2:00PM Water Cooler 1/10/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Trade

“U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman] strongly rejected the narrative that the administration was to blame for the failure to gain approval of the TPP. Trump’s electoral success caught the entire political establishment by surprise and upended a well-orchestrated White House effort that, in a normal year, should have ended in victory, he argued” [Politico]. Well, at least he didn’t blame those devilish Russkis.

“The nomination of Robert Lighthizer to be U.S. Trade Representative signals President-elect Donald Trump’s interest in altering the trade policy approach that has prevailed through Republican and Democratic administrations for the past two decades. Lighthizer has consistently noted that historically Republicans favored trade policies designed to obtain specific national economic goals and criticized the Republican Party’s rigid support over recent decades of ‘free trade’ ideology. His views put him at odds with most of Trump’s other high-level appointees who represent the very perspective on trade that Lighthizer has long critiqued” [Public Citizen].

Politics

Obama Post Mortem

“What unites all of Obama’s qualities is a tendency toward high-minded superiority, a knowing aloofness and self-regard. These are traits more common in a world-class professor at an elite university than in a president. And it is this characteristic that has caused him his greatest problems as head of the executive branch — and inadvertently contributed to the rise and implausible triumph of his political bête noire” [The Week]. As a neoliberal and a political moderate, it pains me to admit that Obama’s most fateful mistake may well have been his cautious, level-headed response to the financial crisis…. Had I been in charge, I almost certainly would have done exactly what Obama did. … But the result was a massive injustice. Americans learned the lesson that if you’re a middle-class homeowner and things go wrong, you’re screwed, while if you’re wealthy (and even if your actions created the problem in the first place), Uncle Sam will come riding to the rescue. Trump and Bernie Sanders each tapped into this resentment in his own way, expressing, channeling, and purging the anger that the president never adequately acknowledged or legitimized. In that respect, Obama’s professorially cerebral and even-tempered response to the crisis helped to prepare the way for the anti-establishment, populist wave that has now capsized his party and the legacy of his own presidency.” Karma. We are paying, eight years later, for the Democrat debacle on 2009-2010. And that applies just as forcefully to health care.

“President Obama plans to offer a graceful goodbye to the nation in a prime-time address Tuesday night from Chicago, transferring executive power with the same tone of hope and optimism that powered his rise to the presidency” [Los Angeles Times]. “His farewell address will touch only marginally on his record…” Ouch!

The New McCarthyism

“Russia, Trump & Flawed Intelligence” [Masha Gessen, New York Review of Books]. “On Friday, when the report appeared, the major newspapers came out with virtually identical headlines highlighting the agencies’ finding that Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered an “influence campaign” to help Donald Trump win the presidency—a finding the agencies say they hold ‘with high confidence.’ A close reading of the report shows that it barely supports such a conclusion. Indeed, it barely supports any conclusion.” And: “That is the entirety of the evidence the report offers to support its estimation of Putin’s motives for allegedly working to elect Trump: conjecture based on other politicians in other periods, on other continents—and also on misreported or mistranslated public statements.” A massive takedown, from the heart of the Manhattan intelligentsia.

Trump Transition

“While the skirmishes and scheming will take place in whispered conferences in rooms all around downtown Washington, D.C., what comes to mind is an image of armies, swords drawn, unleashing a war cry and launching headlong into a battle of all against all. This all starts the day after the inauguration. You can almost hear the horses stomping” [Vanity Fair]. That seems about right. And there are more sides than two. Or even three.

“It’s Really Hard To Block A Cabinet Nominee” [FiveThirtyEight]. “From 1977 to 2013, the last six incoming presidents — Jimmy Carter through Barack Obama — made 109 appointments to Cabinet-level positions.1 Just six failed: Five nominees withdrew, and one was voted down by the Senate. The Senate confirmed 103 during the same span, 93 of whom were unanimously approved or not seriously contested. Ten were confirmed in contested votes.”

“Elect­ing Don­ald Trump was the voters’ way of flip­ping the bird to Wash­ing­ton and politi­cians. So it was only ap­pro­pri­ate that the pres­id­ent-elect gave the middle fin­ger to GOP House mem­bers, tweet­ing at 10:02 Tues­day morn­ing: ‘With all that Con­gress has to work on, do they really have to make the weak­en­ing of the In­de­pend­ent Eth­ics Watch­dog, as un­fair as it,’ fol­lowed five minutes later by ‘……..may be, their num­ber one act and pri­or­ity. Fo­cus on tax re­form, health­care and so many oth­er things of far great­er im­port­ance!'” [Cook Political Report]. “With­in two hours of the first tweet, an emer­gency meet­ing of the con­fer­ence was con­vened to strip out the of­fend­ing pro­vi­sion be­fore it was voted on by the House as a whole. Here was a case of Trump stop­ping House Re­pub­lic­ans from step­ping on a polit­ic­al land­mine, pre­vent­ing an em­bar­rass­ment from be­com­ing hun­dreds of Demo­crat­ic tele­vi­sion ads next year. Wheth­er Trump op­posed the OCE change or just thought the tim­ing was par­tic­u­larly in­op­por­tune doesn’t mat­ter much. More im­port­antly, Ry­an and Mc­Carthy among oth­ers can say, ‘I told you so,’ the­or­et­ic­ally giv­ing them a little more lever­age the next time the rank-and-file bone­heads come up with a clunker like this one.” That “within two hours” is the power of The Twitter; Trump whipped them back into their kennels like the curs they are. Anybody who thinks Trump will — or, if motivated by Trump’s interest , should — give up Twitter is delusional.

On ObamaCare repeal/reconciliation:

“Trump’s Pick For Attorney General A Big Fan Of Civil Asset Forfeiture” [Tech Dirt]. You’d think Code Pink would have something to say about that…

“In a meeting in Yemen in the 1990s, [Trump SoS nominee Rex Tillerson] threw a book and stormed out of talks. The tantrum was preplanned, one person said. ‘Anger is a strategy, not an emotion,’ Mr. Tillerson told colleagues” [Wall Street Journal].

“In 1967, then President Lyndon B. Johnson signed an anti-nepotism bill into law that was widely seen as a reaction to his disapproval of the appointment of Robert Kennedy in John F. Kennedy’s previous administration. The law became an issue once again in 1993 when two federal appeals court judges in Washington, D.C., ruled that the law did not apply to White House staff” [Daily Beast]. “At the time, then President Bill Clinton had appointed his wife, Hillary, to lead health care reform efforts in his administration.” Karma…

“The full transcript from the Trump transition team’s Tuesday call to reporters” [WaPo]. “The president-elect during the campaign was very clear that he had the commitment to preserving and protecting both Social Security and Medicare. And as we work through this reform, the repeal and replace option, that’s one of the tenets that’s guiding — and principles that’s guiding his decision-making as he works with Congress.” Of course, if I heard “preserve and protect” from a Democrat, I’d know exactly what it meant; that I should count the spoons when they leave the house. I don’t imagine it will be different with the incoming administration.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Bernie Sanders: We need serious talk on serious issues” [Bernie Sanders, CNN]. “In my view, the media spends too much time treating politics like a baseball game, a personality contest or a soap opera. We need to focus less on polls, fundraisers, gaffes and who’s running for president in four years, and more on the very serious problems facing the American people — problems which get relatively little discussion. I hope that’s what our town meeting on CNN tonight will accomplish. There are a lot of important questions to talk about, including: How do we stop the movement toward oligarchy in our country in which the economic and political life of the United States is increasingly controlled by a handful of billionaires?” But Putin forced Hillary not to visit WIsconsin!

Stoller comments:

And:

“Dear Senator Sanders: I’m with You in the Fight Ahead” [David Brock, Medium]. Help me.

“Aaron Swartz’s Theory on How to Save the World” [Justin Peters, Medium]. “the revolution will be A/B tested, and maybe even A/B/C/D and E tested, too. In his working paper, Swartz described his new plan for the future of activism. Rather than form a political action group focused on one single issue or tactic, Swartz proposed that organizers should assemble groups of people supremely competent in certain relevant disciplines — investigators, activists, lawyers, lobbyists, policy experts, political strategists, journalists, and publicists — who could combine their efforts and advocate effectively for any issue, big or small. Swartz envisioned a flexible, intelligent, multifaceted task force that would learn from its mistakes and refine its tactics accordingly: a team of specialists that, cumulatively, worked as generalists.”

On McCarthyism:

Stats Watch

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, December 2016: “Soared” [Econoday]. “The outsized increase far exceeds expectations and follows a robust 3.5-point rise in November. NFIB said business owners who expect better economic conditions accounted for about half of the overall increase…. Capital outlays also figured prominently… Optimism was somewhat subdued on the jobs front, however.” And: “Small business optimism rocketed to its highest level since 2004, with a stratospheric 38-point jump in the number of owners who expect better business conditions” [Econintersect]. “The December survey confirmed the euphoria observed in the post-election survey (November surveys postmarked after election day).” And: “This was the second successive large monthly gain in the index following November’s Presidential election and this was the highest reading for the index since the end of 2004” [Economic Calendar].

Wholesale Trade, November 2016: “Wholesale inventories rose very sharply in November, up 1.0 percent compared to 0.9 percent in the advance report and a draw of 0.1 percent in October. The good news is that November’s build is centered in autos (+3.2 percent) where retail sales proved very strong in December” [Econoday]. “Inventories were heavy going into the fourth quarter and though September proved stable, early indications on November inventories (which also include retail and manufacturing) are pointing to a big build. Whether this build will prove a problem for production and employment in the first quarter will depend on how strong consumer spending was during the holidays.” And: “Overally, I believe the rolling averages tell the real story – and they improved this month. There is an obvious growth trendline in wholesale – and the data set is now showing normal growth for times of economic expansion” [Econintersect]. “To add to the confusion, year-over-year employment changes and sales growth do not match.”

JOLTS, November 2016: “The number of hirings also remained in trend, at 5.2 million and still well below openings, a mismatch that first appeared about 2 years ago” [Econoday]. “The lag in hiring as well as the wide separation between the number of openings and the number of unemployed hint at a skills gap in the labor market, that employers are having a hard time finding the right people.” If only there were some mechanism…. like an invisible hand… to correct that! Or it’s a crapification gap? And: “It comes as no surprise that JOLTS is continuing to show little year-over-year job openings growth. Historically, this indicates weaker employment growth. Both employment and JOLTS job openings year-over-year growth have been slowing for the past year – and the short term trend is flat. This aligns with Econintersect’s Employment Index and the Conference Boards Employment Index – but both indices are forecasting moderate employment gains similar to the last five months weaker employment growth” [Econintersect].

Shipping: “Hanjin Shipping has postponed its first meeting with creditors – owed around $26 billion – until 31 March” [The Loadstar]. “According to South Korean media reports, quoting court sources, claims registered so far have totalled more than five times the $5bn of debt Hanjin apparently had when it filed for court protection on 31 August last year.” That’s real money!

Shipping: “Import traffic at the nation’s 11 major container ports is expected to have risen more than originally predicted during the holiday period. December traffic, which is still being tallied, is estimated at 1.54 million TEU, up 7 percent year over year. The original forecast was for a 3.2-percent increase” [DC Velocity].

Rail: “For Class I container traffic YOY, December performance improved by 11 percent. The 11 percent improvement during December was broad-based as all Class Is witnessed improved performance versus November. Union Pacific and Kansas City Southern continued to be the laggards despite improved performance” [James Sands, Seeking Alpha].

Housing: “According to CoreLogic, the current foreclosure rate of 0.8% is the same as the June 2007 rate, and the foreclosure inventory has declined every month for the past 61 months” [247 Wall Street].

Commmodities: “States-run National Iranian Tanker Co has brought six of its very large crude carriers out of floating storage and returned them to the market within a span of six weeks, representing around one third of its idle VLCC fleet, according to data from Lloyd’s List Intelligence” [Lloyd’s List].

The Bezzle: “10 Dangers of Self-Driving Cars” [MarketWatch]. A welcome breath of sanity. Here’s one issue: “We’ve already mentioned that the vast roadway infrastructure will have to be accepted as a given, without massive upgrading. Something as simple as a heavy rain or snowstorm could hide or distort the painted lines on roads and highways, making autonomous navigation systems, if not useless, at least erratic.” And: “While not directly a danger to life and limb, if taxi fleets, over-the-road trucking and municipal transportation systems all convert to autonomous vehicles, millions of people will lose their jobs. Are governments ready for that?” Yes. They are. The answer will be to do nothing, exactly as nothing was done to mitigate the effects of “trade deals.”

The Bezzle: “Overview of a presentation by Andreessen Horowitz on the future of autonomous vehicles” [Medium]. Author paraphrase. This caught my eye: “When Will This Start and then how quickly will we switch to autonomous cars? There are a number of predictions by major players that state this will happen by 2020–2040. We will see this beautiful world during the lifetime and the question is if we are prepared enough.”

The Bezzle: “Consulting firm AlixPartners estimates the market for the systems used in autonomous vehicles could reach $20 billion by 2020. That’s pushing suppliers to line up a series of big-money deals that promise to overhaul auto manufacturing supply chains, with the companies moving to make cars smart in the driver’s seat.” [Wall Street Journal]. There’s that word, “smart.”

The Bezzle: Note Uber’s incentive to destroy public goods:

“Samsung says it is nearly ready to detail what went wrong with the Galaxy Note 7” [Recode]. They haven’t yet…

Rapture Index: Closes down 1 on drought; rain in California [Rapture Ready]. Record High: 189. October 10, 2016. Current: 183.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 61 Greed (previous close: 67, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 86 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 10 at 11:38am. Big drop.

Health Affairs

“Interactive Maps: Estimates of Enrollment in ACA Marketplaces and Medicaid Expansion” [Kaiser Health News]. “an interactive map from the Kaiser Family Foundation provides estimates of the number of people in each congressional district who enrolled in a 2016 ACA marketplace health plan and the political party of each district’s representative as of January. The analysis also includes maps charting the total number of people enrolled under the ACA Medicaid expansion in 2015 in states that implemented the ACA Medicaid expansion, along with the political parties of their governors and U.S. senators.” If I didn’t have to move at top speed, I’d correlate the data on this map to Congressional votes on repealing and replacing ObamaCare.

Police State Watch

“National Police Union President Says Asset Forfeiture Abuse Is A ‘Fake Issue’ Generated By The Media” [TechDirt].

Gaia

“It DOES Rains in California!” [Calculated Risk]. Useful links on the California drought (and see also the Rapture Index).

Class Warfare

[A study published late last month by the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA)] released Dec. 20, said the jobs of between 1.34 million and 1.67 million truck drivers would be at risk due to the growing utilization of heavy-duty vehicles operated via artificial intelligence. That would equal 80 to 100 percent of all driver jobs listed in the CEA report, which is based on May 2015 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a unit of the Department of Labor. There are about 3.4 million commercial truck drivers currently operating in the U.S., according to various estimates” [DC Velocity]. “The Council emphasized that its calculations excluded the number or types of new jobs that may be created as a result of this potential transition. It added that any changes could take years or decades to materialize because of a broad lag between what it called “technological possibility” and widespread adoption.”

News of the Wired

“I returned my 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar” [Jeff Geerling ]. The Touch Bar is a dud. AirPods, OTOH, are great. Shows Apple’s priorities…

“Apple’s Mac share of personal computers worldwide fell to a five-year low in December, mimicking the company’s own numbers that have portrayed a four-quarter sales slowdown” [ComputerWorld].

“Norway on Wednesday will become the first country in the world to start shutting down its FM radio network in favour of digital radio, a bold move watched closely by other countries around Europe.” [Agence France Press]. “Supporters of Digital Audio Broadcasting say DAB offers better sound quality and more channels at an eighth of the cost of FM (frequency modulation) transmission, which was first launched in the US in 1945.”

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant:

Via RH, this is the Cypress of Abarqu in Abarkuh, in Yazd Province of Iran. It is estimated to be over four thousand years old, and is likely “the second-oldest living thing in Asia.” Hmm. I’m not sure that’s right, even if it is a lovely tree. Readers?

Readers, I’ve gotten more plant images, but I can always use just a few more; having enough Plantidotes is a great angst deflator. Plants with snow and/or ice are fine!

Readers, Water Cooler is a standalone entity, not supported by the very successful Naked Capitalism fundraiser just past. Now, I understand you may feel tapped out, but when and if you are able, please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.

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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.

150 comments

  1. Altandmain

    The report on Friday in regards to the Russian hack:

    https://www.extremetech.com/internet/242370-governments-public-evidence-falls-short-proving-russian-involvement-dnc-hack

    The government has failed to provide the solid proof that is necessary to make such a bold accusation.

    For those who haven’t read it, here’s the Intercept’s take as well (also in the article linked from ET):
    https://theintercept.com/2017/01/06/underwhelming-intel-report-shows-need-for-congressional-investigation-of-dnc-hack/

    What I’m disappointed in the DNC and the Party as a whole is rather than admit their failings, they want to conjure up Russia as a distraction. I’m not saying that Putin’s a great guy (he seems to be an oligarch), but the Democrats need to take responsibility for 2016.

    If not, 2020 might end up like 2016 again. If they think Trump will fail no matter what, take a hard look at what happened to Kerry in 2004. Stop underestimating Trump. He’s got a base and the Democrats screwed up big time.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      If Democrats take “responsibility” for 2016, the courtesan class will be wiped out, and many elected Dems who dream of a spot on the ticket in 2020 will have to accept they are going no where. Andy Cuomo sees himself in 2020 running. He’s like Hillary without the charisma.

      Reply
      1. Altandmain

        Agree that is the real reason they don’t want to take responsibility.

        It would mean that the Establishment would be discredited.

        One question though, Clinton had charisma? Are we talking about the same candidate here? I though that Clinton was a wooden stump. You could tell that what she said was forced. Apparently one of the Wikileaks leaks said that she hated the American people.

        Reply
          1. reslez

            Yeah but they were clearly talking about what phrasing to use in a speech. Podesta was saying she hated using the phrase “everyday Americans” not that she literally hates them. For all I know she does (especially as of Nov. 9th…) but don’t take it out of context and pretend it means something it doesn’t.

            Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Cuomo is “Hillary without the charisma” as in the charisma of Hillary.

          He doesn’t have any real political acumen. Much like Gore, people were nice because he was his daddy’s kid. Hillary at least has been a candidate’s wife in difficult races.

          It’s not just being discredited. They already are, but guys like Cuomo have to recognize they aren’t going to be President. Kaine is trying to get his name in the news, and every article notes how Kaine has no Interest in running in 2020 but is working on being a super duper senator. It’s a rhetorical device called “litotes.” For some reason, he thinks it will work and astonish audiences as hes forced to take up the mantle. Kaine lusted after the VP spot and now the White House, but he’s a doofus. If Obama didn’t like him, he wouldn’t have been DNC chair. It will be very hard for Kaine to acknowledge his career has been on of timing. If a state senator didn’t get breastfeeding cancer, he wouldn’t have been the Lt. Governor nominee in 2001. Katie Couric could easily be serving as her sister’s press secretary in a better world right now.

          Reply
          1. Steve C

            Cuomo’s convention speech was awful. He really phoned it in. He must have thought Hillary would have it for eight years. A Cuomo nomination would mark the third election in a row I spurned the Democrat.

            Reply
          2. aab

            breastfeeding cancer

            Um, what?

            He’s more evil than a doofus. He’s a good henchman. But that’s about it. The time when someone of his ilk could weasel his way into the presidency is probably over. I bet GHW Bush could take him in a fight even now. You have to be able to really cut throats to get into power as a henchman, not just hand some other guy the knife.

            Reply
        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          I might be more impressed with Cuomo if he came out of Ohio where beating the Republican is tough*, but the real fight in New York statewide is the nomination process. Aligning interests when the electorate is asleep is a closed door process.

          He’ll draw crowds of three or even four people when he travels to the early states, and most of those people will be hecklers. If his daddy wasn’t Mario, his thuggish behavior wouldn’t have been tolerated, even in Albany.

          Reply
      2. Waldenpond

        Don’t the senate Ds have the advantage for 2020? An example is Booker being trotted out to testify against Sessions nomination to kick start his 2020 run. Cuomo can try to get coverage for his anti-Trump memes, but he’ll need a cooperating network … how much did he grease the skids with ad buys when campaigning? Still have to wait for the donor class to sort out and select their particular candidate which is still dependent on what the potential candidates select to exploit.

        Reply
        1. aab

          I don’t see how being in the Senate will benefit any D running for president, with the possible exception of Sanders. It only helped Obama because he had barely sat down when he started running for president, and then he was Barry the Clinton Killer. Whichever neoliberal with the “right” identity the bankers and big donors coalesce around, it won’t be because of whatever current job they have, and winning the nomination will be a function of how much the corporate media holds together and can help crush the insurgent leftist(s) opposing them. We’ll be on Stage 2 of the Berniecrat takeover of California by then (new party delegates are voted in every two years, so the next wave should be bigger), which means the neoliberal probably won’t be able to rig California to help them on their way to the nomination, and all those little progressive states that went Bernie this time are unlikely to be more compliant next time.

          Structural forces, dear boy, structural forces.

          Reply
    2. fresno dan

      Altandmain
      January 10, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      It is easy to read the report and understand how the CIA concluded that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction – you start with what you want to conclude and than you can find evidence. Likewise for Russian hacking….

      If you like, see this link to Mish – a blogger sometimes in the NC links. Mish does the thought experiment of whether Israel undermined Hillary (and a whole lot more) – but it shows that Israel is just as plausible as Russia if you apply CIA type reasoning….

      Reply
      1. John Wright

        At the time, I did not understand why even complete confidence that Iraq had WMD’s was a casus belli.

        Many countries around the world have actual nuclear WMD’s (one can name an alleged prominent nuclear power in the Middle East), then there is Pakistan, India, China, North Korea and Russia..

        And other countries could use common fertilizer to make bombs that could be used against the USA.

        So invading Iraq, even if Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, could not be justified in my mind.

        After all, which country maintains the largest stockpile of WMD’s in the world?

        Other nations KNOW this country does feel free to use its WMD’s anywhere in the world, but usually in a country with little military capability.

        The CIA WMD report should have been greeted with “So what”.

        Reply
      1. Waldenpond

        Allow me to correct the record here…. Trump hired whoever was available to vandalize (with human waste) a bed the Os slept in knowing it would be recorded and given to the Os. That’s not water sports as defined by wiki.

        Reply
      2. reslez

        The document in your link has nothing to do with the Russian hacking report. Did you even read it? It consists of several memos written over several months, was available and circulating back in October, allegedly written by a former British intelligence officer. It contains multiple obvious errors. It covers various topics but definitely was not created by the US intelligence community or anyone else in an official capacity.

        Reply
      3. Rhondda

        I don’t know which fake news not to believe!
        Hahahaha. O my. That’s entertainment.
        4Chan Claims To Have Fabricated Anti-Trump Report As A Hoax
        zh

        Reply
        1. ocop

          This actually rings pretty true to my ear but that may be because of the amazing potential schadenfreude. Regardless, I skimmed 4chan’s /pol/ board so others didn’t have to and found a post which sums it up pretty well:

          if this is true, this effectively means that 4chan trolled the U.S. intelligence system and the majority of the U.S. media with what’s basically Donald Trump erotic fanfiction, which is terrifying

          Blowback on the briefing agencies from the incoming admin won’t be pretty.

          Reply
          1. fajensen

            Does explain “curveball”, though: Millions of Iraqis dead or displaced because of a joke made by bored intel operators!

            – The government believed it so it HAD to become Truth.

            Reply
      4. Dave

        Suckers!

        It’s getting to the point where nothing is believable.

        http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-01-10/4chan-claims-have-fabricated-anti-trump-report-hoax

        “In a story that is getting more surreal by the minute, a post on 4Chan now claims that the infamous “golden showers” scene in the unverified 35-page dossier, allegedly compiled by a British intelligence officer, was a hoax and fabricated by a member of the chatboard as “fanfiction”, then sent to Rick Wilson, who proceeded to send it to the CIA, which then put it in their official classified intelligence report on the election.

        Here is 4Chan’s explanation of how the story came to light:/pol/acks mailed fanfiction to anti-trump pundit Rick Wilson about trump making people piss on a bed Obama slept in he thought it was real and gave it to the CIA the central intelligence agency of the united states of America put this in their official classified intelligence report on russian involvement in the election donald trump and obama have both read this pol/acks fanfiction the cia has concluded that the Russian plans to blackmail trump with this story we made up”

        Reply
        1. Waldenpond

          Well, just as the report has no evidence, neither does 4chan. They’ll have to prove their statements or they’re just dumping another round of fake news. Unfortunately for 4chan, they have as good a track record as the CIA.

          Reply
          1. aab

            I’m mostly staying away from the details of this insanity. But someone I respect (but know only online) said you can track the 4chan story to a post from November 1, and the details align. If that’s true, that seems pretty solid evidence of the story’s genesis being from there.

            It only matters as a measure of CIA incompetence, as far as I can tell. No matter where it came from, it’s unsubstantiated and irrelevant. Even the CIA has admitted Russia didn’t change actual votes and that all the Wikileaks’ documents were real. The rest is noise. Ugly, ugly noise.

            Reply
    1. Bugs Bunny

      Read the comments. Beyond brutal. A sample:

      You are a cruel and narcissistic shell of a human. Any Sanders supporter that had to deal with your malevolent team of paid internet trolls knows this. Your vile tactics alienated young people and turned countless rust belt Democrats into Trump supporters. I witnessed as your bullies broke down young, hopeful, and idealistic new voters until they were cynical Pepe Frog worshipping “Deplorables.” You harassed and abused countless high-school and college aged voters. You poisoned a generation.

      Reply
      1. aab

        That’s no joke about transforming Berners into Breitbart reading Trump voters. I know a couple in person — whose liberal families are devastated — and the number of passionate Bernie supporters among my Twitter followers who not only voted for Trump but are passionately backing him is, well, not nil. In some cases, they are fundamentally conservative people prepared to vote for Bernie for universal benefits and because he’s trustworthy and authentic. But that does not explain all of them.

        People hurting who feel betrayed want to believe the system can work and someone in power cares about and will rescue them. It’s easier for some of those people to go all in on Trump and the right after what Clintonland did than accept that both parties suck and there’s more hard work and suffering ahead before things get better. It’s understandable. That would have happened without David Brock, but his disgusting tactics which then echoed out across unpaid Clinton supporters made that dynamic much worse. He made the possibility of healing across the non-political “liberal” mainstream and the left much more difficult. And that’s before you factor in how much his operation looks like it’s mostly money laundering for criminal enterprises, white collar or otherwise.

        He is a terrible man, who deserves a spot in one of the inner circles of Hell, preferably one fueled exclusively by feces.

        Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      David Brock use to get paid by Republicans to take down Dems.

      Now David Brock gets paid by Democrats to take down Democrats and gets to associate with better celebrities and isn’t labeled as a self hating gay.

      Reply
    3. hreik

      Bernie wouldn’t let him shine his shoes. He’s called Brock Scum of the earth and he (Bernie) is right. David Brock is the scum of the earth.

      Reply
      1. different clue

        I hope Bernie really said that. I hope Bernie really meant that.

        This offer by Brock presents a way for Bernie to find the undercover Clintonite moles in his organization. Anyone who is “part of Sanders’s efforts” and who recommends bringing Brock into the effort is an undercover Clintonite mole.

        Reply
      1. WheresOurTeddy

        “Dear Senator Sanders, you look like you might be the frontrunner for 2020, so I’ve come with my hat in my hand and hope you’re as shameless an opportunist as I am…”

        The man with no honor cannot imagine the trait existing in another.

        Reply
        1. RenoDino

          Sanders lost all his honor when he came out for Hillary. He threw his supporters under the bus.
          He even dropped the large D from his affiliation when he returned to the Senate after telling his supporters to vote Democrat. I lost all respect for him after his convention defeat. If Brock knows one thing, it’s damaged goods when he sees it.

          Sanders is a loner who puts formality before conviction. And last, but not least, he never returned a phone call from Ralph Nader in 18 years.

          Ralph ‘F*cking” Nader!!!!

          Reply
          1. reslez

            If weaselly compromises weren’t part of Sanders’ DNA he wouldn’t have lasted in Congress for so long. His price for endorsing Hillary was the “free college for some” plan, which would have improved things a lot for some of his supporters. Sure it was disappointing, but that’s basically his track record. Speaking as someone who supported him in the primary and still does, I can admire his position and the times he does stand up while recognizing that he wasn’t the leader we needed in 2016. He was just the best we could get.

            Reply
    4. WheresOurTeddy

      Every single comment is some version of “fuck off, David Brock”. Some quite abrasive.

      EVERY. SINGLE. COMMENT.

      Reply
    5. alex morfesis

      David Brock should not be so quickly cast aside…he does have a hook up for pizza…somebody has to make the pizza runs…

      but david, next time you bring over some comet from your ole bow…make sure the anchovies are fresh…the last ones tasted like they had been sitting out all nite…

      and dont forget to bring the free 2 liter soda next time…I know you are hard up for some tip money and all, but still…

      Reply
  2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Keep them guessing.

    “The nomination of Robert Lighthizer to be U.S. Trade Representative signals President-elect Donald Trump’s interest in altering the trade policy approach that has prevailed through Republican and Democratic administrations for the past two decades. Lighthizer has consistently noted that historically Republicans favored trade policies designed to obtain specific national economic goals and criticized the Republican Party’s rigid support over recent decades of ‘free trade’ ideology. His views put him at odds with most of Trump’s other high-level appointees who represent the very perspective on trade that Lighthizer has long critiqued”

    On many issues, Trump himself is for or against, depending on the day you catch him.

    On top of that, his team has people either for or against.

    It’s like you have to watch the show to the end to find out how you’ll react.

    Reply
    1. EndOfTheWorld

      It looks to me like Trump will be the guy who will make the decisions. His “spokesmen”, such as Priebus, are actually oblivious to what The Donald is thinking on any particular subject. Also, he’s leaving some of this stuff up in the air simply to avoid getting assassinated prior to the inaugural. By trotting out Priebus to talk gibberish he’s helping to hasten the annihilation of the MSM. His operation is just as mom-and-pop as it was during his campaign, which—in case you didn’t notice—-was a tremendous success.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        From Sunzi’s the Art of War:

        When there is confusion and doubt among officers and troops, this will encourage the feudal lords to cause problems. This is known as ‘sowing chaos

        Today, all spy agencies teach their assets that.

        Reply
  3. ChiGal in Carolina

    ach du lieber, thanks for the gorgeous tree!

    and speaking of Iran, despite the excellent Bacevich piece a couple days ago I have seen no discussion here of this:

    http://time.com/4628257/iran-akbar-hashemi-rafsanjani-moderates/

    are the implications as dire as the article suggests? will Trump be smart enough to avoid tangling with Iran?

    also, I was fascinated that Rafsanjani’s role in Iran was to keep hardliners out of power by getting reformers to accept centrist candidates. since we are all pretty dissatisfied with our own centrist establishment, I wonder how successful a strategy this was in actually achieving any reformist goals.

    asking all you middle east experts out there

    Reply
  4. Keith Howard

    Wonderful plantidote! I’ve heard about this species (Cupressus sempervirens,) which is never seen in US gardens except as the narrow upright selection known as Italian (Black) Cypress, which looks like an exclamation point.

    Reply
      1. Anon

        The link about Lake Mead was written 6 months ago; middle of summer. Lake Mead is part of the Colorado River drainage, the big storms over the Sierra Nevada mtns. have little impact on it.

        Reply
      2. aab

        There are a lot of problems with assuming “rain in California” = drought mitigation. Some others: when the ground is parched, the water bounces off it instead of seeping down into the water table. We get mudslides but not much usable water. Another is that Los Angeles, for example, is a sprawling mega-city where much of the land — including the original river basin — has been paved over. So that water never even touches land; it just gets funneled directly into the ocean, along with used diapers, soda cups and old sneakers.

        Reply
  5. Foppe

    “Trump’s Pick For Attorney General A Big Fan Of Civil Asset Forfeiture” [Tech Dirt]. You’d think Code Pink would have something to say about that…

    Not that CAF isn’t a disgrace, but so fucking what at this headline. It’s existed since the 1980s (see The New Jim Crow), and as far as I can tell, it only became a ‘scandal’ in 2012/13 (-> New Yorker piece, later a John Oliver episode), after it started to affect whites. And did anything much happen since then? They all own it.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      This tree could use more gnarliness.

      Per Zhuangzi, gnarly trees don’t get cut down, but live to be very old, because they don’t make good furniture or housing timber.

      Tall, straight trees, on the other hand, are very attractive to lumberjacks.

      Reply
    2. Anon

      Similar trees in arid environments (Bristle Cone Pine, White Mtns.; east of Sierra Nevada’s) have been documented to be 2500 years old. Whats another 1500 years?

      As an aside, the folks who maintain this plantidote know what they are doing: the gravel pathway adjacent to the trunk (base) of the tree helps protect the tree from potential “root/crown” damage from foot traffic (it appears visitors want to touch the tree).

      Reply
      1. Synapsid

        Anon,

        There’s a bristlecone pine at Wheeler Peak in Nevada that’s just over 5000 years old and a couple that are just shy of that age.

        Wonderful, wonderful trees.

        Reply
        1. Anon

          You’re right, Synapsid. Wheeler Peak is now part of Great Basin National Park (more arid than the White Mtns. on the opposite western boundary of Nevada).

          I’ve been to Wheeler Peak (I was a Conservation and Natural Resource official for Nevada, back then). Completely forgot the age of THOSE Bristlecones. Thanks for the save.

          Reply
  6. Waldenpond

    The new McCarthyism…. when the IC report came out it was noted the numbers on the RT/CNN comparison report were inaccurate. Someone looked and it turned out the numbers were from several years ago…. and the person criticized the report for including a 4 to 5 year old criticism of RT to pad the length of the report.

    Reply
  7. Rosario

    I wonder how long the mainstream media (see CNN above) can sustain the left’s jouissance WRT Bernie until it blows up in their face? It seems like the elite liberal class is finding his “voice” a far more useful resistance to Trump compared to the overly simplified identity narrative or pathetic “foreign” threat narrative, but how long can they play with that fire. The fact is, Bernie really does talk about issues and policy, in a concrete way, in a demonstrable way. Those perspectives with class consciousness, and a dash of populist passions and you have political nitro far more threatening to the establishment than anything Trump can dish out. I’m all for it though I am very suspicious. I’m wondering what they (liberal elites) are cooking up.

    Reply
  8. different clue

    Masha Gessen is deeply antiputinitic. So if she finds the “Putin diddit” narrative unconvincing, it must be weak indeed.

    Reply
  9. different clue

    Uber’s big price rise during the London tube strike should help Londoners remember just what a tubeway system is for to begin with.

    One hopes Uber does the same thing in New York if there is a subway and/or a bus drivers strike in NYC. Actually, one hopes Uber raises its prices by a thousand percent or more, to the screaming pain level, enough for even all the Little Eichmans who work on Wall Street to feel it.

    Reply
  10. cocomaan

    Coulnd’t get the JOLTS, November 2016 links to work, but the skills gap is wild.

    At an institution of higher ed I’m familiar with, both faculty and administrative positions continue to be unfilled. There are very few candidates even for entry level positions. Failed searches are now the norm. It’s feast or famine: either people are perfect for the job and have many options, or have no related experience at all.

    I wonder if the labor force participation rate is starting to catch up with the job market. That is, there are a lot of healthy adults who have dropped out of the workforce who would be the people you’d want in those positions.

    Or that the job market is not nearly as liquid as they’d have you believe, and people can’t relocate from where they are because of adult children who live with them, or things of that nature. All kinds of weird things now in the job market. I know someone who commutes a significant distance to work that has to look for another job because their workplace’s health care plan only covers a geographic area close to that job.

    Reply
    1. alex morfesis

      Discrimination thru stupid job descriptions is catching up to the economy…paying 12 per hour five years experience required…nonsense job descriptions…designed to help the accredited and credentialed have a leg up…

      There seem to be three types of employment categories…

      real jobs that might last through 12 quarters…

      gigs…

      and surfdumb/$lavery gigs where your hours are messed with, your schedule is messed with & you are expected to pay for the stupid uniform some bean counter thinks is branding…

      IMUO it is not a skills gap…it is the demanding of irrelevant capacities and experience that almost always have very little to do with the actual tasks required…

      Reply
      1. MtnLife

        A local resort recently put out a job description that required a 4yr degree, 2 years of managerial experience, and payed $13/hour – to organize car parking.

        Gotta put that degree to good use.

        Reply
  11. 3.14e-9

    Re: Obama’s extraordinary, aimless presidency [The Week]

    Nope, it was Putin’s fault. Although, in fairness, Linker doesn’t claim it was Obama’s fault, only that he “helped prepare the way for the anti-establishment, populist wave…” Master propagandist Putin knows a good opportunity when he sees one:

    Moscow is pushing populist movements to bring ‘real security threats to Europe,’ new report says [McClatchy]

    “Moscow is encouraging a wave of populism that extends from the election of President-elect Donald Trump through Brexit and rise of nationalist politics in France and Germany to bring about ‘real security threats to Europe,’ ” according to a report in a new NATO journal.”

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article125396679.html

    Reply
  12. alex morfesis

    Don trumpioni and his capos are gonna woyk on keepyn the nayburhood nice again…kapeesh ??

    As to the new McCarthyism, despite the capacity of fartspace and garggle to have algorithms filter certain “thoughts”, the problems for the death spiral media are not going away and the death of myspace is a perfect example of the capacity of the blob to choke on its own vomit…same for the rise and fall of the aol reich…it was everywhere and then it was nothing…

    Some self stylized masters of the universe imagine their luck as genius…Cuban andreesson…

    when all they are good at(which is good for their own pocket) is selling as soon as the griddle gets hot and the sound of the searing begins

    The internet of no-things and self krashing kars are well designed pitches but the details…

    getting a virus or giving a virus to your over inquisitive refrigerator should deal with the all seeing pinkman brigade…

    last I checked, customer service was not exactly the top issue concerning wall street…

    Money isnt being spent on the infrastructure that exists today…all this big blobber nonsense will require a tenfold increase in maintenance…

    or are the folks who could not or would not program a vcr to reset the time automaticaly when there was a power outage suddenly all qualify to be mensa members…

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If California celebrities with Trump-angst won’t move to another country, as they had promised, perhaps the state can make it easy for them by seceding from the union.

      One more grievance…certain unalienable rights….consent of the governed to smoke…to mistake litter for meth…

      Reply
    2. Bugs Bunny

      He’s actually right on this and maybe the idiots in Congress will be forced to do something before all hell breaks loose. There are after all some big corporate constituents with fingers already in the pot market.

      Reply
      1. Waldenpond

        So prosecutorial discretion has a large roll in our system of laws. Thank goodness because quite a few of our laws are bs.

        Reply
    3. Daryl

      I believe the DOJ is currently limited from prosecuting medical marijuana by congress, actually. This has been upheld in court.

      Of course, it’s not like the law informs what the government does anyway.

      Re-committing to prohibition would be a catastrophically horrible and severely damaging decision. In other words, a wonderful distraction for gutting the remainder of the welfare state, the USPS, and other things that nobody wants to happen.

      Reply
  13. PKMKII

    Funny that civil asset forfeiture wasn’t used to seize the assets of HSBC when it was found they were laundering money for the drug cartels. One set of rules for us, another set for them.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When they go mobile banking, with self-driving ATM machines on wheels, they will be vulnerable to forfeiture when stopped by cops.

      Reply
  14. NotTimothyGeithner

    “a high minded superiority, a knowing aloofness and self regard.”

    Why not just say Obama is an out of touch A hole?

    Reply
  15. Goyo Marquez

    Re Bezzle in autonomous vehicles.

    The left, tempted by its Luddite/ Tolkien/ return to Eden, fantasies, is misreading this.

    The left should be pushing for intelligent roadways furnished by the government as the missing necessary ingredient for self driving vehicles. Not only would it be a huge public works project employing millions, but it would put government, local, state, federal, in the position of the toll gate operator, thus allowing it to reduce monopoly profits, i.e. rents.

    Reply
    1. Monday

      No the “left” should not be wasting state money to build infrastructure that only benefits the wealthy and their businesses.

      Reply
  16. Waldenpond

    Women’s march… I don’t know what the white woman was upset about… there will be plenty of extremely wealthy white women at the event getting photo ops with women of color. Looks like the Clintonistas such as Katy Perry will be there.

    The organizers are identifying groups, applying a hierarchy, determining status of those in the hierarchy and focusing on policy proscriptions for winners of the victim sweepstakes. Fracture a population into groups and have them fight each other. It seems to me that ‘intersectionality’ always ends with white feminism.

    Reply
    1. aab

      I think you mean “elite” feminism. Michelle Obama is just as toxic a “feminist” as Hillary Clinton is, even if she hasn’t chosen to seek the right to sign off on starving and murdering millions of them. She helped her horrible husband into power, where he has hurt women and people bearing the brunt of the history of slavery, after tricking them into supporting him. I don’t really care how well-toned her arms are. I’m sure she’s personally delightful over cocktails.

      Meanwhile, there are white feminists on the ground fighting alongside feminists of color (all of multiple genders) for universal health care, a higher minimum wage, and an end to military adventurism. I’m a white feminist. I hope that march fails. Corporate/elite feminism needs to be burned to ashes which are then plowed under so that egalitarian feminism (and egalitarianism generally) may flourish.

      Reply
      1. mk

        Do these marchers have any demands? I heard one of the organizers interviewed by NPR right after the election and she could not articulate any goals or demands. Nothing about single payer, abortion rights, equal pay, family leave, affordable child care, etc. What I got from the interview is they are mad about the election of Trump.

        Reply
        1. aab

          That is my impression as well, which is why I scorn them. It’s the reason elite feminism and liberalism cannot withstand populist nationalism. If you asked these “feminists” over cocktails in the quiet of the evening what they want, they would say, “we want the same power and status as our husbands and brothers.” That’s it. They don’t give a sh*t about the women not in the professional class, or legislation that would make our society more economically and socially equal.

          They only care that within their own social group they get to have the same advantages as their men over everybody else of both/all genders beneath them. They care about their “team” winning — like Bears fans vs. Packers fans. That’s it. They want their patriarchial misogyny served up Obama stylz — politely, charmingly, preferably by a wealthy, elite-educated, high status male with a cool, nominally marginalized biological identity, so they can feel all warm and cosy about being exploited by and condescended to. They think it’s cute and protective when Obama makes jokes about shooting his daughter’s boyfriends, or hectors women about maintaining their role as sexual gatekeepers.

          Trump rubs their noses in their relative weakness, and how even at the highest levels of power and wealth, most women get there by being born of high status sperm or appealing to a high status penis and granting it access to their body. They don’t like that. But would they even think of working in solidarity with the poors to change that dynamic? Oh, no! Because that might damage their relative class position; can’t have that.

          UF, I’ve got that link up and will read once I’ve finished here. Wendi and I follow each other on Twitter, and chat off and on. She’s great.

          Reply
  17. 3.14e-9

    Transition:

    The Trump-Kushners will be living in a a $5.5 million home in the exclusive D.C. neighborhood of Kalorama — just down the street from Obama.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/zillow/2017/01/09/ivanka-trumps-new-washington-dc-home/#748bd5286c52

    Six bedrooms and seven bathrooms, but you’d think for $5 million, you’d at least get a big yard for the kids to play in (and the kitchen is scary).

    The 9-bed, 8.5-bath Obama mini-castle at least faces the park. It has a turret and a parking pad for his SS motorcade. According to Forbes, they’re just renting (from Bill Clinton’s former press secretary). Apparently their plan is to stay in D.C. just long enough for their youngest daughter to finish school at the elite Sidwell Friends; the older one is off to Harvard.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/kristintablang/2016/05/26/president-barack-obamas-future-home-in-kalorama-washington-dc/#2d88eb473e6a

    According to Redfin, it last sold for $5.3 million, in May 2014. Forbes claims its market value is now $7 million. Nice little investment property.

    Reply
    1. RUKidding

      Yes, it’s quite loverly to be mega-rich and well-connected… so that you can go on de gubmint gravy train grift and get even uber-mega-super rich and even better connected. CHA-CHING!!

      Reply
  18. Oregoncharles

    “Swartz envisioned a flexible, intelligent, multifaceted task force that would learn from its mistakes and refine its tactics accordingly: a team of specialists that, cumulatively, worked as generalists.””

    Minus the wishful thinking about doing it gracefully and well, that’s what political parties are supposed to be: a way to address an entire catalog of issues and adopt a grand strategy. Even that may be wishful thinking, but it is the basic premise.

    Reply
  19. Oregoncharles

    “the first country in the world to start shutting down its FM radio network in favour of digital radio,”
    When this happened with TV in this country, we lost all but one of our broadcast TV channels, because they also reduced the signal strength – a lot. We don’t have cable and wouldn’t, so this was a massive cheat.

    I don’t know how it will work in Norway, which is extremely mountainous, but I wish them luck.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      The same with “digital” anything. First the consumer is presented with some “must buy” technology, then the old tech is retired so that only the new tech is of any use. We have the same problem with over the air television. We refuse to pay the outrageous prices the cable companies demand, so, a hidden benefit is that we are much less stressed and much less propagandized, or, to be cynical, programmed.
      Norway has a long storied maritime culture. Will the boats out in the North Atlantic now have to rely on pirate radio from England for “easy listening?” Gods preserve us, no more Saga or Dark Metal for Sven Vik!

      Reply
  20. ewmayer

    Latest petition posted on MoveOn’s petition-o-matic calls for Obama to name moderate Syrian rebel, erm I mean moderate Republican judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court during the Senate recess:

    http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/obama-name-merrick-garland

    Because the right of corporations to enjoy all the benefits of personhood while suffering none of their responsibilities must be defended!

    Can anyone knowledgeable on the subject comment on the legalities and historical precedent here?

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Obama has the ability to nominate a Supreme Court interim justice until the next the Congressional break which is scheduled for the inauguration at which point there will be a vacancy for the same seat and Trump will have the appointment power.

      The Senate could confirm an Obama appointment to the court between now and then, but the interim appointment would be over when Congress goes back into session not during the break.

      Reply
      1. aab

        The liberal establishment really is a bunch of grifters, isn’t it? I mean, what’s worse — the leadership of Move On is so dumb they don’t know this would be a one week (okay, 10 days) appointment that accomplishes nothing, or that they are counting on the desperate suckers signing their monetizable data gathering petition?

        Obama could have appointed Garland the day after Scalia died, and had almost a full year of his glorious rulings. Like every other Obama play, it has backfired.

        Reply
  21. Oregoncharles

    ““National Police Union President Says Asset Forfeiture Abuse Is A ‘Fake Issue’ Generated By The Media””

    Shouldn’t that be under “the Bezzle”?

    And more constructively: Oregon ended this problem with a voter initiative, which passed by a wide margin because conservatives believe in property rights, so both sides supported it. It’s one of the few states that require a conviction for forfeiture. The Leg would never have passed that law, though, which says something about “representative democracy.”

    If you have the initiative in your state, use it.

    Reply
  22. clarky90

    For me, often it is the “small crimes” that exemplify the DEPRAVED nature of the American “Health Kare” system. (See the right hand panel of The Last Judgment Bosch triptych) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Judgment_(Bosch_triptych)

    US drugmaker charges 200 times UK price for common worm pill

    A US drugmaker has put a price tag of more than $800 on a pinworm treatment — 200 times more expensive than the equivalent medicine on British pharmacy shelves, in the latest example of “price gouging” in the world’s largest healthcare market.
    Impax Laboratories (Bastards!) started selling mebendazole this year at an average wholesale price of $442 per pill, according to figures seen by the Financial Times, which were checked with several US pharmacy chains including Walgreens and CVS.

    Most cases of pinworm, a parasitic infection also known as threadworm, require two pills, meaning a course of treatment costs about $884. The drug is available prescription-only in the US but can be bought over the counter in the UK, where Boots, a British chemist chain, charges £6.99 for a pack of four pills, or £1.75 each.

    The pinworm parasite, which is common in children, affects 200m people a year worldwide and up to 40m in the US. It is recommended that family members are treated for the highly contagious infection at the same time, meaning a household of five’s treatment costs more than $4,400.

    https://www.ft.com/content/f0080fe4-c3ad-11e6-9bca-2b93a6856354

    “Mebendazole came into use in 1971, after it was developed in Belgium.[4] It is included in the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, the most important medications needed in a basic health system.[5] Mebendazole is available as a generic medication.[6] The wholesale cost in the developing world is between 0.004 and 0.04 USD per dose.[7] In the United States a single dose is about 884.00 USD as of 2016.[8]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mebendazole

    Reply
  23. Synoia

    President Obama plans to offer a graceful goodbye to the nation in a prime-time address Tuesday night from Chicago, transferring executive power with the same tone of hope and optimism that powered his rise to the presidency

    I, too will offer a gracious (not graceful that mean something very different) goodby – Please do not let the door hit you on the ways out,

    followed by Cromwell’s parting statement to the Rump Parliament, as pointed and relevant now as it was then:

    It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice.

    Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government. Ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

    Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess?

    Ye have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

    Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defiled this sacred place, and turned the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices?

    Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation. You were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance.

    Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God’s help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do.

    I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place.

    Go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

    In the name of God, go!

    Reply
    1. allan

      Rahm Emanuel has a somewhat more nuanced take:

      Rahm Thanks Obama in Video Posted Before Farewell Address
      [DNA Info]

      In the minute-long video, Emanuel spoke while framed by American and Chicago flags and as pictures of him with the president flashed through Obama’s eight years in office.

      However, Emanuel urged those preparing for the speech not to be swept up in “nostalgia about the past” but to listen with “optimism and hope about the future.”

      “Our work of keeping the dream of America and the promise of America is just beginning,” Emanuel said. “We all have in this great country have a responsibility each day to take America a step closer to its ideal of what it can be and the promise of America.” …

      Surprising as it might be to Rahmbo, it’s actually very easy not to be swept up in “nostalgia about the past”.

      Reply
  24. Kim Kaufman

    “Now is a good time to read Jack Kirby, who fought Nazis and created Captain America, talking about Joseph McCarthy.”

    Perhaps now is a good time to read Allan Dulles: The Devil’s Chessboard. Under Roosevelt, Dulles colluded (committed treason) with Nazis to protect his brother, Foster’s, clients who were the German industrialists funding Hitler. And then he made sure as many of the Nazis as he could were not brought to Nuremburg but were safely given jobs in the U.S., the new Germany and other strategic spots. And he worked with Joseph McCarthy – until McCarthy started to go after Dulles’s CIA. Then McCarthy was taken down.

    Reply
        1. Waldenpond

          The twitter jokes are better.
          Vox explainer:https://twitter.com/Lowenaffchen/status/818984975265579008
          Trump plane water salute: https://twitter.com/ActualFlatticus/status/818980327498612736
          Deep State: (sorry Lambert):https://twitter.com/max_read/status/818974494131949568
          Kinkshaming: https://twitter.com/ByYourLogic/status/818978056882814977
          Top Secret surveillance photo: https://twitter.com/ckilpatrick/status/818989104419524608

          If liberals insist on distracting from the fact that Ted Cruz is thanking them today for their gentle treatment of Sessions, the least we can do is laugh at their IC efforts.

          hahaha!

          Reply
  25. UserFriendly

    I swear to god, just when I thought this election couldn’t get any more ridiculous…. multiple sources are confirming that part of the russian hacking report that was kept confidential was a british spy who noted that Trump went to Moscow specifically to buy hookers for water sports at hotel in a bed that the Obama’s slept in on a state visit, all the while knowing that the FSB had the room bugged. This almost sounds too crazy for anyone to make up. Not that I have any faith in the media at this point.
    https://www.buzzfeed.com/kenbensinger/these-reports-allege-trump-has-deep-ties-to-russia?utm_term=.hhrJrM2rV#.ntpk4B54A

    Reply
    1. aab

      I refuse to read the Buzzfeed piece, but the accusation is that Trump did something BECAUSE he knew the FSB had the room bugged and it would get back to Obama? How does that prove he’s in Russia’s pocket? Because it would seem to suggest he has Russia in HIS pocket.

      I know it’s an Internet cliche, but I am literally (not figuratively) fighting off the urge to live off popcorn every single day until the Inauguration. Does it really take a trust fund baby like Trump to stand up to the CIA*?

      * I want brownie points from Lambert for not using “Deep State” here. I wanted to. But I want Lambert’s occasional praise and respect even more than framing our corrupted government like a ’70s paranoid thriller. Although having said that: Three Days of the Condor: Fact or Fiction?

      Reply
    2. armchair

      Looks like a long night of deconstructing is ahead for some of us. However, it feels like the burden of proof has shifted. Today’s reports bring a lot of threads together into a pretty cohesive narrative. We could have president Pence in a blink.

      Reply
      1. Waldenpond

        hahaha! The malarky has been going around for months and no one would publish it (dip David Corn really, really pretty please, wanted to), the friggin’ CIA trots out another evidence free nothing burger and liberals are on it.

        If it’s true (hahahaha!) it what? demonstrates that Trump and O and his CIA have the intellects of teenagers!

        Why are you sex worker shaming? Why are you kinkshaming? What about intersectionality? Let’s all speak out for sex positivity!!!!

        Yves, could we have permission to cover the jokes. It’s the only part of this latest fake news that’s any fun.

        Reply
      2. aab

        Which cohesive narrative are you referring to? The Democratic elite’s coordinated attempt at a coup? It certainly is revealing to what pathetic extent they will go to ramp up public hysteria. I have now seen a screenshot of the purported November 1st 4chan post where the Russia-hookers-urine story may have originated as fiction. It’s a screenshot. I have no way to verify whether it’s been doctored. But whether or not the 4chan allegations are true, they join the torrents of unsubstantiated sewage flowing out of US intelligence services and onto the pages and screens of corporate media — none of it with any verified or verifiable evidence. Today’s reminder that the “official” “report” released by the government and Clapper himself affirmed that Russia didn’t tamper with the actual voting or electoral process and that all the Wikileaks releases from Clintonland were all authentic. So the people of the United States elected Donald Trump, to the degree that the people do anything that can functionally be called electing someone. So what would he be impeached for? Outsourcing sex work?

        I suppose it’s possible Trump could be so hated by his own party that they’ll impeach him and remove him from office on the basis of weak, dubious evidence. That seems kinda unlikely, though.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith

          Na ga happen. The Republicans would have to do it. They know full well impeachment will make the party look very bad plus alienate Trump loyalists, which is not a small number of people

          Reply
          1. aab

            Oh, I agree with you. Sorry; I should have applied a snark tag, I guess. I mean, technically, the Republicans could impeach him, and I can even imagine Ryan trying to do it, before Trump turns him into a soprano. But I don’t think Ryan’s got the balls to try or the support to pull it off.

            Reply
  26. Ian

    I know it has likely already been said, but reading the comments on the Brock piece definitely put a smile on my face. Brock in any public representation and hopefully political representation, is done. Good riddance.

    Reply
  27. Waldenpond

    A Federal Judge is allowing the officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray to sue Marilyn Mosby for prosecuting them.

    [“U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis ruled that claims including malicious prosecution, defamation, and invasion of privacy can move forward against Mosby and Assistant Sheriff Samuel Cogen, who wrote the statement of probable cause,”]

    and…

    [The claims of false arrest, false imprisonment and abuse of process were dismissed, the Sun reports, as were all claims against the state.]

    http://www.theroot.com/articles/news/2017/01/federal-judge-allows-lawsuit-against-marilyn-mosby-to-proceed/?utm_content=buffer315e8&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    Reply
  28. 3.14e-9

    Thanks to stefan and UserFriendly for the heads up on the Trump dossier. I imagine Lambert will have some links in the morning.

    In the meantime, I read the BuzzFeed story and scanned through the 35-page document. My first thought was, “Reads like one of Sid Blumenthal’s emails to SoS Clinton.” Blumenthal, you’ll recall, was being paid by Brock while he was sending his “confidential” missives to HRC of intel from sources “with access,” etc.

    Given that Brock specializes in this kind of oppo research, I thought it was plausible there was a connection and so did a little digging. Here’s what I’ve found so far:

    Brock bragged back in April that he had a ton of dirt on Trump:

    Brock: Enough opposition research to ‘knock Trump Tower down’
    http://www.politico.com/story/2016/04/david-brock-donald-trump-221823

    =============================================================================
    In one of Blumenthal’s emails to HRC, he mentioned that he had gotten a call from Scott Horton re: a crisis in Kyrgyzstan. I’d never heard of Horton so looked him up. He’s an attorney, and his firm has an office in Moscow, and he has done some significant work there. As it turns out, he actually has done some research on Trump’s dealings with Russia, although it’s not clear from what I’ve read so far whether any of it is firsthand. The article I found says he was compiling notes from articles in the Financial Times. Here are the links:

    Donald Trump Was Bailed Out of Bankruptcy by Russia Crime Bosses
    The facts read like a B-grade spy novel.
    Alternet, originally on Kos
    http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/donald-trump-was-bailed-out-bankruptcy-russia-crime-bosses

    Here’s a direct link the FT article cited in the above:
    Trump says Russian ‘kompromat’ claims are fake
    https://www.ft.com/content/2584ebdc-d796-11e6-944b-e7eb37a6aa8e

    Also, here are some of Horton’s notes and links to more FT articles. It looks like this is a screen shot from a Twitter image, but I don’t know what this site is. Sorry.:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C1vHUNPXUAEKZWP.jpg

    Looking forward to the AM links…

    Reply
    1. reslez

      So they finally released the dossier that’s been floating around for most of the year. Honestly all this scandal and Russia hype is blurring together for me… which is probably true for most of Trump’s supporters. I do not care a pickled fig what he did in a hotel room with consenting adults, though it’s predictable how the hypocritical Twitterati focus on that. What I care about are jobs, a sane trade policy, and defusing international tensions. What Buzzfeed and all the other mudrakers are offering is the complete 180-degree opposite.

      What politician or billionaire out there doesn’t have a closet packed full of financial grift and sexual scandal? At least Trump wasn’t foreclosing on innocent homeowners like his nominee Mnuchin, or guarding the people who did like Obama and Clinton. Let’s focus on that, shall we?

      Reply
  29. Dave

    I have some original artwork signed by “Jack Kerby”.
    He was an old school friend of my uncle and signed his real name: “Jacob Kurtzberg”

    I devoured the Fantastic Four, they and the other Marvel comics were something different, even to a little kid.

    Reply
  30. ProNewerDeal

    Yves/others, what do you think is the best indicator of the employment market? If it is the 25-54 yr old employment-to-population ratio, 0bama’s PEAK/current 78.2% is still below Bush43’s nadir/worst of ~78.6%, not counting the 2008 recession plunge. Even then, if I understand correctly, this means 78.2% of adults of age 25 to 54 worked at least 1 hour in the last week, not 40 guaranteed hours in a FT job.

    If this 25-54 employment ratio is indeed the best indicator, I will keep repeating to 0bamabots, who stay parroting the “0bama created 14M (94% gig & Mc)Jobs” line.

    Reply
  31. ProNewerDeal

    I feel like celebrating when 0bama is out of office, because

    1 0bama was horrible, even worse than Bush43, given: 1 Grand “Bargain” eligibility age raise to 69+ for the 55 & under & 2 TPP alone
    2 To celebrate that 0bama wasn’t able to get these 2 atrocious policies implemented in the 2016-Nov/Dec LameDuck Congress.

    Yet I feel nobody I know IRL would feel similarly. IRL friends that 1 follow US politics & 2 voted Sanders / are social democratic-ish are deathly afraid Trump & either are unaware of how crappy 0bama is or “at least he is better than the Trump”.

    I’ll repeat it: Yves, Lambert, NC guest writers & NC commenters deserve a round of applause for assisting in killing (for now at least) the GrandRipoff & TPP. It was a nice holiday gift to see this Satan Samwich TM Buffet die!

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      Thanks for the thumbs up but we didn’t have much of a role in either fight. The big and not sufficiently acknowledged force on the TPP was Public Citizen. They did absolutely amazing research for many years and had a concerted media outreach effort.

      Reply

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