Links 6/4/16

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Boxing legend Muhammad Ali dies aged 74 BBC. If you haven’t seen it, please watch When We Were Kings, on the famed “Rumble in the Jungle”.

Muhammad Ali, the Greatest, Dies at 74 Wall Street Journal. I’m old enough to remember the public uproar when he changed his name to Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad Ali, Titan of Boxing and the 20th Century, Dies at 74 New York Times

Factory Robot Working On Some Of Its Own Designs After Hours Onion (David L)

Wounded elephant appears to plead for help from humans after being shot by poachers Telegraph (furzy)

Canadian Magazine Commits Incredibly Charming Copy-Editing Error About 10-Gallon Hats Gawker (Chuck L)

Superbugs Have Reached The U.S. For The First Time — Again FiveThirtyEight


Calls for China to Respect Maritime-Claim Ruling Grow Wall Street Journal

South China Sea: US warns Beijing against building ‘great wall of self-isolation’ Agence France-Presse

Paris floods: Seine at 30-year high as galleries close BBC


Jamie Dimon Gets in the Face of His U.K. Workers With Threats on Brexit Pam Martens and Russ Martens

Why banks won’t leave if we vote for Brexit Telegraph


Over 1 Million Russians Are Modern Slaves — Report Moscow Times (Wat)


Hard Times Ahead for the Israel Lobby (Thank Sanders and Trump) Counterpunch

‘Great Satan’ USA & ‘evil’ Britain not to be trusted – Iran’s leader RT (resilc) That happens to be true.

Imperial Collapse Watch

It’s Rucksacks and Foxholes as Army Goes Old School for New Conflicts New York Times. Bugs Bunny: “This is not jungle or deserts they are preparing for. My guess is Hillary & Co. are going to try to get their war with Russia.”

How Obama’s Afghanistan plan is forcing the Army to replace soldiers with contractors Washington Post

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

US Government Used Prisoners to Train Tattoo Recognition Algorithms Motherboard (resilc)

Researchers Uncover a Flaw in Europe’s Tough Privacy Rules New York Times


Democratic “superdelegates” endorse Bernie Boing Boing. Resilc: “Someone better start Bernie’s car for him remotely. Clintoon special forces on overtime.”

Beware Of Beltway Professionals Trying To Cash In On Bernie’s Name DownWithTyranny!

‘More Than a Chance’ Clinton May Not Be the Democrats’ White House Nominee Sputnik (Wat)

Susan Sarandon says Hillary Clinton is ‘more dangerous’ than Donald Trump Independent (Richard Smith)

Hillary Clinton’s ‘Major Foreign Policy Address’ Was Anything But Foreign Policy in Focus (resilc)

Clinton’s San Diego Speech on Trump and Foreign Policy American Conservative (resilc)

Hillary Comes Out as the War Party Candidate Counterpunch

The Bigger Nuclear Risk: Trump or Clinton? Consortiumnews (furzy)

If Warren is Clinton’s VP, Harry Reid has a plan to replace her CBS

Obama: I have Wasserman Schultz’s back The Hill

Trump Leads Clinton on Top-Ranking Economic Issues Gallup (resilc). Neoliberal revulsion.

The Trump Trap Foreign Policy. Lambert: “Important. Rothkopf editor of Foreign Policy. Heart of national security class.”

Paul Ryan Disavows Trump’s Attack on Judge’s ‘Mexican Heritage’ NBC (furzy)

George W. Bush’s torture-justifying lawyer is worried about Trump’s respect for the law Boing Boing

Protestors and Supporters Brawl Outside Donald Trump Rally in San Jose Gawker

Photographs Show Trump Supporters Pepper Spraying Protesters in The Face (UPDATED) Gawker

8 Quick Thoughts on the Emmett Rensin Suspension Corey Robin. Important. More purging of leftie journalists.

Freedom Rider: Who’s the Fascist? Black Agenda Report

Obama Wanted to Cut Social Security. Then Bernie Sanders Happened. Intercept

Obama’s Proposal to Expand Social Security Benefits Is Due to Grassroots Activism TruthOut. Resilc: “Bernie effect.”

Welfare to work” resulted in neither welfare nor work for many Americans Slate. We can expect more of the same with Bill in charge of the economy.

Demand Clean Water, Get Sued for Defamation Charles Pierce, Esquire (resilc)

Oregon Militant Leaders Unhappy With Jail Rules, Want Facebook Huffington Post (furzy)


How OPEC Won the Battle and Lost the War Bloomberg (resilc)

Banks’ belt-tightening threatens to drive a terminals decline Financial Times (David L)

Art world is ‘hotbed’ of corruption, collector claims Telegraph (furzy)

US Commercial Bankruptcies Soar (despite Rosy Scenario) Wolf Street (EM)

DoubleLine’s Gundlach calls May employment report ‘real body blow’ Business Insider

May’s job report shows the beginning of the end for the recovery Fabius Maximus

Class Warfare

Imagine an Economy Without Wall Street Wall Street Journal (Adrien F). Ready your barf bag…

Wealthy Americans Don’t Have to Go to Panama to Hide Their Wealth Foreign Policy in Focus (resilc). As we said, thanks to Richard Smith’s knowledge of the terrain, when the story broke.

Bernie, The Donald, and the Sins of Liberalism TomDispatch

The Surging Cost of Basic Needs Atlantic (resilc). When people complain about inflation, this is the issue.

Walmart Worker Advocates Express Skepticism Over Raises New York Times

Walmart to test food delivery with Uber and Lyft BBC. Godzilla and Mothra team up.

Retrotopia: The Far Side of Progress Archdruid

Antidote du jour. @HistoryToLearn: “Cats waiting for the fishermen to return, unknown date”:

cats waiting for fishermen links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Starveling

    All the links about Hillary’s speech remind me that 2016 has been the year in which I’ve realized NPR is unlistenable. When so many ‘foreign policy experts’ and the neocon wing of the Republican party come out for the Democrat because the ‘evil’ Republican is pushing isolationism…

    Why should the average American care about foreign policy ‘experts’ anyhow? The idiot down the block who doesn’t know the difference between Syria and maple syrup is less likely to end the world than our bought out policy ‘experts’.

    1. pretzelattack

      what other field can you make a career out of being wrong? i guess economics.

      1. Starveling

        Economics, foreign policy, pollster, talking head, spin doctor.

        I’d not call him an economist, but Jim Cramer has made a career out of never being correct.

        1. Pat

          I’d say most Democratic campaign advisors and a large portion of the Republican ones as well seem to make a very comfortable living producing losing campaigns.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Perhaps they are right that isolationism is evil.

            But let’s remember, in the beginning, in the primordial soup, molecules freely interacted and replicated themselves, unless some decided to ‘wall off’ and ‘isolate” themselves.

            From these ‘isolated’ cells, we get ‘more isolated’ organisms.

            That, is the the biological basis for isolationism, just as the government has a correspondence to our central nervous system.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Perhaps isolationism is evil.

            But let’s remember that, in the beginning, in the primordial soup, molecules interacted and replicated freely, until some of them ‘walled off’ and ‘isolated’ themselves.

            From those ‘isolated’ cells, we get more ‘isolated’ organisms.

            That, is the the biological basis for isolationism, just as the government has a correspondence to our central nervous system.

            “Take your alien bodily fluids elsewhere. It’s not unwelcome in my isolated biological sovereign state.”

            Isolationism is our original, er, sin (or evil).

        2. RP

          “Economics, foreign policy, pollster, talking head, spin doctor.”

          Add clergy to the above and you’ve got all your major career paths for the aspiring young charlatan. Petty grifters need not apply; only those with true imagination go pro.

      2. RP

        Clergyman is the oldest grift I’m aware of. Still plenty of opportunity for the aspiring young charlatan.

      3. montanamaven

        Heard at a D.C. cocktail party: “I’m majoring in ‘Being Wrong’ with a minor in “Oops, My Bad!” .

        1. sid_finster

          I don’t hear them ever admit to being wrong.

          It’s always someone else’s fault. “If only we had gotten the support we needed…”

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              If it’s not intentional, they will go easy on you.

              Don’t be correct on purpose.

              1. ex-PFC Chuck

                “Don’t be correct on purpose.”

                That was Eric Shinseki’s mistake. It took over a decade, but they finally got even.

                1. jo6pac

                  Great memory and he was correct on Iraq then they shafted him at VA were no one can succeed.

          1. Sally

            That’s because they are not wrong.

            In their eyes Iraq was a huge success, for the right insiders. Very powerful people looted the US treasury to the tune of $2 Trillion. Neo con policy of destabilising one secular Arab nation after another is exactly as planned. Iraq, Lybia, Syria are all now in Total chaos. Exactly what they wanted. Easy to now loot those countries and they are no threat to Israel.

            The bigger goal is the capture of Russia, and it’s resources. They will not rest until the likes of Soros and other western interests control those assets. Always need to remember the Neo cons laid it out in the New American century document……

            America must have ” mass spectrum dominance of all land, all sea, all air, and all space.” It couldn’t be open about their agenda. Nothing short of total control of the planet will do. And it doesn’t matter how many people get killed. They would even accept destroying Western Europe if they can guarantee Russia’s defeat. Once that is completed on to China….

    2. fresno dan

      We used to call them the “best and the brightest”
      Now we call them “serious”

    3. Detroit Dan

      I observed yesterday that I personally NEVER listen to NPR anymore. I used to be a regular listener.

      1. Schnormal

        Same here! I used to listen every morning. Then one day last year I realized I didn’t need to hear another non-critical interview with a calm-voiced psychopath, and I decided to play some music instead.

        I still love listening to Joe Frank though —

      2. Softie

        NPR revealed its true face when the OWS movement just got started in New York back in 2011. It fired every one of its employees who showed solidarity with the movement. NPR is big money’s propaganda machine and its job is to brainwash the population with your tax dollars and you listeners’ financial support. How cute!

        1. charger01

          Link, please?

          I appreciate Chris Hedges’ perspective of the OWS movement in New York. His statement about how “when regular white collar professionals showed up with their kids, that’s when the elites panicked”

        2. sid_finster

          Public funding for NPR (and PBS) is entirely dependent upon staying in the good graces of Team D.

          1. jawbone

            Also, since the transfer of wealth to the very few has been so successful, NPR/PBS must not in any way disturb its Top One Percenter donors/masters. Not disturb the entire top 15-20 per centers either.

            It hit me a few years ago that the incredible increase in the cost of a college and university education, along with fewer good jobs for graduates, was reactionaries’ dreams come true. There would never be another Hippie generation, with people sure they could always make a decent living even if they took time out to protest and rebel, either politically or socially. It the younger generation is scared to death from their high school graduations onward that they will never be able to get out of debt, there’s a lot less room for actions which might cause a future employer to toss their applications immediately. It’s “toe the line” time.

            And, for the Neolib types, only those from “name” universities –or their alma maters– carry any weight. I recall my Corporate Borg having a CEO who would hire from his own non-A list college, but directed that other hires must be from those A++ schools.

            But back to finances for the public broadcasters; it’s clear they need all the donations they can get, especially since there is so little discretionary income for the vast majority of workers to use for donations. Giving to, say, Bernie probably means not giving to your local public station or Pacifica station. Hard times mean low donations from especially the below median wage earners. Politicians curry favor with the same donor pool the non-profits depend on. He who has the gold makes the rules.

        3. lightningclap

          “Non-critical interview with a calm-voiced psychopath” Perfect. The appearance of civility is part of the act. Anyone who raises their voice must be an unhinged chair-thrower.

          I personally am a bit pissed off and think it is a rational response.

      3. Lord Koos

        I haven’t listened for several years now, nor will I ever send them another penny.

    4. Jess

      “Syria from maple syrup”

      Now that’s a great line. I intend to steal it at first opportunity.

    5. Lambert Strether

      The key point on the Rothkopf piece — and be sure to listen to the Foreign Policy podcast to get a real insight into the worldview of our national security class; how they talk, what they take for granted, and especially what they think is funny — is that Rothkopf says, in short form, that Clinton’s speech might as well have been written by a junior staffer, but would be unusable for a principal because there is nothing new in it at all (hence, it’s not newsworthy. *And Rothkopf knows, because during the first Clinton administration, he was that staffer!). But don’t worry, he says: Clinton still has five months to straighten herself out! This from a pundit who thinks Obama is laughably weak, hates Trump, and supports Clinton!

      NOTE * Which, I suppose, explains why Morning Joe focused so obsessively on the advance work; otherwise, there was no there, there.

      1. Harry

        Is this narrative of “weakness” which is likely to light up the night sky. All the serious people believe Obama has been weak, and they have been too deferential to the Russians. They don’t consider the idea that Russia might just say “this far and no further”. After all, if any where might survive a nuclear war it’s Siberia. “Might”.

        No, not the Acela corridor.

    6. optimader

      Why should the average American care about foreign policy ‘experts’ anyhow?
      Bullshit often comes wrapped in unnecessary complexity
      -a strategy to ensure job security for the policy crowd that has no useful skills.

      An image of Bill Kristol is forming in my mind. A stopped clock gets it right more often than this creature.

    7. Treadingwaterbutstillkicking

      “Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.”

      Mae West

    1. Cynthia

      I think the caption must be a mistake. Shouldn’t it read, “Cats waiting for the guys they sent out to bring them fish”?

      1. fresno dan

        If it was my cat, the caption would read:
        Cat waiting for fishermen to re-return after failing to bring back sushi grade fish….

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          And fishermen and fisherwomen do it gladly.

          It’s not often you see creatures so looking forward to seeing you, at least not since Odysseus and Penelope.

          1. ambrit

            Aw, gee. Wasn’t it Odysseus’ dog who waited all those years for the far farer to come home? Then the poor mutt dies. Penelopes’ cats would have sucked up to the suitors. When’s the last time you saw the episode where Timmys’ cat ran and got the townspeople to save Timmy from out the well?

        2. optimader

          Cats waiting for fisherman they sent to next town to get the properly sliced prosciutto made with the special paprika.

      2. ewmayer

        Indeed, a good argument can be made that the human-civilization-crucial practice of food fishing was instigated by cats. Keeping cows and goats for their milk and growing of grain crops so as to yield a rodent-attracting surplus are also both quite possibly cat-training-their-humans inventions.

    2. Emma

      Perhaps it’s “Love is the net where hearts are caught like fish.” Muhammad Ali RIP

  2. abynormal

    If you even dream of beating me you better wake up and apologize ~Ali
    i’m nowhere near a boxing fan but damn glad i grew up with this character in my background…sugar ray too!

      1. craazyman

        Evidently football legened Jim Brown once decided he wanted to duke it out with Ali in the ring. He thought he could kick Ali’s ass.

        Ali heard of it and said “Jim wants to do WHAT? Bring him down here tomorrow.”

        Brown came over and got in the ring, started swinging wildly and after 30 seconds couldn’t land one punch. Then Ali hit him twice with a quick one-two to the face.

        “OK, I get the point.” Brown said. hahaha

      2. Jim Haygood

        ‘It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound sand. I drone people dead.”

        – Barky Ozero

      3. Kurt Sperry

        “My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother or some darker people or some poor, hungry people in the mud for big, powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father. Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people? Poor little black people and babies and children and women. How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.” — Muhammad Ali

      4. Peter Bernhardt

        Yep. My older brother was drafted and served in Viet Nam as a Marine, where he earned a medal of valor. I’m proud that America gave us both of these men.

    1. beth

      I hate boxing. But I loved Mohammad Ali. He spoke the truth about Vietnam and race and freedom of religion like one else. Clear as a bell at the end of the match.

      “Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.”

      “I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.”

      “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”

      George Carlin got it right.

      1. barrisj

        And, please let’s refer to MA as a “draft refuser”…a “draft evader” is a young chap fleeing to Canada or Europe to avoid conscription. Ali simply refused to be drafted, and took the punishment like the man he was. His draft stance and embracing Nation of Islam set US white people into a hateful rage…no one could understand a matter of conscience or principle…”Why couldn’t Ali be like white-people favourite darkie boxer, Joe Louis?” Now, today, we are inundated with praise for the man, a recognition of the global popularity he enjoyed even whilst scorned at home. Three and a half years taken out of his boxing prime, and MA still could beat the best, until age finally made its mark. A true sports/cultural icon.

    2. optimader

      It’s a shame those close to Ali did not get him out of the ring. His “gift” w/regard to boxing originally was that no one could land a head punch, which gave him celebrity on the international stage, and the opportunity to backfill as a role model and erudite moral/policy commentator.
      Later in his career he became a punching bag for the money which essentially destroyed him w/respect to his potential to as role model to young blacks in this country.

      Ali ended up as a respected celebrity, but was a role model opportunity lost going forward .
      I sometimes wonder what race relations would be like in this country if he and MLK had full lives to offer positive influence rather than leaving a void for likes of parasites like JJackson and ASharpton?

  3. HotFlash

    It’s Rucksacks and Foxholes as Army Goes Old School for New Conflicts New York Times. Bugs Bunny: “This is not jungle or deserts they are preparing for. My guess is Hillary & Co. are going to try to get their war with Russia.”

    Any chance it could be for, um, domestic operations?

    1. HBE

      Dual Purpose training.

      With a crumbling infrastructure, such a large landmass, and potential “enemies” all around military operations in the US could very well resemble the long push through Russian steppes and destroyed cities.

      I think the primary focus is Russia though. With nuland potentially playing such a large role in the Clinton machine it seems reasonable. How anyone with even half a brain, could think a direct confrontation with Russia would end up a win for our “exceptional” nation is beyond me.

      A direct confrontation with Russia would destroy the US, you think Iraq was expensive a war with Russia would make it look like pennies in comparison. That is besides the fact the Russia is already preparing, and has a deep history of destroying those who attempt to attack directly.

      Just looking at the supply chain alone for such an issue illustrates the insanity, Europe does not produce enough food nor equipment to keep a large force inside of Russia fed and supplied, most material would have to take the slow boat across the Atlantic and the deeper a force moves into the interior the weaker it becomes.

      This is all besides the fact that we might be training ground troops for this but the military leadership and even mid level officers have absolutely no experience in this type of war, “counter-terrorism” against guerrillas in the backwaters of the world for 60+ years (an the US doesn’t even do this well) does not leave a country prepared for the Russian bear.

      We would be facked if this happened. This is just one of many reasons the hillerrorist must be kept from power.

      1. Jason

        The idea of Clinton pursuing a war with Russia seems both all too likely, and just as bad as Trump getting anywhere near the White House.

        I suppose all that’s left is to pray that one or both don’t make it to November, while doing everything possible to pursue the minuscule chance of a 3rd party win. Sadly, it’s too late for a joint Johnson-Stein “anyone but Clinton-Trump” ticket. (The Libertarians have plenty of problems, but at least they seem sincere in their isolationism.)

        1. craazyboy

          Just as bad as Trump??? Do you have any idea what playing nuclear war brinkmanship means??? With Russia, we don’t have a nice ground war we all watch on CNN and keep track of the troop casualties from afar. Anyone even thinking of nuclear war needs to be locked up in a looney bin.

          1. Jason

            I’m going to repeat myself on Trump – here’s his quote on the US nuclear arsenal: “With nuclear, the power, the devastation is very important to me.”

            His campaign spokeswoman Pierson said, “What good does it do to have a good nuclear triad if you’re afraid to use it?”

            He’s a thin-skinned, quick-tempered idiot who regularly calls for violence and doesn’t have the faintest idea what war, nuclear or otherwise, is actually like. And yes, he should be locked up in an insane asylum. If you want to put Clinton right next to him, that’s fine with me. But if you think he should be given control of our military, you’re as willfully ignorant as he is.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              It’s the same question asked by a saner person, but rhetorically.

              “Why have them if you don’t plan on using them?”



              We, the whole world, should get rid of them.

            2. flora

              Trump doesn’t have the established, well-financed, well-connected, revolving door political machine that the Clinton’s have. Why does that matter?
              Because when serious policy steps are about to be taken people who are in a position to say ‘no, bad idea, can’t do that, won’t do that’ would probably say exactly that to Trump. Whereas with Clinton they might waffle and do what she wants even if they know it’s wrong because she, Bill, the Clinton Foundation, etc, have such a long reach outside of official govt.

              “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
              ― Upton Sinclair

              It doesn’t surprise me at all that Hillary chose someone not in the civil service, someone who’s salary do not depend on ‘not understanding’, to set up her questionable server.

              Shorter: even if Hillary and Trump make identical moves, the generals and career civil service and state department are, imo, more likely to stop Trump making a bad move than they are to stop Hillary making a bad move.

              1. Jason

                You think that perpetual adolescent Trump won’t take great glee in shouting “you’re fired!” to any bureaucrat or general who dares disagree with him to his face?

                You think that Trump, whose campaign fiance team is being run by a Goldman Sach’s alum and hedge fund CEO, isn’t part of “the established, well-financed, well-connected, revolving door political machine”?

                1. jgordon

                  “We came. We Saw. He died!” [Fist pump with raucous laughter].

                  That is the psychopath you’re trying to compare Trump to. The problem for Hillary supporters is that no matter how bad they claim Trump is, there’s something about Clinton that’s even worse. Better hope Sanders gets the nomination, because otherwise it’ll be a Trump blowout.

                2. jgordon

                  Just to clarify, I’m genuinely terrified at the idea of Hillary Clinton getting anywhere near the red button. That’s a threat to all life on earth. While Trump is a loud-mouth (and admittedly entertaining) narcissist, at worst he’ll be hapless and ineffective. He doesn’t inspire the kind of existential terror in me that Clinton does. She is friggin dangerous.

                  1. Jason

                    It’s the opposite for me. While Clinton is awful, and will keep the bus headed for the cliff, I don’t think she’s going to set it on fire. That leaves at least a little room for a miraculous change of direction. I think Clinton is selfish and greedy, sure, but I think she’s aware enough to not want a nuclear war.

                    With Trump in charge, I see the bus ride likely ending in a ball of flame in short order. There are multiple “at worst” Trump Presidencies, from civil war to economic collapse,, to a police state than makes our current one look like a theme park, to wars from Mexico to Asia, to initiating nuclear war through sheer clueless arrogance.

                    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                      Dude, the bus IS on fire, thanks to the policies begun by her husband, the hijacking of anything and everything to the left of Attila the Hun, and enshrined by that other great Dem who appointed Hilary as SoS. This is the woman who gleefully supported every last military intervention ever proposed and pushed so hard on Libya that even the Pentagon got scared. But the scariest is Russia: you know what Hilary will do (see below), the other guy has at least said he wants to talk to Putin, something Team Dem has refused to do. Let’s see, on the one hand we have Provoke, on the other we have Talk, I know which scares me less.

                      and this, with the money line: “ridiculing the idea of diplomacy”


            3. Lambert Strether

              I understand the argument, but we’re comparing incommensurables: Trump might be a warmonger, but we know Clinton’s a warmonger.

              We know what Trump has said. But we also know what Clinton has done.

              1. Jason

                We do know some things Trump has done. Specifically, we know who he has selected to advise him on foreign policy. And that list is not kind to anyone hoping that he will be any better than Clinton.

                That Trump would like us to think he’d be less of a warmonger than Clinton is, if anything, an indicator to the contrary, given his near-pathological lying. He’s clearly aggressive, short-tempered, and ready to call for violence, and equally clearly has no interest in learning anything about how to be any sort of decent Chief Executive. And he’s a walking, talking example of the Dunning–Kruger effect.

                Its only my personal judgement (and its on the internet, so I might as well be a dog), but I think saying Trump “might be a warmonger” is hopelessly optimistic. (And a lot like someone being successfully conned by a con artist.) For me, the only question is “how much war will he monger, and how awful will it be for all concerned?”

                I see the “choice” between Clinton and Trump is a choice between “more of the same” and “more of the same, but with an unstable egomaniacal idiot calling the shots”.

                And that’s before getting onto all of Trump’s other massive flaws.

                My already low opinion of Clinton keeps getting worse, but Trump is not an alternative. Maybe Gary Johnson, even with all the flaws Libertarians have, will have a Jesse Ventura-style shot at winning.

                1. Lambert Strether

                  Fine, they’re equivalents. That’s not where you started out, though.

                  I mean, if it all comes down to personalities, than with “liar” and “egomaniacal” it’s a wash, leaving a residue of Democrat demonization. I mean, the guy’s in New York real estate, like Geraldine Ferraro’s husband, and had a very successful career in TV, like Al Franken. Doesn’t that put him smack dab in the mainstream?

                2. tegnost

                  hopeless optimism, that’s a good one, yes a lot of us have it. Just to rephrase a bit, trump might be, hillary is…

              2. thoughtful person

                I thought the one about Trump being the less effective evil was a good one.

                But what do we really know about Trump? Former democrat, actor, a lot of racist hot air. I’m not voting trump, but I don’t see voting Clinton would be any better for many reasons. Yves did a nice job in her essay recently.

                I’m sure I won’t vote for either.

            4. optimader

              – here’s his quote on the US nuclear arsenal: “With nuclear, the power, the devastation is very important to me.”
              Shouldn’t it be?
              Would you prefer it be trivial to him?

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            Please provide a link with a direct quote from Trump where he said he’d use nukes. He said he would not rule out the use of nukes. That is simply an explicit statement of our current policy. He was just crass enough to put it into words.

            Look, there is a TON wrong with Trump, starting with the racism and the wacky ideas like his wall and deporting illegal immigrants en masse. But the Dems and the media are straw manning him on lots of issues, which I find disturbing given that he has plenty of warts they can use.

            1. sleepy


              The spin on the Chris Matthews interview with Trump regarding nukes was masterful. Trump said he wouldn’t rule out the use of nukes in Europe. Matthews feigned astonished indignation. Did Matthews not realize that Russia is in Europe and is presently targeted with hundreds or thousands of nukes and that the US still has tactical nukes in Europe? Those tactical weapons are meant to be used in Europe, not Burma, Chris.

              And to much of the same reaction, Trump said he wouldn’t rule out the use of nukes in the mideast. That of course is called “strategic ambiguity”, a policy in effect by the US for decades. Not to even mention the “all options are on the table” mantra coming from the serious people for years regarding Iran.

              I don’t approve of any of those policies, including Trump’s, but at least let’s get some honesty.

              1. mark

                By Francis A. Boyle

                “I have now had the chance to read Obama’s Report on Nuclear Employment Strategy of the United States, that just came out on Friday, June 21, 2013. The critical passage can be found on page 5:

                “The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review established the Administration’s goal to set conditions that would allow the United States to safely adopt a policy of making deterrence of nuclear attack the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons. Although we cannot adopt such a policy today, the new guidance re-iterates the intention to work towards that goal over time.”

                In other words, “nuclear deterrence” is not now and has not been the policy of the Obama administration going back to and including their 2010 Nuclear Posture Review as well. Since “nuclear deterrence” is not now and has never been the Obama administration’s nuclear weapons policy from the get-go, then by default this means that offensive first-strike strategic nuclear war fighting is now and has always been the Obama administration’s nuclear weapons policy. This policy will also be pursued and augmented by means of “integrated non-nuclear strike options.”


        2. HBE

          What? A war-hungry hillary in power who we know likely wants to directly challenge Russia is as bad as trump getting into the Whitehouse! I’m sorry, one (hillary) entails the potential for global destruction, the other (trump) is a mild discomfort in comparison.

          He may be a dim narcissist, but he doesn’t come close to the delusional psychopathy of hillary.

          1. Pavel

            With regard to delusional psychopathy just remember the delusional “Bosnia sniper fire” story repeated multiple times with apparent sincerity (later explained as “having misspoke” IIRC) and the psychopathological “We came, we saw, he died [cackle]” remark.

            1. GlobalMisanthrope

              I know you’re being sarcastic, but come on. Misogyny is real and it is the reason a lot of people hate Clinton. If she were a man, Sanders wouldn’t be doing as well as he is against her. How do I know? By looking at Obama’s continued popularity among Clinton critics.

              And, anyway, misogyny has no gender. If anything, Clinton is proof of that. Just like Obama is proof that racism has no race.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Why don’t Clinton critics go after Obama who is weak?


                11 dimensional chess?

                Professional courtesy among all of us ‘more or less’ evil humans?

              2. craazyman

                She gets a lot of support because she’s a woman. The Big O got a lot because of his ancestry.

                Hard to know whether these facets are net positives or net negatives in terms of votes — when you factor in all the bigots and misogynists on one side and the “it’s about time we had a ____ president” crowd on the other.

                My guess is neutral to net positives.

                There’s a lot of reasons to be put off by Hillary that have nothing to do with the fact she’s a she.

                1. optimader

                  My guess is neutral to net positives.

                  yes, If in HRC campaign calculus gender was considered a net negative, she wouldn’t flog being a female at every opportunity.

                1. Lambert Strether

                  Ditto racism, fascism, and any other “-ism” the Democrats are using in “any stick to beat a dog” mode. It’s disgusting.

              3. craazyboy

                I am. But I think everyone should vote for Bernie. Unfortunately, I’m not running this coronation. So here we are.

                Anyway, nuclear winter is a cure for all those other human problems. I’ll have to ponder if that’s sarcasm, or just factual info. I may need some time to work that one out.

                1. GDX

                  “It is the year 2000.”

                  “There are no more elephants.”

                  “There is also no more cruelty to elephants.”

              4. Yves Smith Post author

                I dont buy your argument.

                Hillary is not likeable. This has nothing to do with gender. Astonishingly, many people still like Obama. He has a calm, reassuring persona and a pleasant voice and he is very good looking.

                Hillary is also more hawkish than Obama, and vastly less adept at having center-right policies and pretending to be progressive. Or to put it more simply, she’s a clumsy politician compared to him. My God, remember how shrill and bullying she got in the NY debate? You’d never see such a ham-handed performance from Obama.

                I know tons of women who despise Clinton and have hated her since the Clinton presidency. Are you going to seriously tell me they are all misogynists?

                1. craazyman

                  Tons may only be 5 or 6 tons. At 2000 pounds per ton and 140 pounds per woman that might be as few as 2000/140 x 5 or only 71.4 women.

                  It’s not inconceivable that a self-selecting group of 71.4 women out of approximately 100 million U.S. women are all misogynists.

                  However if it were 50 or 60 tons of women — creating a sample size of several hundred women in fact — the odds that all are misogynists would diminish to the point of near impossibility, assuming of course that the proportion of US women who in fact are misognists is as low as common sense would suggest.

                  the real puzzle is who is the 0.4th woman after the 71st. Some gay dude may have slipped in there or maybe a drag queen. Can a drag queen who’s straight be a misogynist? That’s a deep thought!

                2. Emma

                  In essence, it’s about lacking the attributes of real leadership. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are simply entitled titled leaders. This makes them unqualified and unsuited to rule, unless your goals as a nation are corrupted.

          2. Jason

            “The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don’t kid yourself. When they say they don’t care about their lives, you have to take out their families”.

            “I would take the oil”.
            “I would go in and take the oil — I would just go in and take the oil”.

            Trump is a tiny-brained psychopath whose understanding of the world struggles to match that of the domestic chicken, which he resembles in other ways..

            If you, or anyone, can’t stomach voting for Hillary Clinton, I can absolutely understand that. I waffle on whether I’ll do it myself, if those are my choices. I hope we have an alternative to both of them – Sanders, Johnson, anyone even remotely sane. I can understand anyone who wants to make a principled third-party or write-in vote, even if it means one of those two will get elected. (You and America may lose, but at least you get to hold on to your soul.)

            But voting for Trump? Hell no. Anyone who is purposefully voting for Trump has been conned by a con-artist.

            1. HBE

              Hillary is an absolute. Absolute corruption, absolute war, absolute horror. She is a KNOWN quantity.

              Trump is an unknown quantity, but based on his statements on Russia and China, it doesn’t seem likely he would take the “we came, we saw, he died” approach.

              While he could be just as bad as Hillary (you really can’t get worse) who actually has pursued (remember Iraq, Libya, Syria, Nicaragua) the policies trump sometimes espouses, she just wraps it in proper and soothing terms with a dash of identity politics, which makes it more palatable to many.

              Hillary is a known, actions prove unequivocally she will be horrible on all fronts (possibly even fatal). Trump is an unknown will he be Bernie, no. Will he be better than hillary i don’t know, but there is a chance he could be so I’ll play the odds (you can’t out hillary, hillary).

              But I can still hope she implodes and I can cast a vote for Bernie, but if she gets the nomination, instead of voting for a third party like I would like to, I will vote for trump to do everything I can to make sure she doesn’t end up in power.

              1. polecat

                Yes ..I second that.statement !!

                …..there are times the hens outsmart yours truly…..;'(

            2. Yves Smith Post author

              I hate to tell you that what Trump is stating crudely (no pun intended) is what the US has tried to do. Worse, we aren’t even as surgical as only killing terrorist families. We drone everyone to brown mist who happens to be near a suspected terrorist. No trial, no proof. lots of false positives.

              Re the oil, why do you think we went into Iraq? It has the second biggest proven oil reserves in the world. And we did intend to take the oil, and then there was as big squabble as to how we’d go about doing it (cooler heads thought that just looting it would be bad for America’s image, so the US majors would “help” the Iraqis develop “their” resource. And then more squabbling ensued).

              So again, Trump is being crass by making a bald, fourth-grade level statement of exactly what the US has done, rather than engage in obfuscation and wonk-speak.

              You need to get on a first-name basis with how ugly our policies are.

              1. Jason

                Obama got on a first-name basis with Bush’s policies of nation wrecking, assassination, torture, and domestic spying. He hauled them all out into the light of day and said how grand they all were, and that no one had done anything wrong. Was that better or worse?

                My view is that Bush at least had the decency to be ashamed of what he was doing. While it makes no difference to those suffering and dying, I think it does make a difference for future generations whether we openly embrace evil or aspire to be better than we actually are, even if that makes us hypocrites.

                Perhaps its Orwellian of me, but I’d rather not see murder, looting, and lying held up as virtues, even if that is truth of the rot going on behind the gilded rhetoric. Given my druthers I’d prefer to stop it all and get our own house in some sort of reasonable order, but that is something neither Trump nor Clinton are going to do.

                I’d rather have President Clinton hiding her crimes and potentially facing acrimony and persecution, than President Trump being celebrated and cheered for the same things. If we can admit that what we’re doing is wrong, perhaps we can stop and change and maybe even make a better future. If we instead celebrate and cheer our own malevolent actions, then we will deserve the hell we’ll be building, even though our descendents and fellow human beings will not.

                Or, radical thought, we could all vote for President Sanders, President Stein, or even President Johnson. But under no circumstances will I be voting for Trump, no matter how blunt he is about the suffering he’s planning on masturbating to.

                1. jgordon

                  “We came. We saw. He died!”

                  Sorry, but if you were hoping that a Clinton presidency wouldn’t be an open and forthright orgy of psychotic, criminal behavior–you already missed the boat on that one. With Clinton you are guaranteed a public celebration of every kind of corruption, psychosis, and evil that an empire can showcase as it’s going down history’s drain.

                  And unlike with Trump, it won’t even be fun. It’ll just be an unending stream of boring old humorless evil that takes itself way too seriously. At least with Trump we’d have a few laughs, better relations with China and Russia, and less chance of nuclear holocaust on our way down. That makes all the difference.

                  1. HopeLB

                    Upvote! Well said! And I suspect Trump is changing his views only momentarily (like SS for Paul Ryan and money for his campaign). I really get the feeling that what Trump wants most is to be liked.

              2. Eleanor Rigby

                “So again, Trump is being crass by making a bald, fourth-grade level statement of exactly what the US has done, rather than engage in obfuscation and wonk-speak.”

                And, today, we are quoting Muhammad Ali’s bald, fourth-grade level statements about 1965 America in 1965, and saying it was brave & speaking truth to power.

        3. Vatch

          Gary Johnson is a fake libertarian who has supported private prisons. The Kids for Cash scandal in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, is an especially bad example of what can happen with private prisons. Recently, Johnson has tried to sanitize his record on private prisons, but if we go back in time, we see that it’s not as rosey as he would like us to think.

          Johnson opposes independent study of private prisons in 1999.

          A review of New Mexico’s entry into prison privatization reveals how such political graft greases the wheel, beginning when former Gov. Gary Johnson (R) announced private companies would start managing state prisons. Wackenhut was selected to run the Guadalupe County Correctional Facility in Santa Rose and the Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs. Wackenhut gave Johnson $9,330 for his 1998 re-election campaign; the company also hired then-state Senate President Pro Tem Manny Aragon as a consultant. Aragon later resigned his Wackenhut-funded position after the arrangement received close scrutiny and heavy criticism.

          During the 2002 gubernatorial race, candidate Bill Richardson was asked if he would continue Johnson’s plan to privatize prisons if he became Governor. He didn’t commit either way. Was his silence rewarded? Following his election, Richardson has received, since 2005, $42,750 of the $79,000 given by GEO to politicians running for state office. The company also donated $8,000 to his running mate, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, for good measure.

          I would be very reluctant to support Gary Johnson.

      2. apber

        There is no question that Clinton will poke the bear, with disastrous consequences for the US. Russian weapons systems are far superior in missile capability; we would lose in even a limited engagement. But the puppet masters have an historical, centuries old antipathy towards Russia, so Hillary will do their bidding.

        I am of an age that I can remember that all new homes included bomb shelters in the basement, and the schools had quarterly drills to duck under the desks upon seeing a mushroom cloud. That was 60 years ago. We haven’t progressed at all, have we?

        1. optimader

          Russian weapons systems are far superior in missile capability; we would lose in even a limited engagement.

          groooooan.. Yes, that’s why we need to throw more resources in a new generation of missiles!!
          Know when you’re being played by reverse propaganda. Cui bono?

          There is such on over abundance of mutual nuke delivery systems, your comment that only one side (we) would “loose” is a dangerous and ignorant meme.
          Rest assured the US has ample capacity to irrevocably destroy the habitability of Russia/the hemisphere/the planet.

        2. notabanker

          No one wins a war with Russia, No one. Not even the masters of the universe du jour.

      3. tony

        There apparently have been colonels in the Pentagon recommending the US invade China, believing that “the American Spirit” or something will provide victory in just a few months.

        I’m pretty sure a lot of the ruling classes are completely demented.

        1. Jason

          I’ve read about another nation in the not too distant past which idolized its military and was convinced that it’s “spirit” would let them dominate the ironically-named Pacific…

        2. polecat

          “send in the ruling ‘Kaganite Krakens’ and their syncophants…..Let THEM hash it out w/ the Russians/Chinese……

          I want absolutely NO part of crazytown !!!

      4. vlade

        Russia has a long history of military incompetence, and ability to trade territory (and blood) for the learning experience, generally from unprepared foe (both Napoleon and Hitler weren’t even remotely prepared for the war they had to fight). Russia was taken with ease by Mongols (although, TBH, most of Eastern and Central Europe was too).

        So the “beware war with Russia” is a nice aphorism, but assuming convetional weapons only (which is a stupid assumption, as mortally threatened Russia would certainly use nukes), there’s a number or underlying assumptions that don’t work anymore.

        – Large part of those wars (Napoleon and Hitler) the area being fought on doesn’t belong to Russia anymore. WW2 was fought mostly not in Russia, but Ukraine and Belarus. Which is why Ukraine and Belarus are so important to Russia historically. Same goes for manpower.
        – in both wars, Russia had financial and material support from the top industrial countries of the world at the time – UK in 1800s, US in 1900s. Withouth it, Russia would most likely collapse.
        – the remainder of Russian industry and logistic network (including rail from Murmansk) in ww2 was out of reach of German bombers. This is no more the case.
        – given the modern airforce, the Russian’s logistic would be almost as stretched as any attackers. It’s not like you can have front-line refineries and ammo factories.

        Nevertheless, it’s all moot because it assumes a convetional warfare, and as I said, any war with Russia that Russia was losing would very quickly turn into nuclear warfare.

        Which is the reason why Russia needs nukes (it’s a cheapo way of holding off large armies). But if Russia has nukes, US (and China) pretty much need nukes too.

    2. Antifa

      Combat soldiers cook in their helmets and live out of their rucksacks in a muddy hole they dig for themselves when they are “on the line.” They are deployed to hold ground, and to stop other soldiers from taking that ground without casualties. The grunts are anywhere from 30 feet to half a mile from a similar line of entrenched soldiers in different uniforms. Everyone is keeping their head down so they don’t get shot.

      While it is highly combat-effective for troops in forward positions like this to already know from experience how to eat, drink, poop, pee and sleep in shallow graves known as foxholes, they really are just a big target for artillery and bombs, and they know it. If the other side wants that ground, they will begin by massively blowing up every square inch of it with high explosive ordnance before sending live soldiers in to deal with any survivors.

      With the advent of modern smart weapons, drones, smart bombs, smart artillery there really is no role for parking troops in trenches and holes. Modern war (non-nuclear) is about movement, deep penetration of enemy territory to disrupt their supply lines, and — above all — complete control of the airspace over the battlefield.

      Nor is this kind of field training is useful for urban operations. It’s useful against invading forces trying to take open territory you currently occupy, and no modern military would use troops to take territory this way. Drones and air power is the modern way. You’ve seen videos of drones using infrared tracking to take out entire wedding parties in Waziristan. Taking out troops in a line of foxholes is just as easy.

      But this kind of fieldcraft is useful for holding territory against non-modern armies, outfits like Boko Haram in Africa, people like that. You have to have people waiting in foxholes when those bastards roll up.

      1. HBE

        Smart systems: These are largely ineffective against a modern enemy, due to the existence of mobile c-ram systems which allow both sides to destroy missiles mortar rounds, etc. Before impact.

        Airpower: the US has never really had to face an enemy with a modern airforce and surface to air systems drones are slow moving easy targets and we all know how wonderful the F35 is. In an air war with Russia it’s unlikely that the USAF would be able to act in primary support of ground ops, they would have to focus on a direct challenge from another modern airforce and systems. In our past imperial wars we commanded the air because with no challenge, we could use our AF to almost exclusively support ground ops, this would not be the case in Russia.

        These modern systems are the things that are used with impunity against boko haram etc. We don’t require dug in troops to murder them, that’s done from the comfort of a air conditioned room with a joystick.

        This back to old school system is built for a modern force who has the ability to effectively challenge our modern systems.

        1. John Merryman

          The military is a way to run up debt, so the government can issue bonds, for the Fed to buy and create more money. Period. Wars/training/weapons/whatever. The more expensive, the better. A bridge to nowhere.

          1. HBE

            Yes, it’s just the easy way to redistribute massive amounts of wealth upward a frightening velocity. While the proles are to busy fighting, dying or being patriotic to notice.

            The amount of money to be made is just another way tptb can delude themselves that a war with Russia is a good idea.

            They are so accustomed to socialized risk, it seems they can’t imagine a scenario where they themselves and everyone else might end up dead due the deluded insanity that a war with Russia would be winnable (due to our unassailable exeptionalism) and wouldn’t escalate out of their control in short order.

        2. bdy

          Good for liberating Crimea?
          I smell a poopy mess. Guess that’s why everyone keeps telling me to hold my nose when I vote.

      2. tony

        Trenches work perfectly fine against modern armies. Smart weapons don’t make any difference, they are really no different from artillery. They just replace volume with accuracy. Once the fog of war is in play because the enemy has effective camo and you lack complete air dominance, you usually only know the general area the enemy is in. The key difference is that a modern army combines the trenches with friendly AA, air power, artillery and counterattacks from offensive units.

        The men in trenches can either attack or they can wait for the enemy and give their artillery a good target by forcing the enemy to mass troops in a known, open location for the attack. They severly restrict enemy movement, like pawns in chess.

        Smart weapons are good at blowing up weddings because you know where they are and they are not defending themselves. They are good against ISIS for the same reason. Against Boko Haram trenches are worth little, because any half-competent military will break them on the attack and usually possesses a superior mobility.

        1. craazyboy

          Largely correct. After doing shock and awe on enemy buildings, you have to do a month of continuous “carpet bombing” with old fashioned B-52s. [assuming the enemy has no air defense]

          You win the war when the dug in enemy ground troops surrender from advanced chronic tinnitus.

          But some people think this scenario is best avoided altogether.

          1. tony

            The standard I was taught was artillery bombardment followed by an immediate attack with a superior force. Problem for America is, after the first 100k deaths the morale starts to break.

  4. Feelin the bern in WI

    Here is the long arm of Hillary reaching down to make rules. No presidential straw poll allowed this year at the WI dem convention. Bernie got 47% last year and won the state’s primary. Not much chatter on this in WI or nationally.

    Tom Perez spoke last night at the WI Dem convention. He is a very compelling speaker. A good VP pick? He sure did a good job of painting a positive picture unlike most of the other speakers who spent far too much time bashing the Trumpster.

    When will the Dems learn to reframe the conversation? They gave all the prime time to the D. At least the state GOP knew to NOT mention his name at their convention. We need to paint the picture of the future we want, not complain and whine. They haven’t got a clue on messaging.

    Bernie gets this…..why don’t they see that?

    I’m beginning to believe it is the consultant class. I see all these young political hires coming into the state. They don’t understand the local political climate. We don’t have competent political organizers here in WI? The hotbed of political turmoil for the past 5 yrs? Suppose to be gearing up to gather votes up and down the ticket. I’m thinking it’s more about Hillary.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Campaigns needs organizers and office space, which don’t cost very much but it needs to be upfront money. Consultants and strategists don’t make money off of this.

      Local media will take care of much of the name id problem over the last month. Elections are about whether you have the people in place to take advantage of people tuning into an election. Dean’s 50 state strategy didn’t move Democratic poplin until Murtha came put against the Iraq Occupation, but the Democrats were ready to jump because there were organizers. Jim Webb beat a relatively popular George Allen because there was organization which was ready to pounce on Allen when he collapsed.

      The courtesan class understands a permanent organization strategy me a shout there is no need for high paid “strategists.” Electeds are by and large narcissists including Bernie. They like to be told how good they are. The courtesan tell electeds how wonderful they are and feed their ego. Activists don’t do this.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      We don’t have competent political organizers here in WI?

      You might recall with the 2011 protests that the AFL-CIO and the state Dems didn’t show up until about Day 4, and when they did, the strategy turned from mass protest to inside baseball. Likewise, no one was able to strategize the recall effectively so that the election would be held in Nov 2012 instead of mid-summer (though that was possibly the fault of protest organizers as much as politicos – but still shows inability to organize). The state DP just threw out one set of faux liberals and installed another (new state chair is wealthy former Target exec). I could go on but you probably know all this.

      The difficulty of political organizing is that it is impossible without committed organizers (i.e not doing it for the paycheck) and a compelling message. Guess who has that? Which is why the Bernie people have been so welcomed inside the party. Oh wait…

  5. HotFlash

    It’s Rucksacks and Foxholes as Army Goes Old School for New Conflicts New York Times. Bugs Bunny: “This is not jungle or deserts they are preparing for. My guess is Hillary & Co. are going to try to get their war with Russia.”

    Oh jeez. Maybe domestic ops? Watch for the tell — McDonald’s coupons.

    1. Softie

      Back in early March, I encountered lots of Rangers training for field survival in North Georgia Appalachian Mountains while I was section hiked the Appalachian Trail.

      1. CRLaRue

        Most likely Rangers from Camp Frank D Merrill out side of Dahlonega,GA.
        HQ’d at Ft Benning,GA

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Exactly right. I washed out of the RASP(the ranger training program) a few years back. They train in Florida as well IIRC. Ya know, swamp training, mountain training, etc.

          Fuck the Georgia Humidity.

    2. Tertium Squid

      Here’s how you tell: if their practice maneuvers are done on regular urban/suburban terrain, it’s COIN and nothing else – because after 18 hours of war between two modern armies any cityscape will look like Stalingrad 1943.

  6. DorothyT

    Superbugs. A most important clarification of the recent news reports about superbugs.

    If a friendly E. coli living peacefully in your intestines carries MCR-1, you’d never know. The plasmid only becomes important if that E. coli makes you sick and your doctor tries to kill it — and can’t.

  7. wbgonne

    Obama Wanted to Cut Social Security. Then Bernie Sanders Happened. Intercept

    Obama’s Proposal to Expand Social Security Benefits Is Due to Grassroots Activism TruthOut. Resilc: “Bernie effect.”

    Maybe I’m too cynical but this is not how I see it. Obama claims to want to expand Social Security in his lame-duck year when neither a Grand Bargain nor SS expansion is politically possible. So this is nothing but words. So why say it? This is Obama attempting to polish his presidency so he will be remembered, not as the Great Confounder that he is, but as the most Progressive president possible in post-modern Neoliberal Amerika. Duplicitous publicity stunts like this partly explain how Obama has managed to put a spell on the country to the point that most Americans still think Obama is a liberal/progressive/leftist, even after 7 years of proof that he is an ultra-conservative neoliberal ideologue, and that will never change (note that Obama is right now campaigning for DWS against Bernie’s opposition challenger). And apart from feathering his legacy, Obama will also use this progressive trickery to further insulate himself from any Leftist attacks as he pursues his crowning achievement, enactment of the near-permanent anti-human “trade deals,” during the upcoming Congressional lame duck session. TPP and TTiP are where the action is now: the Grand Bargain will be for Queen Hillary.

    Obama truly is a brilliant politician, far better than Bill Clinton, and on par, I’d say, with Ronald Reagan. IMNSHO, Obama’s Achilles Heel is vanity, he hates being embarrassed. He knew that attacks from the right insulated him against attacks from the left and that attacks from the left were all that could truly harm him. Obama subtly employed his race — the immediate post-inaugural I got his back rallying call, as an example — to provide a deep level of protection. (That racial rallying call, compelling African Americans to defend neoliberal and neoconservative policies inimical to their own interests, has, IMO, served as the bulwark for the anti-progressive, anti-Sanders sentiment in the elderly black community, that is propelling Clinton to the Democratic nomination.) Obama effectively neutered the left to the point that he was never meaningfully challenged, never effectively attacked, certainly never embarrassed by any of the horrid things he has done. And that is why he feels unconstrained to pursue his trade deals no matter what power the Sanders Movement appears to have at the moment, feints on social security notwithstanding.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      ” But after being directly challenged on the Social Security program this past February by the Sanders campaign, Clinton tweeted, “As always, I’ll defend it, & I’ll expand it.”

      Can’t remember the last time I read a more full-throated, heartfelt, confidence-inspiring “tweet.”

      So this is what’s meant by moving clinton to the “left.” “As always.”

      For anyone who still thinks that clinton is an acceptable alternative to Bernie, it’s worth remembering the observation made by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal and others over the years. Only a “democrat” can dismantle the New Deal.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Twitter. The favorite of serious “public servants” everywhere for communicating serious policies on serious issues in an easily digested 140 characters or less. And ampersands are “acceptable.”

          Technologically innovative. Disruptive. “As always.”

      1. local to oakland

        This is not directly related but shows a similar thought process. I once sat in an ethics class with a roman catholic priest professor. He said that if the Catholic Church ever ordains women, or otherwise reverses policy, the encyclical announcing and explaining the change will begin with the words ‘as the church has always taught’.

      2. August West

        You forgot to add this nugget from HRC, she will expand SS “for those who need it most,”. Hmmmm maybe that is code for means testing. Comment section is good, I liked this one…

        Iron Felix
        June 3 2016, 9:51 a.m.
        Yes, means testing is an insidious idea which most people think is a good idea, but actually undermines the program. Hillary Clinton’s explains her opposition to Bernie Sanders tuition-free college idea because she does not want to support free college for Donald Trump’s children. Ignorant people would find that argument reasonable.
        Corporate Democrats favor means testing because it allows them to masquerade as the voice of the people; against people of privilege, in other words ostensibly against the interests of their donors.

        1. Lambert Strether

          > code for means testing

          Exactly the same as ObamaCare or Warren/Clinton’s plan for college debt.

          Never do anything simple, rugged, and proven. Always add complexity to a “market,” and especially add complex eligibility requirements that can only be navigated by a credentialed professional (that is, the Democrat Party’s base).

    2. marym

      He talked about raising the income cap for SS contributions during the 2008 campaign, then went into Grand Bargain mode during his entire Presidency.

      “The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day.”

      Adding to your analysis, that this may also be one of several trial balloons (along with Wasserman Schultz supposedly pulling back on support for payday lenders and Harry Reid supposedly planning how to keep the Senate if Warren were to be Clinton’s VP) to see what would placate Sanders supporters into imagining the DNC has “heard” them sufficiently.

      1. wbgonne

        Now that the Democratic Party fears it may actually need Sanders’ voters, it’s been interesting watching them try to figure out how to lure Sanders’ voters without moving away from neoliberal policies. I expect a flotilla of trial balloons.

      2. jawbone

        Advice to Elizabeth Warren — You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

        I don’t believe she would ever consider being VP on Hillary’s ticket, but, hey, I could be wrong. But she loses all power to really affect the changes she has worked so hard to implement.

        And she has to accept being muzzled.

        1. Lambert Strether

          When I looked at Warren’s student loan proposal, I was shocked the density of neo-liberal catchphrases. Really ugly. So no wonder Reid is OK with her. And she’s auditioning with her tweets. The rot certainly does set in fast, doesn’t it?

          1. pat

            Not to discount that ambition might be directing Warren, I also think we need to recognize that managing not to be captured in the bubble that must be Congress is probably a huge job. How much of her staff are ‘experienced’ congressional aides? How much are they responsible for her research? How much information and news does she get from the usual outlets and how much from local and non traditional sources? How often does she get away from DC and her usual home haunts? How often does she talk to constituents (including ones who don’t vote for her) NOT donors? I would hope that if confronted on it by knowledgeable activists she would be open to amending it. But how do you get her outside the bubble or the activists in to test that? And no I don’t think Twitter is the answer.

            1. pat

              And yes I do think that Congress itself is a highly corrupting and soul destroying place as it is currently.

          2. Waldenpond

            I have never understood the appeal of Warren. I read up on her, saw she was an R and was meh, a neo. So a Goldwater girl and a woman who was an R into her mid 40s. Two Rs on the D ticket.

            I thought it would be R v R. Now it’ll be two Rs v two Rs. Sounds about as fun to watch as paint drying. The organic paint actually smells like feces while it’s drying so there’s that.

            1. JTFaraday

              I just call her Suze Orman, (except the real Suze Orman supported Occupy Wall Street).

              The real story is that Suze Orman is not acceptable within the walls of US Congress. That says something.

        2. optimader

          I don’t believe she would ever consider being VP on Hillary’s ticket

          The calculus is the possibility of HRC being elected. If a HRC POTUS were to come to pass, set you stopwatch to an ugly impeachment.

          HRC is just too target rich to survive full term.

    3. Paul Tioxon

      And now, for the rest of the story. You would normally think that on a site that puts policy in a wringer to squeeze out more than a few drops of movement towards getting what we want from those in power, that getting what we want from Social Security would be welcomed. Here is what the people who are behind the push to expand Social Security have to say from their site. I would invite everyone here to carve out some time and effort in an exercise in coalition building to join a United Front to demand an expansion in Social Security benefits. Now that we have some leverage from the success of Bernie Sanders, I would take seriously his call for political revolution from the people to start acting on getting what they want. Anyone who joins, including Obama is useful towards this end. His change in policy is significant. He will be one less impediment. As for mere words, and why does he bother, this is the same accusations leveled at Bernie when he states goals of Medicare For All or tuition free state universities?

      We need to come together on the areas of common ground that we can. If we sign a deal with Iran, we can sign a deal with one another. Bernie will have to fight for what he wants, it will not be handed over easily, but that does not mean he stops campaigning for those policies and for the power he needs to achieve them. Quitters never win. And when people just dismiss his message as impractical, isn’t that what you are saying when you deny a change in the stand of major figures in the dem party over Social Security? The measure of Bernie’s success can be seen by every political observer, including me. The only people who can’t see are his political opposition from within and without the dem party. He is changing the party with help from millions of Americans who come out to vote and rally with him for a new and different and meaningful agenda of change. It’s a risk without guarantee of success, but that should not stop anyone from trying, especially now, with a clear change from the leadership of the party. I believe it’s doable now and not just a cry in the wildness. You or I do not have to attribute purity of heart as the motivation for this change in policy. I don’t care how the heart is as long their ass is set on a course that I’m in agreement.

      You don’t get a lot of chances in this life to grab onto a historic moment that can do more than shake the world, but change it without any going back to the way things were before. This is one of those times. I don’t want to be among those who watched the world change by erasing the entire New Deal and Great Society Progress. There is no right or wrong side of history, but history will be made one way or the other. I want it to be the history of my choosing, and I choose the expansion of Social Security.

      1. wbgonne

        Now that we have some leverage from the success of Bernie Sanders, I would take seriously his call for political revolution from the people to start acting on getting what they want.

        I mean this question seriously: how does that “leverage” manifest as the political power necessary to expand Social Security? Do you think Clinton intends to do this if elected? Do expect Obama will or even could at this stage?

        Anyone who joins, including Obama is useful towards this end. His change in policy is significant. He will be one less impediment.

        I don’t see how Obama saying that he favors SS expansion while he is on his way out the door and nothing can be done about it (as he ferociously fights for the “trade deals”) will help much, if at all. At this point in his presidency, Obama is effectively irrelevant as to SS. That’s why he’s saying what he is: collecting progressive chips to burnish his legacy and cash in for TPP and TTiP. I could certainly be wrong and I am all for organizing and pushing for expanded SS; I just don’t think Obama has a role in that any longer (expect, perhaps, to exploit it for political gain, as I have suggested).

        As for mere words, and why does he bother, this is the same accusations leveled at Bernie when he states goals of Medicare For All or tuition free state universities?

        If Sanders were the president this might be an apt comparison. But Sanders is a presidential candidate: all he has is words. Obama is president. One thing I learned quite early in Obama’s presidency: Obama’s policy actions count. His words don’t.

        1. jawbone

          Obama’s presidency will be bookended with beautiful words, but his actions will still speak so much louder down through history.

            1. Ivy

              To paraphrase an old Illinois pol Everett Dirksen: A billion dollar “library” here, a billion dollar “library” there, soon you’re talking about real money.

              Who spends a billion dollars on such a project? Who pays for that voluntarily? Maybe Hillary can go into the Chicago trading pits to raise some of the money for him.

        2. fresno dan


          Obama saying he is for expanding SS NOW!??!?! Really, its like a nickel tip…

          1. pretzelattack

            the real progressive tiger obama has been unleashed! that explains his fearsome asymetry! it’s hard to be an effective tiger if you’re a lame duck, tho.

      2. Antifa

        The 1% have rigged the system so that they now own pretty much everything, including the means of production, most real estate, the Congress, and things are more and more finely attuned to keep our wealth flowing into their hands.

        Beyond Social Security, beyond expanding Medicare to every citizen, we need a wealth tax to take back what has been absconded with.

    4. GlobalMisanthrope

      Obama is not a brilliant politician. Obama is a tool. He’s the very embodiment of the meritocratic argument neoliberals love to spew. He’s the Magical Negro that proves that all those black people out there who haven’t climbed the ladder to success just didn’t try hard enough.

      It’s racism that makes Obama untouchable. The racism, that is, of those who won’t touch him for fear of looking racist. The same racism that keeps Sharpton in front of TV cameras. Or maybe you think he’s brilliant, too.

      The fact is that racism is rampant in this country and no less so on the titular left. Elites use the parties to play good cop-bad cop on race and all other identity politics to fracture the electorate more and more. You call it brilliant. I call it the oldest trick in the book.

      1. flora

        From the link: Bernie, The Donald, and the sins of Liberalism

        “Today, we might recognize this as the classic Clintonista desire to let all-comers join “the race to the top.”

        “Liberal society had proved compatible with justice for all and an equal shot at the end zone. Strangely, however, in its ensuing glorious new world, the one Bill Clinton presided over, liberty, justice, and equality all seemed to be on short rations.”

        The “glorious new world” of neoliberal meritocracy is the old idea of Social Darwinism* modernized with the addition of an EEOC clause.

        1. flora

          * Social Darwinism – from Wikipedia”

          “According to their critics, at least, social Darwinists argue that the strong should see their wealth and power increase while the weak should see their wealth and power decrease. Different social-Darwinist groups have differing views about which groups of people are considered to be the strong and which groups of people are considered to be the weak, and they also hold different opinions about the precise mechanisms that should be used to reward strength and punish weakness.”

          “…reward strength and punish weakness.”

          In the neoliberal Clinton and Obama years :
          – wealth and power of the already wealthy and powerful increased by means of tax law changes and deregulation. “Reward strength. “ Check
          – the poor and weak were made poorer and weaker by cuts to safety net programs, trade policies that moved manufacturing jobs overseas and increased unemployment, unregulated rent extractions, predatory lending and fraudulent foreclosures. “Punish weakness.” Check

    5. Brian

      There has been a sea change in the last two weeks. The masses are visibly and audibly upset at the tone and the speech of the war parties and players. The employment report came out and they had to make up 38K jobs to break even after hundreds of thousands of job losses. No mention of that extreme issue to be found, right?
      This is an empty promise to raise SS by a lame duck to make himself look good. Everyone knows he doesn’t mean it.
      One of those things you just can’t believe about your government any longer. How many is that now?

    6. fresno dan

      June 4, 2016 at 9:23 am

      Very insightful analysis. Very much appreciated!

    7. Toolate

      how Obama has managed to put a spell on the country to the point that most Americans still think Obama is a liberal/progressive/leftist, even after 7 years of proof that he is an ultra-conservative neoliberal ideologue”

      Is there a name.for this?
      Somehow I.have always thought this was dreamed up by Rove

  8. Brooklin Bridge

    Much as I like Susan Sarandon’s comments on Hillary, and Sarandon herself as an actress, I have an issue with actors and “super stars” being given special status in their opinions based on essentially nothing in terms of credentials other than the ability to act and the good fortune to have hit it big and thus enjoy all sorts of public relations and bigger than life stories built up around them. Granted, Sarandon may have all sorts of credentials I don’t know about, but if so my beef (a minor one) is those are not the credentials used by most people to judge the validity or lack of it of her POV.

    That said, Sarandon and Glover have moved up considerably on my people who remain people in spite of staggeringly ruinous success list though I grudgingly have to give some credit to Tom Selleck for the same reason even if I don’t agree with his bent.

    Perhaps the positive take-away is that it apparently it can be done, so super star actors who fawn on Clinton or neo-liberal policies in general should not be given a free pass simply because they have been ferreted away in the ignorance inducing moth balls of luxury and high density ego balm.

    1. Montanamaven

      But then who are the people with “credentials?” I’m thinking I’d much rather listen to an articulate, knowledgeable and smart person whatever their occupation than some “expert” middling mind creature like Richard Haas, head of the Council on Foreign Relations (NOT!) or Nate Silver or, well, any politician. Yes, it would be nice to actually have you, Brooklyn Bridge or Lambert or Yves or bluecollar Al or Not Timothy Geithner or Katniss Everdeen or anybody on this site, but Susan does have more name recognition. And acting in films, theater and TV demands exploring the human condition, the human mind. And really good actors like Sarandon must get into other people’s shoes in order to play a character. They must empathize. So those are pretty good credentials.

    2. DanB

      Should she be quiet because she’s well known? Why not simply judge the content of Sarandon’s arguments? High social status offers celebrities a platform, but expressing political beleifs exposes them to scrutiny. For example, George Clooney’s support of Hillary rests on silly and duplicitous arguments.

    3. optimader

      I hear you sentiment, but people should be judged on the merits of what they say, not what their profession is.
      Celebrity opinion is a reality in this Country right or wrong. Ali got much of it correct in spite of being an credentialed celebrity.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Yes, the merits is good a criteria as there is, but again, it is not the one many use when it comes to listening to a super star.

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        Celebrity opinion is a reality in this Country right or wrong.

        Agreed. That’s why I said my beef was a minor one. But good point.

        Also, I think we may be a little spoiled on NC regarding evaluations based on the merits of the argument, or thesis, or rant as the case may be and even then… (thinking of myself).

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      Sarandon, unlike most celebrities, has also been a long-standing activist. I suspect he activism may even have cost her in terms of being cast.

    5. ewmayer

      Both Sarandon and her husband Tim Robbins have longstanding anti-warmongering cred. From the Wikipedia entry on the classic baseball movie Bull Durham:

      In 2003, a 15th anniversary celebration of Bull Durham at the National Baseball Hall of Fame was canceled by Hall of Fame president Dale Petroskey. Petroskey, who was on the White House staff during the Reagan administration, told Robbins that the actor’s public opposition to the US-led war in Iraq helped to “undermine the U.S. position, which could put our troops in even more danger.” [Movie costar Kevin] Costner, a self-described libertarian, defended Robbins and Sarandon, saying, “I think Tim and Susan’s courage is the type of courage that makes our democracy work. Pulling back this invite is against the whole principle about what we fight for and profess to be about.”

  9. jfleni

    RE: Obama Wanted to Cut Social Security. Then Bernie Sanders Happened.

    Conclusion: He is bu**-kissing shill for the rich; just look at the grovelling in the sand for the saudi king recently. He does not hide it either.

  10. craazyboy

    Antidote: “Cats waiting for the fishermen to return, unknown date”

    hahaha. And then some people say cats aren’t smart.

  11. Jagger

    says Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, the director of The Hamilton Project and the lead author of the report. “That was surprising to us because prices for food have not particularly gone up.

    From The Surging Cost of Basic Needs Atlantic.

    Is this true? Food prices have not particularly gone up? My general impression is the cost of food has gone up tremendously over the last 15 years.

    1. charger01

      The Consumerist blog covered this back in 2008-2009, as well as Max Keiser (Double Down podcast on Sputnik) interviewing Pippa (I can’t remember her last name) economist about the incredible shrinking food package. The phrase used was “shrinkflation”, reducing the size of the food product but keeping the cost exactly the same. This was a big deal back in 2007 when InBev (or SAB Miller) reduced their package of beer from 32 to 30 cans.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      I think the definition of “food” has changed, especially since the invention of high fructose corn syrup, just not as overtly as when ketchup was declared a “vegetable.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


        For me, it’s very hard to find organic corn.

        And for fresh non-radioactive seafood, i.e non Pacific ocean, its expensive.

    3. craazyboy

      People that write this stuff eat at restaurants, and someone else always picks up the tab.

      1. craazyboy

        Adding – I was shocked the other day to see a pound of bacon with it’s “regular price” at $10/lb.

        This is pig belly fat. They did have another brand “on sale” for $4/lb. I bought that. But I only buy bacon once and a while for a treat. It’s pig belly fat, after all.

          1. jawbone

            Over the holidays in 2014-15, I went with friends to a CostCo where they had membership. In the meat section, fairly large packages of beef were on offer with prices to stunningly high, especially obvious in the “family” size, that we couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry.

            Real budget breakers.

          1. craazyboy

            Who says going to college and getting that Liberal Arts degree will never net you that great job!

        1. sleepy

          I used to buy brisket to smoke, and also to make homemade corned beef and pastrami. It used to be a really cheap cut of beef, but I looked at one yesterday and it was c. $70 for a 9 pound whole brisket. It’s a lot of fat, which makes it good for curing, smoking, but too expensive now for me. Chuck roast will be the new brisket.

          If anyone wants to put in the work and has the space, whole pork bellies are still c. $2.99/lb here in my area and you can make your own bacon pretty cheaply.

          1. craazyboy

            I actually was interested in taking up smoking meats as a hobby of sorts, but I chose apartment living over house living these past 10 years and the fire codes don’t allow grills or smokers on the patio. I am at the mercy of industrial food.

            But yeah, corned beef is another one for sticker shock. I cook a mean corn beef, green cabbage and red potato dinner. Just not as often anymore.

            1. optimader

              Do it in a park, or in your parking lot CB.. Chair Cooler (sun)Umbrella and Book or podcast. It’s a great & tasty hobby

              1. craazyboy

                We have community BBQs here I use sometimes. But I thought smoking takes around 6 hours or more. Although we had unusually comfortable weather here so far this year, a couple days ago summer temps finally arrived – 105F. I can’t sit still in air conditioning for 6 hours.

                1. Optimader


                  I love to smoke meat, fish (well really i love to eat smokedfish) doesnt take more than two hours, any more and youre borderline overdoing it

                  really a hands off affair
                  I use a weber smoker, but if you have a grill with a cover that you canbank and control flame temp with a lid, it will due.
                  Bank the charcoal to one side, put in a oan or bowl of water to create a humid atmosphere, add wet wood chips to the charcoal bank– i also add wrapped up and soaked tarragon or what ever i can chop down in the yard..
                  Putthe fish on the grate farthest from the charcoalprobably want to put it on foil.
                  Take off let it cool a bit and enjoy with fresh made mayo, capers and onions or scallions or chives

                  Liberal addition of cold beer and coleslaw, then find a chase-lounge in the shade, additional beer Within reach

            2. sleepy

              Smoking and curing is really a lot of fun but getting pricey–used to be cheap–but still far, far cheaper and much better than store bought stuff. You can make lots of cured meats that aren’t smoked–salami, pancetta, guanciale, bresaola, and so on. My son used to come over and gander at the hunks of meat hanging in a closet, lol.

              Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing by Michael Ruhlman is a good start.

    4. grayslady

      You are correct. After the crash of 2008, there was a brief period where grocery stores lowered prices on basics, such as a gallon of milk. But the need to subsidize farmers the wrong way–encouraging them to plant corn to be used as ethanol, instead of subsidizing vegetable crops that people, rather than animals, could eat–meant that every food substance that relied in some way on corn increased in price astronomically. Even if you cook from scratch, which is what I do, the ingredient costs have mushroomed. And if you opt for the convenience of having someone else cut your fruits and vegetables, not only are you generating a great deal of plastic waste, you’re spending four times as much as the basic ingredients actually cost in the same store.

      The same price pressures have occurred in non-food items. After the 2008 crash, I could shop at online fabric stores and pick up first name drapery fabric, normally $18-$22 per yard, for $5 per yard. Those days are long gone.

    5. Enquiring Mind

      Food prices are a regular affront to anyone who sets foot in a grocery store. People get used to a range of prices for the foods that they buy routinely, and most definitely notice when those prices go up. That is a gut-level reaction to the cognitive dissonance news stories about low inflation. When I see those stories, I am reminded of Bush 41 marveling at the conveyor belt at the checkout line, and think that his economists should get out more to buy groceries.

      A little shopping around will help save through comparisons of the same or similar items at different stores. Here are some observations based on my shopping around Los Angeles.

      National/conventional stores are typically, but not always, cheaper for high volume items like dairy. They have increased competition on many items from big box retailers like Target and Wal-Mart, if you can stand going in the latter. Costco is good for bulk items (many are sold in bundles like two big bottles of olive oil or two gallons of juice), although singles or two person households might not need the larger quantities. They also have samples of many products every afternoon.

      Ethnic markets and dollar stores carry many canned and packaged products that are identical to those in chain groceries, at significantly lower prices (50-75% less) and often have new bakery, produce, fish and meat cuts from their on-site baker, butcher, etc. However, they don’t sell enough of other items like dairy and eggs to compete with larger stores. They are good for bulk/staple items like rice and beans, with a wider variety of those than found in other stores.

      Boutiquey markets like Whole (Paycheck) Foods are fun once in a blue moon for observing what I’ll never buy. Those are almost always more expensive than Trader Joe’s, which is fairly competitive and has a stream of new products with interesting labels for entertainment. TJs also has samples and free coffee and tea to enjoy while shopping.

      Seasonal items like fruit and produce may be purchased at fruit stands along various country roads (yes, those are accessible not that far from the sprawl) and are delicious. Those may supplement what you are able to grow. Other parts of the country have their variants, including fish right at the dock, etc.

      Now I’ve worked up an appetite. Your consumption may vary.

      1. notabanker

        Anecdotally, having lived overseas in both UK and Asia for many years now, the price, quality, quantity and selection of food in the US grocery stores (and I was just there a few months ago) is vastly superior to anything else I have seen. It’s really not even close.

        There are some very good Chinese grocery stores that have a good selection for good prices, but who knows where that stuff comes from.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Australia has very good food, not quite so much in its grocery chains (Woolworth and Coles) but there are many freestanding “fruit and veg” as the locals call them near many of the grocers that were just terrific, as well as street vendors (I got my best mangoes and avocados from a guy in Kings Cross). Also many very good butchers and fishmongers (fish selection more limited than in the US due to lack of freshwater fish, but the flip side was that the poultry was really good. Hormones have been illegal for nearly two decades).

      2. Cry Shop

        Outside the large metro-areas, there is very little competition. That was Walmart’s secret of success, and because middle, as in middle size, USA is hurting, so has Walmart.

        As part of its strategy, Walmart is closing mega-stores and focused more on groceries because people must eat but they can stop buying Made in China consumer goods. If competition is minimal, and sets it’s pricing by what the market leader can offer, then Walmart has been position to drive up prices in areas it controls.

        Smaller farmers have been hurting recently but these distribution models will be interrupted eventually. As I’ve said on other comments here, food, safe food, is the growth industry of the future, and quite a number of large investors & sovereign funds are betting on it, buying up agricultural land in many countries. Where the elephants fight, the ants get crushed.

    6. NeqNeq

      The report states that certain foodstuffs have declined in price, notably vegetables, fruit, and bread, even though prices in general have increased. Also, there is regional variation (so individual experience may not be a good guide)

    7. LifelongLib

      IIRC Elizabeth Warren and her mom pointed out a decade ago that the middle class was being impoverished by flat wages and increasing costs for housing, education, and health care, and that things for the less well-off were even worse. How come the Atlantic is only noticing all this now?

  12. Uahsenaa

    re: Corey Robin’s thoughts

    While outright sacking dissenting voices is a remarkable thing to see happening, I would argue that the stifling of atypical views has been going on for far longer and more or less under the radar. You see it especially in academia, where peer review is generally lauded as assuring that quality and value of research. In practice, what is encouraged is widespread conformity to, if not an orthodoxy (because that’s not quite what it is), a narrow range of norms and expected modes of inquiry that, when violated, simply get ignored by those venues (meaning their editors and reviewers) where the burgeoning scholar needs to get published in order to gain the kind of reputation she needs to survive in the academy. The implicit message is clear: say what we want to hear or drift off into oblivion. This is not to say that you don’t see interesting work coming out of the Anglo-American academy, but more often than not it comes from those whose economic situation is already secure, be it through tenure or some other means.

    But this pressure to conform doesn’t keep itself confined to the Ivory Tower. Journalists like Iris Chang were constantly criticized but tut-tut-ers in academic history departments for being “overtly political,” and it remains an open question whether the constant flack she got contributed to her eventual suicide. Yes, she suffered from depression, but the public pressure didn’t help that.

    Then there’s Gray Webb, who uncovered the CIA’s involvement in the crack epidemic. When it was revealed, rather than actually investigate the facts of the reportage, the LA Times preferred instead to go after Webb himself and make a mountain out of a molehill of editorial errors. The CIA’s internal investigation, of course, discovered no wrongdoing (LOL!), and when Webb’s body was found in 2004 with a pair of gunshot wounds to the head, at least someone thought to question the official report that it was a suicide.

    I also just started reading Upton Sinclair’s The Brass Check, from 1919 (!), which basically excoriates the press for all the same tendencies to kowtow to power and whip up meaningless controversies so as to paper over real repression of the working class. The more things change…

    1. abynormal

      ‘The more things change…” imho, our strength resides in the MSM relying on those cliches. for instance, too many to count journalist produce MSM puff pieces to afford their investigations of ‘blackouts’. it’s my response to my abilities that distinguishes solid 411 and this will be the reset/demise of the sold out MSM. could Upton have imagined today’s net?

      1. Uahsenaa

        It wouldn’t have been incomprehensible to him, not at all, since what he recognized as the problem was the institutionalization of collusion, not the means by which it gets expressed. Do blogs have wider distribution/readership than worker’s papers or bulletin’s? Maybe, but that would be a difference of degree, not of kind.

        1. abynormal

          strong point, Thanks. don’t forget speed…a real thorn for any knee-jerk inbred ruling class.

        2. abynormal

          and this type movement could brand a sharp sabra if gets its footing…
          “‘Anonymous’ Declares War On Mainstream Media: Attacks Fox, CNN, NBC And More…
          Broadly speaking, the goal of the #OpSilence is to attack all the corrupt major news networks that mislead and censor information from the general public.”

    2. Enquiring Mind

      Re observations by Upton Sinclair, et al, and the press tendencies over the years, here are some useful definitions from the legal profession from Slaw. Much of what passes for journalism, but is typically some form of tabloid excrescence, is analogous to barratry, a curse of the neo-liberal age, as shown below.

      [23] Barratry is related to, but clearly different from, champerty and maintenance. Barratry is defined in Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th ed. (St. Paul: West Publishing, 1999) as “[t]he offence of frequently exciting and stirring up quarrels and suits, either at law or otherwise”. According to Black’s, barratry is also “a crime in most jurisdictions”.

      [24] By contrast, champerty refers to a bargain between a stranger and a party to a lawsuit by which the stranger pursues the party’s claim in consideration of receiving part of any judgment proceeds. The difference between champerty and barratry appears to be that while champerty is purely self-interested, barratry requires the additional intent to harm the third person: “… if the design was not to recover his own right, but only to ruin and oppress his neighbour, that is barratry”. See Words and Phrases Judicially Defined, Vol. I (London: Butterworth & Co., 1943).

      [25] Maintenance is further distinguished from barratry and champerty on the basis that it appears to be motivated by altruism. That is, it requires a person to “lay out money on behalf of another in suits at law to recover a just right, and this may be done in respect of the poverty of the party; but if he lends money to promote and stir up suits, then he is a barrator”. Words and Phrases, supra.

      To put it crudely — and as it refers to the conduct of lawyers — barratry is ambulance chasing, champerty is contingency fees, and maintenance is relatively rare.

      It would be great, if not panglossian, to want standards for responsible, objective journalism. In the meantime, an educated populace remains the best defense against the tyrrany of the barratrists.

      1. Uahsenaa

        Exactly. I was just thinking the other day how lamentable it is that no one even thinks to call money-lending usury anymore. Part of the respectability banks possess derives from the normalization of what are, upon close inspection, incredibly unseemly activities.

        Sinclair actually goes one further re: objective standards. He actually calls for legal standards, for example a law requiring all retractions and/or corrections to be given equal prominence to the stories they amend or correct, a law limiting the size of media firms (basically antitrust laws designed to break up the largest companies and force them to be locally operated and responsible to their local populaces, i.e. the opposite of The New York Times), a law establishing large fines and jail time for fabricating or misrepresenting sources (ahem, Judy Miller), a union or guild system for journalists to facilitate collective bargaining and professional codes along the lines of bar associations, etc.

        If anything, Sinclair was way ahead of his time in recognizing what media would become and what would be needed to keep them in check.

      2. Cry Shop

        Just a friendly reminder that that even reference book definitions are not universal. In Hong Kong (and some other common law jurisdictions) a barrister or solicitors who works on a contingency basis is guilt of champerty. The US legal system is horrific at keeping the poor beat down, but it’s still way behind the UK model for beating down the unpriviliged.

  13. Katniss Everdeen

    While the hillshills continue to pound away at the “fraud” that is Trump U. (per hillary, “You can’t make this stuff up!”), it would appear that the clintons have a bit of an “educational” issue of their own.

    And in case you’re inclined to question the source, please note the copious links to “legitimate” “news” sources, not to mention Judicial Watch.

  14. flora

    re: “Welfare to Work:

    “Every federal TANF block grant dollar a state doesn’t spend on basic cash assistance can be used for a wide array of other programs—from foster care to pre-K to college scholarships—that otherwise would be funded out of the state’s own coffers. That makes it enticing for states to keep people off TANF caseloads, says sociologist Kathryn Edin of Johns Hopkins, who has studied welfare for most of her career. “States have used their flexibility in many cases to purge the rolls of people who would have been eligible for the program, and instead use the money to plug state budget holes or for other things that governors want to do that are politically popular.”

    The real “other programs” being funded are the tax cuts for the states’ top 5-10% of tax payers and political donors.

    “Applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is much simpler than applying for cash assistance. And while states can keep TANF block grant funds that aren’t used for cash assistance and apply them to other programs, SNAP funds go directly to recipients or aren’t released at all—there’s no financial benefit for states that lower their SNAP caseloads. ”

    SNAP funds can’t be used to offset a states’ tax cuts. The states can’t take this food out of poor people’s mouths to pay for tax cuts that benefit the most well off.

    1. flora

      The Clintons have been called “Republicans in disguise.” I don’t think they’re Republicans and I don’t think they’re Democrats. I think they are vulture capitalists who have battened on the Democratic party, declared themselves the new CEOs who will save the party from decline, while selling off the party piece by piece to benefit primarily themselves. If they were PE General Partners the voters would be getting all the costs and Clintons get all profit.

      1. jawbone

        “Corporatists” surely fits the Clintons? And while Hillary is not as smooth and charming as Bill, they both know how to say leftish sounding things, with the necessary weasel words, to allow them to do all the Corporatists’ biddings once elected. As Oboma did.

      2. fresno dan

        June 4, 2016 at 12:00 pm

        I think your exactly right. If you had to hijack a party to use the party “brand” for one’s nefarious purposes, would you use repubs??? The repubs have declining demographics and their naked assertions of crushing the dispossessed already make them the party of the plutocrats, so there is no point in hijacking them. But the repubs inability to win the presidency is a problem (remember Bush lost the popular vote – way too shaky always depending on the court to save your bacon…) To get total control you have to hijack the other party – the dem party.
        You keep advertising the democratic brand as progressive (i.e., liberal), which serves your repub party as a straw man opposition (no one notes Obama drones more than Bush – – cause Obama is soooo Liberal!!! – – sayeth the repubs), and keeps the the plutocrats in control, whether the repubs or dems control the senate, house, presidency, and every combination in between.
        The repubs get to say they are fighting the nasty liberal dems, the dems get to say they are fighting the nasty “conservative” repubs, the NPR commentators say we have a choice in our elections, and the plutocrats laugh all the way to the bank…which they own….and fill with money…..from the government….which they also own.

        1. Ulysses

          “You keep advertising the democratic brand as progressive (i.e., liberal), which serves your repub party as a straw man opposition (no one notes Obama drones more than Bush – – cause Obama is soooo Liberal!!! – – sayeth the repubs), and keeps the the plutocrats in control, whether the repubs or dems control the senate, house, presidency, and every combination in between.
          The repubs get to say they are fighting the nasty liberal dems, the dems get to say they are fighting the nasty “conservative” repubs, the NPR commentators say we have a choice in our elections, and the plutocrats laugh all the way to the bank…which they own….and fill with money…..from the government….which they also own.”

          That is the whole game in a nutshell! The discomfort of the D establishment with the Sanders campaign has exposed beyond a shadow of a doubt that the D party is not progressive. The political classes are dimly starting to realize that their good-cop/bad-cop routine is no longer fooling anyone.

          What will come next? Nothing good, unless this murderous regime of the transnational kleptocrats is somehow overthrown. The current mobilization in France is a start…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Like love-at-first-sight, it’s possible to hate at first sight.

      That kind of dis-likability problem is very hard to overcome, just like its love-counterpart.

  15. John Merryman

    I’ve been having more posting issues than usual. Think you’ve been hacked for the anti-Clinton commentary the other day?

  16. Alex morfesis

    Do we deserve to be a superpower ? American exceptionalism is great except the nation has been hijacked by two private partnerships commonly known as the democratic and republican parties run by clowns that no one wanted to play kickball with in kindergarten…

    Bernie being nice about $hillary and her email issues, et al, is not what is needed to grab hold of enough of the electorate to insure his election…

    The time to be nice is over Sandman…

    Sorry to say it but wrestling ratings are usually higher than economic lectures on public television or some obscure cable network…

    Ali is gone but the judges would not let him lose his belt unless you beat him badly…many fights were handed to him simply because the other person was only slightly better…

    All out attack mode…you wont lose probably any of your supporters…

    But do you really want to win…

    Does America care to win ?

    Doubt my grandfather left Ithaki for America so that his grandson could be reslaverized 100 years later…

    time to go montana to clark for the win…

  17. abynormal

    i just heard a tyson chicken commercial claiming they’ve worked for generations to put a chicken in every pot…WoW

    1. abynormal

      puleaze don’t give me lip about hearing the commercial…my 82yro mother likes Everything at 82 decibels. if i survive her, consider it an outside miracle…

      weeell while im soft ranting i’ll just ramp it up a bit…ya know how elders complain about the high price of things? not only are they justified today…their physical & mental health is seriously threatened. ex: our apartment complex has refused to renew our lease (they want to refurbish with a few new appliances (pastel lipstick on the pig) and raise the rent from $840.00 to $1350.00). to my surprise the sticker shock is broad…ALL rents are climbing in Atlanta. mom’s not sleeping and busy making sure i can’t…but i have to go out and negotiate us a place to live in 45 DAYS…fuckme!

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        That sux, bro! I got lucky in the house I was living in during Katrina and Rita in Baton Rouge, LA. 3Br/1Bath 800$. The landlord told us he could’ve not renewed our lease and get at least 50% more in rent to low income families with Vouchers.

      2. aletheia33

        abynormal, that really sucks and my heart goes out to you. i hope you can find a decent place to move you and mom into that is affordable. elders are really getting hit hard. good luck. earplugs can help.

  18. B1whois

    The article “Bernie, The Donald, and the Sins of Liberalism” from Steve Fraser at Tom Dispatch is fantastic, as well as poetic: “In a zip code far, far away, a privileged sliver of Americans who had gamed the system, who had indeed made gaming the system into the system, looked down on the mass of the previously credulous, now outraged, incredulously.”

    Btw, thanks for your fabulous work here bringing me these links on a daily basis. ;)

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel


      Honorable mention on Balloon-Juice BTW!
      You helped Cole have a shitty day, and for that I salute you, Lambert! I told Cole, if he indeed read my comment, that he seriously needs to reconsider his blind faith in Clinton and against Sanders. I’m sure it’s falling on deaf ears, but at the least it won’t be an all out proclinton echo chamber.

  19. fresno dan

    Sure enough, in Lord of the Flies, where the skyscrapers are mountains of rocks and kids converse through a conch shell rather than Twitter, silver-tongued Jack turns into an amoral dictator, swiftly eroding any chance of transplanting civilization and its values to their tropical island as he slyly raises the threat of a nonexistent monster to panic the others into arming for war.

    The clash of the pre-teen titans mimics our own eternal efforts to temper passion with reason, to control primitive appetites with civilized law, to choose representative government over tyranny. As British film critic Geoffrey Macnab writes about the 1963 movie directed by Peter Brook, “Jack is an adolescent fascist who uses the specter (and excitement) of the beast to browbeat and entice the other boys into abandoning these attempts at order and following him.”

    Sound familiar?

    At one level, he is the classroom bully who picks on the weakest and plays on the fears of the most vulnerable. (“Ban Muslims.” “Build a wall.”) At another, he taps deep into the psyches of his supporters, shaming them with words (and worse) if they dare to challenge his authority. (“Lyin’ Ted.” “Crooked Hillary”). Wait. I was talking about Jack.

    Ah, fiction, where the good are really good and the bad are really bad.
    If Trump is Jack, unfortunately, Hillary is no Ralph…

  20. Lexington

    RE: It’s Rucksacks and Foxholes as Army Goes Old School for New Conflicts New York Times. Bugs Bunny: “This is not jungle or deserts they are preparing for. My guess is Hillary & Co. are going to try to get their war with Russia.”

    This is crazy talk.

    What the US army is trying to do is re-learn basic fieldcraft which historically was second nature to every army that ever existed. However sometime around Gulf War I the military brass decided that an indispensable component of the American Way of War(tm) included doing everything possible to shield American troops from the unpleasant reality that they were in fact in a foreign country. American bases in Iraq featured amenities like air conditioned billets, Wi Fi and even Starbucks franchises that would have stupefied every previous army that fought in the Middle East, from Alexander the Great to Moshe Dayan. I remember reading once that the mess in the Green Zone briefly toyed with the idea of serving an “ethnic” Middle East entree one night a week, but that was quickly shelved when word got out and caused a near riot. The army recruits disproportionately from the South so it’s fried chicken and hush puppies or bust.

    There is not going to be a war with Russia, regardless of whom is president. The army has been whittled down to ten divisions and a couple of brigades, and already has global commitments. Also, while Russia can use conscription to augment its forces trying to reintroduce such a measure in the US is politically unthinkable. The US does not have the means to prosecute such a war. In any case the whole idea is another example of the deleterious influence of Russian bloggers on the credulous. They have artfully used the specter of war with Russia to induce panic prone Western civilians into pressuring their governments into allowing Russia to have its way with the Ukraine (and any other neighbor it feels like despoiling). It’s telling no one has even tried to articulate exactly how the US would expect to benefit from such a conflict or how American elites would sell such an adventure to the public. The whole meme seems to be “It’s Hillary – and she’s craaaaaazy!!!!”

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      One of Hillary’s official positions is to implement a no-fly zone in Syria.

      That amounts to declaring war on Russia.

      You need to wake up and smell the coffee.

      Victoria Nuland is also being rumored to be Hillary’s Secretary of State pick. That too will lead rapidly to a hot war with Russia. Nuland is if such a thing is possible, more hawkish and reckless than Hillary.

    2. Plenue

      If Putin is trying to ‘despoil’ his neighbors, he’s pretty bad at it. He didn’t take South Ossetia and curbed the Donbass separatists lofty goals of either joining the Russian Federation or becoming a fully independent nation.

    3. voteforno6

      Well, Russia is right next to Ukraine. As a thought exercise, how would the U.S. have reacted if Russia instigated the overthrow of a U.S.-friendly government in, say, Quebec, and supported a more Russian-friendly one there? Is Ukraine worth getting in a war with Russia?

    4. Larry Dallas

      I remember during the first Gulf War an article on the arrival of the French Foreign Legion and how they laughed at the American’s port-a-potties and air conditioned mess halls.

    5. VietnamVet

      The problem is that Hillary Clinton advocated for regime change campaigns on Iraq, Libya and Syria and she is responsible for the ensuing chaos. My old brigade is stationed in Lviv Ukraine as trainers and a trip wire. If moved into front line in a war with Russia; their only chance of survival is that NATO defeats the Russian Airforce and they have dug very deep foxholes. Yes, there has never been a hot shooting war between Russia and NATO since it is inevitable that the war will escalate. Once nuclear weapons are used; Goodbye Northern Hemisphere. Poking the Russian bear is insane.

      The irony is that the whole neo-con/neo-liberal edifice for a New American Century is dependent on Hillary Clinton not being indicted for her obviously malicious intent to avoid Record Keeping requirements, FOIA requests and Congressional subpoenas of her e-mail. Total corruption of the rules and regulations is the only way she will become President.

    6. notabanker

      “Also, while Russia can use conscription to augment its forces trying to reintroduce such a measure in the US is politically unthinkable.”

      Think about that for a moment…….

      HRC and Donald Trump are the leading Presidential candidates in the US. There is nothing politically unthinkable anymore. Yes it really is that bad.

  21. GDX

    “Over 1 Million Russians Are Modern Slaves — Report Moscow Times (Wat)”

    Modern-day slavery comprises of human trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage and commercial sexual exploitation.

    Not surprising they got a figure in the millions.

    Just prison labour alone would probably put the U.S.A. over the Russian figure.

  22. Jess

    Just got an interesting mailer for next Tuesday’s CA election. It’s from a group called the Coalition for Literacy, and is a Dem slate piece. What makes it interesting is that it encourages people to vote for either Hellary or Bernie for President, and either Kamala Harris (puke) or Loretta Sanchez (puke) for Boxer’s senate seat.

    I take the either/or presidential recommendation as prima facie evidence that the others on this slate are fully aware of how popular Bernie is, and don’t want to take a hit to their own campaigns by championing Hellary.

    1. jo6pac

      Jess my note from the Greens was if you are registered as a demodog to vote for berni in the primary. Then in Nov. Vote Green.

      I vote Green in the senate race and voted against every incumbent.

  23. Jess

    They just made my dad. Got a call from a guy calling on behalf of Hellary. Told him she and Bill were a disgrace to the Dem party legacy of FDR and JFK and that the whole family could go fuck themselves.

    I think the guy got the message because he said, “Okay, we’ll be sure never to call you again.”

  24. Plenue

    “‘Great Satan’ USA & ‘evil’ Britain not to be trusted – Iran’s leader”

    Well, England certainly is not to be trusted. I’ve never heard anything about the Scots or Welsh being particularly nefarious. Whereas ‘Perfidious Albion’ is a phrase whose usage goes back centuries. The sooner British independence movements succeed, the sooner decent countries can stop being lumped together with their Received Pronunciation speaking masters.

  25. Plenue

    “Jamie Dimon Gets in the Face of His U.K. Workers With Threats on Brexit”

    Oh Jesus, he’s gone full mafia boss.

    “I’m not going to tell you how to vote. But it sure would be a terrible…shame…if anything were to happen to your jobs DOT DOT DOT”.

    Is he subconsciously aiming to get shivved in an alley or what?

    1. EndOfTheWorld

      I’d rather sleep in the street and eat out of dumpsters than work for Jamie Dimon.

  26. August West

    Since we all seem to discuss neoliberal antics, maybe Lambert could create a new water cooler section……. Something along the line of Meritocratic Neoliberal Propaganda or some such title. Any other title ideas commentariat?

  27. Bob Richard

    “Factory Robot Working On Some Of Its Own Designs After Hours” — apparently, the Onion’s writer has forgotten Battlestar Galactica.

    1. Treadingwaterbutstillkicking

      Battlestar Galactica, though following Star Trek and Star Wars has always felt to me to be the more prescient scifi series. If Galactica had come up with a term like “Skynet” more people would remember it I do believe. Watch the first season of the remade series and you can see a lot of parallels even to what’s happening now technology-wise.

  28. Vertie

    re: ‘Obama: I have Wasserman Schultz’s back’

    Implies Wasserman-Schultz’s strategic value as a sacrifice has increased -> suggesting likelihood of a Biden/Warren nomination has increased significantly

    1. tegnost

      Hey look at this crumbling edifice! Let’s all stand on top of it to make it more stable!

  29. August West

    Good read not sure if link has been posted already.

    “But if abstract policy preferences aren’t so important after all, perhaps we should take another look at those inequality numbers. What if they actually show the growth of a deeper allegiance — a compound of social identity and symbolic attachment that we might even dare call “class consciousness”?”

    “But by bringing so many white men into the social-democratic tent — not through sexist innuendo or racist dog whistles, but by appealing to a profound sense of class grievance — the Sanders campaign has pointed a way forward.

    The promise of class politics, after all, is not only that it can threaten the interests of the few, but that it can unite the struggles of the many. After the final primary elections this month, the Sanders campaign may come to an end. But class politics isn’t going anywhere.”

  30. Elliot

    re: food prices

    Food prices most assuredly have gone up! I don’t eat at restaurants, and bake my own bread, but the view from grocery store level shows a big increase in food prices. Maybe it’s different in the city, or for those of you with high incomes, but for us in the hinterlands basic foods have increased a lot.

    Milk was probably around $2ish a gallon (non bst, whole milk) when Obama was elected, now it’s hovering near $4; bread was commonly around $2 a loaf, now it’s closer to 4; butter was around 1.50/#, now it’s often over $4, or closer to $6; apples were under $1/#, now are closing in on $2; fruit juices (fresh or frozen) have skyrocketed, and while citrus are affected by citrus greening, that doesn’t apply to apples, which WA growers dumped massively last summer, so there was no shortage there either. Eggs ditto, and cheese as well. I don’t eat meat so I don’t know about those prices, but nuts, seeds, and a lot of grains have gone up too.

  31. Cry Shop

    Wealthy Americans Don’t Have to Go to Panama to Hide Their Wealth from Taxes the 99% Pay.

    This needs positioning.

  32. Quentin

    Barack Obama has Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s back. What macho crap! Poor little Debbie is so defenseless against the big, ugly (presumably manly) forces arrayed against her that she needs the White Knight Obama to come to her rescue—the macho responds to the whining of the damsel. I can’t imagine Obama saying this about a man: could you? I am inclined to think this whole exchange is sexist on the part of both OB and DWS (and maybe even myself), a good anyway laugh at the expense of the poor looking for a payday loan. A slogan for OB after the January inauguration might be ‘Community workers of the world unite to fuck the poor’.

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