2:00PM Water Cooler 3/10/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Trade

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal will hold a joint press conference this morning where they’ll likely discuss, among other things, NAFTA. …. The officials’ meeting on Thursday came on the same day that Luis Videgaray, Mexico’s secretary of foreign affairs, met in Washington with National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and senior adviser Jared Kushner, among others. …. Earlier this week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also met with his counterpart, Mexican Secretary of Finance José Antonio Meade — further adding to the list of administration officials who have touched base with top-ranking officials south of the border even as President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto have yet to meet or reschedule the meeting that was canceled earlier this year [Politico]. Apparently, the State Department didn’t know Mexico’s Foreign Minister was in town…

Politics

2016 Post Mortem

“Even some Democrats on the Intelligence Committee now quietly admit, after several briefings and preliminary inquiries, they don’t expect to find evidence of active, informed collusion between the Trump campaign and known Russian intelligence operatives, though investigators have only just begun reviewing raw intelligence. Among the Intelligence Committee’s rank and file, there’s a tangible frustration over what one official called “wildly inflated” expectations surrounding the panel’s fledgling investigation” [Buzzfeed]. That’s precious. Democrats are “frustrated” by their own gaslighting, hysteria, and strategic hate management.

“But even someone as icily competent as Putin, with his alleged record of serving polonium-210-laced tea to overseas enemies, could not have engineered Trump’s near-sweep in the primaries, or the 85 percent approval rating he now has among Republicans, or the flipping from blue to red by states that hadn’t gone Republican in over 30 years. The victory of Trump caused something approaching trauma in the psyches of millions of Americans, and that’s understandable, because old truths were overturned and suddenly everything was in the air. But let’s not pretend it was a coup d’état or a subversion of democracy” [T. A. Frank, Vanity Fair (Re Silc)].

“‘The truth is, and I think anyone who objectively assesses the situation has to appreciate, that the model the Democrats have followed for the last 10 to 20 years has been an ultimate failure,’ Sanders said in an interview with The Huffington Post from his Senate office in Washington. “That’s just the objective evidence. We are taking on a right-wing extremist party whose agenda is opposed time after time and on issue after issue by the vast majority of the American people. Yet we have lost the White House, the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, almost two-thirds of the governors’ chairs and close to 900 legislative seats across this country. How can anyone not conclude that the Democratic agenda and approach has been a failure?” [HuffPo]. Well, let’s be fair. If the Democrats are paid to lose, their approach has been a rip-roaring success! More: “‘I think from a moral perspective as well as good politics that you cannot just be defensive,’ [Sanders] said. ‘You need a proactive agenda that brings people together to fight for a new America.'” But Russia!

Health Care

Lambert here: Lots of moving parts on health care right now!

“Obamacare vs. the Republican plan — for those thinking of skipping health insurance” [MarketWatch]. “Here’s the apples-to-apples of skipping 10 months insurance (and for argument sake, we’re skipping the grace periods in both). Under Obamacare, it’s $1,845 (10 months of fine, two months of insurance) and under the Republican plan, it’s $1,960. But skipping, say, 22 months of coverage, is where the Republican plan pays off — $3,220 in fines plus cost of coverage for Obamacare, vs. $1,960 under the GOP plan.” Hoo boy.

“The White House says it’s still in listening mode, publicly and privately. ‘We’re welcoming ideas and thoughts,’ White House press secretary Sean Spicer said. ‘I didn’t hear anything that said it’s a binary choice at the White House today,’ said Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the Freedom Caucus. But that’s not the message from Ryan and company: ‘This is the closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare,’ the speaker said Thursday. For now, there’s disagreement on whether this is a real negotiation, not to mention what a compromise from here would even look like” [ABC].

“Top vote-counters in the House say they think the health-care replacement legislation will get through their chamber. It won’t be easy — and it won’t be pretty — but they believe they’ll squeeze it through. But there’s increasing skepticism that it can get through the Senate. During his newsy Playbook Interview Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reminded us that the legislation will be subject to unlimited amendments when it hits the Senate as part of the reconciliation process, practically ensuring it will be changed. If this bill blows up, Trump has signaled he’ll blame Democrats, who are expected to stand in unified opposition to the legislation. But that might not work. Republicans say it’s on Trump to make this thing work” [Politico]. As for “Republicans say…” Surely the Rice-Davies Rule applies?

“There are East Room meetings, evening dinners and sumptuous lunches — even a White House bowling soiree. Mr. Trump is deploying the salesman tactics he sharpened over several decades in New York real estate. His pitch: He is fully behind the bill to scotch President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement, but he is open to negotiations on the details” [New York Times]. “In so doing, Mr. Trump is plunging personally into his first major legislative fight, getting behind a bill that has been denounced by many health care providers and scorned by his base on the right. If it fails, Mr. Trump will find it difficult not to shoulder some of the blame.” I’m not so sure. Trump’s seen as an insurgent; the Establishment will be a good deal easier to blame and Trump could slide out from under (but see Chris Arnade’s tweet below)

“House Republican leaders narrowly tailored their Obamacare repeal bill to avoid violating Senate rules, but conservatives are pushing back with advice of their own: tear up the rulebook” [Politico]. “A growing number of conservative lawmakers on Thursday urged GOP leaders to push the limits of how much of the health law they can reshape under a powerful procedural maneuver known as budget reconciliation — and to overrule the Senate parliamentarian if she doesn’t decide in their favor.” If the Democrats had been this feral in 2009, and rammed through single payer, 2010 wouldn’t have been the debacle it was (though throwing some banksters in jail would have helped, too).

UPDATE An anecdote (read the whole thread):

These voters won’t be happy if the ObamaCare replacement bill screws them over. And if they perceive, as this voter does, that Trump didn’t deliver, they will be eager to share their unhappiness with him.

“The presence of expensive tax cuts in a bill purportedly about health-care reform is not a side effect; it’s the entire point. They make it easier for Republicans’ (much bigger) individual and corporate tax cuts to sail through the Senate with minimal Democratic obstruction in a few months’ time” [Catherine Rampell, WaPo]. “Why? Under normal circumstances, Democrats would almost certainly filibuster the coming tax overhaul, preventing it from ever getting to a vote. But Republicans can take the filibuster option away by using the “reconciliation” process, which is an option if, and only if, the tax bill doesn’t increase government deficits in the long term, relative to existing law.”

“What they came up with instead was a dog’s breakfast that conservatives are, with some justice, calling Obamacare 2.0. But a better designation would be Obamacare 0.5, because it’s a half-baked plan that accepts the logic and broad outline of the Affordable Care Act while catastrophically weakening key provisions” [Paul Krugman, New York Times]. Yesterday I linked to some lunatic Birchers, so it’s only fair that today I link to Operative K. But it’s a Red Letter Day when Krugman says that the Republicans took a Republican plan and made it worse.

“With House Speaker Paul Ryan’s vision for the American health care system being rejected by the left, the center and the right, Democrats should offer their own plan to bring relief to those who are paying more or getting less under President Barack Obama’s signature law” [Roll Call]. How about HR676?

“So the country lurches between two health care crises — on one side lies the Affordable Care Act’s ‘free market’ of half-baked, overpriced insurance schemes; on the other side Congress faces an insurance cliff, hurtling toward a repeal that could shove millions out of essential coverage and plunge countless families and medical providers into social turmoil. At the same time, the political havoc clears the way for a radical cure: why not “socialized medicine”? [Alternet]. Given what Alternet’s front page has become, I’m surprised this made it through without a headline line: “Better Sex with Single Payer.”

A little-noticed bill [HR 1313 ] moving through Congress would allow companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing or risk paying a penalty of thousands of dollars, and would let employers see that genetic and other health information” [Stat]. “Giving employers such power is now prohibited by legislation including the 2008 genetic privacy and nondiscrimination law known as GINA. The new bill gets around that landmark law by stating explicitly that GINA and other protections do not apply when genetic tests are part of a ‘workplace wellness’ program.” Workplace “Wellness” programs are covered by ObamaCare, despite (IICR from the debate at the time) the absence of any proven health benefit

Trump Transition

David Frum has lost his mind:

UPDATE And it’s not just Frum; it’s a talking point!

Personally, I think it was Putin who got Obama to deep-six single payer in 2009, but wev.

“Number of immigrants caught at Mexican border plunges 40% under Trump” [Los Angeles Times]. “However, [Faye Hipsman, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C.] cautioned, typically each time the government adopts new immigration enforcement measures — for example, building detention centers to accommodate the surge of Central American women and children — the numbers fall, only to rebound, in some cases higher than before.”

“Trump’s business pragmatism may be the best hope for a coherent foreign policy that avoids Bannon’s self-proclaimed goal of ‘deconstruction’ of the established order. A telling example was when Tillerson and Kushner advised him last month that Chinese President Xi Jinping wouldn’t talk on the phone until Trump clarified that he supported the longstanding ‘one China’ policy. Trump is said to have responded: “So clarify'” [David Ignatius, WaPo]. “Tillerson and Mattis can be the nexus for sound international strategy, working with Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the new national security adviser. As was said of Hillary Clinton and Bob Gates when they were secretaries of state and defense, respectively, this would be the ‘Adult Swim’ group, checking a noisy, chaotic, ideological White House.” Of course, Clinton was an incompetent loon who fomented war in Libya, Honduras, Syria, and Ukraine (not to mention Iraq) but never mind that. Since Ignatius carries water for the intelligence community, they’re sending Trump a message…

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The British-American coup that ended Australian independence” [Guardian (1975)]. This is a bit closer to home than Pinochet, since Australia is part of the AngloSphere and one of the Five Eyes. Here’s the climax of the article:

On 10 November 1975, [Prime Minister of Australia Gough] Whitlam was shown a top-secret telex message sourced to Theodore Shackley, the notorious head of the CIA’s East Asia division, who had helped run the coup against Salvador Allende in Chile two years earlier.

Shackley’s message was read to Whitlam. It said that the prime minister of Australia was a security risk in his own country. The day before, Kerr had visited the headquarters of the Defence Signals Directorate, Australia’s NSA, where he was briefed on the “security crisis”.

On 11 November – the day Whitlam was to inform parliament about the secret CIA presence in Australia – he was summoned by [Governor-General of Australia and CIA asset] Sir John Kerr. Invoking archaic vice-regal ‘reserve powers’, Kerr sacked the democratically elected prime minister. The ‘Whitlam problem’ was solved, and Australian politics never recovered, nor the nation its true independence.

This sounds remarkably like the play the intelligence community ran against Trump with the JAR report and then Steele’s dodgy dossier. Of course, the United States doesn’t have the colonial relation with a monarch that produced an office like the Governor-General that the intelligence community could exploit; our institutions are stronger. Even the Electoral College was stronger! Nevertheless… Oh, and you need an example of the United States “meddling” or “tampering” with the democratic process, I’d say overthrowing the Prime Minister of Australia is a pretty good example.

UPDATE Hoo boy:

“The Dems gave us Trump, too, not merely because they nominated a candidate who seemed so emblematic of everything that was wrong with the status quo but also because even with two talented politicians like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, they have presided over a dwindling party apparatus in the states, massive and widening inequality, almost sociopathic indifference to that widening gap (just go back to Jonathan Chait’s “liberalism is working” meme or Clinton’s “America is already great”, not to mention the absolute refusal since the election to confront the social rot that produced Trump), and the resulting social degradation and cruelty that we see all around us” [Corey Robin]. “We need to make a realignment, and that means taking on and overturning not only the Republican Party but also the Democratic Party. That’s the way every realignment has worked: it’s not just one party that goes, but both parties that go in some way, shape, or form.”

“The progressive left should not apply ideological purity tests to Democratic senators who face tough re-election campaigns in 2018 in states President Donald Trump won handily last year, says Sen. Kamala Harris” [CNN]. “‘We need those numbers,’ the California Democrat told David Axelrod on ‘The Axe Files,’ a podcast from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.” But “The people who can destroy a thing, they control it” (Frank Herbert, Dune).

UPDATE “KING: The Democratic Party seems to have no earthly idea why it is so damn unpopular” [New York Daily News]. Important!

$15 minimum wage, fighting back against fossil fuels and the Dakota Access Pipeline, fighting to end fracking, fighting to remove lobbyist money from politics, fighting to end senseless wars and international violence, fighting for universal healthcare, fighting for the legalization of marijuana, fighting for free college tuition, fighting against systems of mass incarceration, and so much more. But mainstream Democrats aren’t really a central part of any of those battles, and, to be clear, each of those issues have deep networks, energized volunteers, and serious donors, but corporate Democrats virtually ignore them.

In the past two months, I’ve spoken in a dozen states around the country and thousands of people show up. Wednesday night, in the freezing rain, lines were wrapped around multiple city blocks to attend an event I was hosting at a local Seattle high school. We literally formed the event a few days ago on Facebook and didn’t spend a single penny putting it together.

When I see these crowds, I don’t see them and think “Wow, I’m so popular.” I see them and think “Wow, people are hungry for change, and insight, and direction.” When I see those crowds, those polls showing how outrageously unpopular the Democratic Party is frustrate me even more. It just doesn’t have to be this way.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation, February 2017: “A rate hike at next week’s FOMC is a lock based on the February employment report where strength came in at the very outside of expectations. Nonfarm payrolls rose 235,000 vs Econoday expectations for 200,000 which, after Wednesday’s ADP report, were rising going into today’s results” [Econoday]. “There is also an upward revision to January which now stands at 238,000 for an 11,000 gain…. The burst of optimism that followed the election may be manifesting itself in rising employment, at least that’s a safe bet given the outstanding strength of both the February and January job reports.” Donald Trump as the Confidence Fairy is about the most unlikely outcome of the 2016 election I failed to imagine. And: “This was a clean report with the cuffs and collars matching. Consider this an excellent jobs report” [Econintersect]. And: “The headline jobs number was above expectations, and there were combined slight upward revisions to the previous two months. In addition wage growth picked up. This was a solid report” [Calculated Report]. “The warm weather was a factor in the solid February employment report and there may be some payback in March.” And: “Manufacturing employment rose 28,000 for the month with an increase in construction jobs of 58,000 which will have been supported by warmer than usual weather conditions. There were solid gains in most categories, although with a 26,000 decline in retail jobs on the month” [Economic Calendar].

Rail: “Week 9 of 2017 shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) marginally improved according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data” [Econintersect]. “This week was again relatively soft.”

Supply Chain: “German retailer Takko Holding GmbH and its investors are facing tough questions over a report that it used a garment factory in Myanmar that employed underage workers” [Wall Street Journal]. “The fallout from the report is hitting Apax Partners, one of Europe’s largest private-equity firms and Takko’s owner, highlighting the difficulty that institutional investors have in enforcing ethical business practices across far-flung supply chains.”

Labor Power: “US west coast labour leaders are still considering whether to support an extension to the current contract covering longshore workers after another round of talks with employers” [Lloyd’s List].

The Fed: “Steady U.S. Job Growth Sets Stage for Fed to Raise Interest Rates” [New York Times]. “”They’re ready to go,” said Diane Swonk, founder and chief executive of DS Economics, referring to the central bank’s expected vote next week to raise rates from their historically low levels…. Although the economic anxiety that helped put President Trump into the White House remains, the official jobless rate is near what the central bank considers full employment — a threshold where, in theory at least, everyone who wants a job at the going rate can find one.” Economic anxiety… As if a crap job after you lost your house after losing your good job was a psychological condition…

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 67 Greed (previous close: 61, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 74 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 10 at 11:48am. Snooze-fest…

Water

“Just before the Oroville Dam became daily front page news, during what turned out to be a brief lull in this winter’s storms, one of my neighbors asked if I thought the drought was over. ‘Nope, just an interlude,’ I said. Then, within the week, more rain came – rain and snow, depending on where you reside in this great state. But as far as I can tell, we still live in a continuing drought. These storms are just a brief interruption” [Capital and Main]. “After so much rain, and massive, record-setting snow, why do I say that? According to climate experts, California has so depleted its water supply that it would require several years of regular, above-normal precipitation to take the state out of its long-term drought condition. Southern California in particular is desert and near desert, surviving primarily on imported water.”

Class Warfare

“Historically, the liberal-left has noticed that capitalism’s system of property and contracts often facilitates outcomes that we would prefer to avoid. The left, definitionally, understands this as a problem with the system itself, and advocates subordinating property and contract to democratic sovereignty. If, that is, the violence of contracts and property rights becomes unacceptable to society, leftists reserve the right to nullify them through democratic referendum.” [Carl Beijer]. “Liberals, in contrast, reject democratic sovereignty, and insist that capitalism’s system of violent threats must ultimately be honored. Liberals believe that we can mitigate or nullify capitalism’s adverse outcomes while still playing by capitalism’s rules. This is the logic of conscientious consumption, employment selectivity, boycotts, and blacklists; in all of these cases, activists are still respecting contract law and property rights, and in fact what they hope to do is leverage the violence of those institutions towards positive outcomes.”

Angus Deaton: “What is not OK is for rent-seekers to get rich. All that talent is devoted to stealing things, instead of making things….I, who do not believe in socialized health-care, would advocate a single-payment system… because it will get this monster that we’ve created out of the economy and allow the rest of capitalism to flourish without the awful things that healthcare is doing to us…. The key is to somehow find a way of tackling rent-seeking, crony capitalism, and corruption legal and illegal and build fairer, more equal society without compromising innovation or entrepreneurship” [MarketWatch].

News of the Wired

“In this paper, we present the first wide-scale study of MAC address randomization in the wild, including a detailed breakdown of different randomization techniques by operating system, manufacturer, and model of device. We then identify multiple flaws in these implementations which can be exploited to defeat randomization as performed by existing devices” [Arxiv.org]. Damn…

“Children prefer to read books on paper rather than screens” [The Conversation]. “In a study of children in Year 4 and 6, those who had regular access to devices with eReading capability (such as Kindles, iPads and mobile phones) did not tend to use their devices for reading – and this was the case even when they were daily book readers. Research also found that the more devices a child had access to, the less they read in general. It suggests that providing children with eReading devices can actually inhibit their reading, and that paper books are often still preferred by young people.”

“Why hot chillies might be good for us” [BBC] (original study). “In a recent study done by researchers from the University of Vermont they looked at data from more than 16,000 Americans who had filled in food questionnaires over an average of 18.9 years. During that time nearly 5,000 of them had died. What they found was that those who ate a lot of red hot chillies were 13% less likely to die during that period than those who did not.” This totally reinforces my priors, but I don’t have the chops to assess the study. Readers?

* * *

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

Camellia japonica… Can’t wait! Though of Memorial Day, when we plant in Maine, is more than two months away. Sigh.

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

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

132 comments

  1. Altandmain

    Regarding the Deep State, has anyone seen Mike Lofgren’s work?

    http://billmoyers.com/2014/02/21/anatomy-of-the-deep-state/

    It seems to be by far the most relevant and arguably the best article about it.

    Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an “establishment.” All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched. Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State’s protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude.

    Washington is the most important node of the Deep State that has taken over America, but it is not the only one. Invisible threads of money and ambition connect the town to other nodes. One is Wall Street, which supplies the cash that keeps the political machine quiescent and operating as a diversionary marionette theater. Should the politicians forget their lines and threaten the status quo, Wall Street floods the town with cash and lawyers to help the hired hands remember their own best interests. The executives of the financial giants even have de facto criminal immunity.

    It’s an article I would classify as Important and is well worth a read. Lofgren was a Congressional Staffer for John Kaisch.

    For sure there does seem to be an Establishment Status Quo vs Trump disagreement going on here. Perhaps on free trade and immigration are the big ones.

    The problem is that neither is really on the people’s side.

    Reply
    1. Outis Philalithopoulos

      The Lofgren article has been mentioned by multiple commenters in the past, particularly in the context of Lambert’s Deep State post.

      Reply
      1. Altandmain

        It’d be very interesting to see how big the fight between Trump and the Deep State is.

        Is this is a really big fight or mostly for show? It seems like most people in the Establishment, including most Republicans wanted Clinton to win the last election for sure. Even more for sure, they did not like Bernie Sanders.

        Yeah we really need Wikileaks to release the dirty mail here.

        Lofgren is apparently famous for this:
        http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/3079:goodbye-to-all-that-reflections-of-a-gop-operative-who-left-the-cult

        There are a few people who are “insiders” who turned on the system. Paul Craig Roberts may be the best known of them.

        Bruce Bartlett may be another example. Interestingly, both are Reagan Administration people.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > “the Deep State”

          Watch that definite article. I notice that you, and Lofgren, use it a lot.

          The posts Outis mentions: Here and here. Lofgren’s book is from 2016; I look at Peter Dale Scott’s work because he originated the term; of course, “deep state” is virulently memetic, and Lofgren may not mean the same thing by the term that Scott does. I’d have to do some reading.

          Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Like I said, “virulently mimetic.”

        “2.0” is a very nice touch (though I’d certainly like to know the revisions convention for “deep states” better. How do we know this is 2.0, and not 3.0? Is there a 1.1? What’s the release cycle? And so forth).

        Hopefully, Lofgren isn’t as sloppy and incoherent as Scott.

        Reply
      2. Vatch

        There is a lot of good information and analysis in this article. Examples:

        “You can get into all kinds of definitional disputes, which I don’t really care to do, about which agency is part of the Deep State and shouldn’t you include this or exclude that. But that’s a definitional thing that is tangential to the main argument: That money has so dominated the operation, it takes so much money to run all this. Plus we have this horrible campaign finance system in this country, that means you cannot be a candidate for an important office of either major party unless you have big money behind you. And how do you get big money behind you? By making tacit deals.”
        . . .
        “Trump’s not Sir Galahad against the evil Deep State. Of course, they completely ignore the fact that, one, he’s a product of it – that whole New York high finance world is one adjunct of the Deep State. Second, Trump showed it to us with his cabinet picks for the economy. And third, he is advocating a 10 percent increase in military spending. How could this guy be opposed to the Deep State?”

        This is very promising:

        “He’s mobilizing opposition by various groups in this country, people who have not been politically active. My daughter went to a political rally on the Mall in Washington — the first political thing she’s really done, other than vote. And she says that her friends, using social media, what was the norm — the norm was snapping a selfie or a picture of what you ate at some hip restaurant in Georgetown and sharing that on Facebook. Now they are sharing articles about politics. She told me that unbidden. And I get that impression from a number of people, that there’s a lot of people stirring and getting worked up. Now I’m not going to predict what will happen. Activity isn’t the same as result. So we’ll have to see.”

        I need to nit pick a little:

        I would say that Trump’s cabinet has so many billionaires it makes George W. Bush’s cabinet look like a Bolshevik workers council.

        Well, yes, there are two billionaires in the cabinet (three if President Trump is included): Wilbur Ross and Betsy DeVos, and there is some disagreement about who in the DeVos family actually owns the billions. Is Linda McMahon of the Small Business Administration a billionaire, too? I guess Trump’s cabinet has more billionaires than Bush’s had, but it’s an exaggeration to say “so many”. There are many fabulously wealthy people in Trump’s cabinet, and the hecto-millionaires Steven Mnuchin and Rex Tillerson each have well more than $300 million (Mnuchin may have more than $600 million). Some other cabinet members have more than $10 million each (Ben Carson, Elaine Chao, possibly Tom Price). But let’s not exaggerate the number of billionaires in the cabinet. Many billionaires influence the government through proxies. For example, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is owned by the billionaire Koch brothers and billionaire Harold Hamm.

        Reply
        1. lambert strether

          Gramsci says (paraphrasing) that the state and civil society are distinct only as objects of study; when you think of Janine Wedel’s flexians, and how they move between one and the other, you can see the force of that perspective.

          That’s why I find the term so fantastically irritating; it treats the state as a monolithic entity when clearly it’s neither. That’s disempowering.

          Reply
          1. Vatch

            Like the river of Heraclitus, into which one can only step once, the state is ever changing. Or like a human body, in which a huge number of atoms are always being replaced by different atoms via eating, respiration, drinking, and excretion, and which never have exactly the same configuration.

            Reply
          2. PhilM

            If Gramsci is right, and that is the case, how does he explain the American Revolution? Or any Revolution?

            Unless he means it as a kind of Schroedinger’s Cat: you can only tell which it is when you open the box. But then Heisenberg kicks in, and you can’t tell the position and velocity of the cat simultaneously.

            The state is perpetually divided in any case; but it was blessedly all the more so in the United States, where administrative power was deliberately fragmented. Tocqueville remarked that if ever the national government obtained administrative centralization in accordance with its political centralization, the US would be a tyranny rivaled only by the Oriental Despotisms. Right again, Mr TSA Agent?

            Reply
          3. cocomaan

            Interesting thing to me is that now Spicer has turned “Deep State” into “People that Still Are Working On Behalf of Obama” as of today’s press conference.

            Reply
            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Yep. Remember when “fake news” was a liberal meme, and conservatives effortlessly captured it?

              A sign of a content-free concept, so far as I’m concerned. Try “ruling class,” and see if you can imagine Spicer co-opting it…

              Reply
        2. Yves Smith

          The idea that Trump is part of the Deep State or Wall Street is ludicrous. It discredits the entire piece.

          Trump has never, never, never been important to or well connected with Wall Street. No real estate developer is. They do one off projects, even if they do them with some regularity, and just aren’t that important to big Wall Street firms. Similarly, his buddies like Carl Icahn are outsiders, at best the survivors of the Mike Milken circle that was a threat to Wall Street and was always outsiders.

          Shorter: having gotten rich by using borrowed money does NOT make you part of Wall Street. Help me.

          Reply
          1. Vatch

            Perhaps I chose poor examples from the article. Sorry. You are correct that Wall Street and Trump’s real estate dealings are separate processes that simply happen to occur primarily in New York. I’ll quote a little more from Lofgren’s interview/article, which may clarify his position somewhat (or maybe he’s just wrong):

            Insight: The Deep State is not just the military intelligence community, but also consists of transnational corporations, big business and Big Oil, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and think tanks. Groups and institutions in this structure form various coalitions that can compete, but tend to seek agreement on certain fundamental policies that benefit their mutual positions of power.

            Trump’s businesses aren’t as big as Exxon/Mobil, Walmart, Koch Industries, or Amazon.com, but I think it’s fair to say that he’s part of the world of big business. Prior to becoming President, as a billionaire, he was at the periphery of the Deep State, even though he wasn’t a central member of it.

            Even though there appears to be this conflict between Trump and the Deep State — what you’re saying is that Trump is not really outside of the Deep State but he represents a certain element of it, or certain faction?

            “He’s kind of a mutated gene of the Deep State.”

            So you’ve got this mutated gene of the Deep State which is now saying, ‘we need to change the way we do things’. And actually the rest of the Deep State is really upset about it, and saying ‘but why are you giving the game away’? You’re saying that the conflict is not really about what so much of the media says it’s about.

            “These are people who in their own minds see themselves as patriotic custodians of the national interest. And they see Trump as this sort of golem, shambling through the marketplace, knocking over the stall.”

            Reply
            1. Carla

              “Trump’s businesses aren’t as big as Exxon/Mobil, Walmart, Koch Industries, or Amazon.com, but I think it’s fair to say that he’s part of the world of big business.”

              Being socially close to is not at all being “part of”–

              Reply
        1. Carla

          I read it (she hesitates to say). It seemed pretty credible to me. Depressing as hell, of course, but what isn’t?

          His inclusion of Wall Street and Silicon Valley in the Deep State seems entirely valid to this American.

          Would be interested in other opinions on it from the commentariat. And I wonder what Anne Case and Angus Deaton, for instance, would think of it ;-) Also would like to know what Kucinich might think…

          Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Establishment Status Quo vs Trump

      I think that’s overly binary. So far as I can tell, there are at least five factions in the two parties (and a serious analysis of of factions would include their property interests). But if we limit the discussion to the Beltway and use the health care battle as the context, we see:

      1) Freedom Caucus Republicans

      2) Establishment Republicans (McConnell, Ryan)

      3) Trump Republicans (Trump’s posse, basically)

      4) Establishment Democrats (Clintonites)

      5) Left Democrats (Sanders)

      The first four are all neoliberals; the fifth is not, or at least tending not. The dominant factions in the intelligence community, together with the Establishment Democrats and their assets/stenographers in the press were or are running a soft coup against Trump.

      That’s off the top of my head. Could be more players! Certainly at the state and local levels there are; see the link to King in the daily news.

      Reply
      1. Altandmain

        The Freedom Cause could probably be split:

        – Religious Right
        – Conservative libertarians (which share a lot with the Establishment on economic policy, but not war)
        – Maybe Tea Party

        However all of these are largely co-opted.

        You could make a case that much of 5 is at times co-opted too.

        Reply
    3. steelhead23

      I suspect that the inquisitiveness of the Congressional intelligence committees may be reduced by their drug-like euphoria of being insiders, privileged to be told the nation’s deepest darkest secrets, or so they think. Hence, if a CIA spokesperson says “we have the coding fingerprints of known Russian hackers all over DNC computers,” they believe, unquestioningly. Of course, if such info suggests a nefarious reason their darling lost the election, they want to believe. But, with the release of vault 7 we now know that the CIA had the tools to make it look like the Russians hacked a computer. Hopefully the committees will be a tad less trusting.

      Reply
      1. JerseyJeffersonian

        steelhead23,

        That’s a lovely thought, but one that I just cannot bring myself to share. These people, at least in modern days, are all such assiduous toadies to power centers, that I think that their credulousness will be unmodified, no matter the facts that one might adduce that should work a change in their mindset.

        Plus, they, like Chuckie Schumer, are all shit-scared of crossing the intelligence agencies, so even should some question percolate to the surface, it will be quickly, and forcefully, pushed down again. Their oath to defend the Constitution, despite their being in a position of superior knowledge concerning potential dangers to same is rationalized as just pretty words not to be taken at all seriously. My contempt for people such as Jane Harman knows no bounds.

        Reply
      2. Yves Smith

        It’s even worse than that. As various tech experts explained in the context of the falsely attributed to North Korea and then the DNC leak, the idea that certain tools are the signature of particular national hackers is bogus. Hackers use lots of tools and the fact that one might actually happen to have originated from a particular country is utterly irrelevant in terms of attribution to a used. Hackers use tools from all sorts of place, and the tools and methods breathless claimed to be Russian were without exception in wide use.

        Reply
    4. fresno dan

      Altandmain
      March 10, 2017 at 2:04 pm

      Yes, and I think Lofgren’s insights are good. Lofgren in my view has a realistic appreciation of how groups and interests interact and form coalitions. The most important thing I take away, and maybe I am seeing something that is not there, is that the “deep state” reflects society as much as it steers society. Manifest destiny occurred long before any one thought to think about nation or institutional convictions as being originated by a “deep state”. At one point the “British” believed very much in empire – now, not so much. (was the British navy a “deep state”?)

      My own view is that the “deep state” (or establishment or blob or MIC/MICC) is very much like the 13th century European church. It had a well documented and taught philosophy (Christianity vs “American democracy”), connections to government through an educated and connected elite, trans national (church was in every European nation vs NATO and who knows how many other treaties) a well trained and indoctrinated bureaucracy (priests, friars, nuns, etc. vs bureaucrats, soldiers and other minions of the state), was under-girded by a societal belief system (Christianity vs We’re #1!, American exceptionalism), and a mission (save souls, convert pagans to Christianity vs maintain empire and covert non empire heathens to empire subjects/consumers and capitalists….). Just as one had to be a Christian and believe in Christianity to enter this institution and believe profoundly in its purpose and mission to ADVANCE, just so with the modern deep state. Greed/self interest alone (although greed certainly helps it in part) does not explain its deepest motivations.

      The deep state exists because most Americans have wanted or tolerated its existence. But I think the costs of this military empire and associated obligations that we maintain are becoming a much heavier burden. The fact that Trump is not coming close to what he promised I think obscures how radical and unprecedented what Trump said in his campaign was – for challenging the notion of American exceptionalism, – – that we pay any price and bear any burden….
      The deep state very much understands that speaking of American carnage is inimical to the interests of the deep state.

      Reply
    5. Ed

      I don’t think Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, or Syria are considered failures by the people and companies that created their demise. They wanted to destroy those countries and that is what has happened.

      People that keep referring to them as failures are missing the point entirely. When you see a presentation from 2012 predicting an Islamist Sunni state in Syria are you looking at a prediction or a policy outcome? When you read a paper like “securing the realm” do you think everything that has happened since then is a coincidence? When Wesley Clark says he was told back in 2001 who they wanted to attack…you think these were suggestions?

      Reply
    1. nippers dad

      I’m seeing a lot of very familiar names on there. Seems like they could have piped up a few months ago when their darling was saying “never, ever” to such proposals. This looks like the Pelosi formula for regaining her majorities; promise everything and then take it off the table later.

      I will give them the attaboy when they show such spunk when it counts…which at the rate they are losing elections may well be never. Not surprising they have Kamala Harris out lecturing the left, but they are going to have to prove their bonafides before anyone will believe them; something they have thus far been loath to do.

      Reply
    2. Carla

      OMG — thank you for posting. My Congress Critter Marcia Fudge finally signed on — Yesterday! We’ve been working on her for FOURTEEN (count ’em) YEARS. I have personally pestered her staff people in Cleveland and in D.C. time after time, written letters, logged phone calls, gone to town halls, demonstrated, etc.

      Of course, she would never sign on as long as Obama was in office. But she just held a town hall in Cleveland a couple of weeks ago (I couldn’t attend that one) and I’ll bet she got a real ear-full from my good buddies in the Cleveland Single Payer Action Network.

      Fourteen years, people, to get ONE Congress Critter to sign on to a life-saving piece of legislation.

      Reply
      1. Vatch

        I congratulate you and your fellow district members for your persistence. Getting an elected official to act in a positive way can be very frustrating. Periodically, people comment here about the pointlessness of trying to convince a Representative or Senator to do something, since the politicians usually only do what their major donors request. But “usually” isn’t quite the same as “always”.

        Next step: convincing a majority of the Congress. We can be certain there will be more frustration before this is achieved, but it can be achieved. Maybe not until the 116th Congress, though . . . .

        Reply
      2. Carla

        Sorry, I made an error. We’ve only been working on Marcia Fudge for 9 years. Her predecessor, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, died very suddenly in August 2008. A committee of local Democrat Party leaders selected Marcia Fudge as her replacement on the November ballot, assuring her election in a heavily Democratic, black-majority district. She won with 85% of the vote.

        Stephanie Tubbs Jones was a stronger personality and a more naturally gifted politician than Marcia Fudge, but she never signed on to HR-676 either. Way too leftist for her.

        Anyway, just wanted to set the record straight.

        Reply
          1. marym

            Lewis, Clyburn, and Cummings are original sponsors. Fudge also listed in 113th Congress, not 114th.

            Maybe some day they’ll all actually advocate for this?

            Reply
          2. lyman alpha blob

            I’m going with revolving heroes.

            You know how this works – sign up as a supporter when in the minority and it has no chance of passing so you can say during your re-election campaign that you tried but Republicans.

            One thing the HRC campaign and its aftermath have shown is that one cannot be too cynical concerning the Democrat party.

            Reply
    3. Oregoncharles

      Blumenauer (OR) but not DeFazio (OR) – my rep. I have a question. When confronted about HR 676 at his “community forum” the other day, DeFazio claimed it was poorly written and that’s why he didn’t support it. Then talked about some marginal improvements he does support.

      My question: does anyone know if he has a case? I certainly couldn’t judge that for myself. It’s been around for a long time; there must be some analyses in the single payer community. It does have an impressive list of co-sponsors, so his comment looks a lot like a lame excuse.

      Reply
  2. UserFriendly

    Speaking of Jonathan Chait, he just wrote one hell of a steaming pile…. That I won’t link to cause family blog him.

    Obama’s Economy Didn’t Elect Trump. But It Might Reelect Him.

    The left-wing writer Matt Stoller has made the same point repeatedly. “Obama can’t place the blame for Clinton’s poor performance purely on her campaign. On the contrary, the past eight years of policy-making have damaged Democrats at all levels,” he wrote in January. Trump is “the price we’ll be paying for more than 25 years of failed Democratic policy-making,” he writes this month.

    The argument boils down Clinton’s election to a simple causal chain. Obama’s policies led to slow economic growth, which led to voter anger or disillusionment with Obama’s presidency, which voters transferred by proxy onto his successor candidate, Hillary Clinton. This line of reasoning has come to appear so self-evidently true that many analysts on the right and the left have discussed the election as though Trump defeated Obama, with Clinton’s role almost incidental. Many of them assert that those of us who don’t share this belief are in a bubble of elitist denial, failing to grasp the popular discontent with Obama’s status quo.

    The supposition that Clinton lost because of her association with Obama, rather than despite it, ignores a great deal of publicly available data about both figures. At election time, Obama was quite popular, and Clinton quite unpopular. While Clinton was less unpopular than her opponent through most of the campaign, one recent analysis shows that the floor dropped beneath her support after the Comey letter came out:

    blah blah and he won in 2012 blah blah.
    So I tore him out on twitter.

    https://twitter.com/UserFrIENDlyyy/status/840280360445497344

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > ” Obama’s policies led to slow economic growth,”

      is about the worst translation of “didn’t deal with the foreclosure crisis, didn’t throw any banksters in jail, implemented a miserably inaedquate stimulus package, and produced a ‘recovery’ where all the jobs created were crapified” I’ve ever heard.

      Reply
      1. Darius

        Related to comments in the Corey Robin piece, there’s no cure for racism but full employment would take away much of its power.

        Reply
      2. Art Eclectic

        Exactly. That trajectory downward predated Obama considerably, although Obama sure as heck didn’t do the country or his party any favors but protecting the vast sewer of rentiers and other fraudsters that brought the country to its knee

        Reply
        1. Marina Bart

          Depends on how you define “party.” Obama and his minions screwed over the citizens who vote for the party, but for the party insiders, he delivered the results needed to keep their personal enrichment and status enhancement moving in the desired direction.

          The vast sewer of rentiers and fraudsters are his real base, in every sense of the word.

          Reply
    2. fresno dan

      UserFriendly
      March 10, 2017 at 2:46 pm

      You might as well argue with a fan of a particular quarterback that the quarterback the fan adores is not really any good by any objective measure. You cannot win. It doesn’t matter how many times you bring up that Obama extended and made the Patriot Act worse, you cannot win that point because “Obama is liberal! Obama is a constitutional scholar!!! EVERYBODY knows that!”

      http://www.cnbc.com/2015/12/22/the-controversial-surveillance-act-obama-just-signed.html

      Reply
  3. allan

    Reply to UserFriendly @2:46:

    Gotta love the use of “left-wing” as an epithet.
    Give me The New Republic boy of 7, and I will give you the New York man.

    Reply
  4. PhilM

    “If, that is, the violence of contracts and property rights becomes unacceptable to society, leftists reserve the right to nullify them through democratic referendum.” [Carl Beijer].

    Let me know when the people who make the rules decide that’s a good idea, so that the people who let them make the rules can fire them.

    By the way, the meme of labeling everything you don’t like today , including property rights and contracts, as being “violence,” does violence to the language, and it may hurt us all some day, when somebody says he’s the victim of “brutal violence” and the injury attorney responds, “Were you beaten nearly to death, or do you object to the terms the lease agreement on your neighbor’s Porsche?”

    Reply
    1. Ranger Rick

      It’s political science shorthand for “the coercion of government.” All decrees by the government are backed by the threat of the use of force if one does not comply. Property rights and contract law are all government-backed, and thus, violence-backed.

      Viewing all interactions with the government in terms of violence implied and omitted puts the desire of the left to use the government to redistribute wealth in a different light, which is why it is not surprising that Beijer rephrases “violence” as “democratic referendum.”

      Reply
      1. Uahsenaa

        Not to mention there are plenty of times when actual violence has been used by the state so as to enforce changes in the economic status quo.

        Take the Whiskey Rebellion, for instance. Washington and Hamilton raised a very real army to compel rural farmers to abide by a tax regime that clearly favored large producers and made it unprofitable for farmers to use the output from their stills as an ersatz currency to settle debts.

        When people are found to be in violation of their rental agreements, they are forcibly evicted from their homes. It’s also becoming increasingly common to put people in jail for failure to pay certain types of debt. How is this not violence?

        Reply
        1. tony

          My physical safety is guaranteed by violence. I will use violence and call upon the state to use violence to protect me. Property rights are violence, voting rights are violence, kids not being raped on the streets is violence. If we are to define violence like this, then there is nothing wrong with violence. Then I am violent and proud of it.

          Reply
      2. fosforos

        Marx/Engels immediate priorities for the working class when it takes power:
        “1. Establish democracy
        2. Make despotic inroads on the rights of property.”

        Reply
        1. clinical wasteman

          The last thing I want to do right now is argue about fine points of Marx, let alone Engels, but item 2 in their supposed two-point programme here squeals under the dead weight of premises held to be self-evident.
          Namely:
          1. that such a thing as ‘the rights of property’ automatically exists and is worth policing at any human cost. (Yes I know this body of ‘rights’ exists in practice, but that’s by virtue of the fact that for the time being those rights are violently policed.)
          2. that any ‘inroads’ carved into those rights must automatically be ‘despotic’. The very word ‘inroads’ suggests otherwise: surely a proper despot could abolish all rights but his/her own with a casual grimace. So does the … original … idea that ‘democracy’ is every despot’s favourite enabler. (The Cold War style guide for slurs on the left at least added the missing stage: ‘1. establish pseudo-democracy (because the poor demos is too ignorant to know the difference); 2. abolish it; 3. commence cutting wholesale swathes — not meek little ‘inroads’ — into the Divine Right of Proprietors’.)
          Protection of property rights by any bloody means required is coherent enough as a political theory, but I wish its cheerleaders would stop calling it ‘libertarian’, given that it leaves close to zero liberty for anyone but about a half-dozen macro-property owners. And pretending that it doesn’t depend on an overwhelming concentration of violence (as in … despotism?) is just silly.
          Admittedly I wasn’t there at the time, but I seem to recall reading somewhere that “inroads into Absolute Sanctity of property rights = bloodthirsty despotism” was some kind of viral meme in South Carolina, Virginia and thereabouts c.1860; also in Saint-Domingue/Haiti, c.1791.

          Reply
      3. jrs

        not it doesn’t really put anything in a different light, it just says violence (government) should be used for different ends than violence (government backed property arrangements) are currently used for. Considering the results of the current arrangement of violence it’s hard to argue otherwise.

        Reply
          1. funemployed

            sorta. Foucault’s definition of power is a slippery one that takes some work to wrap one’s head around. Very different from the Weberish framework of this discussion thread. (always love a good Foucault reference though, and his meanings are always up for debate)

            Reply
  5. Oregoncharles

    ““The British-American coup that ended Australian independence” [Guardian (1975)].’

    Thanks for resurrecting that. I remember it, but rather vaguely. You need details and a link to really make the point.

    This stuff has been going on for a long time. The odd thing is that Australians didn’t resent the coup more. There really should have been an uprising, or at least throwing out the regent.

    Reply
    1. clinical wasteman

      Best concise (single chapter) account I know of is in John Pilger’s ‘A Secret Country’, US edition Knopf 1991. More than a few Australians would have been up for an uprising, by all accounts, but the rest of Pilger’s book tells the depressing story of why even more of them would never, ever contemplate it. (Contrast the organized social mayhem all over NZ in 1981 over the much more abstract issue of relations with Apartheid South Africa. I’ll always be proud of my parents for putting on their motorcycle crash helmets and becoming the world’s least expert rioters for a couple of weeks.) Also, Whitlam himself didn’t help by prevaricating at just the wrong moment. And thanks to the contortions of the anglo-feudal system, throwing out the regent would actually be more difficult than throwing out the monarchy itself. If anyone does know of an instance of a British ‘Commonwealth’ Governor-General being forced out by popular pressure, though, I’d be fascinated and mildly heartened to hear of it.

      Reply
  6. Canuck

    First post here, hope this is following all the rules!

    Reporting in from Canada, where I’ve been watching the press response to the Foreign-Minister’s-Grandfather-Was-A-Nazi-Collaborator story from last week closely. Every mainstream article I’ve seen about it (edit below: until today) has focused on the “Russian Smear Campaign against the Minister” rather than the substance of the story, which Freeland’s office confirmed on Tuesday, after denying it on Monday.

    Last night I emailed one of the writers of these articles in a major paper, at their public email address, to ask what the source for the assertion that there was a russian smear campaign against Freeland was. I was genuinely asking, because the idea that pro-Russian outlets would publish something juicy about an anti-Russian foreign minister is not far-fetched, but I simply hadn’t seen anything to convince me of this. I got this in reply:


    If you really have to ask a question like that, there is absolutely nothing I can do to help you. Nothing.

    Don’t email me again.

    It’s really quite shocking to see this process in action in my home country. The original story itself isn’t even that bad, at worst it puts some Freeland’s views on Russia in a bit of historical context.

    Edit: I found one editorial that focuses on the substance from today.

    Reply
      1. wilroncanada

        Interesting you mention Nuland. Freedland was close to Nuland when she was working as a “journalist” covering the coup in Ukraine. She saw the neo-nazis as freedom fighters. BTW, the story was in a Canadian alternative a couple of years ago when she was first running for office, and the Canadian msm ignored it.

        Reply
    1. PhilM

      Interesting. What was your takeaway on what the journalist meant? I’d tell you but then I’d have to kill you, kind thing? Or, we never disclose sources we haven’t already disclosed?

      Reply
      1. Canuck

        I think he means roughly: if I’m too stupid to not see that this is Russian propaganda, then I’m hopeless.

        The text of the question I sent him was this:


        Can you point me towards any evidence of a Russian-sponsored smear campaign against Freeland? I’ve seen this asserted everywhere and haven’t seen a lick of evidence backing it up.

        I was skeptical but the story checked out, given it was her brother-in-law who had done the research. Freeland’s statements to the Globe yesterday give confirmation to the substance of the story as well.

        Some examples of the “smear campaign” being stated without support:
        Globe: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/freeland-warns-canadians-to-beware-of-russian-disinformation/article34227707/
        Globe: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/freeland-knew-her-grandfather-was-editor-of-nazi-newspaper/article34236881/
        MacLeans: http://www.macleans.ca/news/world/russias-coming-attack-on-canada/

        Reply
  7. millicent

    re the red hot chili study. There is independent evidence that red chili acts to destroy cancer cells. So, the conclusion of the VT study is probably right. But, the study itself is flawed in the sense that chili eating might correlate with other life style characteristics that also or even only are influencing the beneficial outcome reported. The study does not allow the conclusion that the benefit is precisely from the chilis.

    Reply
    1. funemployed

      I’d love to believe this, but there are just too many factors in something like this to regress even a tiny percentage of them, and that’s not even considering that the human body-environment relationship is such a complex system that interaction effects are present absolutely everywhere (or the fact you have to replicate studies lots of times in different environments for the oversimplified stats to even work as they’re supposed to). If I had a dollar for every study like this that wound up on the trash heap after a year or 2, I’d be funemployed for reals.

      Reply
  8. JM

    Re: Angus Deaton

    It is beyond refreshing to hear such clarity in condemnations and pragmatism in change approach for a market that dominates so much of social and economic life in America and one in which the consensus of the economics field is heavily biased towards markets. Sometimes in life it really is this straightforward: liquidate the rent seekers and figure it out as you go along (although Medicare for All is not a complicated system).

    In any case, I do wonder if economics is up to the task. In particular, the models of the state (state success and state failure/market success and market failure) leave so much to be desired in terms of knowledge and learning and the management of change. Either the state is filled with benevolent social planners (Musgrave) or selfish, pathological rent seeking bureaucrats (Buchanan). So while I applaud Deaton’s endorsement of a single payer system, and in particular his justification, how do you transition from our current system to a single payer system when the state is as captured as the one we have in the United States? When the stakes (billions of $USD in rents) are this high? How do you get there? What other authority but the awesome power of the sovereign nation state can smash the rent seekers?

    Reply
    1. Mark P.

      ‘What other authority but the awesome power of the sovereign nation state can smash the rent seekers?’

      The awesome power of real-world systemic collapse when the system — more precisely, the people it depends upon — is all looted out. And we’re getting there.

      Back around 2008, I saw a scenarios-based forecast done by Stewart Brand and Peter Schwartz’s Global Business Network, and paid for by Big Pharma. It predicted that, essentially, if trends continued the American medical-industrial complex would collapse around 2020 because its costs/rents would become so unaffordable by that point that more people would be outside the system than in it.

      So for those with eyes to see, it was always clear that the ACA was a preemptive bailout for the medical-industrial complex. And at one point there was a possibility that it would extend the system’s life (as currently constituted) till, say, 2024-2026. That doesn’t look so likely now.

      Yet the healthcare/insurance system is just one among a number of unsustainable rent-seeking systems in the U.S. that are coupled together. Most obviously, doctors are graduating from medical school nowadays with average student debt loads closing on $200,000. This means if they repay that student debt at 7.5 percent interest over another 30 years, it’s going to be at a total cost closing in on a half-million. So doctors need the kind of incomes that the rent-seeking U.S. healthcare system pays them in order to pay off the rent-seeking universities.

      Except that doctors are increasingly unlikely to continue to make those incomes as [a.] the system becomes so unsustainably rapacious that most of us simply cannot pay for health insurance and [b.] AI systems like IBM’s Watson have 30 percent more successful diagnosis rates than human doctors so healthcare management will increasingly shift some of the work traditionally done by doctors over to nurse-practitioners working with AI expert systems.

      Quite a few of today’s doctors are going to find themselves struggling and failing to pay their student debt. What goes down then as a result of that? And so on and so on — cascade failures and continual crises across large segments of U.S. society and its economy. Lots of birds coming home to roost.

      Reply
    2. clinical wasteman

      It may be a power sleeping in a thousand damaged pieces right now, but the rent-seekers and their ‘sovereign’ lickspittles were pretty worried about the awesome power of the international proletariat from, say, 1871 till around the time Stalin laid their fears to rest by proclaiming ‘socialism in one country’.
      No intention of restarting the whole inter/national argument here, but even if it’s allowed that effective counterpower needs to draw on national/tribal or other such identity, a lot of the most serious ‘national’ assaults on rent-seeking have happened before the attacking party (or disenfranchised ‘nation’) controlled the state. Best example is probably the Sans-culotte base of the French ‘revolutionary terror’ of 1793-4, who really did strike terror into the rentiers but never fully controlled the state and were eventually wiped out from within that same state. But the whole history of (sometimes genuinely) ‘socialistic’ post-colonial ‘national revolutions’ and what happened once the revolutionaries were in power tells the same sort of story. See eg. Nkrumah’s Ghana and especially the MPLA in Angola. Amazing what a few decades of relentless white (both senses) terrorism will do to persuade “despotic enemies of property rights” to play the game after all.
      Please, everyone, feel free to add to the following list of sovereign nation-states currently somewhat disengaged from global rent-seeking. (Rhetorical hostility plus eager or desperate involvement doesn’t count.)
      1. Eritrea*
      2. That’s it. The Plurinational State of Bolivia doesn’t quite make it despite apparently sincere intentions and some impressive action, because the country would starve outside the commodities loop. Evo Morales seems to have been aware that you can’t eat silver or lithium. And no, the North Korean hereditary monarchy doesn’t even get a look in. How can you disengage from rent-seeking while hosting an Export Processing Zone? Never mind the internal looting by courtiers.
      *Inclusion in list does not automatically imply political approval.

      Reply
    1. jo6pac

      Pretty sad and I guess I’ll have to get a bigger desk to hide under and plastic/duck tape for the doors and windows. Sadly Amerikas neo-conns are stuck with their old cold war thoughts that they are up against the USSR. Russia and her weapons are very modern.

      Australia just grounded it’s f-35 because the plane can’t fly in lighting storms.

      Reply
  9. Oregoncharles

    ” Well, let’s be fair. If the Democrats are paid to lose, their approach has been a rip-roaring success!”

    Right to the heart of the matter, huh, Lambert?

    Reply
  10. TheBellTolling

    So my dad sent me the Krugman article and this was my response (I might have gotten vitriolic)…

    ____________________________________________________________________

    “If enacted, the bill would almost surely lead to a death spiral of soaring premiums and collapsing coverage. Which makes you wonder, what’s the point?”

    To kill poor/sick people. There I finished his article for him.

    “Republicans have been claiming that Obamacare is collapsing, which isn’t true. ”

    I mean it has problems, I’m sure the people experiencing double digit rate increases would argue that it’s collapsing on them.

    “But Trumpcare, if implemented, would collapse in a Mar-a-Lago minute.”

    They don’t even need to pass a law to kill the exchanges. Price(HHS) and Verma(CMS) can just alter the rules to help kill them off.

    “First, the G.O.P.’s policy-making and policy analysis capacity has been downgraded to the point of worthlessness.”

    True, but did you really need Krugman to tell you this? Clear policy thinking went out the window when they opposed a Heritage/Romney designed plan.
    ____________________________________________________________________

    All in all, I guess it’s right but he’s just dancing around the issue, which is that conservatism is inherently a reactionary mindset and they just want to kill/enslave the lower classes (see Reactionary Mind by Corey Robin). They just differ on the rate at which to kill people at this point.

    Krugman spends most of his article acting like this is a good faith effort to help people so he can knock Republicans for being dumb, the common past time of highly educated liberals. At points he seems to get close to the actual goal for the Republicans but then veres away to something else.

    Say what you want about Grayson, but he was dead on here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-usmvYOPfco

    Reply
  11. Paid Minion

    “….didn’t know Mexico’s Foreign Minister was in town….”

    LOL, yeah I can I imagine that scene……

    (US State Department, Washington DC, 8am……….)

    (Hispanic man tries to open door, finds them locked, taps on the locked glass entry door.)

    Minimum Wage Security Guard: “Sorry, we are closed until 9am”

    Mexico Foreign Minister: “Yes, but I am the Mexican Foreign Minister……..”

    MWSG: “What? Can’t you read the goddam sign?”

    MFM: “I am the Mexican Foreign Minister. You know, the representative of the country on your southern border. Since I can’t get anyone to return my calls, I figured I’d just swing by while I’m in town, just to introduce myself and say hello.”

    MWSG: “Yeah, well I don’t know nothing about that….. Mexico? You didn’t happen to bring a breakfast burrito with you, did you? I missed my last break, and I’m starving”

    MFM: “The “breakfast burrito” is an US fast food creation. Because frying real eggs takes too much time.”

    MWSG: “No kidding? Anyhoo, there ain’t no one here yet. I’ll tell you what. Have the limo driver take you down the street to Chick-fil-a, and get one of their breakfast biscuits for me. Get one for yourself while you are at it…….they are awesome. And Made in USA, by illegal immigrant labor. A terrific partnership, you might say. While you are gone, I’ll make a few calls, and see if anyone is here……”

    MFM: Are you effing kidding me?

    MWSG: Hey Dude, don’t get your panties twisted. We’re running this place like a business now………”

    Reply
  12. Paid Minion

    “skipping insurance”

    So, if you are on the Republican plan, get a job with insurance, then get laid off, not only do you lose your income, you also get to pay a penalty for “skipping insurance”

    I’m sure my two friends who just got their layoff notice will appreciate that good little bit of news.

    “The Republican Party: Relentlessly screwing the Wretched Refuse since 1980.”

    Reply
  13. LT

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/republicans-insurance_us_58c2e18ce4b0d1078ca67fd9?g9mi1sh0n3ik9&/
    “Republicans Now Seem To Reject the Whole Concept of Insurance”

    If only, the Republicans could make the grand leap from rejecting insurance to embracing universal healthcare (not insurance) coverage. If a healthy person is going to be paying out pocket for the sick, let it be toward the actual nuts and bolts of their care and not propping up another middle-man rent seeker.
    As laughable as it sounds, it will be the Republicans that most likely lead any charge to single-payer. Yes, that’s how much I’ve written off the Democratic Party. And I’m not even a Republican.

    Reply
    1. Art Eclectic

      It’s a lovely dream but there is literally no chance the hardliners and the Freedom Caucus will go along with any social benefits program that provides support to the “undeserving”.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Here’s a handy map of the districts represented by Freedom Caucus members. I wish I knew more about them, and in particular Obama/Trump flips (guessing no) and Medicaid/opioid numbers (guessing lower).

        Speculating freely, I’d call the Freedom Caucus people successful compradors in districts of “colonized America” not so hard hit as the rest. Prove me wrong, please!

        Reply
  14. allan

    Preet Bharara, having served as a human shield for Wall Street for almost 8 years,
    is unceremoniously dumped by Trump.

    U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has asked the remaining 46 chief federal prosecutors appointed by President Barack Obama who have not already resigned to do so “in order to ensure a uniform transition,” the Justice Department said on Friday.

    “Until the new U.S. attorneys are confirmed, the dedicated career prosecutors in our U.S. attorney’s offices will continue the great work of the department in investigating, prosecuting, and deterring the most violent [but not the wealthiest] offenders,” it said in a statement.

    It is routine for a new president to appoint his own U.S. attorneys, who are political appointees.

    The Justice Department statement cast doubt over the future of Preet Bharara, the Obama appointee who currently serves as the Manhattan-based U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, whose office handles some of the most critical business and criminal cases passing through the federal judicial system.

    A law enforcement official [who will remain nameless but whose initials are P.B.] said Bharara expected to remain in his post. The official said Bharara had met with both President Donald Trump and his attorney general and been advised that they wanted him to stay on as Manhattan U.S. Attorney. …

    Like Trump supporters now experiencing buyer’s remorse,
    the Sheriff of Wall Street™ is learning the hard way.
    Maybe Chris Arnade should give him an exit interview.

    Reply
  15. jawbone

    Oh, those wordsmiths in the Republican House! American Health Care Act. ACHA!

    I’ve been looking at those initials, trying to see what kind of acronym it would be. Kinda hard to pronounce. ACA has symmetry, some flow to saying the letters. ACHA, imho, not so much. That H kinda catches in the saying of it as an acronym….

    ACHA…to be pronounced ACK-Ah. The fricative sorta sounds…like a cat trying to cough out a tough to move…hairball.

    Image fits, for me. My poor cat has a hard time with those hairballs, as will we with such a bill, if passed. The sound does get our attention when she’s hacking away.

    Any other suggestions on how to pronounce it?

    With a soft h, it kinda sounds like a sneeze. But it’s nothing to sneeze at, eh?

    Reply
    1. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

      It is said that you can’t polish a turd. If war is that particular turd, then the dictum is wrong in so many ways – censoring the blood, guts (including excrement), and gore involved is just one.

      Reply
  16. Rosario

    WRT Deaton, that is all fine and good, but doesn’t that rent seeking (or some variation of it) come part-and-parcel with Capitalism? I’m all for practical solutions, but we need to be honest about the fact that Capitalism needs exploitation to function. The less exploitation you have the less Capitalistic the system. I don’t think it is entirely useful for these economists to continue assuaging bourgeois audiences and their anxieties about critiquing the fundamental qualities of the system itself. Sure there are worse and better forms of Capitalism, but it is limiting the scope of theoretical ways forward when its practice is taken as an inevitability.

    Why not question our conceptions of ownership, property, commons? Where are those discussions? There actually are ways to transition to alternative economic structures without burning it all down. Worker-owner business models sustain a degree of independence for individual workers (i.e. sustaining this fetish of innovation/progress) while undermining (and ultimately overriding) employer-employee relationships. As he barely touched on, there are some aspects of economy that are too important to be left completely to the whims of individual human impulse (the market). I’m thinking environment, healthcare, education, etc. So these need to have deeper integration in the realm of democracy and accountability through the citizenry. Let’s say those things publicly. Getting rid of the most egregious forms of plunder in the current paradigm is a stopgap for a generation. It will reappear without the proper adjustment made in politics and society to make it impossible to return.

    Reply
  17. EGrise

    When I looked at the Chris Arnade tweet series, the most-liked response read:

    he voted for the candidate endorsed by the klan, and I’m supposed to feel for him because he “wasn’t political” when he voted.

    So much for empathy; not going to make any political headway with that attitude.

    Mrs. EGrise and I watched the film Cottonland recently. It concerns the fate of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, Canada after the enormous coal mining and steel production industries closed down, and the corresponding increase in despair and prescription drug addiction (Oxycontin prescriptions increased 270% in three years). One of the men interviewed said (quoting from memory):

    “I used to work, for the city, with lots of people under me, seniority out the yin-yang, I had a family, and a house, and a car, and we went places, to Disneyland and Barabados, all kinds of places. And now I’m a piece of shit.”

    My (largely apolitical) wife looked at me and said “And that’s why people voted for Trump.” And I couldn’t disagree with her.

    There must be a way to get past the self-righteous indignation of modern identity politics and have people see that there but for the grace of God go we all, and so therefore we are our bother’s keeper, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

    Reply
    1. kgw

      Look harder…

      Tang era Chan adept: When he woke in the morning would say, “Master!” To which he would reply, “Yes?” Then, “Do not deceive yourself or others!” Then, “OK!”

      Reply
    2. djrichard

      From the film you linked to, “Lots of reporters came around. They said it reminded them of an Indian Reservation: no work, no money …”

      Reply
  18. tgs

    I found this disturbing:

    A frightening new analysis for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists — by three eminent strategic arms experts at the Federation of American Scientists, Natural Resources Defense Council, and MIT — provides evidence that U.S. nuclear planners have “implemented revolutionary new technologies that will vastly increase the targeting capability of the US ballistic missile arsenal,” giving it for the first time in decades “the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike.”

    Dreams of ‘Winning’ Nuclear War on Russia (at consortiumnews)

    How US nuclear force modernization is undermining strategic stability: The burst-height compensating super-fuze Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

    Maybe I am becoming paranoid, but I think the current high level of tension in the world is unsustainable. There are conflicts, and potential conflicts everywhere the most dangerous of which involve the US, NATO, Russia and China (North Korea). There is so much potential for error. Consider from the Consortium article:

    as U.S. nuclear capabilities have quietly grown, Russia has shortened its time from warning to launch to just four minutes. “Today, top military command posts in the Moscow area can bypass the entire human chain of command and directly fire by remote control rockets in silos and on trucks as far away as Siberia in only 20 seconds,” reports Princeton University expert Bruce Blair. “This situation is a mistaken launch waiting to happen.”

    There are the US and Nato troops on Russia’s border. The problem in eastern Ukraine. The Thaad missile system we are moving to South Korea despite the warnings from China. Trump talks about blocking the Chinese from their islands in the south China sea. And of course this list could be extended.

    I seriously doubt that most Americans have any idea that this stuff is going on.

    Reply
  19. Marco

    Trump / Spicer latest (via nytimes)

    “If you’re looking to the C.B.O. for accuracy, you’re looking in the wrong place…[Spicer] arguing that the agency’s failure to accurately project enrollment in the Affordable Care Act’s online marketplaces had essentially killed its credibility.”

    Legitimate criticism? Remember those heady ACA days back in 2009 when Team D was jumping through hoops to please the Budget Scoring Gods on Olympus?

    Reply
  20. RabidGandhi

    I think the impeachment of Park Geun-hye in South Korea might be the least talked about impeachment we’ve ever had here at NC. I assume it’s because (1) there really is no evidence– or even suspicion– that this is one of the usual US-instigated regime change operations; and (2) from my own personal 30,000 feet, this looks a lot like a case of “one reptile devouring another” as Park was even turned on by those in her own [rancidly corrupt and inexorably linked to the dictatorship] right-wing Liberty Party.

    Still, her reign consisted mainly of pulling ROK even closer to the US and accepting the installation of THAAD missiles, throwing more kindling on the already smoldering Cold War 2.0, so the upcoming elections can only be a good thing.

    Reply
    1. fresno dan

      RabidGandhi
      March 10, 2017 at 5:54 pm

      I don’t know anything about it except your synopsis – but I can’t help but point out the similarities to our own repub bunch and president. forshadowing????

      Reply
    2. ewmayer

      Thanks for the link, RG – I’ve been catching regular news snips on the Korean channels while waiting for various Korean dramas I enjoy to start. Those are/were real protests, not effete virtue-signaling pussy-hat poseurism like we’ve got here in the US.

      Reply
      1. RabidGandhi

        Funny you should mention that. Reuters is reporting two are dead in the context of pro-Park demonstrations outside the courthouse.

        Although adding: using US protests as a barometer is setting the bar quite low.

        Reply
  21. KurtisMayfield

    “The progressive left should not apply ideological purity tests to Democratic senators who face tough re-election campaigns in 2018 in states President Donald Trump won handily last year, says Sen. Kamala Harris” [CNN]. “‘We need those numbers,’

    What exactly do you need those numbers for? So that you can be slightly-less corporatist and more war mongering? What exactly is the “progressive left” (BTW what is the difference between the progressive left and the left, virtue signals?) voting for? TINA?

    I think the left is done being Charlie Brown kicking at air. But keep offering up Republican-lite Ms.Harris!

    Reply
    1. voteforno6

      I would love to see her reaction after someone asked her if there was any correlation between her non-prosecution of Mnuchin and her campaign donations. I wonder if she would be as self-righteous as Hillary Clinton.

      Reply
      1. nippersdad

        Don’t you think that that may BE her reaction to a question that even she knows she will have to field relatively soon? The quote sounds more than a little defensive to me.

        Reply
    2. Marina Bart

      I have nothing to add to this except a reminder that Harris is the newly elected junior Senator from California. She is the best the Democratic Party will allow the people to have, in a state controlled by the Democratic Party so utterly that it has a super-majority in the state legislature.

      So she is as far left as the party intends to go. This person who protected one of Trump’s worst cabinet appointments when she was Attorney General of California and he was stealing people’s homes, and who is now being sent out to herd voters into protecting the likes of Claire McCaskill.

      Kamala Harris is the future of the Democratic Party, if the current leadership gets its way. A woman who slept with a man thirty years her senior to get ahead in politics, a man known to be a corrupt fixer. A woman with few legitimate accomplishments as an elected official, but due to her gender and skin color is considered an acceptable avatar for a social justice the party intends never to deliver to those unwilling or unable to sleep with the Willie Browns of this exceptional country.

      Kamala Harris, who has been a national elected official for all of two months, was invited to the Center for American Progress conference for potential 2020 presidential nominees. Bernie Sanders, Nina Turner and Tulsi Gabbard were not.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Thanks, that was horrible. Clearly, Kamala Harris is ideal. She’s a she, she’s got a furrin’-sounding yet pleasingly generic first name, and a WASPy last name, so clearly she’s totes intersectional. Please kill me now.

        I read every so often that the Berniecrats took over the CA Democrat state party. But I don’t hear anything about that. That could be a good thing, though. Any Californian readers with details on the ground?

        Reply
  22. voteforno6

    Re: The Democratic Party seems to have no earthly idea why it is so damn unpopular

    Nancy Pelosi, a very wealthy woman (how did she get that money by the way – I’m kind of curious), said that the Democrats don’t need to change anything. Obviously, it’s her political acumen that led her to be re-selected as House minority leader.

    I look forward to the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, when the Democrats get wiped out in the mid-terms. Who are they going to blame this time? Will they be able to sustain the hysteria over Russia for that long? It should be fun.

    Reply
  23. joe defiant

    The establishment’s view of how the democrats will take back power:
    http://www.nbcnews.com/specials/democrats-left-in-the-lurch
    “The Arizona Path
    The other option many Democrats favor would be to lean into their coalition’s future diversity, write off their losses with white working class voters, and hope demographic changes move quickly enough to catch up to them by the next elections.

    Clinton’s late campaign foray into Arizona, a state that has long voted Republican, was widely seen as one of the campaign’s biggest follies. But she came within 4 points there and lost Georgia by just 5 points, while she lost Ohio and Iowa by nearly 10 percentage points each. Many respected analysts say Democrats’ future lies in the sunbelt, not the rust belt.
    Arizona and Georgia alone won’t win Democrats the presidency, but Georgia’s 16 Electoral Votes would nearly replace Ohio’s 18, and Arizona’s 11 are equivalent to Wisconsin’s.

    The biggest, most tantalizing, game-changing prize on this path is Texas, with its 38 Electoral Votes. Clinton lost Texas by just 9.2% — less than her losing margin in Iowa — which was a dramatic improvement over Obama’s 16-point margin in 2012.

    The strategy would require a dramatic realignment of political resources away from the traditional battlegrounds. And Democrats would likely need to re-prioritize immigration reform (Arizona) and issues important to African-American voters (Georgia), which may make it harder for the party to reclaim white working class voters.”

    Reply
  24. ewmayer

    “Why hot chillies might be good for us” [BBC] (original study) … This totally reinforces my priors, but I don’t have the chops to assess the study. Readers?

    Did the study also investigate regular consumption of dark chocolate, beer and 50s/60s SciFi movies?

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      There are studies showing that chocolate (cacao, not the sugar) is good for you. While generally skeptical of nutritional studies, I believe in those implicitly.

      The Mexicans combine chocolate and chilis, and I’ve seen commercial chocolates with chili in them, but I didn’t take to the combination. I also just tried dark chocolate with licorice extract in it, but couldn’t taste the licorice at all.

      Reply
  25. fresno dan

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/03/10/video-shows-police-telling-an-uber-driver-its-against-the-law-to-record-police-its-not/?utm_term=.501d3a1dec57

    “Don’t record me,” the police sergeant said. “You got me?”
    “Look,” Bright said, “you’re a police officer on duty. I can record you.”
    “Be careful because there is a new law,” Becker said. “Turn it off or I’ll take you to jail.”
    “For recording you?” the video shows Bright asking Becker. “What is the law?”
    A tense exchange followed, with Becker telling Bright to step out of his car, calling him “a jerk,” then warning him that he “better hope” officers didn’t find something in his vehicle.
    Bright continued to record, saying, “I know my rights.”
    “I hope so,” said Becker, the police sergeant. “I know what the law is.”
    “I know the law,” Bright said. “I’m an attorney, so I would hope I know what the law is.”
    “And an Uber driver?” Becker asked.
    Bright told The Post that he is working for Uber to help pay off his law-school loans. He said he had been hired to take his passenger on a round trip from the man’s home to a location several miles away where, the man said, he was picking up a paycheck on the final Sunday in February.

    After the passenger returned to the car holding a piece of paper, Bright said he was pulled over moments later.

    Officers searched the passenger and told Bright that he’d brought the man to a drug house that was under surveillance.

    “They said I should have known it was a drug house, and I tried to tell them I was an Uber driver,” Bright said. “They thought it was some sort of cover.”

    Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said in a statement this week that his department has “launched an internal investigation” into the Feb. 26 incident.

    “Taking photographs and videos of people that are in plain sight including the police is your legal right,” the statement said. “As a matter of fact we invite citizens to do so when they believe it is necessary. We believe that public videos help to protect the police as well as our citizens and provide critical information during police and citizen interaction.”
    The chief added that “a copy of this statement will be disseminated to every officer within the Wilmington Police Department.”
    Bright said officers eventually searched him and his car but didn’t find anything. He said both he and his passenger were told they were free to go and neither man was charged.
    ….
    Bright said he didn’t initially want to share his story to the media, but when Becker refused to return his phone calls and the department never apologized, he decided to go public.

    He said he doesn’t want the officers involved to be punished, but he does hope to let people know that the public has the right to film police.
    ================================================
    “He said he doesn’t want the officers involved to be punished,…”
    I very much want the officers to be punished….by being fired. The one that is the subject has been proven to have lied about numerous SERIOUS things is this article:
    1. that a “new” law exists that does not exist – not merely that a law exists but a new law exists to try and intimidate an attorney.
    2. That a “drug house” was under surveillance – the context of the article certainly makes that appear to be a completely false statement.
    3. And that apparently a police officer was knowingly trying to violate constitutional rights.

    I didn’t link to ANOTHER article today where a retired cop shot and killed a man and tried to use the “stand your ground” law to say he was being assaulted. Video evidence showed it was a complete fabrication.

    It seems to me that there is quite a bit of evidence that there is a significant number of police that lie every chance they get.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Never get involved in the law enforcement system….

      Never get involved in the health care system….

      Never get involved in the financial system…

      And on and on and on….

      Reply
  26. freedeomny

    Hey- I know there are some animal lovers on this site. So, wanted to share my scary “cat” experience. I actually have a dog and cat that I adopted around the same time and they are great friends. The cat – Bowie (Cha Cha Changes- w/ two diff colored eyes) had a crystal blockage (which is life threatening) when he was only 1 1/2 yrs old. Well…in the past 3 weeks (3 years later) he almost died 3 times with 3 separate obstructions in the course of 2 weeks. He is now doing very well (it’s been a week since last obstruction) but I have been lucky to be home and monitor his situation.

    If your cat is squatting outside the box and not producing urine, they can die within 24 hours. The key is to not give your cat dry food – especially if they are male. They need to be on a canned diet with water added to that to flush out any crystals. Cats are very stoic and do not show pain…

    I spent 1,000K to keep this little guy alive…but it could have been a lot more. Bottom line – if you have a cat, especially a male cat, please feed a canned diet instead of dry…

    My Public Service Announcement for today :)

    Reply
    1. marieann

      Dry food isn’t good for any cats. Cats are true carnivores, they only need meat. Most dry food is loaded with grains, many cats can develop allergies to grains.
      Cats evolved for a desert environment and the have a poorly developed thirst mechanism, they normally get their fluids from the blood of their prey….so they don’t drink as much as they need and if they are eating dry food this exacerbates it..
      And an anecdote….I had a diabetic kitty, I got him into remission by cutting out his dry food.

      Reply
    2. OIFVet

      I had to find a 24-hour emergency vet clinic while I was sitting my friends’ cat several years ago, for the exact same problem. I managed to save him, at a cost well over 2K. He is now on special dry food specifically formulated for male cats prone to urinary blockages, and hasn’t had a recurring episode since that scare. I agree with Marieann that wet food is best for cats, but sometimes dry food is inevitable, and then it is best to go for one that is grain-free. I am happy that you saved your cat, their companionship truly is beyond any monetary value.

      Reply
  27. allan

    Roger Stone admits he held private conversations with Russia-affiliated hackers [NYDN]

    Roger Stone, President Trump’s longtime confidant and former campaign advisor, has admitted that he was in private communication with one of the Kremlin-connected hacker personas behind the Democratic National Committee email breach last year.

    Stone, one of several Trump associates under FBI investigation for potential Russia ties, acknowledged in a lengthy statement Friday evening that he communicated with Guccifer 2.0 in direct Twitter messages last summer. The statement came in response to a recent report from the Smoking Gun website that suggests Stone might have collaborated with Russian hackers. …

    Eliot Spitzer approves of this message.

    Reply
  28. dontknowitall

    So Roger Stone texts Guccifer 2.0 on Twitter in August so several months after the email hacking and that is relevant to exactly what…Also as usual the journos cannot quite bring themselves to reveal that while the US agencies ‘think’ ( is this a well considered unanimous opinion or a is it a bs report ) Guccifer 2.0 is Russian many others including Wikileaks think not…As usual a nothingburger is produced by what passes by journalism these days.

    Reply

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