Monthly Archives: September 2019

Australian Politics 2019-09-30 15:48:00


False alarm: the great rainforest fire that wasn’t

A frightening image. Pristine rainforest that has not burned for millions of years is ablaze as bushfires of unprecedented intensity roar through the hinterland of southeast Queensland. It’s difficult to imagine a more graphic illustration of the consequences of ­climate change. That is what was widely portrayed during the ­region’s fire emergency earlier this month. The only problem is, it didn’t happen.

The destruction of ancient World Heritage-listed Gondwana subtropical and temperate rainforests by fire was reported unequivocally as fact. Guardian Australia proclaimed in a headline: “Like nothing we’ve seen: Queensland bushfires tear through rainforest.” The landscape of Lamington National Park surrounding the historic Binna Burra Lodge, which was destroyed in the fires, was “blackened remnants of what used to be lush rainforest”, reported the Australian Associated Press in a story carried by many news outlets.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is working on its sixth assessment report. Australian climate scientist Joelle Gergis, a lead author of the report, declared: “What I find particularly disturbing is that World Heritage rainforest is burning. It has been hard to watch news coverage of these exceptionally rare rainforests burning … the potential loss of these areas is something I never thought I would witness in my lifetime.”

Social media lit up with expressions of despair about the rainforest losses. Typical of the angst was a tweet insisting that any journalist interviewing the Prime Minister who failed to question the climate implications of Queensland rainforests burning “isn’t doing their f..king job”.

But the Gondwana rainforests, those priceless relics of times long gone, did not burn. No news coverage showed rainforest burning. The 20,600ha Lamington ­National Park in Queensland and the adjoining 31,700ha Border Ranges National Park in NSW ­encompass the largest expanse of subtropical rainforest in the world. As on countless occasions over the centuries, fire raging in surrounding eucalypt woodland did not ­destroy the rainforest.

To be sure, bushfires of such ­intensity in the region are unusual, especially in early spring; 16 homes were lost in southern Queensland. Unlike southeast Australia with its hot and dry summers, the subtropics are usually ­afforded a degree of protection by high humidity, an absence of prolonged periods of scorching temperatures, and generous rainfall which — as in much of the country — has been in short supply lately.

Binna Burra Lodge is not encircled by rainforest, as was claimed repeatedly. The lodge is surrounded on three sides by eucalypt woodland; it came close to being lost when a control burn 20 years ago got away. This time, ­explains Binna Burra chairman Steven ­Noakes: “The fire went tearing up a steep slope through eucalypt woodland and we’re perched on a ridge at the top. With those winds there was nothing we could do.”

A camping ground and teahouse that adjoin rainforest survived the inferno; flames did not extend beyond the lodge into rainforest. A few kilometres across Lamington National Park from Binna Burra, O’Reilly’s Rainforest ­Retreat was evacuated during the fire emergency. Unlike Binna Burra, O’Reilly’s is surrounded entirely by rainforest. O’Reilly’s manager, Shane O’Reilly, says there was no need for evacuation; the nearest fires were 15km away: “The rainforest here doesn’t burn. It was pretty much eucalypt country that burned … There’s a lot of emotion surrounding this.

“A story is being propagated that it’s more of an issue about rainforest than it is.”

O’Reilly adds that an international scientific symposium at the lodge in 2011 heard the rainforest had not burned for at least three million years.

Patrick Norman, a Griffith University PhD student and former Lamington park ranger, has analysed satellite data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite over burnt forest. The images indicate about 400ha of rainforest burned, but this was primarily dry rainforest at lower altitudes known as vine scrub. Burned areas also included wet sclerophyll, a forest type comprised of tall eucalypts with some rainforest plants.

“Drawing a line between rainforest and wet sclerophyll is a tricky task,’’ Norman says. “By and large, the rainforest that burned was on the drier end of the spectrum. I am quite confident no warm or cool temperate rainforest was burned.” The affected dry rainforest mostly burned lightly, with the ground layer impacted. Norman cautions that if the forests burn again in the foreseeable future there could be more serious impacts.

Kaye Healing, the Queensland Rural Fire Service acting southeast regional manager, played a central role in fighting the fires, which continue to smoulder. Healing says while fires “burn crazily” through eucalypt woodland, they tend to “walk through” vine scrub and wet sclerophyll forest. “When it gets to true rainforest, the fire self-extinguishes,’’ he says. “You’ve got a closed canopy in true rainforest and it holds moisture. The rainforest is not on fire. The fire is in dry eucalypt forest and woodland.”

Healing says similar conditions were experienced before, for ­instance in the early 1990s: “I’m not going to get into a climate-change conversation but climate varies between floods and drought in this country and historical records show that.”

Claims about Australian rainforest burning for the first time also circulated late last year when 121,000ha of land around Eungella National Park near Mackay were scorched. At the time, the ABC published a photograph of a fire-stricken area; the caption said it had been a “rich green subtropical rainforest”. Although it was pointed out that the area had been grassland and shrubs, the captioned photograph remains on ABC websites.

The ABC reported that Eungella rainforests were reduced to cinders and would take hundreds of years to recover. Rural Fire Service manager for the Mackay ­region Andrew Houley, a former forester, says rainforest that burned around Eungella was largely regrowth on cleared land. Recent images show tree ferns and some other rainforest plants regrowing. However, the heat was so intense that 10m-15m of the edge of pristine rainforest in places was destroyed before the fires stopped. Houley adds: “Headlines say the fires are once in a lifetime but these weather patterns affect us every 25 years or so.”

A crisis facing rainforest is under way not in Australia but in Southeast Asia, the Amazon Basin and central Africa. Huge tracts of forest are being intensively logged or bulldozed for livestock or crops. Extensively damaged rainforest remnants and felled trees are then burned. In some countries, such as Indonesia, sound environmental laws are in place but are largely unenforced or ignored. In others, such as Brazil, governments are unapologetically pursuing polices to develop rainforest. Australia is fortunate its World Heritage rainforests are standing tall.


Revealed: The thousands of jobs young Australians don't want because of 'snobbery' as the government encourage school leavers to take up trades

An increasing number of young Australians are turning their nose up at thousands of well-paying blue collar jobs because of 'job snobbery'.

The federal government is encouraging students to drop out of school in year 10 and take up a trade instead of going to university.

Nearly 290,000 Australians started apprenticeships in 2008, but just a decade on only 156,000 people took up a trade in 2018.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash is encouraging students to leave school in year 10, and said they could be better off than those who opt to finish school and go to university.

Senator Cash said she wants any negative stigma around blue collar jobs to be eradicated and thinks apprentices should be proud of being a tradie. 

But Labor is encouraging students to stay in school. 'You've got a much better chance of getting a job if you finish school than if you don't finish school,' Shadow Education and Training Minister Tanya Plibersek told 7 News.

More than half of the government's list of the highest earning careers are jobs from vocational training and not university degrees.

Construction managers can earn as much as $3,500 per week ($182,000 a year).


Same-sex unions divide what used to be the Methodist church

Uniting Church ministers who ­oppose same-sex marriage say they are being “pushed, harassed and bullied” out of the church by progressives at the helm of Australia’s third-largest denomination.

The Reverend Lu Senituli, minister of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations of the Uniting Church Sunnybank on Brisbane’s south side, said a fissure in the church was widening between large conservative congregations such as his mostly Tongan church, and inner-city churches and leadership “who want to drive us out to make way for the new church”.

Mr Senituli said the issue had come to a head since the “yes” vote in the national plebiscite on same-sex marriage. “They are using church procedures and withholding of funding and all sorts of tactics to get us to toe the line,” he said. “I have people sitting in my congregation taking notes so they can report on me to the church and have disciplinary measures enacted against me.”

However, the Uniting Church says ministers have freedom to refuse to conduct same-sex mar­riages and can continue to teach their belief that marriage may only be between a man and a woman.

Mr Senituli’s church is a member of a breakaway body in the Uniting Church established in 2004 called the Assembly of Confessing Congregations, set up for congregations that reject the progressive line on accepting gay ­clergy and same-sex marriage.

“The church now has two faith statements, or integrities on marriage,” Mr Senituli said. “One is that marriage is between a man and a woman, as according to holy scripture. But the second integrity is the covenant of love between two persons, regardless of sex.

“In practice it’s impossible to live our faith under these two integ­rities as they are contradictory. When a minister makes a statement to a presbytery to say we will not celebrate same-sex marriage, from that point the presbyteries, the regional body, begin to put the pressure on in every way.

“They start turning off the funding tap if you don’t toe the line. Life becomes extremely difficult. Regional bodies are working in collusion with liberals in congregations who find orthodox preaching offensive.

“I was removed from the nat­ional body on doctrine because my views didn’t represent the diversity of the Uniting Church. But I represent a thriving church with hundreds of members who hold traditional, scriptural views and my church has six services every Sunday.”

The president of the Uniting Church, Deirdre Palmer, was unavailable for comment, but a spokesman for the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly and the Synod of Queensland said ministers and celebrants authorised by the Uniting Church had the freedom to conduct or to refuse to conduct same-gender marriages.

“They can continue to teach their belief that marriage may only be between a man and a woman, and can continue to use a marriage liturgy that reflects that conviction,” the spokesman said.

“At the same time, we expect all our members to respectfully engage with those who may hold different biblical and theological views to their own, and to show respect to LGBTIQ Uniting Church members, who are full members, exercising a variety of ministries, both ordained and lay within and through the life of the Uniting Church.

“All parts of the church are accountable to our governance and regulations and when matters of concern arise in particular congregations, the Uniting Church has systems in place to manage those concerns.

“The matters raised with The Australian are known to the Uniting Church and are being addressed through appropriate processes, with ongoing consultation and support provided to the congregations. They are entirely un­related to the minister’s or the congregation’s Christian understanding of marriage.”

Mr Senituli’s church adopted its current name last month, changing its signage from Sunny­bank Uniting Church in defiance of church leadership to make clear its opposition to same-sex marriage and as a protest against allegedly being bullied on the issue.

The national chairman of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations, Hedley Fihaki, backed Mr Senituli’s claims, saying about 150 of the Uniting Church’s 800 congregations were ACC members.

He said ACC assemblies that had changed signs and logos to distinguish themselves from progressive congregations had received letters warning them they would no longer be under the protection of the church for issues such as insurance.

“The Uniting Church doesn’t see the dilemma we are in. The push to embrace diversity is an oxymoron, the two statements on marriage — you can’t have these two doctrines co-­existing together, in our opinion,” Dr Fihaki said.

“The Bible is very clear on this. Assembly doesn’t get why we can’t exist in this diversity framework. They are forcing us to accept it, but we can’t.”


‘Lucky escape’: 39 vegan activists ordered to pay $100 to charity for protest which shut down CBD

A group of animal rights protesters who brought Melbourne’s CBD to a halt have escaped criminal conviction.

The 39 vegan protesters chained themselves to three vehicles to block the intersection of Flinders and Swanston streets for four hours in April.

The group caused chaos, blocking Melbourne’s busiest tram corridor throughout the morning peak, at the same time as bus replacement services were running on several train lines.

The Vegan Rising activists appeared at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court this morning, pleading guilty to charges of obstruction.

They have each been ordered to pay $100 to an animal rescue sanctuary, Edgar’s Mission.

The group have also received three-month good behaviour bonds.

Seven News court reporter Sharnelle Vella said it was a light punishment. “They’ve had a lucky escape, that’s despite the Prime Minister at the time saying they should face the full force of the law,” she told 3AW’s Tom Elliott.

Outside court the protesters failed to apologise for disrupting the city.

Vegan Rising Campaign Director Kristen Leigh said the protest had the desired effect. “We are trying to get people to watch the documentary film Dominion, which exposes the reality of what millions of animals suffer in this country,” she told Tom Elliott. “We really wanted to draw attention to that film, and our actions did, thankfully. We had about 50,000+ people watch the film after that.”

The animal rights group refused to say if they had any future protests planned.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

Shifting Probabilities For Future Rate Cuts Drive The S&P 500

If you block out the noise coming out of Washington D.C., as most investors do, the fourth and final full week of September 2019 saw a lot of good news for the U.S. economy. Even the ever uber-pessimistic Tyler Durden grudgingly acknowledged as much before setting the stage for future doom:

The last few weeks have seen a dramatic surge in US macro data surprises (to the upside), dramatically diverging from the rest of the world (and almost single-handedly improving the global data)...

ZeroHedge chalks much of that effect to the U.S. government's "Use It Or Lose It" end-of-fiscal-year spending, which they argue is having a short term stimulative effect on the U.S. economy. Which will soon come to an end (this is ZeroHedge, after all)!

But the Tylers are good observers of the market and we can confirm the cumulative effect of the upside economic data surprises with the CME Group's FedWatch Tool, which not only no longer indicates any rate cuts after 2019, but also indicates the falling probability of a rate cut in the fourth quarter of 2019 (2019-Q4):

CME Group FedWatch Tool Probabilities of Federal Funds Rate Changing at Future FOMC Meeting Dates, Snapshot on 27 September 2019

That's good news, but in the chaotic math of how stock prices work, that means investors are shifting their forward-looking attention inward from the distant future horizon of 2020-Q1 toward 2019-Q4, which means that stock prices would fall given the expectations associated with that quarter.

Alternative Futures - S&P 500 - 2019Q3 - Standard Model - Snapshot on 27 Sep 2019

That may be the start of the sixth Lévy flight event of 2019, although at this point, we may see investors opt to split their focus between 2019-Q4 and 2020-Q1, where we might not see another full quantum-like shift from the trajectory for 2020-Q1 to the alternate trajectory for 2019-Q4 like we did earlier this quarter.

If we do, it will be associated with a much larger drop in stock prices than occurred in early August 2019, because the expectations for the change in the year-over-year rate of growth of future dividends for the S&P 500 has changed, with a larger gap opening up between the alternate trajectories associated with investors focusing on either 2019-Q4 or 2020-Q1.

If the flow of upside surprises slows and negative surprises start to take hold however, we could see stock prices rise with the increased probability of a rate cut in 2020-Q1. Or the picture for the economy may continue to improve, which would seemingly paradoxically send stock prices lower as the potential for one last rate cut before the end of 2019 becomes a point of focus.

Or investors could have reason to shift their attention to another point of time altogether, with the trajectory of the S&P 500 shifting accordingly. No matter what, the current market environment is ripe for stock prices to experience a lot of potential volatility. If you know which way it's going to go, more power to you!

Speaking of the current market environment, here's a sampling of market-moving news headlines from the fourth week of September 2019:

Monday, 23 September 2019
Tuesday, 24 September 2019
Wednesday, 25 September 2019
Thursday, 26 September 2019
Friday, 27 September 2019

Barry Ritholtz outlines no fewer than eight positives and negatives each that he found in the past week's economics and market-related news.

Australian Politics 2019-09-29 15:41:00


Labor ‘dragging heels’ in drought efforts

The Labor party is in the grip of the Greenies, who hate dams.  But building more dams is the only way to cope with drought

Deputy Nationals leader Bridget McKenzie has lashed the Labor state governments of Queensland and Victoria for “dragging their heels” when it comes to building new dams.

Senator McKenzie told Sky News on Sunday the lack of co-operation between the Federal government and their state counterparts meant “drought busting” infrastructure was being prevented from “getting off the ground.”

“This is one of the most frustrating topics I think as a National Party MP and somebody that cares about rural and regional Australia,” she said. “We’re a government that has been able to manage the economy well enough we’ve got money on the table to build infrastructure … that helps us to be able to droughtproof for the next time.”

“The reality is the Commonwealth government can’t just roll in with our diggers and graders and roll into a state and start digging,” Senator McKenzie said. “We have to have a partner in this in state because the sovereignty of states to actually build the things the money’s on the table.”

As revealed by The Australian, the Victorian government has ruled out building any new dams, saying climate change will mean not enough water will flow into them to make them worthwhile.

“At the end of the day if you’ve got Lisa Neville here in Victoria saying no more dams despite the CSIRO saying we should get on with it and you’ve got [Anastasia] Palaszczuk up in Queensland dragging her heels on Rookwood and other drought-busting infrastructure and you get NSW finally coming to the table today with $84 million dollars, which is fantastic news, the reality is we’ve been here this whole time waiting.”

Senator McKenzie also announced the Farm Household Allowance would be extended and made available to farmers for four years every decade instead of once over the lifetime of a farmer.

“Right now farm household allowance you’re only able to access for four years in your entire lifetime as a farmer, which is just ridiculous,” she said. “In this country every two decades we’re going through a period of significant hardship, as we are now, so we’ve made a change now that every decade, farmers will be able to access this payment for up to four years.”

It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced an additional $100 million in drought relief funding.

Of this, more than $50 million will be put towards expanding and simplifying the Farm Household Allowance, a payment for farmers struggling to pay bills. The latest package comes on top of the $7 billion set aside in drought relief funding.

Senator McKenzie said the subsidy program wouldn’t affect Australia’s free trade agreements.

“This is this is not an American or US-style farm bill subsidy program at all and as an exporter that exports 70 per cent of what we produce we don’t want to be doing anything here at home that puts us at risk our ability to trade.”


Scott Morrison is flying to the Queensland Outback today to help drought-stricken farmers. The Prime Minister, who has been criticised for not doing enough for rural communities, will announce $100million in aid.

The money will go to 13 local government areas to help farmers pay for food, water and fuel and have access to counselling.

Mr Morrison will land in Sydney after his state visit to the US and will immediately take a flight to Dalby in south Queensland.  He said: 'We know we can't make it rain, but we must keep finding ways to do everything we can to make life just a bit easier and remove some of the burden.'

Earlier this month Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said Mr Morrison was doing too little for drought-affected farmers.

'The farmers have become Scott Morrison's forgotten people,' he said. 'No real action on his part despite the fact that it's very, very clear based on all the advice that this thing is not going to get better any time soon.'

On the Today Show on Friday morning Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton defended the Prime Minister. 'This is not our first trip out. This money builds on a mountain of support that is already there,' he said.

Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen said his party would look at the proposals but said 'we doubt they will be enough after years of inaction'.

It comes after farmers slammed Mr Morrison for plegding $150million to support a NASA mission to Mars.

Amanda Bolton, who runs Birkwood Farm in the Queensland town of Mutdapilly, posted a photo to Facebook of her dried-up dam. 'The Australian Prime Minister has just announced that the Australian government will be contributing 150 MILLION dollars to the upcoming Mars missions,' she wrote.

'150 MILLION dollars is a lot of money that could buy some pretty cool stuff. 7.5 million small square bales of hay, roughly 880,000 large round bales, 7.5 million bags of basic stock pellets, roughly 30 BILLION litres of water from our local council water collection station.

'Worst drought in recorded history, a number of regional towns will run out of water within weeks, record bushfire season, record dust storm activity etc... This country is desperate. 'But yeah, sure, the Moon is fun too, I guess.'

The deal between the Australian Space Agency and NASA was announced in Washington DC on Saturday.

Ms Bolton's confronting post has been shared more than 50,000 times with thousands of Australians slamming Morrison for turning his back on battling farmers. 'Scott Morrison, please pay attention, stop rubbing up to that Trump moron and look after our farmers. They die, we die,' one person wrote.

'Too busy making himself look good on the World Stage while a major portion of his own country is if not dead its dieing! (sic),' read another comment.

Australia is currently on the grips of the most severe drought on record.


Do sharks have a right to eat us?

That seems to be the Queensland Labor government's position

FOR almost 60 years, the State Government's shark control program has been making Queensland beaches safer. The program has been one of very few public policies to have endured for such a time while remaining blessedly free from the foibles of partisan politics.

The reason for this has been simple. Who would dare argue with the results? From 1915 to 1962 there were 36 recorded cases of shark attacks in Queensland. These resulted in 19 deaths. But since the dragnet of baited drumlines was introduced in 1962, there's been only one fatal shark attack at a protected Queensland beach.

Little wonder the program has been gradually expanded. However, the program finally found a naysayer in the shape of fringe environmental group, the Humane Society. And inexplicably, the Federal Court has agreed with the group's view that the drumlines do little to protect swimmers.

How the court came to such a view simply beggars belief. Surely, they only had to look at the statistics of recent attacks in northern NSW where there are no permanent drumlines to realise how effective the Queensland program is? What was required here was a bipartisan approach and a plan to ensure swimmers were protected

The court's decision was clearly out of step with public sentiment and requires the politicians who've supported the program to fix it. Given the long history of bipartisan support, not to mention the implications for. Queensland's tourism industry, you'd like to think it would be a relatively quick fix.

However, what has ensued instead has been an unedifying display of pointless political point scoring that has done nothing but advertise to the world that some of the Sunshine State's most famous northern beaches are less safe now than they were a few weeks ago.

Much of the controversy has centred around the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries' decision to remove 160 drumlines from within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The court's decision only related to the marine park zone and that's why the department only removed drumlines in this area.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley has been particularly vocal. She's accused the Palaszczuk Government of choosing "public alarm over personal safety" by removing the drumlines when the court only said caught sharks should not be killed.

"Queensland should reinstate the existing drum lines, while increasing surveillance and exploring modern complementary technologies such as drones, smart drum lines and tags," she said.

There's ample reason for Ley to be sceptical about the Palaszczuk Government's motives in ordering the removal of the drumlines within hours of the court ruling. After all, the administration isn't exactly known for doing anything at pace.

And the States handling of last year's Cid Harbour shark attacks —when it first said drumlines were the answer but then recanted and claimed all it could do was erect signs instead — hardly inspired confidence.

However, what on Earth is Ley suggesting when she says the State Government should just drop the drumlines back in and increase surveillance? Is she saying to hell with what the court has ordered? Or does Ley reckon fisheries officers should just harden up and start arming themselves with a decent set of pliers so they can simply release the sharks?

It might be news to the minister but these officers are dealing with marine life a bit bigger than the cod they catch in the Murray River in her electorate. In fact, cutting a cranky 4m tiger shark loose from a hook is nearly as dangerous as getting between Ley and a bargain Gold Coast apartment buy, something she's somewhat famed for.

Yet, while Ley is happily ordering fisheries officers back into the water, the Morrison Government hasn't come up with a timeline for a legislative fix to what the court has ordered.

The LNP Opposition might be right when they say SMART drumlines, where sharks are caught and released,should be considered as temporary solution. However, it would take time to train officers and whether that's worthwhile depends primarily on how long it's going to take their federal colleagues to come up with a legislative answer.

Dropping in new drumlines at 17 locations just outside the marine park was a prudent move by the State but that still leaves 27 beaches no longer with protection.

However, what wasn't needed was State Fisheries Minister Mark Furner's ham-fisted suggestion that Ley would be blamed if there was an attack.

While the politicians squabble, the reputation of Queensland beaches is taking a further battering, the last thing the tourism industry needs after those terrible Cid Harbour attacks.

From the start, what was required here was a bipartisan approach and a plan to ensure swimmers were protected by drumlines again as soon as practical. Instead what happened was the political sharks began circling as soon as they saw an opportunity for a cheap feed.

"Courier Mail" 27 Sept. 2019

Queensland Public Hospitals still missing targets as delays blow out

QUEENSLAND hospitals, are failing to meet their own benchniarks to see emergency patients in time and have abandoned elective surgery targets they can't reach.

The Courier-Mail can reveal that not one hospital and health service (HHS) saw all of its sickest patients within recommended times, with hospitals south of Brisbane and on the Gold Coast performing the worst

While most came close to seeing the most critical patients within two minutes, many wait times blew past the 10-minute and 30-minute markers for those with conditions "imminently" or "potentially" life-threatening.

Only three of the state's 15 HHS met the previous 25-day target for elective surgery waits used in 2017-18. The target is now missing from the 2018-19 annual reports released yesterday.

The results come amid presare on Health Minister Steven Miles to fix blown-out wait times, ambulance ramping and IT bungles relating to the integrated electronic medical record system (ieMR) and ordering system.

The worst elective surgery results were in regional areas, with Central Queensland and Central West recording the longest wait of 59 days. Patients in the. South West district covering Roma and Charleville waited 55 days, Gold Coast residents waited 49 days and Mackay residents waited 43.

Those in the Torres Strait waited just a week for elective surgery and an average of five minutes in ED.

More than half of the services recorded deficits. West Moreton recorded a $26.88 million deficit because of projects like ieMR. The Sunshine Coast also recorded a staggering $222 million deficit, up from the $13.9 million deficit in 2017-18, and attributed the result to increased demand.

The troubled Metro South HHS recorded a $15 million deficit and blamed increased demand on population ageing and the prevalence of chronic disease conditions.

The Children's Health Queensland HHS, which runs the Queensland Children's Hospital, finished the financial year with an operating surplus of $27.79 million. It found the implementation of the ieMR "has continued to result in increased efficiencies and service improvements".

The hospital was one of the state's best-performing hospitals. It exceeded its target of treating the second-most serious category on time.

"Courier Mail" 27 Sept. 2019

 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

29/9/19: Divided ECB

Divided they stand...


The ECB is more divided than ever on the 'new' direction of QE policies announced earlier this month, as its severely restricted 'political mandate' comes hard against the reality of VUCA environment the euro area is facing, with:

  1.  Reduced forward growth forecasts (net positive uncertainty factor for QE)
  2. Anaemic inflation expectations (net positive risk factor for QE), but reduced expectations as to the effectiveness of the QE measures in their ability to lift these expectations (net negative uncertainty factor)
  3. Low unemployment and long duration of the current recovery period (net negative uncertainty factor for QE)
  4. Relative strength of the euro, as per chart below, going into QE (net positive risk factor for QE)
  5. Related to (5), deteriorating global growth and trade outlooks, with the euro area being a beneficiary of the Trump Trade Wars so far (ambiguous support for QE)
  6. Expectations concerning the Fed, Bank of Japan, Bank of England etc policy directions (a complexity factor in favour of QE), and
  7. Expectations concerning the potential impact of Brexit on euro area economy (another complexity factor supporting QE).
Here is a chart showing exchange rate evolution for the euro area, and key QE programs timings (higher values denote stronger euro):

Meanwhile, for the measures of monetary policy effectiveness (lack thereof) see upcoming analysis of the forward forecasts for euro area growth on this blog in relation to Eurocoin data.

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – September 28, 2019

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – September 28, 2019
by Tony Wikrent
Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus

Strategic Political Economy

DC Court: State Secrets Privilege Trumps Any Citizens’ Right To Know Whether Or Not Their Own Gov’t Is Trying To Kill Them
[TechDirt, via Naked Capitalism 9-27-19]

The Culmination of Republican Decay
Sean Wilentz [New York Review of Books, October 10, 2019 issue]
Book review of American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump, by Tim Albert
....After Barack Obama was elected president, the Koch brothers and the Donors Trust of dark money funders (to which the Kochs were leading contributors) would mobilize and subsidize the Republican base in the so-called populist revolt they named the Tea Party.... when Trump seized control of the GOP in 2016, he reaped the populist whirlwind that Richard Nixon began sowing nearly half a century earlier and that the Bush administration—their administration—had whipped to hurricane force.... 
By the time Alberta’s account gets underway, most of the political dynamics behind the events he describes were long established and extremely powerful. Some of the book’s major figures, like former House Speaker John Boehner (who was also one of its principal sources), were remnants from earlier phases of the party’s strife, and developments like the growth of the Tea Party or the uprisings of the House Freedom Caucus make sense only as outgrowths of previous internecine battles. Most importantly, by 2008, the Republican Party had already become what the political scientists Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein would call “an insurgent outlier” in American politics: “ideologically extreme… scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.” Alberta has written, in short, a book that is more denouement than drama, detailing the fall of a hollow GOP establishment that, having abandoned normal party politics in favor of relentless polarization, was already teetering. While American Carnage describes the outcome of the party’s radicalization, it completely misses—indeed, fundamentally misunderstands—a major impetus behind Trump’s ascendancy: the destructive presidency of George W. Bush.... 
[Alberta’s account] cannot explain how Trump could so swiftly capture virtually an entire political party. A plausible answer to that puzzle is hiding in plain sight in Alberta’s book. Although Trump came into office with majorities in both houses of Congress, and although, as Alberta notes, the White House ceded control over domestic legislation to Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan, the Republicans had terrible difficulty scoring legislative wins. Most galling to Trump as well as the party’s congressional leadership was the failure to repeal Obamacare, one of the GOP’s core campaign pledges since the program began. On two fronts, though, Republicans moved with absolute assurance: the approval by the Senate of right-wing nominees to the federal bench, including Supreme Court justices Neil Gorsuch and, after a brutal, unexpected fight, Brett Kavanaugh; and the rapid approval of a fiercely regressive tax bill in 2017. Control of the courts for the Christian right and the Federalist Society, tax windfalls and deregulation for the donor class: these were the causes that truly stirred the GOP majorities in Congress. It’s not simply that the recumbent Republicans are intimidated by the party base that Trump has captured; they are motivated chiefly by right-wing dogma and their own baseness, which Trump understands and manipulates.
The Problem With Impeachment 
Chris Hedges [Truthdig, via Naked Capitalism 9-28-19]
Impeaching Donald Trump would do nothing to halt the deep decay that has beset the American republic. It would not magically restore democratic institutions. It would not return us to the rule of law. It would not curb the predatory appetites of the big banks, the war industry and corporations. It would not get corporate money out of politics or end our system of legalized bribery. It would not halt the wholesale surveillance and monitoring of the public by the security services. It would not end the reigns of terror practiced by paramilitary police in impoverished neighborhoods or the mass incarceration of 2.3 million citizens. It would not impede ICE from hunting down the undocumented and ripping children from their arms to pen them in cages. It would not halt the extraction of fossil fuels and the looming ecocide. It would not give us a press freed from the corporate mandate to turn news into burlesque for profit. It would not end our endless and futile wars. It would not ameliorate the hatred between the nation’s warring tribes—indeed would only exacerbate these hatreds. 
Impeachment is about cosmetics. It is about replacing the public face of empire with a political mandarin such as Joe Biden, himself steeped in corruption and obsequious service to the rich and corporate power, who will carry out the same suicidal policies with appropriate regal decorum.

GND - A problem too big to solve, or an opportunity too big to miss?

The Green New Deal: A Fight for Our Lives
Naomi Klein [New York Review of Books, 9-21-2019]
Adapted from the introduction and epilogue to On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, by Naomi Klein, published by Simon and Schuster.

In scale if not specifics, the Green New Deal proposal takes its inspiration from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s original New Deal, which responded to the misery and breakdown of the Great Depression with a flurry of policies and public investments, from introducing Social Security and minimum wage laws, to breaking up the banks, to electrifying rural America and building a wave of low-cost housing in cities, to planting trees and establishing soil protection programs in regions ravaged by the Dust Bowl.
There are, among emission-reduction experts, long-running debates about which precedents from history to invoke to help inspire the kind of sweeping, economy-wide transformations the climate crisis demands. Many do favor FDR’s New Deal, because it showed how radically both a society’s infrastructure and its governing values can be altered in the span of a decade. More than 10 million people were directly employed by the government; most of rural America got electricity for the first time; hundreds of thousands of new buildings and structures were built; 2.3 billion trees were planted; 800 new state parks were developed; and hundreds of thousands of public works of art were created. 
But the failures and limitations are also well known. The New Deal fell short of pulling the US economy out of economic depression, its main goal, and its programs overwhelmingly favored white, male workers. Agricultural and domestic workers (many of them black) were left out, and New Deal relief agencies, particularly in the Southern states, were notorious for their biases against unemployed African-American and Mexican-American families.

In part because of these failures, some insist that the only historical precedents that show the scale and speed of change required in the face of the climate crisis are the World War II mobilizations that saw Western powers transforming their manufacturing sectors and consumption patterns to fight Hitler’s Germany.
[Business Insider, via Naked Capitalism 9-24-19].
Only the federal government holds the fiscal tools powerful enough to achieve a just transition
Accordingly, people who truly want to see a GND in our time should fully embrace the power of the public purse. Instead of focusing on financial returns or relying on failed ideas like public-private partnerships, the GND should be financed through public spending and nothing else. 
From the onset, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — one of the GND's most visible supporters — has demanded our elected officials approach the crisis as straightforwardly as possible, just as policymakers responded to World War II. 
The analogy is on point. During the war, Treasury economists learned an important lesson: Ultimately, the US federal government is constrained not by financial resources but by the physical resources (like labor and machinery) that it can marshal with its spending....
...the chief issue is crystal clear: The potential for federal lending and investment — or "indirect" financing — proposals to transform our economy pales in comparison to more direct proposals. Worse, the indirect plans would reorient the GND toward financial rather than social goals.

The Failure of Establishment Neoliberal Economics

Starving Seniors: How America Fails To Feed Its Aging
[Kaiser Health News, via Naked Capitalism 9-22-19]

US Navy Corruption Levels Put the Third World to Shame
[Checkpoint Asia, via Naked Capitalism 9-25-19]

Trump’s Economic Program Has Left Most Americans Worse Off
[Washington Monthly, via Naked Capitalism 9-25-19]

“Income inequality grew in 2018, Census data shows”
[PBS, via Naked Capitalism 9-26-19]
“The gap between the haves and have-nots in the United States grew last year to its highest level in more than 50 years of tracking income inequality, according to Census Bureau figures. Income inequality in the United States expanded from 2017 to 2018, with several heartland states among the leaders of the increase, even though several wealthy coastal states still had the most inequality overall, according to figures released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The nation’s Gini Index, which measures income inequality, has been rising steadily over the past five decades.” • Everything’s going according to plan.
“Billionaires hurt economic growth and should be taxed out of existence, says bestselling French economist”
[CNBC, via Naked Capitalism 9-26-19]
“In an interview with the French magazine L’Obs, Thomas Piketty calls for a graduated wealth tax of 5% on those worth 2 million euros or more and up to 90% on those worth more than 2 billion euros…. ‘So no, there won’t be billionaires anymore. How can we justify that their existence is necessary for the common good? Contrary to what is often said, their enrichment was obtained thanks to these collective goods, which are the public knowledge, the infrastructures, the laboratories of research,’ [said Piketty].”

Economics in the real world

“General Motors Co. customers are getting an unwelcome lesson in the fragile nature of supply chains."
[Wall Street Journal, via Naked Capitalism 9-26-19]
“Many vehicle owners turning to GM dealerships for repairs are finding needed replacement parts in short supply… as a strike against the auto maker persists through a second week”... The United Auto Workers walkout has brought production at more than 30 GM factories in the U.S. to a standstill and debilitated the company’s biggest parts warehouse and distribution centers. That’s rapidly affecting repair shops across the country, leaving staffers scrambling to find backup components for repairs and maintenance.” 
Lambert Strether adds: "This is why, from a management perspective, union busting and just-in-time manufacturing are two sides of the same coin."

[tweet below via Naked Capitalism 9-23-19]

Climate and environmental crises

“The Indian children who take a train to collect water”
[Reuters, via Naked Capitalism 9-26-19]
“As their classmates set off to play after school each day, nine-year-old Sakshi Garud and her neighbour Siddharth Dhage, 10, are among a small group of children who take a 14 km (9 miles) return train journey from their village in India to fetch water. Their families are some of the poorest in the hamlet of Mukundwadi, in the western state of Maharashtra, a village that has suffered back-to-back droughts… They are not alone. Millions of Indians do not have secure water supplies, according to the UK-based charity, WaterAid. It says 12% of Indians, or about 163 million people, do not have access to clean water near their homes – the biggest proportion of any country.”
Trump’s War on California and the Climate 
[MIT Technology Review, via Naked Capitalism 9-23-19]

[WikiLeaks, via Naked Capitalism 9-25-19].
Naked Capitalism reader and contributor Chuck L noted: “A 100MB+ PDF document, apparently posted Sunday by WikiLeaks, that’s been suppressed by Trumpstan.”

“Rewilding will make Britain a rainforest nation again” 
George Monbio [Guardian, via Naked Capitalism WC 9-25-19] 
 “Among our missing ecosystems are rainforests. Rainforests are not confined to the tropics: a good definition is forest wet enough to support epiphytes – plants that grow on other plants. Particularly in the west of Britain, where tiny fragments persist, you can find trees covered in rich growths of a fern called polypody, mosses and lichens, and flowering plants climbing the lower trunks. Learning that Britain is a rainforest nation astounds us only because we have so little left. We now know that, alongside keeping fossil fuels in the ground, natural climate solutions – using the mass restoration of nature to draw down carbon from the air – offer perhaps the last remaining chance to prevent more than 1.5C, or even 2C, of global heating. Saving the remaining rainforests and other rich ecosystems, while restoring those we have lost, is not just a nice idea: our lives may depend on it. But in countries like the UK, we urge others to act while overlooking our own disasters. Foreigners I meet are often flabbergasted by the state of our national parks. They see the sheepwrecked deserts and grousetrashed moors and ask: “What are you protecting here?” In the name of “cultural heritage” we allow harsh commercial interests, embedded in the modern economy but dependent on public money, to complete the kind of ecological cleansing we lament in the Amazon. Sheep farming has done for our rainforests what cattle ranching is doing to Brazil’s. Then we glorify these monocultures – the scoured, treeless hills – as ‘wild’ and ‘unspoilt’.”
“The Sanders climate plan can work. Warren’s can’t.”
[Carl Beijer, via Naked Capitalism 9-24-19]
“Warren’s plan is centered around building a green export industry that will develop technologies and products and sell them to poor countries at a profit for US businesses. Sanders’ plan is centered around taxing the rich and global demilitarization to secure the funds and then turning them over to the United Nations. One plan is plainly grounded in Warren’s faith in markets and promoted with the rhetoric of “economic patriotism”. As I noted elsewhere, Warren’s climate plans are also deliberately designed to accomodate US militarism. The other plan expresses Sanders’ skepticism in markets. His is the only plan that even begins to grapple with the magnitude of the international climate finance problem, and he does it, correctly, by positioning militarism and the fight against climate change directly at odds.”  

Predatory Finance

Wall Street Bank Stocks Closed in a Sea of Red Yesterday as Fed Pumps in
Another $105 Billion of Liquidity
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 25, 2019 [Wall Street on Parade]

During the water crisis in Flint Michigan, the EPA estimated that to fix all the similar problems in all USA cities required $385 billion through 2030. Pikers. They could get that from the Fed in less than four days! 

What Has Frightened Wall Street Banks from Lending in the Repo Market?
Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 24, 2019 [Wall Street on Parade]

Danske Bank Executive Ensnared in Money-Laundering Scandal Found Dead 
[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 9-26-19]

Interest Rate Derivatives Trading Explodes to $6.5 Trillion/Day
Jerri-Lynn Scofield [Naked Capitalism 9-23-19]

High Drama in SEC House Hearing Ignored by Mainstream Media
Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 26, 2019 [Wall Street on Parade]
On Tuesday, September 24, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Financial Services Committee, chaired by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, held a hearing with all five members of the Securities and Exchange Commission – the first time this has happened since 2007. One of the Commissioners is Hester Peirce, whom we described as a “Koch Fronted Regulatory Hit Woman” in an article we penned on March 17, 2016.... 
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts questioned Clayton on the plan by some Republican members of Congress to gut the average American stockholder’s ability to bring a shareholder resolution to a publicly traded company. Currently the threshold is that the shareholder own $2,000 worth of the company’s stock. Under one of the plans being floated, a 1 percent share ownership, the shareholder would need to own $3 billion of General Motors stock to bring a shareholder resolution, Pressley explained. Clayton said $3 billion was too much but he wouldn’t commit to what level he thought was appropriate....
Ellen Brown [Truthdig, via Public Banking Institute 9-26-19]
Central bankers are staring down the reality that they have little if any ammunition left in their monetary policy arsenal should a downturn appear on the horizon. In a recent Truthdig article, PBI Chair Ellen Brown analyzes the ideas these technocrats are now floating, including one to issue an international digital currency to break the power of the US dollar as global reserve currency. Ellen points out: 
“Allowing the IMF to issue the global reserve currency outright would give unelected technocrats unprecedented power over nations and their money. The effect would be similar to the surrender by European Union governments of control over their own currencies, making their central banks dependent on the European Central Bank for liquidity, with its disastrous consequences. … Better would be to nationalize the Fed, turning it into a true public utility, mandated to serve the interests of the economy and the voting public.”

Restoring balance to the economy

Google Contractors Officially Vote To Unionize 
[Motherboard, via Naked Capitalism 9-25-19]

Tracking Global Corporate Tax Avoidance 
[Big Picture, via Naked Capitalism 9-25-19]
 U.S. multinationals shift comparatively more profits (about 60% of their foreign profits) than multinationals from other countries (40% for the world on average).

“What’s at Stake in the General Motors Strike”
[Portside]e, via Naked Capitalism 9-26-19] 
“The main problem—a truly existential one—has been the inability of the UAW to make inroads among the hundreds of thousands of Americans who work in the “transplant” parts and assembly plants that Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Kia, VW, Mercedes-Benz, and other foreign-based firms have built in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and elsewhere in the mid-South. Fully half of all U.S. auto production is today non-union… And then there is the corruption scandal that is destroying the credibility of the UAW leadership… But despite all this, the strike is solid and public support is growing. GM has offered a modest wage increase, an $8,000 signing bonus, and $7 billion of investment in existing production facilities.”
[Common Dreams, via Naked Capitalism 9-23-19]

[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism 9-23-19] 
“In a plan released Saturday, Mr. Sanders, the Vermont senator and presidential candidate, proposes wiping out an estimated $81 billion in existing debt and changing rules around debt collection and bankruptcy. He also calls for replacing the giant credit reporting agencies with a “public credit registry” that would ignore medical debt when calculating credit scores.”
Lambert Strether argues, "Nuking the horrid social credit credit reporting agencies is just as big a story as writing off the debt."

“Why the Private Health Insurance Industry Faces an Existential Crisis” 
Wendell Porter [Portside, via Naked Capitalism 9-23-19]  
“Our health insurance companies, in contrast, are not essential. They don’t treat anyone. They don’t prevent anyone from becoming sick. They don’t take you to the hospital or make sure you take your pills. They don’t fund or discover medical innovations. They’re simply middlemen we don’t need. And in the industry, we always dreaded the day American businesses and patients would wake up to that reality. That day has come. A majority of America’s small businesses now support Medicare for All. So do a majority of Americans who receive health insurance through their employer. In my 20 years working inside the industry and the 11 years I’ve been watching from the outside, I have never seen such high support among the people who get their coverage through their employers for switching to a publicly financed, privately delivered health care system.”

Information Age Dystopia

The Private Surveillance System That Tracks Cars Nationwide 
[Motherboard, via Naked Capitalism 9-22-19]

[TechDirt , via Naked Capitalism 9-24-19]

Artificial intelligence can improve sales by four times compared to some human employees
[PhysOrg, via Naked Capitalism 9-24-19]

Here’s How We Are Silenced by Big Tech
[Of Two Minds, via Naked Capitalism 9-26-19]
I've been shadow-banned and censored without any recourse or opportunity to contest my sentence in the Big Tech gulag. This is how Big Tech silences us, quietly, without any evidence, without any hearing, without any recourse, in secret extra-legal proceedings where we are refused the opportunity to question our accuser and contest the "evidence," if any. 
Big Tech is a privately owned and operated gulag straight out of Kafka. As I have argued before, the only way to dismantle this privately owned and operated gulag, whose sole purpose is to maximize profits from adverts and selling user data, is to turn their services into public utilities that cannot collect any data and cannot target adverts.

Health Care Crisis

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 9-24-19] 
“A new poll by a firm linked to Joe Biden is testing messages designed to undercut support among Democrats for Medicare for All, one of the most contentious issues splitting the party’s top presidential contenders. The survey, commissioned by the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way, found that primary voters start off favoring the government-run health care system by a margin of 70% to 21%, but can be persuaded to oppose it. The study showed that Democrats are most swayed by the arguments that the program would impose a heavy cost on taxpayers and threaten Medicare for senior citizens.” • Kelton subtweets:

Creating new economic potential - science and technology

Energy Dept. spearheading battery recycling tech
[Houston Chronicle, via American Wind Energy Association 9-23-19]
The Energy Department's Argonne National Laboratory is developing technology that would recycle batteries and help the US source lithium and cobalt, two materials used in battery storage and offshore wind turbines. Most of the US' installed wind capacity doesn't reply on rare earth metals, according to the American Wind Energy Association, but the process could help the nation source the materials without relying on China.
These tree-planting drones are firing ‘seed missiles’ into the ground. Less than a year later, they’re already 20 inches tall.
[Megaphone, via Naked Capitalism 9-25-19]
Report: Calif. has port infrastructure suitable for floating wind
[Recharge, via American Wind Energy Association 9-27-19]
California has several ports and harbors that could easily be upgraded for floating offshore wind development, according to Ideol. "California can be closer to the floating wind boom [through infrastructure development and job creation] than they think," says Ideol executive Bruno Geschier.
Report: Average lifespan of wind farms expands to 30 years
[North American Windpower online, via American Wind Energy Association 9-27-19]
The average lifespan of a wind farm has increased from 20 years in the early 2000s to about 30 years today, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The report attributes the increase to new technology and a better understanding of performance and operations and maintenance.
New York MTA: $51.5 billion Capex Plan
[Railway Age 9-25-18]
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on Sept. 16 released a proposed $51.5 billion 2020-2024 capital investment plan it describes as “by far the highest in the MTA’s history, increasing spending on infrastructure by 70% over current levels.” MTA plans to invest more than $40 billion in New York City Transit subways and buses as well as make major investments in the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North commuter rail networks.

Disrupting mainstream politics

Doomed, delusional, divided and corrupt: How the Democratic Party became a haunted house 
[Salon, via Naked Capitalism 9-23-19]
Face to face with what looks an awful lot like the rise of American fascism, the Democratic Party has a historic opportunity — and a historic responsibility. It has repeatedly proven itself to be unequal to the task, to a comic and pathetic degree....  If you tried to design a center-left political party trapped between the traditions of social democracy and classical liberalism, unclear about its core beliefs and equally terrified by both its most vicious opponents and its most ardent supporters — in other words, a party perfectly positioned to capitulate to tyranny with nothing more than a few disapproving whimpers — I hardly think you could do better than the one we’ve got.
“The Democratic Party is suffused with wretched cowardice”
[Ryan Cooper, The Week, via Naked Capitalism 9-23-19]
“In the run-up to the 2018 midterms, a major element of Democratic Party messaging was that the party would serve as a check on President Trump and the Republican Party [lol]…. There’s just one problem: Great swathes of the Democratic structure are permeated to their very marrow with moral rot and cowardice, unwilling to do anything but the most superficial acts to check the GOP — and indeed often conspiring with them to preserve Republican dominance, as Democrats in the North Carolina state legislature did Monday….

For years now, activists and civil rights groups have been pursuing expensive legal action to overturn the egregious Republican gerrymandering of the state’s district boundaries (at both the state and federal level). They recently succeeded with a state Supreme Court ruling tossing out the current maps and asking the legislature to draw new ones. Then Monday night Republicans proposed a new gerrymander only somewhat less bad than their previous effort — and about half the state’s Democratic senators voted for it…. If America is to survive as a democratic republic into the medium term, these tepid dishwater Democrats have to go.”
"Support For Biden Is An Irresponsible Gamble With Our Future
Luke Savage and Nathan J. Robinson [Current Affairs, via Avedon's The Sideshow 9-17-19]
There's nothing pragmatic or safe about a Biden nomination... [...] Even putting aside the inadequacy of his politics, Biden's inability to articulate a clear or legible Democratic message—even on his own terms—means that he cannot be put forward as a candidate against Donald Trump. The stakes are simply too high. [...] This magazine warned in February of 2016 that Trump had unique advantages against an 'establishment' candidate like Clinton, because he could run simultaneously to her right and to her left, criticizing her over her record on the Iraq War and Wall Street. Because these criticisms were accurate, they proved difficult to respond to. The same dangers apply to a Biden candidacy. Biden is not well-positioned to attack Trump on Trump's plutocratic agenda, given his own ties to the banking industry, which Trump will not hesitate to bring up. Nor will Biden be able to effectively criticize Trump's reckless foreign policy when he himself helped agitate for the single most reckless and deadly policy decision of the 21st century. Trump is excellent at preying on personal weaknesses (e.g., mocking Elizabeth Warren's silly ancestry claim) and will not hesitate to portray Biden as senile and out of touch. Unless Biden becomes far more energetic and cogent than he has thus far been, his responses will only confirm the charge."
“Which 2020 Democrats get the most campaign cash from wealthy donors?”
[Open Secrets, via Naked Capitalism 9-23-19]
“South Bend, Ind., Mayor and top-tier fundraiser Pete Buttigieg is the most popular among CEOs, consultants, realtors, accountants and physicians, among others. Former Vice President Joe Biden gets the most from investors, presidents, attorneys and chiropractors. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) wins with executives and entrepreneurs.”
“Wall Street Democratic donors warn the party: We’ll sit out, or back Trump, if you nominate Elizabeth Warren”
[CNBC, via Naked Capitalism 9-26-19]
“In recent weeks, CNBC spoke to several high-dollar Democratic donors and fundraisers in the business community and found that this opinion was becoming widely shared as Warren, an outspoken critic of big banks and corporations, gains momentum against Joe Biden in the 2020 race. ‘You’re in a box because you’re a Democrat and you’re thinking, ‘I want to help the party, but she’s going to hurt me, so I’m going to help President Trump,’ said a senior private equity executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity in fear of retribution by party leaders. The executive said this Wednesday, a day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House would begin a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump.”
“You Can Have Brandeis or You Can Have Debs”
[Jacobin, via Naked Capitalism WC 9-25-19]
“Warren is a regulator at heart who believes that capitalism works well as long as fair competition exists; Sanders is a class-conscious tribune who sees capitalism as fundamentally unjust. Warren frames her most ambitious reforms as bids to make capitalism ‘accountable‘; Sanders pushes legislation called the ‘Stop BEZOS Act‘ and denounces ceos for exploiting workers. Warren seeks a harmonious accord between workers and employers; Sanders encourages workers to fight back…. Warren’s political tradition is the left edge of middle-class liberalism; Sanders hails from America’s socialist tradition. Or, to put the distinction in more personal terms: Warren is Louis Brandeis, Sanders is Eugene Debs.”

All enemies, foreign and domestic

"The Federalist Society Says It's Not an Advocacy Organization. These Documents Show Otherwise [Politico, via Avedon's The Sideshow 9-17-19]
Despite what appears to be an obvious political valence, the Federalist Society and its high-profile members have long insisted the nonprofit organization does not endorse any political party 'or engage in other forms of political advocacy,' as its website says. The society does not deny an ideology—it calls itself a 'group of conservatives and libertarians'—but it maintains that it is simply 'about ideas,' not legislation, politicians or policy positions. Federalist Society documents that one of us recently unearthed, however, make this position untenable going forward. The documents, made public here for the first time, show that the society not only has held explicit ideological goals since its infancy in the early 1980s, but sought to apply those ideological goals to legal policy and political issues through the group's roundtables, symposia and conferences."
The Seven Stages of Establishment Backlash: Corbyn/Sanders Edition” 
Glenn Greenwald [The Intercept, via Naked Capitalism 9-23-19]
Lambert Strether writes: "From 2016, still germane. I think we are well into Stage 4. In other words, you ain’t seen nuthin yet." 
STAGE 4: Smear the candidate and his supporters with innuendos of sexism and racism by falsely claiming only white men support them (you like this candidate because he’s white and male like you, not because of ideology or policy or contempt for the party establishment’s corporatist, pro-war approach). 
STAGE 5: Brazen invocation of right-wing attacks to marginalize and demonize, as polls prove the candidate is a credible threat (he’s weak on terrorism, will surrender to ISIS, has crazy associations, and is a clone of Mao and Stalin).