Links 4/12/19

Join Dr. Michael Hudson, New Testament Scholar Dr. Aliou Niang, and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Biblical Scholar and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign for panel discussion on Michael Hudson’s book, And Forgive Them Their Debts, at The People’s Forum, 320 West 37th Street, New York, NY, from 6-9pm on April 15, 2019. From the announcement:

Debt plays a central role in upholding the economic and social order of the day. In the US, mounting debt and the crippling financialization of our lives is taken as fact. Our political leaders see no real problem and offer no serious solution. This was not always the case. Throughout antiquity, widespread debt-cancellation was understood as a moral and practical necessity. In a significant new book, And Forgive Them Their Debts, economist Michael Hudson traces the biblical demand against debt and the long history of economic jubilees. Counter to dominant history and theology, Hudson reveals how the Bible itself is concerned most with the moral failure of economic systems, rather than personal sin.

* * *

PNAS. “The reference point for normal conditions appears to be based on weather experienced between 2 and 8 y ago.” Perhaps that’s why “global warming” was such an ineffective frame.

Gillian Tett, FT

Business Insider

FT. Well, maybe, for the investors, is enough.

Eschaton

Boing Boing

Bloomberg

Brexit

Sky News

Foreign Policy

The view of a disinterested observer:

Narrator in October: They wasted the time.

— Larry the Cat (@Number10cat)

Der Spiegel

Irish Times

Business Insider

The Sun

Hugo Dixon, Independent

BBC

Syraqistan

Middle East Eye

Jerusalem Post

National Geographic. Israel’s Beresheet lander.

Venezuela

Venezuelanalysis

Bloomberg

North Korea

Defense One

South China Morning Post

India

Asian Correspondent

China?

FT

The Diplomat (MF) vs. Foreign Policy

Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

Straits Times

Deutsche Welle

New Cold War

WSJ

(PDF) RAND Corporation

Irrussianality

Trump Transition

Current Affairs

SCOTUSblog

Duffel Blog

Assange Arrest

I’ll have a round-up on this topic in the very near future, so I’ve added the bare minimum of links here. –lambert

CNN

South China Morning Post

Margaret Sullivan, WaPo

WaPo

2020

New York Magazine

Politico. So let’s give the liberal Democrats a shot!

New Food Economy.

Class Warfare

Footwear News

LA Times (DK).

Economist. From 2018, but interesting charts.

Unherd

LRB. Adam Tooze on the exercise of American power. Starts off with lateral thinking on Geithner, a “truly Napoleonic figure,” but broadens out (!). Grab a cup of coffee:

For Davos Man, “the new clarity in Washington is profoundly corrosive and upsetting.”

Antidote du jour ():

Sad:

Maafaru Airport

— adam nasym (@naibuthuthu)

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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About Lambert Strether

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

122 comments

  1. voteforno6

    Re: Uber IPO

    Hopefully Hubert Horan will have a deep dive on this. The comments on the FT article were, for the most part, brutal. The market reaction should be interesting.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Wolf Richter’s on the case. Here’s your linkey-linkey:

      Key point:

      Uber will need every dime it raises in the IPO going forward because it’s got a little cash-burn situation in its operations that persists going forward, as it admitted in its “Risk Factors,” and it will need to raise more money, and if it cannot raise more money, it might not make it. Uber is upfront about this.

      Reply
  2. Wukchumni

    The amount of fruit & nut trees planted in the later stages of the drought here was staggering, the thinking being perhaps to get them grandfathered into the ground, so that they’re eligible for well water when the new groundwater law comes into place in 2020.

    Seemingly most every bit of open field along major highways got filled…

    We drove home on a different road than usual this week-on Hwy 65, and along with tons of 4-5 year old orchards with 6 foot sized trees, we noticed 4 solar orchards in between fruit trees, a different crop altogether.

    It takes about a decade for a fruit or nut tree to produce food, whereas you’re earning from a solar farm the day after it’s installed.

    Reply
    1. Tom Doak

      That is probably mostly about water rights; the landowner has the rights to x acre feet of water per year, but they will forfeit it unless they prove that they are using it, so they plant water-intensive agriculture and start watering to prove they are using their allotment.

      Reply
  3. allan

    A sad commentary on the USA USA medical profession in 2019:
    The American College of Physicians holds an , and of the four finalist proposals,
    three have to do with EHR and one concerns providing adequate nutrition to patients who live in food deserts.

    Reply
  4. The Rev Kev

    “Swiss court orders historic referendum re-run”

    Hey, with this precedent, some Brits might get together and say that voters did not have enough information on the Brexit vote. Nah, who am I kidding. Will never happen. I note that is now only about 50 odd minutes to go till the second Brexit date will pass. The Nightmare on Downing Street will continue-

    Reply
  5. Carolinian

    Re The profundity of Tolkien

    Now can you think of anything like that in our own world? A networked service whose benefits are given away for nothing and yet which amply repays the ‘generosity’ of those who control it? Doesn’t that sound like certain big tech companies one could mention? I’m not saying that Mark Zuckerberg is Sauron, just that the business model of Mordor isn’t entirely unknown in Silicon Valley.

    And here some of us thought Tolkien was just making stuff up that he thought might make a good story. Perhaps he spawned his own enduring ring of power by inspiring so many lame imitators (J.K. Rowling comes to mind). This article could fall into that category as well.

    Reply
    1. anon y'mouse

      The One Ring is our dollar-based monetary system, and related clearance system. it encircles the world.

      Reply
  6. zagonostraq

    >JA

    How does the Assange arrest play into the fabricated Russia-gate farce? I see that HRC and others are say that he got what was coming because of throwing (sic) the election to Trump. I’m wondering if Trump is actually behind the arrest at this time or whether it was triggered by someone else and he had no choice but to go along…it’s confusing from this perspective.

    Trump just had a huge win with the Mueller report and was going on the offensive, why the arrest now, something is no making sense.

    Reply
    1. Chris Cosmos

      Trump is a nationalist at heart–anyone telling the truth about the national security state is an enemy. That national security state is the heart of Trump’s support–nationalist factions within that state helped avoid what I believe to have been an actual coup d’etat from happening which is why Trump picked so many generals, militarists and neocons to bolster his administration.

      Reply
      1. Mike

        All aboard, CC – there is not enough explanation of government in its totality as being the site of intra-class struggle to define the “national security state”, as that formulation is not complete and detailed out. Various factions within the leadership (corporate, military, NSA/CIA, even religious) see the future differently, and their internal struggles, if left to themselves, will shake out into one form of dictatorship or another. It is up to us to interfere.

        Trump is a bellweather of the elites and can be visualized as a very important but circumscribed passenger on the Titanic, getting info about speed, icebergs, and parties but not able to prioritize any of it, thereby not able to command the ship. Someone is being groomed.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Various factions within the leadership (corporate, military, NSA/CIA, even religious) see the future differently, and their internal struggles, if left to themselves, will shake out into one form of dictatorship or another. It is up to us to interfere.

          Yes. I resist the “deep state” trope so vehemently because it cannot center, as we say, these contradictions. But yes, even as the factions content with each other, the system of factional conflict (a) slides in the direction of fascism* as it (b) becomes increasingly detached from the citizenry (voting, or not). That’s the tendency shown by the militarization of the ballot choices made available by the dominant liberal Democrat party faction (DNC/DCCC/DSCC/Pelosi/Schumer), despite what I would regard as individual bright lights like AOC and Ilhan.

          NOTE * We should remember that the Nazis came to American to study our racial purity laws (see Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law), which they regarded as very modern, albeit directed against a racial enemy they did not regard as strategic). And of course we should remember the paramilitary KKK (our Schutzstaffel). We have plenty of home-grown precedents…

          Reply
      2. Plenue

        I’ve never thought about that angle before. How can liberals maintain that Trump is both an evil, racist, etc nationalist…and the servant of foreigners?

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > How can liberals maintain that Trump is both an evil, racist, etc nationalist…and the servant of foreigners?

          And propagate the trope that Putin and Trump are homosexual lovers, when in other contexts (Buttigieg) [x] gay is a protected identity?

          :

          The keyword here is BLACKWHITE. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to BELIEVE that black is white, and more, to KNOW that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as DOUBLETHINK.

          The alteration of the past is necessary for two reasons, one of which is subsidiary and, so to speak, precautionary. The subsidiary reason is that the Party member, like the proletarian, tolerates present-day conditions partly because he has no standards of comparison. He must be cut off from the past, just as he must be cut off from foreign countries, because it is necessary for him to believe that he is better off than his ancestors and that the average level of material comfort is constantly rising. But by far the more important reason for the readjustment of the past is the need to safeguard the infallibility of the Party. It is not merely that speeches, statistics, and records of every kind must be constantly brought up to date in order to show that the predictions of the Party were in all cases right. It is also that no change in doctrine or in political alignment can ever be admitted. For to change one’s mind, or even one’s policy, is a confession of weakness. If, for example, Eurasia or Eastasia (whichever it may be) is the enemy today, then that country must always have been the enemy. And if the facts say otherwise then the facts must be altered. Thus history is continuously rewritten. This day-to-day falsification of the past, carried out by the Ministry of Truth, is as necessary to the stability of the regime as the work of repression and espionage carried out by the Ministry of Love.

          The mental operation of DOUBLETHINK in Winston Smith’s Party and the Democrat Party are not identical, and seem to amount to something like “all attacks on our enemies are consistent, because they are attacks on our enemies.” It would be interesting to see if somebody has teased this out somewhere.

          Reply
    2. Roger Smith

      I have already seen several senators claiming Assange was essential to (the non-existent) Russian meddling in 2016’s election. Trump has proven he will take his own ideas and shove them under a mat for whomever tells him otherwise, whether it is Bibi or some horrible goon he has hired. His comment yesterday was that it “wasn’t his thing”. Unfortunately for him, he is a the boss of the people doing this so either he is incompetent or selling out. It is incredible how much time Trump has spent letting his opposition determine his administration’s movements, both from the outside and those he hired himself.

      Reply
      1. Chris Cosmos

        I don’t think Trump or any POTUS is “the boss” of anyone unless the security services allow him to be. That’s why the first think any President does is try and get friendly and make deals with the various branches of the military and other security services.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Yes, that’s . “Here’s what they’ve got on you. It would be a shame if any of this got out.” (Of course, Hoover did this all the time.) No wonder Trump thought he faced a coup, and was he far wrong? (I wonder whether this happened before Bibi’s guy showed up with Israel’s targeting plan, where it turns out the Israel — — really can hit the East Coast of the United States, or before the CIA guy showed up with Bin Laden’s head in his briefcase. (“No, of course we didn’t bury him at sea. What do you take us for?”))

          And so on. Not that I’m foily.

          Reply
    3. CanCyn

      The things I don’t expect from Trump are sense, logic or consistency. He jigs/jags/zigs/zags to his very own drummer.
      Also – the WaPo decides to write about Assange’s cat? Really? I couldn’t even open the link.

      Reply
      1. jrs

        it humanizes him, but I don’t think Assange needs such (leave that for your average criminal), as truly Assange is not just human but heroic in many ways. We too might like cats, but will we do for the world what Wikileaks did?

        Reply
    4. Geo

      According to Russiagaters Trump and Putin are getting rid of Assange because he knows too much.

      Yeah, they’ve gone full Alex Jones.

      Reply
  7. gsinbe

    Re: Julian Assange, this is from Mike Gravel’s recently released policy statement:

    “The U.S. government has been ruthless in cracking down on whistleblowers. Edward Snowden fled the country for revealing gross government abuses of the human rights of American citizens and of the peoples of other countries; Chelsea Manning was tortured for years for revealing war crimes; Reality Winner has been imprisoned for leaking reports on Russian hacking to journalists. None of these figures, who did as their conscience dictated, should be in prison. We should celebrate these heroes, not lock them up.

    The United States should:
    Pardon whistleblowers, including Snowden, Manning (whose sentence was merely commuted), Terry Albury, Winner, Julian Assange, and John C. Kiriakou.
    Offer prominent government whistleblowers the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”

    It will be very clarifying to hear what other Democratic contenders have to say about the Assange arrest.

    Reply
    1. integer

      Not candidates, but here are a couple of noteworthy tweets:

      :

      Now that Julian Assange has been arrested, I hope he will soon be held to account for his meddling in our elections on behalf of Putin and the Russian government.

      :

      There are many cultists on this site, but the Assange cultists are the worst. Assange was the agent of a proto fascist state, Russia, to undermine democracy. That is fascist behavior. Anyone on the left should abhor what he did. Not celebrate it.

      And here’s an excerpt from :

      And as I’ve mentioned, we’ve all been quite content to demean government, drop civics and in general conspire to produce an unaware and compliant citizenry. The unawareness remains strong but compliance is obviously fading rapidly. This problem demands some serious, serious thinking – and not just poll driven, demographically-inspired messaging.

      Reply
      1. Cal2

        Integer,

        Here’s candidate Tulsi Gabbard on Civil Liberties:

        “For years, Americans have been kept in the dark about our government’s unconstitutional collection of their personal communications and data in the name of national security. This change in NSA policy is an important step in the right direction. In order to ensure we do not backtrack on this progress, I will be introducing legislation to permanently codify this policy change to permanently ban this privacy-invading collection.”

        Now, go ask the other candidates.

        Reply
        1. integer

          IMO she’s the best candidate. Sanders is good too. I have zero trust in the D party establishment though, so am expecting Biden or Harris to end up as the nominee.

          Reply
          1. Carey

            I don’t know about “best”, not at all, but Gabbard is sure saying some
            things that need to be said. Whether that’s just another limited-hangout
            TeamDem™ op, I do not yet know.

            Reply
            1. integer

              Perhaps you have forgotten that Gabbard resigned from her position as Vice Chair of the DNC in order to endorse Sanders in 2016? In any case, all one needs to do to confirm that Gabbard is not part of a “limited-hangout TeamDem™ op” is to look at how the D party establishment and their allies in the corporate media treat her. A lot of things are not what they seem, however that doesn’t mean everything is a conspiracy.

              Reply
              1. Carey

                I’ll reserve judgment for now. I like what Gabbard is saying, particularly about
                USA USA!’s perma-wars, have sent her money,
                and am glad she’s now going to be in the debates.

                Reply
      2. Plenue

        I really wish they would at least be consistent in their propaganda. Is Putin a scary fascist or a dirty commie who wants to bring back the USSR? He can’t be both.

        Reply
        1. Massinissa

          I mean, lots of people these days just claim that fascists and communists are ‘just the same thing but wearing different hats’.

          I think that argument is overly reductionist, but plenty of people have the opinion that they really aren’t any different.

          Reply
      3. jrs

        Even if there was a Russian connection how does it in any way refute the good Wikileaks has done by exposing information?

        He might have decided to have some connection with Russia (although that is 100% unproven), but it is no more immoral than if he decided to have ties with the U.S. government and yet still exposed truthful information, and as as far as imperialism goes it is better.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Even if there was a Russian connection how does it in any way refute the good Wikileaks has done by exposing information?

          I remember when the DNC emails came out and both Yves and I read them. My recollection was that, against expectations there was nothing there except mind-bogglingly petty and incompetent sycophancy and corruption. Complete banality. I mean, the “Pied Piper” memo was pretty good, but it doesn’t come anywhere near a Nixonian level. As far as liberal Democrat credibility goes, not so much a smoking gun but a smoking ruin.

          Reply
    2. Tom Doak

      I don’t think this is a Republican issue or a Democrat issue. I think it’s about the intelligence community protecting themselves against prosecution. They can leak whatever they want to the press, but if anyone else leaks a secret they face the death penalty. And of course everything is Top Secret.

      Reply
    3. Montanamaven

      Julian Assange is Australian. What would we do if Australia asked London to arrest an American and extradite him to Australia to be put on trial for publishing the truth about the Australian government, said Mark Steyn on Tucker Carlson. Americans would be outraged.

      Reply
      1. ChristopherJ

        Australians are outraged, but the ones in charge are not allowed to annoy the acute sensitivities of the USA.

        At least Bill Shorten (Labor leader) said that we should provide assange consular support and advice. More than you got from the happy clapper

        Reply
        1. witters

          Oy, Bill Shorten! This is the radical candidate of the left here (Labor Party) that, when the schoolkids said (and did) strike for climate action told them “You can strike, but you shouldn’t do it in school hours. Rather, you should do it after school and at the weekend.”
          Truly inspirational stuff. A man for these times.

          Reply
  8. The Rev Kev

    “Tolkien’s guide to contemporary politics”

    Ooh, that is a nasty hit in the last sentence when he says: ‘The stars of the EU flag represent the coming together of nations. But one can’t help but notice the shape that they form.’ as in-

    “One Ring to rule them all,
    One Ring to find them,
    One Ring to bring them all
    and in the darkness bind them.”

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      There was a big vogue for Tolkien back in the early noughts as Peter Jackson’s movie coincided with the freshly minted “war on terror.” One could well ask whether Tolkien was meditating on the perils of power or pitching a Manichean world view that fit nicely with crusader spirit of that time. Bush’s attack on Iraq was its own form of fantasy fiction.

      Reply
      1. Robert Valiant

        Tolkien was an anarchist (of sorts), and Peter Jackson’s films weren’t very good Tolkien (or very good films, for that matter, although they were remarkable technical accomplishments.) I think it’s unfortunate that Tolkien is now commonly conflated with Jackson. I do recall that when the films came out, Jackson/Tolkien were criticized for portraying Saurman as an evil anti-green figure, as though to imply that industry and progress were bad for the Earth. Pernicious notion.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          Believe LOTR’s previous vogue (it goes in waves?) was back during the hippie era when an eco message could indeed be gleaned from the books. Perhaps this non allegory allegory is a peg on which to hang many messages. My own early adventure reading ran more to Edgar Rice Burroughs–a low class enthusiasm shared by Gore Vidal and discussed in one of his essays.

          Reply
          1. richard

            My own to the elric series, and the related (anti)heros created by Michael Moorcock.
            Much of what drew me to elric was probably its connections with late 60s pop culture, or the connections I imagined it had. Elric was a drug addict, the wandering descendant of a deposed and now reviled royal line. There was a definite sense that his greatness is unseen in others, that he is being exploited. He has access to magic and weapons that render him nearly unbeatable in the short term, but that also permanently disfigure his existence. The parallels with 60’s youth culture (as I read this in the late 70s, pining for that time) were clear to me: drug use as a wicked super power, something that opened your mind and planted seeds for your death, deep alienation and a feeling of being exploited, of inner greatness and specialness (natch for the most solipsistic people ever, usians born between 1945-60).
            The funnest parts for me (because I’m a little disfigured in the soul myself) were when elric and his sword (stormbringer, iirc) act as a revenant, unable to to “fix things”, only able to take revenge. A guilty pleasure.
            Anyway, this was my own formative adventure series, though I read many others of course, including zelazny’s nine princes in amber, which I also love talking about if anyone around here remembers it and is of a mind.

            Reply
            1. Robert Valiant

              Moorcock has referred to himself in the past as the “Anti-Tolkien.” As much as I love Tolkien, I can’t re-read the LOTR anymore – or Beowulf, or the libretto to Götterdämmerung, for that matter, but I re-read Moorcock every few years.

              But I’m old, and my attention span is short.

              Reply
              1. richard

                Thanks for the response; I found new yorker column comparing moorcock to tolkien. I’d misremembered a few things about elric (most importantly that the character was born in the 1970’s, the decade where I encountered him as a teenager, and not in the 60’s as I’d imagined). It is interesting to think of him as a response to all the heroic tolkein characters. Anyway, time for a reread!

                Reply
            2. ambrit

              I remember reading Zelazny back then. I ran more to people like L P Davies, J G Ballard, and Phil Dick.
              I’d add Ian Fleming’s “James Bond” books to the ranks of fantasy and escapist fiction. Those tomes have had an obvious and pernicious effect on the Western Power Elites. Perhaps not the apex predators, but certainly that elite’s enabling cohorts. How much more fantastic then American or Imperial Exceptionalism can anyone get?
              For the essence of the terroristic anomie that grips the collective soul today, I’ll nominate H P Lovecraft and his coterie.
              There are reams of prescient fictions and obscure scholarly musings to be unearthed from the “recent” past. What makes it all so much an exercise in ‘fin de siecle’ decadence is the degree to which anyone with “power” has heeded the warnings.

              Reply
        2. Chris

          I hear a lot of people criticize the LOTR films. I just don’t get what they think should have been done instead. Beyond the usual challenges of translating a book into another medium, have you gone back and re-read those books lately? When I was a teenager, I loved them. I still do. But you have to admit getting any script with that story as source material green lit is astounding. The books are dry as toast compared to what contemporary fantasy writers produce. They’re completely off from what contemporary fantasy audiences prefer too.

          Also, the technical achievements and scale that Jackson displayed in the movies were great. But even greater was the fact that those three films have at their core the love of two men who are dear friends. Can you name another successful movie in the last 20 years that has held up that kind of friendship and been as widely viewed? Can you name any movie fantasy series that has been that successful with no sex in it?

          I think Jackson got the important stuff right. The rest might not please purists but then again the movie for purists would never have been produced.

          Reply
          1. Robert Valiant

            To each his own, there’s no accounting for taste, etc.

            Personally, I think Jackson should have stuck to the story.

            My 23 year old son and I watched the Fellowship of the Ring recently, but in Spanish, and found it far more entertaining because of the language difference. I think it was partly because my Spanish isn’t good enough to detect overacting.

            It’s unfortunate, IMO, that if money might be had, any text will necessarily be translated to film, even if it really shouldn’t be.

            Oh, and I think the Hobbit films were way worse.

            Reply
            1. Chris

              I’m suspicious that a large part of your critique is rooted in something that no film director or producer can ever overcome. A book is simply a different medium than a movie. No book can be perfectly translated onto the screen.

              I agree that the Hobbit movies were a significant deviation from the books in that they were developed purely as vehicles to drive people back to the LOTR movies. But again, the Hobbit as written has zero women in it. There’s no way to produce a modern film of any sort with zero female characters in it and have any hope of returning an investment for production.

              I have a lot of geek friends who endlessly complain about what Michael Bay did to the Transformers. But I’m just happy there are movies with a passing resemblance to the stuff I loved as a kid that I can share with my own son. In the same way, I like that I can enjoy Jackson’s movies in a different way than I enjoy Tolkien’s books.

              People are of course welcome to their own opinions. This commentariat is great because of the diversity of thoughtful opinions people share. But this line of critique seems like people are complaining that there aren’t enough fish in trees. If that’s what you’re hoping for, I wish you good luck.

              Reply
              1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

                LOTR and The Hobbit are some of the most rewatchable films for me.

                I love em!

                I remember hearing groans from the audience when ‘Fellowship’ ended with no real ending. I thought to myself that it takes alot of guts for Jackson to do that.

                Reply
              2. Robert Valiant

                Read this again:

                It’s unfortunate, IMO, that if money might be had, any text will necessarily be translated to film, even if it really shouldn’t be.

                That is the kernel of my opinion.

                I regret that I have raised your suspicion and I apologize if my opinions are thoughtless or insufficiently diverse.

                Reply
              3. Old Jake

                there aren’t enough fish in trees

                An metaphor I’ve never seen before, I’m so stealing that line. A good cackle for early Friday afternoon! Thank you.

                Reply
            2. Plenue

              Jackson did stick to the story. I’m hard pred to think of any significant deviations in the core plot. Elves at Helms Deep I supose, and no Scouring of the Shire. I’ve seen quite a lot of book adaptations and what always strikes me about the LotR movies is how faithful they are.

              The Hobbit movies, now those definitely have problems. Chiefly too much damn bloat, and too many wacky Jackson action sequences that go on forever. But unlike something like the Star Wars prequels, there’s good filmmaking buried under all the nonsense. There are various fan edits that really improve The Hobbit movies.

              Reply
              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                I think people get upset about certain things. I’m still rioting from not including Tom Bombadil! The outrage! And Potatos are a New World food, so they shouldn’t have been in the movie! Outrage!

                The Scouring of the Shire was cut, but at least emotionally he did capture the threat. I think one problem is the access to the appendix and the larger world we get to fill in when reading. Besides why does no one complain about that random guard who took Pippin on a tour not making the movie?

                The Army of the Dead (and a gratuitous lack of Bruce Campbell) and the rescue of Minas Tirith took two maybe three paragraphs despite kind of a lot happening. They go to the sacred rock, destroy one army, seize a bunch of forts, have a prayer session, sends the army of the dead home, connect with South Gondor, capture the pirate fleet, and then save the city with a new army of living people. If Jackson show all of this, can you imagine the outrage? The stone he used is obsidian when its onyx in the book!

                Reply
          2. Brian (another one they call)

            Mr. Jackson should have quit after LOTR and upon realizing he couldn’t just shoot the movie “the Hobbit”, he created a 3 part monster that will always be remembered for its “Were Worms” He sacrificed the story for money. Adding a female warrior elf with her own new story, Oi.

            Reply
            1. Bob

              LOTR trilogy was mostly filmed with live actors and overlaid with CGI effects. It still felt real. On the other hand, a lot of the shots for The Hobbit were filmed entirely on green screen. Ian McKellen reportedly broke down and cried after hours of shooting by himself stating “This isn’t why I became an actor”.

              Jackson originally wanted The Hobbit to be only 2 parts. The studio pushed for a trilogy trying to recreate LOTR success. The first part was great. The third is nearly unwatchable.

              Reply
          3. Lynne

            But even greater was the fact that those three films have at their core the love of two men who are dear friends.

            Well…..to each their own. I find this comment a little odd given how much Jackson chopped out in favor of a not-in-the-book “dream” sequence with Aragorn and “his girl”. Jackson explicitly said he decided to redo the books as a love story, which was the reason for his addition. Also, I found it extremely problematic that he chose to dumb down the other characters on Aragorn’s side in an attempt to make Aragorn more impressive. That’s not my reading; Jackson gave an interview in which he was asked about the insert of his new plot line with Faramir trying to take the ring back to the city. Jackson made clear his position was that having Faramir able to resist the ring in the book was in his eyes a grave error, and that he believed it somehow diminished Aragorn by making him just one of many able to resist it. To me, that said that he completely misunderstood Nordic heroic fiction, not to mention the idea that having impressive people *choose* to follow Aragorn’s lead made Aragorn more impressive, not less. Obviously, YMMV.

            Reply
          4. Gaianne

            Film and book are different mediums, and a good book usually suffers from the subsequent movie, even when the movie is good.

            But: There is one issue on which Jackson definitely betrayed Tolkien–the matter of honor. The books are nearly obsessed with it: What it is, what it requires. Even the most evil characters are aware of the idea, even as they betray it.

            This was natural for Tolkien: He was–among other things–a medieval scholar, and honor was every part of medieval life. So of course his story with its medieval setting would have honor in the foreground as well.

            By contrast, all of the characters in the movie are dishonorable, or self-centered to the extent that honor would never occur to them.

            I think Tolkien would have been rightfully offended.

            Reply
      2. David

        There is no Manicheanism in Tolkein’s books (“even Sauron was good once as Gandalf says) unless it is an opposition between those who have surrendered to the lust for power, and those who try to resist it. Tolkein was essentially an anarchist who distrusted all forms of power, and the real heroes of LOTR are those who don’t want it.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > There is no Manicheanism in Tolkein’s books

          I regard Tolkien as a brilliant travel writer for an imagined world. After he really gets into his stride — I would say from when the Fellowship of the Ring leaves Rivendell to the victory before Minas Tirith, after which his prose goes all triumphalist and horrid — that world is real to me, actually memorable. That’s quite an achievement. He’s not too bad at drawing character, either, though the closer they are to power, the less interesting and more wooden they are (Faramir is more interesting than Boromir, for example).

          I saw The Two Towers in Berlin, of all places, and then the Fellowship of the Ring on a long-haul. I can see the challenge of making a seen Nazgul (in the movie) as frightening as an imagined one (in the book), and I think Jackson did pretty well. But there’s something about the visual texture of the movie that bugs me; it’s too sharp-edged or contrasty or something. Maybe it’s the CGI. But Jackson’s Middle Earth is not as I remember it….

          (And I loved the alphabets and the grammars. I didn’t think much of the Silmarillion-esque back story, because in my view the prose is so awful. Makes me wonder if he had a really good editor or interloctutor for LOTR that he missed for the other stuff.)

          Reply
  9. DorothyT

    (free) for the Michael Hudson NYC event at the People’s Forum in NYC on Monday night I see that Liz Theoharis, co-chair of Reverend William Barber’s Poor People’s Campaign is speaking too. Thanks for the heads up on this, Lambert.

    Reply
  10. allan

    [Reuters]

    The chief executive and a managing partner of the collapsed Dubai private equity firm Abraaj Capital Ltd have been arrested on U.S. charges that they defrauded their investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. …

    These people never heard of the Madoff Rule?

    Reply
    1. RopeADope

      I found it interesting that Abraaj’s energy team left shortly after Mueller indicted Alex Van Der Zwaan back in Feb 2018.

      Reply
    2. ewmayer

      Speaking of people who “Madoff with theit clients’ money”:

      – Reuters: U.S. federal prosecutors charged the owner and two former executives of Woodbridge Group of Companies LLC on Thursday with orchestrating a $1.3-billion Ponzi scheme involving 10,000 victims.

      Reply
  11. The Rev Kev

    “The mystery of Julian Assange’s cat: Where will it go? What does it know?”

    Good thing that Assange sent his cat away to his family when the Ecuadorians threatened to send it to a animal shelter. Otherwise it might have suffered the same fate as the Skripal’s cat.

    Reply
  12. Louis Fyne

    A bill supported by Democrats and Republicans would make permanent a program that bars the IRS from ever developing its own online tax filing service.

    Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee, led by Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., passed the Taxpayer First Act,…..

    In one of its provisions, the bill makes it illegal for the IRS to create its own online system of tax filing. Companies…..have lobbied for years to block the IRS from creating such a system. If the tax agency created its own program, which would be similar to programs other developed countries have, it would threaten the industry’s profits……

    Reply
  13. Henry Moon Pie`

    The Tooze video weaves a new narrative about the U.S. role in the world over the past century . Rather than an evolution in “world order” led by the Americans, Tooze presents a story punctuated frequently by crisis to which elite planners like Geithner scramble to come up with ad hoc and jury-rigged solutions to today’s problem with little or no thought about even tomorrow, much less a decade or century down the line. While the historian likes Geithner’s admission that his work at the NY Fed during the Crash was an exercise in “defying gravity,” a better image might be that of a juggler who does pretty well with three balls, but has increasing difficulty as the number of juggled objects keeps rising and rising: four balls; five balls; six balls, etc.

    Given all this juggling through a Great Depression, the Second World War, the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Crash, is this evidence that the basic shape of the current system is so baked in that it can survive tremendous stress with the help of these ad hoc fixes? Will a shock even greater than those listed above be necessary to bring the system down once and for all? Or has all the jury-rigging produced a ship so fragile that one good gust will bring down the mast, sails and all?

    I don’t think Tooze gives us an answer to those questions, but he gets us to the point where we can see the importance of asking them.

    Reply
    1. notabanker

      I watched it this morning. My observation is that he conveniently leaves out American, and British, foreign military interventions for the express purposes of commercial trade dominance. From Persia in the early 1910’s to Venezuela today, this has had a profound effect on American hegemony. The only depictions are the stale World War and Cold War narratives. The scale to which the US has intervened globally is really unprecedented in historical terms.

      The sympathetic portrayal of Geithner and Clinton doing their best to control tiger’s by the tail is frustrating, but omission of the offensive interventions considerably undermines credibility. This may be the key trigger that ends the US hegemony.

      Reply
      1. barefoot charley

        To be fair, he quotes a great description of our broadcast military bases around the world (already in the 1970s) as our “pointillist empire.” And he grounds his history in the unique soft power America has exercised over Europe since at least our Civil War.

        His picture of peacenik Wilson failing at everything and making WWII as inevitable as the rise of dollar hegemony was, I thought, faxcinating. I just wish it wasn’t so many coffee-cups long!

        Reply
        1. barefoot charley

          Also, he portrays Geithner as a truth-telling monster, which I found refreshing. Geithner told him America’s global economy had been ‘defying gravity’ since the Clinton administration, which is to say since the neoliberals offshored our productive economy. And all Secretary Giethner needed was 8.9 trillion insta-dollars splattered like military bases all over global bankers to keep it in the air when it should have crashed. I’ll have some more coffee tomorrow and learn more. I recommend it highly.

          Reply
    2. Oh

      I noticed that he was drinking water from a glasscontainer and poured himself more water from a glass bottle. I’m always disgusted when most conferences use a plastic bottle of water next to each attendee. Way to go Tooze and sponsers!

      Reply
    3. Maxwell Johnston

      A fascinating and thought-provoking presentation, well worth the 90 minutes invested. I agree that he does not provide answers, but he gives us sufficient context to ask intelligent questions. Tooze is stronger on finance and history than he is on American internal politics, as one might expect from a transplanted European intellectual. His dislike of Trump is palpable, and unlike Dave Eggers he seems to misunderstand the reasons for Trump’s popularity:

      My sense is that Tooze perceives the USA as fighting a clever rear-guard battle to preserve its ebbing global dominance, but he sees it more as reactive short-term tactics than as pro-active long-term strategy. Good stuff, and many thanks to NC for posting this for all of us to watch.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think the value of Tooze’s presentation is methodological. The conventional narrative or teleology of America’s post-World War II hegemony reminds me a lot of the idea of “equillibrium” in economics. In reality, there is no equilibrium (teleology) at all, but a constant series of crises, a lot of fuck-ups, and a lot of improvisation, plenty of it brutal and/or lethal.

        We are always subject to gravity. I don’t have quite the word for what would replace equilibrium (teleology). Perhaps class warfare at the level of the imperial hegemony really is warfare, and that’s the best way to think about it.

        Reply
  14. The Rev Kev

    “French officials call Project Gutenberg archive, 15 million ebooks, Grateful Dead recordings and Prelinger Archive “terrorism,” demands removal from Internet Archive”

    Sounds like it might be a good idea to start backing up the Gutenberg Library before it goes MIA from the Internet. By not being an extractive monopoly it has made a lot of enemies in the tech sector I would say. That p***-ant French unit that tried to bring them down was only made possible a month or so ago when Europol’s EU Internet Referral Unit launched a pilot project with the Internet Referral Units of Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Obviously that was like the FAA giving Boeing the responsibility for aircraft construction inspection. That is the trouble with European countries like France. You have a lot of minor bureaucratic bodies going their own way just waiting for a taste of power. Macron may or may have not have even known about this move. Even Charles de Gaulle once said “How can you govern a country that has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?” Honestly, these units think that they are gods to decide what we can and can’t look at. Well I say that there is only one answer to such gods-

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      My brother once gave me the whole thing on one dvd r.

      Boing Boing in its usual skimpy way didn’t explain how free 19th century books are supposed to equal terrorism.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        This /blog says it is because the media mentioned “terrorism” and therefore supported the use of terrorism. Seems a stretch to declare Alice in Wonderland as well as the Grateful Dead(!?!?)as supporting terrorism. Jerry Garcia, wherever he is, must be chuckling.

        Reply
    2. David

      The perils of multiple linkage perhaps? The BB link leads to Techdirt, which has its own axe to grind on such issues, and the TD story is really just a link to a blog. I’d be interested to see what the actual notice said.

      Reply
  15. Roger Boyd

    The two stories on the China 16+1 were educational. The first was a pissy US/EU-establishment position that had to stoop so low to complain that the speed of a train was going to be 20mph less than planned – what a terrible failure! The other much more balanced, China continues to make steady progress in Eastern Europe and the Balkans and its pissing off the US/EU elites who are doing their best to throw a spanner in the works.

    And please can people stop using the “boiled frog” metaphor as its complete rubbish. The frog will jump out! My counter-proposal is for the “boiled post-modern philosopher” metaphor, as the philosopher will be too busy debating whether or not the temperature rise is “real” and the discursive usage of the word “hot”.

    Reply
    1. Off The Street

      Establishers will complain all they want about Chinese high speed trains and other topics. In the meantime, there are 1.4 billion people in the Middle Kingdom to consider when looking at any developments. Lifting 300 million people out of poverty was one example from the not so distant past of that consideration. Moving people and things around a big and rapidly modernizing country takes will to avoid the types of California train to nowhere or similar fiascos.

      That train complaining, for example, seems like a weak-sauce antidisestablishmentarianistish approach, where the establishment is what the western mandarins want it to be now and anything else double- ungood.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        We dream of a train that goes from L.A.’s Chinatown to S.F.’s Chinatown, but no matter how much money is proposed for the build out, it’s a dim sum that never amounts to anything.

        Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            Imagine if the Chinese had years ago decided to lift those 300 million out of poverty and build that massive rail network, but had gone the democrat way and wanted to do it “incrementally” because pragmatism. The republicans would have refused to do it at all until there was a market solution that allowed favoured corporations to partner and make out like bandist. Meanwhile, Silicon valley would have piped up and said: “We’ve got an app for that!”

            Reply
  16. Chris Cosmos

    I think those of who are on the real left are making too much of the Julian Assange bust. He’s been in prison in the Embassy and now he has a chance to get out. When he’s extradited to the US he might get bail or at least be monitored under more favorable conditions than he was in the Embassy. His charge right how is about trying to break a password–that may be hard to prove if he is brought into the normal justice system. This is where we have to worry–is he going to face a fair trial or a kangaroo court?

    As for putting Assange on trial being a threat to press freedom that just doesn’t fly for me. Plenty of alt reporters who did such a great job on debunking the Russia/Trump conspiracy will continue to work and I see no evidence of a state crack down on them. Even if this discourages whistleblowers–that was already done during the Obama administration–anyhow what more do we need to know? I already assume that the government now runs by the Machiavellian playbook and corruption and self-seeking is rampant and the idea of public service on the wane. The more important question is what crime have the security services not committed?

    Reply
    1. Eureka Springs

      It is more than reasonable to expect with outrage Assange will experience solitary confinement and other forms of torture. It’s who we are and what we do, even to our own kin on the largest (by far) scale on this planet. And it’s what we have encouraged to happen to him for the last seven years. And don’t forget Chelsea. Oh wait! She’s in jail again as well.

      Reply
    2. Roger Smith

      The truthful reality of the matter is irrelevant. Our government (and many others) is a giant P.R. campaign, run by criminals, aimed at making the operation look like a normal, functioning government. The decay has turned citizens away from caring, and when they do they are more likely to believe whatever nonsense some talking head reads off the official script. Every move will be one that supports this fabrication. Assange bad, Russian, Elections, Trump, enemy, traitor, etc… etc…

      Reply
    3. barrisj

      If the UK allows US extradition, let’s hope Assange’s head and body arrive intact…if the Gulfstream jet files a flight plan London-to-DC via Riyadh, it’s over.

      Reply
    4. jrs

      The trump russia conspiracy is truly a narrow partisan issue, U.S. warmongering and the truth about it is not, I don’t think they are comparable.

      What more do we need to know? Why *news*, continued facts about what is going on in the world, not facts once upon a time crystallized into ideology (which one probably could have gotten from way back during the Vietnam war and stuck to them and if one was cynical enough not been wrong ideologically), but *news*, information about the world now.

      Whether Assange will be better off now, well I don’t know, but clearly he didn’t think so, he wasn’t holed away in an embassy for years for the fun of it. He didn’t think he would be better off facing the U.S. “justice” system.

      Reply
      1. Chris Cosmos

        My understanding is that his conditions were worse than prison. I don’t thin Assange was thinking about his comfort but the precedent of what Ecuador and the Brits did.

        Reply
  17. Roger Smith

    I was happy too see come out in support for Assange in no uncertain terms.

    The purpose of arresting #JulianAssange is to send a message to the people, especially journalists, to be quiet and don’t get out of line. If we, the people, allow the government to control us through fear, we are no longer free, we are no longer America.

    It is really a shame how many people ignore her (on all sides). I can’t find anything, but has Sanders issued any comments yet?

    Reply
      1. newcatty

        I like Tulsi, too. But, the not so subtle, “cleaver” contraction of geron( referring to gerntoloy, so old) and crat (referring to Democrat party) is offensive and really not of service to Tulsi or Bernie. Bernie is showing that he is quite agile and vigorous. I really don’t care to include Biden, or for that matter Hillary , in a discusson of able and progressive Democrats. They are abhorrent politicians and has nothing to do with their ages or genders.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          Just referring to “gerontocracy”–rule by the elderly–which I believe is a fairly standard term at this point. Didn’t mean to offend. As you may have guessed I’m not a big Sanders booster although we could obviously do a lot worse. IMO anyone proposing themselves as a future 79 year old president can’t pretend that age isn’t, and won’t be made, an issue. Health concerns about presidents are a legitimate concern which is why JFK kept his ill health such a deep dark secret.

          Furthermore the Dems desperately need a makeover and to break out of the lesser of two evils trap. Perhaps it’s the way that the attractive and obviously intelligent Tulsi is being systematically ignored that is offensive. I believe we should keep an open mind as the process unfolds.

          Reply
    1. notabanker

      Yeah, well we are America. We depose governments and have allies abduct journalists from sovereign embassies. This isn’t the first time. We actually let this one live, for now. We cage children on the borders and call them animals. We routinely murder hundreds of thousands of civilians in far away lands with soldiers and drones alike. We create millions of refugees and let other nations deal with it. We incarcerate more citizens than any other nation. We confiscate peoples homes and pass criminal ordinances to prevent them from living in tents in public parks.

      That IS America.

      Reply
    1. Roger Smith

      That’s… rich.

      I love this linear, ignorant slice of fake reality. I’ve never seen Sanders giving a multi-million dollar speech to oligarchs or facilitating arms sales to terrorists.

      Reply
    2. polecat

      Neera Tanden is dispicable ! Evidently, in her mind, only some deserve to ‘live long .. and prosper’ ….*

      *Does she still twit post with that vulcan peace sign icon at the top ?? Who is she kidding ! .. or am I confusing her with some other clintonoid sourgrapes harpie ?

      Reply
  18. Cal2

    They’re closing AmazonGo stores in downtown San Francisco?

    Damn, there goes my last refuge from the riff-raff, too poor to get a credit card. /sarcasm.

    Actually what I believe happened is that homeless were entering behind people who opened the door with their credit card, were eating and leaving.

    Several CVS stores in downtown are closing because the losses to shoplifters were greater than store revenues.


    Readers comments there are illustrative of what’s really happening other than the corporate blabspeak in the article.

    In California, thanks to a new humanitarian law, any loss less than $900 is not a crime, it’s a misdemeanor.In San Francisco the police won’t even show up.

    Reply
    1. kareninca

      Oh my god, thank you for linking the CVS article. The comment section is absolutely hilarious in an awful way.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        They are fricking hilarious in that haha och way when the jokes hit a little close to home. Come see the world famous cable cars and the steaming piles of stuff.

        Although sixth street has always been…interesting. Much more so than most of the Tenderloin.

        There are over ten thousand people living on the streets in San Francisco and some commenter recently said that there was ten thousand unoccupied homes (and apartments?); there are large cities that build numerous public restrooms which are sometimes architectural artworks; one would think that a city with a nine billion with a B budget could easily solve the housing shortage and the poo.

        It’s not just San Francisco that has problems that seem unfixable. It just seems strange that the more money flows into the Bay Area, the more dysfunctional all the cities, towns, and counties become. Most of the municipal governments get larger budgets but not much seems to improve. Then there’s the state government.

        Reply
  19. Wukchumni

    Donald Trump’s main policy initiative involves building a pointless wall across miles of empty desert. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that one local chapter of his administration has proposed doing the same at the annual arts and culture gathering known as Burning Man.

    The Nevada branch of the Bureau of Land Management, which administers the Black Rock desert where Burning Man has been held since 1990, released in March a wildly unusual proposal calling for major changes to the event’s permit.

    These include making the Burning Man organization pay for a private security force, as well as constructing a 10-mile, 19,000,000-pound concrete barrier around the weeklong event.


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    You almost wonder if this was an April Fools joke by a clever Burner, imagining a ‘high’ security prison?

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      From the Mashable article:

      BLM’s requirements would cost a total of $20 million every year, raising the price of tickets — which average around $400 — by $286 apiece.

      I’m sure there are some people who have saved their pennies for a $400 ticket ( travel expenses) who can’t afford a $700 ticket. I doubt very many. I don’t think Burning Man has been what it was for quite some time.

      Reply
  20. ambrit

    “Israel stops BDS founder…”
    Read to the end, where it states that the man was not denied exit by Israel, but denied entry by the US.
    The lackeys in Congress have charged the man with Anti-ism. Therefore, he must be silenced. ‘Logic of Empire’ rules have come into play.
    The headline is curious in itself. The Jerusalem Post feels obligated to give Israel credit for something another country does? If I were a cynic, I’d think that the Jerusalem Post was subtly hinting that America was an Israeli client state.
    Meanwhile, almost nothing out of Venezuela.

    Reply
  21. Alex

    So sad that Netanyahu won again. In a way it was similar to the Trump elections with the ‘periphery’ (think flyover states) giving Netanyahu the victory and everyone in various liberal bubbles being depressed after learning he has won.

    Of course in many ways it was different, starting from the fact the the life has really improved for a median Israeli from a material point of view during the last 9 years Netanyahu has been in power.

    The results have in fact been almost identical to the previous ones, give or take 1 mandate here and there, or voters flowing from one party to another within the same block. Probably this means that this will go on until there is an economic crisis, big conflict breaking out, Bibi retires or ends up in prison.

    Reply
  22. Oregoncharles

    “French officials call Project Gutenberg archive, 15 million ebooks, Grateful Dead recordings and Prelinger Archive “terrorism,” demands removal from Internet Archive”
    Sounds like France is trying to make Brexit look good. Isn’t there quite a bit of this sort of, ummm, misguided enforcement coming out of the EU? I know I’ve heard of other examples – the new copyright law is one.

    Reply

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