me, this says something about who Obama was most comfortable with and whose perspectives he valued. Nothing stopped him from hiring a team of 70-year-old African American and Latina women. He could have taken speechwriters from the labor movement and the Black church. Instead, when you heard Obama’s soaring words, what you were really hearing was the voice of a 24-year-old Yale graduate whose next job would be at FunnyOrDie.

    This is probably the single best take-down and summation of the Obama Presidency yet. A naive, Sorkinian/Hollywood preoccupation with ‘bipartisanship’ and unflinching belief in the innate goodness of white-Ivy ‘meritocracy’, a vacuous obsession with word-smithing, paradoxically coupled with a bizarre disinterest in actual policy or the exercise of power.

    “We needed something to break through. That something was a speech.”

    Classic.

    Reply
    1. bruce wilder

      Turning these memoirs of youthful idealism into confessions of fatuousness was apparently pretty easy. Fun read though.

      Still, I was left thinking we are still mired in an Adam Curtis documentary, the second century of the self

      Reply
  23. Angie Neer

    Could “big if true” be stricken from the NC phrase book? I mean, “the earth is flat” is also big if true.

    Reply
  24. WheresOurTeddy

    The only thing special about rich people is their ability to ruin everything they touch:

    Anyone who believes this is anything even approaching a meritocracy are delusional.

    Reply
  25. bruce wilder

    It was a great line! Especially “the voice of a 24-year-old Yale graduate whose next job would be at FunnyOrDie”

    It also embodied the essay’s rhetorical strategy of straining its analysis thru a sieve weaved from equal parts personal identity and amoral class consciousness, without ever quite admitting that the two might be related. The implicit remedy — a 70-year-old African American female speechwriter (why not lesbian?) — does not read as the least bit mocking (maybe a tad ironic in its implicit reference to the principal “achievement” of the first African-American President), but then the next sentence redeems the ridiculousness with reference to the labor movement and the Black church.

    The despair of the author is rooted in his idealism, expressed in this simple declaration:

    . . . these are not the sort of people you want in government. You need people who (1) have clear moral vision (2) have thick skins and (3) do not care about the goddamn White House Correspondents’ Dinner. You need people who understand that politics is about gaining power and then using it to make people’s lives better, not about giving uplifting but empty speeches and walking with purpose down Washington hallways.

    Still not exactly political realism. After all lots of people will be in politics for fame and fortune, and serving the interests of the already rich and powerful — as Obama himself arguably always was. The rest of us need to organize (and be organized) to put people into politics with a sense of mission to serve and protect the majority and the general or public interest. Not an easy task, but nevertheless the task of a democratic politics and a task that must fight against aspects of human nature as well as for its better angels.

    The review essay makes clear that these authorial witnesses to the Obama candidacy and Presidency were under the illusion that Obama was the better angel and that they, by close association, became better angels, too. Distilling these memoirs of youthful idealism into confessions of fatuousness is what this review is about, and it does that really well.

    It does not go very far down the path toward a realistic politics of class insurrection from below — doesn’t even nod in that direction. It is all young, white guys from the ivy league (and adjacent) in the writers’ room at a reality teevee show. At its core, the essay’s critique of these “true believers” in Obama is that their “true belief” was empty, an embodiment of groundless self-regard without any grounding in political philosophy or even ideology, let alone social purpose or anything beyond individual ambition. Yet, the idealism of the author leads him to imagine a “true believer” with unspecified content to his beliefs — ambition that goes beyond personal branding, presumably:

    “If a president wants to get something done, they need a team of people who also want to get that thing done.”

    Somehow, still not far from a political culture of individual self.

    Reply
  26. lyman alpha blob

    RE: On the death of my family’s dairy farm

    For anyone interested in this topic, here’s a really entertaining documentary on a family facing similar troubles –

    In this case the farmer is fighting members of his own family to keep the farm going and the filmmakers do an excellent job of humanizing the characters. In the beginning the farmers are portrayed as a bunch of rubes but as the film goes on, they become much more sympathetic and it turns out they had a few tricks up their sleeves.

    Reply
    1. Yikes

      Not “Rich”, but just fairly damn wealthy. Lets say the difference between 0.1%(side door) and 0.0001% (back door)

      BTW, did you read the comment stream before posting?

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      If you want to buy your kid a slot by financing a new wing for the administration building with six or seven figures, that’s fine. So why can’t you buy your kid a slot with five figures? Looks to me like if you’re in 0.01%, everything’s good, but if you’re in the aspirational 10%, you’re unfairly targeted for doing what everybody else would do if only they could. (Let me not forget to add the “/s” here, if it’s not clear.)

      Waiting for the first Op-Ed defending the parents. The Times?

      Reply
  27. anon in so cal

    Re: the family’s dairy farm:

    Farm Sanctuary rescues farm animals that have been abandoned or abused. Turns out, many small farmers get in over their heads.

    “Sadly, scenarios like this have become more and more common. Some people, troubled by the realities of modern industrial agriculture, choose to operate or support smaller dairies as a “humane” alternative to factory farms. In many cases, however, conditions on these smaller farms are just as bad — if not worse — than what cows face within the dairy industry at large. Take Stanton, for example; in 2017, we saved the tiny calf from a small farm where nine other calves had drowned in mud and feces.

    The year prior, we rescued Liz and Cashew from a farmer who loved her cows but, faced with the harsh financial reality of the dairy industry, was forced to choose between their welfare and her business. She wanted to be a humane farmer, who didn’t separate babies from their mothers or send male calves to slaughter, but the cost of maintaining a growing herd was just too much.

    Thankfully, she chose the former — but many small farmers make the opposite choice. They cannot compete with “Big Dairy,” which — even with a 40 percent per capita decline in consumption of fluid milk products since 1975, according to the USDA — has the advantage of government subsidies and massive marketing budgets. While Big Dairy can afford to flood fields with milk, smaller farms find themselves drowning…”

    Reply
  28. David

    Breaking News: Government loses Brexit vote by 149, worse than most people expected. May has said votes tomorrow (on No Deal) and Thursday (on Art 50) will go ahead.
    Chaos.

    Reply
    1. ChrisPacific

      Assuming the next two votes go No and Yes respectively (which I think is most likely, although nothing would surprise me at this point) the next challenge for the UK and May will be to come up with a credible case for why the deadline should be extended. I can think of only one possible reason that May could give that would be credible: namely, to allow time for a vote between No Deal and Remain. Given everything she has said on the subject so far, it’s hard for me to imagine making that request. She has said repeatedly that her personal red lines are “deliver Brexit and deliver it on time.” I believe her. I think she will be willing to pull the pin on No Deal before giving those up.

      Even if Parliament votes to ask for an extension, all she has to do is flub that spectacularly (by making it very clear that it’s to allow more time to try and convince the EU to change its mind) and the EU will likely rule that out for her, or at least limit it to a short extension explicitly for the purpose of getting No Deal preparations in order. This would be the easiest thing in the world for her to do. (Being May, she would probably have done it even if she wasn’t trying).

      If she ever does explicitly put Remain back on the table then I think it’s highly likely we will see an immediate No Confidence vote from the ERG.

      Reply
  29. Plenue

    >War Happens in Dark Places, Too Contingent Magazine

    This is good, and goes a long way to demolishing the “if the war was about slavery, why did so many non-slave owners fight for the Confederacy” lie.

    The next article linked at the bottom though, is not particularly good. Written by…Bill Black? No wait, not the good Bill Black, phew.

    “The difference between then and now is striking, and there is no single explanation.”

    How about that there’s no evidence, and that we don’t trust the people and institutions that lied us into a war that killed a million people?

    Reply
  30. Savita

    Australia. Financial Regulator hiring acclaimed National Institute of Dramatic Arts (ex Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving etc) to help it with a make over

    Reply
  31. Plenue

    >Immediate Action to Dismantle Terror Infrastructure Required: India to Saudi Arabia The Wire

    Why would Saudi Arabia willingly dismantle its foreign policy apparatus?

    Reply
  32. Susan the Other

    Yanis Varoufakis. Reforming the EU. Just wow. This is a super-plan. When Randall Wray said maybe Jacobin was nostalgic for a torch-and-pitchforks revolution, YV came forward with his updated DiEM plan. It’s not pitchforks. It’s probably going to be MMT. But he doesn’t use the term. Regardless of his terminology – YV is no alphabet soup chef – he has laid out a good plan to humanize the EU. Hard to summarize. He promotes a partial restructuring of capitalism to partly socialize the returns, and also from automation, and to use this money for a new equity fund owned by all Europeans. I think he should soon incorporate a vision of and EU-wide sovereignty that does not rely on the returns of capitalism – but that will take a while. Those guys are so steeped in neoliberal history it’s going to take some excavation. Anyway, YV has thet the beginning of a plan for a fiscal Europe. And he begs us to please, please not take it out on the migrants. Our fiscal confusion should come together over migration and internationalization – not pull apart in opposition. Clearly we need Labor Law and enforcement. Even Angela plead for the Eurozone to give up sovereignty for the sake of the EU. They are making sovereignty an unnecessary obstacle to their progress and. Here in the USA, sovereignty is the path to our equality. Interesting the differences, and also interesting that both forks in the road will come back together if social equity is maintained. A veritable family tree.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      I haven’t kept up with Varoufakis’ Fix Europe 2.0, but his Modest Proposal with Jamie Galbraith was sound economically. But Germany was guaranteed not to be even remotely receptive because it had backdoor EU-level fiscal spending via a really big infrastructure fund.

      Reply
  33. Yikes

    Canada’s no-sex, no-money scandal could topple Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Press-Herald
    Press Herald link on Justin Trudeau’s problems — whitewash can be explained by ownership of rag by neo-liberal, pro-Hillary, republican Reade Brower. SNC-Lavalin has bribed and pandered to the(neo-) Liberal Party of Canada for years(eons?). They’ve bribed more than their fair share of conservative party members, but no where near in size to their liberal party donations. If SNC-Lavalin goes into a court appointed conservativship, then it’s books will be thrown open to scrutiny, enough to threaten a scandal far larger than anything Trump has actually done, vis be accused of. It’s going to take more time than I have to find out Reade Brower’s money trail with this tail, but as SNC-Lavalin has dirty doings in Maine, it’s probably not going to be a surprise to hear about it later.

    Reply

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