2:00PM Water Cooler 1/3/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, we’ve been having intermittent outage problems today, and as a result, I am behind (and the last post was behind). Please check back in an hour, and in the meantime, talk amongst yourselves! –lambert

UPDATE Here ya go. –lambert

Politics

Our Famously Free Press

For those who came in late to the whole “fake news” thing, here’s a link on the White House Iraq Group, “the marketing arm of the White House whose purpose was to sell the 2003 invasion of Iraq to the public.” And here’s WaPo’s story on the same topic, five (5) years later: “Two days later, WHIG’s product placement was on display. It began with a front-page story in the Times describing Iraq’s clandestine purchase of aluminum tubes that, the story said, could be used to produce weapons-grade uranium. The story said that information came from ‘senior administration officials.'” The aluminum tubes story was, naturally, fake; see here for “Lie by Lie: A Timeline of How We Got Into Iraq” (see 8/17/02, 9/19/02, Oct 2002, 10/4/02, 1/9/03, 1/24/03, and 1/28/03).

“Russian government hackers do not appear to have targeted Vermont utility, say people close to investigation” [WaPo]. Yeah, “people” like the utility itself, as we pointed out Friday.

“How The Washington Post’s Defense Of Its Russian Hacking Story Unraveled Through Web Archiving” [Forbes]. “he Post not only did not fact check the story until after it was published live on its website, but in its defense of the story, the Post made a number of false statements about what was written when, which the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine reveals…. In fact, it was not until an hour after publication, somewhere between 8:47PM and 9:24PM that the Post finally updated its story to include the statement above that it had contacted the two utilities for comment.” The Post lies like a rug. I’m shocked.

Trump Transition

“Republicans are to drop a plan to gut the independent body that investigates political misconduct, after an outcry” [BBC]. “President-elect Donald Trump had criticised Republicans after they voted to strip the Office of Congressional Ethics of its independence. ‘Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance!’ Mr Trump said in a tweet.” Well, well. Then again: “He isn’t telling congressional Republicans to save the OCE. He’s telling them to gut it later, under the cover of bigger news” [The New Republic]. Quite possibly. But to me, the important part of the story is that he’s telling them.

2016 Post Mortem

“Democrats, stop blaming Putin and look in the mirror” [Will Bunch, Philadelphia Daily News]. “[U]ltimately, the real reformers and anti-Trump newcomers will need to tackle the on-the-ground jobs like ward leader or committee person, the unglamorous soul of the Democratic Party machine. And the more predictable party hacks should expect primary challenges. Those are the kind of things that make party insiders cringe — but they ought to be cringing after November’s debacle.” Bunch is right. And any party, even the purest snowflake of parties, needs ward heelers.

Democrat nomenklatura thrashing like wounded animals:

From July 24, 2016… [Wall Street Journal, “Hillary Clinton to Take Command of a Changed Democratic Party”]. “‘It doesn’t matter what’s in the party platform,” said Mr. Cowan of Third Way. ‘She’ll have absolutely no choice but to govern from the center, otherwise she’ll have a dead presidency.'”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls for free tuition at New York public colleges” [AP]. “Cuomo’s plan would provide free tuition to a State University of New York or City University of New York college, including two-year community colleges, for residents whose families earn less than $125,000. The Democrat unveiled his plan Tuesday morning at LaGuardia Community College in Queens alongside U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.” This never would have happened without Sanders running, not a million years. (“Cuomo is Putin’s tool” stories starting in 10, 9, 8, counting, 7….) And it’s also in New York State, Clinton territory, so it’s starting to look like the wooden stake, the garlic, and the silver are doing what they ought to be doing.

It’s quite rare to see class bias expressed so nakedly:

Particularly ironic since a controlled flight into terrain is going to kill those New Yorker-reading pilots too, along with the proles back in cattle class.

UPDATE Well, maybe not that rare: “Top Trump Candidate: Plutocracy Is “Just What America Needs'” [Vanity Fair] Larry Kudlow, candidate for CEA chair: “Why shouldn’t the president surround himself with successful people? Wealthy folks have no need to steal or engage in corruption.” (“Folks” is just as much a tell when a right-wing economist uses it as when Obama or anybody else in the Beltway uses it; it conceals power relations.) This argument is the mirror image of the liberals “conflict of interest” argument, and both are wrong. Capital is neither theft nor conflict of interest (as we conceive those things); see the bearded one for detail.

It does seem like the Beltway hive mind has finally come to the conclusion that the long Clinton grift is over. But there are holdouts:

“Ohio became the most recent state to pass a preemptive law, this time in relation to minimum wage, on December 19th when Ohio Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 331” [Progressive Army]. “The bill got to Gov. Kasich’s desk because of local elected officials. In particular, Nonpartisan Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley and Democrat Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, asked the Republican-controlled state legislature to rescue their own constituency from the opportunity to choose for themselves as the measure was just slated to be on an upcoming local ballot. The state legislators quickly heeded their request and the bill signed into law by Kasich puts this initiative on ice for the time being.”

“State officials say it’s been hard to plan long term and recruit and train candidates in off-election years due to inconsistent funding from the DNC. Under Dean, the national party installed and paid several staff members in each state. But that program ended after Obama’s election. State parties began to receive monthly payments of anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, an amount that varies depending on the year. At some point, the parties have received no money at all. The DNC does provide some money to state parties for elections based on the state’s competitive races and other factors” [ABC]. Read this for the horrible details. Obviously, letting Obama anywhere near any state-level initiatives is like handing an arsonist a match and a can full of gasoline.

Stats Watch

Purchasing Managers’ Manufacturing Index, December 2016: “The report describes both new orders and production as remaining “robust” and leading to a year-and-a-half high for hiring. The strength is especially reflected in pre-production inventories” [Econoday].

Institute For Supply Management Index, December 2016: “a very strong December” [Econoday]. “New orders are the clear highlight of the report.” And: Above consensus and a twenty-three month high [Economic Calendar]. But: “Based on this survey and the unusually unified district Federal Reserve Surveys (all in expansion, one would expect the Fed’s Industrial Production index to be improved in December (note that the hard data last month contradicted all the surveys). Overall, surveys do not have a high correlation to the movement of industrial production (manufacturing) since the Great Recession” [Econintersect].

Commodities: “China to become net importer of some rare earths” [Mining.com]. “by 2025 China’s domestic demand for neodymium oxide for permanent magnets alone is poised to exceed total global production of neodymium oxide by 9,000 tonnes in our base case scenario, highlighting the imminent need for additional sources of supply.” When I lived in Canada, I followed Canadian gold mining stories with interest. Are rare earth metals an equally sporty game?

Construction Spending, November 2016: “Construction had been lagging through most of 2016 but, like the factory sector, appears to have picked up steam going into year-end” [Econoday]. “The breadth of gains is most impressive in this report, one that will give a lift to fourth-quarter GDP estimates.” But: “Public construction and private construction are in expansion. Overall, construction is now trending STRONGLY up. The rolling averages STRONGLY improved” [Econintersect]. “But the confusion is that construction spending does not correlate to construction employment – casting doubt on the validity of one or both data sets.”

The Bezzle: “Silicon Valley’s obscure unicorns could boost 2017 IPO market” [Reuters]. “Similar firms now looking to go public realize they have a marketing challenge ahead as they seek to capture investor interest before their market debuts. With names that trip up a spell checker and arcane business-model descriptions, they need to educate investors on their niche strategies and to start those efforts long before the typical two-week investor road shows that precede IPOs.”

The Bezzle: [Wall Street Journal, “Twitter Seeks a Little Help From Its Users”]. “Despite its challenges, Twitter has become more relevant than ever, largely due to President-elect Donald Trump’s frequent use of the platform to air his views on subjects from foreign policy to Vanity Fair magazine’s business prospects.” No, not “largely due.” You can curate your own timeline on Twitter, unlike Facebook. That’s invaluable. It would be nice if the neighborhood weren’t quite so rough, but Twitter isn’t obsessive about nailing your real life identity so they can sell it, either. That too is invaluable. So I hope Dorsey doesn’t screw it up. The thread is here.

The Bezzle: I hope this is not true (a commenter points out the the ad isn’t in the correct ratio):

Globalization: “Angela Merkel to skip Davos summit” [Politico]. Stick a fork in Davos man?

The Rapture Index: Closes up 1 on Israel [Rapture Ready]. “US and Israel relations hits an Obama Admin. low.” That is, Bibi going nuclear brings The Rapture closer, which is good! Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current, January 2: 184.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 63 Greed (previous close: 59, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 70 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 3 at 1:51pm. The doldrums.

Imperial Collapse Watch

“During his interrogation, Hussein revealed that by 2003 he had largely turned over power to his aides so he could concentrate on writing a novel. There was no program of weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein was also deeply critical of al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups inspired by Wahhabism. During the interrogation, Hussein also had a warning for the United States about Iraq. He said, ‘You are going to fail. You are going to find that it is not so easy to govern Iraq. You are going to fail in Iraq because you do not know the language, the history, and you do not understand the Arab mind'” [Alternet].

Gaia

“With enough evidence, even skepticism will thaw” [WaPo]. Doing science on the Greenland ice sheet.

Class Warfare

“A Distant Elite: How Meritocracy Went Wrong” [The Hedgehog Review]. Quoting Daniel Bell: “There can never be a pure meritocracy because high-status parents will invariably seek to pass on their positions, either through the use of influence or simply by the cultural advantages that their children inevitably possess. Thus after one generation a meritocracy simply becomes an enclaved class.”

“Fear of Trump Triggers Deep Spending Cuts by Nation’s Second-Largest Union” [Bloomberg]. “‘Because the far right will control all three branches of the federal government, we will face serious threats to the ability of working people to join together in unions,’ SEIU President Mary Kay Henry wrote in an internal memo dated Dec. 14. ‘These threats require us to make tough decisions that allow us to resist these attacks and to fight forward despite dramatically reduced resources.’ After citing the need to ‘dramatically re-think’ how to implement the union’s strategy, Henry’s all-staff letter announces that SEIU ‘must plan for a 30% reduction’ in the international union’s budget by Jan. 1, 2018, including a 10 percent cut effective at the start of 2017.”

News of the Wired

“Liberation Permaculture by Toby Hemenway” (podcast) [Creative Destruction].

“How To Be Good” [The New Yorker]. Moral philosopher Derek Parfit, RIP. “[H]e learned that [his book] “Reasons and Persons” was being memorized and chanted, along with sutras, by novice monks at a monastery in Tibet.”

“A Smuggling Operation: John Berger’s Theory of Art” [Los Angeles Review of Books]. Berger: “A question which Marx posed but could not answer: If art in the last analysis is a superstructure of an economic base, why does its power to move us endure long after the base has been transformed?” And: “‘The function of the work of art,’ Berger sums up Raphael, ‘is to lead us from the work to the process of creation which it contains.'”

Sadly, I can’t verify this quotation. But it’s too good not to be true…

* * *

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:

This is sadly an old plant, because for some reason I can’t get today’s plant to upload. Perhaps in an hour or so I shall be able to do so.

UPDATE And here is the new plant (Rainbow Girl):

Rainbow Girl writes: “Farewell 2016 – it’s so last year! Salt pond New Year’s Day ~ peace, clarity, beauty … and a plant growing on a small rock island in mid-pond!”

Readers, I’ve gotten many 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.

107 comments

  1. Peter Pan

    we’ve been having intermittent outage problems today

    Is NC experiencing a DDoS attack today or is it an internal issue ?

    Reply
  2. craazyman

    Is that a plant or is it the back of some wacko’s head?

    Maybe it’s a “fashun faaawaaad” hat and scarf combo?

    It’s a Fake Plantidote! Wow. First the WaPo now the FoTo.

    Glad I’m the ball to spot these things. It’s every reader for themselves in this world & you have to stay on top of your game.

    Reply
      1. craazyman

        Whoa that wouldd be a pretty good hat and scarf combo if you were say, a hot Russian girl stylin down 3rd Avenue in New Yawk. It might cause an “incident” if, for example, some body like me walked by and was so distracted by visual beauty I ended up walking into a bus stop. Hahaha.

        If some fashion desiger is reading this, see what you think. It’s either too over the top or it would be just perfect in the right kind of fake fur and subtle texture/color combo. It has potential as a concept! If it’s a really bad idea, you can be honest and tell me.

        I actually met a very very hot Russian female the other night in New Yawk. She was promoting a wine brand at the local wine store and we got to talking. The fire department showed up outside, about 4 trucks with sirens. Something down the street. It was a little distracting, so I said to her and the usual store staff “See, she’s so hot they had to call the fire department.” Ahahhahahah. She actually liked it. Too bad she’s jusst a bit young for me. She told me I looked a bit like Joe Biden, which I think she meant a distinguished and powerful man. I’ve been very run down lately and admittedly am not at my best, but I’m ALOT younger than Joe Biden. LOL. Well, Caeser was 52 when Cleopatra was 21. Of course that was 2000 years ago. Hahahah

        Reply
        1. cocomaan

          I think you should go for the Trump look instead. I hear that drives the Eastern European ladies crazy. Or maybe, if you’re limited to the VP slot, go for the Mike Pence, reserved, distinguished, as well as the kind of person you think religion is made for, because God only know what he’d be doing if he didn’t have some kind of moral standards to shove down your throat.

          Reply
        2. craazyboy

          I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities.

          1) Lady Gaga, from any angle.
          2) Cousin It’s Auntie visiting from Outer Space.

          Reply
  3. WheresOurTeddy

    http://www.salon.com/2017/01/03/donald-trump-and-the-russian-election-hack-why-is-he-resisting-all-the-evidence/

    ” Donald Trump and the Russian election hack: Why is he resisting all the evidence?
    Maybe Trump is Putin’s tool, or is being blackmailed. But isn’t it more likely he’s just an insecure little creep? ”

    Add “Gary Legum” to your hack list if you haven’t already. Written 19 articles since December 1. 17 are about Trump. Get out more, Gary.

    Reply
    1. thump

      Salon has disappointed me a lot lately. First during the election, they continued to publish lots of in-the-tank-for-Hillary pieces. Now pieces like the one you cite. When that piece was at the top of the page this morning, I just closed my browser. My recollection is that they used to often publish pieces that challenged conventional narratives, but now it seems like they’ve decided to swim with the tide.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        How about this one.

        http://www.salon.com/2016/12/16/ban-donald-trump-from-twitter-its-time-for-the-social-media-empire-to-take-a-stand/

        commented on here

        https://antiwar.com/blog/2016/12/30/ban-trump-twitter-and-free-speech

        Marcotte in the first link says Twitter only tolerates Trump because he makes them money. She doesn’t seem to think censoring would be a problem. Indeed the identity warriors appear to have little concern when it comes free speech in general. Here’s a long and thoughtful essay on how the current elites–most especially those in academia–think anyone who disagrees with them should stfu.

        http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2016/allday131216.html

        Reply
      2. Spring Texan

        The most utterly asinine recent article was two days ago: http://www.salon.com/2017/01/01/a-modest-proposal-lets-not-watch-arnold-schwarzenegger-on-the-new-celebrity-apprentice/

        It says it’s terribly important that Celebrity Apprentice get low ratings and that you should expend energy pleading any friends who might watch not to do so. “[P]lease point out to your friend that it won’t kill them to read about it later, perhaps on an actual news site.”

        Of all the ways to oppose Trump, I give this absolute top place for STUPIDEST and MOST INEFFECTIVE.

        “Virtue-signalling,” anyone?

        Reply
  4. JohnnyGL

    I dropped this in the comments section of yesterday’s links, but found it interesting enough to do a repost….

    http://www.permaculturevoices.com/liberation-permaculture-by-toby-hemenway-pvp126/

    Hemenway passed recently but did some very good lasting work. Gaia’s Garden is a book I have and have found quite useful. His lectures are interesting, too. I’ve only heard a handful of them, but always find them captivating to listen to. He discusses agriculture/polyculture/agroforestry and ties it into anthropology, history and culture with lots of good examples.

    He references Yale prof. James C. Scott who seems to have done some interesting work. Hemenway specifically mentions “Seeing Like a State” and “The Art of Not being Governed”.

    Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        I see you put it under “news of the wired”. Really, it could have gone under “Class Warfare” or “Gaia” as the talk spans both.

        Reply
  5. Nik

    “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.”

    Wait, what? Maybe it’s a “what you get when you assume” situation, but I feel like this hasn’t been clear in the past. I pay $10 monthly with the assumption that it supports all of NC…

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s been that way for some time; that’s the deal Yves and I made. And since part of Yves funding goes to all the other work I do, including the posting, I make out OK in the end. Don’t worry about it!

      Reply
  6. XFR

    Four weeks ago it was wall-to-wall “Gangs of murdering racist TrumpHordes are swarming the streets! Stock up on water! Hide your children! Buy catfood and dry pasta!”

    After the American remake of India’s partition crisis failed to make it to theaters as promised, it suddenly became wall-to-wall “Russia hacked the election! Trump is the Manchurian candidate! Putin’s spies are everywhere!”

    Like Iraq, the narrative vacillates around between wildly different alleged threats, while the response demanded remains fixed and unchanging.

    It’s almost as if they don’t really believe any part of what they’re saying, and are just spewing out whatever crap seems most likely to get traction for an attempt to throw out a democratic election.

    Nahhh.

    Reply
    1. craazyboy

      We’ve gone from “Obama is a Kenyan citizen” to “Trump is a Russian agent” in only 8 years. Who says the Dems aren’t a “progressive” party?

      Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      It’s all so superfluous. Trump really does NOT have (psychological) legitimacy, because he lost the vote by such a margin. And his level of support is still abysmal, compared to all other recent incoming presidents.

      If they really believed in democracy, that’s what they’d be dwelling on. In our situation, as Lambert has repeatedly said, gridlock is our friend. We want him in office, because them’s the rules, but hog-tied politically. That may make it difficult for him to actually DO anything that doesn’t have wide support.

      He’s already done probably the best thing he’s going to, by ending the TPP and TTIP. If he can also rework NAFTA, that would be good, too. And jawboning the car companies into not moving to Mexico is a real achievement that Obama didn’t even attempt – even when he owned GM because of the bailout.

      Reply
      1. Waldenpond

        It was reported that Ryan received a standing ovation from the House for being selected for leader… including Ds. I don’t think Ds are going to be putting up more than the impression of a fight against the conservatives agenda. In fact, I expect there are several who will repeatedly vote with the Rs just to provide bipartisan coverage (not to mention quite a few Ds support cuts to public programs and expansion of war profiteering).

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Trump also hasn’t gone to war with Russia yet which the Clintonites and their Republican establishment allies were (and are) aching to do.

        So far we’ve netted out positive, amazingly enough. Of course, things have only just started. If you believe, as I do, in volatility voters (rolling the dice because things can’t go on as they are) then volatility voters are going to get their wish, with big swings on the upside and the downside.

        Reply
        1. different clue

          No war with Russia and ( ideally) re-normalization of relations with Russia was one of the Three Big Reasons I voted for Trump. Since Tillerson is a peace-with-Russia person, I hope Tillerson gets approved for SecState. Any establishment Clintonite-McCainite nominee would be pro war-with Russia ( and also pro Assad-must-go in Syria).

          Perhaps we should start referring to Mainstream Neo-ConLib Republicans as McCainites. Or GrahamMcCainites . . . to indicate Graham’s co-important leadership role in this “Clintonite Republican” community.

          Reply
    2. Waldenpond

      I read it. That wasn’t a basic income. It was a reduction of bureaucracy of the unemployment system. It’s cumbersome for the unemployed to move in and out of unemployment and it’s expensive to administer so it’s a limited payment (that’s a very low payment) for a limited time (two year program is going to create even more confusion).

      Reply
  7. clarky90

    This is the awesome reddit post linked to by Lambert/Yves. I had never even heard of wokeness culture til this morning. Old dog learns new trick! Thanks to NC

    https://www.reddit.com/r/SandersForPresident/comments/5lp5th/identity_politics_and_class_solidarity_its_not_as/

    “And the core of wokeness culture is that what you say and believe matters a lot, much more than what you actually do, and that doing politics is principally about having the right opinions and stances on the way other people talk, and then broadcasting those opinions noisily so that everyone knows what a good person you are. This is why, if you frequent trendy left wing websites instead of actually talking to activists, it sometimes seems like the primary goal of Black Lives Matter isn’t to end police violence but to get people to stop saying All Lives Matter.

    Wokeness culture spends a lot of time talking about racism and positioning itself as the defender of minorities, but it’s important to realize that it’s not actually representative of real-life minorities in any substantive way: wokeness culture is principally an upper-class phenomenon, emanating from college campuses and the media. Plenty of minorities participate in wokeness culture, as do plenty of white people. But not a whole lot of people without college degrees participate in wokeness culture, because it’s very difficult to learn the various rules, taboos, and specialized items of vocabulary necessary to produce “woke” speech if you don’t have a college education. Political correctness is by definition the domain of the highly-educated, which is to say largely the domain of the upper classes (remember that most Americans don’t graduate from college!).”

    Reply
    1. TK421

      it sometimes seems like the primary goal of Black Lives Matter isn’t to end police violence but to get people to stop saying All Lives Matter

      Only sometimes, though–they also block highways for no good reason.

      Reply
    2. jgordon

      It’s becoming increasingly clear that a whole cohort of racists, bigots, and sexists are infesting the left–but somehow they don’t have to see themselves that way because they also have the exclusive privilege of being able to redefine what words mean–according to them anyway.

      If they studied Laozi they wouldn’t be making this fatal mistake, but they in fact are laying the foundations for actual white nationalist fascists to take over America and crush them. Trump is not what they fear, but he could become that if they keep this crap up. Just seeing the self-righteous, entitled faces of these social justice warrior racists protesting at univetsities on YouTube videos has even gotten me hoping that Donald Trump will send out goon squads to wipe them out.

      Reply
      1. XFR

        The SJWs are like an evil mirror-universe version of the Anglo-Canada pluralism I grew up with.

        Anglo-Canada’s schtick could have been called SJP–Social Justice Penitence. They (er…we) would endlessly beat up on ourselves for the various injustices and misdeeds we’d perpetrated. It wasn’t just WASPs in on the act either, I remember reading an essay by a South Asian Canadian author beating up his community for not conforming enough to local norms, a different such author beating up on himself for being the cause for WASPs beating up on themselves…

        Hey, it was Canada.

        This all looks rather silly from the outside but it did let a heterogenous group of people get along more smoothly than they do in most places. Devoting your energies to beating up on other people in this way, though, generally seems to have entirely the opposite effect.

        Reply
    3. different clue

      What would be the opposite of wokeness culture? What if we could figure out what that opposite would be? What if we could weaponize it and viralize it for broadscale dissemination? What if we were to call it sleepness culture?

      Reply
  8. Jim Haygood

    MOAR college:

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a plan Tuesday to offer tuition-free college to any New Yorker from a family earning $125,000 or less accepted to a public college in the state. The governor’s office estimates the plan would cost $163 million a year once it’s fully phased in.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/new-yorks-free-college-plan-could-lead-other-states-to-follow-suit-2017-01-03

    Lord knows employers just can’t find enough college grads to hire. /sarc

    Reply
        1. Steve H.

          Will that be a sharecropper outcome? Debtors prison costs money, but if you call it Public Service you don’t have to pay for infrastructure and upkeep.

          Reply
      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Cuomo is also looking to divert attention from upstate NY development scandal in which his Huma (Percoco) was allegedly chief orchestrator of pay-to-play.

        Reply
      2. WheresOurTeddy

        If Cuomo doesn’t do 2020 he’s going to have to wait in line behind Cory Booker.

        Rich white democrats from New York HATE waiting behind a black man when they think it’s THEIR TURN.

        Neoliberals, all, of course. A pox on all their houses. I voted Bernie and my conscience is clear.

        Reply
    1. polecat

      Even MOAR .. “woke” speach as per what clarky90, above, was trying to groak ….
      So .. Ok Andy, that means anyone in New YAAAAK living in a cardboard fridge box receives a chance to grab at a piece of the ‘goldmen’ fleece …I’m I right ?

      Reply
    2. JohnnyGL

      I think it’s worth noting the optics. Cuomo’s up there with Bernie Sanders. Why isn’t Cuomo on stage with Hillary Clinton? After all, she won the state by 16 points in the primaries and her campaign staff wrote the Dem Party platform with the same policy goal.

      It’s almost like the politicians don’t believe the numbers! Also, note Sanders’ statement….

      “At a time when we have a president-elect who thinks it’s a great idea to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top two tenths of the 1% we have a better idea,” said Sanders. “And that idea is to make public colleges and universities tuition-free for every person in New York state, in Vermont and in America.”

      …doesn’t sound like he’s completely satisfied with a cap of $125K.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Why can’t he say this:

        And that idea is to make healthy food cost-free for every person in New York state, in Vermont and in America.”

        Everyone can use healthy food, but not everyone needs college-education.

        I would also put free public transportation before free public college education.

        We really need to look at life from 3 inches off the ground…or as low as possible.

        How about free clean air, or just free air?

        Wait, it’s free.

        OK, how about free potable water?

        I would love not having to pay for my drinking water. And fixed-income seniors would love it even more.

        Reply
        1. Tim

          Good points!
          We have the right to Life, Liberty and pursuit of happiness.

          What is required for life? Healthy Air, healthy water, healthy food, shelter and healthcare.

          Ultimately that should be the focus in that order for any kind of “basic income, ” not just some check in the mail every month.

          Reply
            1. Quentin

              On second thought though, I suppose she’s planning to run again in 2019 or is at least keeping herself and her consort in the public eye for any wayward Clinton Foundation ‘donations’ which haven’t yet found their true destination or for a decent job, maybe even a demotion to Victoria Nuland’s job as a consolation prize.

              Reply
    3. Procopius

      Why do they always have to stick a means test in there? It is cheaper and simpler to just have all the schools/universities pay no tuition for state residents. I do not believe for a moment that anybody making more that $125,000 a year is going to send their kids to a state public university, so you’re just putting an additional burden on lower-income people and increasing your overhead costs.

      Reply
      1. aab

        But it reinforces the neoliberal mindset that only the deserving get good things, and prevents the poors from asking awkward questions about all those out of state and out of country students being preferred for admission. State college isn’t really a state benefit. It just happens to be located here!

        And it’s unpossible for someone to be smart and poor. If you’re smart, OF COURSE you have excess financial resources! Because the Market God is a just god.

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Why do they always have to stick a means test in there?

        Because then they can hire a highly credentialed administrator to do the means testing.

        > you’re just putting an additional burden on lower-income people and increasing your overhead costs.

        You say that like it’s a bad thing!

        Reply
    1. Marco

      It’s amazing how today’s news cycle went from Democrats (rightly) moaning about the House Ethics brouhaha to this stunning Ford reversal. If Team D cannot get ahead of the perception that Trump is bringing jobs home then Democrats AND the left are TOAST.

      Reply
  9. Oregoncharles

    ” And any party, even the purest snowflake of parties, needs ward heelers. ”
    Or the equivalent. Lordy, yes. Anyone who wants to show up and help….

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      When journos can no longer distinguish metanyms from nomenklatura, you may know that your society is doomed.

      Reply
  10. Annotherone

    From Trump Transition link: “Mr Trump said in a tweet.” Well, well. Then again: “He isn’t telling congressional Republicans to save the OCE. He’s telling them to gut it later, under the cover of bigger news” [The New Republic].
    Lambert: Quite possibly. But to me, the important part of the story is that he’s telling them.”

    Reading around earlier today, when NC was down, I had to laugh at the contortions some commenters managed to achieve to bend the event to their liking. Among others:
    a) It was a set up agreed upon by all to shine a positive light on Trump.
    b) It wasn’t Trump’s objection at all, it was the left’s loud protests that did the job.
    c) Trump only objected to timing – he’ll get it done anyway, later on.

    I suppose we’ll see this kind of thing even more than usual once Prez-elect gets in place in the White House. Whatever he does, says, initiates will be interpreted in 3 or more different ways – bend it, shape it, any way you want it… ;)
    In this particular case, my reaction was similar to Lambert’s – that Trump’s (unfortunate for us)strong leadership genes are working well!

    Reply
    1. Gareth

      I’m trying to remember when a democrat president publicly berated an American corporation over outsourcing and I’m coming up empty. Even if it’s an empty gesture people will still remember the gesture.

      Reply
      1. Jim Haygood

        Funny how US investment in Mexican production is controversial, while Canadian production — integrated into the Detroit-based US auto industry for a century — is not.

        Seems like the parochial anglosphere still feels awfully threatened by cultures different from its own.

        Little England has become Little America.

        Reply
        1. Kurt Sperry

          It makes sense to me. Canadian outsourcing isn’t on a turbo-supercharged nitro injected race to the wage bottom like Mexican outsourcing is.

          Reply
        2. hunkerdown

          Jim Haygood, heard of wages? I suspect that has something to do with both cases: Mexican workers are cheaper; Canadian workers’ healthcare is cheaper.

          Reply
          1. Oregoncharles

            Exactly. A certain family feeling aside, Canadians do not drive down US wages.

            And yes, Canadian production has highlighted the competitiveness advantages of single-payer for a long time. It’s surprising that the big corps haven’t demanded it long since. Must have some other motivation – plus, they’ve solved the problem by offshoring everything.

            Reply
            1. Procopius

              I think it has to do with the desire of company honchos to have weapons to punish “impertinent” workers with. Adam Smith noted how owners of firms prefer slave labor to free if the laws and the work allow it. It’s a human thing, I think, although in my economic circumstances it doesn’t seem attractive to me at this moment. Dean Baker has pointed out that one effect of the ACA has been to make it feasible for part-time workers who were getting health benefits (not very many people, I think) could now afford to go to some other company that pays a higher wage, or maybe even quit working altogether if they have a partner with a wage that will support two or more people. Under single-payer they would give up that whip.

              Reply
        3. different clue

          Canadian production pays and benefits its workers as well as or better than US production. Canada is not a race-to-the-bottom slavery-haven. Didn’t you even know that?

          Reply
    2. dcrane

      b) It wasn’t Trump’s objection at all, it was the left’s loud protests that did the job.

      Fwiw, I had in mind that the protests had come from R voters as much as anything else (i.e., the constituents represented by Congressional Republicans). Gave me a tiny bit of hope. Just an early reaction, though.

      Reply
  11. MLS

    re: rare earth metals (REEs)

    a few years ago they were a fairly sexy investment as demand from China was outstripping supply and there were concerns (expectations?) China would eventually corner the market in producing many of them. That’s more or less what happened as China now mines something like 95% of all REEs globally. As such, global producers got concerned about input prices and found alternatives, collapsing the market. Many of the high flyers from yesteryear (Molycorp was a popular one I can remember) got washed out since REE mining is expensive and time consuming for very little yield (and also very hard on the environment making it difficult to expand in many countries). The Chinese government doesn’t care about those factors but for-profit enterprises do.

    Reply
    1. redleg

      I had a REE ore supply deal with Molycorp in progress back in 2011. The bank foreclosed on the property owners (I’m a geological consultant) before we could separate the ore and the project went to chapter 7. When Molycorp’s mountain pass operation went poof (again), I felt a lot better about my project going away. Shipping ore to China was expensive, required bribes (aka cash only fees- I left that to the business people), and resulted in strategic material going to a possibile enemy.
      The geology of REE deposits is really interesting, and the ore is quite valuable (risky too, Th is a problem) but cracking the ore is a harsh process.
      That was a fun project.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Thank you REE geeks.

        It seems to me that REE’s and metals generally are really interesting “stuff,” so I’d like to keep tracking them. Any suggestions beyond mining.com? (Given to me by a metals dealer). Just no ZH-style stuff.

        Reply
      2. bob

        I’ve heard some about REE’s in relation to an old pile of mine tailings in northern NY. Moriah, NY, exactly where they are proposing this-

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cA8oi6bM4pU

        Mineville Pumped Storage Energy Project

        They’ve apparently got some momentum on this. The cast of pols is as bad as it gets. Maybe it’s a good idea, I dunno. I do know that there are a ton of sharks circling, throwing insane $ numbers around ($240 million?), for just the storage project in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. There has to be more to this story.

        Mining in the area goes back to colonial times. Republic steel til late 70’s. The tailings pile in question is now owned by Solvay.

        N 44.06402 W 73.49248 Is the top of the pile.

        It may not have anything to do with REE either. They just recently began moving Ti from old piles (iron contaminant) in that general area too. I can’t find much on that mine in particular, which makes me suspicious. It’s the most recent, yet very little data/history readily available on it. Just beginning to poke at this one.

        Reply
  12. Bugs Bunny

    The Polls:

    The French daily Le Parisien has given up using any polling services for the coming election and hopefully the foreseeable future.

    http://www.thelocal.fr/20170103/top-french-paper-dumps-political-polls-as-election-nears

    It’s been forever my favorite French newspaper. Though a tabloid, the reporting is close to the ground and quite good without the, um… laziness, of say Libération, and every day they interview people on the street about the latest issues

    Chapeau !

    Reply
      1. Bugs Bunny

        Hollande was quoted by his ex mistress as referring to poor constituents of the Parti Socialiste as les sans dents. This has stuck to him like stink to a skunk as my Arkansas grandma would say.

        I guess the answer is oui.

        Reply
        1. Jim Haygood

          The polite term in Arkansas is hypodentilated (a word which I made up, and produces but two Google search results, both from Naked Capitalism).

          Reply
          1. makedoanmend

            Excellent – love it – even has a nice sound to it.

            I will cite you as its source when I use it. cheers

            Reply
  13. Waldenpond

    The OCE should not exist. An ethics committee exists. The OCE was created to outsource investigations as they consider it impolite to snitch on each other for their abundant and known criminal activities to the actual inhouse ethics committee.

    Reply
  14. WheresOurTeddy

    Maybe something to use for “Our Famously Free Press” in tomorrow’s links?

    http://www.gamespot.com/articles/cnn-uses-fallout-4-footage-in-a-report-on-russian-/1100-6446599/

    “CNN Uses Fallout 4 Footage in a Report on Russian Hacking”

    Haven’t played the Fallout games myself. I understand they’re post-apocalypse. Maybe the “real news” people have a hard time telling the difference between video games and real life? Or maybe they’re projecting what their vision of things will be after Trump is done with us?

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      IIRC, Informed Comment had a long piece on this. The Syrian people had a Sophie’s Choice forced on them (way worse than Clinton v. Trump). They could choose between flavors of Islamism (both from “rebels” and “moderate rebels”) and Assad, who was at least secular. So they chose Assad. I’m probably oversimpifying, but that was the gist (and I don’t know how the choice came to be that binary, or what the choices were in the beginning).

      Reply
  15. clarky90

    My understanding is that the DNC’s email accounts were so inadequately protected that ANYBODY with some spare time, some nouse, an internet connection and a rudimentary computer could have been guilty of this terrible crime. (What evil genius has unleashed John Podesta’s vile emails into the public consciousness?)

    I am retired, so I have the spare time. Ditto, the nouse, the internet and the computer. But, I DID NOT hacked the DNC. Maybe if we work backwards and figure out who didn’t hack the DNC, one person at a time, we can eventually figure out who did it? Or, to save time, we could just blame the Russians. (The bad guys in the James Bond movies)

    Reply
      1. clarky90

        I did not realize that nous was such an “nutritionally dense” word. (also, I didn’t spell it correctly!) Thanks Jim

        Reply
  16. Peter VE

    Something else for the Bezzle. For $50K, you get a used shipping container with everything you need to start your 2 acre off grid farm! PVs to run your internet connection! Drip watering system (actually useful)! Connection to the Cloud! (Not included: the two acres, the well, the soil, the seeds, and most important, the knowledge).

    Reply
  17. Waldenpond

    Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ziegler is running for reelection of 10 year term in April 2017. Ds aren’t running anyone against her. The court is 5-2 so it isn’t worth Soros money to try to take out Zieger in 17 and Gableman in 18?

    Reply
  18. cripes

    On PBS Newshour, CIA serial liar John Brennan says Julian Assange “not exactly a bastion of truth and integrity.” And Judy Woodruff sat there twiddling her manicured thumbs.

    Let’s see, not one of hundreds of thousands of documents released by Wikileaks has ever been shown to be false. The CIA, on the other hand, are professional liars.

    The CIA Director is an unindicted perjurer; an enemy of democracy who criminally spies on our (horrible) elected representatives, and then lies about it. He lies about torture, he lies about phony Russian “hacks” he lies every time he opens his mouth.

    Compared to Brennan, Assange is a goddamn saint.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      I’ve given up on the Newshour which is little more than a framing device for news that they barely bother to report. You get more news out of the Nightly Business Report which has actual reporters.

      Reply
    1. Kurt Sperry

      Plus the “pilot” here isn’t on the same “plane” as the passengers. (S)he is guiding the plane remotely from a gilded palace on a hill overlooking the ocean and will sleep in pampered comfort under silk sheets whether the plane crashes or not.. Oh, and the destination isn’t the one advertised but a completely different and worse one too. Other than that, the analogy is great.

      Reply
  19. Procopius

    I understood Obama destroyed Dean’s 50-State Strategy because Rahm hates Dean with the heat of a thousand suns, although I don’t have any idea why. Since then the DNC, DCCC, and DSCC have all been faithfully following Rahm’s orders to only help Republican candidates. Or at least Republican candidates who say they want to become Democrats, like Wossisname who lost down in Florida.

    Reply
  20. gepay

    “With enough evidence, even skepticism will thaw” [WaPo]. Doing science on the Greenland ice sheet.
    A click bait title – The scientist Muenchow was not a man made climate change skeptic – he was just a good scientist that said he didn’t have enough evidence to say whether he thought climate change was the cause. “He even stood before Congress in 2010 and balked on whether climate change might have caused a mammoth chunk of ice, four times the size of Manhattan, to break off from this floating, 300-square-mile shelf. That does not make him a man made CO2 causing catastrophic climate change skeptic. What it does say is with new evidence he acquired he would say the Petermann ice shelf in NE Greenland was melting faster than he had with prior knowledge. But what does that mean? He was surprised at what he saw when he went there but it was the first time he was ever there. “In August 14, 1946, airmen of the 46th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron of the US Air Force discovered a moving ice island with an area of about 200 km2.” Oceanography Vol 29, No.4 84 THE ICE SHELF OF PETERMANN GLETSCHER, NORTH GREENLAND, AND ITS CONNECTION TO THE ARCTIC AND ATLANTIC OCEANS -So this has been happening all along but has speeded up since they began keeping accurate yearly records in what, 2002? To put what the article describes in perspective, one finds that one guesstimate of how much ice there is in Greenland is 2,850,000 km3 – notice that is cubed. Other scientists say – Briner et al., 2016 “The Greenland Ice Sheet retracted to its minimum extent between 5 and 3 ka [5,000 and 3,000 years ago], consistent with many sites from around Greenland depicting a switch from warm to cool conditions around that time.” So 3-5 thousand years ago the Grenland ice sheet was smaller than it is today. In fact, ““Reconstruction results [Canadian Arctic] showed that summers warmer than today (~1 to 2 °C) prevailed prior to 4-3 ka [4,000 to 3,000 years ago]. … At Qipisarqo Lake [Greenland], pollen data indicate a sharp increase in July air temperature of 3-4 °C at 7.5-7.0 ka [7,500 to 7,000 years ago] and higher temperatures until 5.5-5.0 ka [5,500 to 5,000 years ago]. After 5 ka [5,000 years ago], a progressive cooling of 1-2 °C is inferred.”I look a the map and see that Petermann is in the NE of Greenland – “The onset of increasing flow of the northeast Greenland ice stream (the largest flow feature of the ice sheet), for example, has been linked to a geothermal hot spot (14, 31) “Geodetic measurements reveal similarities between post–Last Glacial Maximum and present-day mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet” by Khan et al NOt exactly a clickbait title.

    Reply

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