Links 1/7/17

The World’s Fastest Woman Wall Street Journal

TK:

The actual NATIONAL NEAR-EARTH OBJECT PREPAREDNESS STRATEGY report in pdf is here:
With an article about it: The White House Plan to Defend Against Killer Asteroids Is Here Motherboard.

With #resistence still hoping for a coup (damn it, it’s HER turn), I’ll still rooting for the giant meteor.

Selfie stick in 1969 Czechoslovak science fiction movie Boing Boing (resilc)

Why Does A Frozen Lake Sound Like A Star Wars Blaster? NPR (Chris M)

5 Big Predictions for Artificial Intelligence in 2017 MIT Technology Review (resilc)

Urbanisation signal detected in evolution, study shows BBC

EU Agency Confirms 2016 As Hottest Year On Record Huffington Post

Living near heavy traffic increases risk of dementia, say scientists Guardian

Fewer people are dying of cancer than ever before The Outline

China?

How a pair of US stopovers could reshape Taiwan’s ties with US, China Christian Science Monitor (furzy)

Yuan Intervention Poised to Fail: All Not Well in Middle Kingdom Michael Shedlock (EM)

Angry donor threatens to stop funding Tory party The Times

600 Hundred Arrested And 1 Dead As Mexican Gas Price Protests Intensify OilPrice (resilc)

Syraqistan

Inquiry Points Toward a Pentagon Plot to Subvert Obama’s Syria Policy Truthdig (RR)

Poll: Nearly 2/3 of U.S. Public Opposes Withdrawing from Iran Nuclear Deal LobeLog (resilc)

The U.S. dropped more than 25,000 bombs, mostly in Syria and Iraq, last year McClatchy (resilc)

New Cold War

Comparing: Putin Ordered ‘Influence Campaign’ Aimed at U.S. Election, Report Says NewsDif. Dan K: “Whoa, NYT lead story on IC report on Russian election influence has been *drastically* cut back since publication.”

Why doubts still cloud Russian hacking allegations Christian Science Monitor (furzy). From Thursday.

US releases declassified report on Russian hacking The Verge

The Declassified Russian Hack Report Marcy Wheeler. In particular, notice issue where NSA is less convinced than CIA and FBI.

New Intelligence Report Adds No Evidence Of “Russian Hacking” (Updated) Moon of Alabama

Lead U.S. Intelligence Agency Admits Wikileaks’ Democratic Emails Are Authentic George Washington

Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution Director of National Intelligence (Kevin C)

On Whitewashing Russia: Power-worshippers Only See Black-and-White Counterpunch. Resilc, from story: “The trouble with this latest fairy tale is that the media has swallowed the state-sponsored story without demanding a scintilla of evidence, and has turned the entire factitious endeavor into a witch hunt aimed at alternative media.”

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Ultrasound Tracking Could Be Used to Deanonymize Tor Users Bleeping Computer (TK). Another reason to have only a stupid phone!

Trade Transition

Democrats demand probe of Trump health nominee Reuters (EM)

China warns US of retaliation if Trump imposes tariffs Financial Times

Trump Nominees’ Filings Threaten to Overwhelm Federal Ethics Office New York Times

Trump’s pick for defense secretary has resigned from Theranos’s board Washington Post (resilc)

Trump Pick Jay Clayton to Be Most Conflicted SEC Chair Ever Rolling Stone (resilc)

Will Trump Transform the CIA? American Conservative (resilc)

Spy-Agency Revamp Reflects Michael Flynn’s Influence Wall Street Journal

2016 Post Mortem

Registered Voters Who Stayed Home Probably Cost Clinton The Election FiveThirtyEight. Gee, ya think?

Republicans Want Revenge for Obamacare and It’s Making Them Do Stupid Things New York Times

Obamacare?

Obama dares Republicans: Give me better health plan and ‘I will publicly support repealing Obamacare‘ CNBC (furzy)

It appears Americans don’t want ACA repeal without replacement Los Angeles (Glenn F)

Republicans May Not Have the Senate Votes to Repeal Obamacare New York Magazine

New York and New Jersey agree to plan to fund train tunnel, bus terminal Reuters (EM)

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant to Shut Down by 2021 New York Times (David L)

The Humans and Machines That Built New York’s Most Expensive Subway Motherboard. Resilc: “These are the people that could make america great again if we didn’t invade the world.”

Trouble ahead for New York’s museums Apollo (resilc)

NoDAPL

Q&A: David Archambault II, chairman of Standing Rock Reservation Emerald Media. Martha r: “Important concerns from first leader of NODAPL about the current situation.”

Volkswagen Near Settling U.S. Criminal Case Over Emissions Cheating Wall Street Journal

AT&T and Time Warner still trying to sidestep FCC scrutiny of merger ars technica

Theranos to Lay Off 41% of Workforce, Company Says Bloomberg. Second wave of layoffs.

I was one of the only economists who predicted the financial crash of 2008 – in 2017 we need to make urgent changes Independent (UserFriendly)

Are We Safe Yet? Timothy Geithner, Foreign Affairs. MA: “Most self-serving twaddle I’ve yet seen.”

Bearish bets against US Treasuries climb to new record Financial Times

Wall Street’s Most Outspoken Stock Bull Reverses, Now Top Bear Bloomberg

Guillotine Watch

Amazon’s Spheres: Lush nature paradise to adorn $4 billion urban campus Seattle Times. John L: “Reminds me of Silent Running http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067756 ‘In a future where all flora is extinct on Earth, an astronaut is given orders to destroy the last of Earth’s botany, kept in a greenhouse aboard a spacecraft.'”. Moi: Pull out a calculator. $4 billion divided by 220,000 employees is over $18,000 an employee. How about raising everyone’s pay by $4,000 a year for the next four years instead?

Class Warfare

Uber drivers deemed to be employees by Swiss insurance provider TechCrunch (TK)

Who Is Finished Paying Their 2017 Social Security Taxes? Probably Not You. Huffington Post. Glenn F: “Great explanation of why Social Security is lacking necessary funds”. Moi: Aside from not understanding MMT….

Antidote du jour. MGL:

Bohemian Waxwing nabbing a Mayday (hawthorn) berry amidst the hoar frost. It was very cold and foggy here in Anchorage, Alaska for several days, then the fog lifted, sun came out to show off the beautiful hoar frosted trees and bushes (and parking meters).

And a bonus antidote (Robert H from Pleated Jeans):

bear antics links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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340 comments

    1. oho

      to paraphrase “Dark Helmet”—it’s looking like the Right will always triumph because the Left is dumb.

      1. Tertium Squid

        Right and left are always fighting
        In our youth it seems exciting
        Left is always nearly winning
        Right can hardly keep from grinning

    2. craazyboy

      Ah. Donna Brazile! mastermind of the gore presidency and hillary presidency. who will the lucky 2020 president be ? remember michelle – they always say no first.

      1. Gareth

        I believe Andy Cuomo has made the first move with his Sander’s inspired free college tuition plan.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Cuomo will have several problems.

          -his primary behavior
          -his record to date
          -Wall Street ties
          -he would be a nobody except for his last name
          -the early states are NH, Nevada, and Iowa. Those weren’t Hillary blow outs, and he isn’t going to inherit Hillary’s AA voters
          -the Internet exists. Cuomo is still the dip who sold half a dozen copies of his book about his rise in politics.
          -his pro-Likud policies

          Cuomo might get three or four people at his NH events.

          Hillary and Obama were celebrities who brought crowds. Can you imagine Hillary talking to voters? That is what will happen.

          1. oho

            Democrats love those nepotistic dynasties.

            (obviously Republicans are not much better. But the ‘good guys’ are the ones who should be held to a higher standard)

          2. Gareth

            Cuomo also has a little bit of a corruption problem, but if corruption was a disqualifier we’d hardly have any presidential candidates.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Cuomo’s other problem is he has largely inherited everything and has never developed actual political skills. Elites were nice because they wanted to impress daddy. Gore had this problem too. Gore didn’t become a 28 year old congressman because he was soooo awesome on the campaign trail.

            2. carycat

              All the GOP has to do is roll Christie out and give Cuomo a bear hug on bridgegate. They were thick as thieves.

          3. ocop

            This list could more or less describe Hillary couldn’t it? Connections, corruption, and others coattails.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Hillary had celebrity and nostalgia. She was actually the strongest candidate the Democratic Party could put forward because she could avoid interacting with anyone other than fawning audiences.

              Did you see any of Bill’s interactions with that 23ish Sanders volunteer. Can you imagine how these less talented Dems would fare? They would have to go to voters to come out of the process. What celebrities will come out for Booker, Kaine, Warner, etc? They aren’t American royalty. Once, they leave the local fiefs watch out.

        2. bob

          I heard that over thanksgiving, before the college scam. All Albany pols, directly on message-

          “Andy’s great! He’s fiscally conservation, and liberal!”

          It was a great indicator of who should be lined up against the wall first.

          From the brains that spent a record amount to NOT elect Hillz.

          I’m not a fan of fascism, but where from here? You can’t put the fuckers in jail, you can’t vote them out…because….

          1. skippy

            Did you say fascism bob – ????? – funnily enough I was having a bad dream the other day or was I engaged in a conversation at another econ – political blog…

            Some days I feel like I’m watching a religion subdivide, as they do, but like fruit fly’s in some bio experiment….

            Does this adequately describe your position or that of NRx.

            A short definition, that seems to me uncontroversial: The Alt-Right is the populist dissident right. Set theoretically, NRx is therefore grouped with it, but as a quite different thing. Another obvious conclusion from the definition: the Alt-Right is almost inevitably going to be far larger than NRx is, or should ever aim to be. If you think people power is basically great, but the Left have just been doing it wrong, the Alt-Right is most probably what you’re looking for (and NRx definitely isn’t).

            For the Alt-Right, generally speaking, fascism is (1) basically a great idea, and (2) a meaningless slur concocted by (((Cultural Marxists))) to be laughed at. For NRx (XS version) fascism is a late-stage leftist aberration made peculiarly toxic by its comparative practicality. There’s no real room for a meeting of minds on this point.

            As a consequence of its essential populism, the Alt-Right is inclined to anti-capitalism, ethno-socialism, grievance politics, and progressive statism. Its interest in geopolitical fragmentation (or Patchwork production) is somewhere between hopelessly distracted and positively hostile. Beside its — admittedly highly entertaining — potential for collapse catalysis, there’s no reason at all for the techno-commercial wing of NRx to have the slightest sympathy for it. Space for tactical cooperation, within the strategic framework of pan-secessionism, certainly exists, but that could equally be said of full-on Maoists with a willingness to break things up.

            A-R is populist, NRx is anti-populist.
            A-R is nationalist, NRx is anti-nationalist.
            A-R is anti-capitalist, NRx is pro-capitalist.
            A-R is grievance/identity politics for white people, NRx is fundamentally opposed to grievance/identity politics.

            The Alt-Right is a great demonstration of the veracity of neoreactionary criticisms of democracy/demotism.

            In my understanding it just old fashion AnCap with some groovy new youthful energy re-branding attempting to ride the coattails of the Alt-RIght to where ever that leads…..

            It seems some read a bit of philosophy and then apply it to history, rather than learning a from a broader multidisciplinary perspective and then reconcile history and its attendant philosophies…

            disheveled…. the problem I have is conflation of democracy with the time period in modernity, factoring in multiple agency effects, and proclaiming it at fault for – everything – when democracy for citizens has been on the wane since libertarians [front group for business concerns] took over…. big wads of wealth pushing society all over the joint is not a democracy…

            1. bob

              Looking at King Andy in particular, he does appeal to “the right” such as it is in NY.

              ++

              Start.

              “He’s not his father”

              No, he’s not. He was his father’s bag man. His father, apparently, had some little bit of appeal. Take that away, what’s left? Pedigree. His father….Resume again from the top. It’s a campaign!

              +++

              Keeping it in the Cuomo-Kennedy-Clinton family. Whoops…can I even say that anymore? Hillz lost. No throne, or hyphen, for her. She’s stuck eating breakfast alone in a castle. The humanity! Damn Russians. Why can’t Hillz have Pancakes!

              Maybe Tump will let her rent out the white house? She’s got the cash.

              1. skippy

                Curse you bob you made me look him up and – bang – like a .50 cal round straight between the eyes his poster boy photo hit my optic nerves.

                Quite the rap sheet, yet still managed to crawl into office after previous incumbents scandal left the doggie door open and then managed a 96% of the vote in next the general election.

                disheveled…. I owe you bob….

                1. bob

                  This bio had some interesting bits. None of the real bad stuff, but some background, without any context.

                  http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/16/albany-chronicles

                  This is his current girl friend.

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=we2iWTJqo98

                  Maybe Haygood can let us in on the secret- Is this really a popular ethnic dish in Westchester? I have my doubts.

                  Everything about him is a horrible. Not just horrible, but taking horrible to another level, which these days, is saying a lot.

                2. bob

                  Tossing this bit in for good measure, the Moreland Omission was a big topic in that Cuomo piece.

                  Chair of the Moreland Omission, Onondaga County DA for life (longer than Morgenthau now) Fitzpartick. Everyone was afraid of him, before the omission. Cuomo let him run around Albany, gathering political dirt on everyone. The Omission never released any of it. It’s still sitting in Fitz’s war chest. It’s been incorrectly reported that Preet subpoenaed the records, he never did. Fitz handed Preet a case. A case that still hasn’t seen Silver in jail for trading in dead people.

                  What’s Ftiz been up to lately? Well, there was this-

                  http://www.syracuse.com/crime/index.ssf/2016/12/onondaga_county_da_must_rehire_victims_advocate_who_says_she_was_fired_for_helpi.html

                  The story, as first published, contained a few paragraphs about how the investigators son bragged on facebook that he couldn’t go to jail. He didn’t go to jail. I have no doubt Fitz let loose a sting of expletives on the paper to get it removed. You’ll notice his name isn’t anywhere near that story. He’s been censured in the past for yelling at juries. Goodwin’s law, but Fitz really has some similarities. He’s at least as scary, speaking of fascism.

                  In case you think it’s a one off, it’s not-

                  http://www.syracuse.com/crime/index.ssf/2015/05/onondaga_county_das_staff_seized_camera_deleted_video_of_fitzpatrick_speech_at_o.html

                  Another, which got a ton of press. Fitz travels-

                  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/29/nyregion/oral-nicholas-hillary-potsdam-murder-trial-garrett-phillips.html?_r=0

                  Ftiz closed out the press conference, after the verdict, by calling the exonerated “a killer”, adding another few zero’s to his post trial suit.

                  Best buddies. Bi-partisan. Fiscally Conservative.

                3. bob

                  “But Silver was convicted!”

                  Yes, according to google, and the NYT.

                  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/04/nyregion/sheldon-silver-ex-new-york-assembly-speaker-gets-12-year-prison-sentence.html?_r=0

                  But, what about the fine print? Yanno, for the people that don’t go to jail? going over to wikipedia-

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

                  ” As of November 2016,[citation needed] he remained free on bail, pending an appeal based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McDonnell v. United States that reversed the corruption conviction of a former Virginia Governor.[49]”

                  Same with his former bi-partisee, Bruno.

                  Correcting the New Yorker Piece. The 3 men in a room were A) Silver B) Bruno and C) King Father Cuomo. Silver and Bruno were there for decades. It’s all in Cuomo’s hands now. One man in the room to rule them all.

                  King Andy.

                4. skippy

                  Someone make the bad man stop…. lol…

                  Yeah Bob… best part is all these jr collage level ideological sports teams, infesting the tubes or pubs never seem to reconcile any of this, because their off chasing unicorns or building torches to burn everything down.

                  disheveled…. can’t wait to see there reaction when they have to sell their precious bodily fluids in exchange for a UBI…. snicker….

                  1. bob

                    POE-

                    I thought the funniest quote of that movie was when he yells- “Mandrake, get over here, the redcoats are coming!”

                    They’re closer than you think.

                    cheers skippy

          2. zapster

            Election fraud. Disenfranchising millions of dems right before elections, not counting millions of legal votes, jim crow laws everywhere. Yeah, you can’t lose if you just *don’t let the other side vote.*

  1. UserFriendly

    Angst grows in GOP over ObamaCare repeal plan

    When you’ve lost the house freedom caucus…..

    Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, while calling for all of the taxes to be repealed, also wants a replacement to come forward simultaneously.

    “The replacement program, whatever you want to call it, then needs to be implemented, I believe needs to be voted on the same day,” Meadows said Thursday, adding that is his opinion and not an official Freedom Caucus position.

    “We have to show that everyone is going to be able to maintain coverage, which they will,” he added.

    http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/313135-angst-grows-in-gop-over-obamacare-repeal-plan

    1. Kokuanani

      Is there a coherent list anywhere of the reasons WHY the Repubs want to repeal Obamacare? I haven’t seen them list any of the GOOD reasons, like premiums, deductibles & co-pays are too expensive; horrid “sign-up” procedures, etc. All I seem to hear from them is temper tantrum-ish “Obama did it, so we hate it.” Are they going to come out & say “no health care for anyone; you’re on your own”?

      Really. Anyone?

      1. craazyboy

        I think the “list” is probably Top Secret because it would flunk Focus Group on solid political correctness grounds.

        The short version might look like this:

        1) High prices = good. (what’s a tiny slice of your income matter when your health is at stake? We can buy the Greatest Health Care In The World!)

        2) The Deficit! Bad, Bad, Bad! The idiots that crafted O Care are subsidizing the “cost” [yes, we know this is prices for services billed and is mostly fluff plus some cheap chemicals pressed into pills.] so that “those” folks can have it too.

        3) Standing in line with “those” folks to get the Greatest Health Care In The World = Bad.

        Action Item for Focus Group:

        Are “We” going to come out & say “no health care for anyone; you’re on your own”? Sure, $5000 – $15000 deductible is a great start, and “those” folks’ premium helps fund our health care, but we think we should strive for perfection.

      2. cwaltz

        The GOP reasons for repeal?

        1. Obama passed it.
        2. Obama passed it.
        3. Obama passed it.
        4. Obama passed it.

        And finally did I mention Obama passed it?

        Don’t get me wrong it’s an awful bill but it was an awful bill modeled after the Republican’s own vision. It was essentially the Heritage Foundation’s brainchild.

        So far all I’ve seen in terms of replacement has been giving everyone a tax shelter- I mean Health Savings Account, the account usually created to deal with high deductible plans(because let’s not deal with the fact that no one can afford the insane $6000 deductible on top of thealready subsidized premium which pulls everyone well above the 9% threshold when it comes to actually paying for CARE, instead of just for insurance.) . Oh and they are going to let insurance companies operate across state lines. BCBS Indiana will be allowed to compete with BCBS California for consumers in California. Fun times a coming.

        1. scott 2

          Obamacare is like buying insurance for your car that covers gas, oil, windshield wipers, has a $6K deductable, and is sold to you by GM or Ford, and the premiums are higher for those that aren’t poor. Insurance, by definition, should cover the unforeseen, not everyday or predictable expenses.

          Statistically, the only way to cover the already-sick is with large networks, yuuge networks, like multiple state size. Think the break-up of ATT. Prices for services should be available online and at the door of the hospital or medical office. The networks would not pay more the 3X the cheapest price in the world for the same drug, generic or otherwise (instead of 10x to 1000x now). The Wall Street gravy train of sickness and death through price-gouging needs to be publicized and fought.

          1. financial matters

            “”The networks would not pay more the 3X the cheapest price in the world for the same drug, generic or otherwise (instead of 10x to 1000x now). The Wall Street gravy train of sickness and death through price-gouging needs to be publicized and fought.”

            The government has a lot of buying power through Medicare to influence these sorts of things. Expand Medicare, increase that power. Are you listening Mr. Trump?

            1. run75441

              You will still need commercial healthcare insurance to cover drugs, the 20% of Part B and other parts of Part A which are not covered in Medicare.

          2. cwaltz

            Heh, the problem is the huge networks the republicans are talking about are going to still be FOR PROFIT entities.

            Ultimately the crossing state lines to compete may also lead to, for profit health insurance monopolies, as the bigger for profits starve out their smaller competition. Especially since we have a crony capitalistic system that seems to encourage this behavior.

            Cost efficiency for business does not necessarily mean cost efficiency for you(they will be more then happy to pocket the extra they get to make by eliminating competition in the same way big business is more than happy to charge you the $100 for those shoes they manufactured in Bangladesh to save on labor costs. Regulatory controls are the answer but the odds of the party who says that governmentory regulations are stifling business enacting them correctly are slim to none.

            1. Tom

              I read somewhere that it’s already legal for insurance providers to provide insurance for people across state lines — it’s just that it doesn’t make good business sense. The argument — if I recall — is that an insurance provider’s ability to negotiate discounts with hospitals,doctors, etc. depends on whether they can promise that a large percentage of the local population will use their services. If say, an insurance company in southeast Michigan tries to negotiate discounts with a hospital in North Dakota — or tries to sign up North Dakotans — it really doesn’t have much leverage in that local market. There was more to the argument, but that a part I remember.

          3. redleg

            The biggest network would be ONE network.
            Having just been to the ER (ice is slippery. Just sayin’), publishing prices up front is as useful as a soccer bat.

            1. Katharine

              Hope it’s not too bad, whatever broke/cracked/strained/dislocated. At least you’re describing this as a past event, not ongoing inpatient.

            2. cwaltz

              Personally, knowing charges would only work to a small extent since knowing the cost of the ultrasound my doctor wants me to have to keep up with the stone in my right kidney would allow me to budget for it during the year however, it isn’t like I’m going to tell my doctor that I refuse to have that ultrasound because of cost knowing that it might cost me kidney function if a stone lodges in my kidney and can’t be passed.

              So costs only go so far as to help with planned expenses, not unplanned ones like an ER visit.

              1. different clue

                Is it the kind of stone which drinking a lot of distilled water might help to dissolve the edges of so as to make its size smaller for a while?

            3. Oregoncharles

              Obviously it doesn’t help at the ER. However, there are a lot more clinic visits or planned surgeries (even with Medicare, I had no idea what my surgery would cost me), so in that context transparent pricing would be some improvement. Next problem: in my small city, there are only 3 clinics; a giant one, a nearly-giant one started by the hospital, and a small one. The last wanted me to “apply” for a doctor, because I’m on Medicare. That seemed to me highly inappropriate, so I returned the form with a complaint. Anyway: an oligopoly, and typical these days.

              Fundamentally, medical care is a prime example of market failure, for both ethical, economic, and practical reasons – patients arriving unconscious at the ER being the extreme example. People don’t price-shop for medical care. That’s a fantasy that approaches blind superstition.

              1. Altandmain

                In many cases, especially for the ER, they simply cannot. Having to go to the ER usually means that you are in no position to do any shopping around, even if there was full transparency.

                The logical solution is universal healthcare. Of course, that would be the end of the HMO rent seekers, which is why that is fought against like crazy.

        2. Pat

          Call me wild and crazy, but I think some of the hemming and hawing now being seen from some Republicans is that, unlike most of the Democratic Party, at least a few of them don’t believe the Village bull and get that when they repeal ACA, they do need something in place that people won’t feel screwed by. And they get that all the tax solutions do NOT do that. That I think that is happening btw does not mean that the GOP won’t be stupid, and that Trump’s people won’t be stupid so that they not only will repeal ACA but further handicap Medicaid and screw up Medicare – see Ryan, Pence and Price.

          Just as the Democrats had a huge opportunity in 2009 to do the right thing by their constituents, the Republicans are in the same position. Sadly even with someone more combative and dare I say it quicker than Obama as President, I don’t for a moment think they will run with this. I’ll just hold my breath and hope they don’t fuck things up as well as the Democrats did. (Also not likely).

          1. Oregoncharles

            Like the Dems in 2009, the Reps now have a dire need to rescue the “Democratic” Party (I am fond of scare quotes; they say so much with so little). The 2Party can’t stand on one leg.

        3. Milton

          Everything you mention is correct and can mirror EXACTLY the DEM reasons why they wish to keep the ACA.

        4. rd

          Obama Care is putting us on the dangerous road to socialism which creates health care system problems such as expenditures that are only 11-12& of GDP (less profit for benevolent health care corporations) and longer lifespans that require the government to fund healthcare longer per person. Spending 17-18% of GDP on healthcare instead of other areas is much more economically effective. Shorter lifespans reduce stress on numerous support systems for the elderly, such as pensions and Social Security. This permits re-allocation of these funds to socially beneficial purposes, such as the military-industrial complex and private prisons.

      3. Steve H.

        The ACA is just stickered-over Romneycare, and Trump really does seem to despise Romney. Romney had two requests for inclusion on his Mass governor portrait: his wife and the healthcare act that went national under Obama.

        National policy wouldn’t be based on something so petty. Right?

        The only reason to kill it is that it’s not meeting expected corporate profits. And that does seem to be the case.

        1. Pat

          In reality, it wasn’t just stickered over, it was an updated even more crapified version of Romneycare because the big players from the insurance industry, pharma and private medical had people in the room to correct ‘problems’ when ACA was written AND were allowed to help write the rules at HHS about implementation and some of the details. Sad to say but Romney’s version as bad as it was, was better and stronger than Obama’s version.

            1. run75441

              Not Lieberman the Senator from AETNA who held the Public Option hostage and wanted it stripped out before he would vote with the Democrats?

              The Democrats needed Lieberman’s vote to get reform passed, and insurers knew it. Shortly before the Senate was set to vote on the bill, Lieberman said he would vote for the bill only if the public option was stripped out.

              Lieberman accused public option supporters of having an ulterior motive.

               “A public option plan is unnecessary,” he told Fox News. “It has been put forward, I’m convinced, by people who really want the government to take over all of health insurance.”

      4. UserFriendly

        Pure Ideology. Their world view is 100% committed to the concept that the private sector is always more efficient than the public sector and ANY interference is a net harm. That’s why all the cognitive dissonance now. Their impulse is to stop government meddling but they see the politics of people getting kicked off insurance and dying on the nightly news.

      5. fresno dan

        Kokuanani
        January 7, 2017 at 8:23 am

        I would say the repubs “free market” ideology is an irresistible force meets an immovable object.
        Simply put, most people’s (voters) free market income cannot even come close to paying for free market health care.
        This means subsidies and lots of them and some form of price constraint. Price constraint could consist of Medicare bidding for drugs, laws mandating posting of prices for all medical services, a de-ratcheting of the mindless extension of patents, and re-importation of drugs.
        BUT, like the other party, the repubs ideology of “free market” &”competition” is merely a brand to advertise it to the rubes – heaven forbid banks be allowed to fail, and laws for fiduciary responsibility be enforced, or mortgagors be prosecuted for forgery…..

        ” Is there a coherent list anywhere of the reasons WHY the Repubs want to repeal Obamacare? ”
        Oh yeah, your question. The two parties compete merely on the grift – who can extract the most money from the medical, insurance, and drug industries. If Obama succeeds, that’s less grift, bribe, kickback for the republs. Getting rid of Obama’s payback means the repubs now can tailor the bill so that they get all those kickbacks now….

        1. Isolato

          I’m always amazed at the historical blindness of “free market” idealogues. The natural result of a free market is a monopoly as it is the most profitable outcome. This is what we learned from the Gilded Age and the breakup of Standard Oil and the Trusts. Think OPEC.

          But there are also “natural monopolies”… municipal utilities come to mind. These we seek to regulate because their power is unconstrained.

          A free market rarely results in the consumer friendly paradise that is the myth of the marketeers.

        2. different clue

          That would make Obama be hazzing a real sad. If the GOP repeals Obamacare so fast that he won’t even have time to collect his payoffs from Big Insura, Big Pharma, Big Etcetera.

          No wonder he is so desperate to see that it stays passed.

    2. HBE

      What I want to see is a report/poll of just those who are pushed into selecting a plan from the ACA marketplace.

      Because, most “liberals” would say it should never be repealed, but based on demographics most of them get their insurance from employers and not through the ACA. So they are making pronouncements on the efficacy of a program they don’t use and have limited knowledge on beyond “a dem passed it.”

      Many more trump voters actually use the ACA marketplace, but that still doesn’t provide an accurate measure, in my view.

      When I see a poll of only ACA users and their views on repeal, then I’ll give it full credence. Without that you just end up with alot of virtue signaling one way or the other, and the people who actually have to use it lost in the noise.

      1. cwaltz

        “Because, most “liberals” would say it should never be repealed, but based on demographics most of them get their insurance from employers and not through the ACA. So they are making pronouncements on the efficacy of a program they don’t use and have limited knowledge on beyond “a dem passed it.” ”

        That’s funny because I am pretty sure many liberals thought Obamacare was a problem to begin with. They felt it didn’t go far enough to help consumers.

          1. Katharine

            But she could still be right, because many people who define themselves as liberal did not think the ACA was a good plan. Their self-definition trumps yours where they are concerned.

          1. cwaltz

            I was hoping that single payer would at least be part of the discussion. Of course, Pelosi took it off the table and if I remember correctly even went so far as to have single payer advocates that dared to push to be part of the conversation arrested.

            1. witters

              “Part of the discussion”? THAT is what you hope for? I think at this point Discourse Ethics becomes absurd.

          2. Aumua

            We were hoping yes.

            Whatever happens though, however awful it ended up being, whatever their reasons for repealing it, we can rest assured that nothing better is coming to replace it any time soon.

            1. bob

              Yup. The only thing Obummer did was to set a price floor. It can only get more expensive and or offer less benefit from here.

              The true “choice” of it all. More cost, or less benefit? These aren’t mutually exclusive.

        1. different clue

          There is a time bomb waiting for them too. Adequate coverage was canarded as ” cadillac plan” and will be subject to a tax against the employER heavy enough to incentivize the employER to crapify the plans or cancel them completely and cast the coveraged workers upon the Obamacare markets.

      2. Pat

        I don’t qualify to comment according to you, but I went for a couple of years without insurance because I couldn’t afford the premiums. And I didn’t want to pick between eating and having electricity to have health insurance I still couldn’t afford to use. I managed to work a bit in my previous employment area last year to qualify to pay into my union’s plan. It is still a stretch, and I still cannot afford to actually use it but the premiums are almost two hundred dollars a month less for a plan with more doctors, a smaller deductible but otherwise similar co-insurance and coverage. What that means is that I need to be out of pocket by over $7000 before my insurance will pay fifty per cent of the cost for any health care outside of a physical and one other doctors visit. Through the exchanges that would be almost $12,000 for pretty much the same deal. What you can learn from this is that neither the employer or the self-purchased version of insurance provides affordable health care.

        What did I learn from these adventures in health care:

        1.) They didn’t begin to meet their goal of premium cost vs. percentage of income. And didn’t care.
        2.) They weren’t really interested in bending the cost curve (there would have been cost controls in place) 3.)Nor were they truly interested in people understanding the real cost of medical care. Otherwise balanced billing wouldn’t exist not only because it is evil but because there would be no difference in cost, they would be the same regardless of who was the purchaser. See if you want people to be ‘educated consumers’ they have to know the price, and it needs to be posted.
        3.) The pools were kept too small. (See difference in premiums above for largely the same type of policies, the only real difference is the pool is not divided by age/gender/or too small a regional area.
        4.) Poverty levels in this country have not kept up with inflation and are, like so many other things, inaccurate and too low.
        5.) The purpose of this was NOT to provide health care to everyone, but to provide a subsidy for insurance companies AND to enable a small percentage of people with the more useful of the largely useless policies to overpay for drugs and medical procedures, except for those who qualified under expanded Medicaid (and even that was allowed to be about profits for private companies – see rule easements).

        But that is me. I want ACA done and gone and for us to move to an actually working health care system, starting with Medicare for all and getting better from there. Yet I apparently cannot complain because I never wasted over five thousand dollars buying insurance I could never afford to use.

        (Oh, and Trump is right, if they don’t have an answer they can just continue to argue about it for a couple of years and ACA will disintegrate under its own weight.)

        1. Tom

          Especially agree on your last point about wait a few years and ACA will collapse under its own weight.
          Case in point: My premium for a crappy Bronze plan with a $5,000 deductible went up 23% this year, from $410 to $504. At that rate of increase, in 5 years my monthly premium is projected to be $1,400. A month.
          It’s already too high right now, so we opted out of a ACA plan this year. Our combined premiums ($504 + $440) would have totaled $944 monthly, or about $11,000 for the year. Our system is a disgrace.

          1. craazyboy

            wait a few years and ACA will collapse under its own weight.
            =====

            I’m a little concerned about who exactly does the collapsing?

            1. Tom

              Right now the premiums are rising so fast that people will get priced right out of the market. It shows up first for people who pay 100% of their insurance, like myself. Those who get insurance through their employers are shielded from the worst of the premium increases, but the employers are nonetheless getting hammered behind the scenes, if you will. The ACA is unsustainable right now, all by itself.

              1. craazyboy

                So for those paying 100%, they get priced out and end up with Affordable Health Fine. Employers either dump health insurance or leave the country and everyone enrolls in ACA. Then pays Affordable Health Fine. At the subsidized end, well, maybe you just get priced out too and need a loan to pay Affordable Health Fine.

                I imagine we vote or something at this point?

                Hopefully the emergency rooms still are open for biz and everyone can get a morphine shot that needs it?

                That sounds messy. Kill it with fire! Expand Medicare. Let corporations keep their insurance, if they like it.

              2. Dave

                Here’s a dynamic that I would like to see explored:

                “Mr. Obama, do you want me to buy health insurance, or pay my federal income taxes?

                I can do one, but not the other.

                Please inform me what to do. Awaiting your answer to write out the payee line on my check.”

                Yours truly,

                John Q. Taxpayer

                1. hunkerdown

                  Dave, as long as you’re buying a bed, I don’t think They care whether it’s in a hospital or a prison.

              3. Praedor

                The plans offered by employers are becoming more and more crapified as the ACA crashes. Before ACA my university provided excellent health insurance. Low co-pays, modest premium, low deductible. After ACA they dumped that option, increased its premium and called it the “Gold” plan. Only the rich over paid administrators can afford the Gold plan so the people who actually do what universities exist to do have to go with Silver…a crappy HSA, fat deductible, and hefty premium.

                I HATE the ACA and what its done.

                1. ChiGal in Carolina

                  It seems to me that employer insurance even BEFORE the ACA was moving in the direction of high deductible, at least that was my experience. I had NO deductible ever until 2012 or so, and by the time ACA came online (2014) my employer insurance had the same deductible ($2000) as comparable ACA coverage – meaning $400 premiums, which when the company paid the lion’s share only cost me $100 a month.

                  I am not sure if the trend was caused so much as mirrored by the ACA, and have actually been wondering where I could find the evidence for one or the other.

        2. LT

          Yes, spot on.

          I like to point out that employer plans are also a way the lowest paid workers at a company subsidize what are still bargain basement prices for insuarnce for the higher paid employees.

          Without the lower paid employees in the pool, the higher paid employees would be feeling the effects of the out of control inflation of health care costs.

          But they always talk as if the wealthy are subsidizing the poor.

          1. Propertius

            Not where I work, but then I work for a privately-held company whose owner seems to believe that the people who work for him should get health insurance. The employee contributions to our plans are progressive: lowest-paid employees pay nothing and the more highly-compensated employees pay a higher percentage of gross.

            I hope we never go public.

            1. bob

              I hope not either. That’s what the Corporate Raiders call “Hidden Value”. Swoop in, cancel that policy in order to “make things competitive”, and “in line with corporate norms”. Bonii, Profit!

              “we were 45% more profitable this year. All it took was throwing everyone that works here under the bus.”

              I’d also bet that private equity(not publlc) would be the ones who would do that, these days.

              1. craazyboy

                these days
                ======
                They’ve been going full bore since the 80s. Milken showed them how. “Private equity” is just a white washed PC replacement term for “junk bond financier”.

        3. HBE

          “I don’t qualify to comment according to you…”

          I’m confused. I just want to see a poll of those who actually utilize, the ACA. So I can get an accurate measure of the sentiment of those who are directly effected by it and actually have to deal with it as part of their daily lives.

          How does this come across as me saying you are unqualified to comment?

          I think getting the aggregate input of those who are directly effected is important so I can make a more informed judgment about it as an outsider, instead of making pronouncements on the merits of a system I am not directly effected by, I thought this was reasonable.

          Apparently not?

          1. Katharine

            I think you got the pushback because you sounded as if you were taking it on yourself to define who and what liberals are. You didn’t offer evidence to support your statement on demographics, so it came across as personal opinion, and rather hostile.

            I know a number of old-school liberals whom I might rather describe as progressive, but if they choose to maintain the description they have used for decades that’s their choice. We still tend to agree on a lot of issues.

          2. Pat

            Sorry, but I guess I don’t understand what you are seeking. Mostly because I don’t understand the limitations of your polls’ parameters if you are seeking to truly understand why people might want ACA repealed beyond Democratic Leadership’s bull about not understanding what you get. My choosing to comment despite that was to point out that even if you don’t have ACA it does affect you. See I think having to spend time every year weighing the possible plans to find out if you can afford any of them, and if you can scrape together the premium is there any way you can afford any actual health care after that is having to deal with it. And that facing a fine for being too poor to spend over ten percent of your income on health insurance forget the almost twenty percent before that insurance kicks in also affects you.

            However I do understand wanting to know if ACA has been beneficial to people and how. Was it detrimental and how? But that also means expanding your poll outside of use of the ACA exchange plans. It includes not only the medicaid expansion, but required changes to employer purchased plans.

            Like I said the limitations didn’t make sense to me.

            1. hunkerdown

              Pat, “Accept Him and be Saved” makes those of us who insist that labels mean something into “thumpers”. If they can’t co-opt good intentions, that’s a violation of rights!

      3. meeps

        HBE @ 10:05 am said, “What I want to see is a report/poll of just those who are pushed into selecting a plan from the ACA marketplace.”

        I would like to see a report on how many have been pushed into that position because employers use “grandfathered” plans to maintain exclusions. Perhaps it’s a small cohort, but for families (like mine) where the bread-winner’s plan is granfathered with pre-existing exclusions and the ACA plans are worse for other criteria, unisured is the default position into which such a family is pushed. To my understanding (correct me if I’m wrong), the grandfathered plans are to be phased out by 2019? That looks to be the expected sell-by date of the ACA as formulated by its pillagers (excuse me–drafters).

  2. Jeff

    Yesterday, president-elect D. Trump receives an intelligence briefing as to why the RT programming of 2012(!) influenced the 2016 election campaign (see MoA for details).
    Today, Wapoo and NYT have more ‘Putin is evil’ rubbish and the proporno account is tweeting rubbish as never before (while it was silent for the last few weeks).
    Concerted misdirection anyone?

    1. Tom

      I found the joint CIA/FBI/NSA report to be hilarious — similar to a kid trying to write a 3-page report based on about 2 paragraphs of actual content. Half of the report involves nothing more than whining about the fact that RT.com says mean things about U.S. policies and politicians it doesn’t like.

      The other huge tell is the report’s use of the word “assess,” as in this sentence from the report’s Key Judgements:

      We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.

      If they knew for a fact Putin aspired to help Trump, they would say that they know. Knowing means having proof. Assessing means it’s your best guess.

      And yes, the fact that the NSA only has moderate confidence in the report is another tell, cause they are the ones who would have the smoking gun proof if it exists.

      1. fresno dan

        Tom
        January 7, 2017 at 8:12 am

        From the report:

        Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression
        of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, but these
        activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort
        compared to previous operations.
        We ASSESS ***Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further ASSESS Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.

        ======================================================================
        Now we know….FOX news is composed solely of Russian stooges belittling our beloved secretary of state….its always the red-baiter you least suspect.

        And the bailout of the banks, and rising inequality, stagnant wages, DNC voter manipulation re Bernie Sanders, the two party branded duopoly of being just for the 1% etc, etc, has nothing to do with undermining faith in the US democratic process – and if you think otherwise your a dirty rotten commie.
        And yeah, this has been going on for years, but it is sheer coincidence that we’re making a big stink when the dem nominee loses….NOPE…..no connection at all…..

        ” Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order…”
        I sincerely believe that the dems and repubs far, far, FAR more endanger our democratic order than Russia….
        What is wrong with the report is what is wrong with the media, the CIA, the two parties – the inability to acknowledge that we use propaganda not only to influence and disrupt other countries, but on our own citizens. Your could replace ‘Russia’ with ‘USA’ and the report would be just as true, if not TRUER.

        ***so, so much ass…ess in the entire document. The authors must all be mule farmers….

        1. Tom

          Yes, the tone of the report is like when the detective in a badly written crime show has to tell the spouse of the victim the bad news:

          I think you better sit down before we tell you what we found … okay, ready? I’m going to be blunt, so here goes: “We further ASSESS Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

          Noooooooo! Are you trying to say that Putin would rather work with a U.S. President who isn’t a deranged warmonger? It’s worse than I ever dreamed!!

          1. fresno dan

            Tom
            January 7, 2017 at 9:28 am

            I actually emailed FOX news pointing out all the bad things FOX has said about Hillary – Indeed, far more frequent and worse things than I believe RT ever said.

            So I’m hoping that my ‘innocent’ question of: “Is FOX news composed of Russian stooges and dupes, and EVEN undercover agents who want to undermine, according to the CIA, UNITED STATES of AMERICA Secretary of State HILLARY CLINTON?????? After all, according to the CIA, and I quote: “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. ”
            ISN’T it clear that FOX is working in CAHOOTS with PUTIN when he critiques our beloved and esteemed Secretary of State, and best presidential candidate EVAH!!! and isn’t therefore FOX a TREASONOUS rotten commie organization?????? I mean, the only way to read the report is that bad things said about Hillary were due to…..(cue ominous music) THE PUTIN!!!!
            FOX, do you admit that at least in some small way, VLADIMIR PUTIN made you report bad things about Hillary????????????

            I’ll never get an answer, but it was cathartic to write it…..Plus, I think my minuscule chances of fomenting a rift between FOX and the CIA are better than my chances of fomenting a rift between MSNBC and their new best friend EVAH, the CIA…..

            1. Tom

              It’s clear — at least to true patriots — that anyone denigrating Clinton or seeking to diminish her chances of winning the election are exhibiting similar aspirations and behavior as Russia and in fact Putin himself. I share your assessment, therefore, that Fox News either has ties to, is inspired by, takes orders from, or otherwise seeks to emulate Russia’s anti-American influence on our election process. Nice work.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                Let’s get a live feed from CNBC, accompanying Chuck Schumer as he visits a pumpkin patch and finds a microfilm of the final proof inside a pumpkin. Then Trump can ask him “have you no decency, sir?” We can then all move on to the next distraction from the 1% slavery and bondage scheme we live in

      2. Rhondda

        I laughed myself silly when I read it. Although the language was tarted up to seem very official sounding and pompous, it reminded me very strongly of the kind of things highschool girls get upset over. “Patty totally hates Heather! She’s a slut!” “OMG she said bad things about me!! You wait, I will totally shred her in gym class!”

        It reminded me of slambooks — a gossipy tradition for those of use who received our public school edumacation in the 70s.

        I had a vision of Clapper coming home after The Big Meet and his wife greeting him at the door saying, “You idiot. Really?”

        1. Tom

          The report does spend a lot of time breathlessly tattling on RT’s outrageous coverage of U.S. political and economic issues, such as:

          RT’s reports often characterize the United States as a “surveillance state” and allege widespread infringements of civil liberties, police brutality, and drone use (RT, 24,
          28 October, 1-10 November).

          and

          RT aired a documentary about the Occupy Wall Street movement on 1, 2, and
          4 November. RT framed the movement as a fight against “the ruling class” and described the current US political system as corrupt and dominated by corporations.

          and

          In an effort to highlight the alleged “lack of democracy” in the United States, RT
          broadcast, hosted, and advertised third-party candidate debates and ran reporting supportive of the political agenda of these candidates. The RT hosts asserted that the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a “sham.”

          The sooner we squash that kind of thinking, the better!

        2. Jess

          “I had a vision of Clapper coming home after The Big Meet and his wife greeting him at the door saying, “You idiot. Really?”

          LOL. Gawd, I needed that this morning. Thanks.

      3. Dave

        Thanks to the CIA report I checked out RT.

        Man, that’s a hell of a good TV station and website.

        Excellent camerawork, great long coverage and even in translation, it’s so far ahead of U.S. and even the BBC programming that it’s now my main bookmark.

        Going to tell all my friends about it.

    2. Montanamaven

      “The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.”
      ― Thomas Jefferson
      Somebody here said that they felt that there IQ went down several points anytime they read something from The NY Times or WaPo. I’ve been using that a lot in the last few days and getting stunned silence (which is better than being snorted at).

    3. Praedor

      Putin is just plain Harry Potter magically fantastic. He managed to ninja our electoral system so that Hillary actually won the popular vote, and yet SOMEHOW managed to manipulate the electoral college alone so Trump would win that!

      How DID he pull that off?!

      1. Propertius

        Putin is just plain Harry Potter magically fantastic

        This would make him “Vladimort”, right?

  3. cnchal

    China warns US of retaliation if Trump imposes tariffs

    What? Are they going to start paying their peasants more, so they can consume their own production of TVs thereby causing a shortage here, distressing the American “consumer” to such a degree that there are riots in the streets?

    1. Jim Haygood

      Nope. They’re going to restrict US exports to China, costing some Americans their jobs:

      US goods exports to China come from a wide range of industries including transportation equipment, agriculture, computers and electronics, and chemicals. These exports also sustain logistics jobs in America’s ports and throughout the country.

      US services exports to China included travel and education, royalties, transportation, business and professional services, and financial services.

      https://www.uschina.org/reports/us-exports/national

      Having spent his whole career in non-traded goods (real estate development), Mr Trump doesn’t quite get this “international trade” thing yet.

      Whack trade too hard, and he could end up being Hoover II (Herbert, not J Edgar).

      1. cnchal

        This is China’s opportunity to develop internal demand, and sell their stuff to themselves.

        Not a chance in hell then, that Chinese peasants will ever see a buck. Oppressed for life.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Despite being the second largest economy on earth, China still has an undemocratic, self-perpetuating government which combines party and state, as in the former Soviet Union.

          When economic growth falters, the Chinese government’s utter lack of democratic legitimacy presents a risk of revolution.

          1. olga

            Your comment shows an almost complete lack of understanding how today’s China works – ‘nuf said. (Or – you may want to challenge yourself a bit and learn about China.)

            1. Massinissa

              Haygood basically hates commies. He even thinks Argentina is communist. Most of his posts criticize Argentina and Venezuela. So its not totally surprising.

              I don’t mind him criticizing places like that, but there were times when he was making a new post about how awful Venezuela is every single day for several weeks… Got sort of annoying.

              EDIT: To be fair, he does have a history of sudden flashes of useful insight on assorted matters, but I wouldn’t exactly trust everything he says, especially not when it involves his pet peeves.

              1. Ruben

                Also, Jim sports a sparky sense of humour, demonstrated during the campaign in reference to the loser candidate.

        2. lyman alpha blob

          “This is China’s opportunity to develop internal demand, and sell their stuff to themselves.”

          And I suspect their long term plan is to do exactly that. China has become a capitalist country and in their quest for groaf, their own domestic market is much larger than the US, which is already saturated with cheap crapified Chinese stuff. If the Chinese are successful at this, supplying Uncle Sugar will be an afterthought as their priority will be keeping their own house in order.

          There are lots of indications that China is thinking ahead whereas the US is only concerned about next quarter’s profits. David Graeber’s book Debt mentions that this has been the case in China for thousands of years, with a bureaucratic class more of less keeping things humming along no matter which dynasty or government takes charge.

          My bet is on the ant, not the grasshopper.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Short term, both lose.

          Medium term, we have a chance to recover more and faster, if we play it right to rejuvenate our manufacturing.

          1. aab

            Given the people, forces, institutions and ideology that runs our country, that’s a really big “if,” though.

      2. craazyboy

        BS – China only imports stuff they have no other choice of source.

        You really don’t think China will tell Lenova they can’t buy Intel chips and MSFT Windows??? The Chinese guv will stop buying subsidized wheat and corn and tell the folks it time to go on a diet? They will stop doing biz with our beloved financial sector? I guess they could ban CA almonds and fraking products. That may scare some Americans. But, truth be told, the ones that really don’t like the idea are the American multi-nationals that have their supply lines there.

        1. Carolinian

          Sounds true to me. Here’s guessing the Chinese need us more than we need them. Trump may be bluffing but they are also bluffing. All 11th dimensional Art of the Deal chess?

          1. craazyboy

            I don’t know what they are all thinking, but the battle is against the multinationals. This includes Japan and Euro multinationals too. It also includes Mexico, because the MNs there always threaten to move production to China if the Mexican government doesn’t pay proper fealty. So you can’t just address NAFTA without realizing over the long term you’re just sending the production to China.

            And it really should include fighting corporate tax arbitrage too. Trump is going the wrong way on that one. We need a global min tax so that all corporations in the world don’t either move into a Grand Cayman PO Box, or Ireland (currently lowballer of corp rates) if they desire a little more headquarters space than a PO Box.

          2. alex morfesis

            The art of the publicity…el donaldo and his self proclaimed capacity to make great deals…there is no secret…all he does is work on deals that either nobody wants or are much smaller than himself…

            the most important three words in real estate are marketing, marketing, marketing…

            location is what my marketing tells you it is…

            bernaysification…

            El donaldo always had 100 things percolating for each deal he closed…he played one person against the other…one contractor against the other…one new partner against the other…one new financing source against the other…

            always looking for the plebe who did not know how to protect themselves with proper contracting details…the big game is penalties for not coming in on schedule with no protection if the donald is the one that caused the delay and problem…

            mind you, he is not the only real estate “player” who has done that, it is sadly common practice to look for a mark…oops…I mean try to expand opportunities to new entrants in the field of real estate and construction…

            Murica is an unstopable machine and always has been…it has always been the least dirty shirt…never worried about outrunning the bear, just the competition…a nation of pyrates and privateers…Jefferson nearly bankrupted the nation paying ransom to the barbary coast pyrates/tax collectors and local hegz until he decided to hire some greek mercenaries for what we sing about that shores of tripoli thingee…maybe there were a dozen americans there on the north coast of africa…mostly greeks…maybe ithakans…we dont like to say…better to do the drunken greek sailor routine…

            A small piece of me thynx he is and has always been a long term A-O project who has always been smart enough to lose his handlers…he does the “a la patada” thing well, and has learned to use “ratings” as a way to get rid of people…

            His family was built around being Tammany hall financial cut outs…hoovering federal housing money for decades and “redistributing” it via jobs and contracts and “failed deals”…

            The problem for the 250 thousand members of the octopus klub is there is still room for one more face on mt rushmore…and the donald wants it…and having lived a full life he really doesn’t care if he has to die to get there…

            Gonna give him 9 months of leash…

            (Darn…another long winded blah blah blah…less caffine more vittles)

          3. witters

            “Here’s guessing the Chinese need us more than we need them.”

            Jeez American Exceptionalism goes deep. Even on NC.

      3. timbers

        Jim Haygood
        January 7, 2017 at 8:26 am
        Nope. They’re going to restrict US exports to China, costing some Americans their jobs:

        But wouldn’t China lose that type of trade war because this? Thus yielding a big net gain to internal U.S. demand?

        The U.S. trade deficit with China was $365.7 billion in 2015 This is a new record, up slightly from last year’s record of $343 billion. The trade deficit exists because U.S. exports to China were only $116.2 billion while imports from China hit a new record of $481.9 billion. – Dec 22, 2016

        1. TiPs

          The largest component of that deficit is mass produced consumer goods which were shifted to china by US Corporations. Production of iPones, refrigerators, microwave ovens, and color TVs…
          Since there are almost no domestic substitutes, US consumers and corporate profits would bear the brunt of the trade war. On the bright side, it might create an incentive to bring home some of that manufacturing, trumps ultimate goal. Though a lot of dislocation during the interim.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Though a lot of dislocation during the interim.

            +

            We distinguish between short term (the interim) and a longer horizon.

            Cost-benefit, no free lunch, etc…

          2. a different chris

            > Production of iPones, refrigerators, microwave ovens, and color TVs…

            Oh jeeze because nobody has any of those things!! I’m so tired of chipping away at the lake to fill the icebox… (to be fair, iPhones are crap most people are lucky to get 2 years out of them)

          3. craazyboy

            Capital goods and auto parts are moving there at an accelerating rate. GM and VW are exporting whole cars. Domestic car makers would like to. China also yearns for semiconductor manufacturing and anything else in basic high tech. They have made good inroads so far on anything not protected by patents. Patents are the only thing slowing them down. And of course “our” corporations can build their patent protected stuff there, if they choose. Intel being one example – they put a wafer plant in and maybe a full scale fab plant. Can’t remember the details on that one.

            So looking at current trade data is just a small part of the picture.

          4. timbers

            TiPs
            January 7, 2017 at 11:08 am

            US consumers and corporate profits would bear the brunt of the trade war.

            Maybe more emphasis on reduced profits, not on US consumers. And don’t forget consumers benefiting from jobs and wages. For example doing a quick search on iPhone profit margins suggest it could easily pay US wages with no price increase and still make fantastic profits. The profit margins I’m seeing on it’s products are so high I don’t want to site any because I honestly wonder if their accurate. But you get the point.

            1. todde

              Apple sells 18%,of smart phones sold in the world and gets 81% of the profit margin of the smart phone industry

          5. pricklyone

            And who are they selling to if not us? By far their largest customer.
            Of course we might have to buy 2 TV ‘s instead of 4, or change phones every other year. Maybe not remodel the kitchen just because we want stainless instead of white appliances this year. Nothing prevents us making the stuff here except greed.
            Cheaper goods mean smaller paychecks.
            We would have to stop offshoring our toxic waste, and actually find ways to do it cleaner.

      4. Uahsenaa

        I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. The Chinese economy has to stay overheated just to tamp down the civil unrest they are already dealing with. From April of this year:

        As China’s economy slows after more than two decades of breakneck growth, strikes and labor protests have erupted across the country. Factories, mines and other businesses are withholding wages and benefits, laying off staff or shutting down altogether. Worried about their prospects in a gloomy job market, workers are fighting back with unusual ferocity.

        Last week, hundreds if not thousands of angry employees of the state-owned Longmay Mining Group, the biggest coal company in northeastern China, staged one of the most politically daring protests over unpaid salaries yet, denouncing the provincial governor as he and other senior leaders gathered for an annual meeting in Beijing.

        China Labor Bulletin, a labor rights group based in Hong Kong, recorded more than 2,700 strikes and protests last year, more than double the number in 2014. The strife appears to have intensified in recent months, with more than 500 protests in January alone.

        Add to this the fact that sticking it to Chinese manufacturers is something that would play VERY well among the working class, the political costs of a trade war with China would hurt the USG far less than it would hurt the Chinese ruling elite.

      5. Vatch

        They’re going to restrict US exports to China, costing some Americans their jobs

        Let’s put this into perspective. For the first 11 months of 2016, the U.S. exported $104,149,100,000 worth of goods to China, and imported $423,431,200,000 from China, for a trade deficit with just that one country of $319,282,100,000. That’s $319 BILLION, in case you got lost in all the digits. For 2015, we have stats for all 12 months, and the deficit was $367 Billion.

        Sure, some Americans will temporarily lose their jobs if China retaliates, but far more will gain jobs if more products are made in the U.S. instead of in China.

        https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c5700.html

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        *Sigh*

        1. The US does not depend on China to sell Treasuries

        2. Any impact of selling Treasuries on US interest rateswould be short term and Mr. Market would discount it. In fact, there has been a huge amount of whinging for years about a shortage of Treasuries for hedging purposes. This would probably be salutary in the long run.

        3. Selling Treasuries would make the RMB go up, which would hurt Chinese exporters.

        Withholding strategically important goods is a much better threat.

  4. Bugs Bunny

    As the Obama DOJ rides off into the sunset…

    “Volkswagen Near Settling U.S. Criminal Case Over Emissions Cheating” Wall Street Journal

    Corporate persons “settle” criminal cases while mere humans plea bargain.

  5. Marco

    So Occupy is discredited as an excuse for Democratic Party failure.

    “In an appendix to the report, the agencies laid out a detailed, publicly-sourced analysis of RT’s alleged propaganda operations, including television programming that promoted the Occupy Wall Street movement and focused on information countering US government domestic and foreign policy…”

    1. UserFriendly

      Seriously, the spooks REALLY hate Occupy. And wtf is up with half of the report being on things RT aired years ago?

      1. Tom

        Right. So much focus on RT in the report only confirms to Moscow how effective it has been and how much it irritates our intelligence agencies.

        The funny thing is that when the report cites instances of RT making disparaging remarks about the U.S.and Clinton, it really only makes the point that RT pretty much gets a lot of analysis right, as in this excerpt from the report:

        RT’s coverage of Secretary Clinton throughout the US presidential campaign was consistently negative and focused on her leaked e-mails and accused her of corruption, poor physical and mental health, and ties to Islamic extremism. Some Russian officials echoed Russian lines for the influence campaign that Secretary Clinton’s election could lead to a war between the United States and Russia.

        1. fresno dan

          Tom
          January 7, 2017 at 8:34 am

          What drives me insane – what are the ratings of RT???
          What percentage of “anti Clinton” stuff that went over the airwaves was from FOX and how much from RT???
          So Obama made a statement a few days ago about how Russia is really small and weak…but we attribute to them the ability to destroy us….
          OK than – typical US illogic and inconsistency.
          Really ALL this report reveals is that Hillary is in the tank for the CIA, and that the CIA apparently still believes in yellow cake and aluminum tubes….

          1. fresno dan

            fresno dan
            January 7, 2017 at 8:59 am

            AND Not to mention the radio shows, e.g., Limbaugh, Hannity (on the radio), Ingram, Coulter, and a whole slew too numerous to mention. Far more derogatory, as well as divorced from reality, are these people’s ravings than ANYTHING RT has ever said….

        2. tgs

          RT may have been effective in irritating our masters, but it had zero effect on the election. How many people decided not to vote for Hillary because of RT? I submit probably none. Yes, RT covered the emails, but so did fox news. Lou Dobbs discussed every important one. I doubt that had any effect either – how many fox news viewers needed the email leaks to turn against Hillary.

          I believe that the report is consolidating elite opinion for a major attack on alternative media. At the ludicrous meeting yesterday Clapper warned all assembled about fake news. The fact that so much of the report deals with RT suggests that our democratic system can be attacked simply by alternative narratives.

          1. LifelongLib

            Wasn’t part of the zine scene at all back in the day, but before the Internet people just mailed alternative writings to each other. Today it’s still harder to monitor/censor snail mail than the web. Might have to go back to that.

      2. Indrid Cold

        Occupy wasn’t started by one of their assets (*sidelong glance at Gloria Steinem*) and it wasn’t quickly co opted by one of the Big Two so it freaks them completely out.

        1. alex morfesis

          Well…there is that estonian guy up in Vancouver whose family was considered pro german enuf after the war they were held in a german camp…

          mind you he was a little bundle of joy back then but more often than not, the apple dunt fall 2 far from das treez…

    2. allan

      So the Democratic mayors, local police, Feds and 17 fusion centers who helped crush Occupy were in fact
      part of the dastardly plot, by giving RT something to propagandize about? None dare call it conspiracy.

      1. Marco

        Absolutely! It is the JOB of any state-sponsored media org whether RT or Aljazerra (or *cough* NYTimes) is to point out or gin up the supposed internal failings of opposing adversarial nation-states. To assume Americans don’t understand that and need to be coddled and protected is absurd. The problem is when those internal failings are legitimate and reporting on them is just plain REALITY…regardless the source of the reporting. It is tragic that most NC readers probably trust RT over the NYTimes. Who’s fault is that?

        1. Steve H.

          Marco, I only trust two sites, and NC is one of them. And even then, ‘Trust but verify.’

        2. fresno dan

          Marco
          January 7, 2017 at 9:04 am

          ” It is tragic that most NC readers probably trust RT over the NYTimes. ”

          I would say, It is WONDERFUL* that most NC readers probably trust RT over the NYTimes.

          *that people are informed enough and critical thinking enough to recognize unmitigated Bullsh*t when they see it.

          1. Katharine

            It would be folly to trust either implicitly. Sight unseen, I expect RT has its own bias when reporting on Russia. The point with any media is how they report on the subject at hand–with facts that can be verified? named sources? reasoned arguments?–not whether they have a reputation based on past reporting which they may or may not be working to maintain in the present case.

            1. hunkerdown

              Of course they do. But they don’t pretend that a saturated liberal worldview is the same as impartiality. Liberals have interests, despite their presentation.

        3. sid_finster

          If the NYT stops publishing fake news, maybe i will start to trust it.

          No danger of that happening. The NYT is useful only as a gauge to the establishment narrative at the time.

  6. Jim Haygood

    From Bloomberg’s clickbait article “Wall Street’s Most Outspoken Stock Bull Reverses, Now Top Bear” linked above:

    Wall Street’s most vocal champion on U.S. stocks over the past two years is now its biggest bear.

    Thomas Lee, managing partner and co-founder of Fundstrat Global Advisors in New York, published a note today saying the S&P 500 Index will finish the year at 2,275.

    Given that the S&P finished at 2,277 yesterday, Lee’s forecast is not bearish. It is pure beige neutral, calling for a flat year — the best bet to make when you have no opinion.

    When the MSM still thinks that bearish sensationalism sells, it means that the bull market ain’t over yet. At the very top, the greatest bear — the good Dr Hussman — will flip bullish. And the idiot MSM will hail his enlightenment.

  7. LT

    When writing about Time Warner/ATT, the MSM very seldom mentions that ATT just merged with DirecTV.

  8. DorothyT

    Read past the NYT headline that says the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant will be closed by 2021. If only it were true. The caveats in the story should disabuse even the least cynical that this will happen.

    For those who have followed Fukushima all the way to the west coast of North America, that this NYC plant should be closed is a no brainer.

    In the spring of 2015, my dog and I were in Riverside Park, 20 miles south of Indian Point, when my dog Jessie startled at the huge plume of smoke from a fire at the plant. She knew that something extraordinary had happened. Governor Cuomo has said the plant should be closed. But if you read this article you can foresee that this headline is a measure that would get him off the hook if a worse event takes place. “I told you so’s” don’t count.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      A little research on what actually went down at Fukushima is terrifying, when the accident happened TEPCO told their employees to run away but Natao Kan (the PM) countermanded the order, and a handful of very brave workers apparently saved Tokyo.
      Estimated $200B and 40 years to render it not safe, but at least not an existential threat to the world.

  9. Jim Haygood

    From the Huffpo article on Social Security:

    Though 94 percent of us (about 151 million workers) will pay our Social Security tax every paycheck in 2017, a handful of the highest income Americans will stop paying before you finish reading this blog.

    So? This was the deal when Soc Sec was enacted in 1935. Prevailing sentiment was that a benefit program funded by general taxes would constitute a “dole.” This was politically unacceptable. Only by tying Soc Sec benefits to “contributions” could the program avoid the stigma of being welfare.

    One can argue that our culture has changed over 80 years, such that abandoning the link between FICA taxes paid and benefits received could be viable. However, once this founding tenet of Soc Sec is called into question, then every aspect of the program is on the table.

    You don’t get to cherry pick one provision, while asserting that all the others are sacrosanct. In particular, the utterly obsolete investment of the entire Trust Fund in non-marketable Treasuries needs to be updated to a mix of equities and bonds, like every other pension system in the country.

    A pension system that’s only 20 percent funded (a whole other story, since Erisa doesn’t apply to gov-sponsored plans) can’t afford to earn only 2 percent on its portfolio.

    1. Sam Adams

      We need to update Soc.Sec. to a mix of equities and bonds, like every other pension system in the country? Do You mean like the well rounded investment policies of Calpers or the better funded or the Enron pensions? The only group that makes out in the ‘well rounded basket of investments’ described is Wall Street and they’ve been salivating over Social Security contributions for generations.

    2. Pat

      I’ll cherry pick that one instance. We hear a lot about how people are living longer and use their contributions long before they cease to exist. It is one of the reasons we get to justify increasing the age to receive full benefits. However with the fact that working class men are dying sooner and a small decrease in life expectancy for women of certain economic classes makes it clear that the majority of people with a longer life span are those who stop paying into the program at some point during the year. So obviously they need to stop doing that.

      Oh, wait we can’t use the longer life expectancy to do anything to screw those who consider SS benefits to be walking around cash can we.

      LIFT THE FRIGGIN’ CAP, oh and apply SS contribution requirements to carried interest and bonuses (since those are also essentially earned income with a different name.)

      1. Steve H.

        : LIFT THE FRIGGIN’ CAP

        is the answer to

        : like every other pension system in the country

        when the exact point is that it is not like every other pension system in the country.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            There is an estimated $34 trillion stashed in Panamas around the world, levy a 15% tax and distribute accordingly. The longer people keep their heads in the weeds comparing one program or another the longer this sh*t will continue, reminds me of identity politics where LGBT New Yorkers get pitted against redneck Texans because if they ever figured out that their class interests were completely aligned then the 1% would really have something to worry about.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That point about working class men dying sooner – do you get a refund if you check out before you reach the eligible age?

        And does someone, for example, a lone surviving 108 yr old lady, get to receive all the contributions people in her age-group made over the years, if there is nobody else in that age-group to split with?

        1. Pat

          No refunds, although your underage children might get some. And you could think that the 108 year old woman got the contributions from a couple of the early death of the working class male. Or that even though she will never see a dime from Social Security, anything she “contributed” went to her Mom even though Mom died only a day later.

          It really is a big pool. And I get that. But, and this is the big but most of the reasons why there should be a cap fall apart if you really look at them – no matter what those who don’t want to see more more of their funds go towards SS say.

      3. shargash

        The only issue with SS is that gains in productivity have not been reflected in wage increases since the late 1970s. It is not the number of workers per retiree that is important in SS solvency, it is the productivity of the workers per retiree. Productivity has risen dramatically, while wages have remained flat. This matters because SS is primarily funded through a (regressive) wage tax. If wages had increased in line with productivity, SS would be rolling in money as far as the eye could see.

        Of course, this ignores MMT. IMO, a system funded by something other than a regressive wage tax would be much superior. But SS is in trouble in traditional economic terms only because corporations have been hoovering up all the gains in productivity to fuel profits.

        1. Pat

          So something else I can add to perfidy of not raising minimum wage in this country. ;)

          And I’m only partly kidding. Once unions were reduced or became irrelevant in pushing corporations to increase wages in line with productivity etc, the only real large scale pressure was going to be government and minimum wage. Sadly in an environment where management is divorced from their workers it is far to easy to ignore, deny or steal the portion of gains that should go to the labor behind that productivity.

        2. craazyboy

          That’s been an extremely valid point and completely ignored by everyone. I’ll bet if you take Greenspan’s original calcs from 1983 and factored in the lagging worker share of productivity, we’d have the 80 years of “solvency” they say we so desperately need.

          The other drag is workforce participation dropped. But hey, offshoring.

          But that’s a great reason to take the 6 figure cap off. And/or increase the percentage of the employer contribution. At least we would capture back the productivity gains.

    3. craazyboy

      After the next crash, when the S&P500 hits 666 again, use the Trust Fund to buy out the pharma sector. Cancel out the drug advertising budget and management perks, corporate jets, Aspen condos, golden parachutes and obscene bonuses. Pay out 5% as a dividend to the Trust Fund. Then use the rest of the free cash flow to cut drug prices and help fix Medicare too.

      We can do things like a hedge fund manager too!

      1. Pat

        One of my big things about the whole government should be run like a business is how little business really wants it done that way.

        Think about it, when Warren Buffet helps bail out a bank he gets an equity position, the government gets pretend payments. When cities help build a statement they get a promise of employment and economic activity that is never met, a business would get a portion of the gate AND a say in how the stadium was run. Tax breaks for Wal-Mart for a set time because of long term jobs and then they leave just before they would have to pay taxes… after the first time they pulled that any business would require them to put those unpaid taxes in an escrow account that would revert to them if Wal-mart left any time before X years after they were supposed to pay those taxes for any reason other than full bankruptcy. But no, that just isn’t done. Same thing with the ‘investment’ of the SS trust fund, of course it wasn’t being done like a business or hedge fund.

        Makes you think all this is about something other than getting the best deal for the people…

        1. craazyboy

          Yup. Uncle Sam can’t negotiate prices with pharma…on and on.

          It’s an American Tall tale. Right up there with Paul Bunyan and fishing stories.

          1. alex morfesis

            An eminent domain action at a market lull…although me byn thynkyn about some quitam actions against universities using federal funds to research and then handing off federally funded work for a magical future royalty and no payback to citizenry… But emdo action would lock in price on day of filing and even if market went up in the time frame, shareholders/bondholders would be frozen in time…the playerz klub have long done this to das little peepullz and would have a difficult time overturning decades of stealing via emdo supreme court rulings…

            not that the magic 9 ($till 8) could not $uddenly get a corporate epiphany…

            but since most people intend to get old and will need medical care eventually…

            1. craazyboy

              Yup. The guv funded research->given away for free along with a 15 year patent->Change the drug delivery method slightly after 15 years and get another 15 year patent from the FDA->Profit!

              Very annoying.

    4. BecauseTradition

      In particular, the utterly obsolete investment of the entire Trust Fund in non-marketable Treasuries needs to be updated to a mix of equities and bonds, like every other pension system in the country. Jim Haygood

      What is obsolete is your gold-standard type thinking, Jim.

      Also, should government pick winners in the stock and bond markets? Doesn’t that violate equal protection under the law?

      But here’s a suggestion to partially fund Federal spending – negative yields on sovereign debt including (the most) negative interest on reserves at the Fed with an exemption for non-rich citizens up to, say, $250,000.

      Or do you believe in welfare proportional to wealth, Jim? Since sovereign debt (except for physical fiat which can be lost, etc.) is inherently risk-free?

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I’ll just chime in with the view from Australia to defend Mr. Haygood, in 1992 a program was started whereby employers were mandated to contribute (now 9%) of employee earnings to a fund the employee controlled and could invest as they wished.
        Median net worth of Australians is now $211,580 versus $81,110 for USasians.
        Of course at the time the business and economist community were unanimous in insisting that the program would bankrupt the country, etc etc
        Note the name of the party in power that enacted the change: The Labor Party

        1. BecauseTradition

          to a fund the employee controlled and could invest as they wished.

          And how is that a defense of what Mr. Haygood proposed, which is that the monetary sovereign(!*) itself should do the investing?

          What you’ve described is a forced transfer from employers to employees – not altogether a bad idea given the privileges employers have from government, such as being among the most so-called worthy of what is in essence the PUBLIC’S credit, including that of their employees.

          *As if the creator of fiat needs to earn what only it should** be able to create!
          **Alas, central banks also create fiat for the private sector, a disgrace.

    5. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      January 7, 2017 at 8:43 am

      I always enjoy your comments because you bring up such good points and novel observations.
      But I would ask you to consider a couple of questions:
      1. Do you think the US government (officials) operates with a high degree of integrity (or is it full of grifters and self promoters)?
      2. Do you thing the US government (officials) operates with a high degree of competence?

      Sam Adams notes Calpers, a very large state with fund contributors that are highly educated and motivated….and yet, its most like that basket of candy I set out on the door at Halloween saying take one piece…..and when I come back the basket is gone….

    6. craazyman

      what if it pulls off a 10-bagger & everybody “wants their profits now!”

      so they can quit their jawbs.

      the hole economy would fall apart! LOL

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A ten-bagger is when Starship Santa Maria captained by Neo Columbus discovers a new world full of gold.

        1. ambrit

          Fred Hoyle, one of our infrequent Renaissance people wrote a story, “Element 79,” predicated on a solid gold meteor falling to earth in England.
          The real ten-bagger would be if some lucky cosmonaut found Frederik Pohl’s fabled food replicator station from the Heechee stories.

            1. ambrit

              I’m going to have to go back and reread that story, in fact, the entire anthology. It’s been, oh, forty or so years since I read the book that story was in.

    7. Robert Hahl

      “So? This was the deal when Soc Sec was enacted in 1935.” That is total BS and you should know it.

      The income distribution has changed from the assumptions made in 1983 when it was reformed by Alan Greenspan. If labor had still been getting the same share of income that it did in 1983 we wouldn’t have a problem.

    8. Kramer

      At the end of the day, today’s retiries are supported by today’s economy, and tomorrow’s retiries will be supported by tomorrow’s economy. All the rest i just accounting games. The important part is ensuring that our economy is investing enough to support tomorrow’s retiries. By investing i don’t mean money, i mean real stuff like education for tomorrow’s workers, transit, manufacturing capacity, and a sufficient Healthcare system. Almost all money wasted on the stock market will be used by our ivy league nobility to buy back stock, consolidate with their competitors, and increase their own salaries. Most real investment happens before the average investor is allowed buy a stake.

    9. heresy101

      Jim, you must work for Wall Street because you always suggest investing SS in stocks or you are from CO, WA, or CA and imbibing in the good stuff. Stocks are a guaranteed way to break SS.
      The MMT responses to just take it out of the budget could work but you forget that Congress works for the 1%.
      There is a way to kill two birds with one stone and I call it “pay yourself twice”. Many people lost their homes to the parasitic banks in 2008 because they refused to restructure their loans when the Greenspan’s bubble burst.
      1. The way to make SS solvent is to mandate (or kill) the Federal Reserve to loan SS $7 trillion for 60 years (about the lifetime of an individual) at 0.25% . They loaned/gave the banks at least that much in 2008. Supposedly, there is ~$3 trillion in the SS “lock box” (at least Al Gore told us that). The total of the two would be about $10 trillion, which is about the current value of single family homes.
      2. Freddie MAC would be preserved and use the $10 trillion to buy single family mortgages at 4.5-5% to provide a fixed income stream that is not subject to the grubby hands of the politicians. When 2008 deja vu occurs again, all the mortgages can be picked up to bring the total to $10 trillion, which would provide an income stream of $1.6 trillion per year after paying back the 60 year loan. I’d even be willing to refinance my mortgage to a higher rate if I knew that I’d get the money in my old age AND it wouldn’t go to the 1%.
      3. Annual SS taxes would be $1.1 trillion ($53K x 165M x 12.4%), even w/o raising the cap on income.
      4. A annual income stream of $2.7 trillion would provide an average annual SS income of $2,250 vs the $1,330 currently received. That amount would be sustainable and not subject to cuts by the politicians as well as being about a 40-60% increase in benefits.
      https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2015/highlights.html

      As for investing in the stock market, it would be/is wrong for retirement funds to do that. They should use the Warren Buffet strategy and BUY companies – he owns a couple of railroads and two electric companies in five states among others. Retirement funds could buy all the heart of the economy – railroad, communications, trucking, utilities, large food processors, etc (parts of the economy with small risk and are required). Once purchased, the control of the company would be turned over to the workers (49% workers, 2% retirement funds, 48% other investors). The management would be limited to 5x the median income (~$250K) and outsourcing would become a thing of the past. Dividends would be set at 7% unless capex was required for expansion or rebuilding. No games with stock prices, rewards to executives, stock buybacks, and other ripoffs. Retirement plans have about $15 trillion (not including IRAs), so a significant portion of the economy could be PURCHASED and put under control of the workers.

      1. LT

        Not the same issue , exactly but related:
        The American people are the largest creditor the government owes. China is is the largest FOREIGN creditor, but still less than what is owed to the American people (and it has to do with the way the SS fund has been managed over the years to fund other aspects of the government).
        When they talk about SS reform, they want debt relief they refuse to give to citizens, victims of financial sector (among the politicians biggest donors) predation.

        1. craazyboy

          China holds only $1.4 trillion out of $20 trillion total US debt. They are rapidly selling them too – to prop up the yuan and pay off domestic currency flight. Then with a huge amount of Euro and Jap bonds out there at zero and negative yields, there is no shortage of Treasury buyers in the near future.

          What China may do really has nothing to do with SS. SS is all an internal issue.

    10. Higgs Boson

      The interest rate earned on the special issue treasuries can be changed. Instead of being derived through some arcane formula it can be set to any rate. Why not a cool 6%, same as the dividend paid to Fed share holders?

  10. megamie

    Republican congressional leaders are moving quickly to pass an ObamaCare repeal bill, but want to delay when it takes effect. That would give them time to develop a new healthcare plan that could be presented later this year.
    AHHHH EXCUSE ME??
    Republicans have hated Obamacare since its inception yet during all that time they could not come up with their own alternative plan??
    And now they are squirming for MORE TIME to come up with something??
    Pleaaase!!

    1. voxhumana

      The Republicans already came up with a plan… it’s now called Obamacare, after being named Romneycare and is mostly the work of the Heritage Foundation. I think you would get more traction asking why the Republicans are so upset about a healthcare system which they designed… and I suspect the answer is obvious.

    2. craazyboy

      The quick way is to extend Medicare. Also the best way. Also has price controls already. But somehow, Occam’s Scalpel escapes everyone’s thought process.

      1. cwaltz

        Medicare limits profits so therefore it will never be the solution…..the for profits will make sure of it.

  11. Merf56

    Re Republicans want revenge for Obamacare and the section on Trump voters and Medicaid :
    My newly college grad son ( he has a serious subtype dyslexia type LD and was out a few terms for kidney issues now semi-resolved so it took him longer to graduate, ( no snark about his classical history major and Latin minor ( and 3.6 GPA) please as his LD precludes anything math or science related as ) is sending out resumes like crazy has had a very few interviews for full time career jobs. (Yes he goes in suit and tie and dress shoes). Meanwhile he is working at Kohls – a large nationwide retail clothing etc chain. He works the max hours allowed and they like him. At this point he is hoping to be considered for a full time with benefits management entry position since nothing else is coming up. He likes the work as well which is a plus. That was a little background.
    He finally Cobraed out of our excellent health plan from my spouse’s employer in November. We looked around extensively for coverage through just private insurance and Obamacare. And of course was led to the fact that he qualified for Medicaid. A little embarrassing for him he felt, but of course we and he know has to have healthcare. His last kidney hospitalization bills actually totaled 59K. Our insurance picked up nearly all of course. Surprisingly most of his docs( especially the nephrologist, endocrinologist urologist and a good local GP took one of the eligible Medicaid plans and he signed up. Dollar co-pays for everything including his frequent MRIs for stuck kidney stones. My long drawn out( sorry!) point is :
    OF COURSE Trumpist voters would LOVE their Medicaid!!! They pay zip for it!!!! Who the hell do they think is paying?? They apparently refuse to grasp that their hated government picks up the tab….. This ENRAGES me – the fact they are willfully stupid.
    Our family is eternally grateful for this Medicaid coverage and our son is even more motivated than ever to get off it. He is smart, responsible and frustrated with the lack of decent full time career jobs but he FULLY understands that his care is being paid for by the funds of other citizens through the government and wants to pay his own way asap through a full time job and employer offered insurance. TRUMPIST VOTERS SEEM TO THINK PINK FAIRIES PROVIDE THEM WITH VIRTUALLY FREE MEDICAL CARE just for the hell of it

    1. sd

      I’m missing something. I don’t understand what your son’s insurance woes has to do with “Trumpist” voters. If you are referring to Obama voters who defected to Trump, they voted for his promises of jobs, not insurance.

    2. RabidGandhi

      Best wishes for your son. The part I don’t understand is why one should be embarrassed to go on Medicare (which should be extended to all) or why he should be anxious to get off of Medicare.

      1. cwaltz

        It’s Medicaid not Medicare that his son was on. Obamacare expanded Medicaid, which prior to it’s expansion was a program meant exclusively for those in poverty. Thus, the embarrassment because in this ridiculous “capitalist” society the meme is if you are poor and require help it must be because you are lazy or stupid.

      2. ambrit

        I don’t know about your fair environ but, we Nortenyos have Medicare, which serves those 65 and up plus the disabled, and Medicaid, which has been maligned as a service for deplorables and other types of “slacker.” (Read, poor people.) Basically, Medicaid is a class issue lightning rod of a program. Another dirty little secret of Medicaid is that a potential client cannot own very much of anything in order to qualify for benefits. A close analogue would be “welfare” medicine. That pesky old Puritan Work Ethic keeps being introduced to browbeat potential clients of the State away from actual self benefiting behaviours. Isn’t it funny how the Puritan Work Ethic never seems to be applied to money making more money, only to people trying to survive?
        Finally, Merf56 makes a basic mistake when he asserts that Federal benefits are paid for with taxes of some sort. Medicare et al take nothing from the pockets of other citizens directly. At best, an indirect linkage can be asserted. After all, as numerous other countries have shown, a single payer State run medical system benefits businesses almost as much as the citizens.

        1. susan the other

          “Isn’t it funny how the Puritan work ethic never seems to be applied to money making more money, only to people trying to survive?” Calling Dr. Picketty. If capitalism survives it will be because somebody finally decides to fix this outrageous loophole and not just blabber about 5% interest compounded eternally. What nuttiness to let this stuff go on.

        2. pricklyone

          Devil’s advocate, here…
          I understood the asset tests under Medicaid were basically voided by the ‘expansion’ criteria
          in the states which participated.
          I received Medicaid coverage in my state (IL), on the basis of income alone. I was never asked for any statement of assets, and would have not qualified under the prior rules, as I own my home outright, and had banked cash, as well as a cash bought 2 year old car, (which is how I have survived the last 6 years)
          It sounds like some of you have done a lot of reading on this. I read a lot of what Lambert wrote on the subject at Corrente, but my memory is not what it should be, or used to be, so please correct me where I have erred. Thanks.

        3. pricklyone

          I will try again, lost in mod.

          ” Another dirty little secret of Medicaid is that a potential client cannot own very much of anything in order to qualify for benefits. ”

          This must be a state-by-state determination. It is not true in my state(IL), as I am on Medicaid,and have never had to submit any info on my assets. They only required substantiation of income. Prior to ACA, though, assets were indeed part of the determination.
          I may be mistaken, but I was under the impression that the Medicaid expansion was largely about changing those criteria, to expand the program to those who could not meet minimum income for Exchange policies(for better or worse).
          Finding a Doctor is a whole ‘nother can of worms, though.

      3. RabidGandhi

        Thanks cwaltz and ambit for the clarification I wasn’t clear on the distinction. In my country healthcare is a basic human right and there is no reason for embarrassment in claiming one’s lawful rights .

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      I am, as I’m sure most here are, very happy for your family’s and your son’s good medical fortune. I don’t think anyone has ever suggested that there were no obamacare winners.

      My own daughter has not been anywhere near as lucky. Her meager “income” should qualify her for the Medicaid that has been so vital for your son, but she lives in a state that has refused to expand the program. So obamacare mandates that she spend some of her pitifully few dollars on an insurance policy that she cannot use due to the impossibly high deductible, among other things.

      For her, obamacare has three words–shit outta luck.

      To the extent that the purpose of obamacare was to protect the “healthcare” insurance industry in particular, and the medical establishment in general, from the repercussions of their excesses and injustices in their domination of “healthcare” in this country, (and that was its express purpose) I want it repealed immediately. I don’t really care what the reason for that repeal is. And I want it replaced with a policy that values my own daughter’s health and well-being as highly as it values your son’s.

      As a “Trumpist voter,” I have no illusions about who pays for your son’s medical care–we, the taxpayers do. My daughter, and every other citizen of this country, deserve the same consideration. The only way that will happen is with a Medicare-for-all style national healthcare system. obamacare was intended to blunt and derail any discussion or implementation of such a system, and for that reason it must go.

        1. Clive

          Plus a zillion and one.

          Here in the U.K. we of course totally get that the medical care we get under the NHS is “paid for by us” (I won’t distract things here by digression into a taxes-don’t-fund-spending reminder). No-one who goes to see their doctor in Primary Care, gets carted off to the Emergency Room or has chemo thinks they are a “burden” on the state or their fellow citizens.

          The notion that there are sick people who would worry they are letting people down or betraying others by using Medicaid — or like Katniss’ daughter struggling to “buy” worthless insurance — well, it sickens me anyway.

      1. fresno dan

        Katniss Everdeen
        January 7, 2017 at 11:50 am

        Very, VERY, well said.
        My own annoyance with the “free market” Obamacare is that anybody who is Intellectually honest, which is like looking for that party that has Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, would admit that it is ridiculous to SHOP for health care where the “network” is ill defined, changes all the time, NOT every – or most – procedures are defined (and it would be impossible to do so) co-pays are vague and addendum’s and additional fees are not listed but are added on without notice.
        ALL reform in the US is to make sure the rich can get richer….
        AND if anybody is inadvertently helped….that is a BUG, not a feature

      2. Merf56

        Clearly I was unclear! My post was far too detailed ( I tend to do that to avoid snarky comments if I don’t fully explain but I guess that is a futile attempt on my part). People on the net seem to look for things to nitpick instead of reading for the gist. Most of you therefore missed the point totally. My bad. So second attempt:

        I am incensed that Trumpist voters in places like Kentucky voted for a party and person who wants to take away their newly attained healthcare that they are getting through Medicaid expansion offered through the ACA, THAT THEY LOVE. They voted for someone to take away their healthcare. Nothing in the world could be more stupid…

        The fact that Kentuckians for example are getting taxpayer paid Medicaid basically FOR FREE from the rest of the country is totally lost on them and it should not be.

        I am and have always been an advocate of single payer government administered healthcare similar to the rest of the developed world. It is the only way to care for citizens properly and avoid the stigma that some pay and some get free care.

        Already my son has got ‘the look’ from office staff at one of his doctors offices. As if he was some kind of slacker bum…. it is hurtful, embarrassing and insulting. It is also promulgating class warfare and inequality. Maybe my point will be clearer now….

      3. Merf56

        Then I hope you did not and will not vote for Republicans in your state who refused the Medicaid expansion funding (even Kentucky and AZ were wise enough not to refuse it). A terrible decision on the part of your state that I am so very sorry your daughter is caught in.
        As I hope as well you really did not vote for the Republican national presidential candidate who,along with his party from day one, stated clearly they were only interested in eliminating any and all healthcare options for struggling people.
        As a parent and human being , I sincerely hope your daughter will remain healthy and will be able to get excellent medical care if she needs it and hope fervently in the future that we will have a single payer solution where NO ONE is left at the mercy of this political shitshow.

    4. tegnost

      Look at the bright side merf, he works for a company that benefited from 0 interest rate buyback bonus…
      http://seekingalpha.com/article/2928916-kohls-is-the-buyback-benefit-over…but thats from feb 2015, yee haw, 70 bucks a share! forward to feb 2016 and they’re boosting, oops I mean buying shares for 50 that sell on the open market for 41? Look at the the 5 year chart and you can plainly see where the buybacks happened https://www.google.com/search?q=kss&rlz=1CASMAH_enUS722US722&oq=kss&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i60l2j0l3.849j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
      wow thanks o man…full time job? what’s that? He should be happy he’s not making 45,000 a year or he would be so completely screwed like so many others are, so there’s a quantum of solace for you there…I guess you could buy him a car and he could drive for uber, that way you could be buying an asset for a good democrat company (uber) that would allow some of the benefit to trickle down on him. Or you could tell him to not bother looking for a job (unless he learns to code of course) because robots. Or he could be a navigator for the ridiculous complexities of the republican health care plan that obama shoved down our throats in order to save your own precious financial ass, come to think of it, you could just support him on the dough you made from obamas chosen winner strategy… in any case he could just get a u haul and that would surely fix everything because a perfect life awaits all those who deserve it and he clearly has a shiny credential…what’s his student loan balance? He could, if all else fails, start a blog with his history knowledge and opine about the the good old days before the democrat party decided to be republicans…I mean I’m just looking for constructive solutions to a problem that so many others are facing as global warming melts all the special snowflakes into a water molecule in lake wobegone. Then again you could just be honest with him and say listen kid, the obama administration chose the winners and you’re not one of them, just rip the bandaid off like a good parent. I can assure you that he is not alone in his sufferings.

    5. Katharine

      Thanks for the personal stories in this thread, good wishes to all who are struggling with such craziness, and thanks RabidGandhi and Clive for reminding us it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s something we know in theory, but the idea that there are people who simply take it for granted is qualitatively different.

  12. scott 2

    A lot of self employed professionals being targeted by eliminating the social security cap. The self employed are on the hook for the whole 13%. That means a 46-48% marginal tax rate at the federal level, end probably a 60-plus percent tax rate in CA and NY. Aren’t Uber drivers 1099 people?

    1. Corey

      Sort of. And it’s 15.3% when you figure in the medicare part. But that’s only going to hit sole-proprietors. The solution is often to structure as an S-corp (or in some cases a C-corp) which separates W-2 wages (subject to FICA) off from business income (not). That’s what most small business owners – who know what they’re doing – do.

      1. craazyboy

        S-Corp also provides for a very large pretax retirement account contribution – around $35K annually, IIRC. That’s way more than you can put away w/ FICA and the [tiny] 401k annual limit. ‘Course, cab drivers, baby sitters and probably most small biz people would run into a revenue glass ceiling far sooner.

    2. Kramer

      To get to 46-48% you imply a 33-35% income tax rate. This would only apply to income over $190,150 ( single, not married). Since payroll taxes are pretax deductions this means you need $218.5K in gross income (not counting any other deductions or credits, sorry but I haven’t even done my own taxes yet so I’m not going to do your hypothetical taxes) before you hit that bracket. Even then, the 33% rate only applies to monies above the 218.5K gross. I don’t think many Uber drivers will have to worry about that.

    3. hunkerdown

      How many of the self-employed net over the cap? Not I, not the face painters down at the festival, not the guy running the resale shop down the way, and certainly not most Uber drivers.

      I hear the sound of rice bowls under threat.

  13. damncankersore

    NYC subways are disgusting, and a shame of America. When I lived in NY, I had to take a shower after using the subways. They are absolutely filthy with hardly any policing or staff on site. Contrast that with practically every other subway system in the world.

    1. Carolinian

      I haven’t been to NYC in quite awhile but did just read that they are going up to 3 bucks a ride. Sounds like a lot for “people’s transportation”–particularly if conditions are what you say.

    2. YankeeFrank

      Your statement is nonsense, even going back decades. The subways in NYC, while not shining with cleanliness, are perfectly fine. Often, people coming from other cities are put off by the gritty streets and subways of NYC, but the city gets along just fine with no greater virus/disease outbreaks than any other city, and quite a few less than some. I wash my hands with soap and water when I get home from work as many do across the planet, but no special precautions are necessary when riding the NYC subway. Remember too that NYC has the largest number of stations of any city in the world and yet somehow those of us who are not germaphobes do just fine.

      Or is it that you just don’t care to rub elbows quite so closely with the hoi polloi?

      1. neo-realist

        I suspect that New Yorkers end up building very strong immune systems from exposure to the various germs and viruses brought in by the millions of commuters they ride with whenever they hold on to a pole or an overhead strap. As the old saying goes, “whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

      1. clinical wasteman

        Admittedly I haven’t been in NY for a few years, but I’d say London’s are definitely worse, unless you have an extra-high tolerance for airport-style overpolicing, aggressive loudspeaker messages (in insufferable upper-class anglo-English robot argot), inescapable, skin-crawling and brightly lit billboard-type advertising, and breathtaking high fares regressively charging poorer people on the periphery more to cross the city or travel into the center.
        Personally I much prefer the Montreal Metro to either, but at least NY has a flat fare system (still intact, right?), along with “too few” cops hunting terrible criminals like vagrants and fare evaders, and — for those of us who like that sort of thing — a pleasing aesthetic sense of actually being under the ground and on rails, i.e. unlike London’s the entire subway system doesn’t try to disguise itself as one big airport or shopping mall.
        Also worth mentioning though that London’s bus network — much maligned by people who never use it — still seems miraculous after 22 years here and actually improved under “red” (as in soft social-democrat) mayor Ken Livingstone a decade or so back, and the RMT transport workers’ union has maybe the most successfully militant grassroots bases in Europe, along with the IWGB (& spinoffs — largely ‘immigrant’ cleaners, bicycle couriers etc) here and (less so of late) Cobas/CUB in Italy.

    3. craazyman

      are you a time traveler from the 1970s?

      I live in New Yawk City. The subways are reasonably clean and there’s uniformed attendants on the platforms during rush hour.

      I wouldn’t use the subway car floor as a plate for food, but that’s not a reasonable thing to do anywhere.

      1. craazyman

        I think we’ve been trolled! LOL

        Well it’s a relief from hearing about “rich white males”.

        Oh man. That’s why I want a 10-bagger, because I wanna be one too.

        1. craazyboy

          Once you retire you’ll start thinking of yourself as a barely middle class black dude and The Man is trying to send you back to the cotton fields. I know I do.

          1. neo-realist

            You mean you can’t catch a cab to save your life and get watched closely by security guards and cops in shops and malls?

            1. craazyboy

              Not quite that visible, but I do feel there is a very large and powerful Clan headed by Pete Peterson that would like to see me drop dead. I wouldn’t get near a cab. Too expensive and soon they will be self driving Soylent Green Machines. If you need to catch an ambulance to save your life, I’ve heard if you have to ask the fare, you can’t afford it. We have security cams and traffic cams everywhere, but I try not to think about those. (makes me paranoid) And with never ending ZIRP and anti-social security warriors after my “disposable income”, the most compelling reason to go to a shop or mall would be to apply for a minimum wage job.

              However, I’m down to earth enough to appreciate many people would still envy my situation. But why must the bar be set that low.

        1. RabidGandhi

          I had a different take on l’Affair Rocker : he bemoaned the diversity on the 7 train to Shea. How many millionaires like him even know which train goes to Flushing Meadows? To his credit.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I thought that destroyed his big contract chances, so despite, not starving, he can’t play baseball forever and stashed his oversized paychecks somewhere. Who knows where his money was? I’m not sure he was loaded as he was a marginal pitcher coming off two good seasons.

            I’m a baseball person, but that was NL stuff…so it’s not my bag.

            1. Tom_Doak

              I looked it up at baseball-reference dot com. Rocker was only in the big leagues for five seasons … made the minimum the first three like everyone else, then arbitration the last two years, so he made $5 million for his career. Better than the average American, but he is probably not living the high life 15 years later.

    4. sid_finster

      The London Underground is far worse.

      The Kiev and Moscow Metros are clean, safe, efficient and utterly reliable.

      1. olga

        Not to mention absolutely beautiful – a feast for the eyes.
        Stalin wanted to build for the ordinary men/women the equivalent of a tzar’s palace, and he succeeded.

    5. Dita

      Yes they are filthy-and frequently smelly too. NYC popularity as a tourist destination has skyrocketed. It bears little resemblance to the city I grew up in, a not entirely bad thing. What i.dont understand is why another fare hike (to cover public pensions i get that) needs to be wrung out of commuters when 54 million tourists passed thru NYC in 2014? While the city continues to hand out big tax breaks to special snowflake interests like hotel and real estate developers…

      1. Anonymous

        No, they’re not filthy or smelly.

        Grew up in New York and return to NYC several X a year for a few days each visit. Always take
        the subway. It’s fine, never any issues. I always marvel at the beautiful tile mosaics gracing the walls of so many platforms.

        1. Pat

          Well, I live here and I do have to say that there are times during the summer a subway station or two can smell. It has to do with age, heat and humidity as much as it does with ‘filth’. But on that score there are also rats roaming the tracks and collecting food scraps that end up there and on the platforms year round. It is still a marvel and amazing and despite my opinion the fare hike is unreasonable it is also largely a bargain.

        2. Dita

          Whether a particular subway or bus is dirty is a roll if the dice. Maybe my line is just filth prone. Not to mention the occasional roach. Duelling anecdotes!

        3. Liberal Mole

          Moved out of the city 20+ years ago, then spent some time going to the city last December. Definitely improvements have been made. The new artwork in mosaics and glass are great, I certainly didn’t think it was any dirtier than usual. I kind of wish there were more frequent trains. Not sure what the outraged O.P.’s standards are… I’ve been on the subways in Rome, London, Japan, Berlin, D.C., Boston, BART.

      2. Robert Hahl

        “What i.dont understand is why another fare hike…”

        Growing up in NYC, I learned that there are three sure things in life: death, taxes, and subway tokens cost about the same as a slice of pizza. I recall that they both cost 15 cents in 1965.

    6. LifelongLib

      I’ve only been to NYC once (Manhattan and a little of Brooklyn, for a week in 2012) but the subway system seemed fine to me — admittedly I’ve never seen another one. It got me where I wanted to go for not much money. And contrary to legend, everyone I talked to in NYC was at least civil and I didn’t encounter any of the rudeness I’d heard so much about.

  14. allan

    ‘It is over’: VP Joe Biden shuts down Seattle congresswoman Pramila Jayapal’s last-ditch effort to halt Trump [Seattle Times]

    Newly sworn-in U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal made an attention-grabbing last-ditch effort to block Donald Trump from the White House, objecting to the certification of the Electoral College vote. But the effort was shut down by Vice President Joe Biden. …

    “It is over,” Biden said, drawing laughs and applause from the assembled lawmakers, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, seated immediately behind the vice president. …

    There were seven protest votes for other candidates, four of which came from Washington state. Despite being pledged to Clinton, three Democratic electors here cast their votes for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and one voted for Native American activist and tribal elder Faith Spotted Eagle. The same four electors also cast protest votes for vice president.

    Washington’s unusual tally prompted scattered snickering when it was read aloud in the U.S. House chambers by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri. [emphasis added]

    Laughter and snickering. Because bipartisanship.
    It’s a club and you’re not invited.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Can they vote for just about anyone?

      Can they vote for George Washington or Pocahontas?

    2. Skip Intro

      Attacking Trump with stale talking points is becoming a mandatory virtue signaling ritual. If I hear about the popular vote from someone who first heard of the electoral college in mid November any more, I may have to crazy-glue my ears shut.

    3. diptherio

      WTF:

      Despite being pledged to Clinton, three Democratic electors here cast their votes for former Secretary of State Colin Powell

      …not Bernie, but a Republican who didn’t even run…???

      1. Pat

        You have to remember that when the electoral college delegates recorded their votes awhile ago there was still that idiotic plan to try to urge electors (Clinton and Trump) to change their vote to a moderate Republican in a hail mary attempt to throw the election to the House, the thinking being that Powell or Kasich or whoever would be better than Trump. They were once again assuming that everyone is as appalled by the election of Donald Trump as the special snowflakes who don’t understand how Clinton could lose unless there was there Russian interference, and that includes Republicans. Not surprising the only electors who changed their vote were Clinton voters.

  15. JTMcPhee

    As to Clayton and conflictedness — hey, no problem! All those S$C associates will get busy working through the waivers that we can be sure the firm’s clients will be only too happy to grant! (And yes, I know that’s not how it works, of course, but stillll… Maybe Congress will change the law to accommodate him, and by artful wording add another layer of protection to their own corruption.)

  16. Robert Hahl

    Re: Registered Voters Who Stayed Home Probably Cost Clinton The Election FiveThirtyEight.

    I think the election result was basically a random outcome. That is what happens when nobody can figure out who the lesser evil is.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It was only a random outcome because the Kumis-drinking hacker-in-chief didn’t try hard enough.

  17. Phil

    ACA is Lambert’s beat. He won my eternal admiration by puncturing the ACA at every level.

    Why not talk about what the “perfect” system of health care coverage would look like, in principle? The five fundamental principles of health care are enunciated in the enabling act itself:

    a) public administration on a non-profit basis by a public authority;
    b) comprehensiveness – coverage of all medical necessities;
    c) universality – all residents in Canada must have equal access to public healthcare;
    d) portability – coverage throughout Canada; and
    e) accessibility – uniform access to insured health services for all, free of financial or other barriers.

    What are the “founding principles” of Obamacare? There are none. It is a simple, pragmatic expansion of the health insurance industry sector’s top line, a taking of money at gunpoint from one segment of the wealthy (see the increased capital gains tax) to give to another; and from the least wealthy (see the forced insurance payments or fines) to give to the wealthiest.

    The monstrous ACA should be repealed and replaced with a simple, humane, modern, cost-effective system based on the principles enunciated above. That system has already been written forty times in other countries. It could be written here in a month.

    They just won’t do it, will they? Ever.

    1. marym

      The system to deliver on those principles is already written – 30 pages, and we already have the basic bureaucratic infrastructure in place to implement it. As you say, the problem continues to be the acceptance of the principles.

      1. susan the other

        Over the last century and still today we citizens have given vast entitlements to pharma and the insurance industries. They are simply not entitled any longer. (They were never entitled ever, but got their subsidies by grift and graft.) It’s not just absurd, as it always contradicted a capitalist “free market” system, it is now obscene because it is destroying society.

      1. Kramer

        I just tried that. Unfortunately, there were no other people outside, but both my dogs seem to be on my side.
        Given how disenters ̶T̶i̶a̶n̶a̶n̶m̶e̶n̶.̶ ̶S̶q̶u̶a̶r̶e̶ Zuccotti Park were treated by our liberal president and how much it sucks to be poor in america, I’m not going to risk my good job and medical insurance by taking my protest to a larger audience. In a few years, after my kid’s move out, but before they move back in I’ll be game.

    2. Phil

      I realized too late that, in editing out the usual hateload of vitriolic sarcasm that characterizes my oeuvre, I cut the attribution for those principles. They are in the laws that establish Medicare Canada. I abbreviated them from Wikipedia, but they are actually enunciated in the law.

      If anybody knows the preamble of the ACA well enough, perhaps they could find the equivalent.

      I looked in Marym’s link to the Medicare for All bill, but there were no principles. Can these people literally not agree that what is outlined above is a good thing? Can they stand their ground on the opposing principles?

      I’d like to crowd-source the principles of the people who want a free-market health care system, just for laughs.

      1. marym

        I did infer that those were the principles for Canada’s Medicare. HR 676 would be an implementation consistent with those principles, but it would be astonishing to see them articulated in the law. As far as the current market system – the ACA, the non-ACA market, the privatized pieces of public programs, and any buy insurance across state lines, vouchers, etc. proposed by Republicans – the “principles” would be those simple rules often articulated on this site.

        1. Phil

          Brilliant, thanks for bringing that back to my attention. The only one I could bring to mind on my own was “go die.” So true. How do they sleep at night?

          In Canada, I once gave an interview to the CBC comparing our health care system to theirs. It was in French, so I was not as articulate as I could have been. But I am sure they got the message. It must have been received well in Canada, though possibly as cold comfort to someone who resented his waiting list, but there it was then, and it has only gotten worse since.

          Back here in the States the level of ignorance and incomprehension of the realities of Medicare is just mind-blowing. Everyone has the same propagandized, brainwashed prejudice. “They wait forever to get care there!” Answer: often enough, not getting the “care” they would get in the US saves their lives.

          Most docs who have trained or worked in Canada who come here quickly return. It is a degrading moral cesspit for the primary care doc here. It was very different up there. Not perfect, but not morally degrading to everyone involved.

  18. voo

    In particular, notice issue where NSA is less convinced than CIA and FBI.

    Um, did you read the passage? The terms are confident not convinced, the definitions of those two are worlds apart.
    Convinced implies the three agencies judged the same set of intelligence while confident is an a lot broader term, and we aware of the practice to provide an independent evaluation based only on their own sources.

  19. Jomo

    A 3.8 percent Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) applies to individuals, estates, and trusts that have net investment income above applicable threshold amounts. In the case of an individual, the NIIT is 3.8 percent on the lesser of:

    the net investment income, or
    the excess of modified adjusted gross income over the following threshold amounts:
    $250,000 for married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er) with dependent child
    $125,000 for married filing separately
    $200,000 in all other cases

    This is why the Republican/Rich hate Obamacare. Otherwise why care what the unwashed masses pay or receive from Health “Insurance.” And, of course, this provision is rarely publicly discussed.

    1. Phil

      Switzerland is rich. Not much happens in Switzerland that is against the interests of the rich. Switzerland has a rational national health care system. See a weakness in your thinking, M Jumo Sans-Culottes? Actually you don’t have a meaningful argument; you have a slur, a bit of noise, a piece of class-warfare cant.

      The “Republican/Rich” hate the Obamacare tax not merely because it is another tax, irritating as that is. They hate it because its proceeds go directly into a sector that is hugely bloated with its own predatory immorality, a sector already drowning in a superfluity of misallocated demand. Obamacare is bold bald unprincipled corporate welfare.

      If they are going to take our money at gunpoint, they should use it for something worthwhile. Giving it to our neighbors in the Hamptons doesn’t do any good.

      1. diptherio

        I would imagine that many Republicans, rich or otherwise, had many different reasons for hating Obamacare, just like lefties who hate it…just sayin’…

        1. Phil

          Agreed. I hoped that was implied in the Switzerland example, but I did not make it clear. Rich, Republican, Swiss rich, Swiss poor, Canadian rich or Canadian poor, all in any number of ethnic and national flavors: the number in a bank account generally has poorer predictive value than many other indices, and differences in class have been readily transcended for the common good all over the world in precisely this area of health care policy. Yet in the US, not so. It is horrific and embarrassing.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Someone mentioned ACA as a stealth bailout for insurance co’s, makes sense. The other precedent it sets is for the first time the government made a law requiring private citizens to buy a financial product (insurance) from a private company. I suppose you could say that smoke detectors are in that same category (mandated purchase)…but this seems like a Rubicon

      3. Jomo

        Phil, I don’t think you can in any way compare our political social system to Switzerland’s. I guess your moral argument is on the minds of some Repub/Rich, but for most of the Repub/Rich I know the pocketbook and hatred of taxes come first. And you are absolutely right, I don’t have any culottes.

        1. Phil

          Thoreau was imprisoned for not paying his poll tax. He was not rich; he simply hated the notion that his money funded a slave nation and imperialistic wars. People hate or like taxes in proportion to the uses they are put to, if they can generally afford them. Rich people donate enormous sums to health care institutions, even in Canada where health care is “uniformly distributed.” Yet they resent having a gun put to their head to redistribute their money, if they see that there is pointless waste or misallocation or corruption. That undermines the entire commonwealth and leads to “Civil Disobedience,” open or tacit.

          “Civil Disobedience” is not in the curriculum for too many bad reasons.

          Yes, the money matters. I don’t want to pay more taxes than I have to. I prefer to give the money to disadvantaged people I care about who are sick or dying; or to animal welfare societies; or to people who work for me that need an extra break. But if I thought everyone in the country would get Canadian-principled health care, would I do it? Of course.

          To pay a tax that facilitates an injustice, that pumps more money into the marketing machine for harmful “treatments” for ever more people in the American techno-medical cash-extraction halls of torture–it is a Thoreau-level outrage–almost as bad as any other “complex” I am forced to fund, at gunpoint, that costs people their lives and well-being here and abroad. By now there are a great many: the war on (some) drugs, the stripping of metals by underfunded mining companies, the F-35–we all know the list. Now they have added health care. It’s not even war, or drugs, and they have still managed to make it ugly, coercive, and resentful.

          But I have the shame of paying for all of that: and having little or no say in how the money is used. There was a revolution over that; but we are back there again in the same spot now, only much more helpless. Don’t tell me 435 people can be “representation” adequate to spend 20% of the national output of 300 million souls.

          So the cry that I should “pay more taxes” does not cut any ice with me, when the money goes to drop bombs in wars I don’t support, and build weapons that I know are worse than useless for the safety of the “homeland.” When you can get them to stop doing that, you can get me to pay more taxes–if you need them, which you wouldn’t. Bernie could have done that. There it is–savior complex again. But you have to hope.

          No, I hate taxes here, all right. When I was in Canada, I didn’t hate them at all.

      4. clinical wasteman

        The name of the commenter you replied to was “Jomo” as in Kenyatta, not Jumo, as in nothing much except a German manufacturer of … industrial robots (not worth a link, but Duckduckgo it if you must: all upper-case).
        I hope Jomo takes ‘sans-culottes’ as the compliment it is, although I’m curious about the plural: how much pairs of upscale 18th-century pants ought s/he to own? Or did you assume that the comment was written by a Committee?
        Anyway, the reference to Switzerland (where there still is a class system, by the way, it’s just that it’s largely stratified by nationality) is fantastically irrelevant. If it were true that every peasant in every canton — and all his indentured immigrant farmhands — were rich, then for that very reason the way they funded their own health care would imply nothing about ‘coverage’ for the non-rich elsewhere. Google is rich too, and no doubt it has a lavish — if not exactly ‘rational’ — health insurance program. But it’s no model for a system covering a whole population, especially when its ‘well funded’ status ultimately comes at that population’s expense.
        So the red Swiss herring is a creature that could only swim in the sort of torrent of dislogic that could end in the proposition: ‘Obamacare = corporate welfare BUT it has nothing to do with class’.

        1. Phil

          Yet another guy who thinks that people’s net worth determines their thoughts. It’s not even Marxist–because a Marxist would at least define class properly, to give the word analytical utility in this kind of discussion. You guys aren’t even at the starting line in that regard. Hint: net worth does not determine class, now, or ever. What defines class is the relationship to the means of production. Catch up.

          I haven’t met someone who thinks the sans-culottes are great since 1968. If you are not an aspiring butcher of humanity, you probably hold your opinion based on some cheap textbook vomiting the line that the sans-culottes were class warriors. You probably think they were like Occupy, only with a guillotine. Sorry, that has been debunked by every scholarly work on the subject since 1960. They were just a bunch of good old violent folks from the same classes (or higher in many cases) as their helpless and innocent victims, whom they slaughtered with every evidence of enjoyment when their handlers let them out of their cages–and sometimes, just to vent a bit, because somebody published a newspaper article they did not like.

          Catch up.

    1. Vatch

      Disgusting? Perhaps. Have the Republicans proposed an improvement? If not, then for all its many faults, ObamaCare might be better than any likely alternatives. Tom Price, the nominee to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, wants to privatize Medicare. Wouldn’t that be the extension of some of the worst aspects of Obamacare to millions more people?

      1. hreik

        Not disgusting to me. It’s better than gutting it w/o knowing what will replace it. No way the Trump bunch is going to be pushing for Medicare for all

  20. voo

    “Whoa, NYT lead story on IC report on Russian election influence has been *drastically* cut back since publication.”

    Yeah, how about waiting for or linking to the re-write here , and here

    There is absolutely nothing that suggests censorship, only a misjudgement of value.

    The G.R.U. was less careful than the F.S.B., they said, and used some hacking techniques and tools that were recognizable from previous hacks. “It’s almost as if they didn’t really care if they were caught,” said one senior official.

    This quote opens the possibility they’re biased in their interpretation of misjudging the evidence they collected but that’s just guesswork as well.

    1. Skip Intro

      They cut out the part giving the brits ‘credit’ for ‘discovering’ the hack. Using the brits as a cutout for disinformation worked so well for the yellowcake scam, I’m wondering why they felt the need to back off of it. Maybe GCHQ or whoever doesn’t want to play ball and risk their relationship with Trump, who they may need to rescue them in the event that something happens with brexit.

      1. voo

        They did not, read the current article or the diffs.

        I quoted basically the only thing that was thrown away.

        1. Skip Intro

          According to the diffs, the reporting on the brits was removed from the article. This was indicated in the diffs with pink highlighting and strikethrough.

  21. OIFVet

    Bonus antidote caption should read ‘Vladimir Putin in a bear costume caught raiding HRC’s email server.”

  22. Chop-chop Corner

    Trump’s bid to get CIA under control is coming into focus: decapitate the SES/SIS echelons.

    turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/01/httpswwwwashingtonpostcomnewsthe-fixwp20170106its-about-to-get-much-tougher-for-donald-trump-to-doubt-the-intelli.html

    Pushing staff out into the field overseas is a very clever way to use impunity against criminal staff. CIA is infested with guys who have to hide at home or they’re liable to get locked up. Fifty-odd stations were involved in torture or refoulement. This flushes out these scumbags.

    1. Carolinian

      Raimondo:

      As Jones relates:

      “The CIA is meant to spy upon foreign countries. The secrets we seek are located in foreign countries. Yet the bloated CIA bureaucracy exists almost entirely within the United States. CIA bureaucrats appear to find foreign service disagreeable. They enjoy their lifestyle and will fight with aggressive passivity to keep it that way. More than 90% of CIA employees spend their careers living and working entirely within the United States….

      “The incoming CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, will be astonished by how many of his senior leaders have not had an overseas assignment in decades. Brief junkets and TDY’s to foreign countries do not count. CIA boss John Brennan’s 40-plus years of CIA service have occurred almost entirely within the Headquarters building….

      “Today, we have more employees working in encouraging diversity, and as of recently, more transgender employees, than we do case officers operating under cover in Russia, China, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iran, and North Korea combined.”

      http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2017/01/05/purge-the-cia/

      Perhaps those CIA employees are the ones whose salaries Trump is planning to reduce to $1. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch.

      Meanwhile here’s latest Moon on CIA lays an egg with “bombshell” report.

      http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/01/intelligence-report-on-russian-election-influence-is-a-flop.html

      1. craazyboy

        Well, we have to keep in mind transgender employees probably can’t use the bathroom of their choice in Russia, China, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iran, and North Korea.

        Then the other problem I heard back post 911 was the typical work day is to lay around on Virginia Beach reading Middle Eastern newspapers, then head back to the office to write a little report about it. Don’t know if that’s true. Could be fake news.

  23. Vatch

    With #resistence still hoping for a coup (damn it, it’s HER turn), I’ll still rooting for the giant meteor.

    I’ve probably mentioned this before: I saw a car with a “Giant Meteor 2016” bumper sticker.

  24. Dita

    Re Amazon’s spheres – almost identical to The Eden Project in Cornwall-wonder if their arborists will ride in balloons to the treetops too.

    1. Trixie from Dixie

      WOW! Those comments must certainly be bought and paid for. I can’t believe there are that many uninformed, stupid people willing to display their ignorance without some form of compensation! Can you imagine the pride they must take in their work?

      1. hunkerdown

        WaPoo comments are more like an open audition for the legacy party noise machines. It’s great fun to plug every real name that throws their state-media song and dance into LinkedIn — invariably they are looking to make their steel-toed dent in society’s prefrontal cortex. NYT’s dynamic may be similar, if representative of slightly different interests.

  25. susan the other

    Ann Pettifor points out above how really stupid it is to base economic policy on hope, greed and ignorance. Aka, old ideologies. Policies that have failed catastrophically. A good part of that willful failure is based on love for an idea whose time has passed: free market capitalism. It’s time to tune economic policy up, make it actually work on a practical level. It looks like we’ve gotta be honest; we can have a free market (ha!), or we can have a new functional capitalism but we cannot have both. Even the worst of pontificators, the banking cartels, have gotta know this.

    1. ambrit

      Worthy idea, but, as far as I can figure out, the basic constraint on modern management is the length of the business profit reporting cycle. Short term thinking is ubiquitous now. To the extent that “capitalism” functions long enough to provide the next round of bonuses to management, it is considered functional. Setting the agenda is the key function.
      One idea; remove private money from politics and the constraints become more flexible. A complete ban on public officials entering any private entity related to their former public position, a ban for life, would also help. Make this a capital punishment eligible crime and you will begin to make headway. After all, if small time crooks can get life for three minor infractions, politicos can pledge their eternal honour plus their lives to public service. (If some of the more inventive politicos complain about having trouble finding a jury of their “peers,” then let the trials for this crime be conducted by and at the UN.)

  26. dcblogger

    The Massive Election-Rigging Scandal the Media Ignored

    Turns out, according to Palast, that a total of 7 million voters—including up to 344,000 in Pennsylvania, 589,000 in North Carolina and up to 449,000 in Michigan (based on available Crosscheck data from 2014)—may have been denied the right to have their votes counted under this little known but enormously potent Crosscheck program.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Have their been any interviews with actual people who were denied the right to vote after showing up at their precinct?

      Not denying that this type of voter suppression takes place – it clearly does and it’s completely ridiculous that scams like Crosscheck are allowed to happen. From what I’ve read about this, people were stripped from voter rolls on assumptions alone with no actual evidence by parties who definitely had an axe to grind.

      That being said, how hard could it be to come up with some actual examples rather than just throwing statistics around? Just wondering why we don’t see more evidence from the actually disenfranchised.

    2. fresno dan

      dcblogger
      January 7, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      “Crosscheck was started by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach back in 2007 under the guise of combating so-called voter fraud. In the ultimate thumb in the eye to the American voter, the state where Crosscheck started was the only state to refuse to participate in a New York Times review of voter fraud in the 2016 election, which found that, basically, there wasn’t any fraud at the level of individual voters. Turns out, according to Palast, that a total of 7 million voters—including up to 344,000 in Pennsylvania, 589,000 in North Carolina and up to 449,000 in Michigan (based on available Crosscheck data from 2014)—may have been denied the right to have their votes counted under this little known but enormously potent Crosscheck program.

      Yes, that’s way more than enough votes to swing the 2016 election to Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. But no one seems to care.

      Not Hillary Clinton, not the DNC, not the New York Times, not the Washington Post, not even MSNBC. In fact, on November 26, MSNBC Host Joy Reid ended her interview of Greg Palast by saying, “I wish more people would listen to what you have to say.”

      But he was never asked back, by Joy or anyone else at MSNBC.

      Why?

      Why wouldn’t the media and lawyers swoop in to every swing state and demand that every single purged, provisional or uncounted vote either be counted or verified to be illegitimate?

      Why is it more relevant to focus on a crazed and completely unsubstantiated and untrue allegation about 3 million “illegal aliens” voting, but not a claim by a fellow journalist that 7 million American citizens weren’t allowed to have their votes counted?

      Yes, Hillary was insistent that we must accept the results of the election, but doesn’t that require legitimate, verified or verifiable results? A coach who questions a call on the field is not challenging the system, he just wants to make sure the result is accurate.

      So maybe investigative journalist Greg Palast is completely wrong. Completely inaccurate. Maybe there weren’t 7 million voters who were at risk of being excluded, with millions of them being handed “placebo” ballots (provisional ballots) that almost never get opened or counted. Maybe it’s only a million or two citizens. The problem is that the Republican secretaries of state are refusing to say, and the press has dropped the topic.

      ===============================================
      dcblogger – you come up with some great, great articles.
      But I find the question of why very perplexing. Are the dems in cahoots with the repubs? Are they that stupid? So this story has been published and this guy let people on MSNBC know….how come no follow up???? Or is this a story too good to check and the true number of excluded voters is being exaggerated? Because if there is anything to this, I am flummoxed as to why dems would not pitch a fit??? Or anyone concerned about the proper functioning of the electoral process.

      Hmmmmm….Rereading the story, is it possible IT IS finding inordinate numbers of undocumented aliens? Because again, it just seems bizarre that the dems wouldn’t make a big deal out of this…

    3. diptherio

      Should read “Another Massive Election-Rigging Scandal the Media Ignored”. This has been going on for awhile now, with the Democrat party doing essentially nothing to try to counteract it.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Why are they not pursuing the stronger case (the present one being discussed here)?

        Instead, they are pursing the weaker case of Russian hacking.

        Incompetence, or something more sinister?

  27. fresno dan

    From the CIA report:

     On 6 August, RT published an Englishlanguage video called “Julian Assange Special: Do WikiLeaks Have the E-mail That’ll Put Clinton in Prison?” and an exclusive interview with Assange entitled “Clinton and ISIS Funded by the Same Money.” RT’s most popular video on Secretary Clinton, “How 100% of the
    Clintons’ ‘Charity’ Went to…Themselves,” had more than 9 million views on social media platforms. RT’s most popular English language video about the President-elect, called “Trump Will Not Be Permitted To Win,” featured Assange and had 2.2 million views.
    …..
    Russia used trolls as well as RT as part of its influence efforts to denigrate Secretary Clinton.
    This effort amplified stories on scandals about Secretary Clinton and the role of WikiLeaks in the
    election campaign
    =============================================================
    Sorry to beat a dead horse, but let me do a thought experiment about the questions I would ask the CIA:
    1. If one publishes something that is true, e.g., being involved in a scandal, does the CIA believe that is “denigrating” someone?
    1.a OR rephrased, ONLY FALSE information can be denigrating????
    1.b. Is ANY denigrating, but true information published about the US by Russia harmful to the US?
    2. Does the CIA believe that promulgating denigrating comments about a political personage, WHETHER TRUE OR NOT, harms the US?
    2.a. Is this contingent upon whether the source is foreign or domestic? – i.e., [agree or disagree]
    i. a foreign source giving untrue denigrating information is harmful
    ii. a foreign source giving TRUE denigrating information is harmful
    iii. a domestic source giving untrue denigrating information is harmful [[stooges]]
    iv. a domestic source giving TRUE denigrating information is harmful [[dupes]]
    3. Did the CIA assess how many stooges and dupes magnified and spread Russian propaganda?

    4. Does the CIA believe that it has said or promulgated ANYTHING that is denigrating about Donald Trump?
    4. a. If the CIA does not believe it has denigrated Donald Trump is this because:
    i. Everything the CIA has said or promulgated about Donald Trump is true
    II. The CIA has not made ANY remarks, statements, etc. that are denigrating to Donald Trump.
    5. Did the CIA assess whether the Clinton scandal stories were true?
    5.a. If not, how did the CIA determine that the stories were denigrating Hillary Clinton? (check for consistency with supposed CIA answer to question 1 & 2 as these questions will never be asked or answered)
    5. Did the CIA assess whether the Clinton scandal stories from RT were all true, partly true, or not true at all?
    6. Did the CIA assess whether the Clinton scandal stories in the US domestic media differed substantially from the RT stories?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Every patriot should be for Voice of America to do to Russia what RT did to us.

      And to let their young know that in many places in America, weed is legal, and we have the coolest Rock music in the West.

      The thing is, RT may not be the only worry. CT (Chinese Today) – can it be far behind?

      Finally, we are grateful, in any case, that, thanks to courageous congressional oversight, the CIA is not influencing American politics.

      1. witters

        “and we have the coolest Rock music in the West.” This based on wide international research? Or AE?

        1. neo-realist

          Did Russia ever produce a band like or as good as the Velvet Underground? Maybe Shostakovich, an artist, but soundwise the Velvets and Shostakovich are apples and oranges. Or maybe Vodka and Heroin?

  28. PQS

    Re Amazons Spheres: the 4B price tag was for the whole office tower development, not just the spheres….even Amazon doesn’t have that kind of money. I’ve seen them in passing and they look pretty. Lord knows they’re more interesting that most of what’s going in downtown right now, which is either Big Glass Tower or Ugly Seventies Wood Look Lowrise. As a contractor, I often apologize for the end products, even though we don’t design them.

  29. George Phillies

    As a perspective on the CIA etc report

    Our spy agencies praise RT for covering political parties outside the duopoly

    In an effort to highlight the alleged “lack of democracy” in the United States, RT broadcast, hosted, and advertised third-party candidate debates and ran reporting supportive of the political agenda of these candidates. The RT hosts asserted that the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a “sham.”

    and laud the accuracy of RT’s coverage of civil liberty issues

    RT’s reports often characterize the United States as a “surveillance state” and allege widespread infringements of civil liberties, police brutality, and drone use (RT, 24, 28 October, 1-10 November).

    Of course, if the purposes of your organization include protecting our corrupt establishment and trampling the Bill fo Rights under foot, you may have a slightly different perspective on these issues.

    1. fresno dan

      George Phillies
      January 7, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      I am not familiar with RT, but trying to research it by means of Google, I see Ed Schultz and Larry King at least have done interviews on RT – are they Russian dupes??? I would surmise RT is “leftish” if you take the ostensible CIA view that any reporting on police violence is “denigrating” the police and the US.
      The fact that the CIA report can only give examples of anti Clinton bias, and doesn’t show any anti Trump, anti Sanders, or any third party bias sure makes it look like the CIA is merely equating Clinton’ s as being the ONE and ONLY true patriotic stand of America…
      Its hard not to conclude that the CIA believes anybody who doesn’t toe the neocon neoliberal line is antiAmerican.

  30. Waldenpond

    Rs putting on a show as much as Ds regarding Heritage/Romney/Ocare… ha! They repeatedly voted for repeal, now that they have the majorities, the votes are no longer there. Rs are going to keep R written insurance transfer of wealth legislation. No one could have predicted that just because Rs socialize with insurance oligarchs, marry into the family, serve on the boards of insurance companies and send their offspring to an insurance industry job guarantee that they would side against the people.

  31. MIchael

    Re the SS wage base debate…
    2007 97,500
    2008 102,000
    2009 106,800
    2010 106,800
    2011 106,800
    In 2016, the cap was $118,500. In 2017, the cap will increase to $127,200 in 2017, 7.3%, based on average wage growth. (2.9%? Help) So in 10 years the wage base has gone up 29,700 or 23.3%.

    Considering the dollars invested for the length of time a high earner is employed before collecting, its not a great deal vs the same calc for a middle wage worker. 2016 max benefit is $2639 and will no doubt be 50% taxable for most wealthy retirees as current maximum retirement wages are not indexed for inflation. 85% is possible for some. Both apply to the employee portion only.

    I wonder what a high earners benefit would look like if they received a like percentage of benefit to the taxable-nontaxable wage base their earnings reflected? Whose ox?

    1. George Phillies

      “2016 max benefit is $2639 ” Is that perhaps for retirement at 67? The true max benefit is obtained by postponing taking Social Security until you hit 70, and is well over $3000 a month.

      1. Michael

        For those at full retirement age (66) in 2016. Waiting increases benefit 8% a year til 70.

        The choice of taking SS at 66 and getting $126,000 (2639*12*4) before collecting a dime at age 70 vs getting $800/mo more at age 70 is a personal one!

        ($126,000 / 800 *12 = 13 years or the lines cross at age 83. (still 10 yrs at $1500/mo benefit)

        It was surprising to me that a low salary in early years had a less negative effect on future benefits due to inflation of the national wage index, a process that ends before age 62.

        1. alex morfesis

          Tuff call on ss waiting to 70…buy a home 15 minutes from the beach “cash” and enjoy sunsets for 18 yrs or keep looking at that brick wall view in that big city studio apartment that wont have any rent increases until age 83…hmmm…

          give me a moment to do the math again…

        2. katiebird

          Dumb question: Why multiply times 4? …. Also, is there a good tool to help people decide when to take Social Security? My brother in law says always at 62… I feel like an idiot every time I try to think about it.

  32. Jess

    In case no one else has already posted it, here’s today’s laugher from the Guardian, about how thousands of Mexican auto workers are terrified they may lose their jobs thanks to Trump’s tweet about imposing tariffs. Gee, you mean they’re terrified just like American workers who lost their jobs? (And, as per recent procedures, to avoid having such embarrassing things pointed out by readers, there is no comments section for this article.)

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jan/07/mexico-auto-industry-jobs-donald-trump-manufacturing-cars

      1. Katharine

        Don’t forget it was corn imports that threw a lot of farmers off the land so they ended up coming north to work.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The whole picture…they never give you the whole picture, just the picture, nothing but the picture.

      And you see their picture of Mexican workers being terrified. But if you prick American workers, don’t they bleed, my dear Bard?

      As well, you don’t see pictures of American workers having to leave their families to work in another city, another state or another country, either short term or for years. But you do see pictures of deported undocumented workers leaving their kids behind.

      One sad human story in the picture.

      But not the other sad human story.

  33. John k

    Trade. (Prompted by Harrison posts)
    Deficit with China 300B.
    With Germany 60B
    So tariff could be 1/30% per Billion deficit.
    10% for china, 2% for Germany.

    So if china buys from airbus instead of Boeing, deficit increases and so does tariff on all china goods.
    Similarly, if yuan falls and deficit increases, tariff goes up.

    China might quietly preferentially buy from us to drive down deficit, which reduces tariff.
    Does this violate WTO? Attempt is to balance trade, no tariff when no deficit.

    Or, china might offer non trade cooperation to avoid tariff.

    Tariff revenue could Fund infra.

  34. different clue

    About the “Pentagon” plot to bomb Syrian Arab Republic soldiers . . . . thinking of it as a “Pentagon” plot blinds those who think that way from seeing whose plot it really was. It was really Ashton Carter’s plot. His and certain “poLITICal” generals acting on behalf of the KagaNewland Clintonites and the R2P imperialists. Focusing on the “Pentagon” would allow the Ashtonites and the KagaNewland Clintonites and the antirussianitic elites to escape the scrutiny which is properly theirs.

  35. LT

    http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-et-hollywood-values-updates-1483806287-htmltory.html

    “Has Hollywood Lost Touch With American Values?” from LA Times.

    Lots to wade through here, but they are soliciting responses from readers.

    I haven’t made it through all the commentary amd opinion from industry insiders.
    But haven’t seen any references to the way they progandize for the national security state via spy movies, etc.

    It kicks off with an opinion piece from the critic Kenneth Turan that reads like a bunch of talking points from the DNC.

  36. alex morfesis

    Thank u fearless leader…I want 2 personally thank raz-putin 4 his full throttle actions in syria…it has been a long time since the us of murica had actionable intell on russian military capabilities and command & control operations…now if you would just sign on page 47, 86 & 95 we can formalize the crimea for cuba swap…

  37. allan

    The Blob wants you to know that the taxes and spending are too damn high:

    [CFR Head Honcho] Richard Haass Sees A ‘World In Disarray’ As Trump Prepares To Take Office
    [NPR]

    SCOTT SIMON: You also worry, in this book, that the U.S. is – just has too much debt, and the U.S. economy is just too weak – although, both have been improving – to be influential.

    RICHARD HAASS: I am worried about that. I think the U.S. economy is poised to grow. I think some combination of tax cuts, corporate tax relief, deregulation will probably see some significant boost in American economic growth. But debt, potentially, is our Achilles’ heel. If we allow Social Security, disability, Medicare, Medicaid to continue to grow, we increase our spending on things like infrastructure, American debt will grow. And that leaves us extraordinarily vulnerable to the markets or to the machinations of central bankers elsewhere. This is something that we have got to address before it gets out of control.

    Pay no attention to that Forever War behind the curtain.

  38. Jay M

    Haass: debt. . .our Achilles’ heel
    how to attribute that debt,well, I might well spill my drink

Comments are closed.