2:00PM Water Cooler 5/17/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, I’ll have more on politics in a sec. –lambert

Trade

“What’s the Likelihood that TPP Actually Carries on Without US?” [Sourcing Journal]. “Japan seems to want the Trans Pacific Partnership to happen—U.S. or not—but with certain stipulations outlined in the original deal, pushing it forward could prove just as tricky as trying to get it signed. The first hurdle to get over will be the provision that stipulates at least six of the agreement’s original signatories, which combined account for at least 85 percent of the collective GDP, have to agree to implement the TPP for the trade agreement to come into force. With the U.S. accounting for upward of 60 percent of that GDP, reaching the 85 percent threshold would be impossible. The question now is whether that threshold might be amended or if that 85 percent will be based on the total GDP of the remaining 11 member countries.”

Politics

Policy

“Does the FCC Actually Care About Net Neutrality?” [PC Magazine]. “As for what we as citizens and consumers can do to preserve net neutrality, Clyburn pointed right back to this Thursday’s official call for open comments. For a quick path around the red tape and directly to the FCC public comment section on the forthcoming vote, you can use this link, courtesy of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Once public comment officially opens on Thursday, the link will work. To those looking for resources to register their opinion, [FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn] said that’s where you start.”

2020

“Joe Biden most likely to beat Donald Trump in 2020 if he runs, poll finds” [Indepedent]. “[Biden’s] brand — an authentic guy with working class roots — has led many to speculate that he would be a good choice to take on Mr Trump in 2020.” [Oh gawd! [runs from room seeking bucket as stomach heaves]]. The headline is deceptive: Biden beats Trump by 14, Sanders by 13, and Warren, Franken, and Booker also beat Trump. Franken!

I went to the Onward Owned Together contributions page, and found this at the bottom:

I have to be a member to give them money? What does membership entail? Nowhere explained. Then there’s the motto:

As Jezebel points out, this is a proverb of unknown origin. Now, generally it’s cited as an African proverb, so kudos to the Clinton campaign for leaving that out, but the vagueness and pseudo-profundity remain.

Then there is the matter of what “Together” really means. Together with whom? Politco:

Specifically, Clinton mentioned Swing Left, Emerge America, Color of Change, Indivisible and Run for Something as the five groups Onward Together will initially support. “In some cases, we’ll provide direct funding to these organizations. For others, we’ll help amplify their work and do what we can to help them continue to grow their audiences and expand their reach,” she emailed.

So, apparently “togetherness” doesn’t apply to Our Revolution or Brand New Congress. So I’m guessing that Clinton and her party faction will continue their passionate opposition to #MedicareForAll.

“At Center for American Progress, a Tryout for 2020 Ideas” [Roll Call]. “But the surprise star for the liberal audience, maybe because of the current series of foreign policy and intelligence crises plaguing the Trump administration, was former national security adviser Susan Rice.” Swell.

“Many top Democrats are furious that Bernie Sanders appears to be running for president again, or at least planning to drag out his decision long enough to freeze the race around him” [Politico]. Too funny. The most popular active politician in America should sit down and shut up, while the Democrat candidate who collected $1.4 billion, stuffed it down the toilet of her campaign, and flushed, isn’t whipped from the field with scorpions, but instead is forming a new PAC.

Trump Transition

“Pressed by another reporter as to whether he was concerned about Trump’s handling of sensitive information, McConnell paused and said simply, “No'” [Roll Call]. No Drama Mitch…

“[T]he 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which allows for the removal of the president if the vice president and a majority of the cabinet informs the Congress that he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” and (should the president contest his own removal) a two-thirds vote by Congress confirms the cabinet’s judgment” [Ross Douthat, New York Times]. Well, that seems likely.

Realignment and Legitimacy

According to a PPP poll released Tuesday that 10 percent of Trump voters now wish they’d voted for Clinton [New York Magazine]. You can divide Trump’s vote, nationally, into his base and his margin of victory. As many have pointed out, Trump’s voters skew upper income on the average; there are plenty of Trump supporters out there in the wealthy suburbs Clinton (and Ossoff (and the DNC)) hope to win over. That’s Trump’s base. However, at the margin, Trump’s voters are in the counties that flipped from Obama to Trump (as I show and even CAP agrees). And those voters will happily flip again, if Trump doesn’t deliver.

“The Impeachment Trap: Be Careful What You Wish For” [In These Times]. Indeed:

I am most concerned about the scenario where one or more leading Republicans come on board and entice Democrats to lead a successful impeachment. [T]he robot-like Pence—despite his extreme right-wing views—would be packaged as a comforting return to normalcy. The relief at no longer having an egotistical lunatic at the helm could provide Pence with a long and generous public opinion honeymoon. Republicans could claim that Trump was “never one of theirs,” and approach the 2020 campaign with the benefit of incumbency and without Trump’s liabilities.

Democratic ownership of impeachment would also cement the loyalty of working-class Trump voters to the Republican Party. Republican incumbents in swing districts could spin impeachment as a partisan witch hunt. Trump would become a martyr, and his voters would blame Democrats. This is a terrible outcome for progressives who want to move the Democratic Party back to its economic justice roots.

Most important to progressives, Democratic ownership of impeachment would sacrifice the historic opportunity to integrate the massive anti-Trump resistance into a revitalized progressive movement and Democratic Party. A short-term focus on impeachment would divert the focus of many activists away from less glamorous, but more important, grassroots organizing, coalition building, and policy advocacy, and decrease the likelihood of mass grassroots mobilizations on critical issues such as health care, immigration, Planned Parenthood, electoral reform, climate change, and so many others.

“America’s military and intelligence services are therefore [sic] faced with a difficult dilemma. The only way to preserve America’s assets will be to routinize the violation of the chain of command by cordoning off the president from information that he properly needs to make informed decisions. Moreover, in order to reassure foreign allies, military and intelligence services will need to show their willingness to violate the chain of command in this fashion. It will need to become an open secret that the president of the United States is, in effect, no longer the president” [The Week]. “The threat this poses to America’s democratic and constitutional system should not be minimized.” Makes you wonder whether this has already happened, where “already” means “in previous administrations.”

“In Defense of the Blob” (podcast) [War on the Rocks]. The sycophancy and self-congratulation is really thick. But we won the Cold War! And we built the Imperium post-war security architecture! Yeah, but what have you done for me lately? Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya….

“Krasner, who has represented clients including Occupy Philly and Black Lives Matter, has won the Democratic primary and will represent the party on the November ballot. And in a city with a 7-to-1 Democratic voter registration advantage, the odds are high that come January, he’s going to be the DA” [Billy Penn]. “Krasner’s win is politically significant. For one thing, a civil rights attorney winning a local election like the Philadelphia district attorney’s race has national implications. It’s one of the first tests of the anti-Donald Trump resistance movement in Philadelphia, and it showed nationalizing a race in this way — thanks to George Soros, John Legend, Susan Sarandon, etc. — can work.” Soros? Oh, no….

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of May 12, 2017: “Mortgage applications activity retreated from 8-year highs ” [Econoday]

Debt: “NY Fed: “Household Debt Surpasses its Peak Reached During the Recession in 2008” [Calculated Risk]. “While most delinquency flows have improved markedly since the Great Recession and remain low overall, there are divergent trends among debt types. Auto loan and credit card delinquency flows are now trending upwards, and those for student loans remain stubbornly high.”

Five Horsemen: “Ward … I’m worried about the Faceborg” [Hat Tip Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen May17

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 52 Neutral (previous close: 66, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 61 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated May 17 at 1:52pm. Big swing!

Dear Old Blighty

We think we have it bad, I:

We think we have it bad, II:

We think we have it bad, III:

“The alacrity with which certain Labour Rightists are working to throw the election, urging people not to vote for the party or to consider a punt on Tim Farron’s salvation army, while MPs queue up to resign and burden the party with maximum organisational difficulty in the coming weeks, gives the lie to their moral browbeating of Corbyn supporters. The latter are routinely accused of sacrificing electoral adequacy for fanatical objectives, imagined to be lurking behind the current leadership’s iteration of Wilsonite social democracy. However, the putchists’ claim that through their sabotage they are only trying to limit the damage of a hard left leadership rings hollow: Labour, under Corbyn’s first embattled year, was weak, but not in the dire polling straits it is in now. They are destroying the party because they have lost control of it: a fanatical objective if ever there was one. Yet, hypocrisy aside, these tactics work and demonstrate an almost admirable single-mindedness – a willingness to raise the stakes to the point of mutual destruction, a suicide attack of sorts” [Salvage]. This attitude seems strangely familiar…

Our Famously Free Press

“Doxing the hero who stopped WannaCry was irresponsible and dumb” [The Next Web]. “Enter the British tabloid press, which late last night doxxed the man behind MalwareTech for literally no apparent reason. And I don’t use the term ‘doxxed’ lightly. They pored through his online footprint until they eventually had enough evidence to identify someone who literally didn’t want to be identified.”

“‘People want it to be true’: Inside the growing influence of a mysterious anti-Trump website” [Business Insider]. The body is more nuanced than the headline.

“A Conversation With Liz Spayd, the Controversial Public Editor of The New York Times” [The Atlantic]. Spayd: “I’d first like to say that the definition of the job as public editor is to collect and absorb the reader email.”

Class Warfare

“Notes from an Emergency” [Maciej Cegłowski, Idle Words]. This is really a must-read; it’s an angle on the tech world (and Haygood’s FIve Horsemen) that we rarely see. Here’s a sample, and save us from squillionaires with bright ideas:

Given this scary state of the world, with ecological collapse just over the horizon, and a population sharpening its pitchforks, an important question is how this globalized, unaccountable tech industry sees its goals. What does it want? What will all the profits be invested in?

What is the plan?

The honest answer is: rocket ships and immortality.

I wish I was kidding.

The best minds in Silicon Valley are preoccupied with a science fiction future they consider it their manifest destiny to build. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are racing each other to Mars. Musk gets most of the press, but Bezos now sells $1B in Amazon stock a year to fund Blue Origin. Investors have put over $8 billion into space companies over the past five years, as part of a push to export our problems here on Earth into the rest of the Solar System.

As happy as I am to see Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos fired into space, this does not seem to be worth the collapse of representative government.

Our cohort of tech founders is feeling the chill breath of mortality as they drift into middle age. And so part of what is driving this push into space is a more general preoccupation with ‘existential risk’.

Musk is persuaded that we’re living in a simulation, and he or a fellow true believer has hired programmers to try to hack it.

Peter Thiel, our most unfortunate German import, has built a survival retreat for himself in New Zealand.

Sam Altman hoards gold in Big Sur.

OpenAI, a religious cult thinly disguised as a research institution, has received $1B in funding to forestall the robot rebellion.

The biggest existential risk, of course, is death, so a lot of money is going to make sure that our big idea men don’t expire before the world has been received the full measure of their genius.

Google Ventures founded the very secretive life extension startup Calico, with $1.5B dollars in funding. Google loses $4B a year on its various “moon shots”, which include life extension. They employ Ray Kurzweil, who believes we’re still on track for immortality by 2045. Larry Ellison has put $370M to anti-aging research, as anybody would want to live in a world with an immortal Larry Ellison. Our plutocrats are eager to make death an opt-out experience.

Now, I’m no fan of death. I don’t like the time commitment, or the permanence. A number of people I love are dead and it has strained our relationship.

But at the same time, I’m not convinced that a civilization that is struggling to cure male-pattern baldness is ready to take on the Grim Reaper. If we’re going to worry about existential risk, I would rather we start by addressing the two existential risks that are indisputably real—nuclear war and global climate change—and working our way up from there.

But real problems are messy.

World-class invective, but Cegłowski has serious and interesting policy concerns and proposals as well.

* * *

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 (AM):


AM writes: “Continuing the pink flowering tree theme, here is a dogwood from my mother in law’s house in Rehoboth, MA. Things are a couple weeks behind NYC up there.”

* * *

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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.

164 comments

  1. Vatch

    Musk is persuaded that we’re living in a simulation, and he or a fellow true believer has hired programmers to try to hack it.

    Billions of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and others believe that we are souls in a virtual environment which includes our bodies and the physical universe. Prayer is an attempt to contact the sysadmins, and when we die, we exit the simulation.

    1. subgenius

      Are you sure that death (in the named religions terms) isn’t simply leveling up? It’s Donkey Kong all the way down…

      1. polecat

        Muskites to the left of me, Kurzweils to the right

        here I am

        Stuck in the bardo with you

        1. different clue

          Would that scan better if “Muskites” were changed to “Muskers” . . . ?

          Just a speculative thought.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We are all Zhuangzi butterflies dreaming up Laozi, Dao and the rest of the world

      We also flap our wings rapidly when we dream deeply, and our dreams interact in infinite number of ways.

    3. Biph

      I’ve always been amused by the idea that we are some 14 year olds half assed science project.
      Perhaps in highly advanced civilizations simulations are the equivalent of baking soda volcanoes.

      1. Art Eclectic

        Ever since I saw The Matrix I’ve been pondering the idea that we’re just batteries providing the revenue streams for our corporate overlords. When we no longer provide enough juice, we’re jettisoned to trailer parks and have our health care cut off. It’s all very Republican wet dream.

        1. Biph

          Now if only the “smartest guys in the room” could figure out a way to replace the deathcare trailer park with a rendering plant.

    4. diptherio

      The hack is called 5-methoxy-dimethyltryptamine and it will get not only put you in direct contact with the sysadmins, it will display your all your connections to the entire web of existence in fully immersive audio and 12-dimensional visuals…and after your “tech support call” is over (~5 min) you find your fear of mortality was only a bit of malware screwing with your operating system, that has now been removed (the malware, not the OS). Quick, somebody tell our tech squillionaires. For gawd’s sake, put them in touch with MAPS!

      http://www.maps.org/

      1. Tim

        Yes but I might also suggest simple MJ + laughing gas (whipits) as the poor man’s DMT. Actually it’s as good as DMT. Actually nitrous oxide is more expensive than coke unless you can get a hold of a tank, but you can buy it anywhere legally. And no I’m not talking that balloon bullshit you need to do whipits one after another rapidly to cross the event horizon.

          1. witters

            And I think WJ’s resultant Great Metaphysical Insight went something like “A smell of petroleum pervades throughout”.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > A smell of petroleum pervades throughout

              As in insight, it doesn’t work for metaphysics. For political economy in the 20th and 21st centuries, however, it works quite well.

              In any case, I went and looked up the quote:

              Just before Christmas a piece appeared in the Guardian discussing cases where people had dreamed that they had uncovered the secret of the universe, only to waken next morning and find they could not remember it. One classic instance, reported by the psychologist William James, was that of a man who repeatedly had this dream and finally managed to write the formula down before he went back to sleep. Next morning he found he had written: “A smell of petroleum prevails throughout.” Another involved an opium addict who jotted the secret down, only to read when he came to full consciousness: “The banana is great, but the skin is greater.”

              Also true?

      2. MtnLife

        This has to be one of your best comments yet and, considering the quality of your comment portfolio, that’s saying something. I too am a fan of giving God a jingle through his 5-HT2A agonist direct dial connection. Call quality is exceptional.

      3. Aumua

        Meh, I’ve taken the drugs mentioned and plenty others, to excess. At the end of the day I’m still here, still mortal, and I still have to work to realize any change in my life, connection to the ultimate etc in the little time I have.

        I fully endorse that every member of congress, the supreme court, white house cabinet etc should be required to trip copiously of course.

        1. ambrit

          Agree fully.
          The people now in governing positions in our society are generally acting as if they were tripping already. It’s the “sane” acting people who seem in danger of being suppressed.
          Little Alice would recognize it all readily.

      4. fajensen

        I think those characters will like 2C-B (2,5-dimethoxy-4-bromophenethylamine) a lot more, it puts the user in the exact centre of the universe!

        – I fact, if I had Bezo kind of money, I’d have some graduates employed for cooking up “recreationals” for my parties.

        The foundation of The Modern World, physics, quantum mechanics, indeed all basic research, is created by teenagers working for almost nothing :).

    5. fajensen

      Yeah, sure just go right ahead and poke that thing, named the universe, and get its attention ;)

      The void laughs again, unfriendly: “There is life eternal within the eater of souls. Nobody is ever forgotten or allowed to rest in peace. They populate the simulation spaces of its mind, exploring all the possible alternative endings to their life. There is a fate worse than death, you know.”

      http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/colderwar.htm

    1. justanotherprogressive

      I’ve always wondered how these ‘best minds in Silicon Valley’ think they are going to feed themselves at these “retreats” they are buying for themselves or in space? And then there is the problem of who is going to do their dirty work for them……
      If the whole world goes caput so badly that they fear for their lives, I don’t think there will be many people lining up to be their slaves……and all their gold and money isn’t going to buy them much of that food that everyone’s going to hoard for their own survival – unless of course, they run into some really dumb Wall Street traders…..

      Somehow, these ‘best minds’ don’t seem so smart when it comes to knowing what you need to do to survive……maybe they should start talking to some poor or homeless people…..

      1. Svejk

        Indeed. Escape the miraculous, wonderful, beautiful and incredibly life-sustaining planet Earth for Mars?!? The fact that this idea isn’t mercilessly lampooned and hung around their necks like a friggin’ Albatross is yet more proof of how craven and gutless our modern ‘Murican media is. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to spend a little of their embezzled jack to fix this place? And these are the smart ones? Cripes.
        As I recall the last round of tech dipshits in the mid-90s were looking into immortality and plugging their brains into computers, too. Check out Erik Davis’ Techgnosis. Total crackup. Then the bottom fell out. Cue sad trombone noise. That could never-evuh happen to this group.

        1. Vatch

          Mars

          This comes up periodically, and someone usually points out that Mars has virtually no magnetic field at all, and the Earth’s magnetic field is required to protect us from very dangerous solar radiation. So even if people manage to establish a breathable atmosphere on Mars, they’ll still have to live underground to avoid the radiation. Also, the solar wind will eventually blow much of the atmosphere out into space — another side effect of a planet without a magnetic field.

        2. yamahog

          How much do you think it would cost to ‘fix’ this place? By all accounts, there’s more wealth in the hands of the 99.9% than at any other time in civilized human history and the human condition is probably better – so I’m curious why you would frame addressing issues in terms of ‘fixing’, restoring things to the status quo of 50 years ago would suck for just about everyone who doesn’t live in Canada/U.S

      2. lyman alpha blob

        I’ve always wondered how these ‘best minds in Silicon Valley’ think they are going to feed themselves at these “retreats” they are buying for themselves or in space?

        Neal Stephenson has an answer to your question! – SevenEves

        Spoiler alert: Remember Soylent Green?

      3. different clue

        They don’t deserve to survive.

        Maybe the poor and homeless people should all be given “decks of cards” of all the big-name digital silicon perpetrators so they can shun these people and give them exactly zero survival advice if those Leading Digi-Perps ever show up to ask the poor and the homeless for survival advice.

      4. Art Eclectic

        Didn’t you read Atlas Shrugged? There will be stores and restaurants run as side jobs by all the other best minds of Silicon Valley. Peter Thiel will build a mini Whole-Foods-esq store to supply the rest of his squillionaire cohort with fresh organic kale and other foodstuffs. Elon Musk will run the power plant and provide everyone with solar panels, while also functioning as the local mechanic for everyone’s Teslas.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          They deserve all the seats on the only rocket ship out of a dying Earth.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Hey, does anybody remember the book “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe”? The book featured a race that convinced one third of the population to leave their planet by spaceship. These emigrants consisted of creative consultants, lawyers, publicists, personalities, etc. You get the idea.
      Why not get the best minds’ from Silicon Valley go to Mars. We could ship out most economists, party establishment leaders, neocons, laptop warriors, etc. along with them (but not telephone sanitizers) to help establish a colony. I’d chip in on GoFundMe to finance that little jaunt.

  2. Stormcrow

    Seth Rich: The Thickening Plot

    Three articles of interest

    Seth Rich, the DNC, and WikiLeaks: The Plot Thickens
    by THOMAS KNAPP
    May 17, 2017

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/17/seth-rich-the-dnc-and-wikileaks-the-plot-thickens/

    Seth Rich Murder Case Stirs Russia Doubts
    By Joe Lauria
    May 17, 2017

    https://consortiumnews.com/2017/05/17/seth-rich-murder-case-stirs-russia-doubts/

    Did Seth Rich Contact WikiLeaks?
    There’s convincing evidence he did
    by Justin Raimondo
    May 17, 2017

    http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2017/05/16/did-seth-rich-contact-wikileaks/

    This story is potentially explosive, If shown to be true, it would invalidate the already dubious hysteria about Russian “hacking” of the election. Many Trump haters would be discredited. Trump himself might have to re-think Wikileaks.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      He will have to be like the Gotham city police commissioner who secretly works with Batman or Super Man, but can’t acknowledge it publicly.

    2. clarky90

      The Truth About Seth Rich | The DNC/Wikileaks Scandal
      Stefan Molyneux

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

      This is a logical and engrossing presentation of Seth Rich’s murder.

      Wikileaks has posted a $20,000 reward for information about the identity of Seth’s murderer/s. Why, of all the murders in Washington,…..?

  3. From Cold Mountain

    Gahhhh! Onward Together (with your money) Money money money, that is the only way Clinton and the DNC think anyone can win a election. Onward Together does nothing but raise money and forward to the neoliberal groups of their choosing. They are purposefully trying to create fundraising fatigue.

    All of them, put them all on rocket ships to Mars!

    1. subgenius

      Why waste the resources? Guillotines have a much lower environmental cost, and the remains make excellent fertilizer to aid in rebuilding the soil biome.

      1. polecat

        Sink them down into the Mariana Trench … to be subducted with all the other toxic sludge.

        ‘Accreted .. Together !’

        1. Peter Pan

          The PAC would be better named as Pwned Together or Boned Together. Either way your money is a loser.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      This part cracked me up –

      Specifically, Clinton mentioned Swing Left, Emerge America, Color of Change, Indivisible and Run for Something as the five groups Onward Together will initially support.

      At which point those other charities will transfer the funds onward to the Clinton Foundation to pay for her grandkids’ private school. It’s slushfunderrific!

    3. different clue

      I remember once suggesting that some DemReform Activists should set up some kind of Clinton Watch to spotlight every trace of Clinton contamination going forward. It looks like Forward Together is a Self-Outing pollution point-source. If Forward Together publishes the names of the people and things which take money from it or which work with it, then Forward Together has already done some of the work at tracing and fingering the Clinton Contamination as it spreads.

  4. shinola

    I hope this isn’t inappropriate, but if you haven’t read the last article in today’s links, “My Family’s Slave”, I would recommend that you take the time to check it out.

    I suppose it sounds cliche but it’s an article with some real heart to it. Not enough of that around these days.

    1. Jim Haygood

      It was author Alex Tizon’s final post before dying in March. He had some unaddressed life issues to confront, and did so eloquently and magnificently.

      If you want to read a book-length treatment, Jackson Tippett McCrae’s passionately strange and convoluted novel The Bark of the Dogwood: A Tour of Southern Homes and Gardens closely parallels Tizon’s journey, exploring dark family secrets. McCrae’s black housekeeper Althea is Tizon’s Lola, right down to lovingly preserving his childhood writings and toys.

      1. Eleanor Rigby

        Wow, I have never seen Bark of the Dogwood mentioned anywhere on the web; it’s a great, but long, book. Highly recommended.

    2. Fiery Hunt

      Maybe I’m missing it (SOOO possible) but all I got from it was horrible people (Mom, Dad Ivan, author, siblings..) with the moral backbone of slugs. Is this kind of “family” life common? WTF?

      Being nice to a slave after decades of slavery? Pretty damn low bar.

      1. jrs

        Is a family that keeps slaves common? No I don’t think so, not in the modern U.S..

        But is the family dynamic common on a much lesser scale? Oh common enough, that’s why it reads so well, because it’s well written and also because it’s horrifying but not entirely foreign.

        While it excuses nothing, the author never had real parents, he had completely absentee parents, and a slave forced to act as a parent, which he knew eventually was just that, which is deeply sad. But isn’t it precisely those who really were not loved and parented decently by their parents growing up (he was neglected) that often cling to their parents the very most, even long after they are adults?

        So you wonder why a kid who never had parents and needed Lola to take care of him as a kid, even while he knew she was a slave (talk about the cognitive dissonance at an early age), turned out that way? Why? It doesn’t excuse it, but the family background itself almost precludes that rebellion except in a morally exceptional person. And the secrecy ITSELF builds a strong protective wall defending that family from the influence of the outside world.

        And yes for many people, on a much lesser scale, it’s easy enough to relate to the whole dynamics of family secrecy and family loyalty, going along to get along, having to be a certain way (including immoral if necessary) to stay in good parental graces.

        1. Fiery Hunt

          Nicely articulated, jrs. Thanks for that.

          Everything except the “morally exceptional” part.

          Nothing about morality is exceptional. Except perhaps how so many people have so little of it, be it in familial relations or on a global scale.

      2. LT

        The kind of family that really knew how to play the “appearances” game to the outside world. “Hard-workin’ nuclear family!”

    3. LT

      You buy the part that the slave was a virgin?
      Slaves tell masters what they want to hear, not the truth.

  5. JerseyJeffersonian

    Just gonna drop this in here, a late post from John Helmer.

    The opening paragraph:

    A Washington Post reporter has revealed that the Islamic State (IS) laptop plot story, which President Donald Trump mentioned to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the White House last week came from IS itself, through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The reason for the leaking against Trump, which followed in the Post and in the Anglo-American media, has also been disclosed by the Post. The CIA and at least one senior staff official of the National Security Council, who briefed the CIA on what Trump had said, are angry at the President for revealing collaboration between IS operatives and their US Government handlers in attacks on Russian targets, including Russian airline travellers.

    …..

    Oh, that Trump, being consistent in opposition to international terrorists. Including the CIA. No wonder they don’t like him.

    1. nowhere

      Maybe I’m misreading. Would this be comparable to the Mayor of NY blabbing to a criminal enterprise (this is only illustrative, I’m not saying the Russian’s are a criminal enterprise) about how the criminal enterprise should stop transporting their cargo over a certain road at certain times? Especially if this intel was obtained by a police informant within the criminal enterprise. If this info was only known to a select few within the enterprise, it would certainly cut down on the number of… employees that would need to be “interviewed”.

      Maybe the major wants to cut down on police expenditures and traffic accidents caused by the large trucks driving down residential roads, and she wants to normalize relations between the city and the enterprise (of course this couldn’t be known publicly). I don’t think it would come as a shock that the police department (which has always been tasked with fighting crime) would fight tooth and nail to maintain their current position and insider information. They might even selectively and anonymously leak the mayor’s plans.

      1. JerseyJeffersonian

        What? No. Your scenario makes light of a potentially very serious situation, and is unhelpful in the extreme.

        What is alleged to be the case is that the CIA handlers of IS were working with IS, perhaps through an intermediary, but with the full intent to perpetrate acts of international terrorism against Russian civil aviation.

        This would constitute material assistance to terrorists, which is a violation of our laws. This, if found to be true, would make individuals in the CIA subject to prosecution under those laws. And it would be rat-fuckery of a very high order against innocent Russian civilians, probably not a real good idea.

        Additionally, such an operation could be very handy in bringing off false-flag attacks against “allies”, if it were useful to some scheme.

        The smoke screen being thrown up around this by the ever execrable Washington Post and all of the screaming mimis of the MSM is specifically tailored to make an act of international cooperation against terrorism seem as if it is some act of treason against the US (and some unnamed, hideous co-conspirator against innocent civilians).

        Cut the buffoonery.

        1. nowhere

          There is as much evidence in your linked article for this scenario as there is for the Russian’s hacking the DNC.

        2. Carolinian

          But, but….”Russia is our adversary.” WaPo has decreed.

          Someone upthread mentioned guillotines….

        3. Damson

          Exactly.

          Repost of comment from Uncle Bob, US historian that puts what’s happening into context :

          ncle Bob 1 on May 14, 2017 · at 7:39 pm UTC
          Whether because of that, are not,we can expect an attack on Lebanon. If the US is successful in Syria,that is the start of more aggression,not its end. The US and Israel want to destroy Iran as a power in the Middle-East.And gain control of her resources. And her location as the route to Central Asia and the “soft underbelly of Russia”. To preclude Russian influence in the region as well.

          If the US gains Syria,they expel Russia from the entire region. Its as simple as that. Its a similar idea to Crimea in the Black Sea.Gaining Ukraine “with Crimea” would have pushed the Russian fleet to a small area of the Black Sea. Allowing NATO dominance there.Controlling Syria pushes Russia from the Mediterranean Sea. She would have no bases anywhere in the region. And except for the limited ability to sail there once and a while. Her naval influence would be dead. And the Sea become a “NATO Lake”.

          From Syria the US would move on to Lebanon. Stirring up terrorism there,blaming Hezbollah of course. Which “would call for a humanitarian response”.And see either a direct US invasion. Or a “Lebanese” version of “moderate rebels” taking power. The US’s Pentagon under Mathis (BTW the same Mad Dog Mathis. Who was a leader in the US invasion of Iraq in 2003) is already preparing a plan for US troops to be in control of Syria,Iraq,and Afghanistan for generations.

          Once control of those countries is accomplished.It will be Iran’s turn. Using the Gulf States,Saudi Arabia and Iraq as the bases for attacking Iran. Who by then,denied Syrian and Lebanese allies, will stand alone. Russia would, without bases in the Mediterranean. And with Turkey holding the key to the Black Sea bottleneck. Be forced,assuming she chose to help Iran.To enter through Central Asia or the Caspian Sea.The US has worked for years on military plans to invade Iran. But the political will in the US hasn’t been there to “pull the trigger” . With now a neo-con Congress.President either under control,or replaced by then with Pence.And the Military hawks running the DOD and Pentagon. The “will” to do it will be there. A “casus Belli” will be easy to arrange.Probably a Tonkin Gulf style false flag. With Iran supposedly attacking US ships in the Persian Gulf.

          Syria is the wrench in the wheel of the US’s plan. Syria gives Russia and Iran influence in the region. It acts as a cover for Lebanon. And allows more freedom for Iraq to have allies against the US (and Turkey) plan to control them. Lack of control of Syria has stopped the US from moving on with their plans. Which tells me that any idea Russia has to end the war there. Unless its with total victory,are doomed from the start. The US is willing “talk” ,of course (better called “stall” in US thinking). But only as long as they further their plans along while “talking”. There is no peaceful solution Russia can offer. Unless it gives the US and Israel 100% of what they want. Can it be acceptable to them.The US might “pretend” acceptance for a bit. But they will never “willingly” accept anything that doesn’t let their long term plan succeed.

          Here is a less than adequate article on RT about part of the US plans:
          https://www.rt.com/op-edge/388328-permanent-war-us-syria-iraq-afghanistan/

          And here is a map from years back that even more clearly shows what the US neo-cons want in the Middle-East. Why it hasn’t caused outrage among those countries I can’t understand:
          http://www.oilempire.us/new-map.html

          Note: though the Trump administration is well infiltrated with Zionists, he stated in a recent AP interview that escalating US involvement in Syria (‘boots on the ground ‘) wasn’t on the cards.

          The warm meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the sharing of’ classified intelligence ‘(which must show the CIA /MOSSAD have close relations with various terrorist groups) potentially exposes the reality of the machinations going on to a wider public, though known for years to non – MSM controlled segment of the public.

  6. Clive

    And yes, the Daily Mail really is “Newspaper of the Year”. Weariness prevents me from looking up exactly whose idea the Daily Mail is of a Newspaper of the Year, but the very fact that it’s someone’s is enough to have anyone reaching for the Xanax.

    1. Jim Haygood

      The Sun’s Page 3 has declined so badly that the lads just had no choice. :-(

    2. Massinissa

      I’m still trying to figure out what rubes would seriously believe Corbyn is training foxes of all things to hunt for Tories.

      1. ambrit

        Probably the same sort of “rubes” that voted for Barry in the 2012 election. (Willfully ignorant.)

  7. a different chris

    Wow, just wow. So all the people who sign the TPP don’t actually have to abide by it? WTF???

    > The first hurdle to get over will be the provision that stipulates at least six of the agreement’s original signatories, which combined account for at least 85 percent of the collective GDP, have to agree to implement the TPP

    I’m going to go buy a nice new Tesla and just because I sign the payment paperwork I still will feel that I am on firm ground when I don’t “implement” actual payments.

    1. Ian

      And you would be if there is a failure on teslas end to fulfill its contractual obligations. This is very basic.

  8. XXYY

    Re. “The Impeachment Trap: Be Careful What You Wish For”:

    Never interrupt your opponent when he’s making a mistake!

    1. Stormcrow

      Stating the obvious:

      Doug Henwood‏, May 16

      Do people get that were Pence president, the entire Republican dream agenda would sail through Congress in like three weeks?

      1. Art Eclectic

        I’d like to hope the Dems aren’t that stupid, but that’s probably wishful thinking. Trump is a fundraising dream come true for both 2018 and 2020. Plus, all the drama is keeping Republicans from doing a whole hell of lot – which benefits everyone.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Trump is President. He isn’t a Ford type character. Its not his job by divine right of kings. The Democrats are that stupid.

          1. Pat

            Including a few who have still not gotten that the usual position of elected Dems is rolled over. As in the person I talked to yesterday who gets that impeachment is pretty impossible but doesn’t get that Pence would get a honeymoon because we would be back to business as usual. Thinks all the “activism” will last and is based on more than Trump derangement without noticing that Democratic leadership is coopting most of it and making it all about Trump.

      2. CanCyn

        Um…I thought we all pretty much agree that the Democrats don’t have a problem with the Republican agenda?

  9. a different chris

    >This is a terrible outcome for progressives who want to move the Democratic Party back to its economic justice roots.

    SHHHHHHHHHHH!!! Shutupshutupshutup…. Killing Trump *and* the sortof-Left would be a twofer the Democratic Party simply will not be able to resist. The only hope is that they too stupid to figure that out, which isn’t much of a hope but god don’t help them. Sh*t we are so screwed.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Together…

    I have to be a member to give them money? What does membership entail? Nowhere explained.

    Make sure it doesn’t entail joint liability.

    “I have nothing to do with someone’s husband downloading her emails. I only gave money. I never wanted the membership.”

    1. Harold

      They have created a parallel government for the benefit of their own class & interests

      1. Synoia

        Umm, no:

        They have created a parallel government for the benefit of their own class & interests

  11. JohnnyGL

    Couple points….

    1) Thanks for the good laugh re: UK elections. I’m starting to think Corbyn’s got a shot, or might at least outperform expectations :)

    2) Thanks for the summary of tech weirdness. No WONDER that productivity is flat-falling. All the investment funds are going into Star Trek, sci fi fantasy stuff. It’s like they’re proving to us why we need to tax billionaires at a super high rate, — we’ve got to save them from themselves!!! They’ve got psychological problems on display!!!

    3) I was listening to Sanders-Kasich. It was AWFUL. Bernie was terrible, Kasich is revolting and all the questions appeared to be plants. USA media environment is looking like Brazil, pre-Dilma’s ouster. The script is written, now it’s playing out according to plan….which leads me to….

    4) I had an epiphany hit me while watching CNN for the above reasons….perhaps other commentators can weigh in. I now think Trump’s goose is basically cooked. He’s too boxed in to break out of this path that he’s on. It’s obviously partially because of his constant own-goals, which have allowed the intel community to keep propagandizing against him, but I now don’t even think he’s got the political capital to make a populist turn, even if he tries to make one. As soon as he tries that, repubs will jump ship.

    At this point, I think Trump’s getting impeached, it’s a matter of when. I think Trump himself will determine how slowly or how quickly this happens. I think he’s locked into this path.

    However….he looked dead, politically after the p*{family blog}-grabbing recording, so who knows????

    1. XXYY

      Certainly, for anything that Trump wants to do that requires planning, experience, intelligence, follow-through, political talent, a strong staff, or broad and supportive connections throughout Washington, I think we can pretty much forget it. We have the measure of the guy now, and, like him or hate him, he seems to be a very poor fit for the job he’s gotten himself into, and is proving to be laughably easy to keep off balance by anyone with half a mind to do it. The idea, popular during the campaign, that he’s actually some political powerhouse or has some secret weapon up his sleeve, or that his big talk is a measure of what he can actually do in office, well, those fantasies are over and he’s shown absolutely no sign of being able to do anything at all except be a punchline.

      It seems like the remainder of the Trump period of US history is either:

      o Out with a bang: Continued, worsening chaos and incompetence as his opponents figure out precisely where his buttons are and how to push them, driving a downward spiral that ultimately leads to impeachment or resignation, or

      o Out with a whimper: Some kind of stabilization at a level of very low presidential functioning, where Trump retreats into isolation and does the minimal amount needed to keep the office ticking over but everyone pretty much ignores him otherwise and waits for the clock to run out (the Schwarzenegger model).

      I think we are seeing some signs of the latter; no one, e.g. the House or the Senate, takes Trump’s statements at any kind of value anymore, and other countries are beginning to look for ways forward that don’t involve the US.

      1. JohnnyGL

        “Certainly, for anything that Trump wants to do that requires planning, experience, intelligence, follow-through, political talent, a strong staff, or broad and supportive connections throughout Washington, I think we can pretty much forget it. ”

        — and that’s why we love him!!! :) He’s the “less effective” evil (hat tip to BAR).

        I’m rather terrified of Pence in charge with 3 years to go…unelected and answerable to NO ONE. The Doug Henwood quote above from Stormcrow is on target.

        1. jrs

          unfortunately it doesn’t seem to take any of those things to leave a wide swath of destruction. One of those it might take skills to build but not so much to destroy things.

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      I didn’t think Bernie was awful, except for parroting the Russia–election line. But who knows, his main point was we need an impartial investigation and then to put it behind us. He may or may not believe the outcome will confirm the Russians did it, and he kinda has to toe the line on some stuff to get away with pushing his domestic agenda.

      Mainly I think he was bored and a bit irritated at having to participate in a discussion about the latest sky is falling Trump news instead of what he had been supposed to debate Kasich on.

      Kasich was pathetic in trying to soften Bernie’s statement that Trump is “something we haven’t seen before”. He did NOT use the word crazy but he did insist Trump is a liar, which Kasich for some wacky reason kept taking issue with as too polarizing.

      Of course, Trump isn’t really a liar since whatever he says he immediately believes, if it’s helpful to him. Lying requires intent, the capacity to know the truth even when it serves you ill. But I’m not sure Bernie could call him a bullshitter on CNN.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        To be fair, he should’ve called Obama a liar and Hillary a liar as well.

        He’d have scored even more points by reminding us that we can’t trust Schumer as well.

        Name one person in DC (since George I-can’t-tell-a-lie Washington) who is not a liar.

  12. hamstak

    Specifically, Clinton mentioned Swing Left, Emerge America, Color of Change, Indivisible and Run for Something as the five groups Onward Together will initially support.

    I am disappointed that Madame Clinton is not including Hooray for Everything in this initial round.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Smells like the Clinton Foundation model all over again. Namely, provide a bit of support in the form of drive-by conferences exploiting Hillary’s celebrity. Then collect all the activities of the subsidiary groups into a consolidated balance sheet of good works, with Owned ‘n Boned Together claiming full credit for the whole lot of it.

      Sheer genius! Like everything the Clintoons do, it’s as fraudulent as a three-dollar bill with Obama’s engraved portrait on it. Good luck hitting up the Saudis, the Kuwaitis and the Norwegians for this one.

    2. Damson

      En Marche!

      They don’t call Goldman Sachs- Macron ‘the French Clinton’ for no reason…..

    3. Synoia

      Correction:

      Swing Low, Enrage America, Collar of Change, Invisible and Run for Money

  13. dcblogger

    Trump, Pumped and Dumped
    Does America have President Pence in its future?
    https://thebaffler.com/latest/trump-pumped-and-dumped

    I think that this is about right. Trump will forced to resign by the Republicans. Sawicky thinks that this will happen soon. I think it will be sometime after the Nov 2017 elections in VA and NJ, and before Christmas. President Pence will not be better. The essential crisis of our nation will be in no way resolved.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      President Pence will not be better. The essential crisis of our nation will be in no way resolved.

      Not according to all the Clinton Cultists and OMG-Trump!sters I’ve been talking to. I have been accused of being a conspiracy theorist for suggesting not one single thing will change if Trump is gone, and that the total destruction of our republic via replacement of the Constitution with an updated version of the Articles of Confederation (mostly for the sake of appearances) will continue according to plan.

      Know why? Because “at least Pence is civilized.” Which, to me, says all that needs to be said about the mindset of the bubble-dwellers. As long as someone is civilized by their definition of the term, how could that person possibly do anything nefarious.

    2. jawbone

      Women and those who are not right wing Christians should be very, very worried. As should all minorities and females.

      Before I knew about the new production of The Handmaid’s Tale, Pence made me think of the novel. Shudder.

      Also, when Pence was selected by Trump as his VP (or given to him), I figured Pence was Trump’s protection against impeachment. Then I realized the Repubs were in the catbird’s seat. Trump they win, Pence the win.

      Trump we lose, Pence we lose.

      But, of course, Hillary was supposed to win…and we’d just lose differently.

      1. JTFaraday

        Yeah, Pence oversexualizes women as much as Trump, only creepier. Funny how the Repugnants managed to get the two sides of the same reductive coin all on one deplorable ticket.

    3. fresno dan

      dcblogger
      May 17, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/05/robert-mueller-will-serve-as-special-prosecutor-on-russia/527121/

      Meuller was appointed by….BUSH.
      Funny, all the pontification about how if the repubs (i.e., McConnell) didn’t support a special prosecutor or special committee, this latest kerfuffle wouldn’t amount to much, yet SOMEHOW we now have a special prosecutor….
      so it begins. Remember, from Watergate break in to Nixon resigning was a smidgen more than two years….I am investing in popcorn stocks.
      (I am not saying that is a good thing – if the IC wants a president gone, and the IC allies in congress agree, it seems to me the president is gone….especially if he seems naive about Washington)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Does he like Russian food?

        Beef Stroganoff? Pirozhki? Pelmini? Blini?

        You have to know your enemy, you know…all the nuances.

          1. lambert strether

            Film at 11, with the caveat that even if the comment hadn’t cheekily reified the term “deep state” by turning into one of those stupid midword caps brand-like entities, it’s a fake concept best used to project meaning onto fake news.

    4. different clue

      Perhaps this was the Republicans’ Dream Plan B all along.

      Trump was the delivery vehicle. Pence was the payload.

      All the leading Democrats would prefer a President Pence to a President Trump. Pence is one of them. Pence is a globalist-corporatist, pro Forced-Trade, pro War-With-Russia Clintonite in every significant way except his evangelical conservatism.

    1. Loblolly

      Her sacrifice achieved nothing. The establishment is determined to have endless war and is willing to destroy democracy to do so.

      Everyone here who pushes the impeachment narrative should hang their heads in shame.

  14. FreeMarketApologist

    I’ll second the ‘Must Read’ importance of “Notes From An Emergency”, and recommend forwarding the link far and wide, to techies or otherwise.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Still reading it. But this strikes me as untrue.

      China and Russia show us that the Internet need not be a world-wide web, that it can be subverted and appropriated by the state. By creating a political toolkit for authoritarian movements, the American tech giants may be putting their own future at risk.

      Sure governments may block certain things from the peeps, but the net seems to be open enough in either country for plenty of hacking. Stuxnet, ransom etc.

    2. LT

      I recommend going to see Alien: Covenent this weekend and rooting for the aliens.

      Salon had an interestesting take on the Aliens series: the privatization of space travel is the recurring theme.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I wondered at the author’s idea of organizing tech workers or his notions that they held some power or were difficult to find and replace. Tech workers are as fungible as cogs on a wheel and the kind of people that become engineers and programmers are hardly union material.

      1. MoiAussie

        Most tech workers may be as fungible as cogs on a wheel. But the belief that this is universally true is a reason tech management fails so spectacularly so frequently.

        I’ve worked for companies that cut their own throats by pushing out one or two key tech people, under the illusion that they could easily be replaced. And the common approach of trying to solve problems by hiring more coding monkeys is almost always a recipe for failure.

  15. Vatch

    This is good for a few laughs:

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/17/politics/trump-coast-guard-speech/

    “Look at the way I have been treated lately, especially by the media,” he [Trump] said. “No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly. You can’t let them get you down, you can’t let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams.”

    Well gosh. I can think of some politicians, including some U.S. Presidents, who were treated much worse than Trump has been treated. I won’t even list any examples, because this is such a trivial exercise.

      1. cfraenkel

        You’ve forgotten Lincoln, Kennedy, Garfield and McKinley already? (and Ford and Reagan)
        Or just trolling?

  16. cripes

    Civil rights lawyer Lawrence Krasner’s primary win for District Attorney in Philadelphia seems pretty significant, despite the stain of Soros money backing the campaign. As long as he stays away from Koch prison reform cash…

    Although noises are emanating from NYC, Cook County and elsewhere re: eliminating bail for nonviolent offenses, etc., it;s been fifty years since a district attorney could win promising never to prosecute a death penalty case. Bronx DA Robert Johnson probably came close, with minority juries that never believed a lying cop.

    It’s an unsustainalbe proposition to continue the carceral state, at least at the level we now enjoy, and the struggle will be who controls the deceleration of jailing, and to what extent “alternatives to incarceration” morphs into jails without walls, and all the neoliberal toll extraction that implies.

    Ferguson, Missouri’s shakedown, debt prison/probation model is not the future, but there’s a lot of undoing to do there.

    Still, the pressure is mounting around the country, and this is likely a success to build on. Let’s see how it goes.

    1. Spring Texan

      Soros has actually supported a lot of good stuff in his lifetime, is against the war on drugs, is pro-immigrant, has tried to push a more humane approach to dying. I would say he’s my absolute favorite Clinton supporter (most of whom I can’t bear).

  17. DJG

    Maciej Ceglowski: Agreed. It is a must read. Another pivotal paragraph:

    The tech industry enjoys tearing down flawed institutions, but refuses to put work into mending them. Their runaway apparatus of surveillance and manipulation earns them a fortune while damaging everything it touches. And all they can think about is the cool toys they’ll get to spend the profits on.

    –And then he gets into the need for unionization, the cult of tax evasion in the U S of A, and a call for Europeans to regulate tech companies.

    Something of substance. The comparison of the rise of Polish standards of living to the stagnation in the U S of A, with a side remark on the color of Warsaw’s drinking water, is insightful and rueful.

    1. Massinissa

      I sort of question the concluding paragraphs. I just find it highly doubtful that Europe will start regulating anything they havnt already been regulating right now. Theyre too in thrall to neoliberalism now, theyre more likely at this point to deregulate than to regulate.
      America is in a bad place, but hoping Europe will magically do better than it has been seems sort of pie in the sky to me.
      Other than that, solid article.

    2. sid_finster

      The only reason Polish living standards have risen is because Poland has exported it’s unemployment and received EU structural adjustments.

      I remember the miserable economic situation in Poland before 2003.

    1. Massinissa

      It will last indefinitely. Its reproducing now that the New Cold War is on. Don’t expect the mentality to go away without being challenged first.

      1. LT

        There will be a difference between the “true believers” of one era and the opportunists you describe.
        There is hope.

    1. ambrit

      I didn’t know that wholly owned “agents” of a politico-theocratic foreign entity could hold “sensitive” positions. (Colour me naive.) Put otherwise; How much is that directorship going for today?

  18. LT

    Re: Notes from an Emergency

    Toward the end, he comments that the American government is not functional “right now.”

    It’s functioning for the people paying off elected officials to sell us off bit by bit to rentiers. And has functioned that way long before Trump.
    The Constitution is not a moral document. It’s more like a property agreement.
    Every now and then an amendment is stuck in, trying to humanize all citicizens, and it’s mostly not enforced. The Bill of Rights was an afterthought that is now shredded.

    One article put it perfectly: Trump is a symptom, not the cause.

    Meanwhile, Obama says “hello” from his luxurious vacation sites.

  19. Massinissa

    “War replaced by free everything”

    They say that like its a bad thing! Free stuff IS preferable to war, and in fact, just about everything is preferable to war! What the hell are they smoking?

    Also I hope no one seriously believes Corbyn is training foxes to hunt Tories…

    1. MoiAussie

      Also I hope no one seriously believes Corbyn is training foxes to hunt Tories…

      It’s parody, like the Onion. If you seriously believe any of it, you’ve been had.
      Corbyn is opposed to Tories hunting foxes.

    2. makedoanmend

      Yes, it’s parody but there is also an underlying message. The message is something along the lines of:

      ‘Corbyn and his loons are so far removed from our central spectrum of common belief and practices that we can quite easily attach absurd notions to these people with relative ease, can’t we dear readers? – wink, wink, nudge, nudge.’

      It’s an old device of british tabloid writers and editors.

      The election campaign has largely been kept at a fairly low key by the MSM. Apathy seems the order of the day apart from tory apparatchiks at both the lcoal and national levels.

      TINA.

      Au revoir NHS. Hello misery.

  20. Jeff W

    Just about the only reason that I hope Senator Biden tosses his hat into the ring for 2020 is that it inoculates Senator Sanders from charges that he is “too old” to run. They’re essentially the same age—Joe’s less than one-and-a-quarter years younger than Bernie—he’ll be 78 on election day, Sanders will be 79.

    “Many top Democrats are furious that Bernie Sanders appears to be running for president again…”

    They keep on confirming Sanders’ statement that “ “They would rather go down with the Titanic…”

    And the only two “furious” luminaries who are willing to be quoted by name are Donna Brazile, the discredited chair of the discredited DNC, and Markos Moulitsas, “an irrelevancy himself” (as Jacobin called him)—those are the people whose opinions anyone is supposed to care about?

    1. Oregoncharles

      I’m nearly the same age, and I think they’re both too old. I think Clinton and Trump are, too. Remember all Clinton’s health problems during the campaign? The month she took out, right in the middle? Both campaigning and the job itself are killers, really too much to ask of any human being.

      Even more important, it’s a measure of our national tragedy that we have no one in the prime of life who seems plausible for the Presidency. No bullpen at all? That’s really bad. It’s especially bad on the Left, a measure of how toxic our politics have become.

      PS: this might be what Our Revolution and Brand New Congress are really about, bringing along a successor to Bernie. It’s strange, and doesn’t inspire confidence, that he isn’t visibly grooming a replacement.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > They would rather go down with the Titanic

      What does DNC Deck Chair Perez think, I wonder? I bet he’s got his lifeboat space reserved already…

  21. jerry

    I don’t have the time or patience to sift through this Trump russia nonsense, and suspect its all BS, with the establishment trying to just get people so riled up they can get Trump out.

    Who wants him out so bad? Why? Thanks in advance.

    1. MoiAussie

      Who wants him out so bad? Why?

      The Dems, because he “stole the election” by getting people to vote for him where it counted.
      Parts of the GOP, because he showed them up and defeated their chosen ones, or because they would prefer Pence.
      Liberals of all flavors, because he belongs to the wrong identity group, and it was HER turn.
      Neocons, because he wants better relations with sovereign foreign powers, not wars.
      The Establishment, because he ignores norms and won’t get with the program, and because
      the proles must be taught that voting for an outsider will gain them nothing.

      I’m sure others can add to the list.

  22. Michael Fiorillo

    “Soros, Oh no!”

    Regarding the Philadelphia DA election, add John Legend’s name to that lament: he’s an important mouthpiece for charter schools and privatization.

    A slick one, an Ivy grad (Credentials!), he’d be an ideal celebri-pol for the Dims.

  23. apotropaic

    Lord Moulitsas is a disgrace. Bragging on his site about buying a Tesla with his Comcast money from selling Vox/SBnation and then saying that people of color don’t care about economic issues, so you’re a racist if you care about them. Such a tool.

  24. Montanamaven

    Every where you look, it’s Russia bashing. Notice the not so subtle criticism of Russia’s culture in this review of a Russian movie from Cannes.

    What the movie is about, in a way that’s both potent and oblique, is something larger than the charred ashes of one dead marriage. There have always been societies that clamp down on freedom in filmmaking but allow just enough wiggle room of expression for a shrewd — and poetic — artist to say what’s on his mind. That was true in the Communist Czechoslovakia of the 1970s, or in the Iran of the last 30 years. It’s true, as well, of Vladimir Putin’s Russia: As a filmmaker, Andrey Zvyagintsev can’t come right out and declare, in sharp bright colors, the full corruption of his society, but he can make a movie like “Leviathan,” which took the spiritual temperature of a middle-class Russia lost in booze and betrayal, and he can make one like “Loveless,” which takes an ominous, reverberating look not at the politics of Russia but at the crisis of empathy at the culture’s core .

    Curious as to how much knowledge this Variety reviewer has of Russian culture. Really ? The Russian people lack empathy? Seems a bit of a stretch to me.
    Variety review of “Loveless “

    1. witters

      Of course the Russians lack empathy! Geez, you ever tried to read Chekov or Tolstoy or Gogol or listen to Shostakovich?

      1. tony

        Projection

        We all have an image of how we “should be”. Freud called it the “Ego Ideal”. But sometimes we experience emotions and drives or have personal qualities which don’t sit well with this idealized construct. Projection is when we attribute to others these unacceptable, discomfiting, and ill-fitting feelings and traits that we possess. This way we disown these discordant features and secure the right to criticize and chastise others for having or displaying them. When entire collectives (nations, groups, organizations, firms) project, Freud calls it the Narcissism of Small Differences.

        http://samvak.tripod.com/personalitydisorders21.html

        How many have died and suffered in Libya, Iraq and Afganistan due to the actions of presumably empathic Americans? Or even Flint, MI? Was any of that suffering necessary, or even useful to the US?

        Jordan Peterson defines evil as something that is harmful to others and to yourself, which you knowingly engage in, knowing full well that you would be better off not hurting others.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “Why do Russians never smile?”

      Was that article accidental? To get out of the hologram, one has to cast a wide net…or something like…connect distant dots…

      1. Harold

        In some cultures smiling is a signal that you have peaceful intent and are not going to kill someone. In others smiling is a sign that you are an idiot.

        In France and Russia, they don’t smile unless someone makes a joke. This was boiler-plate 18th c. etiquette (derived from France and before them the Spanish). Lord Chesterfield famously admonished his son never to smile or laugh.

        Perhaps the Russians are this way because in the 18th & 19th centuries upperclass Russians had French tutors.
        In France you are supposed to wear a serious expression in public. When someone published a photograph of Mitterand smiling no one recognized himhttps://icdl2012sjevremovic.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/platt-french-or-foe.pdf

    3. Carolinian

      OIFVet was a fan of Leviathan but I didn’t care for it myself. The movie clearly has a political agenda so who knows how true or untrue it really is? (I don’t.) But I do think movies that take a critical view of regime opponents (the regime being ours) probably have a much easier time getting Western distribution.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the crisis of empathy at the culture’s core

      Liberals are very discerning about when and how to emit their precious Empathy Essence. Remember all the yammering immediately after the election about how they would never, ever show empathy for the (racist, sexist) white* working class? Guilty conscience and bad faith, because nobody (at least on the left) was asking them to feel empathy; rather to question why they lost those voters they once had, and what to do to get them back.

      NOTE * The only kind of working class there is. There is no black working class, Hispanic working class, and there are no women who are working class.

  25. allan

    Former U.S. Navy admiral sentenced to 18 months in bribery scandal [Reuters]

    A former U.S. Navy admiral at the center of a massive bribery scandal was sentenced on Wednesday to 18 months in prison for choosing “karaoke over character,” U.S. prosecutors said.

    Former U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Robert Gilbeau, 56, of San Diego, pleaded guilty last year to lying when he told federal agents he had not received gifts from Malaysian businessman Leonard Francis, the owner of a Singapore-based defense contractor.

    Gilbeau, who became the first active-duty admiral ever convicted of a federal crime, was subsequently demoted to captain.

    Gilbeau’s case is part of a long-running criminal probe known as the Fat Leonard case, in reference to a nickname for Francis. …

    U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino said Gilbeau deleted documents and data files as he tried to conceal his dealings with Francis, according to a U.S. Department of Justice statement. …

    Gilbeau was in his mid-30s when he first met Francis in Bali, Indonesia, and the parties with prostitutes started right away, prosecutors said.

    In return, Gilbeau signed off on contracts for services such as removing waste from U.S. aircraft carriers at highly inflated prices, prosecutors said. …

    18 months is about 1/20 of Chelsea Manning’s original sentence of 35 years.

      1. ambrit

        Yes he did. He let the cat out of the bag about how our overseas military finances are managed.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Gilbeau, who became the first active-duty admiral ever convicted of a federal crime, was subsequently demoted to captain.

      OUCH! That’s gonna slash his military pension from like $5,000 a month to a pitiful $4,000 a month.

      Did they have to be so harsh?

      1. ambrit

        Yeah. Serving your country was supposed to be an act of patriotism, not a business decision. Why doesn’t anyone of “influence” suggest capping officers pensions to something even somewhat reasonable. Now there’s an easy target. “We are cutting over ten billion in wasteful spending from the military budget!” If the affected ones complain too vociferously, let us revive an ancient and honourable practice and supply colonies for veterans to settle in in those overseas lands we have so successfully “pacified” over the years.

    1. MoiAussie

      “In Venezuela, we are on the verge of humanitarian crisis,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in a statement ahead of the meeting.

      So Venezuela is an humanitarian crisis, but Yemen is business as usual?

  26. RudyM

    Given Philadelphia’s crime issues, I don’t think someone who specializes in suing cops is the best pick for district attorney. But I don’t live in Philly any more, so I’ll be able to watch this experiment from a distance.

  27. George Phillies

    Impeachment? Impeachment and then no conviction would chew up a great deal of time, create incredible drama, and convince large numbers of Americans that Congress is dumber than the rocks in my garden. Impeachment and no conviction worked so well for the Republicans 20 years ago.

    At some point the venom is so intense that it blows up the system.

    The Washington post is covering all the angles, with a report on evidence that there was no Russian leak from the DNC: It was instead an inside job by a staffer and an English courier.

  28. Jeremy Grimm

    I went to the site: https://www.gofccyourself.com/ to set it in my bookmarks. There was a notice on the site — “Because of a procedural quirk, the FCC will not be considering any comments on the issue of net neutrality that are submitted over the next week or so.
    ​ … In the interim, you’ll have to find something else to be mad about on the Internet.”

    Is it just me or does that notice seem a bit cheeky?

    1. ambrit

      Extend and pretend has worked so well so far. Now, who is going to “short” American democracy?

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