2:00PM Water Cooler 1/11/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Trade

“The confirmation hearing for Wilbur Ross, Donald Trump’s pick to be Commerce secretary, will not be held on Thursday as planned but will instead be delayed until next week, Senate Commerce Committee leaders announced Tuesday night. Committee Chairman John Thune and ranking member Bill Nelson said they decided to push the hearing to Jan. 18 because they had yet to receive the billionaire investor’s ethics agreement, which he is working on with the Office of Government Ethics and the Commerce Department, and wanted to give officials enough time to review it” [Politico]. “Prep for the USTR hearing does seem to be going forward as planned, however, and Lighthizer began making the rounds on Tuesday to meet with Finance Committee members and talk about the incoming administration’s trade agenda.”

Politics

Readers, this section today will be straight prose and few links. Sorry. Apple’s irredeemably sucky iOS Mail program screwed up my Outbox again, so an entire day’s research is gone where the woodbine twineth — including everything I was planning to aggregate on the latest Trump flap — it having never reached the mailbox on the Mac I use for writing. (Yeah, I could change my workflow, but I find it hard to accept that Apple’s crack engineering team could actually screw up email, so I keep hoping Mail will improve, even though it’s remained crappy over several upgrades. I guess they want to force me to use iCloud or something.) If it’s not a full moon, it certainly looks and feels like one. So, on the Trump flap, from memory, my thoughts:

1. Readers will remember from election coverage Chris Arnade’s notion of the “volatility voter”; the idea that a voter trapped in a losing game might as well kick over the table to improve their chances. Well, the elites can exploit volatility, too. Naomi Klein labeled the opportunistic elite production and manipulation of crises the “shock doctrine”:

In one of his most influential essays, Friedman articulated contemporary capitalism’s core tactical nostrum, what I have come to understand as the shock doctrine. He observed that “only a crisis—actual or perceived—produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.” Some people stockpile canned goods and water in preparation for major disasters; Friedmanites stockpile free-market ideas. And once a crisis has struck, the University of Chicago professor was convinced that it was crucial to act swiftly, to impose rapid and irreversible change before the crisis-racked society slipped back into the “tyranny of the status quo.” He estimated that “a new administration has some six to nine months in which to achieve major changes; if it does not seize the opportunity to act decisively during that period, it will not have another such opportunity.” A variation on Machiavelli’s advice that injuries should be inflicted “all at once,” this proved to be one of Friedman’s most lasting strategic legacies.

Readers will also remember that I thought volatility after the election would not decrease and might increase. If I am correct that some elite factions are employing “capitalism’s core tactical nostrum,” then we can expect more crises. What is unique about our 2017 situation, however, is that it’s not “the new administration” that’s employing the tactic, but a defeated faction that’s about to lose power (if democratic norms are adhered to). This does not preclude the Trump administration from employing shock doctrine tactics on its own later, but that does not appear to be the case now.) What is it that seems “politically impossible” now but may become “politically inevitable”?

2. Since November 8 we’ve had four crises of legitimacy of escalating intensity, each one pointing to a change in the Constitutional order. First, we had Stein’s recount effort, justified in part by a(n unproven) theory that “Russian hacking” had affected the vote tallies. (Recall that 50% of Clinton voters believe this, although no evidence has ever been produced for it, it’s technically infeasible at scale, and statistically improbable.) Since the “Russian hacking” theory was derived from intelligence not shown to the public, the change to the Constitutional order would be that the Intelligence Community (IC) would gain a veto over the legitimacy of a President during a transfer of power; veto power that would be completely unaccountable, since IC sources and methods would not be disclosed. Second, we had the (hilariously backfired) campaign to have “faithless electors” appoint somebody other than Trump to be President. Here again, the change in the Constitutional order was exacty the same, as (Clintonite) electors clamored to be briefed by the IC on material that would not be shown to the public, giving the IC veto power over the appointment of a President after the vote tallies had been certified. Third, we had the IC’s JAR report, which in essence accused the President-elect of treason (a capital offense). Here again the publicly available evidence of that quite sloppy report has been shredded, so in essence we have an argument from IC authority that secret evidence they control disqualifies the President elect, so the change in the Constitutional order is the same. Fourth, we have the “Golden Showers” report, which again is an argument from IC authority, and so again gives the IC veto power over a President appointed by the Electoral College. Needless to say, once we give the IC veto power over a President before the vote is tallied, and before the electoral college votes, and after the electoral college votes but before the oath of office and the Inaugural, we’re never going to be able to take it back. This is a crossing the Rubicon moment. Now, you can say this is unique, not normal, an exceptional case, but “sovereign is he who decides on the exception” (Nazi legal theorist Carl Schmidt). And who then is the sovereign? The IC. Is that what liberals want?

3. To the “Golden Showers” case itself. If I have this right, CNN published a rumor, whose source is a former British MI5 operative, who now owns his private firm. (How nice for him.) There is a two-page summary including the rumor (shown by the IC to Trump and Obama as part of the compartmentalized version of the JAR), and there is a 45-page (IIRC) memo with the rumor in all its glory. CNN having published the rumor, Buzzfeed published the memo (with a disclaimer saying in essence “We can’t vouch for the authenticity of any of this; you figure it out,” a remarkable statement similar to WaPo’s non-retraction of its defamatory propornot story. In any case, the firm shopped the material around as oppo, first to the Republicans, then to the DNC, but nobody bit (although the memo became a “legend” in the political class). The only reason the memo became news was — tada — not that there was any corroborating evidence, but that the IC said it was trustworthy (see #2 above). I skimmed the 45-page version, and it looked pretty sketchy to me; interestingly, it contained a suggestion that there is a DNC mole, which supports the “leak not hack” account of the Podesta memo.

4. On “golden showers,” this is a family blog, so you’ll have to look up the details for yourself. Back in the day, I worked in the Personals section of a weekly alternative newspaper taking ads, and since customers paid by the letter (rather like tweets), “GS” was the abbreviation. Now, there were rather a lot of abbreviations, human nature being what it is. My point is that GS is, apparently, not a “protected class” of sexual practices among good-thinking liberals, although [this is a family blog1] and [this is a family blog2] obviously are, and Goldman Sachs and everybody on Wall Street [this is a family blog3]s, like, all the time, and especially with important clients. Therefore, my Twitter feed is full of plays on “uro-” (you can imagine). This is snark, and in particular sexual snark, for which I was present at the creation, in the blogosphere in the early 2000s: Sexual snark was the épater le Christian Right of its day, since the Christianists were a dominant faction in the Bush administration, and oh so stuffy. And an entire generation of the political class, especially the “progressive” factions in that class, including me, came up practicing that snark. It’s easy! It’s fun! It’s performative discourse! And — like everything else these clowns have done — utterly ineffective. So we’re doubling down on failure again, aren’t we? The “progressive” (Clintonite) Twittersphere is full of jokes about p*ssing while Sanders wanders around the country holding town halls and defending Social Security and Medicare. What a maroon! Head, desk.

5. Trump held a news conference at my press time. Since coverage of Trump has been so wildly distorted, we can only go by the transcript. Here it is.

On Russia:

[TRUMP:] If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks? That’s called an asset, not a liability.

Well, not if you want a war with Russia. And on the GS thing, quoting in its entirety:

TRUMP: Lemme just tell you what I do.

When I leave our country, I’m a very high-profile person, would you say?

I am extremely careful. I’m surrounded by bodyguards. I’m surrounded by people.

And I always tell them — anywhere, but I always tell them if I’m leaving this country, “Be very careful, because in your hotel rooms and no matter where you go, you’re gonna probably have cameras.” I’m not referring just to Russia, but I would certainly put them in that category.

And number one, “I hope you’re gonna be good anyway. But in those rooms, you have cameras in the strangest places. Cameras that are so small with modern technology, you can’t see them and you won’t know. You better be careful, or you’ll be watching yourself on nightly television.”

I tell this to people all the time.

I was in Russia years ago, with the Miss Universe contest, which did very well — Moscow, the Moscow area did very, very well.

And I told many people, “Be careful, because you don’t wanna see yourself on television. Cameras all over the place.”

And again, not just Russia, all over.

Does anyone really believe that story?

I’m also very much of a germaphobe, by the way, believe me.

The Fiscal Times from 2015 says that Trump is, indeed, a germaphobe. I suppose that Trump could have had the hookers wrapped up in latex onesies Trump could have taken protective measures, but still…

There’s plenty more in the transcript, but that’s what’s relevant to the IC’s ongoing efforts. “Very much of a germaphobe.” No wonder nobody bought the oppo.

6. I forgot to say: If the 45-page memo is to believed, international real estate is a hairball of conflicted relationships and a cesspit of corruption. No different, that is, from New York real estate. And no different in essence from the business dealings of any other oligarch, I would guess.

Stats Watch

Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations, January 2017: “Inflation expectations at the business level are falling back this month after spiking in November and December” [Econoday]. “These results stand in direct contrast with the consumer side where expectations have been falling, not rising.”

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of January 6, 2017: “Purchase applications for home mortgages rose a seasonally adjusted 6.0 percent” [Econoday]. “[D]espite the weekly increase in purchase applications, the year-on-year decline points to weakness in future home sales.”

Housing: “People who make offers on homes have started to find that appraisals well above these offers have triggered a large number of busted deals. California, home to some of the nation’s most expensive home markets, leads in cities with these broken deals. Another reason for these problems is appraisals that show major problems with red flags” [247 Wall Street].

Retail: “On the news that Macy’s is shuttering 68 stores and cutting 10,000 workers and Limited is closing all 250 locations impacting 4,000 workers, a new report released Tuesday further indicates the industry’s inexorable shift to online” [Econintersect]. “Retail clocked the fewest holiday job gains since 2010, as the accelerating shift toward online shopping continued to take a toll on job opportunities in traditional brick-and-mortar stores.”

Retail: “Apple AirPods are all but impossible to recycle, which makes them a Herculean environmental challenge.” [Wired].

Shipping: “The number of container lines with an operating capacity of over 200,000 teu has reduced to 17 from 20 in the past year, and is set to shrink to 13 in the next 18 months as the industry experiences unprecedented consolidation” [The Loadstar].

The Bezzle: “Baidu Inc. and state-owned Beijing Automotive Group Co.’s collaboration on telematics and autonomous driving is almost ready for its coming-out moment, as industry and government join hands to push for self-driving vehicles within China” [Bloomberg]. “A BAIC-built model equipped with Baidu technology will debut in April at the Shanghai auto show, BAIC Chairman Xu Heyi said in interview Friday at the CES 2017 trade show in Las Vegas. The two companies also plan to conduct road testing of a car that will be autonomous in limited environments by the end of this year.” That is, not autonomous.

Co-ops: “Organic Valley’s rising tide continues to lift all of its producer pools. Coming off of its second billion-dollar year and passing the 2,000-member mark, the La Farge-based co-op is cultivating a venture to put its dairy products on the shelves of as many as 140,000 more stores nationwide” [LaCross Tribune]. “Organic Valley, which George Siemon and a handful of other farmers founded in 1988 and now is the largest cooperative of organic farmers in the country, also hired 110 new employees last year.”

Co-ops: “[Edgar Hicks] has worked for more than 40 years in the agricultural business and had a multitude of leadership roles in rural organization. Most recently, he traveled to Africa to share his expertise. He said the greatest agricultural experience for his family as a whole was the initial one living in small co-op communities in Merrick County, Nebraska, followed by working for Ag Processing in Omaha” [Omaha World-Herald]. “Hicks was excited to be invited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to go to Toubakouta, Senegal, to help farmers start a co-op. Through his interpreter, he shared that for every one of their co-op members, he could envision a successful Merrick County farmer. He gave them a background of the National Grange cooperative using the well-known Rochdale Principles, formed by a successful cooperative in Rochdale, England, in the 1800s.” Hicks is African-American, and grew up in Louisiana. Amazing bio.

Co-ops: “Is the Cooperative Economy Next in a Post-Consumer World?” [P2P Foundation]. “”So what is the alternative if the ability of people to support themselves and their families with wage income is collapsing, and there’s not much chance of substantial help from the government?” [Professor Maurie Cohen of NJIT’s Department of Humanities] asks. One possibility is rooted in the evolution of a concept that garnered significant interest in the past — mutual economic cooperation at the local or regional level.”

Political Risk: “The World Bank predicts that among advanced economies, growth in the United States is expected to pick up to 2.2%, as manufacturing and investment growth gain traction after a weak 2016. But if Trump’s stimulus plans are fully implemented, it could lift GDP growth to 2.5% this year and to 2.9% in 2018” [Mining.com].

Political Risk: “President-elect Donald Trump has so far named exactly one person with an economics doctorate to a prominent post in his administration” [Bloomberg]. As the punchline to the old joke goes: “It’s a good start.”

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.

Imperial Collapse Watch

“THE CRIMES OF SEAL TEAM 6” [Intercept]. “But hidden behind the heroic narratives is a darker, more troubling story of “revenge ops,” unjustified killings, mutilations, and other atrocities — a pattern of criminal violence that emerged soon after the Afghan war began and was tolerated and covered up by the command’s leadership.” We tortured some folks…

Gaia

“Tanzanian Farmers Face 12 Years In Prison For Selling Seeds As They’ve Done For Generations” [TechDirt]. “”If you buy seeds from Syngenta or Monsanto under the new legislation, they will retain the intellectual property rights. If you save seeds from your first harvest, you can use them only on your own piece of land for non-commercial purposes. You’re not allowed to share them with your neighbors or with your sister-in-law in a different village, and you cannot sell them for sure. But that’s the entire foundation of the seed system in Africa”, says Michael Farrelly [from an organic farming movement in Tanzania].”

Class Warfare

“”To the very considerable extent that inequality is generated by rent seeking, we could sharply reduce inequality itself if rent seeking were to be somehow reduced,” said Angus Deaton, recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Economics. Deaton described inequality in the U.S. as being primarily driven by industry rents, and rejected proposals to increase taxes on the rich as a way to reduce rent seeking” [ProMarket]. “”I don’t think that rent seeking, which is incredibly profitable, is very sensitive to taxes at all. I don’t think taxes are a good way of stopping rent seeking. People should deal with rent seeking by stopping rent seeking, not by taxing the rich,” [Deaton] said.”

“Such [Trump] policies aren’t merely a repudiation of Obama. They would amount to a smash-and-grab raid on the social-democratic notion of government that [Obama] sought to protect and extend [(!!)]. If Trump and his team’s proposed policies were enacted in their entirety and maintained, we could well come to look back on the last eight years as but a temporary stopping point on the road to full-on plutocracy” [John Cassidy, The New Yorker]. “Full-on plutocracy,” as opposed to the “plutocracy with some mitigating factors,” as we have had so far. If you re-read this piece while mentally flagging the qualifiers like “full-on,” it looks quite different from the hagiography it intends to be. For example, “virtually halving the percentage of Americans who don’t have health coverage” is a two-fer: First, what’s “virtually” doing in there? Second, “health coverage” as a very neat conflation of “health insurance coverage” and “health care,” very typical of liberal goodthinkers who generally, themselves, don’t have to cope with narrow networks, high co-pays, Kafka-esque bureaucracies, and liberal gatekeeping and meantesting processes generally.

News of the Wired

Readers, I would like to formally thank the commenter who turned me on to the Opera browser. Opera is not from Google or Apple, which is great, it’s significantly zippier than FireFox, and best of all, it’s got a built-in free VPN that is speedy and reliable. I couldn’t be more pleased to have my workflow improved. So, whoever you are, take a bow!

“Families are getting online by borrowing simple cellular devices from their local libraries. After some initial success in big cities, researchers are testing the program in rural settings” [Daily Yonder]. The ceaseless creativity of our public llbraries never ceases to amaze me.

“With a cast of characters including Lawrence Welk, Phyllis Diller, Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix, the wah’s glide through American pop culture can be traced back to the muted cornets in 1920s Chicago speakeasies and, thanks to an ambitious young guitarist named Del Casher, came to fruition 50 years ago in a Hollywood Hills garage” [LA Weekly].

“Tetheradick” [Haggard Hawks]. Not a scandal….

“Nasa to visit mysterious metal asteroid which could be core of lost planet ” [Telegraph]. “The strange chunk of metal, named 16 Psyche, is made of iron and nickel, similar to the Earth’s core, and scientists think it could be the remnants of a Mars-sized planet which existed just a few million years after the birth of the Sun.”

“Researchers at Johns Hopkins and New York Universities are giving psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, to ordained ministers in the hopes that they can help provide some answers [about the relationship between their spiritual qualities and healing potential]” [Quartz]. “So far, they have enrolled thirteen religious leaders including an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, a Zen Buddhist roshi, an Episcopalian, a Greek Orthodox priest, and a Reform Christian for their FDA-approved clinical trial. (They’re also seeking Catholic priests, Imams, and Hindu priests to join the study.)”

“$89 Pinebook Linux Laptop Expected to Launch in February” [PC Magazine]. If there were a Linux distro that mimicked the Mac before the iOS engineers started crapping it up…

I always loved the Charles Addams cartoons when I was growing up, back when The New Yorker was a real magazine:

* * *

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 (UserFriendly):

UserFriendly writes: “From my friend who I recently introduced to NC and has a much better eye for nature photography than I do.”

Thank you for introducing a new reader to NC! That said, I find the photo a little unsettling (and I hope I oriented it properly). Still, the image works for me as an objective correlative for the feeling of stuff coming at me way too fast for me to process it, so…

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.

182 comments

  1. Nathan

    If only the “principled press” that Meryl Streep was crowing about would spend 1% of the energy they spent on the latest wild conspiracy claim on looking at the Clinton Foundation.

    This is a memo that was in the emails released by wikileaks in which the Clinton Foundation admits that Ira Magaziner misappropriated $23 million in restricted donor funds at CHAI sometime before June of 2008. The funds in question appear to be government donations specifically earmarked to be used only for funding AIDs drugs in Africa.

    http://imgur.com/a/D3Rhw

    This never came out in the press because the foundation covered it up by transferring money from their endowment.

    When I originally saw this memo, I started to look at the Clinton Foundation financial statements and noticed something strange. While the foundation claims they have posted their financial statements every year on their websites, when I actually looked all I was able to find was excepts of the financial statements with most/all of the supplemental info and all the footnotes scrubbed.

    While I wasnt able to find the complete financial statements for 2008, wikileaks did leak the audited financial statements for 2010. From the auditors report, I was able to learn how Ira was able to misappropriate $23 million without one of the bean counters knowing about it or notifying the people who were allegedly running the foundation. (From the memo we know that the people “in charge” didnt know anything about the missing $23 million until after it happened.)

    As it turns out, roughly 2/3 of the hundreds of millions that flow through the Clinton Foundation actually are tracked outside of their standard accounting process. Apparently Ira Magaziner has an excel spreadsheet called “income model” that he manually updates periodically and uses to track the hundreds of millions of dollars the foundation is spending on CHAI. Shockingly (or not considering the auditors are from a local Arkansas CPA firm with close ties to the Clintons) the auditors didnt seem to find any issues with this unique accounting method and gave the financial statements an unqualified report (unqualified = passing grade in auditing).

    Here is the page from the report where the auditors claimed that this wasnt even a material weakness, but rather only a significant deficiency..

    https://www.scribd.com/document/336302505/IRA-Magaziner-CHAI

    Note: the audited financial statements can be found in the podesta leaks. Inside the zipped attachment are various files, one of which is the audited financial statements.

    https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/46848

    1. Waldenpond

      Criticizing Streep might be done more effectively by looking at Streep’s foundation she runs to hide her wealth from taxation. I saw a report that she sued to have the definition of family changed so she could add some additional grifters to her foundation but I can’t find it. Does anyone have links to legal docs?

      Looks like they donated to Indiana for an honorary degree for the hubby. Donate to Vassah and Yale dahlings, ooh and a charter school. I always like when the very wealthy hide their money and then donate to food for the poor.
      http://www.insidephilanthropy.com/glitzy-giving/meryl-streep.html

      All of the ‘philanthropy’ is done because our system is purposely insufficient but I imagine they would not have anywhere to wear the designer clothes if not for fund raising banquets. Poor things.

      Oy. Did she really give a standing ovation to Polansky?

      1. alex morfesis

        She sued the sec so that she and her foundation could be considered family after her brother divorced one of the daughters of william simon whose “family office” has managed her money before anyone knew who she was…

        As for standing and clapping for roman the child molester…she was not the only one…Scorsese stood up(maybe annoyed that he lost to roman) and was on camera…half the academy there stood up…Harrison Ford did not seem pleased that he had to announce it…Streep was on camera maybe because the camera man was taking a shot of Jack Nicholson…polanski did the deeds in jacks house…

  2. fresno dan

    Needless to say, once we give the IC veto power over a President before the vote is tallied, and before the electoral college votes, and after the electoral college votes but before the oath of office and the Inaugural, we’re never going to be able to take it back. This is a crossing the Rubicon moment. Now, you can say this is unique, not normal, an exceptional case, but “sovereign is he who decides on the exception” (Nazi legal theorist Carl Schmidt). And who then is the sovereign? The IC. Is that what liberals want?

    =============================================================
    The evolution of the two party system into a duopoly that merely reflects whether one likes one’s sugar water in a red can (coke) or in a blue can (pepsi) means that real questions about how the constitution, DESPITE that CONSTITUTIONAL SCHOLAR and NOBEL prize winner being president, mean that we have had 16 years of unremitting diminishing of the power of the individual against the state.

    “The IC. Is that what liberals want?”
    Trump is elected and days before he takes office the President signs the fake news law. Its kinda like shooting someone in the head with four different kinds of guns, taking a chain saw and cutting some one up into pieces, and than dissolving the pieces in acid, and than claiming it was an accident…if they don’t want it, it is the best bluff I have EVAH seen….

    1. Uahsenaa

      Trump is a cretin and a buffoon, but I am genuinely worried about how blindly liberals (as well as many on the “Left,” whatever that means these days…) are following the letter agencies down the rabbit hole. DNI Clapper lied under oath to the committee that oversees his activities, and… nothing. I mean how many straightforwardly criminal things does the CIA have to do before liberals finally think to themselves, “hey, maybe we should take what these guys say with a grain of salt?”

      You don’t have to read Thucydides to know that allying yourself with someone purely out of expediency will always bite you in the [family blog]. The hysteria over Trump seems to be turning off people’s critical thinking skills, and the only ones who serve to benefit from this collective brain fart all work for the MIC.

      1. RUKidding

        No kidding! I agree that Trump is dangerous, a fool and woefully incompetent for this job. Maybe the DNC shoulda let the Primary happen without any interference, and there woulda been a different outcome to this election.

        Here’s a conundrum: Is the left’s newfound fealty to the Alphabets better/worse/the same as the right’s newfound fealty to Julian Assange and Wikileaks?

        Clinton ran a craptastic campaign. In truth, she shoulda beat Trump easily, but she didn’t. It’s due to her hubris, ignorance, incompetence and much much more. She lost fair & square, but I’ve never seen such a sore loser, and that includes all of the Republicans & Tea Partiers & Birthers combined after Obama won in 2008.

        It just amazes me that the masses in the USA put up with this insanity and somehow think it’s normal. It’s not.

        I guess the MIC is benefitting from this insanity, but I’m not really sure about that, either.

        I say: look out bc there’s loads of smart people worldwide who’re probably right now working on how to take advantage of the USA, and as usual, it’s the proles who’ll suffer.

        1. DJG

          RUKidding: Great point in your last paragraph. Anyone from outside the U S of A has to be wondering how the Greatest Nation of All Times could be made up of such bathetic patsies. Opportunities will present themselves quickly, and if you examine it, Osama bin Laden’s attack on the World Trade Tower was cheap, effective, and remarkably simple.

          As to the right’s sudden interest in Assange and Wikileaks. Purely tactical. It won’t last long.

          But liberals, abetted by Saint John McCain, seem to think that life is office politics writ large, and we will all suffer afterwards from reinforcement of the spy agencies’ influence in U.S. life. I’m not seeing much alphabet-agency-addiction among leftists.

        2. fresno dan

          RUKidding
          January 11, 2017 at 4:05 pm

          Its gotten to the point where these tribes are doing about faces with regard to what they “believe” SO FAST that I am really concerned about the law….governing the speed of light.

          If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a dozen times – just the party candidates (save Sanders) were unfit to be nominees….

        3. hunkerdown

          RUKidding, who benefits from the insanity of calling liberals the “left” like some creepy abusive boyfriend? The left doesn’t want a vested ruling class; liberals do.

          On the other hand, if you’re trying to get the left [family blog]ed off enough to go cray-cray on liberalism and its champions, by all means carry on.

        4. Charger01

          I’ve wrestled with the “what to do” question quite a bit lately. Participate is the easy answer, whether you’re running for the school board, PCO of your district, or support your candidate for whatever. Otherwise, taking the George Carlin approach would be recommended.

        5. Brad

          Liberals who want to do in Trump haven’t explained why they would want to see Fundie fanatic Pence as Prez. Or if Pence somehow out of the way, Prez Ryan?

          Where is less evilism when you really need it?

          1. Jen

            They labor under the delusion that their rightful queen will be restored. And in the next breath mock the deplorables for not understanding how government works.

      2. DJG

        Uahsenaa and Fresno Dan (of the Putin puffy slippers): Yes. If my Facebook feed is any indication, we are in a full-fledged childish meltdown. With hypocrisy. As if GS were some exotic sex practice to begin with. Yet puritanism, like patriotism, is the last of a couple of refuges of scoundrels.

        Usually, I don’t go much for decline of Roman Empire innuendo, along with lead in the water pipes, bu the so-called intelligence community is now the Praetorian Guards.

        And all the no-scandal Obama had to do was clean house when he acceded to power. Comey isn’t permanently appointed. Obama could have done something: Yet he was busy evolving, waiting for hope and change, and building a legacy.

        1. jrs

          if the right was serious, well they control the fed gov, they’d grant Assange asylum at least. I suspect they aren’t.

          Still though if they favor Assange and liberals favor intelligence agencies, the right is making better noises at least despite being neoliberal b@st@rds. Pathetic.

        2. LT

          The USA reminds me more if the fall of the Spanish Empire, especially with the connections between that empire and the Americas.

    2. Kukulkan

      “The IC. Is that what liberals want?”

      I know there’s something of a cottage industry in drawing analogies between the fall of the Roman Republic and current events in the US, but sometimes they just make it so easy…

      The Intelligence Community is beginning to see itself as the Praetorian Guard. Their job is to serve the President and do the President’s dirty work, a task which they execute faithfully, even lying to other branches of government when necessary. In return, they figure they should have veto power over who gets to be President — just like the Praetorian Guard had to acclaim a new Emperor before the Senate could confirm them.

      Of course, the Praetorian Guard were also known to assassinate the odd Emperor they disapproved of…

      1. witters

        Someone may have pointed this out, but it is Carl Schmitt. And I suppose his most relevant idea is that behind the practice of politics there is always “the political” – which is embodied in the friend/foe distinction – and that this will emerge when a group feels its very way of life is under existential threat.

  3. EndOfTheWorld

    Interesting that The Donald threw out the Nazi analogy, since one of Hitler’s opponents said the Fuhrer loved golden showers. There’s no evidence for this, though I think there is some evidence for the “Hitler was Homosexual” theory. CNN is stupid and digging itself deeper into a hole. This was obviously an attempt to “bait” The Donald, but why? CNN has no clout anymore.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The only analogy I can think of is the asymptotic curve I was taught in high school.

      As we approach ID (Inauguration Day) on the Y-axis, the amount of fake news goes to infinity on the x-axis.

      I was going to say on Monday that this should be an eventful week. It’s still not to late to say that.

      “The election may be over, but not the race.”

      1. fresno dan

        MyLessThanPrimeBeef
        January 11, 2017 at 3:12 pm

        “The election may be over, but not the race.”
        What a great line!
        4 more years of this….even I’m gonna stop reading political blogs….

    2. Art Eclectic

      CNN, like all news media, is just looking for clicks. Salacious sex rumors deliver. There’s no grand strategy at play beyond “Hey, people are clicking like mad on the topic, get more of it in the pipeline”.

      1. EndOfTheWorld

        OK, but it’s the PREZ they’re screwing with. Trump doesn’t have to let CNN be part of the press pool, really. If they want clicks, OK, but they’ll have to quit pretending to be serious.

        Actually, this thing could be a triple-cross. Maybe Team Trump started this rumour, which his many lady friends know is false, to see which MSM organs would run with it, so he knows where his enemies are.

    3. craazyboy

      The context is this is supposed to be “blackmail” the Russians have on Trump, to compel Trump to become Prez and make America, and we would have to assume Russia, great again. It isn’t supposed to make Trump lose to Hillary.

      So it would be something very scary to the Donald once in office. So Putin was holding the Urinator-In-Chief card, and the Donald new if he was ever exposed, his evangelist support would shrivel like a scared you know what. This is how Putin will take control of America!

      If that isn’t sneaky, then I don’t know what is.

  4. WeAreScrewed

    So trump holds his presser the same time tillerson is being questioned. Lots to chew over, but time kaine asked rexy about exxon’s concerted program climate denialism

    “Do you lack the knowledge to answer my question, or do you refuse to answer?”

    So tillerson answered- “A little of both”

    ………………….

    1. Steve H.

      Truest.

      Wilson and Vaughn Bode were part of my teen years, thank you National Lampoon. Charles Addams was lucky enough to have his work translated into a decently true sitcom. My son and I watched the whole series when he was about seven, as a way for him to understand our families place in the world.

  5. EndOfTheWorld

    RE: Tanzanian farmers get 12 years in jail for selling seeds, this whole Monsanto thing got way out of control a long time ago. Hopefully if Trump does indeed befriend the Russians, this GMO stuff will be something they can agree on, because the US has definitely come down on the wrong side of this issue, thus far. There should at least be labelling in US grocery stores, per the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the US.

    1. alex morfesis

      Selling seeds…have not looked into it but has there ever been an actual set of appeal court or supreme court rulings on the F1 amendment in 1994 which created this mess…the original 1970 act allowed farmers to keep and use…and this amendment does not cover all seeds so has anyone made any cognative challenges to the …gasp…clinton family values give away of the commonweal…

      1. EndOfTheWorld

        Of course, this was in a poor African country and not the US, with our wonderful Bill of Rights and lugubrious legal apparatus. One can imagine Monsanto bribing the Tanzanian officials to ensure the seed-sellers would be imprisoned.

  6. cocomaan

    Not having links was well worth it just to read your (4.), which was hilarious, frustrating, and on point.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I have tried Vivaldi, and I have Facebook quarantined on it, but it was fit and finish issues for me (and not enough plugins). Also, I don’t think it has a VPN.

      1. grayslady

        I also tried Vivaldi and was very disappointed. When I first tried Opera 12.17 (recommended by someone here on NC), it was love at first sight. Opera 12.17 is a browser for adults–no colored tiles, easy to find where to set up preferences, speed dial for home page, plug-ins are stable and work well. Best of all, if there is ever anything I can’t see in Opera, I just right click and select another browser. When I’m finished, I just close out the page and I’m back to Opera.
        The newer versions of Opera are pretty much designed for mobile technology, which is not something I use. The included VPN is definitely a nice feature, though.

  7. fresno dan

    The Fiscal Times from 2015 say that Trump is, indeed, a germaphobe. I suppose Trump could have had the hookers wrapped up in latex that Trump could have taken protective measures, but still…
    ===========================================================
    Unless you have an urinary tract infection, urine is sterile. Urine typically becomes contaminated during usual micturation, but most people are familiar with the cleaning precautions at a doctors office to assure a “clean catch” or urinating without contaminating the urine.

    Of course, the evidence shows that a lack of exposure to germs can have a deleterious effect….
    For me to comment authoritatively on the Trump hookers, and germs, you’d have to hook (heh-heh) me up with them, they’d have to be really gorgeous (not that that has anything to do with germs, just getting me to do it), and than let me reproduce the circumstances as closely as possible…..
    Anything for science!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yeah, I know that. Logically you’re correct. Culturally, I think you’re wrong (which is why the snark works). And of course there’s also the possibility of urinary tract infections, and other medical issues. Somehow, I can’t see somebody who doesn’t like to shake hands (from the Fiscal Times article) getting into that scene. And one also wonders about the mattress itself; even the Ritz Carlton can have bedbugs.

    2. ChrisPacific

      The “urine is sterile” thing has recently been proven false. Google “is urine sterile” for the details.

      1. fresno dan

        ChrisPacific
        January 11, 2017 at 3:49 pm

        Thanks for that.
        I can’t say that it surprises me – the knowledge that typical microbiological culture techniques are unable to “grow” most bacteria has been known for quite a while. Its the old absence of evidence is not evidence of absence….

        1. craazyboy

          I’ve done research in LA strip clubs featuring Russian stripper hookers, and urinating is simply not possible.

  8. lyman alpha blob

    Well since you brought it up, my sources tell me that Trump’s real name is Bobby Brown and he was the subject of Zappa’s song back in the 80s.

    I suspect the CIA will have more on his purported deviance to feed the MSM for their expanded evening edition of fake news.

      1. Steve C

        Is this the deep state’s Trump version of brains spattered all over the back seat? If so, I don’t think it has traction with the people who elected Trump but makes them distrust the media even more.

        1. alex morfesis

          This alluding about peotus being pink misted is a bit much…there are no open presidential limos anymore…the thing is basically a black tank…agents surround the president in a pattern which leaves no open lines of sight…there are cameras everywhere…the schedule is never kept so there is limited window of opportunity…advanced teams stake out facilities and only approve those which are controllable…trump will live out his 4 years…

          We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming…

          now on with the show…

          1. MtnLife

            That’s assuming those agents are there to protect you and aren’t really polite mobile prison guards. I’ve often wondered if the shell shocked looks and abrupt presidential position changes aren’t the result of an initial briefing where you see the footage from Dallas from the grassy knoll, they walk in a pair of impersonators good enough to fool anyone not in your immediate family (who, don’t forget, is surrounded by said agents), and let you know they will replace you at the drop of a hat without the world ever knowing. It would be pretty mind blowing to think you’ve elevated yourself to the most powerful position on earth only to find yourself in a very public, yet very secret prison.

            That or that look is because they were just told about the aliens.

            1. alex morfesis

              Thats what trump was talking about…the aliens from operation paperclip whose grandkids are sitting in Langley…izan germany

            1. alex morfesis

              There is no lbj walking his dog “beagle” while chatting with j edgar after brunch as they wave to fred black as they walk past freds window…

              There will be no silent nada…

  9. B1whois

    Housing: “People who make offers on homes have started to find that appraisals well above these offers have triggered a large number of busted deals.

    My experience was with an appraisal below an offer threatening a sale of RE. I don’t understand how an appraisal well above the offer would trigger a busted deal.

    1. Tom Stone

      I’m a Real Estate Broker and an appraisal above the agreed upon price is not a problem, there is a valid contract “A chose in action” that is enforceable.
      When an appraisal comes in below the agreed on price either the buyer has to make up the difference ( If they can) or the seller has to drop their price for the deal to work.
      The last two deals I have had come apart did so because of condition issues that came to light during the inspection period. In both cases the buyer asked for a credit toward paying for the repairs and in both cases the seller refused.
      The credit amounts requested were very reasonable and in one case the home sold for less than what my client had offered and in the second case the home is still on the market and it is unlikely to bring as much as my client offered.
      Keep in mind that the issues revealed by the inspections must be disclosed to any potential buyer and also that a home that comes back on the market very seldom achieves the original asking price “Because there must be something wrong with it”.
      Short sighted greed killed these deals..

  10. B1whois

    Retail: “Apple AirPods are all but impossible to recycle, which makes them a Herculean environmental challenge.” [Wired].

    I was under the impression that a great many consumer goods are impossible to recycle.

    1. tejanojim

      From my brief professional experience, pretty much anything with an integrated circuit or a printed circuit board is going to be a bear to recycle. Generally the cost exceeds the value of the materials you get back, which is why so many “recycling” programs turn out to involve shipping them to the poorest parts of the third world to slowly rot and pollute the local air, water and soil.

  11. Clive

    When the internet was something much more resembling a school science project, let’s say in about 1992-ish, the main problem, apart from flaky dial up running at 28.8kbps and dropping out every 5 minutes, was actually finding anything to read on it.

    So one of my favourite daily reads — and I did post now and again — was alt.showbiz.gossip (I wish I could remember what these alt.thingies were called; they weren’t proper websites I don’t think, if I recall accurately (hey, give me a break, it was all 25 years ago, what can I say, memories fade) you read the posts in a special piece of software which wasn’t like a browser, but anyway, that’s what it was). Gosh. If you wanted fake news, that had it with knobs on, in every sense of the word.

    Oh, please Clive, get to the bloody point already, I hear you all say. Okay, you asked for it, following — like a confused mutt chasing after the garbage truck — the current Trump story, I got the same sensation in a Proustian memory kind of a way as I always had when reading alt.showbiz.gossip all those years ago. Some of the “news” posted was so outrageous you knew it couldn’t possibly be true. Some seemingly had a grain or two of truth but had been blown out of all proportion. But the ones which I could not resist were those bits of gossip which had some basis in reality that would have been salacious enough, but the poster could not resist adding unnecessary tidbits to embellish the story even though it didn’t need any embellishment. Like putting the sparklers on a banana splits.

    I always wondered what happened to all my alt.showbiz.gossip compadres. Well, now I know. They went off and joined the IC. Nice to know they found productive outlets for their talents; I’d hate to have thought they’d gone to waste.

      1. Clive

        I was almost convinced that was a real, proper, trustworthy source of information. But the lack of a celebrity diet story gave the game away. I think the Washington Post would have left Naked Capitalism alone if there was a miracle food post in each day’s ensemble.

        Yves Tells You All You Need to Get Bikini Ready “How I Lost 10lb in a Week by Eating Cake and not Exercising — Get My Weight Loss Secrets Inside This Week’s Special Edition!!!”

        1. aab

          Now I desperately want the Earth 2 version of Naked Capitalism, with a glam photo of Yves by every post, and one of Lambert, possibly looking into middle distance with a snowy mountain in the background.

          Good Sex At Every Age: Lambert Shows You How

          How To Travel With Two Outfits and One Soap: Jerri-Lynn’s Asian Adventures

          Ten Tips To Selling Off National Monuments For Fun and Profit: Outis on the Latest from Greece

          And, of course: The Cumberbitch Mystery Solved: Why British Men Get All the Hot Chicks in Today’s Live With Clive

        2. Bugs Bunny

          You can search a lot of old Usenet archives with Google. You might try a boolean search with the name of the newsgroup and phrases you recall in quotes.

    1. pricklyone

      They were and are called newsgroups. They are still out there. All browsers, as far as I know still have the capability, though maybe requiring a plugin. Newsreaders are available standalone as well.
      This area relied on a system of “self-policing”, or general consensus to creating new groups, which fell by the wayside with the increasing monetization of internet spaces.
      If you want a good laugh, take a look at ’em now.
      Denizens of some of these groups are probably responsible for what is 4chan, and that sort.

    2. alex morfesis

      Gossip sells…it always has…it always will…even short lived famous PM in new york had it (if my memory of reading a few yellowed copies has not melded into some other memory)

      As to this laughable set of attacks on don trumpioni…maybe we were all spoiled by a moment in time…a make believe golden era of investigative reporting from the mid 60’s to mid 90’s…or maybe we just got older and wiser…

      Most newspapers lived off of classified ads and vanity press ads…

      hi I am so and so and here is my picture and so buy my stuff…

      Not sure when or how the ad departments were taken over by algorithms but seems as though they have been convinced by madison ave to chase the top major ad budgets instead of building up business via local vanity press ads…

      And as to the brit IC guy who its is claimed wrote the report…it would be nice to imagine they had a better capacity to present “gossip” in a more informed manner…the report feels as though it was written by a fifth grader on the school bus suddenly realising he forgot to prepare his report and slapped together something using his cellphone wifi to access the net…

      John McCain needs to be breathalyzed before he is allowed on capital hill…his meds need to be checked…

      or he and lindsey need to go get that condo in key west already

    3. Eric Patton

      Usenet. You read the posts (which were in newsgroups, like the alt.showbiz.gossip one you mention, alt.flame, or rec.sport.pro-wrestling, as examples) in a newsreader.

    4. visitor

      Aaah, newsgroups.

      For the younger generation, this was a bit like Reddit, with a huge number of specialized discussion groups organized hierarchically, with their comment threads. There were flame wars, trolls, copyrighted material illegally published worldwide, and the constant frustration when the local system configuration did not subscribe and download just that one newsgroup one absolutely, vitally needed.

      I subscribed to a variety of technical and cultural ones, and there was often useful information. I even delved into newsgroups archives a few years ago to retrieve information and press releases about old technology that was nowhere else to be found on the Internet.

      Did alt.showbiz.gossip ever got infected by the ur-troll-robot Serdar Argic? There was a time where it was everywhere — even in such newsgroups as comp.os.vms. Ever mention “Turkey” or “Armenia”, and the comment thread was forever spoiled, rendered useless.

      1. Propertius

        He was famous for surfacing every Thanksgiving and ruining the various recipe threads in the cooking newsgroups.

        I miss Usenet.

      1. fajensen

        Still there, Giganews (http://www.giganews.com/) runs a NNTP service for about five bux a month, the 5 GB monthly limit is only ever a problem if one is downloading a lot of … nature films.

        Even though many of the smart people are no longer there, I prefer the NNTP to the web because the web is now becoming so fragmented that it is getting really hard to stumble upon a quality-content web site; buried 50 pages deep in Google-link spam farming manure. The Internet is becoming a Grey Goo.

  12. tgs

    According to Greenwald, the ‘intelligence agent’ who compiled the GS dossier did so for a fee. He was paid first by anti-Trump Republicans and then the Democrats to find dirt on Trump.

    I am delighted to see that John McCain was the one who leaked it to the FBI and demanded that they take it seriously. I wonder how that will go over at the RNC?

    I looks the centrist liberals are not interested in what Bernie is doing – you know going out and making the case to Americans on actual issues that matter. Much easier to stay home and entertain increasingly unhinged fantasies about Trump and Putin.

    1. Annotherone

      In a US news-world gone mad, Bernie is one of a scant Few remaining sane – the rest of The Few are to be found on this website.

    2. RUKidding

      Bernie Sanders doesn’t make good click bait, especially in comparison to discussing Trump’s alleged sexual habits, apparently.

      As far as I’m concerned, the less I hear about Trump’s sexual proclivities, the happier I’ll be. I really don’t give a rat’s patoot about any of that, unless he does something illegal, esp if it has to do with kids. Otherwise: count me out.

    3. John k

      A twofer… throw mud at trump maybe sticks and anyway takes attention away from Bernie, same as was done during primaries.
      Neolib/cons have to fight brush fires everywhere…

  13. Jim Haygood

    If it’s not a full moon, it certainly looks and feels like one.

    In fact the full moon occurs about 12 hours from now.

    Mercury retrograde ended over the weekend, so communications glitches should ease now. ;-)

    1. Annotherone

      Wow – a touch of astrology here! ;-) Full Moon at 22 Cancer is but one degree away from DT’s natal Saturn. Had to look up what that means- Astrology King says: it adds seriousness to the emotions and can lead to distance in intimate relationships…one may have to deal with some challenging situations and negative attitudes which will feel worse than they actually are.

    2. 3.14e-9

      I was typing a comment to that effect but thought I should check first to see if someone else already mentioned tomorrow’s full moon. I didn’t think anyone would mention Mercury Rx, though. My comment was almost word-for-word Jim Haygood’s, except that I used the exact time of 6:34 AM EST.

      It always cracks me up when I see references to astrology on NC. I’ll add my two cents with the observation that WaPo called for the end of the label “fake news” the day Mercury returned direct. Also, every time Mercury goes retrograde (three times a year, for roughly three weeks), astrologers typically predict more and bigger mistakes than usual, e.g., the typo in the tweet about Trump’s “much bigger Navy” and WaPo’s Express cover using the symbol for Mars for the women’s rights march.

      Annotherone: Did Astrology King also mention that DT is experiencing a Saturn-Moon conjunction? That’s a longer-term transit that occurs only once every 28-29 years, and it reaches a critical phase this summer — right around the “Great American Eclipse,” which peaks over the middle of America and will be conjunct DT’s Ascendant. I don’t have any links handy, but imagine that you’ll find several if you do a search.

      1. Annotherone

        3.14e-9 ~ Probably he did somewhere among his writings. Astrologers, generally, seem to think DT is “in the cross-hairs” one way or another astrologically, this year. LOL! DT’s Moon is conjunct my natal Venus, so maybe I’ll receive some of the flak going his way. ;-)

        1. 3.14e-9

          Annotherone: What incoming president hasn’t been “in the crosshairs?” Wouldn’t matter if it was Clinton, Bernie, or Jesus. Maybe you mean that some astrologers are predicting dire events that will end his presidency? The charts are extreme, for sure. However, most of what I’ve read is based on a few major aspects, when what’s needed is a thorough analysis. I haven’t seen one, but I haven’t looked lately.

          Saturn transits to the Moon and Venus have some overlapping themes but work on different levels. Besides that, Trump has a close Sun-Moon opposition — he was born during a total lunar eclipse — which modifies the interpretation.

  14. Anne

    I have no interest in Trump’s sex life (mainly because the very thought just makes my skin crawl), though I do remember reading somewhere that he once said he really didn’t care about his partner’s satisfaction; seems pretty consistent with someone who thinks it’s okay to grab women by their genitals…am guessing he’s not very good at it, and that’s why he says he doesn’t care about his partners’ satisfaction.

    What I do have some interest in is that we may be close to having no credible IC at all. I was already skeptical of an FBI that could only ever seem to break up terror rings it gaslighted not-very-bright young men into joining, and then there’s the CIA…seems like it is less about gathering intelligence for the good of the nation/world, and more about cherry-picking it to carry out the political agenda of whoever’s in the WH, and stirring up major shit around the world so we can keep the MIC gears grinding.

    My fear is that the more credibility the IC loses, the worse this will get. And I seriously have no confidence that Trump is going to change this, as much as he is going to add to the general instability of the entire structure.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Trump wants to change this at the CIA – more people on field posts.

      Another change, initially at least – the CIA will not cherry pick intelligence to carry out the political agenda of the whoever’s in the WH (in the case, Trump, initially). They will focus on resisting Trump’s restructuring, instead his political agenda.

    2. TK421

      someone who thinks it’s okay to grab women by their genitals

      At the risk of nit-picking, what Trump said in that video wasn’t that he does such grabbing, but that–in his estimation–he could do such grabbing, if he wanted to, and get away with it.

      That is not a praiseworthy statement, but it is a world away from an admission of sexual assault.

      1. Anne

        Uh, no – what he said was:

        Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

        Bush: Whatever you want.

        Trump: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

        I stand by what I said: he does think it’s okay to grab women. Further, he thinks it’s okay to just move on them, kiss them – because he just can’t help himself. How many women came forward to talk about Trump moving on them?

        This is a man who sexualized his own daughter – both daughters, actually; if that isn’t enough to completely creep you out, and tell you what kind of person he is, I don’t know what is.

          1. nne

            You can suggest anything you want, but you may want to ask whether “the culture” is encouraging or promoting the sexualization of children by their parents. I can’t speak for anyone else, but “if she wasn’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her” is not really a theme we see much of in the culture. And have you seen some of the photos taken over the years? You may need mind bleach after.

          2. Parker Dooley

            Well, there is an upside. The more the culture normalizes depravity, the less likely our noble leaders are to be threatened by the Russki’s honeytraps. We are down to “dead girl or (maybe) live boy” territory. (Impunity reserved for platinum class, of course). /sarc

    3. alex morfesis

      Grabing women by their…I am beginning to think trump puts this stuff out there to deflect from real issues…

      he is a germaphobe so the idea he would just reach out and slide someone(grab ? Grip ?) when he doesn’t even like to shake hands does not fit…it really probably was childish banter to cover up a real touchy feely problem…

      And this childish report that if it had been produced by some former brit agent…I could joke that this explains why the sun has set on the empire…but this is so badly written…

      His taxes (which amazingly no one has asked when or if he will ever release them…) that was a nothingburger…

      Either way, he is the “don” for the next 4 years and if he was not sure about changing how the IC community functions, he will probably now break it up into smaller units or consolidate everything thru the whitehouse…

      Thankfully we don’t have any enemies who have the capacity to disable us without disabling themselves so any changes will not really effect any real threats…

    4. craazyboy

      Smells more to me like the Deep State wants to keep control of the WH.

      Remember, VP Pence was more or less forced on Trump by the R establishment back when the general race started and the Donald had to make nice with the R establishment in order to maximize party support and his chances of winning.

      So it’s easy to imagine a non messy way for the Deep State to have their way is to come up with some impeachable way to de-throne Trump, assuming Pence would then be their boy.

  15. Jen

    Lambert, I am reminded of your comment during the general when you said the Dems had already thrown the kitchen sink at Trump by calling him Hitler, and were now throwing sponges, bits of soap and flapping towels at him.

    Seems much the same with the progression…strike that…regression from Russian interference to golden showers. These people have lost their minds.

    Thanks for all of your points under #2. They will come in handy. last few sentences in particular.

    1. TK421

      Well if Trump was so bad, the Democrats should have gone with Bernie. When America faced the real Hitler, we sent the Army and Navy, not the local dog catcher.

      1. marblex

        Sadly, the Blue Dogs (still unfortunately in charge) don’t feel that way at all:

        “𝐈𝐧 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐬, 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐃𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐜𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐜 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐫𝐮𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐠𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐒𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐝? 𝐍𝐨𝐭 𝐨𝐧𝐞. 𝐉𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧; 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐫 𝐚 𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐥𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐭. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞’𝐬 𝐧𝐨 𝐩𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐭 𝐢𝐧 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐲, 𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐬𝐞𝐞 𝐢𝐭, 𝐢𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐲 𝐚𝐬 𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐥. 𝐖𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐲, 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐡 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐝𝐨𝐧𝐨𝐫𝐬 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦? 𝐖𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐒𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐣𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐖𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐒𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐞𝐭 𝐛𝐚𝐧𝐤𝐞𝐫𝐬, 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐩𝐚𝐲 𝐂𝐡𝐮𝐜𝐤 𝐒𝐜𝐡𝐮𝐦𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐲 𝐢𝐧 𝐨𝐟𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐞? 𝐖𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐒𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐖𝐡𝐢𝐭𝐞 𝐇𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐞, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐮𝐫𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐜𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐃𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐜𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐜 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐝 𝐧𝐞𝐰 𝐝𝐨𝐧𝐨𝐫𝐬 — 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐚𝐥 𝐡𝐮𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐬, 𝐚𝐬 𝐒𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐝𝐢𝐝 — 𝐨𝐫 𝐫𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐫𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐩𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐜 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐥𝐨𝐛𝐛𝐲 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠.”

        http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/gaius-publius/70623/the-elephant-in-the-room-is-a-donkey-reflections-on-kamala-harris

        1. LT

          They are setting up Sen. Corey Booker as her East Coast equivalent.
          So much being made of his testimony against Sessions that will do nothing to stop the appointment of Sessions.

          The Democrats may need Sessions more than the Republicans to keep their long time pawns down South from working towards alternatives to the Dems, while Dems try to get the next crisis going.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            If Trump can revive the Rust Belt, with jobs, jobs, jobs, those pawns down South will not be down South, but up North, to checkmate the Queen.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            Rahm, Kaine, Cuomo, Castro, and likely a woman senator (im not sure which one or ones) will be after the same blue dog mantle with a birth death model of four more years and no 90’s nostalgia.

            If you thought Martin O’Malley went no where, the Hillary kids will make you understand how Trump could get elected.

          3. aab

            If it really is true that my Berniecrat brethren (is there a female equivalent? “Sodality” isn’t alliterative) have taken over the California Democratic Party, suppressing Democrats in the South won’t yield much benefit.

            I’m still learning a lot about how this party stuff actually works (as opposed to the fairy tale mere voters are told), but I do not see how the neoliberals keep control of the party if they have lost control of the levers of party power in California. There’s lot of fighting left to do, but isn’t that often true in wars? World War II was like that, wasn’t it, in the European theater? There was a tipping point after which Germany couldn’t come back, but they all still had to slog and kill for more than a year before it was really over.

            Or am I succumbing to optimism bias?

              1. aab

                It was blocked in the State legislature by six bagmen who were bribed (as I understand it; for obvious reasons, the evidence isn’t official), one of whom went on to become our scrofulous Secretary of State, put in place specifically (it looks like) to make sure Clinton could rig California in 2016. I think all the guys that took payouts are now out of the legislature. But there are still a lot of neoliberals in there. We have term limits, which means that lobbyists write the laws and control many of the electeds by promising them lobbying gigs when their three terms are up. I’m not sure whether those neoliberal Dems will veer left now so they don’t get thrown out, or roll over for the lobbyists even more enthusiastically because their pathway upwards to feasting on corporate money nationally looks less likely.

                I met my assemblycritter at the elections. He struck me as surprisingly good at the retail level. He’s a hardcore machine Dem, but I think he may be nudgable leftward. We’ll see…

            1. Oregoncharles

              Sisterhood. Sorority (wrong associations, but humorous.)
              No alliteration, but at least the meaning is the same. I can think of one word that alliterates, but I don’t think you want to use that one.

          4. hunkerdown

            I just got Booker turned off at the local sandwich shop. I suggest that people do the same whenever they enter a telescreen-equipped establishment.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Trump is worse.

        Trump is Putin…baddest dictator of the 21st century.

        Thus, the jousting match between two equals required our champion be an empress.

  16. LT

    Re: Cooperative Economy Next…

    It would be the Midwest and South that would have a cooperative economy (mutual economic cooperation at the local or regional level) geographical advantage.

    While East and West Coast access to seas may seem to be a distinct advantage, the waterways of the interior USA provide for a more connected community.

    https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/geopolitics-united-states-part-1-inevitable-empire/
    Some excerpts:
    “It is worth briefly explaining why Stratfor fixates on navigable rivers as opposed to coastlines. First, navigable rivers by definition service twice the land area of a coastline (rivers have two banks, coasts only one). Second, rivers are not subject to tidal forces, greatly easing the construction and maintenance of supporting infrastructure. Third, storm surges often accompany oceanic storms, which force the evacuation of oceanic ports. None of this eliminates the usefulness of coastal ports, but in terms of the capacity to generate capital, coastal regions are a poor second compared to lands with navigable rivers….”

    “Thus, the Greater Mississippi Basin is the continent’s core, and whoever controls that core not only is certain to dominate the East Coast and Great Lakes regions but will also have the agricultural, transport, trade and political unification capacity to be a world power — even without having to interact with the rest of the global system…”

    “So long as the United States has uninterrupted control of the continental core — which itself enjoys independent and interconnected ocean access — the specific locations of the country’s northern and southern boundaries are somewhat immaterial to continental politics…”

    While fairly obvious to anyone who has lived and traveled in the USA for a long time, it’s a good read for presentation of those facts.

    “Even without having to interact with the rest of the global system…”:
    I emphasized that one line because it makes clear why what has been defined as the “coastal elites” appear far more concerned with globalization than the interior of the USA, while at the same time have always been more enthusiastic about centralized control of the entire USA. These are rifts that are baked into the geography of this country.

    1. Uahsenaa

      The Midwest is also where most of the key rail and trucking infrastructure/companies are. There’s a reason why the Pony Express was so vital: it covered the middle.

  17. Kim Kaufman

    ” First, we had Stein’s recount effort, justified in part by a(n unproven) theory that “Russian hacking” had affected the vote tallies. (Recall that 50% of Clinton voters believe this, although no evidence has ever been produced for it, it’s technically infeasible at scale, and statistically improbable.) ”

    I assure you Russian hacking had zero to do with Stein’s recount effort. No one in the EI community that I am aware of thought (or thinks) it was (is) serious – although hacking by anyone is a possibility. The Republicans have for years been committing election fraud so why not start in our own backyard? Such as: vote counts larger than the number of voters in some precincts, wide disparities between paper ballots and electronic voting machines, many issues with exit polling starting in the primaries (from the Dems) to the point where exit polls were simply eliminated from the general election, potential problems (always) with unreliable tabulators reading the paper ballots, etc. Then there’s the “flipping and stripping” that eliminated many minorities from the voter rolls because they had similar names – which couldn’t be measured in a recount but we believe had a big impact on Hillary losing.

    “The Fiscal Times from 2015 says that Trump is, indeed, a germaphobe. I suppose that Trump could have had the hookers wrapped up in latex onesies Trump could have taken protective measures, but still… ”

    My understanding is that the story says he was only watching…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I assure you Russian hacking had zero to do with Stein’s recount effort.

      I wrote:

      First, we had Stein’s recount effort, justified in part by a(n unproven) theory that “Russian hacking” had affected the vote tallies

      I wrote “justified in part” because the Stanford statistician whose study was initially used by Stein to justify her efforts cited the possibility of Russian hacking in his report, legitimizing a then-important Clintonite talking point. I linked to the report in Water Cooler as soon as it came out; link on request. The same statistician’s report, with the same charge, also figured, IIRC, in the (failed) Wisconsin recount suit.

  18. diptherio

    If there were a Linux distro that mimicked the Mac before the iOS engineers started crapping it up…

    Actually, there is. It’s called Ubuntu MATE 16.04 with the Cupertino Desktop. Lovin’ it, personally.

    1. Dikaios Logos

      Lambert and co:

      Re: Linux distros, consider Solus. I’ve worked with many Linuxes and Solus is just is so much less hassle than the others. It basically does all the desktop computing things us middle-aged foiks think are necessary and very little else unless you tell it to do more. The project is run by a serious Open Source professional at Intel and he’s gone back to basics with Solus, as opposed to forking Ubuntu or Arch or something.

      Not sure what’s going on with IOS these days, but there is also a Linux called Elementary OS which looks a lot like IOS. Very pretty, especially considering how bad most linux looks. But it’s no where near as reliable as Solus in my experience.

  19. Jason Boxman

    While Opera is my favorite and only browser, it’s worth nothing that the backend rendering engine is based on Chromium, which is mostly developed by Google.

    Take that for what you will.

  20. Jim

    Lambert, in a fine summary of our increasing legitimacy crisis, ended his analysis with the following comment:
    “This is the crossing of the Rubicon moment. Now you can say this is unique, not normal, an exceptional case but “Sovereign is who decides the exception.” (Nazi legal theorist Carl Schmitt) And who then is the exception? The IC is that what liberals want.”

    I am still an old fashioned supporter of liberal democracy and a genuine liberal should be highly critical of Schmitt’s paradox of sovereignty(the idea that the sovereign can be conceived as falling both inside (for purposes of evoking his compliance) and outside(for purposes of warding off an infinite regress in accounting for how sovereignty came to be established).

    This paradox is not immediately “given” or generated by the notion of sovereignty but results from a prior act of conceptual slicing that is geared in a certain way. If you enlarge the framework of analysis, a paradox does not have to result. If you consider both the institution of sovereignty and its effect, the “institution” requires or presupposes an institutor and the effects that become apparent, later in time than the moment of institution, can encompass the institution as well as the other members of society.

    If you enlarge the framework of analysis to include how sovereignty operates once it is established as well as the process of establishment itself, then there is nothing inconsistent in noting that the sovereign has to precede sovereignty at the moment of institution while coming under its rubric once it is established.

    Schmitt’s paradox emerges only if you “cut” the horizon of analysis much more narrowly. If you focus exclusively on the moment of institution, then it looks like the sovereign is both “inside” and “outside” sovereignty–that the sovereign’s situation is paradoxical.

    But the crucial point to notice is that there is a choice or a decision made by Schmitt as to where to “cut” the topic conceptually. If you “cut: sovereignty” at the moment of institution then you confront the paradox. If you cut the topic at a later stage in its unfolding there is no paradox.

    There was a decision on the part of Schmitt, to have this problem in the first place. The fact that there is a choice involved in order to situate a problem to begin with suggests that the language of problem identification is metaphoric and does not transparently reflect a situation that exists independently of our formulations.

    This dispelling of the Schmitt paradox of sovereignty is also a function of a different “conceptual slicing” maneuver on my part– as a believer in liberal democracy and the sovereignty of the people. Schmitt was not such a believer–he is an anti-liberal. He cuts off the philosophical analysis of sovereignty as the moment of institution for his own political purposes.

    Again, expanding the framework of analysis beyond the moment of institution makes the Chief executive more fully intelligible. While he might enjoy certain privileges and immunities stemming for his status within the political community, he comes within the purview of the state’s system of laws and is vulnerable to its penalties as any private citizen.

    The nature of the conceptualization of sovereignty will become a key issue as the process of delegitimization accelerates. Who rules–the people or the State and its sovereign head?

    1. cocomaan

      I see where you are coming from, but it seems to me that Schmitt chose the crisis moment as the point at which sovereignty is revealed. It’s the moment in which a choice is made for which a lot of problems are attached to it.

      Choices where there are not many problems attached are more easily solved and don’t require a reveal by the sovereign.

      So, for instance, if the sovereign makes an exception for the law when it comes to whether tomato is a fruit or a vegetable, it’s not a revelatory moment, because there are not many problems attached to that choice. Whereas, when the sovereign makes a choice about exceptions when it comes to killing US citizens without due process, there are many many more problems attached to that choice, and therefore it’s revelatory.

    2. Rosario

      As I see it now the true sovereign is the IC connected at the hip to the Pentagon. I’ll even go so far as to say that they have been running a separate show behind the stage since right after WWII. Based on foreign policy I don’t think I’m too far off point (i.e. continued doctrine under numerous administrations, etc.). Their effectiveness is revealed most in their blunders. How many BS stories have been fed to date? More than can be counted. How many feckless and self-serving wars, foreign interventions, and foreign election meddling. All that and their train keeps moving. If the legitimacy of these institutions was tied to moral culpability they would have been dismantled decades ago. Presidents and voters come and go, the Pentagon and CIA/NSA do not. It looks more like the legitimacy of the institution should have been called into question years ago. Now it is crushing itself under its own gluttonous weight.

  21. Elizabeth Burton

    Apple’s irredeemably sucky iOS Mail program

    Having hated Mail for decades, I decided to try out a mail app called Spark on my iPad and found it delightful. They have now generated a MacOS version that, while not perfect, is shown to be (for my uses, at least) superior to both Mail and Outlook.

  22. lyman alpha blob

    After checking out the article on rent-seeking, I did a search for some examples. Lookie what managed to worm it’s way into wikipedia:

    Taxi licensing is a textbook example of rent-seeking.[9] To the extent that the issuing of licenses constrains overall supply of taxi services (rather than ensuring competence or quality), forbidding competition by livery vehicles, unregulated taxis and/or illegal taxis renders the (otherwise consensual) transaction of taxi service a forced transfer of part of the fee, from customers to taxi business proprietors.

    Who knew that Travis Kalanick was also a wikipedian? That guy really gets around…

    1. Oregoncharles

      This, in various forms, is a longtime critique of licensing systems: they create an artificial monopoly. It isn’t just taxis; it’s also contractors and doctors. However, in cases where the public’s safety is at stake, it’s difficult to come up with a good alternative. I was a landscape contractor; the test they make you take was a joke. The real purpose is to require contractors to be insured and bonded, which protects the public.

      In my case, the Legislature upped the demand about the time I turned 65, so I refused to start taking their ridiculous yearly classes – landscaping is not a field that changes a whole lot. That was just a ploy to squeeze out the little guys, like me, and it succeeded. So my partner, 10 years younger, took over that burden, because he does a lot of installations (he’s a permaculturist) and needed the license. Now technically I work for him.

      I suppose you could just require anyone doing certain kinds of work to have the insurance without going through all the licensing foofaraw. Enforcement would be tricky, though. And then there are doctors.

  23. fresno dan

    http://www.ocweekly.com/news/judges-reject-orange-countys-claim-that-social-workers-didnt-know-lying-in-court-was-wrong-7774616

    Using taxpayer funds, government officials in Orange County have spent the last 16 years arguing the most absurd legal proposition in the entire nation: How could social workers have known it was wrong to lie, falsify records and hide exculpatory evidence in 2000 so that a judge would forcibly take two young daughters from their mother for six-and-a-half years?

    From the you-can’t-make-up-this-crap file, county officials are paying Lynberg & Watkins, a private Southern California law firm specializing in defending cops in excessive force lawsuits, untold sums to claim the social workers couldn’t have “clearly” known that dishonesty wasn’t acceptable in court and, as a back up, even if they did know, they should enjoy immunity for their misdeeds because they were government employees.

    A panel at the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit this week ruled on Orange County’s appeal of federal judge Josephine L. Staton’s refusal last year to grant immunity to the bureaucrats in Preslie Hardwick v. County of Orange, a lawsuit seeking millions of dollars in damages. In short, judges Stephen S. Trott, John B. Owens and Michelle T. Friedland were not amused. They affirmed Staton’s decision.

    ================================================================
    My first inkling is that this story, if in fact published in a “real” newspaper, was published as “too good to check.” However, there is a link to a court opinion, and it looks like a legitimate court opinion.
    Google tells me Stephen S. Trott, John B. Owens and Michelle T. Friedland are in fact Federal judges – so it seems like its not fake news….
    Which begs the question: how is it that a number of local officials are not being prosecuted – civil damages are not enough.

    1. Waldenpond

      Ok, read that and several other items. Questions by lawyers and judges are not testimony nor fact. Family law disputes are the worst.

      For me, the lawyers don’t seem to be arguing that the workers lied (although they did when they claimed the children were doing well when a therapist described them as upset… is that doing well under the circumstances? I didn’t read the exact testimony.) and should have immunity but that they didn’t lie and should have immunity.

      Their employers still argue that the employees did not lie and one retired, the other is still employed and even promoted and that they can’t release the data. It should be released if the adult children demand it, although I imagine the state will attempt to block it even then.

      1. mudduck

        To beg a question means to pose a question that assumes the answer. However, the phrase nowadays is more commonly used to mean Raising a question, as above. Good luck trying to keep the original sense.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Why was the charge not contempt of court? I’d think the judges would be more than just not amused.

  24. Plenue

    >“THE CRIMES OF SEAL TEAM 6” [Intercept]

    Uh-oh, this might be a bad move for The Intercept. Soldiers are apparently supposed to be off limits. Even voracious anti-war/anti-empire critics seem to generally avoid saying anything bad about the actual tools of war and empire.

  25. Synoia

    mutual economic cooperation at the local or regional level

    I see a resurgence of bartering under such a system.

    Pity about the sales and income tax revenues.

  26. djrichard

    MMT sighting in not necessarily the alternative press: http://realmoney.thestreet.com/articles/01/10/2017/yo-krugman-deficits-still-dont-matter

    In fact, this was about the 40th headline down in the scroll of “news” on yahoo.com . Could it be that MMT is getting some love?

    I don’t necessarily agree with the statements he makes on the natural rate of interest rates. But it doesn’t matter, because fear of interest rates are a canard just like the fear of the federal debt/deficit is.

    And he rightly takes Krugman to task for perpetuating both canards. Honestly, I would have expected better from Krugman on this topic. He must have got his talking points from Janet Yellen.

  27. Praedor

    Ahem. Just to be clear, you can be a germaphobe and feel safe with a golden shower (if you just must go that way…eiew). See, FRESH urine is aseptic UNLESS one has a bladder infection. So, germaphobes, have at it. Get pissed upon. Just ask first if anyone to do the peeing on you has a bladder infection first and, if not, you’re good to go.

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Good article. Thanks for the link, geoff.

      Lambert, thank you for pointing out the broader implications on the Constitutional order from the pattern of crises being engineered in an effort to delegitimize the President-elect. A “crossing the Rubicon” moment indeed, regardless of how one views the President-elect. Unfortunately IMO, I believe this effort is also damaging the credibility of the agencies from which the attacks are said to be emanating, perhaps irreparably.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Maybe this is what chuck schumer was talking about the other day when he cautioned Trump not to piss off the “intelligence” community.

      So this is the A game? Yikes! Somebody needs to get traded, and soon.

        1. integer

          Team B: The trillion-dollar experiment
          April 1993 pp. 22, 24-27 (vol. 49, no. 03) © 1993 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

          Late last year [1992], the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) released the 1976 “Team B” reports. Team B was an experiment in competitive threat assessments approved by then-Director of Central Intelligence George Bush. Teams of “outside experts” were to take independent looks at the highly classified data used by the intelligence community to assess Soviet strategic forces in the yearly National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs). NIEs are authoritative and are widely circulated within the government. U.S. national security policy on various issues as well as the defense budget are based on their general conclusions. Although NIEs represent the collective judgment of the entire intelligence community, the lead agency is the CIA.

          There were three “B” teams. One studied Soviet low-altitude air defense capabilities, one examined Soviet intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) accuracy, and one investigated Soviet strategic policy and objectives. But it is the third team, chaired by Harvard professor Richard Pipes, that ultimately received considerable publicity and is commonly referred to as Team B.

          The Team B experiment was concocted by conservative cold warriors determined to bury détente and the SALT process. Panel members were all hard-liners. The experiment was leaked to the press in an unsuccessful attempt at an “October surprise.” But most important, the Team B reports became the intellectual foundation of “the window of vulnerability” and of the massive arms buildup that began toward the end of the Carter administration and accelerated under President Reagan.

          How did the Team B notion come about? In 1974, Albert Wohlstetter, a professor at the University of Chicago, accused the CIA of systematically underestimating Soviet missile deployment, and conservatives began a concerted attack on the CIA’s annual assessment of the Soviet threat. This assessment–the NIE–was an obvious target.

  28. Hana M

    From the newsconference. This is Sheri Dillon who is working on the hand-off of Trump’s business interests:

    DILLON: Through instructions in the trust agreement, President-elect trust — President-elect Trump first ordered that all pending deals be terminated. This impacted more than 30 deals, many of which were set to close by the end of 2016. As you can well imagine, that caused an immediate financial loss of millions of dollars, not just for President-elect Trump, but also for Don, Ivanka and Eric.

    DILLON: The trust agreement as directed by President Trump imposes severe restrictions on new deals. No new foreign deals will be made whatsoever during the duration of President Trump’s presidency. New domestic deals will be allowed, but they will go through a vigorous vetting process.

    The president-elect will have no role in deciding whether the Trump Organization engages in any new deal and he will only know of a deal if he reads it in the paper or sees it on TV. Because any new deal could — and I emphasize could — be perceived as causing a conflict or as exploiting the office of the presidency, new deals must be vetted with the ethics adviser, whose role will be to analyze any potential transactions for conflicts and ethics issues.

    Just think…if the Clintons had done this sort of thing with Clinton Foundation fundraising when she became Sec of State….

    1. aab

      Except, of course, for the little problem that most of the point of Clinton being at State and the Foundation continuing was to enrich the family through the Foundation and advance its power.

      No mention of Tiffany? Is she formally being treated as a by-blow?

    1. polecat

      McClatchy increasingly sucks sewage !

      The Sacramento Bee just inked a deal to sell their headquarters ….. only to lease it from the new owners … Ha ha … that tells me their days are numbered …. kinda like that bastion of .. ah .. ‘the truth’, The New York Fish Wrap !

      1. hunkerdown

        McClatchy, for their part, isn’t claiming the contents of NATiOnal Review reports as anything more than marcom. Schofield needs some phone calls to set him on the straight and narrow.

    1. craazyboy

      Tom Friedman picks up coverage tomorrow:

      Watergate Hotel rolls over in grave, goes out with a whimper, not a satisfying bang.

  29. RTFMplease

    Thanks for the Opera reminder. They have come a long way since I last gave them a try. Their latest is much snappier than Firefox or Chrome for me. Fairly painless to import and organize bookmarks, nice.

  30. Gareth

    Now that the identity of the British private intel agent who cooked up the bogus report on Trump is known, Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen has an excellent litigation target to accompany Buzz Feed and CNN. Being accused of meeting Russian agents in Prague when you have proof you were at a football game is pretty much a slam dunk and those British defamation laws strongly favor the plaintiff. Happy hunting Mike!

  31. Jim Haygood

    Ritual flogging of the MSM:

    Trump slammed CNN reporter Jim Acosta, who he called out during the presser over their report on a two-page synopsis they claim was presented to Trump.

    With Trump looking to call on other reporters, Jim Acosta yelled out, “Since you are attacking us, can you give us a question?”

    “Not you,” Trump said. “Your organization is terrible!”

    Acosta pressed on, “You are attacking our news organization, can you give us a chance to ask a question, sir?”

    “I’m not going to give you a question,” Trump responded. “Don’t be rude. I’m not going to give you a question. You are fake news!”

    [lifted from ZH]

    Love seeing the MSM publicly excoriated. Only thing better would be a couple of burly bouncers, punting an ink-stained wretch onto the sidewalk head first.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Some person A: That’s rude. Telling him his organization is fake news.

      Some person B: I like straight talk, except McCain’s straight talk.

      Some person A: Presidents don’t talk like that.

      Some person B: I want my presidents to be just like me, painting my rooms gold and as most New Yorkers, talk fast and loud. That’s like me!

      I guess there is no pleasing everyone. Just be yourself, then.

    2. Carolinian

      That exchange is a beautiful thing. The MSM don’t seem to realize how thin the ice is when they embark on full propaganda mode. Sticking to the facts is not just a fig leaf…it’s their only protection.

      1. aab

        I get the impression they still don’t realize they NEED protection.

        I can’t wait for the back story on how the CIA got Buzzfeed to spew out the fan fiction from yesterday, particularly after what Trump associate Peter Thiel did to Gawker. Did Peretti take out an insurance policy that pays him directly if the business is fed to lions?

  32. allan

    A helpful buyer’s [remorse] guide: What to know about your high-deductible health plan [D&C]

    At some point when you feel sick, you need someone other than Dr. Google.

    But that information isn’t free. Those of us with a high-deductible health plan (and that’s a few of us) may worry less about what’s wrong, than what it will cost to find out.

    Most people with a plan through Obamacare have a high-deductible, and more employers are putting their workers on this type of plan. Which means more questions. This being January, the start of a new health care year, it’s the perfect time to provide answers. …

    Know your plan.
    Understand insurance terms.
    Even though you are responsible for all or part of the bill, your doctor’s office can’t tell you what you’ll pay until after your appointment. Lots of reasons for this when even a simple visit has a complexity that makes rocket science look like child’s play. You need to know that every medical procedure has a Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code, which has a dollar value attached. While you made an appointment for a specific complaint, your doctor/physician assistant/nurse/nurse practitioner/therapist doesn’t know what you need until the person sees you. The office visit, even if the provider did nothing but talk with you, can be coded at one of five levels. Even if the staff knew ahead of time what your visit would involve, they don’t know whether you’ve met your deductible. You may not know because it can take a while for doctors to submit bills and insurers to process claims. … [Got that? There will be a quiz at the end.]
    You’ll discover that it’s hard to compare prices for health care. … [But, but … markets!]
    Even if you didn’t know the amount going in, you may be asked to pay on your way out. Doctors’ billing staff have access to different price information than do patients. … [Information asymmetry is cool.]
    You may be asked to pay a deposit. Not all offices have the staff necessary to contact all the different insurers and go through the dizzying number of plans. Also, the rise in high-deductible plans has led some patients to stiff their doctors. So you may be asked for partial payment. … [For example, a first born child. Or the thumb from your dominant hand.]
    Even if you can’t shop around for prices, you can minimize your expenses. [Don’t get sick. And don’t marry or parent anybody who does, either.]

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      I hear tell obama took credit for all this great health stuff last night–I didn’t watch it because I just can’t stand to listen to the guy anymore. Still, if he wants to claim credit, I say we give it to him. All of it. Every last drop.

      1. aab

        Rather like the poisonous cup Voldemort left in the cave in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, if Voldemort was stupid enough to give a speech where he boasted about its flavor and then hung around long enough for Harry and Dumbledore to be able to force him to gulp it down instead of one of them.

        I’m so sorry I helped him get elected.

  33. Waldenpond

    Co-op… Organic Valley is to be praised for being a co-op that raises the income of it’s farmers but meh, the ‘organic’ label. Pasture fed is just labeling (not regulation) stuck on what is still factory farming. It means ‘access’ to the outdoors (which can mean one small door opened between warehouses and the outdoors may be a dirt paddock) and the days when cows are on pasture vary to a current 120 days. In some areas, simply offering the cows cut grass suffices. Grass fed is better, and you will pay an extreme mark up for grassfed only products but it still contains the ‘usually indicates cows are not confined’ disclaimer. Organics are increasingly moving to shelf stable (tastes horrible, toxic plastic boxes even worse if processed IN the box) by marketing it as ‘green’ by reducing savings on refrigeration.

    I remember Organic Valley specifically for being outed by drone cameras for their fake bucolic imagery…. photos showed warehouses and one front yard sized tiny patch of green.

    We’re spoiled here, it’s temperate so we can find grass fed dairy and meat… but it’s expensive. I like a product that comes in glass bottles… once you return the bottle (large deposit) it’s a reasonable price but carting around bottles is not something we do regularly.

      1. Waldenpond

        Wasn’t sure who they were. Looked them up…. Looks like 33% spent on public ed (advertising?) 33% on research and analysis and the rest on overhead, 17% mgmt, 9% fundraising, and 7% reporting. So not great financially, but they do file lawsuits against companies erroneously using the term organic and have written on large factory farms etc. Was OV part of Cornucopias lawsuit?…….http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/12/11/help-usda-factory-farms-masquerading-products-organic

        [Other well-known brands whose dairies failed to measure up in Cornucopia’s investigation were Herbruck’s and Organic Valley.]

        I’m in CA. Our county has local dairy/cattle farms and even regional Strauss is a much better product.

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          So Organic Valley is in Wisconsin but they keep a pretty low profile so it is hard to know what to think. Their HQ is in a area that is pretty off-the-beaten-track. I know one guy who works there who seems like a very good guy. And most of the organic farms in Wisconsin and Minnesota – the more serious of which I would presume all work with OV – are small-ish. But, I mean, industrial is industrial. I don’t know enough about farming to know if dairy aggregators, which is what OV seems to be, can be good businesses.

  34. dcblogger

    The Republican Sabotage of the Vote Recounts in Michigan and Wisconsin

    Michigan officials declared in late November that Trump won the state’s count by 10,704 votes. But hold on – a record 75,355 ballots were not counted.

    The uncounted ballots came mostly from Detroit and Flint, majority-Black cities that vote Democratic.

    this is why I supported Jill Stein’s recount, because you only learn about this sort of thing in a recount situation.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Did she suspect that before petitioning Wisconsin, that there was evidence of ballots not counted?

      I believe her petition claimed possible Russian hacking as a cause.

    2. aab

      Except what Stein did was incapable of addressing this situation. What her effort did reveal was vote rigging by the Democrats in Detroit. Because of Michigan rules, when they checked and found that over a a third of Michigan precincts had reported more votes than there were ballots in the sealed boxes, the original, clearly incorrect and illegitimate count stood — they didn’t correct the report to reflect the reality of the physical ballots. That’s part of why there are all those uncounted ballots in those Democratic strongholds — not because of Republican cheating, but Democratic cheating.

      I’m not blaming Stein for this, per se. My understanding is that electoral integrity advocates came to her because she had standing, and she said she’d help. But what she claimed she was doing and why turned out be be very different from what could be done at that point. Whatever approach is tried next needs to be better thought out.

  35. dk

    I think calling the various attacks on Trump’s legitimacy ineffective is an incomplete analysis.

    The effect these attacks have is to further antagonize Trump (a finalist in the Year’s Most Antagonistic stakes since the 80’s).

    Which many find satisfying, as it confirms their opinion of him (doubly). But it’s a poor tactical choice. Further antagonizing Trump drives him into the hands of his flatterers, which are the most aggressive elements of the Republican/alt-con fringe.

    The press’s handling of Trump in the recent news conference is a case in point. Aggressive questioning on exaggerations of fairly valid issues leading to 1) aggressive/exaggerated/dismissive responses, and 2) Trump hates the press even more. Net result, poor disclosure and detail from Trump (he’ll always have Twitter…), disinclination for Trump to hear anything not presented in the context of fawning and flattery; poor communication across the board.

    I think these are poorly chosen behaviors, by a culture that likes to consider itself intelligent and sophisticated. Trump may not be a pussy cat, he may indeed be odious in some ways (okay, a lot of ways); but these stone-casters are not without sins of their own.

    When we indulge our own preferences and biases, especially at the expense of others, we weaken our objections to the vagaries of others, and loose opportunities to influence their choices.

    One should consider: does one want to be right/morally pure/virtuous/etc, or does one want to win (or at least survive to continue)? The means shape the end, so precision and proportion are called for. Strident moral purists need not apply.

  36. I Have Strange Dreams

    You cannot build a society founded on greed. Greed is a mental illness. All attempts to fix the American experiment are doomed to failure. The best solution for the world would be a new American civil war. Have at it guys.

  37. Octopii

    Re iOS Mail, sorry that happened. But iCloud is even more frustrating, and potentially (probably) will hose up more than just mail at some point.

  38. ekstase

    “Researchers at Johns Hopkins and New York Universities are giving psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, to ordained ministers”
    Wow. I read this and they’re actually looking for spiritual answers, as though this is an area deserving respect! Not sure when this turn of events took place, but from the article, these drugs can help people with the most severe traumas there are. I was reminded of a video of British marines in 1964, who were given LSD without their knowledge. Their “giggling” and “inconsequential behavior,” cause the commander to give up. Times have changed.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KWodyapGNxI

  39. Hana M

    Heartfelt thanks, Lambert, for two excellent co-op stories from The Heartland. One of the great things about NC is the effort you and Yves put into discovering and curating sources of information and perspectives that will never be available to those who subsist (poor souls) on a steady MSM info junk diet.

  40. Waldenpond

    Ds are irredeemable: Roberta Lange NV has asked for advice on running for DNC secretary. Unfortunately you can’t give advice on twitter as her account is private but if you know her personally …. remember to be polite.

    16 hours, rules changed without majority vote etc.
    http://heavy.com/news/2016/05/nevada-democratic-convention-what-happened-roberta-lange-delegates-election-fraud-videos-recount-denied/

    https://www.salon.com/2016/05/16/what_the_hell_just_happened_in_nevada_sanders_supporters_are_fed_up_and_rightfully_so/

    [Clinton edged Sanders in the Nevada caucus on Feb. 20th (52.6 percent to 47.3 percent). On April 2, however, the state party held its Clark County convention and Sanders mobilized more delegates than the Clinton campaign (1,613 to 1,298), which swung the delegate count in his favor.

    At the state convention this weekend, the final step in the process, Sanders supporters hoped to secure the lion’s share of the remaining 12 delegates. Instead, the delegate allocation rules were abruptly changed and Clinton was awarded 7 of the 12 delegates. State party chair, Roberta Lange, told caucus-goers that the “ruling by the Chair is not debatable; we cannot be challenged and I move that…and I announce that the rules have been passed by the body.” ]

    If this isn’t a reason for promotion within the D party, I don’t know what is. Well, other than Bittel’s billion.

  41. frosty zoom

    looks like the “birthers” have now been replaced by the “pissers”.

    i do, however, prefer the more euphemistic “tinklers”.

    now the democrats can have their “pee party” movement.

  42. Oregoncharles

    Recounts are not a ” change to the Constitutional order.” The justification has nothing to do with “hacking,” but with the fundamental unreliability of US electoral counts. Ask Brad Friedman or Greg Palast, who was involved in the latest attempt. Another factor is that Trump lost th epopular count by such a wide margin; it would be worthwhile to correct that travesty, little as I want to see Hillary as President. All three states were close enough to justify a recount. “Foreign hacking,” without mentioning Russia (Guccifer was supposed to be Romanian), was invoked only in one court case, because a good lawyer throws in everything.

    What IS a challenge to constitutional order is that paid-for recounts were blocked by partisan interests. That didn’t happen in Ohio in 2004. Instead, they just cheated on the recounts. it’s unfortunate that they started at the very last moment; apparently it took that long to collect the information and get it to someone who cared.

    It isn’t only that we don’t have a democracy because votes have little to do with policy; it’s also because the counts themselves are so unreliable.

    Overall, I think you have 3 instances of the IC changing the Constitutional order, not 4. Personally I’m inclined to chalk it up to Democrat shock, denial, and sour grapes. But the IC exploiting the event to assert power is genuinely dangerous, and so is liberals’ willingness to go along with it just because they didn’t like th eoutcome. Also, majorleague hypocrisy.

  43. VietnamVet

    In 73 years, I have never seen anything as weird and unhinged as the campaign to delegitimize the 2016 election. Chuck Schumer’s sixth way to make Donald Trump kowtow to the Deep State turns out to be a rejected dossier of scatology that ends up attached to an intelligence briefing to the President and the President Elect. It is promptly leaked and published by BuzzFeed. This is a level of corruption and incompetence that got the USA into endless wars across the world. Next is Russia. God Help Us.

  44. Pat

    Both my MF senators voted against it. Second most liberal state in the Union can’t get their representatives to support something so sensible.

  45. readerOfTeaLeaves

    Lambert,
    First, thanks for covering co-ops — it’s encouraging in a world filled with a whole lot of crazy to see this kind of news.

    Also, as a contrast to your item about Macy’s and Sears layoffs and shutdowns, AMZN is hiring 100,000 to ramp up the online delivery process. (As someone who uses Amazon’s services a lot, I am part of the move toward online, and haven’t been inside a Sears in years. The last time that I went to Macy’s, I was told to go online for the item I wanted. I did. The rest, as they say… well, the rest is that it was cheaper to get the identical item delivered to my door via UPS after ordering that item from Amazon.)

    http://www.seattletimes.com/business/amazon/amazon-plans-to-hire-100000-over-the-next-18-months-2/

  46. Jeff N

    That was me that recommended Opera & its free VPN! I’m pleasantly surprised that someone even read that comment I made! :)

Comments are closed.