2:00PM Water Cooler 11/30/2016

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“TPP: WILL TRUMP SLICE IT TO SAVE IT? Republicans are increasingly talking about the possibility of somehow salvaging the TPP, despite Trump’s promise to walk away from the agreement. During a discussion hosted by The New York Times on Tuesday, former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said he did not believe Trump’s threats to tear up trade agreements should be taken at ‘face value.’ He also speculated that Trump may seek to negotiate bilateral deals with the other TPP countries” [New York Times]. Kill it with fire!

TPP: “So while the TPP is dead, a U.S.-Japan trade deal should be the first thing to take its place. Japan is a large, wealthy ally that’s too important for the U.S. to write off. By integrating the U.S. and Japan’s economies more closely, both countries can reap economic and strategic benefits” [Noah Smith, Bloomberg].

RCEP: “the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which includes the 10 ASEAN Member States with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. The current negotiations in RCEP are complicated by the fact that there are 6 countries which are part of the TPP and there have been many attempts to import TPP texts into RCEP and sometimes even an attempt to go beyond the TPP” [Bilaterals].


2016 Post Mortem

“They Had One Job” [Eschaton]. “But a bunch of people assumed the responsibility of protecting the nation from Donald Trump. This wasn’t a game, a sportsball contest, this, you know, mattered. And they lost. Jeebus help us all because of it. Most of them aren’t going to see their family members be deported or die of pregnancy complications. With great responsibility comes great responsibility. They took on a job, and they fucked it up. They lost the election to Donald Fucking Trump… I really don’t want to hear much other than apologies from the people who were paid a lot of money to make sure President Trump didn’t happen.”

“It will take some time to understand everything that went into Tuesday’s Hillary loss. But one of the most striking things we can see in actual results is that in the Midwest, Trump ran up the score in rural areas that Obama had won in 2008, counterbalancing Hillary’s ability to win in key exurbs. Not incidentally, this is the same thing Bernie was able to do in the primaries: win big in places with small populations” [Empty Wheel].

“Democrats are lying to themselves about what this election meant” [Chris Cilizza, WaPo]. “The rise of President Obama obscured the fact that the Democratic Party he represented was struggling in virtually every other way in which a party’s health is judged. Clinton’s loss should make that fact plain to Democrats: The country, judging by down-ballot election results nationwide, is center-right — and holding.” Which totally explains the Sanders phenomenon. Oh, wait…

“Prop. 61 would have mandated that California’s Medicaid, and state agencies, along with the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), pay no more for prescription drugs than the lowest price paid by the federal government’s Department of Veterans Affairs” [Capital and Main]. “But the No side’s huge influx of money enabled it to flood the airwaves with a slew of commercials with the message that Prop. 61 was bad for veterans, bad for the poor and bad for almost all Californians.”

“Despite being out of power in the House for all but four of the last 22 years, the Democrats have not kicked out any of their leaders. While Speaker Jim Wright resigned in 1989 due to scandal, no other Democratic speaker or leader (either majority or minority) has been removed by the party or left early.

After losing control in the House in 2010, Nancy Pelosi stayed atop the caucus as the Minority Leader. Her predecessor, Dick Gephardt, maintained his job despite continual failed elections. The same thing happened during Democratic losses of control in 1946 and 1952, with Sam Rayburn sliding from Speaker to Minority Leader” [CNN]. “Even challenges are rare. The Democratic leadership position is so set in stone that incumbent party bosses rarely ever face a challenge.”

“The massive underwater crater left by the asteroid that exterminated the dinosaurs has provided new evidence that sea levels were much lower during the last Ice Age, researchers said” [Agence France Presse]. Oh, gosh, I’ve thrown this in the wrong bucket, haven’t I? It was “the asteroid that exterminated the dinosaurs” that did it. Oopsie.

Trump Transition

“Trump announces he will leave business ‘in total’ — leaving open how he will avoid conflicts of interest” [WaPo]. “”I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump tweeted.”

“We can start taking Trump seriously about ditching his business interests when he does these five things” [Quartz] I dunno. This one: “Trump’s children need to step back from the business, too.” Seems unlikely. Anyhow, this liberal critique misses the point. Trump’s conflicts are less important than his class interests — and the the class interests of the 1%ers in his Cabinet who will be running large parts of the government.

“Add [all Trump’s cabinet picks up], and the president-elect is well on his way to building a conservative dream team that has Republicans cheering and liberals in despair” [Politico]. “‘It’s the most conservative [Cabinet] since Reagan,’ said David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth. ‘But I don’t think he’s using an ideological lens to pick people. I think he’s genuinely looking for people who share his priorities for these agencies.'”

“Taken together, Trump’s choices [of Price and Verma] announced Tuesday morning demonstrate his seriousness about demolishing the Affordable Care Act and restructuring the two vast health-care entitlement programs [Medicare and Medicaid] that were pillars of the Great Society of the 1960s” [WaPo].

“After a decade in the wilderness, Wall Street’s most powerful firm, Goldman Sachs, is dominating the early days of the incoming Trump administration. The newly picked Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, spent 17 years at Goldman. Trump’s top incoming White House adviser, Steve Bannon, spent his early career at the bank. So did Anthony Scaramucci, one of Trump’s top transition advisers” [Politico]. In the wilderness? Really?

“I have watched as tobacco, coal, oil, chemicals and biotech companies have poured billions of dollars into an international misinformation machine composed of thinktanks, bloggers and fake citizens’ groups. Its purpose is to portray the interests of billionaires as the interests of the common people, to wage war against trade unions and beat down attempts to regulate business and tax the very rich. Now the people who helped run this machine are shaping the government” [George Monbiot, The Guardian]. We used to call this The Mighty Wurlitzer, back in the day.

“Patient advocacy and policy experts agree that [CMS nominee Seema Verma’s] philosophy encourages people to take charge of their healthcare. Verma has supported charging premiums to individuals above and below the poverty line and freezing beneficiaries out of coverage if they don’t pay. She is also in favor of mandating enrollees search for work while being covered and that they are timely when reapplying for Medicaid coverage or else face a lockout period that could last a year” [Modern Health Care]. However, “Her history with 1115 waivers show she crosses party lines to ensure coverage, said Trish Riley, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy. ‘She helped forge a middle ground that enabled some more conservative states to cover more people—childless adults—through Medicaid expansion via private options.” As every liberal sighs, “If only we had passed single payer in 2009 when we had the chance.” Not.

“In May 1986, a 39-year-old Manhattan real estate developer named Donald Trump promised to get Wollman Rink in Central Park up and running — something the city government, despite spending $13 million, had failed to do for six years. Trump delivered, ahead of time and under a $3 million budget” [Michael Barone, RealClearPolitics]. New York readers: Fact, fiction, or both?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“What is RCV?” [Fair Vote]. :Ranked choice voting allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference (i.e. first, second, third, fourth and so on). Voters have the option to rank as many or as few candidates as they wish, but can vote without fear that ranking less favored candidates will harm the chances of their most preferred candidates. First choices are then tabulated. If more than two candidates receive votes, a series of runoffs are simulated, using voters’ preferences as indicated on their ballot.”

From the FAQ: “Are electronic voting machines needed for ranked choice elections?” [Ranked Choice Voting Maine]. “No. Ranked choice voting is designed to work with paper ballots. This initiative does not require, suggest or assume that Maine adopt the use of electronic voting machines. This is a separate issue entirely.” Good. So we can have both ranked choice and hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public.

“The nonprofit, nonpartisan group FairVote—chaired by former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic—says on its website that ranked-choice voting “has improved elections in cities and states across the United States” and “has majority support in every U.S. city that uses it.” Those cities include Berkeley, California; Cambridge, Massachusetts; San Francisco; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Portland, Maine. In November, Maine voters will decide whether to adopt Question Five, which would establish ranked-choice voting for the state’s 2018 primary and elections for governor, House, the Senate and the state Legislature” [Newsweek].

“Questioning Wisconsin’s Very High Presidential Election 2016 Turnout Numbers” [BradBlog]. I recommend BradBlog for all your election integrity needs; he’s been doing it for years, and he’s great. This is a good post; see above from EmptyWheel on why disproportinately high rural votes were important to Trump’s victory. However, AFAIK, the same pattern occurs everywhere across the Rust Belt, which to me is prima facie evidence that the rural vote is legit. Unfortunately, the post only considers Wisconsin.

UPDATE “Judge rejects Stein’s request for hand recount” [Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel]. “Dane County Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn said the effort to force the hand recount — which was backed by Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign — did not meet the state’s legal standard for prohibiting the use of machines in the recount, saying that the two campaigns did not show a hand recount, though more thorough, was necessary or show there was a clear and convincing evidence of fraud or other problems.” But let’s not call Stein’s effort a stunt or a public relations gimmick; that would be unfair, since in fact it’s a successful bait-and-switch operation that will fund GP party-building.

UPDATE “‘It’s politically smart for the Green Party to show they are an aggressive, progressive wing of the Democratic Party. The Democrats have largely ceded this progressive territory, so the Green Party can demonstrate that they are fighting for the spirit the progressive Democrats would embrace,’ said Brandon Rottinghaus, a University of Houston political scientist” [The Hill]. I’ll just leave that here.

UPDATE “Green Party candidate Jill Stein filed for a manual recount of Michigan’s 4.8 million presidential votes Wednesday afternoon, setting off an unprecedented retabulation of the ballots” [Detroit News]. “Stein also claimed Michigan’s voting machines could have been hacked, although she offered no evidence as to how that could have been achieved since the state’s machines are not connected to the Internet.”

“Anti-Trump forces are preparing an unprecedented assault on the Electoral College, marked by a wave of lawsuits and an intensive lobbying effort aimed at persuading 37 Republican electors to vote for a candidate other than Donald Trump” [Politico]. “Since Trump won the popular vote in states making up 306 electoral votes, he would be well over the 270-vote majority he needs to become president if all of those electors vote for him. That’s why his detractors are seeking 37 Republican defections — just enough to keep Trump below the threshold, which would send the final decision to the House of Representatives.” Where were all these people when Superdelegates were coronating Clinton?

“Twelve Ideas Post-Election from Front Line Organizers” [Black Agenda Report]. This seems very meta to me. Where’s the program all these groups can join forces on, with at least some overlap?

Stats Watch

Personal Income and Outlays, October 2016: “A decline for services held down consumer spending in October, coming in at plus 0.3 percent vs Econoday’s consensus for 0.5 percent” [Econoday]. “The income side is the best news in the October report, rising 0.6 percent to beat expectations by 2 tenths. An upward revision to September, now at plus 0.4 percent, is another positive. The wages & salaries component shows back-to-back gains of 0.5 percent which is very solid.” And: ” A solid increase in personal income” [Calculated Risk]. And: “Personal consumption has been the major driver of GDP since the end of the Great Recession. There was a significant jump in year-over-year income growth, little change in year-over-year consumption – but growth of savings” [Econintersect]. But watch for those backward revisions!

ADP Employment Report, November 2016: ” ADP has had a good year forecasting private payroll growth and its November estimate is very strong, at 216,000 which is far above Econoday’s consensus for 160,000. The 216,000 is nearly double ADP’s revised estimate for October of 119,000. Econoday’s consensus for Friday’s private payrolls is 155,000 with total nonfarm payrolls expected at 170,000″ [Econoday]. And: “The largest segment of the U.S. economy, the services sector, accounted for all the job gains, with 228,000 new jobs reported, while the manufacturing sector shed 11,000 positions” [Economic Calendar]. However: “All in all, the sum of this report should be generally positive for Friday’s Labor Department report on payrolls. That being said, the bias should be mildly more positive than massively higher due to the prior month’s big revision lower” [247 Wall Street].

Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, November 2016: “The Chicago Fed’s business barometer is showing its volatility once again, surging 6 points in November to 57.6 to signal the strongest rate of monthly growth in nearly two years” [Econoday]. “Up-and-down is the theme of the report and a negative is employment which is back in reverse. Volatility aside, the report’s overall message is consistent with other advance data this month, that is a significant upturn in activity has followed the November 8 election.” And but: “The three-month average increased to 54.1 from 52.1 previously which indicates some underlying momentum in the sector, although the data series is notoriously volatile on a monthly basis” [Economic Calendar]. And: “The results of this survey continue to be around the middle of the district Federal Reserve manufacturing surveys – and aligns with the overall trend of the ISM manufacturing survey” [Econintersect].

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of November 25, 2016: “Purchase applications for home mortgages fell just 0.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis in the November 25 week following the prior week’s outsized 19-percent increase” [Econoday]. “But applications for refinancing were down 16 percent from the prior week, as the sharp post-election increase in interest rates continues to muffle mortgage activity among homeowners seeking to refinance at lower rates.”

Pending Home Sales Index, October 2016: “Pending sales of existing homes rose only 0.1 percent in October, pointing to flat results for the rest of the year in final sales” [Econoday]. And: “Insignificantly Improves” [Econintersect]. And: “below expectations” [Calculated Risk].

Retail: “Half of American shoppers believe that the best deals of the year are available on Black Friday. How then to account for the fact that those shoppers turned out in larger numbers than last year but spent less?” [MarketWatch]. “Data released on Tuesday from retail analytics firm EDITED pointed to steep discounting as the culprit. The number of discounted items rose by 20% year over year, and the average price reduction was 44%, compared with 36% a year ago. The average discount on sold-out items reached a whopping 60%, and the biggest discounts were available on Saturday and Sunday, not Black Friday. The researchers found that 18% of the mass market was discounted 50% or more on Saturday and nearly 51% was discounted on Sunday.”

Housing: “The rise of the wealthy renters – In San Francisco more households making over $150K/yr choose to rent than own” [Dr. Housing Bubble].

Commodities: Copper jumped in October (chart) [InfoMine]. And: “After hitting an 18-month high on an intraday basis on Monday, the copper price has come under pressure as the bullishness about the impact of Trump’s $500 billion infrastructure plans on demand for the bellwether metal begins to cool” [InfoMine].

Commodities: “How Glencore chooses to dispose of its 500,000 metric tons of mothballed capacity — equivalent to about 3.7 percent of global zinc output last year — will be crucial in deciding whether the current run of high prices continues or sputters. If the company promises to continue its policy of watching and waiting in an investor update on Thursday, zinc bulls might do well to cut their positions” [Bloomberg].

Shipping: “A new world for ship finance” [Lloyd’s List]. “[A]ll rumours of commercial banking being an endangered species are grossly exaggerated. It is true that banks have rationed available credit as a response to increased regulatory requirements and in an effort to de-risk their portfolios. They are, however, still in the lending business, albeit with a more diverse and more securitised array of lending products. The capital rationing has created a two-tiered market. Blue chip names enjoy access to ample bank credit, whereas small shipowners are being squeezed out. Although opportunistic lenders are there to fill the gap, they are offering terms that are hard to afford based on prevailing market conditions…. Another emerging area is the US private placement market. Privately issued debt bypasses many regulatory hurdles posed by the Securities and Exchange Commission and attracts the interest of insurance companies and pension funds, which are natural buyers of long-dated credit paper.”

Shipping: “Logistics competence also plays a huge role in determining the cost of the freight. The trucking industry in Mexico does not have nearly as much regulation as the U.S. which complicates the process to select carriers. In order to comply with service requirements, a broker must do their due diligence in selecting a carrier that has the technology platform and business practices that allow them to serve customers with high standards. Contrary to the U.S., the prices offered by different carriers for the same route could vary greatly” [DC Velocity]. Less regulation, more brokers? Hmm.

Supply Chain: “3D printing is unlikely to completely render the factory manufacturing model obsolete, DHL said today” [The LoadStar]. “In its latest trend report, 3D Printing and the Future of Supply Chains, the logistics firm said the technology would complement – rather than replace – mass production by simplifying the production of complex and customisable parts…. There are been wildly contrasting reports on the size of the 3D printing industry. McKinsey claims the market could be worth as much as $490bn by 2024, while Markets & Markets estimates it will be worth just $30bn – with industrial 3D printing accounting for just $4.75bn of that – by 2022, with North America and Europe accounting for 35% and 40% of the total global market value respectively. DHL claims the growth of its use will be hampered by a lack of management knowledge, as well as economic issues – many printers are only able to use one material, which raises costs for industrial-grade 3D printing.”

IT: “When a system upgrade gets you arrested” [BBC]. Programmers should be licensed. Like plumbers.

Net Neutrality: “AT&T Just Showed Us What The Death Of Net Neutrality Is Going To Look Like” [TechDirt]. “Owning the pipe and the content will protect AT&T from the full brunt of increased competition in the [live TV streaming] space. This is precisely the sort of ‘new normal; AT&T has spent the last decade trying to build, and exactly the sort of future net neutrality rules were supposed to help us avoid.. .. And while the current Wheeler-led FCC recently finally acknowledged that it now understands this sort of behavior is anti-competitive, it’s too little, too late. There’s every indication that Trump’s new FCC intends to not only gut net neutrality, but the FCC entirely. Trump’s telecom transition team is filled to the brim with telecom-sector cronies who can’t even admit telecom monopolies are real. Large ISP executives and investors are thrilled.”

“To date, there are over 500,000 registered drones in the U.S., and there are over 20,000 registered commercial operators of drones. The FAA advises that over 3,300 people signed up to take the aeronautical knowledge test, which is one of the new requirements to operate a drone in the U.S. The FAA estimates that more than 600,000 commercial drones could be in operation by 2017” [DC Velocity].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 75 Extreme Greed (previous close: 71, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 70 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 30 at 1:22pm. Entering “extreme” territory!


“As the weather has turned colder, the number of protesters has dwindled, even as the tactics of the police have become more brutal. With the Morton County sheriff in the lead, police have used a water cannon, dogs, rubber bullets, sonic weapons, pepper spray and tear gas against protesters who have resisted efforts to move them out. The level of force and the militarized appearance of the police seems wildly out of proportion to the threat posed by the activists, and it is easy to suspect the response would be different if the rebels were not unarmed Indians” [Los Angeles Times]. “After all, the authorities went rather gently on the gun-toting cowboys who confronted federal agents on Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch in 2014, and they showed great patience with the white-skinned occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon last winter until one of the law-breakers finally got himself killed by acting stupid.”

“This Is What Life Inside the Standing Rock Camp Looks Like Right Now” (photo essay) [The Nation].

“Fundraiser nets $1,250 to help residents travel to Standing Rock protests” [Rockford Register]. Good for them (they bought a tent with the money).


“”It looks like, since the beginning of October, that for the first time we are seeing both the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice running at record low levels,” said Walt Meier, a research scientist with the Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who has tracked sea ice data going back to 1979″ [CNN].

“‘[‘Alfred,’ the 25- million-year-old fossilised whale skull was unveiled at the Museum today,] shows how ancient baleen whales made the evolutionary switch from biting prey with teeth to filtering using baleen,’ said Monash Science Senior Research Fellow, Dr Alistair Evans, one of the authors of the paper.’ ‘They first became suction feeders. Feeding in this way resulted in reduced need for teeth, so over time their teeth were lost before baleen appeared.'” [Monash University].

Class Warfare

“What You Need to Know First to Understand the Russian Revolution” [Smithsonian]. “In an 1895 speech to representatives of the nobility and municipal officials, [Czar Nicholas] declared ‘there have arisen the voices of people carried away by senseless dreams of taking part in the business of government. Let everyone know that I will retain the principles of autocracy as firmly and unbendingly as my unforgettable late father.'”

“How to Hide $400 Million” [Nick Confessore, New York Times]. “But even as Pursglove was repacking her suitcase for the flight home, her family’s fortune was vanishing into an almost impenetrable array of shell companies, bank accounts and trusts, part of a worldwide financial system catering exclusively to the very wealthy. In recent decades, this system has become astonishingly effective at “offshoring” wealth — detaching assets, through complex layers of ownership and legal planning, from their actual owners, often by hiding them in another country. Created by lawyers, accountants and private bankers and operating out of a global archipelago of European principalities, former British colonies and Asian city-states, the system has one main purpose: to make the richest people in the world appear to own as little as possible.”

News of the Wired

“When is it appropriate to play Christmas music?” [Patheos]. On Christmas Eve and Christmas day. In your home.

* * *

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


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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. diptherio

    Speaking of music appropriate to the season (so to speak):

    “Right In Two” ~TOOL

    Angels on the sideline,
    Puzzled and amused.
    Why did Father give these humans free will?
    Now they’re all confused.

    Don’t these talking monkeys know that
    Eden has enough to go around?
    Plenty in this holy garden, silly monkeys,
    Where there’s one you’re bound to divide it.
    Right in two.

    Angels on the sideline,
    Baffled and confused.
    Father blessed them all with reason.
    And this is what they choose.
    And this is what they choose…

    Monkey killing monkey killing monkey
    Over pieces of the ground.
    Silly monkeys give them thumbs,
    They forge a blade,
    And where there’s one
    they’re bound to divide it,
    Right in two.
    Right in two.

    Monkey killing monkey killing monkey.
    Over pieces of the ground.
    Silly monkeys give them thumbs.
    They make a club.
    And beat their brother, down.
    How they survive so misguided is a mystery.

    Repugnant is a creature who would squander the ability to lift an eye to heaven conscious of his fleeting time here.

    Cut and divide it all right in two [x4]

    Fight over the clouds, over wind, over sky
    Fight over life, over blood, over prayer,
    overhead and light
    Fight over love, over sun,
    over another, Fight for each other,
    for the ones who are rising.

    Angels on the sideline again.
    Benched along with patience and reason.
    Angels on the sideline again
    Wondering when this tug of war will end.

    Cut and divide it all right in two [x3]

    Right in two…


  2. UserFriendly

    What is Ranked Choice Voting? A horrible Idea
    It is bad for 3rd parties.

    Sometimes you can get a better result if you don’t show up to vote. Plenty of places have repealed it, like Burlington VT.

    Score Voting (aka Range Voting) where you score each candidate 0-5 is MUCH better.
    Full math behind why it’s better: http://rangevoting.org/rangeVirv.html

    1. aj

      That video is pretty crap. It assumes that the distribution of voters is on a single left-right scale and is normally distributed. I think the current election puts the lie to that pretty handily. You had people who supported Bernie (the far left) voting for Trump (the far-right) over Clinton (the center-right).

      It then assumes that the major party positions never evolve to take into account the growing 3rd party. It assumes the major party positions remain static, which any political science or game theory major is going to tell you is not the case at all.

      Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem already proves that no ranked order voting system is perfect. It’s still better than the current system we have.

      1. UserFriendly

        I agree that some voters don’t fall neatly in line on the left right spectrum, but there are soooo many problems with ranked choice.

        Arrow’s impossibility theorem: Says that there is no voting system based on rank-orderings as ballots that meets criteria 2-4 and never is tied. But score voting (with some tiebreak rule added) does meet these criteria. It can, and does, evade Arrow’s “proof of impossibility” because it does not use rank-orderings as ballots, but rather numerical candidate-ratings.

        It also eliminates the need for primaries by being clone independant. So I could have filled out my ballot like this:

        Sanders: 5
        Stein: 4
        DJT: 2
        HRC: 0
        GJ: 0
        Rest of GOP clown car: 0

        It is also the most robust to strategic voting.

        1. UserFriendly

          For what it’s worth it is also possible to hand count. One person sorts by which score they gave the candidate, someone else tally’s. Repeat for each candidate. I’d imagine once you get them sorted for one candidate changing to the next candidate wouldn’t be as hard given partisanship. (If you gave a D a 5 you probably gave a R a 0).

      2. hunkerdown

        assumes the major party positions never evolve to take into account the growing 3rd party

        Major party positions have little to do with major party policy. I hope you’re not ascribing value to the art of making people think that their betters love them while the betters steal their lives from them.

        The status quo has proven itself unfit for purpose and can therefore be disregarded. The video may be crap — I’ll concede that without watching it — but the comparison on offer is score voting vs. STV, not the status quo vs. the incremental change that favors the liberal Rescuer class.

    2. Terry

      Ranked choice systems are unfair (as are ALL voting systems – see Arrow’s Impossibility theorem). They are regularly gamed by voters in Australia. Marley (one of the guys who axiomatised several of these methods – and with whom I’ve published) proposes best-worst voting to address the particular problems with ranking (one of which being the multiple-bites-of-the-cherry that people supporting unpopular candidates get)

      1. a different chris

        >They are regularly gamed by voters in Australia.

        How can that even be possible? I mean not the techniques used, but if I’m the voters then I want the representation that we as a group feel most strongly about. ‘

        Now admittedly I have no idea what you are talking about, maybe your phrasing is just poorly thought out. But the way I see it:

        If Bob is really, really convinced that Fred is better than Anne and I’m just going to vote for Anne because I’m not seeing the big difference and so am just going to stick with the status quo, Fred’s ability to skew the votes might make Jeff win, who is more Fredish than Annish win overall and that’s probably the best compromise for both of us. Plus there is the inherent data feedback that Jeff, Fred and Anne get when all is said an done. Instead of the US, where the winner just assumes a mandate.

        What is “gamed” by finding a better point of consensus?

  3. EGrise

    Clinton’s loss should make that fact plain to Democrats: The country, judging by down-ballot election results nationwide, is center-right — and holding.

    So the Dem elites begin to do exactly what Thomas Frank predicts in The Guardian:

    If history is a guide, they will embrace any sophistry to ensure that the Democrats do not take the steps required to broaden their appeal to working-class voters.

    And Nancy Pelosi is re-elected as minority leader. The only word I can find to describe the Dems is “moribund.”

    1. Jim Haygood

      To update the Czar Nicholas quote from 1895:

      In a 2016 speech to Democratic representatives and officials, Nancy Pelosi declared,

      “There have arisen the voices of people carried away by senseless dreams of taking part in the business of government.

      “Let everyone know that I will retain the principles of autocracy as firmly and unbendingly as my unforgettable predecessor Dick Gephardt.”

    2. MightyMike

      That business about the country being center-right always bothers me. It’s the kind of thing that George Will says. If you imagine that political preferences fall into some Gaussian bell curve, with a large number of people holding certain views, and smaller groups to the right and left of that large group, then the country is, by definition, a center center country, with the center represented by the preferences of that large group of Americans.

      If you then go and look at opinion polls that ask about actual issues, Bernie Sanders is in the center, perhaps a little bit to the left of the absolute center, not “far left” by any means.

    3. Procopius

      It seems to be The Iron Law of Institutions in action. Leftish voters have been complaining for many years that the DNC, DCCC, and DSCC all freeze out progressive candidates and direct their money to more conservative candidates. Sometimes, like Debbie Wasserman Schultz, they go so far as to actively campaign for a Republican rather than allow a progressive Democrat a chance to win. I don’t see any likelihood of that changing. What are we up to now, 33 states where the Republicans have both legislatures and the governorship? Is there something wrong with this picture?

  4. craazyman

    This is like a waterfall not a watercooler! ;-). Lots of wackjobs seem to have day jobs as screeders. They’re all quoted today! There’s probly hundreds more where they came from.

    We need to give Trump a chance. I’m willing.to give him a chance and not get all wackoed out on ideology and the intoxicating perfumes of my own virtue. Even though I’m sort of virtuous. It’s hard to be too bad when you really don’t do anything other than lay around. — And have some objective standards of performance to measure him — and any administration — against.

    I’m sick of ideologues, race baiters, race haters, “ists” of all types, isms, schisms, -crats and –cons, PACs and hacks, character attacks, nearly anybody who’s a “political consultant” (not that I know anybody who is, but if I met one I’d be suspicious of their professional activities), liberulls, consoivatives, Global Warming Wackos, anti-Global-Warming wackos, anybody who has strident opinions without the humility of facts, anybody who can’t understand their own sadistics vomits, people who explode emotionally at the first mention of _________ (fill in the blank with republicans, feminists, rednecks, white people, black people, people of color, colorful people, colorless people, paint by numbers people, coloring book people, etc.) Howeveer I don’t explode emotionally. I’m able to think for myself and keep an even temper. I like colorful people, but if somebody is white they don’t make me mad.

    No more hyperbole! Hyperbole is horrible, awful, terrible, it’s worse than an asteroid hitting the earth, it’s worse than sittring on top of the dot that exploded into the big bang! It’s worse than anything. No exxagerating! LOL

    1. Bugs Bunny

      I’m with you doc! Until it all falls apart. Then we have to organize people.

      Or maybe we shoulda done that before?

  5. cwaltz

    Has Atrios even acknowledged that the DNC conspired with the media to ensure Trump was one of the “viable” RNC options? Or is he in denial that the DNC doesn’t care about actually making government functional as much as they care about the DNC continuing to be part of the gravy train?

    Unless you acknowledge problems you can’t come up with solutions. The DNC and how it operates is a real problem.

    I do hear though that Nancy Pelosi’s CLOSED DOOR coronation went off swimmingly. Between her and Schumer I think the party reformers should declare themselves resoundingly successful at changing the party and take the day off to bash Stein and her supporters as rubes and politically naïve.

    1. Waldenpond

      I read the piece. He actually writes that the media was unfair to Clinton. So the media didn’t collude enough?

      1. sleepy

        Absolutely. DKos is filled with the meme that Trump was elected with media connivance. Either that or sexism and racism was the sole culprit. Anything other than a recognition that the dem party had no economic message other than things are going just great.

        1. Katharine

          Maybe my elders were right about about drugs. There are an awful lot of people out there whose brains don’t seem to function properly.

          1. ProNewerDeal

            I think the Upton Sinclair quote applies to the donor-owned DNC neoliberal pols like Schumer or fake Progressives like Pelousy, as well as the hack political operatives like Karen Finney, & stenographer establishment “journalists” like WaPo or msDNC, & DNC hack pundits like Daily Kos Moulitsas: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

            I believes this tends to hold, even if the person is a Mint RawMoney-type abstainer of all mind-altering drugs, even coffee/caffeine.

            However, this does not explain the behavior of unpaid non-“Correct The Record” common non-politics-career people HillaryBots or 0bamabots, that simplisticly label any policy criticism of their chosen Dear Leader as sexism or racism. Perhaps you are correct for this cohort, that their brains are non-functioning. It is scary, because the 0bamabot & HillaryBot factions might combine into a significant minority (25%?) of the nation.

            1. aab

              That’s explained by cognitive dissonance, shame and a craving for hope.

              If you backed Obama and played ride or die to the end, and then hopped on the Hillary Clinton bandwagon, what can you say now? It’s hard to admit you’re wrong, and if you admit the Democratic Party is corrupt and deceitful, now what?

              When I come on here and mention that I volunteered for Barack Obama in 2008 and actually bought that “community organizer” line, it is still embarrassing — and I figured out before his inauguration that I had been conned. I don’t regret voting for him, because I would never, ever have voted for Hillary Clinton and McCain — no. I was not, at that point, ready to return to my more rebellious roots, so I wouldn’t have voted third party in 2008. But I gave Obama my money and my energy, too. It’s embarrassing.

              So I do have sympathy for people floundering around, wanting to do the right thing and be on the right side and believe they live in some kind of decent, and decently functioning country. People like Sarah, who showed up here to scream at people. I have some sympathy. But only a little. Because the brutal corruption of people like the Clintons relies on the insipid moral weakness of people like Sarah.

              1. skippy

                Sorta like my military past…. information arb and life experience… thingy…

                Disheveled…. something like the old saw – what we do to our body’s in our 20s we cop in our 30s…. the difference is acknowledgement…. and reconciliation…

      2. TK421

        Only a few members of the media slipped Hillary debate questions beforehand. How was she supposed to win under those constraints???

      3. cwaltz

        Mkay then. So they are still pretending that all the emails that were hacked don’t exist?

        Yep, I wish those of you wishing to reform the DNC lots and lots of luck.

        You not only have a corrupt and entrenched oligarchy heading the organization but also a broad swath of people in the ranks who won’t even acknowledge the corruption or the elite behavior that led to their loss.

        *shakes head*

      4. epynonymous

        Ted Rall did a great comic that portrayed Wolf Blitzer as clueless, without government supplied talking points.

        This twilight before Trump is pres certainly does cause confusion for stooges.

    2. RUKidding

      I rarely read Atrios’ or Moulitsis’ blogs. Unless or until the Dem party and all their slavish followers can snap out of denial and demonstrate some self-reflection and ability to live in reality, I have no interest in their scribblings.

      The Dem party lost touch with it’s former “roots” (if you will), which were more economically based, than identiy based. Identity politics exist on both sides of the aisle, and they have a place, for sure. But it’s a bitter sad pill to swallow that the Republican party usurped the economic issues in this election, whilst the Nero’s in the D party fiddled, fiddled, fadled and burned… and then sit around like a bunch of whiney babies blaming everyone and anyone but themselves for their loss.

      And now we have Empress Nancy and Ceasar Schumer to lead us all to… being ripped off some more by Wall Street, ignored at best or scorned at worst.

      A worthless party. No, the USA is NOT Center-right, but it will be led there kicking and screaming by both parties. ptoui!

      1. cwaltz

        I actually enjoy reading Atrios from time to time. He’s succinct when he writes usually. Some of his readers are tremendously guilty of groupthink but that isn’t technically his fault. I don’t even dislike Kos. I was never banned from Daily Kos. I voluntarily left his site after he straight up said he was solely about building the Democratic Party. Kos even gets points for honesty(and some deducted for hypocrisy since he used Independent Sanders to fundraise for the site on at least one occasion.) He’s a Democratic cheerleading or hand wringing site. Whatevs. It meant I did not waste time beating my fists against a brick wall. Where we fundamentally disagree is that the Democratic Party is the best means to get good policy enacted, not on policy in most instances.


        The part that really aggravates me this week is rather than acknowledging their own problems with creating good policy within the confines of the Democratic Party, it appears some of them are quite excited to hippie punch and argue that anyone who doesn’t want to get on board the Democratic train must be politically naïve or unrealistic(and yes most of us working to support a third party are aware that the odds are against us. However, from where I am sitting the Democratic reformers are have their own fair share of problems and face equally harsh odds.) Meanwhile some of the reformers STILL aren’t addressing things like the emails that show that a)The DNC purposefully did not promote a fair primary(which goes back to how do you change the party when they’ve rigged the system to prevent activists from having a say in the process.) or b) that mean, awful horrible Donald Trump was promoted by the media because the DNC asked them to talk him up. They wanted to run against him. His election was partially their fault as a result.

        As I said earlier I’m not certain how you resolve problems if you can’t or won’t even acknowledge them.

      2. Apotropaic

        I find this to be incredibly disheartening, pelosi. It’s a sign that the party still feels the need to deliver on some past promises and that they can’t trust new blood to do it. Meaning they have no bench. Maybe that’s a good thing in the long run.

        1. cwaltz

          It could be good or bad depending on what Trump and a Republican Congress does.

          I’m hoping the GOP can contain themselves for at least another 2 years or we could be facing their “re emergence” thanks to GOP overreach and hypocrisy.

          Remember the DNC is the default party right now if the GOP needs to be punished.

          Yeah, we really need more parties.

          1. aab

            This is my greatest fear.

            However, my assumption all along was that the New Democrats would not give up power voluntarily, no matter how weak and failed the party became. So if Trump feeds the billionaires and bankers well, they may make the rational decision to stop funding the Democrats. That was always the only way to get the party to change: if the gravy stops flowing. If there isn’t lots of plutocrat cash to drown progressive challengers with, then the challengers have a chance to get through.

            So the race is on. Will Trump alienate his base faster than he courts the Democrats’ donors? Will the donors dump the Dems fast enough to give grassroots candidates a chance in the mid-terms? I have no idea. But it looks like the duopoly has done a tremendous job of erecting a blizzard of obstacles — way beyond the obvious ones — to prevent a third national party. I now loathe the Democratic Party that I was a member of for decades. But it isn’t clear to me that a new party can be built to challenge them at this point. It’s a real problem.

      3. JustAnObserver

        Democrats (defn.): Political party desperately looking for some safe space where they don’t have to listen to 60+ million deplorable microagressions … or read their whining, self-pitying excuses debunked and shredded by the likes of L. Strether Esq.

    3. Carla

      “and take the day off to bash Stein and her supporters as rubes and politically naïve.”

      Why not? Plenty of others here at NC have been doing so.

    4. Kurt Sperry

      Quite. What seems to be missing from the left’s strategy is a lack of Green Party bashing. If we did that better, stronger, and with more vitriol and passion we’d be coming up aces. I can feel it, can’t you?

  6. Horatio Parker

    “In May 1986, a 39-year-old Manhattan real estate developer named Donald Trump promised to get Wollman Rink in Central Park up and running — something the city government, despite spending $13 million, had failed to do for six years. Trump delivered, ahead of time and under a $3 million budget” [Michael Barone, RealClearPolitics]. New York readers: Fact, fiction, or both?”

    Fiction. The city was trying to build a state of the art rink. Trump built a conventional rink.

      1. craazyman

        For $13 million you’d think they could have put a wave machine in the central park reservoir and let us go surfing on the weekends. I thought of that at one point. It could work as long as everybody took turns catching waves and promised not to pee.

      2. Hana

        This is actually true. I lived most of my life in NYC and was around for the multi-year Koch administration ‘effort’. They tried to use an new high tech Freon/copper piping system for freezing the ice but it was a disaster. The pipes kept breaking and the concrete surface cracked. Contractor couldn’t get at the pipes. A mess. Trump hired some Canadian skating rink engineers and used a much simpler, time-tested approach (I’ve forgotten what that was). He basically ripped out everything and started over and, yes, he finished ahead of schedule. And the rink was and still is wonderful.

      3. ian

        That was one of the reasons Trump succeeded where the city failed: he was willing to go low-tech, when the city had gone high. He put in a chilled brine system where the city had used freon. The high tech solution – freon – is under pressure, is prone to leak and is much harder to install.
        Credit where it is due.

        1. hunkerdown

          And, let us hasten to add, is a long-lived ozone-depleting substance. Perhaps that was a global warming win.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          All I know is one has to prepare oneself to endure being ridiculed when one chooses the Luddite, here the low tech (perhaps semi-Luddite is the word), route.

          It also shows the reprobate or C-student tendency to not being able to take brainwashing well. “Girls love hi tech guys.” Always wants to do his own thing.

    1. optimader

      state of the art rink. Trump built a conventional rink

      the difference being what ? Ice-nine?

      I’ll take four conventional rinks I can skate on, with an extra $1M for skates for ppl that don’t have them, over a “state of the art rink” that is never completed

      1. Inode_buddha

        How many NYC rinks were in a Nimitz-class carrier? I keep forgetting the new conversion factors…

  7. Samuel Conner

    Methinks that hand-counting the runoffs for RCV in instances with many candidates would be a real headache. The general “by hand” solution with only a single count would require the paper tabulation and subsequent arithmetic of all the vectors of ranked choice (one vector per vote). “Instant runoff” is “instant” only if you have the data in digitally manipulable form. How do the election observers check that? You’d have to have someone from each party create their own spreadsheet from the publicly counted ballots in order to independently verify the runoff. Could be done, but much harder than simple verification of vote totals for each candidate.

    Failing this, It might be useful when a small number (2 or 3) of the candidates are are ahead of the rest to keep track, during the first hand count, of the number of instances that these candidates are the 2nd preference on ballots in which the first preference is someone other than the top 2 or 3. The runoff could then be done by hand very quickly with arithmetic on paper and might lead to a winner much of the time without need to go through all the ballots again by hand.

    1. UserFriendly

      Minneapolis’s 2013 Mayoral race had 35 candidates and took about 3 days to hand count the ballots because the FEC refused to approve any software for tabulating RCV votes.


      The identity politics toting woman won on the back of much of the AA community. She has been publicly for fight for $15 while privately against it. Care to guess who she supported in the primary?

    2. aab

      I worked the polls for the California primary. We use use optical scanners. Yet the clean-up work we had to do at the end because of how overcomplicated the set up was meant that we spent HOURS after the polls closed and never actually correctly accounted for all the ballots.

      There were thirteen different ballots based on party or party+crossovers allowed. Then there was a separate system for people who are sense-impaired (blind or deaf). There was another process for handicapped voters. Then there were additional processes and paperwork for people dropping off absentee ballots or people who wanted to change their already completed absentee ballot and people who were in the rolls as absentee voters but swore they had not requested nor received an absentee ballot. And then there was the process for dealing with spoiled ballots. And on and on. Bear in mind, we were ALL volunteers and none of us had ever done this before. All these complicated efforts to supposed protect voters actually meant that tons of voters were confused, tons of ballots got messed up and went uncounted, and we still couldn’t prove at the end there had been no fraud.

      We could probably have handcounted all the ballots cast in our precinct that day during the hours we wasted with set-up and break-down if there was ONE properly designed paper ballot. Instead, California took a month to count (and shred, and change) its ballots, despite the scanners.

  8. Eureka Springs

    Programmers should be licensed. Like plumbers.

    I don’t know about your State but in Arkansas plumbers license are limited in number and that makes it difficult to find one who is available for even simple yet urgent repairs within a week or two while keeping prices ridiculously high.

    So, no. Not like plumbers, please.

    1. jrs

      Everyone knows what licensing really is in the age of no unions, it’s job and wage protection, first and foremost (unions would do that as well, but the powers that be decided most working people would have no protection, so mostly the top 20% has their licensing propping up their incomes, and everyone else is screwed). On the other hand programmers do need job protection so there is that.

    2. hunkerdown

      Programmer licensure seems a truly odd thing to call for in this very day and age when vested interests are all but calling for blogger licensure. I know Lambert doesn’t take homework assignments, but he and half of github are doing just about the same thing: assembling symbols toward particular ends for public dissemination and use. The free speech implications are being all but ignored by erasing FOSS.

      If corporate code, as corporate news, weren’t single-mindedly set on treating humans as its actuators and sensors, as ends to its purposes, the state of play would be different, as would my argument or even my position. Please don’t erase the commons just because a bunch of scummy chic neolibs are being paid to fill seats in the industry.

    3. Raj

      Right. It also doesn’t help that many cities have laws requiring licensed plumbers to perform certain repairs and installations, which means you can’t perform a do-it-yourself job if/when licensed plumbers are unavailable or quoting excessive prices/costs.

  9. annie

    a couple nights ago, marty baron, washington post editor-in-chief–the same marty baron who touted his paper’s front page story accusing naked capitalism of russian infiltration–received the ‘hitchens award’ for journalism.
    in his speech, baron warns that the nation’s free press is under threat from those who would discredit it.
    baron quotes christiane amanpour:
    ” first the media is accused of inciting, then sympathizing, then associating–until they suddenly find themselves accused of being full-fledged terrorists and subversives….’

    1. Apotropaic

      Link please? If so someone here has quite a story to write about hypocrisy, which is always a good starting point for pushing back.

      1. annie

        i tried posting the vanity fair link 3, perhaps 4, times today and each time it disappeared into moderation. i gave up and just quoted.

  10. hemeantwell

    Re: “What You Need to Know First to Understand the Russian Revolution”

    Oi. As the centenary approaches the misrepresentations are already being churned out. Any backgrounder that doesn’t refer to the disastrous performance of the Russian military in the war with Japan and then the ensuing social explosion of 1905 is just a tad disorienting. Also, the opening quote from Solzhenitsyn that refers to a “lush and prosperous” prewar Russia loses track of how the run-up to the war saw an unprecedented strike wave, massacres of workers, the sort of thing that risks blotting the Romanov family portrait. It’s like the article is channeling the mind of a member of the bourgeoisie of the period, setting up talk of Bolshie manipulation and treachery that took the country off the steady path of progress. A similar line was taken, with some success, at the time of the bicentennial of the French Revolution in the late 80s.

    And, by the way, Hillary lost only because of vote prevention. All would otherwise be well, the Tsarina knew the wishes of the people.

  11. Jim Haygood

    The timing of OPEC’s production cut — which sent Jan 2017 crude soaring back to $49.44/bbl — seems more than coincidental.

    After the past half decade’s grim, austerity driven death march into flat prices and negative bond yields, The Trumpening has introduced a whiff of reflationism. OyPEC (as the late Alan Abelson used to call it) desperately wants to get aboard that train.

    More intriguing is whether the great 35-year bond bull market — the only interest rate regime that a whole generation of investors up to age 55 or 60 has ever known — is over.

    Such secular shifts are not linear events. They’re more like quantum reversals that occur in the blink of an eye. By the time Frederick Lewis Allen penned his wistful reflection Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s in 1931, everyone understood that one era had ended, and another begun.

    Feels that way again, though it’s too early to say for sure.

    1. craazyman

      It might even be a 4,000 year bull market. I saw an interest rate chart that went to 3,000 BC Mesopotamia. Lowest evah! A few weeks ago anyway. Fukk I remember when Alan Abelson used to fued with Louis Rukeyser over writing. Hahahahaha. As if financial writing is writing. I mean really. It’s typing! Well, typing after thinking a little bit anyway. Let’s be fair.

      1. optimader

        Louis Rukeyser

        Remember when he would have the Secretary Lady escort in the “guest” shill?

        The show ran for 32 years, reaching its ratings peak in the mid-1980s. By the 1990s, it faced increasing competition from rivals such as CNBC[7] before Rukeyser left in 2002 after a dispute with network executives who wanted to replace him with younger hosts (he was 69 at the time) with the idea that this would spark ratings[1] MPT executives offered him a five-minute segment on the new, retooled show; Rukeyser declined. In his final episode, which was broadcast live, he deplored the decision of Maryland Public Television’s management and urged viewers to write their PBS stations and clamor for the new financial program he would soon create. Maryland Public Television fired him immediately after the broadcast and erased the master tape[citation needed]; the only existing copies of the broadcast possibly exist at other PBS stations, in home copies or on YouTube under the title “Louis Rukeyser’s Swan Song Part 1&2</em>


        The Son of Owens Mills MD

        1. craazyman

          He was a gentleman and a scholar. If more guys told off their employers like that the world would be a better place. There’s too many sheep out there and that makes the world a baaaaad place.

          I remember Marty Zweig and his always pensive look. I met his son professionallly briefly and reminisced a bit about his dad on Wall Street Week. Then there was “the Elves”. Hahahaha. Looking back on it now, it was like the most naive use of arithmetic, but that was what it was. Not that today’s high powered “quantitative fianance” is superior. I don’t think it is. But that’s a long long comment. maybe one of these days I’ll rouse myself and

          Louis. I remember Louis. I watched him every Friday night. No lie. Oh man thinking back on it now it’s like walking back in time

    2. Clive

      I too do have some of those fin de siècle thoughts now and again. Like you say, there is some suggestive evidence. But then I keep coming back to labour’s bargaining power (still pretty much non-existent) and continuing static or even declining real incomes (depending on where you are in the income distribution curve).

      It really is hard to see how, without labour’s share of income increasing, you won’t have continuing hoarding by capital. There may be some blip-ette’s now and again, but the fundamental dynamic hasn’t changed. So there’ll be fairly rampant inflation in high-end real estate, art, yachts, trophy wives, luxury branded apparel, plus can’t-avoids like healthcare, that sort of thing, but only incipient inflation of even deflation in everything else.

    1. Bullwinkle

      I understand Rocky de la Fuente filed for a recount in Nevada today. He got about 2500 votes in Nevada.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      That is a very good article by Pallast – he explicitly states that they are NOT looking for Russian hackers and continues with this which I thought was excellent:

      The nasty little secret of US elections is that we don’t count all the votes.

      In Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — and all over America — there were a massive number of votes that were simply rejected, invalidated and spoiled; they were simply not counted. Officially, in a typical presidential election, at least three million votes end up rejected, often for picayune, absurd reasons.

      The rejects fall into three big categories: provisional ballots rejected, absentee and mail-in ballots invalidated and in-precinct votes “spoiled,” spit out by a machine or thrown out by a human reader as unreadable or mismarked.

      He goes on to explain each of these categories and these are exactly the issues I saw in the recount I was involved with.

      So the question is, why did Stein explicitly say they were looking for possible foreign influence when she filed for the recount? Maybe she should have had Pallast write up the request for her…

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The article referred to Arizona and Illinois database being hacked.

          One won by Hillary; the other Trump.

          Not Wisconsin, Michigan or Pennsylvania.

          Still don’t see any reason, nor plausible reason for the foreign hacking claim.

          1. cwaltz

            I think when you are dealing with a deadline that you come to the table with what you have evidence wise(with the understanding that courts want evidence) Part of her filing included the fact that there was PROOF that state election sites had been hacked and therefore voters roles could have been potentially impacted. That coupled with some anomalies in absentee ballots were her core argument and the proof put forth to the courts for the recount.

            I think she may have also strategically chosen the states she chose to make the case that these narrow margins if incorrect could change the election results. Generally speaking courts tend to be rather conservative and would likely not authorize a recount if the outcome would not be changed by recounting the votes.

            I also think part of the problems with these lawsuits to begin with are that in order to get evidence you need access to the machines and to ballots, and you can’t get access to those machines and ballots without a lawsuit. It’s a judicial merry go round. Weeeeee!

            Anyway that is my opinion.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I still see no reason, from the FBI news, or from anything else to investigate foreign hacking.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Here, the news was FBI warning about hacking in Arizona and Illinois.

                One source, according to the article, attributed to Russia.

                Nothing to connect to Wisconsin, Michigan or Penn.

                1. cwaltz

                  The point was that ANY and EVERY state could potentially have been hacked. These were just the two states where the FBI caught the hacking.

                  *Hint: they still really have no idea if anyone actually hacked Hillary’s server- that doesn’t mean she wasn’t hacked- it just means that if she was it wasn’t caught. That’s kind of the point the lawsuit was making. The potential for mischief was there.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    You’re right about potentiality.

                    But to do what she has done, she needs reasonable cause or evidence, and not just based on one of the two seemingly unlikely suspicions (mentioned by Halderman).

      1. zapster

        Because after all the hysteria about “Russians” hacking during the campaign, it seems quite unreasonable not to investigate their claims, at least, does it not? :)

      2. Oregoncharles

        Just a thought: Guccifer is, supposedly, Romanian. She said “foreign,” not “Russian,” and a lot of people jumped to unjustified conclusions. Including here.

        That said, it was unfortunate to reference foreign or hacking at all. The real danger is insider manipulation of various sorts.

        1. zapster

          Of course. But since both sides have engaged in election manipulation for some time now, the last thing they want is anyone blaming it on *them*. It seems to me that it has reached the point where Dems must start to admit that they’ve lost the election-fraud war to the better-organized GOP which also had a 10-year head start on controlling the machines. Dems are now in a bind–how do they get out of the corner their short-sightedness and ambition painted them into without discrediting themselves; never mind the prospect of prison. Blame it on the Russians, of course!

  12. cocomaan

    Sometimes it astounds me that Chris Cilizza still has a job. Then I remember that he can spew wordy excreta from his fingers at an alarming rate. If engineers could harness the kinetic energy of his rapid keyboard hammerings, one could probably rig a jackhammer to dig a hole through bedrock. You might find Hillary’s heart or Donald’s tax returns there.

    He must live in a very different world than me, a world of shadows on electronic cave walls and astonishing surprises in the fabric of political reality.

  13. Foppe


    Foreign populists have been beaten by talking issues, not personality.

    As ledes go, this is rather like “God revealed to me”. Apparently he can’t just come out and say “hillz/dnc fucked up”; no, “foreigners” have — thanks to their foreign experiences, which derive from living in unexceptional countries — picked up on the wholly bizarre fact that “populists” can be dealt with by focusing on issues rather that personalities. Only problem: there currently are few to none foreign countries where populists are actually being dealt with in this way, because talking issues would inconvenience the status quo, just like it would have inconvenienced Hillary’s bid; and so it doesn’t happen, and any party who tries is marginalized / drowned in a bathtub. But never mind that, “foreigners told me” it is. Snort.

    1. David

      Yup, “foreign populists” seem to be doing just fine in our foreign countries in Europe just now. Or perhaps he’s falling into the elementary trap of assuming that “populism” is just a right-wing tendency.

  14. Pavel

    I was a fervent (albeit remote) Jill Stein fan during the pre-election period. I must say she’s lost me with this recount nonsense. If it were to aid a remotely decent candidate (“middle of the road Democrat”) I might see it, but she is sleeping with the enemy here. WTF? As others have discovered (e.g. the WaPo with its idiotic PropOrNot prostitution), lie in bed with the Clintons, wake up with the fleas… or worse.

    Stein may have raised $6M or so, but she’s lost whatever credibility she had. Dead to me now, along with Liz Warren, Bernie Sanders, and the others who sold out to the Clinton Machine.

    (Sorry if I sound bitter… like a jilted lover or the like. Stein was far from perfect but she was great on foreign policy.)

    1. zapster

      The Greens have a track-record of fighting for clean elections, from which they never benefit directly. It’s part of their platform as well. This is costing us nothing, and the evidence that it’s desperately needed is voluminous. Do we really want a permanent Republican government, with no input from voters whatsoever? This is what we’ve arrived at after ignoring decades of election fraud.


        1. Eureka Springs

          Funny after reading Dixon, Palast, Brad and Stein among others this year and years prior to this it seems to me the trillions lost, stolen and billions wasted due to and because of a fraudulent election system should be of much greater concern.

          The Greens may very well be doing favors for strange criminal sick dims/bedfellows but it’s also the only way small parties likely could ever stand a chance of having that magical 5 percent counted/recorded correctly, imo. The very types of ballots lost, miscounted, computer programmed into other votes are the most likely to ever vote left, whether Green or some color not yet known to us.

          I don’t want HRC or DT anywhere near a position of power but the people deserve to know what the votes are. And the Greens are also shaming both major parties (rightfully so) by doing anything at all.

          All that said, we will never know as long as voting machines are allowed at all. And I didn’t vote because paper was not an option in my County.

          1. hunkerdown

            How are they shaming the Democrat Party by adopting their talking points and doing work that benefits them? This is Jill’s recount, not the Greens’. Let her suck up to her favorite major and show us what she’s made of (spray-painting wear surfaces of bulldozer buckets notwithstanding). The time to be seen assisting a right-wing party is not now.

            1. Eureka Springs

              I’m saying the action shames dims and reptilians. I don’t know about talking points on this matter. If the Green party/Jill whomever raise money from those who want to actively pursue it when no one else will. Good for them. I’m not contributing financially but I would volunteer to hand count if I lived close enough, but it certainly doesn’t seem to warrant all this liberal clubbing Greens like baby seals again.

              Every swing state controlled by Republicans went Trump. I don’t think so.

              1. Yves Smith

                Have you been to the swing states? I spent a lot of time in two of them and my father ran a paper mill. One of the towns I lived in has had its population fall from 16,000 to 12,000. It was nice when I was as kid and now looks wretched. One of my brothers is a union member, shop steward, and votes Republican. Everyone he knows hated Hillary and would never in a million years vote for her.

                We also had a report from a reader in Wisconsin on the day of the election of huge turnout at the polls in the rural area in which he lived. Parking lot full, IIRC.

                I was also getting early warnings of big Trump support from a colleague who is an international tax expert and goes to conferences in the heartland. Said that people outside the Acela corridor (and this person has lived in DC) had no clue what people outside the coasts were thinking.

                I expected the Rust Belt states to go for Trump and find it hard to see why you don’t see that outcome as plausible.

                1. Eureka Springs

                  Plausible, yes. I’m in AR… where a once Clinton /Dem stronghold went Trump in the 60 percentiles if machines and Asa Hutchinson can be trusted. /s

                  I was thinking of swing, not just rust, with the following from Palast:

                  Hillary Clinton only won one swing state, Virginia, notably, the only one where the vote count was controlled by Democrats. She lost all swing states — Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Arizona, North Carolina and Florida — where the GOP set the rules for counting these ballots and their hacks acted as the judge and jury on whether a ballot should be counted

                  Anyway I’m happy to see scrutiny of the system on most any level at this point.

                2. zapster

                  Living in a Rust Belt state, I can attest that we are profoundly aware that the GOP are not our friends. And we’re aware that we mostly didn’t vote for Snyder–the guy that poisoned Flint. Many of us suspect rigging. That’s why I and others are volunteering for the recount. There is a strong ambivalence about Clinton, but not quite enough to actively support Trump here.

                  Fun chart porn: http://www.electoralsystemincrisis.org/

                  1. Yves Smith

                    Trump wasn’t running as a Republican. He was running as a populist who happened to be on the Republican ballot. Clinton was the face of “more of the same” and many voters wanted to give that a big middle finger.

                    Trump is sure looking like a right wing Republican. But what he promised was volatility and he will deliver that. Just not the sort much of his base wanted.

                    1. zapster

                      Indeed. It’s still rather mysterious that in a state he supposedly won, it’s hard to find anyone that will admit to voting for him. :\

            2. cwaltz

              What talking points are you talking about?

              Here’s what Jill Stein said to Democracy Now on her effort:


              “This is not about helping one candidate or hurting another. This is about helping voters confidence that we are properly and securely recording the votes and counting them. we know these machines are subject to machine error, human error, hacking, tampering and you name it. These machines, when they are looked into, produce all kinds of problems. And you can’t know until you look.

              What part of that is specifically a democratic talking point?

            3. zapster

              Jill was tapped by the Election Justice USA activists and other election reform groups. This wasn’t her initiative. They had to have a candidate to file at all. All of these attacks on her are unwarranted.

              That said, the Green party has done fantastic work on recounts in the past. New Mexico revamped it’s entire system based on Green’s efforts. Ohio uncovered massive fraud and officials went to jail. What is wrong with people that they don’t want to know what’s going on?

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Did the fantastic-recount-work Green Party really just disown Stein?

                Curiouser and curiouser…

                Or is media reporting just as big a problem?

                1. cwaltz

                  No the Green Party didn’t disown her.

                  A recount article supporting her is posted on their Facebook.

                  Does this mean everyone within the Green Party agrees with her decision to file for a recount?


                  Does this mean everyone within the Green Party has to agree with her decision to file for her to file?

                  Again No.

                  The requirements of asking for a recount is the candidate ask for it, not the party supporting the candidate agree to a consensus for it

                  That’s why Flowers was clear in her letter to point out that Stein was entitled to ask for the recount even though Flowers herself felt it would detract from the Green Party efforts to remain above the corporate duopoly fray.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    I have seen headlines all over the place, from disavowing to disowning.

                    You have to read them as your own risk, I suppose. The medium, or the media is a problem as well.

                    And I agree with Flowers on all her points. And significant that she made that an open letter with words like ‘not democratic.’

                    1. zapster

                      Those of us that believe that democracy is an essential part of the political process will take a recount from any direction it comes from. I’m surprised Trump has failed to file for any, while continuously ranting about rigged elections. The hypocrisy from all the major players is breathtaking.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Partisan or biased study, as in selecting which cases to study, that is, in sampling???

              One choice is to study Wisconsin.

              Or to study Wisconsin and Michigan…Penn seems not likely.

              Or study many more states, include those Hillary won.

              Study bigger states, another option.

              The 3 states selected together are enough to flip the election…

              Is it an attempt to overturn an election via the claim of studying, or is it studying purely?

              Will we ever know? It’s just a suspicion. And it’s not rumor but a fact that flipping those 3 states, you flip the election.

              Not enough to interrogate anyone, certainly.

              Nor enough to initiate recount requests based on some suspicion.

              1. zapster

                Deadlines had already passed for a number of states. Others have such prohibitive requirements that it’s nearly impossible to get a recount started.

              2. cwaltz

                I would think the strongest argument for recounts in a court of law would be the premise that it could potentially impact outcome or flip an election.

                The point is to say the election results could change based on court outcome.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Impacting in only one way, to favor Hillary.

                  Is that why that strongest argument was not put forth, but instead, it is to study the issue, to uncover Green votes, to investigate foreign hacking?

                  1. cwaltz

                    The argument that was filed in court was election tampering.

                    Jill Stein brought the complaint forward because only a candidate can ask for a recount.

                    Her “proof” of tampering included the FBI report that “foreign hackers” had accessed state election cites and had access to voter roles.

                    Voter roles being tampered with could potentially impact and be the cause of a discrepancy in absentee ballots(also submitted as evidence)

                    Now does that mean that foreign hacking is there only reason for asking for the recount?

                    No. It’s just the reason used to actually get the recount to happen.

                    Jill Stein is and has been on the record as a proponent of a paper trail or verifiable means to verify the elections that precedes this election cycle.

                    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      If there is a stronger reason, it’s not on her request.

                      Instead, she used one that is ‘seemingly unlikely’ (though there is one less seemingly unlikely, polls being wrong).

                    2. Raj

                      As a bonus of her request, it draws scrutiny to the FBI’s report of foreign hackers tampering with state elections. So it’s a two-fer.

                    3. cwaltz

                      You can feel free to skip my posts if they are boring you integer but I’m not going to sit quietly in the corner while people spout conspiracy theories on why Stein filed the way she did(she’s colluding with Clinton.)

                    4. integer

                      To cwaltz: It wouldn’t surprise me if Stein was a CIA asset. I’m not saying she is, just that it wouldn’t surprise me. They are tricky people.

                  2. zapster

                    Oh? Is this a major concern? If the elections were honest it would confirm Trump’s legitimacy, which can only help him, considering the movement to get the Electoral College afoot to appoint someone else. So your greatest fear is not that they’re rigged, but that they might overturn Trump?

        2. zapster

          Actually, if Michigan would let volunteers do it, it would be quite cheap. These “costs” are politically motivated to protect themselves from the embarrassment of being caught rigging.

          1. Yves Smith


            You can’t trust the bona fides of volunteers. I can’t believe you’d suggest this. The process would be not credible by virtue of being exposed to all sorts of mischief.

            1. lyman alpha blob

              Granted it was on a smaller scale but the recount I participated in was done by several teams of three – one volunteer counter for each candidate and a third neutral election clerk paid by the town. I believe they got $11/hr for their time. Each team sat at tables inside a roped off area that only counters were allowed to enter. There were a couple other neutral election clerks monitoring the room as well as the city clerk and attorney. It felt a little like being at a blackjack table with a dealer and pit bosses looking over everything.

              Here’s a rundown of how the process worked: we opened the sealed boxes of ballots and divided the them into stacks of 50 – this was done by the election clerk. Once each volunteer had a pile to count, we tallied up the votes and then switched piles to check each other’s work. If there were any we couldn’t agree on the election clerk would weigh in. The election clerk kept a tally spreadsheet and put the totals for each stack of 50 on it and we counted probably 10-15 stacks on our team. The volunteers then checked the clerk’s totals on the spreadsheet to verify they’d been added correctly. Once this was done each team gave their tally sheets to the city clerk who then totaled everything up. With 8 teams of 3 we were able to go through about 12K ballots in under 5 hours and each ballot was counted twice by hand through the double-checking process.

              Now this doesn’t eliminate all mischief but it comes pretty close. At one point my opposing volunteer counted 12 ballots for candidate A in his stack of 50 and noted it on the tally sheet. When he passed it over to me to count again I counted 22 ballots for candidate A (I was a volunteer for candidate B). I could have signed off on his tally and moved my candidate 10 votes closer were I dishonest and no one would have been the wiser however I noted the discrepancy and the three of us counted that stack of 50 over again to get the correct total.

              I think using mostly volunteers is OK providing the setup is done the way it was in our city where there is a LOT if cross checking and monitoring going on. We got it done very quickly and efficiently at minimal expense to the city. I’m guessing the biggest expense was the city attorney’s time.

                1. lyman alpha blob

                  I’m not sure how that works as I’m not on the FB. If you post a link on FB to the comment on this site I’d be OK with that. I’m not on FB for a reason though so I’d rather not have what I posted copied over there and posted directly.

                  Thank you very much for checking though!

            2. zapster

              The alternative is letting the people that likely committed the fraud do the recount as well, which is what the states are demanding. No one would do that in a financial audit. What “bona fides” are required to count ballots in front of observers? I looked at what the requirements for such “officials” is here, and “breathing” seemed to be about it. It wouldn’t be difficult to draw them from assorted party affiliations, to stave off temptation. Cronyism in elections offices seems to me to be a bigger threat than a few volunteers, whatever their motives might be. IMO, this argument is used mostly to keep the public from getting a good look at what they’re up to.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                You have to have evidence that people doing the recounting likely committed fraud.

                And if that is the charge, it should be front and center, not underneath the claim of foreign hacking.

              2. Kurt Sperry

                Anyone who has completed the basic arithmetic requirements for a high school diploma should be plenty qualified to be a vote counter. I can’t see adding burdensome or exclusionary credentialing requirements as in any way useful and makes introducing fraud into the process far easier since you have a far smaller group of potential counters to manipulate.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Skill-qualification-wise, anyone who can vote, can be a voter counter. That is, any voter can be a vote counter.

                  The other qualification should be objectivity or neutrality. When I read bona fides, that is what comes to mind.

                    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      That’s a good point.

                      Though a judge making a decision for or against is then by the fact not neutral.

                      Or do we say that judge’s neutrality is not changed (or further changed) by his/her decision?

                      That is, a voter’s neutrality is not changed by his act of voting?

                    2. zapster

                      That could disqualify anyone. These counts are handled by teams of people. Just pick volunteers that run across the political spectrum. Make it an open-source recount. Invite the public to watch.

                    3. Marym

                      The process needs to be transparent and to follow established rules. The individuals don’t need to be personally neutral about the outcome.

                    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      A voter may vote for Trump or Stein, and still be personally neutral.

                      What they should avoid are people like those who got paid to correct facts on social media. They are always eager to volunteer.

            3. lyman alpha blob

              I’d written a detailed comment a couple hours ago regarding the efficient recount I recently participated in where the majority of counters were volunteers. It can be done.

              Hopefully skynet will free it soon.

              1. zapster

                Was it the one that referred to the Palast article? I would like to hear more about how the volunteers were deployed. Thanks.

    2. Waldenpond

      Hey, she’s taking over a party and changing it from the inside (the GP does not support her efforts), putting forth her own possible candidates (ground up) and raising a bunch of money. She’s running a strategy inside and outside of an established (if small) party.

      This looks like the plan for the D party?

  15. FriarTuck

    After losing control in the House in 2010, Nancy Pelosi stayed atop the caucus as the Minority Leader. Her predecessor, Dick Gephardt, maintained his job despite continual failed elections. The same thing happened during Democratic losses of control in 1946 and 1952, with Sam Rayburn sliding from Speaker to Minority Leader”

    Compare that to the UK, where if you lose as a party leader, you’re expected to bow out. Odd that difference, no?

      1. aab

        When you’re the coach of the Washington Generals, it’s your job to lose. You’re just supposed to put up an entertaining show in the meantime.

        Nancy puts up a good show.

  16. zapster

    The objection to a hand-recount makes no sense. If the machines are miscounting, for whatever reason, how will running them through the same machines uncover that? Miscalibration can explain a great deal, across multiple states, for starters. There are only a few voting machine suppliers in the US now. The machines can all be preprogrammed, as proven by assorted researchers. Refusing the hand recount is the obvious way to be sure that such misprogramming is not discovered. What floors me is why the fear from both sides of the aisle. We have the worst, least-accountable, least-verifiable system in the world–why *wouldn’t* we want to know how bad it is so we can fix it?

    The Green party was instrumental in uncovering the extreme fraud in both Ohio and New Mexico, resulting in officials jailed and in the case of NM, overhauling their entire system. We need the same nationwide now.

    1. Yves Smith

      Huh? How can you “hand count” when there are no paper ballots?

      You seem to be confusing optical scanning of paper ballots (which is a system used in some districts) with machines like Direct Recording Electronic voting machines:

      These are perhaps the systems that receive the most scrutiny. Using these machines, a voter casts their vote with either a touchscreen, button or dial. The vote is immediately cast into an electronic storage medium.

      DREs became a popular option as they made both casting and counting votes easier. However, voters started to become concerned because they have “no way of verifying that the voting system is recording his or her votes correctly. The machine could be displaying one candidate’s name on the screen while mistakenly or maliciously storing another candidate’s name on the official electronic record as the voter’s choice,” said a Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project study.

      In order to account for this, many DREs now have a voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT). It prints a piece of paper allowing the voter to verify their vote, helping to cut down on errors on election day.


      Note that having the VOTER have the paper trial would not appear give election officials any paper trial for audit purposes.

      1. hunkerdown

        Yves, secret ballot elections don’t issue receipts. The VVPAT prints the audit info on a journal tape visible through a window, which can serve as a ballot equivalent. Wikimedia image of an ES&S machine with VVPAT option.

      2. zapster

        Yes, I know all about it. Both WI and MI have ballots, and optical scanners *and* the central tabulators can be hacked. Hand counting catches machines programmed to skip locations (such as the presidential options in MI that more than 80,000 ballots didn’t register, for example). It also catches ballots that may have been rejected and not counted for trivial reasons (like having the wrong guy selected, maybe?) After precinct workers were caught in San Diego using white-out to change ballots from Bernie to Clinton during the primary, getting eyeballs on them just seems like a good idea. And just a cursory glance may not catch discrepancies between what a real hand-count would discover and what the machines report. This gives a good overview of how discrepancies occur with ballot-readers: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/38553-the-no-bs-inside-guide-to-the-presidential-vote-recount

        PA has the nefarious DRE machines, and they will have to be subjected to forensic analysis instead, of course, although other records can be examined by hand, such as registration books and the like. The fact that states with those machines cannot be easily validated should disqualify them completely, IMO.

          1. zapster

            Hiring forensic investigators for PA is the plan however, since there are no ballots to count there. Every state is different, and it’s a war to get access to what *should* be public records in each one. Basically the plan is to do whatever it takes.

  17. Elizabeth

    Thank you for the Nation photo essay on the DAPL situation. I have such admiration for the protesters, and hope they prevail against such barbaric treatment. Where is Obummer on this? Last I heard, he wanted to “see how it plays out in the next few weeks.” Since this is a family blog, I won’t comment on that.

    So Nancy Pelosi gets another term – this woman is unfit to represent anybody except her elite home base in SF. I live in her district, and every time she’s up for reelection, I vote for her opponent – no matter who it is. She’s an embarrassment – but but, she does raise LOTS of money for the party – so there’s that.

    Thanks, Lambert for the peony – I love them – so pretty and delicate looking.

  18. fresno dan

    “The massive underwater crater left by the asteroid that exterminated the dinosaurs has provided new evidence that sea levels were much lower during the last Ice Age, researchers said” [Agence France Presse]. Oh, gosh, I’ve thrown this in the wrong bucket, haven’t I? It was “the asteroid that exterminated the dinosaurs” that did it. Oopsie.

    I saw an article that blamed the loss of Hillary on the carry over affects of this asteroid – recent evidence suggests that it is a racist, misogynist asteroid….

      1. ambrit

        Mexico, yes. That is the source of the NWO’s preferred social order; that of the Aztec and Maya.
        One of Asteroid’s signifying characteristics is an abnormally high deposit of Illuminiattium correlable with it’s impact. So, some confusion is understandable.
        Since there is evidence that the Clinton Klan is Reptillian in basis, the Asteroids recent work should be celebrated as a blow for Humans everywhere, even those that toil on the colony worlds. (Questions concerning the actual Human home world are too convoluted at present. More data is needed.)

    1. ambrit

      The “asteroid that exterminated the dinosaurs” should have been put in the “Guillotine Watch” category. There are plenty more “Dinosauria” lumbering about the scenery to be eradicated.
      As for the Asteroid being “racist, misogynist,” well, that should be speciesist. One cannot have a proper intellectual rationale for the “Sixth Extinction Event” without introducing an appropriate ideology. Just as humans treat the “lower orders” with an attitude of “appropriate exploitation,” the Asteroid People can thus literally “look down” on us.
      Punctuated Equilibrium. It’s all the rage.

  19. TulsaTime

    Post Mortem- The dems started down the road to losing 2016 when no bankers were prosecuted for the 2008 meltdown. And not just no prosecutions, not even any investigations. Just get the machine pumping again, to hell with the millions of victims. Finance has become a cancer on the government and society.

    1. Ben4343

      I’d give 8 years of economic distress and jailed bankers over 8 years of tepid growth, plus 4 years of toxic executive mismanagement, and a financial system destined to repeat history but bigly next time.

    2. zapster

      IMO, they started down that road when they refused to support Gore in the recount. They’ve been losing seats across the board ever since.

  20. Plenue

    >“They Had One Job” [Eschaton]

    Isn’t Eschaton one of the places that absolutely refuses to engage with the idea that there was a huge economic aspect to this election, and that this vote was a referendum on standard Democratic Party policy positions? This seems to be framing it as a bunch of people just sucked at their job, rather than there being something fundamentally wrong and unlikable about the platform.

  21. aab

    I need to come back and do more than skim, but it looks like you didn’t post this, and I think it belongs on NC: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/king-democratic-staffer-exposes-soft-bigotry-senate-dems-article-1.2893049?234&utm_content=buffer8b9a4&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=NYDailyNewsTw

    Shaun King, doing a good job of showing how hypocritical Democratic Party leadership regarding diversity. The only Senator with a black chief of staff is a Republican. The quotes from the anonymous Congressional staffer show when and how to use anonymous sources for valid, effective reporting.

    1. allan

      Thanks. From the story:

      “Democrats in the Senate use demographics as their excuse for the fact that they only have one African-American member in their ranks. They’ll tell anyone who listens that they wish this wasn’t the case and to the untrained ear, it sounds true. It isn’t. The Senate looks just the way want it,” the staffer told me.

      Of the many reasons to walk away from the Democratic Party, the shabby, racist, sexist way that these same people treated Donna Edwards, who would have become only the second African American woman in the Senate’s history, is near the top.

  22. lyman alpha blob

    “When is it appropriate to play Christmas music?” [Patheos]. On Christmas Eve and Christmas day. In your home.

    Would you mind explaining that to the rest of my family who seem to take great glee in tormenting me with this treacle? There might be a little something extra in your stocking (or tip hat) if you’re successful. ;)

    1. curlydan

      Maybe stray from the “classics”–help me if I have to hear Wham’s Christmas song once more.

      My favorite Christmas music is jazz. It seems to cut some of the excess sugar out–fewer voices, new interpretations, more feelings. My two favorites are Duke Ellington’s “The Nutcracker Suite” and Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.

      Of course, the hipster taste police put out a top 50 list that’s kind of interesting:

    2. Oregoncharles

      I enjoy the traditional carols, and I’m a complete atheist with pagan leanings. With simple, traditional production, they’re both beautiful and nostalgic. For more than a month? hardly. I think the real problem is that there’s so much “treacle” with a purely commercial connection to Christmas.

  23. Katharine

    You’re eleven short:
    >“When is it appropriate to play Christmas music?” [Patheos]. On Christmas Eve and Christmas day. In your home.

    There are twelve days in the season of Christmas, December 25 through January 5. Also, church, and community events intended for the purpose of producing or hearing Christmas music are appropriate locations.

    But no, not in October, not in November, not in the first 23-1/2 days of December, not in the mall, not in the damn supermarket….

  24. Kim Kaufman

    From the FAQ: “Are electronic voting machines needed for ranked choice elections?”

    Sure, you can mark paper ballots – but in most cases it needs to be counted by a computer program – and there are many different programs for counting these votes. Even with smaller elections that do not need a computer tabulation, regular people cannot count them. I have been involved with Pacifica Radio and they use STV (single transferrable vote – which is the same thing). I’m a very regular person and I still can’t count those effing votes. The system can be gamed. I relied on math experts to figure out how “our group” should vote, i.e., how many get #1 vote, how many get #2 vote, etc., to ensure the largest number of “our candidates” got elected.

    This kind of voting generally relies on slates. I believe it is Argentina that uses this system and I have been told by a lawyer with expertise in this area, that Argentinians elect slates, therefore no persons are held accountable because the persons are not generally known beyond what the slate’s platform is.

    A couple of years ago in the Oakland mayor’s race, Jean Quan ran a “If you don’t like me as your #1 candidate, vote for me as #2” race. She got enough #2 votes to beat the Dem who got more #1 votes. She was being advised by someone who was very familiar with the Pacifica STV voting system.

    RCV, STV, whatever you want to call it, is not a panacea. It’s a big freaking problem of another sort than we have now and ensures less transparency on the back end of counting and auditing.

  25. I Have Strange Dreams

    People need an article to help them know when Christmas music should be played? File under collapse of empire. Next up: when should I take a crap?- A special guide for Americans.

  26. Oregoncharles

    Very interesting – sorry it’s WaPo, but it’s still interesting: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/11/30/trump-will-be-the-first-modern-president-to-get-less-than-half-of-the-vote-in-both-the-primary-and-general/?utm_term=.3459b39619f0

    However, “rigged” is not the right word for this system; “botched” is. Maybe “disastrous.” It’s just as well that Trump doesn’t have the faintest trace of a mandate; unfortunately, it may not matter, especially considering the Dems have thrown away Congress, too. But this is not a healthy situation; for a functioning democracy, elected leaders have to have legitimacy and be able to govern. That’s supposing they’re people you’d want governing, but I did say “functioning.”

  27. RabidGandhi

    Smithsonian on the NC Russian Revolution:

    These land reforms were designed to foster a conservative, monarchist peasantry than would serve as a counterweight to urban workers, who repeatedly demonstrated for better working conditions and compensation and were more likely to be drawn to Bolshevism.

    This common misconception has actually been debunked by Russian labour scholars such as Victoria Bonell and Christopher Read who took a deep dive into Russian turn-of-the-century working population demographics and found that it was actually the recently urbanised peasant populations that tended to be more revolutionary-minded, while the long-time urban workers were moremore submissive to authority. Read in particular chalks this up to the peasants being accustomed to a more communal system (Mir) and more engrained in principles of equality and solidarity, whereas the urban workers had had authoritarianism drilled into them for far too long.

    Of course, this interpretation did not suit the Marxists, who believed in a ‘natural’ progression toward revolution that had to pass through an industrial phase, nor did it suit Bolsheviks who believed in the need for an authoritarian revolutionary vanguard. Thus this interpretation has seeped into the entire historiography, with even the Smithsonian parroting Marxist tropes.

    If we’re going to be labled Russians here we will need to get our history straight.

    See: Victoria Bonnell Roots of Rebellion; and Christopher Read “Labour and Socialism in Tsarist Russia” in Labour and Socialist Movements in Europe Before 1914, Dick Geary ed.

  28. hunkerdown

    Two telling quotes from “When a system upgrade gets you arrested” that bury the lede by inversion:

    “He said a cumbersome user interface was causing the time taken to update a record to jump from around one minute to as much as 30 minutes per entry.”
    “a decades-old e-filing system that looks like something a hacker would use in a Hollywood movie.”

    That. Apparently. Filed. Better.

    That doesn’t sound like a programmer problem. It sounds like a management and customer problem, believing that appearance is more important than fitness for purpose. It was management and the customer, not programmers, who tasked people with making that particular software product in that cumbersome configuration. And programmers and clerks get the costs of making the system’s false promises good externalized onto them and their salaried working hours, while some county IT tool performs their managerial Wheaties and some Texas job shop gets paid either way.

    (reply went awry, reposting… sorry Skynet)

  29. Carla

    “Anyhow, this liberal critique misses the point. Trump’s conflicts are less important than his class interests — and the the class interests of the 1%ers in his Cabinet who will be running large parts of the government.”

    Uhm, no. Trump’s business conflicts are quantifiable, actionable, and unconstitutional, Lambert. They are very important, even if it’s only wimpy liberals who are calling them out. And he is showing his class interests every day as he appoints his favorite 1% – ers to his Cabinet.

    The man is exactly what he looked like every day of the interminable campaign. A walking disaster.

    1. cwaltz

      Heh, this was one of the laziest articles I have seen. In addition to the reading comprehension problem some appear to be having with the words ” as a candidate she is entitled to a recount” their version of scrubbed from the Green Party is easily debunked with 5 minutes of searching on Facebook…..


      The Green Party posted a truthout article by Greg Palast titled the No BS Inside Guide to the Presidential Recount 7 hours ago on Facebook.

      But hey phoning it in and creating phony narratives is a media mainstay.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        From an open letter from Margaret Flowers, a Green Senate candidate:

        The decision to pursue a recount was not made in a democratic or a strategic way, nor did it respect the established decision making processes and structures of the Green Party of the United States (GPUS). The recount has created confusion about the relationship between the Green and Democratic parties because the states chosen for the recount are only states in which Hillary Clinton lost. There were close races in other states such as New Hampshire and Minnesota where Clinton won, but which were not part of the recount. And this recount does not address the disenfranchisement of voters; it recounts votes that were already counted rather than restoring the suffrage of voters who were prevented from voting.

        There are dissenters within the Green Party.

        1. cwaltz

          You aren’t going to have consensus in any large group of people all of the time. Different people have different viewpoints and different experiences to draw from when they form opinions. The Green Party is completely ordinary in that respect. However, the statement made by Flowers even acknowledges that Stein, as a candidate, was entitled to ask for a recount. Additionally, the assertion that she has been scrubbed is ridiculous. If you follow the link above you will see 7 hours ago the Green Party posted Palast’s article on the recount efforts. Additionally there is the hashtag #recount2016. If nothing else I love the fact that the recount is making Scott Walker cry like a little baby. :)

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            There is much to clear up, if the Green Party wants to be not just another D or R party, when a charge (of not being democratic) comes from within the party that the presidential candidate made a decision “to pursue a recount was not made in a democratic or a strategic way, nor did it respect the established decision making processes and structures of the Green Party of the United States (GPUS).”

            It would seem that perhaps it is being polite to say there are dissenters.

            1. cwaltz

              I think the recount not being strategic because there is no consensus seem incredibly Green Party.

              Then again I don’t think anyone has ever accused the Greens of being brilliant at strategizing(which explains why they STILL polled less than 5% nationally even with 2 incredibly unpopular candidates.)

              What’s the worst thing that can happen with the exposure from her recount? Are they going to poll in negative numbers next election? People are going to call her names or manufacture motivations(it’s funny to hear some argue the appearance of collusion with Team Clinton while members who voted Team Clinton argue that Stein is scamming people(which coincidentally is a Trump talking point? LOL Full circle duopoly.)

              Ultimately I guess I don’t see what the big deal is if a candidate does what the process allows her. If the Green Party members don’t like it they can vote for a different candidate next cycle. Right now Stein is just doing what the process says she has a right to do now for this election cycle. It doesn’t require she have party consensus so opinions that she should be forced to have it are just that,opinions.

      2. hunkerdown

        That’s as may be, but Stein’s due entitlement to a recount does not delegitimize or overrule the interests of others nor compel her to initiate it against those interests.

        (The right asserted most recently supersedes any previous, kinda like with W, I guess. Or with Marx’s innovative relations of production.)

        1. cwaltz

          Against whose interests? As the candidate she has the sole interest in asking for a recount, not the party.

          As a candidate, Jill Stein is entitled to ask for the recount. Any other people who weren’t the candidates can disagree or agree but from a standing standpoint they aren’t the candidate and therefore don’t get to make the decision for her on whether or not she, the candidate, files for a recount. It’s not the Party that files by the way but the candidate if I haven’t mentioned that like a million times now. That decision is hers to make since the rules require the candidate to make the request.The money is not coming from the Green Party coffers, it’s coming from donors supporting her effort. So techinically I’m not even sure the Green Party itself (absent it’s actual candidate)can argue an interest since financially it isn’t impacting them nor does her recount action require their support.

          And all this handwringing and hyperventilating about the Green Party not supporting her seems overblown since as I’ve now pointed out 3 times that the post that they made to their Facebook page HOURS ago was Palast’s article on the recount efforts. They didn’t scrub her at all. She’s still there being posted about as of TODAY.

  30. Oregoncharles

    “The country, judging by down-ballot election results nationwide, is center-right ”
    If that were true, the Dems would be running the country.

    There were two insurrectionary campaigns this year; one very nearly toppled the front-runner, and the other went to the Presidency. Which tells us a lot about the voters this year.

    However, I’d be happier if they’d been a lot more insurrectionary – the voters, I mean.

  31. Jim Haygood

    0bama’s parting gift to public housing residents:

    Smoking will be prohibited in public housing residences nationwide under a federal rule announced on Wednesday. The rule will affect more than 1.2 million households, the officials said.

    The nationwide ban will have its greatest impact in New York, where the New York City Housing Authority — whose 178,000 apartments and more than 400,000 residents make it the largest public housing agency in the United States — has lagged behind many of its counterparts in adopting smoke-free policies.


    Public housing is a kind of constitution-free zone. Sort of like living in a public school, where the principal can search your locker, or bust you for not having a hall pass.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Smoking indoors is very destructive, puts a nasty-smelling, dank layer over everything. It requires, at the very least, a very thorough paint job.

      Have the people in public housing put down big damage deposits? It seems unlikely. I think this rule is intended to protect the housing stock.

  32. annie moose

    My my-my I had no idea the “left” was this fractured kos vs. atrios idenitity vs. trumpsters he’s a bidnez man u no. soros vs koch bros where will it end? What’s next loyalty oaths purity tests more intellectual masturbation?

        1. annie moose

          November 30, 2016 at 11:14 pm
          Adding: It is pretty obvious what you guys are trying to do here. Best of luck hahaha.

          Enlighten me what are us guys trying to do here? What cred am I required to present?

            1. annie moose

              ok, I guess you put me in my place, as an old blue collar guy. You and your kind offer nothing to us. your like an old dan glickman kind of person good luck with your politics.

  33. ChrisPacific

    The “How to Hide $400 Million” article is fascinating. It demonstrates the degree to which the wealthy are able to pick and choose which jurisdictions in which to pay tax and even which laws to obey. It’s also depressing, as it’s clear that there is an entire shadow financial and legal system set up to administer this kind of thing, and private citizens without independent means and even time and budget-constrained government actors stand little chance of prevailing against it. Long but well worth the read. Some extracts:

    The trusts had hired a small Miami law firm called Kaplan Zeena, whose lawyers excelled at navigating the complexity and opacity of the offshore legal world. They cited obscure international treaties and arcane points of Caribbean law, Potter told me. They filed endless procedural and jurisdictional objections, burying Potter and Fisher in paperwork…

    …Potter, who had to write most of the replying briefs, believed that Oesterlund’s trusts were filing motions or objections it seemed certain to lose, just to exhaust and bankrupt Pursglove. In one lawsuit, the trusts fought against releasing a single piece of paper.

    This didn’t just threaten Oesterlund’s fortune. It also had the potential to carve open a portal into the world of offshore finance, a place that the global elite has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build and defend…

    …This darkness shields the tax-averse businessman and the criminal alike. Dictators use the offshore system to loot their own countries. Drug lords use it to launder money. As Gabriel Zucman, a University of California economist and an offshore expert, puts it: “They use the same banks, they use the same incorporation agents to create shell companies, they send money in the same ways.”

    1. Yves Smith

      Yes, if you parse what they say, the way you get off the list is to go beg and tell them you will never publish stuff helpful to Russia again. Then they take you off the list.

      Needless to say, we’ve gone up against people a hell of a lot bigger than these clowns and are not letting them play censor.

      1. UserFriendly

        Curious Counterpunch got removed. I’d love for russia to hack that email thread and leak it to wikileaks.

    1. Clive

      A shame this is at the bottom where no-one ever ventures (except me, obviously) — thanks John, yes, this is a great read. Reminds me of the quip which I’ll plagiarise here:

      Daughter, to father: “What’s the definition of an optimist, Daddy?”
      Father, in reply: “Someone who thinks that Thomas Friedman is never going to write again, child”

      1. UserFriendly

        I nearly woke up my roommate laughing over this bit.

        The path to learning more about Bojia is fraught with obstacles, as Friedman tells us: “I didn’t have his personal e-mail, so the only way for me to contact him was to take the subway to work every day and park in the public garage to see if, by chance, I could bump into him again.”

        Indeed, who better to guide us through the technological revolution than an award-winning reporter who fails to realize that Bojia’s email address is — as one might expect — prominently displayed on his blog. (I myself emailed Bojia and received a response the very same day from his T-Mobile 4G LTE Device, as Friedman would no doubt find it imperative to mention.)

    2. Cry Shop

      Friedman’s books are like Mein Kampf or The Bible. Few really read them, they are kept on shelves to show loyalty to the party/clique. Those that do read them tend to have a religious fervor that lets them see far more in the pages than their rather ignorant authors were capable of thinking.

      Worth of a laugh, but then we should get sober. Like The Bible and Mein Kampf, his books are used to justify all manner of evil, evil presented as a good, an unavoidable future that the wise will join first – whether it is the victory of the Übermensch, the sorting of the chaff from the wheat post Apocalypse, or to borrow from another horrible author, the end of History. His paid speeches, just like the paid speaking of Hill-Billy, are part of a total war on the truth by capitalism. It matters little what he writes or Hill-Billy say, what matters is they are seen to be paid by the high and mighty, and thus a model for success.

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