2:00PM Water Cooler 1/4/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I must beg your indulgence again today. As you know, we keep weird hours at NC, and for reasons unrelated to posting, I had an extremely late night last night. When it came time to get up this morning, I reset the timer on my alarm and closed my eyes… And forgot to turn the alarm back on. Fortunately I woke up just in time, but I’m going to have to ask you to talk amongst yourselves today.

Assuming you’ve recovered from the Holidays:

1) What do you think were key events of the year 2016? The best? The worst? The most off-beat?

2) What do you expect to be the key events of the year 2017? Politically, culturally, and (of course) in the markets?

3) What was your favorite holiday gift? That you received? That you gave?

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 68 Greed (previous close: 70, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 67 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 4 at 1:34pm. Sails still flapping idly in the breeze….

* * *

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 (Mrs. Mop):

Mrs. Mop sends another wintry landscape. Not: “What?? ‘Plants with snow would be fine’?? What snow? It’s middle of December and springtime in Germany. Really, some ten degree Celsius
(plus) and it smells like March or so and no snow in sight. So, have yourself some nice seasonal pics — fake spring pics, is it safe to say? — from my morning bike trips.

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.

226 comments

  1. cocomaan

    1) One important event was that we hit record climate highs, again. I don’t think climate change is the doom of the human race, but it will make our lives more impoverished and will stress the biological in ways we don’t understand.

    2) A key event will be the disposition of the war in Afghanistan, Obama’s baby conflict. Will Trump continue it? Will he end it? I think that it’s responsible for the heroin crisis in the USA and that there could be some awful things revealed about what happened in that stop along the Silk Road.

    3) Favorite holiday gift that I gave was a stained glass bottle opener for my wife i found in an antique shop! I have never seen anything like it before.

      1. Katharine

        I like the idea of fronts behind the scenes. It sounds like some sort of intriguing non-Euclidean geometry.

        1. Mark P

          ‘It sounds like some sort of intriguing non-Euclidean geometry.’

          Cue the many-angled Elder Ones.

  2. tgs

    So, Julian Assange is a pedophile. Who knew? Well the people who run a dating site called toddandclare.com. So, who are they?

    The company’s operating address is a warehouse loading dock in Houston. Its mail goes to a Houston drop box. Its phone numbers no longer work. WikiLeaks says Texas officials tell it the entity is not registered there either under toddandclare.com or a parent company, T&C Network Solutions.

    The person who responds to email sent to the company declined to identify himself or herself or answer further questions.

    Who cares about an obscure Christian dating site?

    Whoever is behind the dating site has marshaled significant resources to target Assange, enough to gain entry into a United Nations body, operate in countries in Europe, North America and the Caribbean, conduct surveillance on Assange’s lawyer in London, obtain the fax number of Canada’s prime minister and seek to prod a police inquiry in the Bahamas.

    And they’ve done it at a time when WikiLeaks has become a routine target of Democratic politicians who portray Assange as a stooge of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his reported efforts to disrupt the U.S. election.

    Amazing story – there’s a lot more here:

    The strange tale of a dating site’s attacks on WikiLeaks founder Assange

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      “So, Julian Assange is….”

      Since the McClatchy story shows the effort is sketchy as hell, that’s probably not the best lead-in for your comment. I understand that “Who knew?” is ironic, but….

  3. fresno dan

    Well, here’s something:

    My Google query today
    how many republicans believe Obama is Muslim (Here is the direct Google reply) :

    ” According to a new CNN/ORC poll, 29 percent of Americans say they think that Obama is a Muslim, including 43 percent of Republicans. Sixty-one percent of Democrats say Obama is a Protestant, compared with 28 percent of Republicans and 32 percent of independents.Sep 14, 2015 ”

    I couldn’t phrase the question the same way for Trump i.e., How many democrats believe Trump was helped by Russia to win the election? I just got links about Russian hacking, but the question wasn’t directly addressed.

    Instead, I had to phrase it as: ” Polls show how many democrats believe that Russia helped Trump win the election ” and I took the below from a CNN article (Google did not directly answer it as above) :

    Polls show how many democrats believe that Russia helped Trump win the election :
    “Fifty-five percent of Americans say they are at least quite a bit concerned about the Russian hacks, the poll shows. There is a sharp partisan divide, with 86% of Democrats saying they are concerned compared with 29% of Republicans.”
    ======================
    Note also I was unable to get equivalent answers vis a vis “believe” versus are “concerned”

    But is does seem that if the “liberal/left” branded punditocracy was more grounded in reality, they have….”progressed” (sorry, that is a poor pun but I can’t help myself) to the same level as the screwy right.

    So, with all sorts of caveats about how polls are phrased, some 43% of repubs believe Obama is a Muslim, and 86% of democrats are concerned about Russia hacking the presidential election.

    Do people believe more and more what they want to believe than they used to?

      1. jgordon

        Well not quite a Republican. It’s just the corporatist positions look pretty similar regardless of what side of the isle you’re on; both the finance resort side and the strip mining fossil fuel side revel at the idea of plundering the periphery with an expansive military and enslaving the domestic peasant population via rules dictating onerous micromanagement and a militarized police force. If it’s correct to say that Obama’s actions make him a Republican, it’s equally correct to say that they make him a Democrat.

        Actually though I think the Democrats more embody the feminine traits of covert violence, duplicity, shaming, and emotional manipulation, whereas Republicans more embody the masculine traits of overt violence, competition, confronation, and virility. In that I think Obama is playing the Democrat perfectly.

        1. Carla

          “…I think the Democrats more embody the feminine traits of covert violence, duplicity, shaming, and emotional manipulation, whereas Republicans more embody the masculine traits of overt violence, competition, confronation, and virility.”

          jgordon, with your descriptions of “feminine” and “masculine” traits, you may have hit a record for most shibboleths in a single sentence in an NC Comments section. My condolences.

            1. ChiGal in Carolina

              yeah, I recall one a while back in which he was counseling that men should avoid contact with women as much as possible

              1. jgordon

                Considering the current gynocentric legal and political system, there is no good reason for a man in America to have anything to with a woman. Older men already know this; the important thing is to get this message out to younger men who haven’t been raked over the coals yet.

                  1. jgordon

                    Right. You only have to run into one vicious, conniving female to suddenly realize all the many ways the society and the legal system are stacked against men. Associating with women is such a risky, bad deal for men that MGTOW is the only answer. Of course, I wouldn’t mind having a relationship with a woman on China, since they have a reasonable legal system there. But there’s no way I’d bring here back to the US to be mentally poisoned by the scorpions infesting America, and then have half my stuff, my house, my money etc stolen. No thank you!

                1. hunkerdown

                  jgordon, do you mean scold-centric? Some cultures have names for women who are inveterate scolds, and it’s not “liberal”. Consider a woman who’s less culturally American. And don’t marry, whatever you do! Some people just aren’t wired for it.

              1. Aumua

                I agree with jgordon for once. Men are so marginalized in our society, which is stacked against them. Not only men, but white men in particular are under attack, and our very way of life is being threatened by the white genocide that is going on right under our noses! Our race and culture is being obliterated by mixing with darker races, which is the women’s fault since they can’t help but desire the animal sexuality of the lesser races. I’m just saying what everyone’s thinking anyway! I say its time for white men to rise up and cast off the oppression that we have been living under for far too long. Trump understands, he’s on our side.

                Who’s with me?

                1. Waldenpond

                  I really enjoy how the newly arrived 4chans and pepes have emboldened the old timers (to come out as 4chans and pepes). The stereotypical left, right, libertarian arguments were a little stale. I was hoping for a little dash of marxism and socialism to counteract the default to capitalism but like the election, the shift is always to the right. Oh well, can’t have everything.

          1. reslez

            Very much a comment from the Jurassic era, and detracts from whatever point he was trying to make.

            That sort of unlogic should be saved for when he’s commenting at ZH or wherever. I’m pretty sure they welcome stale gender tropes there.

            1. jgordon

              Your model of reality, as mine, is strictly a product of the cultural environment. To say that one ot the other is primitive or advanced is a nonsensical and meaningless claim; in two hundred years the few cave dwelling people left alive, huddling at the south pole away from the searing heat and radiation, will probably consider both of our ways of thinking to be so far removed from reality as to be incomprehensible.

              In fact, I’d say that this focus of yours on primitive vs. advanced reveals an unconscious and deep seated ethnocentric cultural bias that you can’t even see. And yet here you are assuming that your opinions on the nature of reality are better than other people’s when you don’t even know why you think the things that you think. Sad!

              1. skippy

                So jgordon…. your advocating races of men or something like it – ????????

                What you fail to perceive is your never ending spurious conjecture, about how you feel about yourself, and its projection on everyone else…

                disheveled… your personal dissatisfaction with reality not conforming to – your – inner dialog is the primitive self vs the advanced critical self you decry….

                PS. bounteous points for picking which has been driving the sociopolitical bus for yonks….

                1. witters

                  Why is it that so many people can accurately discern the psychological profile of others, but no-one, in my experience, see themselves with such clairity?

                  1. skippy

                    I don’t confuse jgordons ramblings about human nature massively generalized w/ the sum of all this comments to date… as enlightened anything… its mostly a grab bag of personal grievances about having too suffer us – all – save like minded and then projected back….

                    This is compounded by a very ideological bias by which to establish mental anchor points, and here’s the rub –

                    “Your model of reality, as mine, is strictly a product of the cultural environment.”

                    Post hoc, ergo propter hoc in all its splendor and topped of with a liberal heaping of epistemic closure, which then its utilized to qualify the rest of their comment.

                    Disheveled… if what jgordon said was even remotely true I would not be whom I am today… BTW is see myself very clearly…. warts and all…

                    1. jgordon

                      I usually don’t read your comments, like I didn’t here. Not that they’re bad, they just don’t make a lot of sense to me. Sorry.

                    2. skippy

                      Sure jgordan…. you can’t – don’t understand which translates to non engagement by default, but, still feel compelled to do a drive by….

                      “Your model of reality, as mine, is strictly a product of the cultural environment.”

                      Post hoc, ergo propter hoc in all its splendor and topped off with a liberal heaping of epistemic closure, which then its utilized to qualify the rest of their comment.”

                      disheveled… its pretty basic logical fallacy stuff jgordan.. or is it a plea for a safe zone…. by passive aggressive proxy…

                2. jgordon

                  Sorry, I was on the ascent into an intensely mystical experience with mushrooms earlier. I’m mostly back to normal now.

                  1. skippy

                    Are you aware that some surgeons place stuffed toys or unusual object above the patients view like a tall shelf and if patients claim to have after death experiences in granular detail ask them to describe it…..

                    disheveled…. to date none have identified the control….

          2. hunkerdown

            Carla, well, the two-party is conservative, aristocratic, and deeply wedded to Western culture and in turn those stereotypes, even in supposed “evolved” subcultures if only by reference. Provided that the term “traits” is constrained to describe Abrahamic and Greco-Roman societies and to the particular aforementioned (abstract, essential) polarity that undergirds much of the rest, I’d agree with jgordon.

            reslez, generally I’m with you, but understanding one’s adversary is important. And understanding the constraints under which people might seek their interests according to the motif to which they wish to conform (cf. Zuckerberg’s come-to-the-Pharisees moment) is useful and predictive.

          3. jgordon

            There are actual and profound physiological and psychological differences between men and women that manifest in predictable ways, whatever any particular pseudoscientific ideologies that you happen subscribe to claim.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Yah, in an anthro course way back when, I recall a peasant culture in like Bulgaria or some such, where the folks acknowledged that males and females were able to breed but otherwise were two separate species, and lived separate and apart…

              Now, jr, there’s a model for you…

              1. Oregoncharles

                You’re thinking of the Amazons (mythical, but probably inspired by the Scythians.)

                The really remarkable marital arrangements are scattered across southern and eastern Asia. The extreme were the Nayar in Kerala (in fact, the ruling class in Kerala before the British), who didn’t marry at all. Instead, they lived in sibling-based clans; the women took lovers from among either the Nayar or the Brahmins; the only restriction was that any babies needed a declared father, accomplished by him paying the midwife. I doubt this was difficult; for one thing, it was bragging rights; for another, her brothers knew who she’d been sleeping with, and they were the warrior caste.

                There are other variations scattered across SE Asia and southern China – at least one, in the mountains of China, where the women are the sexual aggressors, probably because they own the property.

              2. jgordon

                Sounds like they had the right of it. I’m currently writing a book where the main protagonist is a female–and the only way I could do it accurately was to realize that women simply do not live in the same universe as men. Their predispositions, attitudes, and mental models are completely alien. Try to imagine how a dolphin sees the world, and you’d have some idea of the degree of difference. Not to say that one is better than the other; in a healthy and balanced world our different natures would contrast and compliment each other. That is not possible now though.

                I’ll endorse the stance that you just described: the correct way to see women is as a different species with mostly alien mental processes. After you figure that out previously insoluble social and political quandries suddenly come untangled, as if seeing the full four dimensions of the universe for the first time, when you were previously stuck seeing only the tiny slice of reality your 3D view allowed. Solipsism–somehow you have to escape that trap to see the truth. Mushrooms are a good shortcut.

            2. EndOfTheWorld

              I agree with jgordon that if you are gonna get married, do it in some other country, not the US.

            3. aab

              That may be true to some degree, but your earlier comment bears no relationship to that. You attribute traits that the weak use in asymmetrical power dynamics as being “feminine” and traits used by the strong as being “masculine.” While it is true that women, being weaker in power in any misogynist system — so, thousands of years of Western culture, just for a start — are much more likely to use such tactics, your treating these behaviors as innately gendered is simply incorrect.

              Other than cultural and social conditioning, gender differences are pretty limited, driven by differentials in distribution of muscular strength, fine motor skill, and hormone proportions (which contribute to the muscular differentials.) We all have all the same hormones; only the proportions vary. They vary quite a bit within each gender, as well as across life spans in each gender. Our popular understanding of what hormones “do” is distorted, as well. For example, estrogen contributes to enhanced cognitive function, not merely empathy, and ever-increasing doses of testosterone does not make one ever more aggressive. Even “roid rage” can’t be simply attributed to increased testosterone, for a complex range of reasons, including the destabilizing effect of the body’s decreased production of testosterone in response to the added artificial dosing. Moreover, both men and women produce more and differently proportioned hormonal mixes in response to social conditions. So, for example, there are well-documented cases of athletes generating additional testosterone when preparing for a “home” game, fathers who interact with their offspring produce different hormonal mixes than they did before parenting, and women generating additional testosterone when placed in positions of greater power and authority. So there is evidence that both male and female humans produce different proportions of sexual hormones in response to their environment, conditions, and social roles. This means that even if it is true that testosterone enhances aggression and estrogen empathy, it could still be true that modern human differences in the gendered production of these hormones could be as much because of the social conditions in which they operate as anything innate in their biology.

              I am a female in every way one can be. I have birthed and nursed offspring. I have an hourglass body with fairly large breasts, a small waist, and fleshy hips. I have a soft jawline. My arms are significantly weaker than my legs. My natural level of estrogen at physical maturity was apparently on the high side. Yet my personality exhibits none of the traits you list above as feminine. I have always been considered pretty aggressive. I’m blunt. I don’t merely dislike the “feminine” behaviors of girl groups that you ascribe to biology, I’m bad at them. Really bad at them. If biology was destiny to the degree you believe, that shouldn’t be true.

              Oh, and I’ve got better visual-spatial reasoning skills than most men. Again, if gendered hormones produced gendered cognitive function, I should be, if anything, below average at that.

              And dude, if I really needed to, I could kick your ass. What would stop me would be my age, not my gender.

              1. Oregoncharles

                Excellent summary.
                A qualification: according to a theory I can’t vouch for, some gender-associated differences, from “visual-spatial” to running speed, are tied to hormonal exposures in the womb, rather than the person’s own. As you say, the levels vary widely among individuals; in this case, it’s maternal levels that make the difference.

                The theory applied to both sexes; examples included a foot race among men, and a woman engineer with visual-spatial skills way beyond the other women studied. I wonder if personality is another example? But social coping strategies have as much to do with family training as innate qualities.

                Wish I could link to the study, but it was a long time ago and I didn’t save it. Ultimately, it goes to individual differences being far larger than differences between groups (aside from the obvious gender-defining features, of course).

                I feel a bit sorry for JR; he’s clearly very bitter for very personal reasons.

                1. aab

                  I feel sorry for everybody falls for the lie that gender difference is mostly biological and therefore inescapable. It’s limiting and destructive for the individual, and it’s used to keep us apart, just as racism does. Telling men they are innately x, y and z — always good qualities, because one of the many cute tricks of misogyny is that whatever traits the culture prizes mostly highly is declared to be masculine — and that women are the opposite — whatever is the opposite of whatever is most highly prized, because misogyny — separates them from understanding themselves, understanding other men, and bonding and understanding women. (It does the same destructive things for women, of course.) Then men feel shamed when they don’t live up to the false myth of whatever masculinity is supposed to be, and most men (while still empowered in relation to women because of the overall misogyny of the system) are disempowered and undermined by believing these falsehoods. If you think women are some alien species (I can’t believe there are otherwise rational NC readers who fall for this, but they’re in the thread, so I’m forced to acknowledge the facts in front of me), how can they have a truly fulfilling relationship with a woman, sexual or otherwise?

                  There’s an incredible variety across the human species; it’s one of our strengths. I’m not well-versed in non-Western culture, but it does seem to me that it’s particularly Western to try to force humanity into falsely binary buckets of function and identity. Men and women are much more similar than they are different, outside social conditioning and circumstance. Black vs. white is even more phony; race is a completely imaginary concept. Hetero vs. Homo sexuality is also no where near as hard a line across the species as we’re told. All these artificial separators keep us alienated from ourselves and from one another, which (not coincidentally) benefits those at the top of the power hierarchy.

              2. jgordon

                I will acknowledge that there is a spectrum, and that perhaps 5 or 10 percent of women are rational and trustworthy from a man’s point of view. If in the position of being around an unknown woman however I would consider it good practice for a man to treat her the same way he’d treat a venomous serpent until he is 100% sure of her. But even then he’s probably mistaken since men do not understand how women think and percieve the world, which to be clear is radically different from how men process things.

                The only safe interactions a man can have with a woman is when she has no legal or social recourse with which to blackmail, shame, or punish a man. I don’t think relationships are inherently bad, they are just impossible in places where in gynocentricism rules. For a man, volunteering to be in a committed relationship with a woman is like volunteering to be worked to death as mule for someone who will like him less than the family cat within approximately 3 to 5 years.

                1. aab

                  Wow. Okay.

                  I will do my best to avoid responding to your comments in the future. I’m not sure I’ll remember, but I’ll try. I wouldn’t want to subject your delicate soul to my confusing, serpentine evil.

                2. Aumua

                  Haha he’s still coming down from his “mystical experience”.. give him a break. One of the things I noticed in my psychedelic days was the way that they tend to throw the mind off onto radical tangents as one comes down off them, which eventually hardly resemble the original vision at all.

                  Overall the experience is often jarring and not integrated in any healthy way with actual daily life. It’s one of the downsides of tripping.

                  1. ChiGal in Carolina

                    OTOH this whole thing is probably my fault since I can’t help but desire the animal sexuality of the lesser races ;-)

                    1. ambrit

                      Which only goes to show that we all are just slightly more something or other animals.
                      I love that “lesser races” trope. It really is a double edged sword since, Ye Space Aliens, if there be such, will view us humans as a “lesser species,” not just race.
                      We’re all in this sinking lifeboat together. Bail, everyone.

                  2. vidimi

                    mushrooms are supposed to make you more disconnected from the self; he appears to have become more self-absorbed.

              1. craazyboy

                Yes. Someone who can’t find their own ass with both nuts.

                And then types stupid sentences about it.

        1. fresno dan

          lambert strether
          January 4, 2017 at 3:57 pm

          I’m thinking its that 11th dimensional screwing….you get screwed every possible way

          1. polecat

            I could be wrong fresno dan … but I think ‘Quant-um’ screwing … is the phrase you’re looking for ….

          1. ambrit

            These type of threads may be messy, but they expose some of the underlying cultural divides that define our culture. Knowledge is power.

  4. Steve C

    So what if Obama was a Muslim? Someone should ask his supporters if Trump is a Christian. I wonder if we’d get the same mealy mouthed I take him at his word responses that Republicans gave for the same question about Barry O.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I don’t think he is, but if he was, the big question would be, why couldn’t he be more open about it?

      Is it more about us then?

  5. alex morfesis

    2016: hillary fumbling the ball on the two yard line and the donald running back down field after time had run out…charlie browns revenge ??(b+w)…

    strange/offbeat…

    how the turkish people decided dictatorships are so 20th century and laughed at the tanks and then hit the soldiers with their belts after the failure…

    2017: resignation of german central banker jens weidmann when what he was doing in rwanda during the 100 days finally comes out(he was there working for the french central bank)

    Second tier wall street firms circumvent top firms capital strike by syndicating international ipo’s across 50 global markets, changing the nature of wall street + opening up the floodgates to 500 ipo offerings…

    Italy ignores the ecb warnings and goes about fixing its banking sector calling schaubles bluff, forcing schauble to shut up or resign…

    Indonesian navy confronts chinese activities and china backs down…

    Ethiopia invades/overthrows Eritrean dictator and retakes southern portion to regain access to red sea then hands over power to un caretaker govt for free elections

    Small theater companies, in reaction to sag attack, will form a united artist type coop structure and change the power position of hollywood forever…sometimes dear hollywood overlords…greed is not good…

    1. Oregoncharles

      Why would Indonesia do that? They have barely any coastline on the S. China Sea. Did you mean Indochina? Or was that a joke?

      1. alex morfesis

        Natuna islands…mid june…indonesian navy fired at chinese fishing vessels…territory china is attempting to claim is disputed…indonesia doesn’t see any need to dispute…too much msg in the hot and sour soup of the chinese “fishing” vessels…indonesia has seized and sunken about 200 fishing vessels last 2 years from vietnam and china “sliding” into indonesian waters…

  6. Tom Stone

    I hope Yves’ excuse involved Caviar, Champagne and Fabio’s better looking younger brother.

  7. Meg

    Some months ago you mentioned in comments the use of the term “Democrat” vs. Democrats or the term “Democrat Party”. I should have saved but didn’t. Can you share a link again?

    1. Oregoncharles

      I assume the rationale is an objection to calling such an un-democratic institution “Democratic.”

      That is, however, the rather ironic name.

    2. marym

      Years ago Republican politicians started referring to the “Democrat” party, probably just to be annoying and disrespectful and get the word “rat” in there. When there were “both sides” talking heads on tv the Democrats never fought back. Once (and I was watching a lot of cable news at the time) Barney Frank responded with a reference to the “Republic” party, but that was it. The Democrats didn’t care enough about their own party’s name to stand up for it, so why should I? I don’t know if that’s Lambert’s reason, but it’s mine.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Yeah. I don’t do “DemoRAT” or “Democrap.” I’m just not willing to call them “democratic” when they clearly are not. Not only in their practices, but in their policies — for example, systematically avoiding expanding the franchise since at least 2000.

  8. timoethus

    Bernie candidacy takes off, surprising Dem Establishment
    Trump candidacy takes off, surprising GOP Establishment
    Brexit vote
    Beltway pundits exposed as clueless, continue to earn salaries
    Congress stages coup against Rousseff in Brazil
    Russia-Iran-Syria-Hezbollah coalition wins Syria civil war
    Coup in Turkey succeeds, only not as expected, Erdogan establishes near-dictatorship

    *Russia economy recovers, neocon neo-Cold War set back, for now
    **Arctic heat wave

    *Best
    **Worst

  9. nobody

    Without question the key event of 2016 was Bowie’s death, since, as scientists are increasingly coming to understand, “Bowie was in some way integral to the function of what we call normality in ways which they have not yet properly begun to understand.” All the other major events are undoubtedly effects of this one key event that rules them all.

    (I decided to omit the link in hope of evading Skynet’s barriers, but you can DuckDuckGo “Reality continues to crumble in the wake of David Bowie’s death.”)

    1. Massinissa

      Wow. David Bowies 2015 death was the most important event of the following year. It was THAT important! :D

  10. foghorn longhorn

    2016
    They had the Caterpillar hitched to the John Deere hitched to the Kubota and still couldn’t drag her across the finish line. Ended up chunkin her in a van face first.
    2017
    Exactly how many billion dollar accounting scandals can Toshiba endure?

    1. Lemmy

      Come on now, everyone knows she merely stumbled (as opposed to collapsing like WTC building 7).

    2. wilroncanada

      Come on! Everyone knows that the midwest decided on the divorce, because they didn’t want her around. They sent her a John Deere letter.

    3. rowlf

      That’s pretty bad. My buddy who drives a dumptruck says when they come with the bulldozer some parts of your truck will always get out of the mud.

    1. Tom_Doak

      This was my favorite of the risks:

      “7. The White House vs Silicon Valley
      President Trump and the tech sector don’t have much in common. Trump wants security and control. The techs want freedom and privacy for their customers.”

      The tech companies are protecting us? Seems to me they want control over their user information for their own purposes, instead of giving up that control to government. Neither side is on our side.

      1. Praedor

        Tech companies what privacy for their customers? (!!!!)

        Bullcrap. Tech companies are the champions of corporate spying on everything we do. From Google apps and browsers and its search engine tracking our every mouse or finger press, to search term to purchase. Microsoft (Winders 10) spying on you up the ying-yang with skads of phone-home data. Facebook spying on everything you do, Amazon tracking everything you buy or read, etc.

        Where’s the privacy protection in that mess?

          1. pricklyone

            Carla, that gets right to the heart of it. Kudos.
            Their customers are not the users, but the buyers of the info gleaned from you.
            They don’t care if it is Gov.(any ) or Corp.(any).

    2. shinola

      Who is this Ian Bremmer person and what causes him to write delusional diatribe such as:

      “The world’s sole superpower was once the international trump card, imposing order to force compromise and head off conflict. Now it’s a wildcard, because instead of creating policies designed to bolster global stability, President Trump will use U.S. power overwhelmingly to advance U.S. interests, with little concern for the broader impact.”

      Apparently Bremmer is totally ignorant of the last few decades of U.S. history

      1. nobody

        Ian Bremmer is the founder and president of the Eurasia Group. An old friend of mine took his polysci PhD to work for him, advising some of the megawealthy on how to get even megawealthier by putting more of their capital into China. What I remember most from what he told me about his job was his description of Ian’s private jet, and how it was kitted out. He’s a regular at Davos and in fact you can find his 10 takeaways from last year’s gathering at his Linkedin page. From what I’ve said, you should be able to infer why he embraces the version of U.S. history he has embraced.

  11. Lee

    It would be a wonderful irony if the Russians and Trump’s cabinet of billionaires served to wrest control of the reins of U.S. power from the neolibcons. The bigger question going forward is whether or not the citizenry can find the will and the means to hack what is purported to be their own system. I think the neocons have more to worry about at this stage than the neoliberals.

    Healthcare looms very large on the immediate horizon. What a fucking mess. Have I missed it or are there no prominent voices calling for single payer? It looks like the Dems are going to limit themselves to saving Obamacare or bits and pieces of same. If so, I would recommend that they just shoot themselves now even if they have to borrow guns from the Republicans.

    1. HotFlash

      Have I missed it or are there no prominent voices calling for single payer?

      Well, there was this Bernie guy.

  12. Robert Hahl

    Jamming

    Petteri Sariola and Antti Paranko at Custom Sounds
    https://youtu.be/7LlcsPUP3s4

    The Elektric Band – Beneath the Mask (Chic Corea at the Blue Note)
    https://youtu.be/WfPV7mtYuMc?t=1390

    Marcus Miller, Steve Gadd – Legends 1997 (Put It Where You Want It)
    https://youtu.be/6DNyrLyYzQA?list=RD8j4EissUVG8

    Fly My Pretties – Turnaround (Jamming in New Zealand, once known for unnecessary stoicism. That may have changed.)
    https://youtu.be/kNHDfl__g2c?list=RDkNHDfl__g2c

    Classics

    Linda Ronstadt – Adonde Voy
    https://youtu.be/Hp7t6wXjQAA

    Ella Fitzgerald – Someone to Watch Over Me
    https://youtu.be/gDhF-PsDuCw

    Ray Charles – Hallelujah I Love Her So
    https://youtu.be/Cf0X7QuK4LI?list=RDrJlQNfqfbv8

    1. Bunk McNulty

      Freakwater: Cheap Watch

      “Spoonful of absence makes my heart grow fonder
      Spoonful of absinthe makes my mind to wander
      Spoonful of sugar down at the candy store
      I got a string around your sweet tooth baby
      And I’m gettin’ up to slam the door.”

  13. reslez

    From Vox: Trump’s “if you like your insurance, you can keep it” moment:

    And now we have Conway saying, “We don’t want anyone who currently has insurance not to have insurance” — a principle that wipes out every Republican repeal plan, including Trump’s own.

    First, this is totally not a “if you like your insurance, you can keep it” moment. This is something Conway said, not Trump.

    Second, the solution is unbelievably simple. All the Republicans have to do is expand Medicaid/Medicare to anyone who loses their insurance as a result of Obamacare repeal. Yes, I’m aware it would cost money, yes I’m aware a lot of Tea Party Republicans hate the idea of deficit spending, yes I’m aware most of the rich hate spending on Medicaid.

    But it would only require a few sentences of legislation to do this, it would be easy to pass with Democrat support, and as for charges of “socialism”, all Trump has to say is, “It’s not socialism, it’s Medicare” and 200 million Americans will nod their heads. (The media would pillory him like usual… to no effect.)

    Whether Trump is cunning enough to do this is another question.

    1. Detroit Dan

      That is such an obvious winner, and the Dems would be caught so flat-footed, that Trump will find it irresistable.

      1. different clue

        The Republicans would only accept this if they could privatize and voucherise medicare and medicaide in the same law at the same time.

    2. sd

      I’m wondering if Trump will in fact kill Obamacare by moving everyone to Medicare. His general battle tactic seems to be aim a Tractor trailer truck straight at the center of a problem and then push the accelerator to the floor. Either get out of the way or get run over. He doesn’t do subtle.

      1. Carla

        Watch out. Medicare has been steadily crapified, and there is every indication that its crapification will only accelerate under Trump.

        The Trump crew can kill Obamacare and replace it with an utterly ruined “Medicare for All.” Be careful what you wish for.

        1. witters

          Actually, no. Wish for whatever you want. Wishes are not desires. They make no claim to change reality – which is why (as I’ve pointed out before, apparently to no effect) there is nothing wrong with having contradictory wishes (to be slim/to eat as much KFC as humanly possible. To have a secure monogamous relationship/to be a promiscuous sex god, etc.). It is part of the reality-free delights of wishes that they can be, and so often are, like this.

    3. Praedor

      Only problem: Trump’s HHS pick wants to privatize Medicare and the GOP has been starving Medicaid for decades. There’s barely anything left to pass people on to.

      1. HotFlash

        I dunno, how about expand Medicare to everyone and *then* privatize it? He could cap off with adopting everyone and then cutting off their allowance.

      2. jgordon

        Has it been starving medicare, or is medicare and the general sickcare complex more like the plant monster from the Little Shop of Horrors? The more you feed it, the faster it grows and the more demanding it gets.

        Actually this could be an allegory for any complex system that’s allowed to grow without checks, from finance and higher education to the government itself.

        As Laozi taught, for an orderly society: do your job and then withdraw. But the framework of all modern systems appears to be: do your job and then frantically look around for even bigger and grander jobs to do, without end. The only possible outcome of this way of doing things is collapse. This comes to another part of Laozi’s teaching: if you want to destroy something, first allow it to grow. Republicans starving medicare may be the only reason we still have it.

        1. marym

          Medicare for All isn’t complicated (LINK). Nor was original Medicare, for which design, training, organization, and enrollment were completed within a year (LINK).

          What’s complicated is the patchwork of public and private systems; and predatory Republican/Democrat attempts to chip away at what should be straightforward public programs with privatization schemes and divide-and-conquer benefit eligibility schemes. Specific to Medicare that would include Medicare Advantage, supplemental insurance, the prescription drug program, and the shifting of dual eligible into Medicaid managed care.

      3. Waldenpond

        The Rs (and some Ds) want to apply balance billing to MCR. So expand it and then snatch any assets people have to apply against it.

        1. reslez

          I’m willing to fight this battle but I’d like to bid high and try for single payer first. On the scale of priorities, the sick and dying need health care. Asset preservation for heirs comes after that. I know it’s @$%& but we’re working with the health care system we have, not the one we wish we had….

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > high and try for single payer first

            Yep. Like I said, every statement in defense of ObamaCare should begin with “Of course, Americans deserve Medicare for All. But….” and then the defense of whichever ObamaCare feature.

  14. Paid Minion

    Christmas gifts for my adult daughters?

    I give the same thing every year. CASH. And I usually give it to them in early December.

    True, it’s not very imaginative. But all three have told me that it makes December a lot easier to endure/deal with. A giant stress-reducer.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Christmas cards are one-use.

      So are gift-wraps. Very damaging environmentally.

      Perhaps Santa Monica will be the first to b-a-n them..

      1. Katharine

        Gift wraps one-use?! You sure didn’t have Yankee forebears! Not only did we carefully slit tape, fold paper, and save bows, we used to go out of our way the next year to look for suitable paper among the old pieces before reluctantly broaching a new roll. It was a rare piece that made it past three uses, but it did happen.

        As for Christmas cards, they are neither more nor less one-use than any other stationery, and much less environmentally damaging than junk mail.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You put ads on Christmas cards and it becomes a freedom of speech issue, junk or no junk. Then, you can’t do anything about it, and the cards will be protected.

          1. Katharine

            What do ads have to do with it? If there is a free speech issue it is necessarily independent of content (barring incitements to violence).

              1. Katharine

                I’m sorry, I’m missing your reasoning here. You’re making a connection I’m not seeing between the cards and junk mail. It seems to me that as long as there is first-class paper mail there could be no prohibition by type. Junk mail is mostly not first-class, though I admit that some of what is sent first-class is junk in my book.

                1. hunkerdown

                  Corporations already get cut-rate mass mailing because they have data available to them that most people do not. There is already discrimination by content, in effect. To deny that is neoliberal.

                2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  You mentioned junk mail, and I was thinking, how do we get rid of them. And I was thinking, it could be hard, perhaps involves freedom of speech. Moreover, being profit-oriented, maybe they put ads on cards.

                  1. Katharine

                    Thanks! I partly understand now. An interesting tangent, but I was still on my own line of thought and didn’t follow it.

      2. shinola

        Actually, wrapping paper is re-usable – my grandmother used to do that.

        Whenever we opened presents from her, we were always admonished to open carefully so as not to tear the paper. She would then collect the paper & re-use it (carefully ironing out any creases before storing it away).
        She was not an environmentalist but had a sense of thrift born from raising 5 children during the depression & WWII.

          1. polecat

            I reused all the gift boxes from previous holidays, b-days. and such …

            best gift : 2 …. a very nice sounding wind chime for the polecat happy garden … and a book entitled ‘The Genius of Birds’ by Jennifer Ackerman

            Warm, thick socks for Ms.polecat …and legging for the wee miss polecat ..good for the clod we’re currently experiencing

        1. MtnLife

          We still reuse actual wrapping paper from received presents. It’s a luxury we don’t buy and very environmentally damaging (usually difficult to recycle) for the short window of concealment it provides. If we have no reuse items we’ll scrounge newspaper, tape some magazine pages together, or upcycle a rough looking paper bag.

          1. Rhondda

            Yes, us too. I have never bought wrapping paper or ribbons in all my born days — 55 years of ’em.

      3. nippersdad

        For several years (before we, as a group, scrapped gift giving altogether) we were wrapping presents in (new) sheets, pillowcases, towels, handkerchiefs…………I imagine they got a lot of use out of their wrapping paper.

      4. ambrit

        We found that the best Christmas cards were home made ones. (Phyl is an artist, I’m mechanically handy.)
        Lately, we’ve given up on most of the “Holiday” accoutrements. Even the grandkids, bless their hearts, no longer expect much in the way of material gifts from the Geezers. The “new” economy has resurrected the Scrooge gene.
        Bah Wall Street!

    1. Synoia

      Way to go Obama…..

      Not content with having 2 Billion or so Muslims hating the US because of never-ending support for Apartheid in Palestine, Obama then alienates 800 million Hindus.

      Yes, yes I know the objective is to destabilize the BRICS, but one has to remember:

      Friends come and friends go, enemies accumulate.

      And yes, yes I know countries have interests, not friends…however a manipulative empire which voices support for democracy and self-determination and then practices the opposite looses leverage when fully revealed.

      Beware of US AID as a gift. Look for the shiv.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      Really interesting. India looking more like a test case. Next step eliminating $100 bills.

  15. Annotherone

    Key in 2016 : Bernie Sanders getting some well-deserved spotlight , and his voice heard nationally- eventually. Seeds sown for future progress, or so I sincerely hope.

    Worst for me personally: the Brexit vote – my 2 pensions from the UK have shrunk alamingly due to GBP/USD exchange rate tanking. An inheritance I have coming from the UK will be downgraded also. :(

    2017 key events – Watching POTUS Trump’s performance and how it is received by all and sundry; also, personally: Brexit progress or lack of, and effect on exchange rate.

    Favourite Holiday gift received – bottle of Famous Grouse! Favourite gift given: two world globes for kiddie relatives.

    Happy New Year to all at NC!

  16. Roger Smith

    1) I would say they biggest key event was Trump winning the presidency. The best? Probably Hillary losing. Her win would have wrought a ridiculous amount of false triumph and celebratory BS. I am tired about hearing how regal and elegant presidents and their spouses act. Probably the worst key event to me was Bernie Sanders post DNC loss. His actions have been getting worse and worse from my angle, hanging back with rats like Schumer and Pelosi, taking a back seat to them entertaining shallow policy talk (in a way that 1993 or so video of him standing behind Clinton at a health care speech is still true today. He should be out in front blasting these fools for the phonies they are while pushing the real solutions), bottoming out to today where he introduced a gigantic Trump Tweet poster board on the floor of the Senate… really? People really need to back off of this hyper-realistic view of Twitter and the greater internet (He also briefly entertained the Russian BS on social media).

    I know Lambert has some hope for Sanders, but unless he changes and stops standing in the shadows of establishment Democrats, I don’t think he will end up doing much. His potential was so great, but he just was not the right person to stand up to the Democrats. We are currently headed for a 2020 Booker, Cuomo, Zuckerberg showdown.

    2) I am not sure what might happen in 2017. It will be interesting for sure, thanks to Clinton losing. I except people’s expectation to be shaken in regards to Trump and what the ultimate outcome is next year and four years from now. He was not the best tool, but the only tool available to smash up some of the plaque clogging the arteries of our political system.

    3) I gave my Dad a 12 inch talking Trump Apprentice figure including the great phrase, “I should fire myself for hiring you.”

    1. Atypical

      Your comments re Bernie overlook the way humans operate, especially in a political theater drenched in narcissism, chronic maneuvering for power and a positive image.

      Bernie was not very popular before he ran; he was considered a hectoring annoyance and not part of the team.

      Due to the support his candidacy received members now have to be somewhat more cooperative. His new “leadership” position reflects that.

      He needs to continue to be seen as a force that should be respected. If he attacked those who he needs to stay relevant he would destroy all that he has accomplished recently.

      It’s ALWAYS a game, never straightforward. Humans like it that way and don’t tolerate rebels. That’s why the world is in the shape it’s in.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Since Sanders’ blown-up Trump Tweet was about Trump promising not to cut Medicare and Social Security, I think it’s fine. I think it’s also good that Sanders has been on point about policy (as that example shows) and hasn’t succumbed to the Russki hysteria.

      > We are currently headed for a 2020 Booker, Cuomo, Zuckerberg showdown.

      Could be. Four years is a long time in politics. And everybody, but everybody thought Clinton was a mortal lock for 2016. And look what happened. So I’m leery of predictions, especially those that seem to come from the Armchair of Despair.

  17. George Phillies

    We have the testimony that the New York Times and perhaps others ran off “the narrative”. Is the claim true? If so, what were the narratives in years past?

  18. charles leseau

    1) What do you think were key events of the year 2016? The best? The worst? The most off-beat?

    Best: Major media loses credibility by the day. I think it’s hilarious.
    Worst: Well, a tough year in too many ways globally, but 2016 will always be for me the year my mother died.
    Most off-beat: I can’t think of much other than Trump winning the presidency. Not sure if this qualifies for any “key event,” so I’ll call it off-beat, but I was so happy to see Valentina Gunina win the London Super Rapid tournament in chess. I just love the crazy way she plays.

    2) What do you expect to be the key events of the year 2017? Politically, culturally, and (of course) in the markets?

    Politically I expect to still see the ACA alive and still kicking by the end of 2017 despite all the yammering about Republicans nixing it (hope I’m wrong), and I figure I’ll hear more and more stuff leaking through the cracks about what’s actually been going on in Syria, as opposed to the line we’re fed about it. Culturally, I expect more of the same junk. Markets? No clue. Not my bailiwick.

    3) What was your favorite holiday gift? That you received? That you gave?

    Received: Either the TrackIR head tracking device from my dad for a WWI flight sim I’ve become addicted to (Rise of Flight), or the Henle Urtext edition of Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas (sheet music) from a good friend. Both already getting tons of use.
    Gave: I built my dad a super beast of a computer.

  19. Katharine

    Here’s a faintly hopeful sign for the new year:
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/04/free-leonard-peltier-obama-open-letter-james-reynolds

    The word of a former prosecutor (however grudgingly offered) might tip the scales.

    James Reynolds, who supervised a key part of the case against Peltier, who claims he was wrongfully convicted of the 1975 murders of two FBI agents, wrote to the president that clemency for the 72-year-old would be “in the best interest of justice in considering the totality of all matters involved”.

    “There seems to be no point in taxpayers paying his room and board,” Reynolds, 77, said by phone on Wednesday. “It’s time to call it quits.”

    “In the best interest of justice in considering the totality of all matters involved” is a bigger mouthful than “We screwed up,” but I guess it’s easier to say.

  20. Waldenpond

    I was going to develop a dislike for the first person to commit the vapid, hack move of using a blow up of a Trump tweet on the house or senate floor.

    1. robert hahl

      Trump’s tweets are a significant development of 2016. He is using them to control the press and the congress. Very impressive.

      1. Waldenpond

        Trump is trolling. Hacks have been parked online for years now and it’s just a ramp up….responding to his trolling so they don’t have to do actual news. It’s a pathetic show by all parties.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I don’t put defending Medicare and Social Security under the heading of “vapid.” If that’s what it took to win the news cycle, well, there are worse ways to do that.

        1. Bob

          I wasn’t the one calling the use of a blow-up of a Trump tweet a “vapid, hack move”. I approve of the use, but just pointed out to Waldenpond that Sanders was apparently the first to do so. In other words, I am in agreement with you, Lambert. I don’t think the use of Trump’s words prominently placed on a card to remind everyone of his promise of “no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid” was in any way a problem. In fact, I hope others will follow Sanders’ lead.

  21. LT

    2017 – the most telling event(s) will be the “resistance” against “Trump” by disappointed Clinton supporters.
    This will have the effect of ensuring all continues as usual because it ignores the hell on wheels authoritarianism officialized and established since the late 1940s.
    The denialism is too strong to take a repentant look at the those early years of empire that are key to what the country now faces

    1. aletheia33

      >those early years of empire that are key to what the country now faces<

      i agree they are key, and i wish more people appreciated the fact.

      but we don't do "history" in the USA
      we'll just keep recycling the "future"
      until there's no real future left

  22. Wyoming

    1) What do you think were key events of the year 2016? The best? The worst? The most off-beat?

    Trump of course. Followed by Brexit. The best? Hillary. The worst. Trump again. The most off-beat? Not sure what this means. Trump again? One could make a pretty good argument that those who see the collapse of civilization coming due to climate change and BAU politics have a much better argument today than they had on Jan 4th, 2016.

    2) What do you expect to be the key events of the year 2017? Politically, culturally, and (of course) in the markets?

    Trump will be the key event – the problem is that absolutely no one has a clue what that means or where it goes. No one figured out Trump in 2016 so I expect that only the luckiest guesser will get him right in 2017. This is not in any way to be taken as a good thing. Brexit will turn increasingly problematic. The EU in general is going to have palpitations – Italy, France, etc. Watching things burn is sort of fun – in a sick sort of way. Culture is going to be out of fashion in 2017. The markets? I have this fantasy that someone gets out their pitchforks and torches.

    3) What was your favorite holiday gift? That you received? That you gave?

    We don’t really do that kind of thing much any more.

  23. C.Hingy

    I second Wyoming’s take on the most significant key events of 2017. Putting a volitile man-baby in control of the world’s most well-funded and potentially destructive military forces and weapons will be THE defining characteristic of 2017 when whoever is left looks back on 2017.
    For a bit of gallows humor, I read a blog here about a grad student’s light-hearted romp taking advantage of Olive Garden’s Pasta Pass to its fullest (2014). In the link, you may notice the date significance what he named his selections that day. (Beginning of WWI, WWII, and his guess at WWIII- August 23, 2018). I gotta wonder if his humor had a grain of truth in it…I think he does mention he is a History major.

      1. C.Hingy

        Dude, she would’ve taken us on the same magical journeys we’ve been on in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc. So thanks for bringing up the other side of the same putrid coin. In the meantime, we still have a volitile man-baby in charge of an insanely well-funded and arguably most destructive military on the planet.

        1. different clue

          At least President Volatile Little Manbaby wants to renormalize relations with Russia. Unlike the “other one” . . . who wanted to deepen Cold War 2.0 and fully intended to risk genuine armed conflict exchanges with Russia.

          Our chances of nuclear death have gone down somewhat with the defeat of the Evil Clinton and her Vile Henchscum.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Volatile Little Manbaby

            For whatever reason, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all had significant father issues. Trump, so far as I know, has not. (One can argue from the standpoint of social policy that he should have had, but my point is psychology.)

            This is two-bit armchair psychologizing, but perhaps since Trump has nothing to prove to a problematic father figure, he’ll be less prone to military adventurism?

            There are plenty of reasons to object to Trump; it’s my experience that Democrat loyalists always double down on their failure in the 2016 election by assaulting Trump’s character, rather than making a case on policy. Sad!

            * One might also mention that Bush as, IMNSHO, a dry drunk. Trump, by all acccounts, is abstemious.

            1. Ohnoyoucantdothat

              Lambert, I have to disagree about Trump. His narcissism appears to be a direct consequence of his dominating father, Fred senior. How do I know this? First, narcissism’s hidden symptom is a very weak self-image. Donald weak? Yes … his bluster hides a badly damaged psyche. How else do you explain the super thin skin and lashing out at anyone who says anything critical about him. Second, his brother Fred jr. drank himself to death. That is another way to escape an abusive relationship. Fred senior was a horrid human being by any measure. Donald has been striving his entire life to measure up to his father’s unrealistic expectations for him. Being president is just the latest attempt to appease the old man. He definitely has father issues.

  24. Buttinsky

    2) What do you expect to be the key events of the year 2017?

    Well, Senator Chuck Schumer publicly warning the president elect that the “intelligence community” (CIA) will be “getting back” at him certainly sounds like the set-up to a key event.

    I’m trying to recall if I’ve heard so high a sitting public official ever so breezily acknowledge just how evil and powerful the CIA is, or threaten another public official with that evil and power.

    1. polecat

      The day after He’s sworn in, the Donald should have ol’ Chucky clapped in irons, and frog marched to the nearest jail cell, to be tried for treason !

      wouldn’t THAT be a hoot !

      1. montanamaven

        he just kinda threatened the president elect. i agree . they should lock him up. MAN, these are the sounds of the dinosaurs going down in the tar sands.

      2. Oregoncharles

        That would be unconstitutional; members of congress have very broad immunity for stuff they say.

        It is a very, ummm, clarifying moment, though.

      3. Jess

        I believe that members of Congress are exempt from arrests while it is in session. Not sure if there is a treason exemption.

        1. hunkerdown

          The President is only privileged from arrest while he is President. Once convicted of a high crime or misdemeanor, he may be tried as a citizen, criminally and civilly, according to the Constitutional definition. Congress might pursue a similar tack against their own.

    2. EndOfTheWorld

      Trump announced today he will pare back the CIA, as was JFK’s wish before the brain-splattering incident in Dealey Plaza. Unlike JFK, Trump has wisely retained PRIVATE SECURITY to supplement the feeble efforts of the Secret Service.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Well, Senator Chuck Schumer publicly warning the president elect that the “intelligence community” (CIA) will be “getting back” at him certainly sounds like the set-up to a key event.

      Silly Donald! He thought the President was more powerful than the intelligence community (really 17 agencies IIRC, not just CIA).

      Does make you wonder whether whatever report they show Trump on Friday will be the same as anyone else sees.

  25. Onarakage

    For 2017: should we be talking about the potential for a liquidity trap when US interest rates start to rise?

    Is Fed trying to nobble Trump with a liquidity trap? It seemed strange that the Fed would flag three increases for 2017 given that these types of announcements tend to feed expectations leading to liquidity traps.

    Unfortunately for the Fed the Japanese will still buy US bonds even when they expect to lose money!

  26. MtnLife

    Best: Bernie bringing necessary topics to the forefront. Close second: Hillary losing and Dems imploding. Worst/Offbeat: Trump and Republican majority Congress. I added the offbeat title because this could really be a good thing after being really bad in that it could reveal the Republican power structure as the naked emperor in much the same way it happened to the Dems with Obama.

    Predictions: Trump and Ryan collide. Either Ryan is steamrolled and is out of speakership or Trump screws his base and we enter a scary time.

    Best present received: new tactical EDC flashlight. 1000 lumens in your pocket comes in handy. Given: I gave a lot of mushroom totems. They’ll give mushrooms for a couple years and then decompose into compost. The gift that keeps on giving and returns to the earth avoiding the landfill.

  27. Prufrock

    1) What do you think were key events of the year 2016? The best? The worst? The most off-beat?

    I’d go with the measurement of gravitational waves and the defeat of Clinton. Brexit was huge of course, but that’s still playing out.

    2) What do you expect to be the key events of the year 2017? Politically, culturally, and (of course) in the markets?

    Whether or not Trump can create an even partially functional government. I’m with the group that has a hard time seeing Trump serve 4 years.

    Changes in the EU. I think the UK will backtrack on Brexit, freedom of movement will be less free, and the north will continue strangling the whole deal.

    3) What was your favorite holiday gift? That you received? That you gave?

    Giving: used books and walnut sized robots and drones.
    Receiving: I ate at Quince in SF, including the “dog hunting for gold” plate served on a tablet. Some feel that food like that is obnoxious, but it’s just my thing I guess. I think they serve the highest quality vegan meal I’ve ever seen.

  28. Edward

    The U.S. defeat in Syria and Turkey’s realignment with Russia and Iran are important. I don’t think the U.S. economy has a solid foundation. Sooner or later there will be another crash.

    1. craazyboy

      I guess someone should check and see if Turkey is still in NATO.

      It would be an embarrassing 2017 if NATO declared war on itself and attacked Syria from all sides. It’s been hard enough keeping track of moderate Arabs.

  29. montanamaven

    Worst events:
    Just had a friend ask if I was going to any “demonstrations.”
    “Demonstrations” of what?
    “Anti- Trump Demonstrations”, she said.
    “What does that demonstrate?”
    “That you hate Trump.”
    But what’s it for?”
    (Silence)
    “It’s not for anything. It’s anti ….Trump.”
    “Wouldn’t it be better to rally for Medicare for All – House Bill 676
    (silence)

  30. Pat

    I know of very few bests only some very goods for 2016. I have a couple of worsts.

    Very good, Bernie running on a decidedly more traditionally liberal platform and gaining massive traction.
    Worst Clinton gaming the system and managing to dispatch him, which leads to another worst – Trump’s win. (Sanders would have 1. campaigned in the rust belt states and 2. won).
    Best of Trump winning, Clinton losing. Additional bad thing of Trump winning, the excuse game for Clinton and her incompetent campaign, AND the intelligence community not dealing well with the apparent collapse of their plans for Russia’s demise, and their absurd claims regarding Russia which were not shot down immediately. Good thing, the clear evidence that we no longer have a functioning major media news outlet which practices journalism, the worst the clear and growing attempts to shut down alternative media.
    Other bad things – Ryan’s continued relevance, same with Schumer, the continued need to defend ACA and ignore single payer, and that no one is fighting the attempt to bring balanced billing to Medicare by attempting to make it illegal everywhere maybe by pointing out that if there are no set prices it is impossible to be an ‘educated consumer’ or shop for medical care. Among so other obvious things that rarely if ever get pointed out by those that should.

      1. Pat

        There is that. And the seeming growing acceptance that Trump can and will punish companies for moving operations out of the US. Something that should have been done a while ago. Just my years with neoliberals have taught me that zombie ideas and policies never die. And there has not been enough of Lambert’s fire…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > intelligence community not dealing well with the apparent collapse of their plans for Russia’s demise

      I’ve got no evidence for this theory, but it does make sense. A lot of rice bowls smashed with the collapse of those plans! Thinking out loud:

      My picture is that the current shitstorm of demonizing Putin, the New McCarthyism, and blacklisting independent media has been put in place for some time. Shitstorm deployment started during the election, and I think everybody assumed Clinton would win and then intensify it. Then Clinton lost, but factions that support her decided to keep the shitstorm deployed and intensify it themselves, partly as a means of “delegitimizing” Trump, but primarily to achieve their war aims in the new administration (or subject it to “regime change,” in the most foily scenario).

      No matter the details, it’s wonderfully clarifying to see the CIA come out of the shadows and openly become a political actor (and, incredibly, favored by Democrats, presumably because they would be taking the lead on Russia (and not NATO for pity’s sake).

      No evidence for any of this. But we still have 15 days ’til the Inauguration. And a week is a long time in politics.

      1. vidimi

        putin has been a villain since he took snowden in, but i think plans were laid even before then. he (putin) must have seen the upcoming pipeline wars in ukraine and syria coming which is why he probably did it in the first place. states are like ships, it takes a long time for them to change course. so too with policy and its effects.

        1. Edward

          Actually, I think Putin wanted to make a deal on Snowden. He made noises like he wanted something in return for handing him over. However, it would be beneath the dignity of the exceptional country to make a concession to a country that is supposed to follow our orders, so this never happened.

  31. Ed

    1) Wikileaks and the truth about Hillary and her DNC. Probably fits the best, the worst and the most off-beat all in the same stroke.

    2) A new President (with all the change that comes from that)t, a change in the reign over the UK, continued dramatic international incidents, radical change in Europe, more incidence of small-scale violence (interpersonal/domestic/community, “shootings”, terror).

    3) My favroite gift to others: a copy of Nick Bantock’s “The Trickster’s Hat”. My favorite received gift: the 4th edition of “The Craft of Research”.

  32. Steve H.

    Was this posted yet?

    Daily Mail on Snopes:

    Facebook has announced plans to check for ‘fake news’ using a series of organizations to assess whether stories are true
    One of them is a website called Snopes.com which claims to be one of the web’s ‘essential resources’ and ‘painstaking, scholarly and reliable’
    It was founded by husband-and-wife Barbara and David Mikkelson, who used a letterhead claiming they were a non-existent society to start their research
    Now they are divorced – with Barbara claiming in legal documents he embezzled $98,000 of company money and spent it on ‘himself and prostitutes’
    In a lengthy and bitter legal dispute he is claiming to be underpaid and demanding ‘industry standard’ or at least $360,000 a year
    The two also dispute what are basic facts of their case – despite Snopes.com saying its ‘ownership’ is committed to ‘accuracy and impartiality’

  33. Howard Beale IV

    So, like, whatever happened with the Skunk Party idea Yves was kicking around?

    Seems like with all the chaos in the political parties both in and out of power, now would be a good time to start fielding US Congressional candidates and start to put the squeeze on the whole system.

    1. hunkerdown

      Howard! Good to see you again. America has been thinking about you lately.

      +1 to all of this. Let them squabble amongst themselves and be demoralized. Hybrid vigor is a force to be reckoned with.

  34. vidimi

    key events in 2017…

    will see how the situation in cyprus is resolved and whether turkey is stuffed into the EU. despite the americans’ ham-fisted attempts to do this, it would break apart the EU rather than make it stronger and send more countries into russia’s orbit rather than isolate her.

    we will see whether trump will buckle under establishment pressure to continue existing orthodoxies or whether he is successful in creating his own establishment. i lean towards the former as there would be a lot of toothpaste to put back into the tube otherwise. anti-russian hysteria and the fake news associated with it is likely to rise and reach a fever pitch with all sorts of propaganda and anti-free speech laws passed in its wake.

    how will south east asia cope with climate change (there are currently massive floods in the north of malaysia not reported anywhere) and the rise of fascism (mulims in the most moderate islamic countries – indonesia and malaysia – are polarizing due to the treatment of the rohingya people in myanmar and the ongoing quagmire in the middle east; in the philippines, duterte is recreating 1967 indonesia)?

    climate change will be a key issue in africa as well.

    south america had an awful 2016. will 2017 be any better?

    because neoliberalism refuses to go away quietly, we are on a countdown to war. i don’t think (hope?) 2017 will be the year but every new straw risks breaking the camel’s back.

  35. vidimi

    also, 2016 in the rear-view mirror:

    good: the clintons losing
    bad: trump winning
    ugly: new red scare

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