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Kicking a Gift Horse in the Teeth

by ARGeezer Fri Aug 23rd, 2019 at 09:35:05 PM EST

China started buying oil from Iran after Trump imposed sanctions on the country. So why is it so difficult for the USA to find another buyer for soybeans after China stops buying from the USA? (Quara digest)

China was buying oil from Iran long before Trump put sanctions on Iran. In fact, aside from attempting to bankrupt Iran, Trump's sanctions on Iran were also targeted to disrupt the Chinese & other BRICS economies that have been bypassing the US$ in international trade. China and most of northern Asia are dependent on imports of Middle Eastern oil. It is one of the reasons massive amounts of money is being spent on building pipelines to Russia's oil fields.

As for soybeans, USA farmers can easily sell their crops, the market is huge.

However, USA farms, by world standards, are grossly inefficient and the markets will most often not pay the price needed by USA farmers to make soybeans, corn, and other products economically viable (worth growing).

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by ARGeezer Tue Aug 20th, 2019 at 03:44:18 AM EST

Who lost the Mid-East?

China's Ultimate Play For Global Oil Market Control    H/T Naked Capitalism

While we have been distracted by Trump and Brexit new trade and security arrangements are afoot in the Gulf. Dismayed by what they see as US wavering with respect to Iran, The Emirates and, with equivocation, Saudi Arabia have assented to a new role in the Gulf for China and Russia. This could stabilize the region and defuse conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran. There has been a storm of diplomatic activity in the region on several fronts. This could presage a withdrawal of US forces and influence in the area - or WW III.

(The author) Yossef Bodansky, Director of Research at the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA) and Senior Editor of Defense & Foreign Affairs publications (including the Global Information System: GIS), was, for more than a decade, the Director of the US House of Representatives Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare.

See either link to the original article for a wealth of detail on the storm of diplomatic moves and new treaties, defense arrangements and mutual guarantees already made in the area between Russia, Iran, China the Emirates and other regional powers including Turkey and Pakistan.

Front-paged - Frank Schnittger - An important discussion, which you may have missed if you follow only Anglo-American media

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Thermodynamics, Economics and Survival

by ARGeezer Wed Jul 10th, 2019 at 09:32:13 PM EST

A major conceptual problem for me while taking thermodynamics in 1963 was the focus on equilibrium situations, which seemed to me to be special cases and unrepresentative of the general reality I observed. A recent paper in Real World Economic Review has brought all of that back to mind: What can economists and energy engineers learn from thermodynamics beyond the technical aspects?

In  a  conference  that  opened  the  way  to  the  thermodynamics  of  human  societies,  the sociologist  Maurice  Hauriou  (1899,  p.5)  took  up  this  idea  by  considering  that  only  the "thermodynamic laws shed some light on the possibilities of freedom". This presupposes a permanent  interaction  between  the  human  and  his  environment  and  overlaps  with  the formulation  of  Douglas  Hugh  Everett,  in  his "Introduction  to  the  Study  of  Chemical Thermodynamics"(1959),  according  to  which  "a  particular  proportion  of  the  Universe  is called the `system'while the rest of the Universe is called 'the outside' or 'the environment"(Rybac, 1968, p.137).

This  conceptualization  has  allowed  researchers  to  develop  the  thermodynamics  of  open systems,  traversed  by  a flow  of  matter  and  energy,  whereas  the  classical  conception  of thermodynamics    considers    closed    systems,    whose    exchanges    with    the    external environment   are   null   or   limited   and   tightly   controlled.   From   this   angle,   the   new thermodynamics  gives  a  major  importance  to  the  phenomenon  of  irreversibility,  where  the old is placed in the vicinity of equilibrium, in the reversibility zone, which makes the human world   appear   to   be   subject   to   its   potential   momentum   and   not   just   the   laws   of thermodynamics in their traditional meaning. In this context, the appearance of the notion of dissipative structure (Prigogine, 1967, p.371), which applies to phenomena as different as cyclones  or  living  species,  seems  particularly  interesting  because  it  applies  to  human societies.  Cyclones,  living  species,  human  societies,  are  famous  for  the  unpredictability  of their evolution.

As is so often the case, the problems that perplexed me as an undergraduate were just being addressed on the fringes of the field - open system thermodynamics.

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by ARGeezer Wed Nov 7th, 2018 at 04:58:42 AM EST

The Democrats have decisively retaken the House of Representatives, but the 'Blue Wave' was met with a cancelling 'Red Wave'. So Trump and Trumpism was not as well repudiated, as might have been hoped. But the position of the Democratic Party has greatly improved.

The Democrats have also greatly improved their position in state houses. A significant majority of US residents will now live in states with Democratic governors. This will be decisive for election supervision in 2020 and for the redistricting that will follow. Given that the Democrats only have the House, that leaves them still in the position of being the opposition until 2020, which I believe will also be a good year for Democrats.

With the House comes the chairmanship of powerful investigative committees. The Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee can, by law, directly request the tax returns of President Trump. The IRS, under Trump, might refuse, but the law is clear. Adam Schiff will become chair of the House Intelligence Committee and Elijah Cummings will become Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. These are all very intelligent and capable men. It will be an interesting two years.  

Front paged - Frank Schnittger

Comments >> (75 comments)


by ARGeezer Fri Jun 29th, 2018 at 01:59:19 AM EST

In late March I was happily finishing a 7' oak accessory cabinet to hold a printer, mount my modem and wireless router and shelve tech books when i noticed I was tiring and had to work shorter periods. Next morning my left foot was sore so i took the day off. Sunday it felt like the foot was going to explode if I put weight on it. Monday I went to the hospital but was rejected for admission - I failed to also mention my very dark urine - gotta be thorough.

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by ARGeezer Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 05:21:46 AM EST


'Corporations Are People' Is Built on an Incredible 19th-Century Lie
How exactly did corporations come to be understood as "people" bestowed with the most fundamental constitutional rights? The answer can be found in a bizarre--even farcical--series of lawsuits over 130 years ago involving a lawyer who lied to the Supreme Court, an ethically challenged justice, and one of the most powerful corporations of the day. That corporation was the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, owned by the robber baron Leland Stanford. In 1881, after California lawmakers imposed a special tax on railroad property, Southern Pacific pushed back, making the bold argument that the law was an act of unconstitutional discrimination under the Fourteenth Amendment.

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LQD: "I don't know how to be human any more."

by ARGeezer Thu Sep 7th, 2017 at 05:19:10 PM EST

Tropical Depressions  Sam Kriss, Ellie Mae O'Hagan  The Baffler

On a wretched December afternoon in 2015, as raindrops pattered a planetary threnody on grayed-out streets, five thousand activists gathered around Paris's Arc de Triomphe, hoping to force world leaders to do something, anything, that would save the future. Ellie was there. But what she remembers most from that afternoon during the UN's Climate Change Conference wasn't what happened in the open, in front of cameras and under the sky. As they took the Metro together, activists commiserated, briefly, before the moment of struggle and the need to be brave, over just how hopeless it could sometimes feel. People talked about bafflement, rage, despair; the sense of having discovered a huge government conspiracy to wipe out the human race--but one that everybody knows about and nobody seems willing to stop.

Twenty meters beneath the Paris streets, the Metro became a cocoon, tight and terrified, in which a brief moment of honest release was possible. Eventually someone expressed the psychic toll in words that have stuck with Ellie since. It was a chance remark: "I don't know how to be human any more."

Read more... (40 comments, 432 words in story)

LQD: Kulturkampf Of The Left?

by ARGeezer Fri Mar 17th, 2017 at 02:37:16 PM EST

Kulturkampf Of The Left? Extremes, Be Gone!  Ľuboš Blaha  Social Europe
If only!

A culture war has erupted in Europe, and it's happening even amongst left-wingers. On the one hand, we have the liberal cosmopolitans who "welcome" refugees, advocate supra-national identities, consider borders obsolete, and have an inclination to label working-class people with some conservative prejudices as pure fascists. On the other hand, there are the traditional socialists who distrust globalisation, supra-national projects and individualistic liberal values. They consider the post-material "New Left" ridiculous and they blame it for the fact that working-class voters are leaving the Left and beginning to vote for the far-right. In their extreme, both these attitudes are dangerous - one leads to neoliberalism, the other to nationalism.

The ultra-liberal part of the Left is gradually changing to a more social version of liberal globalism, and it fights hand-in-hand with right-wing neoliberals for a world without borders. In this kind of world, transnational capital can exploit people all over the planet without any constraints from the nation states, but the social globalists add to this grim neoliberal picture a promise of a brighter tomorrow in the form of a global welfare state and transnational regulatory bodies.

The problem is that, in reality, even the strongest one of these transnational bodies - the European Union - sometimes behaves like a neoliberal tank that crushes the social achievements of the post-war era. Look at the neoliberal rape of Tsipras´s Greece or the Americanization threat of TTIP. And there is nothing else besides the EU that would even begin to look like a more progressive and cosmopolitan order. Whether we like it or not, the cosmopolitan "brighter tomorrow" is nowhere in sight. In the meantime, we live in a cruel neoliberal reality, in which the cosmopolitan Left loses out, and transnational capital takes all. That is why liberal cosmopolitanism is not just a utopian concept, but also a dangerous one. It is useful for transnational capital, which wants to get rid of the socially protective measures of nation states.

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On Identity Politics

by ARGeezer Tue Dec 20th, 2016 at 05:00:54 PM EST

What Those Who Studied Nazis Can Teach Us About The Strange Reaction To Donald Trump  HuPo

On election night, MSNBC's Chris Matthews had a revelation. Matthews, with a pained expression, began to piece together the basis for Hillary Clinton's pending defeat. She had failed to communicate a tough position on illegal immigration. She had supported bad trade deals. She had not renounced all of the "stupid wars."  

Her presidential rival, Donald Trump, on the other hand, had waged what Matthews called a "legitimate" campaign on these issues, a claim that seemed to stretch the bounds of legitimacy, but Matthews was not alone. In the following days and weeks, others would make similar claims implying a victory that, weeks before, had been impossible was actually inevitable ― and liberalism was largely to blame


In a New York Times op-ed, "The End of Identity Liberalism," Mark Lilla argued that "moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity" had "distorted liberalism's message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing." Trump's popularity, Lilla argued, was not a consequence of a white backlash (whitelash) but rather a reaction to "the omnipresent rhetoric of identity or `political correctness.'"

And the problem with 'identity politics' is that everyone can play. All of the minority identity political agendas were blown out of the water by the simple expedient of mobilizing the now largest minority in a 'no majority' population - by a right winger. It was a disaster waiting to happen.

For more lasting success campaigns have to address the needs of all, but have to repudiate the bigotry and hate of any. Universalism is the concrete foundation for governing.  

Comments >> (17 comments)


by ARGeezer Fri Aug 5th, 2016 at 02:53:40 AM EST

It is not often that we get such frank discussions of the practicalities of recent realpolitik diplomacy as in this e-mail that Sidney Blumenthal sent to Hillary Clinton, then US Secretary of State: (via Wikileaks)

For: Hillary From: Sid

Re: France's client & Qaddafi's gold

 1. A high ranking official on the National Libyan Council states that factions have developed within it. In part this reflects the cultivation by France in particular of clients among the rebels. General Abdelfateh Younis is the leading figure closest to the French, who are believed to have made payments of an unknown amount to him. Younis has told others on the NLC that the French have promised they will provide military trainers and arms. So far the men and materiel have not made an appearance. Instead, a few "risk assessment analysts" wielding clipboards have come and gone. Jabril, Jalil and others are impatient. It is understood that France has clear economic interests at stake. Sarkozy's occasional emissary, the intellectual self-promoter Bernard Henri-Levy, is considered by those in the NLC who have dealt with him as a semi-useful, semi joke figure. 2. Rumors swept the NLC upper echelon this week that Qaddafi may be dead or maybe not. 3. Qaddafi has nearly bottomless financial resources to continue indefinitely, according to the latest report we have received:


Comments >> (4 comments)

The IMF and the Euro: Love's Labours Lost?

by ARGeezer Fri Jul 29th, 2016 at 02:32:17 AM EST

IMF admits disastrous love affair with the euro, apologises for the immolation of Greece    Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

The International Monetary Fund's top staff misled their own board, made a series of calamitous misjudgments in Greece, became euphoric cheerleaders for the euro project, ignored warning signs of impending crisis, and collectively failed to grasp an elemental concept of currency theory. This is the lacerating verdict of the IMF's top watchdog on the Fund's tangled political role in the eurozone debt crisis, the most damaging episode in the history of the Bretton Woods institutions.

It describes a "culture of complacency", prone to "superficial and mechanistic" analysis,  and traces a shocking break-down in the governance of the IMF, leaving it unclear who is ultimately in charge of this extremely powerful organisation. The report by the IMF's Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) goes above the head of the managing director, Christine Lagarde. It answers solely to the board of executive directors, and those from Asia and Latin America are clearly incensed at the way EU insiders used the Fund to rescue their own rich currency union and banking system.


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LQD: Labour's Civil War Is Due To A Paradigm Shift

by ARGeezer Fri Jul 22nd, 2016 at 06:32:29 PM EST

Why Corbyn so terrifies the Guardian  Jonathan Cook

The parliamentary Labour party is in open revolt against a leader recently elected with the biggest mandate in the party's history. Most Labour MPs call Jeremy Corbyn "unelectable", even though they have worked tirelessly to undermine him from the moment he became leader, never giving him a chance to prove whether he could win over the wider British public.
Meanwhile, the Guardian, the house paper of the British left - long the preferred choice of teachers, social workers and Labour activists - has been savaging Corbyn too, all while it haemorrhages readers and sales revenue. Online, the Guardian's reports and commentaries about the Labour leader - usually little more than character assassination or the reheating of gossip and innuendo - are ridiculed below the line by its own readers. And yet it ploughs on regardless.

The Labour party ignores its members' views, just as the Guardian ignores its readers' views. What is going on?

Read more... (25 comments, 405 words in story)

Larry Summers as hero: Que Helicopter Money?

by ARGeezer Tue Jul 12th, 2016 at 10:07:28 PM EST

Is "Helicopter Money" About to Rain Upon the World? Guest Post by David Llewellyn-Smith in Naked Capitalism

Ever since the BOJ announced a new negative interest rate policy earlier this year (NIRP) the yen has stopped falling and reversed upwards. That is, despite weak Japanese growth, despite an inverted yield curve and deeply negative long bond, and despite still weak inflation, markets have bet on spectacularly easy monetary policy generating even more of all four.  This is what is know as "quantitative failure", the notion that negative interest rates will not expand the monetary base owing to such phenomenon as crushed bank margins and the hoarding of cash under mattresses, so the currency is therefore going to rise.
Meanwhile, in an effort to calm potential concerns about the integrity of the fiscal budget central bankers implementing such a future monetisation of infrastructure spending will doubtless be at pains to describe the process as a "one off" though, as the ever theoretical Bernanke stated in his blog: "To have its full effect, the increase in the money supply must be perceived as permanent by the public."

...a policy of "helicopter money" is only likely to work if it is done on an ongoing basis and in continuing and growing amounts. But at that point the risk of a policy mistake grows exponentially, in terms of a potentially destabilising pickup in inflation expectations and a related pickup in velocity.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Two Weeks Post Brexit - Is Anything Clear Yet?

by ARGeezer Tue Jul 12th, 2016 at 12:29:48 PM EST

Questions and Answers:

1. It seems clear that it is in the interests of the current government to hold onto power as long as possible. But how long is that likely to be?

2. It seems clear that the City is opposed to leaving the EU. A. But will they settle for a massive 'shock doctrine' roll back of social and labor protections? B. Will they be divided in their response, and, if so, what will be the majority response? C. And how effective will their response be?

3. It seems likely that Corbyn can hold on to the leadership of Labour. But will Labour be able to bring forth a program that is able to attract or bring back enough supporters to win by-elections and a new General Election.

4. How will legal challenges and issues impact the course of events?

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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A Dialogue on Party Disipline

by ARGeezer Mon Jun 6th, 2016 at 02:21:18 PM EST

I recently has a discussion with a FB friend about 'kicking out' members of the Labor Party such as Blair. I wondered if that were possible. The same question arises in other counties. In the USA I am certain that the leaders of the Republican Party and the RNC would have kicked Donald Trump out of the party had they been able.

It seems to me that parties are not able and should not be able to prevent people from registering to vote as members of their party. That would infringe on their right to vote. Exclude from leadership - unequivocally yes. But no matter how odious or notorious an individual might be and regardless of the possibility of their only wanting to join a party to discredit it by their very presence can they still join?

Comments >> (17 comments)

Yves Smith On Voting For Hillary

by ARGeezer Thu Jun 2nd, 2016 at 02:43:40 PM EST

Why Some of the Smartest Progressives I Know Will Vote for Trump over Hillary   Yves Smith in Politico Magazine

Why do progressives reject Hillary Clinton? The highly educated, high-income, finance-literate readers of my website, Naked Capitalism, don't just overwhelmingly favor Bernie Sanders. They also say "Hell no!" to Hillary Clinton to the degree that many say they would even vote for Donald Trump over her.

And they don't come by these views casually. Their conclusions are the result of careful study of her record and her policy proposals. They believe the country can no longer endure the status quo that Clinton represents--one of crushing inequality, and an economy that is literally killing off the less fortunate--and any change will be better. One reader writes:

"If Clinton is the nominee 9 out of 10 friends I polled will [do one of three things]:

A. Not vote for president in November.
B. Vote for Trump.
C. Write in Bernie as a protest vote.

"We are all fifty-somethings with money and college educations. Oh, and we are all registered Democrats."

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Edmund Burke for Socialists

by ARGeezer Wed May 25th, 2016 at 12:57:58 PM EST

I could never bring myself to read more than excerpts from Edmond Burke's "Notes On The Revolution in France" This was likely due to him being presented almost exclusively as a cudgel against the French Revolution while I could not but identify with the revolutionaries. Had I been more aware of his position on the American Revolution I might have been more sympathetic. But, as I can now see, my professors were, at best, social liberals or libertarians. But Burke was a defender of the value of tradition and of the wisdom of evolved and lived practical experience. Another take on Burke:

A Few Notes on Burkean Conservatism John Michael Greer aka The (former) Archdruid

The foundation of Burkean conservatism is the recognition that human beings aren't half as smart as they like to think they are. One implication of this recognition is that when human beings insist that the tangled realities of politics and history can be reduced to some set of abstract principles simple enough for the human mind to understand, they're wrong. Another is that when human beings try to set up a system of government based on abstract principles, rather than allowing it to take shape organically out of historical experience, the results will pretty reliably be disastrous.

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Of Polls and Polsters

by ARGeezer Wed Mar 9th, 2016 at 01:10:46 PM EST


538 has been had the best record and, often, the most insightful commentary on politics with regard to public opinion in the USA. Yet today it posted the following:

What The Stunning Bernie Sanders Win In Michigan Means  By Harry  Enten  538

Bernie Sanders made folks like me eat a stack of humble pie on Tuesday night. He won the Michigan primary over Hillary Clinton, 50 percent to 48 percent, when not a single poll taken over the last month had Clinton leading by less than 5 percentage points. In fact, many had her lead at 20 percentage points or higher. Sanders's win in Michigan was one of the greatest upsets in modern political history. (My bold)

I believed Sanders was going to do better than the polsters were predicting, but then I AM a Sanders partisan and make no bones about it. I could be the proverbial stopped clock and it was just that time of day for once. But what happened with them? And even I had been beaten down and was surprised at the outcome. I expected it to be close, but for Hillary to win, if only by a point.

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Political Economy in a Time of Financial Collapse

by ARGeezer Wed Feb 10th, 2016 at 11:23:28 PM EST

What could the USA do if there is another, more serious global financial collapse? This has been a subject of discussion on several economic, financial and political blogs. The question also applies to any country. But the answer below will be restricted to countires with their own currency.

Read more... (1 comment, 314 words in story)

The 2016 Iowa Caucus

by ARGeezer Tue Feb 2nd, 2016 at 01:05:00 AM EST

Iowa Caucus:   Cruz Victory Deals Setback to Donald Trump
                       Clinton and Sanders Locked in Tight Race

NYT  98% reporting  Last updated 11:59 PM ET

Republicans . . . . . . . . . . . Democrats . . . . . . .                                                                    
Ted Cruz             27.7%     Hillary Clinton  49.9%
Donald J. Trump  24.3        Bernie Sanders   49.6
Marco Rubio        23.1        Martin O'Malley   0.6

Read more... (33 comments, 215 words in story)
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News and Views

 June 2022

by Bernard - Jun 4, 184 comments

Your take on this month's news

 Summer 2022

by Bernard - Jun 18,

2050 calling early: summer temperatures predicted for 2050 are actually happening this June.

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