2:00PM Water Cooler Thanksgiving Day 2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, this is a nearly normal-sized Water Cooler, partly because so much has been happening, but also because those few of you who held your tongue and bottled up your emotions over the Thanksgiving table deserve some sort of outlet. I’ll be taking tomorrow off. –lambert


2016 Post Mortem

Why Trump Really Won Wisconsin And Pennsylvania” [Buzzfeed]. This is from DecisionDeskHQ, “s a nonpartisan group of elections analysts and volunteers whose job is to tabulate votes on election day and project winners in real time, providing an alternative to the Associated Press… We will now explain in detail how Trump’s victories in two key states — Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — not only suggest no evidence of fraud, but in fact track with national trends in every conceivable way.”

This pattern — of Trump outperforming more traditional Republican candidates in Democratic-leaning working-class regions while performing worse than them in the GOP’s historical educated suburban heartlands — is repeated county-by-county, precinct-by-precinct, all across the entire Rust Belt region from New York through to Minnesota. It happened regardless of whether the county in question used paper ballots, optical scanners, or electronic-only voting technology. It was an undeniable national trend. It’s also a logical, demonstrated explanation for the election’s outcome in these areas.

There’s lots more detail in the article. Read the whole thing. On Wisconsin in particular:

Even if all that [fraud] happened, we would have expected to see inexplicable results in certain regions, as outcomes that had been “hacked” in advance ran bizarrely counter to national trends. And yet the vote shift in Wisconsin follows that of every other state across the entire Rust Belt (specifically Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota).

That trend is unmistakeable: Donald Trump ignited the white working class of these small towns, exurbs, and rural areas in a way few prior Republican candidates ever had, in many cases converting them from Obama voters to Trump supporters.

“US Green Party raises enough funds for Wisconsin recount” [AFP]. I though election day was Act V — everybody dead on the stage, like Hamlet. Turns out it was Act IV. Who knew?

“The unexpected results of the election and reported anomalies need to be investigated before the 2016 presidential election is certified,” Stein said on her website. “We deserve elections we can trust.”

Never mind that not one named government official has been willing to go on the record about the “anomolies” (just anonymous sources at the famous 17 intelligence agencies). Never mind the authoritarian followership needed to simple take these these agencies at their word. And never mind that the whole Putin thing was a gaslighting on an epic scale, and meant to gin up a war with Russian to boot.


Clinton’s chief thug weighs in (which strongly suggests none of this was organic, including the New York Magazine article:

“The Department of Justice is not going to conduct a vote audit based on your phoned-in outrage” [WaPo].

UPDATE “The Obama Republicans backed President Barack Obama in 2012 and then switched parties to support Donald Trump in 2016. Only 4% of voters fell into this unusual, hybrid category, an analysis of Wall Street Journal/NBC News surveys shows. But their role is more important than that small share suggests” [Wall Street Journal]. “For one, each Obama supporter who cast a ballot for Mr. Trump not only gave the GOP an additional vote but deprived the Democratic Party of an expected one. And the analysis finds that these voters lived disproportionately in the Great Lakes area, a six-state region that includes Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan, which swung from the Democratic column to the GOP in the Electoral College this year”

“But the fact is that generations of people live in those shabby towns you drive through on your way to somewhere better. And Donald Trump’s victory means that you might need to learn who these human beings are” [Times Literary Supplement]. From a Mainer.

Trump Transition

“On Sunday afternoon, Cleveland labor and employment lawyer Peter Kirsanow [more] unexpectedly found himself face-to-face with President-elect Donald Trump” [National Law Journal]. “For about 45 minutes, Kirsanow, a partner at Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff, spoke with Trump and several of his top advisers about labor issues—growing the workforce, immigration and increasing wages. It was a broad, “30,000-foot discussion,” Kirsanow said…. Kirsanow said he didn’t talk about law-related civil rights issues with Trump, but they did talk about Trump’s interest in boosting workforce participation among people ‘who have been left behind in terms of economic advancement,’ including African-Americans…. Kirsanow said he was impressed with how ‘efficient and precise’ the operation was on Sunday. The meeting was scheduled for 12:50 p.m., and that was exactly when it started, Kirsanow said. There was a large spread of food in the holding room and conference room, but Kirsanow didn’t partake. There wasn’t much small talk, he said, although Trump did comment on Kirsanow’s appearance—he has a distinctive moustache. ” got the impression that they knew everything there was to know about me except to explore where I am on certain labor issues,’ he said.” MRDA.

“Harold Ford, former Tennessee Congressman, tapped as new Secretary of Transportation” [DC Velocity]. “Ford, a moderate Democrat and scion of a prominent Tennessee political family, is currently a managing director in New York at investment firm Morgan Stanley & Co.” A cabinet that looks like America! But wasn’t Cory Booker available?

“Trump’s businesses, which give him an estimated net worth of $3 billion, are far-flung….. The president-elect could resolve real and apparent conflicts by liquidating all of the assets associated with the Trump Organization—including his golf courses, hotels, licensing arrangements, and office towers in Manhattan and San Francisco. Since his Nov. 8 election, Trump has shown no inclination to divest himself of his business interests. He plans to hand management over to his eldest three children—Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric—while he’s in office” [Bloomberg]. “Even if Trump wanted to divest, it wouldn’t be easy. Many of his assets are in real estate, rather than in simple stocks or bonds, while others depend on his involvement for their value. ‘Trump the brand is very closely intertwined with Trump the man,’ says Harold Vogel, an expert on entertainment-industry finance…. Rather than taking steps to reduce his conflicts, Trump has rejected the idea that they pose any problems.” ? I don’t think we’ve ever had an actual oligarch dispense with the middlemen and run the executive branch; like so much in 2016, this is new. Surely it’s not Trump’s personal conflicts that are at issue, but his class interests? Speaking of class interests–

“As a billionaire Republican power broker with no professional experience in schools, DeVos is an unconventional choice to lead the federal education bureaucracy” [WaPo]. That’s the second billionare. And speaking of class interests–

“Wilbur Ross, the billionaire investor considered the ‘king of bankruptcy’ for buying beaten-down companies with the potential to deliver profits, is expected to be President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for commerce secretary, two officials with knowledge of the decision said” [WaPo]. More on Ross here and here. Interestingly, Ross, though a vulture, seems to invest in stuff. Here. Anyow, that’s the third billionaire. And speaking of class interests–

“President-elect Donald Trump is likely to tap Todd Ricketts, the co-owner of the Chicago Cubs and a member of the powerful conservative Ricketts family, to be deputy secretary of commerce, POLITICO has confirmed. Wilbur Ross remains the likely choice to lead the Commerce Department” [Politico]. “Ricketts is the son of billionaire TD Ameritrade founder and conservative donor Joe Ricketts, and the brother of Republican Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts.” And that’s one degree of separation from a fourth billionaire. Remarkable. I guess we should really stop worrying about whether John Bolton is going to be Secretary of State. Why not, heck, Bill Gates? Or Larry Ellison?

“Reflecting on Abraham Lincoln’s stirring close to his Gettysburg Address, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said to a Brookings audience today that “we are moving rapidly away from our democratic heritage into an oligarchic form of society where today we are experiencing a government of the billionaires, by the billionaires, and for the billionaires” [Brookings Institute] (February 9, 2015).

“Trump turning away intelligence briefers since election win” [WaPo]. Trump probably hasn’t found the right snake-handler or weasel-wrangler to deal with these guys, yet. Or Kushner is doing other stuff.


UPDATE “The Glory Days of Elizabeth Warren’s CFPB Are Numbered” [Bloomberg]. “‘A lot of the people who voted for Trump are people who got the short end of the economic stick,’ says Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. ‘And the fact is, the CFPB is an important protector of those people.'”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Democrats neither can nor should ditch ‘identity politics'” [Matthew Yglesias, Vox]. The more I read Matty, the more puzzled I become. Is he stupid, or evil? This: “white Midwesterners have identities, too, and nobody votes based off detailed readings of campaigns’ policy PDFs.” Straw manning side, gawd forbid the Democrats adopt, collectively, a platform to appeal to the working class as a whole. Cross that one right off. This, after a septuagenerian Socialist gave hour-long speeches less exciting than policy PDFs, and to packed arenas who chanted the lines. A Socialist who, if the Democrat Party hadn’t put a thousand thumbs on the scales, might well have won the nomination, and the election.

Stats Watch

The markets are closed.

US Coincident Index: “The sad reality is that most of the economic indicators have moderate to significant backward revision – but this month it seems the rear view mirror says the USA economy is slowing. Out of this group of coincident indicators discussed in this post, only ECRI and the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti business conditions index have no backward revision – and both have a good track record of seeing the economy accurately in almost real time. For October, it appears the majority of indices show slowing or poor growth – and show that the economy is very weak but not recessionary.” [Econintersect].

Chemical Activity Barometer: “The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB) featured another solid gain of 0.3 percent in November, following a gain of 0.3 percent in October and a 0.4 percent gain in September and August” [Econintersect]. “In November, three of the four core categories for the CAB improved. Production-related indicators, equity prices, and inventory were positive, while product prices were stable at best.”

Shipping: “The Baltic Dry Index, which measures the cost of moving commodities like coal, grain and iron ore, is hovering at a two-year high of 1,232 points after hitting its lowest level ever at 292 in February. At its peak, before the 2008 financial crisis, the index had reached 11,000 points.” [Wall Street Journal, “Dry-Bulk Shipping Owners Get Reprieve as Rates Rebound”]. “Although much of the recovery is tied to end-year seasonal factors like China’s replenishing of coal and iron ore supplies in addition to bumper U.S. grain exports, shipping executives expect a slow but steady recovery will continue through the second quarter of next year.”

Shipping: “A strong and ‘proper’ peak season may have arrived at last for air cargo, but pockets of disruption have emerged” [The Loadstar]. “Cathay Pacific’s general manager of cargo sales and marketing Mark Sutch told The Loadstar the seasonal peak had been a marked improvement on 2015, but had not hit the levels reached the previous year when US west coast port slowdowns sent shippers flocking to air transport.”

Shipping: “The destruction in equity seen in these ships in the past few years has been devastating,” [Tim Huxley, chairman of Mandarin Shipping’ said. In his 34 years in the industry, Huxley said he had never seen a subsector in shipping destroyed so fast. He explained that in the wake of the expanded Panama Canal the value destruction in panamax boxships was down to their increasing obsolescence” [Splash 247]. “According to Bimco, 47% of the record 500,000 teu scrapped in the first 10 months this year have been panamaxes.”

Big Ag: “Deere continued to forecast weakening demand in North America where it dominates the market for large farm tractors and harvesting combines. But the company sees an upturn in South America propelled by resurgent sales of farm equipment in Brazil and Argentina” [Wall Street Journal, “Deere Signals Better Performance Ahead”].

Fodder for the Bulls: “Five Economic Reasons to be Thankful” [Calculated Risk].

The Bezzle: “Has Apple Innovation Hit a Wall?” [MarketWatch]. “It’s hard to argue that the latest iPhones are not significantly better than the 2007 model. Larger, sharper displays, millions of apps, the list goes on and on. However the changes have mostly been incremental — the iPhone’s breakthrough features have been there since the beginning.” And we’ve seen Apple exit screens, routers, and start driving away customers from the Mac. Why?

The Bezzle: “At least four companies flush with venture cash are crowding into the local dog-walking game” [Bloomberg].

The Bezzle: “If the [Airbnb Trips] service takes off, it could be what transforms Airbnb from a one-trick Web site into a platform (in Silicon Valley parlance) that eventually will allow individuals to sell all sorts of services, such as guided tours, musical outings, even car rides, which could put Airbnb in competition with Uber. The first batch of Airbnb Trips will include lessons from a samurai master in Japan, training with long-distance runners in Kenya, and surfing with a local pro in Malibu” [Vanity Fair]. I wonder which laws they’ll be breaking this time?

The Bezzle: “Toronto convicts first Airbnb owner over zoning violation” [Toronto Star]. “Uyeno said outside court that he made no mention of March 20 — when party-goers fled the house in a panic after a man was shot in the head, according to police — because the zoning bylaw violation relates to specifically to Oct. 9.” Ah. A party house.

The Bezzle: “Former executives with Swedish telecoms equipment giant Ericsson say the firm shelled out tens of millions of dollars in bribes between 1998 and 2001, the Swedish media reported Wednesday” [Phys.org]. “[Swedish public radio] said it had testimony from ‘several former top executives,’ who speaking on condition of anonymity ‘recounted how they were guilty of active corruption in securing contracts in a large number of countries.'”

The Bezzle: “Uber wants to usher in the flying car future depicted in science fiction films such as ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘Star Wars’ [not to mention The Jetsons]. The company has published a paper explaining how its ride-hailing service could help launch flying cars as a fairly affordable option for commuters” [Discover]. Well, we all “want” to do lots of things, and some of us even write papers.

The Fed: “In the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes from November’s meeting, participants generally agreed that the case for raising rates had continued to strengthen even though there had been relatively little in the way of fresh information since the September meeting” [Economic Calendar]. “The minutes overall still indicate a very strong commitment by the majority of members to increase rates at the December meeting. There are, however, still notable dovish voices on the committee and they remained far from convinced over the need for higher rates. The stakes will increase again if there is a dismal employment report at the beginning of December while market developments since the US election will also lead to a very different discussion at next month’s FOMC meeting.”

“On Monday morning, we all make great quarterbacks. With the benefit of hindsight, the right play to call is obvious. Unfortunately, we also have a tendency to exaggerate our pre-event estimate of the probability of a given outcome occurring. To paraphrase Meir Statman, a finance professor at Santa Clara University: Hindsight bias may lead us to believe that even events that the ‘experts’ failed to foresee were obvious—even inevitable” [John Swedroe, ETF.com]. “The way to avoid this hindsight bias is to keep a diary of your forecasts. This might prevent you from remembering only your successes. It will also make you humble about your forecasting abilities, thus avoiding the mistake of overconfidence.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 70 Greed (previous close: 67, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 60 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 23 at 5:31pm. And today, Mr. Market lets the tryptophan kick in.


“According to a recent study released by the Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics at Yale University, the key to understanding this paradox is regulation. The study’s authors, Professors Joseph Shapiro of Yale University and Reed Walker of the University of California, Berkeley, argue that changes in environmental regulation beginning in 1990 account for most of the emissions reductions seen over the following 20 years” [RegBlog]. Quelle horreur!

Imperial Collapse Watch

UPDATE The US Navy waited until 5pm Thanksgiving Eve to disclose a data breach affecting nearly 50% of fleet [Stars and Stripes].

Dear Old Blighty

UPDATE “Leadership and technology are needed to meet the health challenge” [Institute for Government]. Also money, which the Tories are denying the NHS in order to destroy it, because markets.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“The FBI recently signed a deal that will give it access to monitor Twitter’s “firehose” — every tweet posted publicly each day, roughly 500 million of them” [Boston Globe].

Guillotine Watch

“One easy way to glam up your holiday table? Rent the linens” [Los Angeles Times].

Class Warfare

“Trumpism is a crisis for the most prestigious methods of understanding economic and social life, ennobled and enthroned by the metropolitan academy of the last third of a century. It has caused mainstream ‘social science’ to fall like a deck of cards. It can only save itself through comprehensive reinvention, from the ground up” [Sanjay Reddy, Institute for New Economic Thinking].

“Nevertheless, of importance is that class consciousness is not in a state of lag but active in its capacity to rally some measure of awareness through an attempt to respond to perceived injustice – however misguided and individualized as they may be. Rather than a lack of class consciousness a more accurate assessment is that there exists a lapse in the ability to articulate our collective alienated relation to capitalism and recognize those there with us” [Counterpunch]. I think this is worth a read, but the language is dense, even for me.

“Walmart ordered to pay truck drivers $54m in minimum wage suit” [Guardian].

“Standoff beneath the 110 Freeway: Homeless man builds a compound, officials tear it down, he rebuilds” [Los Angeles Times]. “‘I refuse to let the city beat me down to what they think a homeless person’s profile is, living on cardboard,’ said Waddell, 59. ‘This should be a landmark.'” Great photos! And then there’s this: “Sanitation crews receive 100 to 200 reports of encampments a week, and the numbers keep growing.” That’s odd, with the economy doing so well.

News of the Wired

Happy Thanksgiving!


* * *

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 (Rex):


A pause to reflect…

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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. Kim Kaufman

    Here’s what Mark Crispin Miller says about the NY Times piece referred to in Neera Tanden’s tweet:

    From today’s Pravda, a piece ostensibly about the “call” by “Hillary supporters,” urging her to challenge the results of the election—a piece that’s actually about the groundlessness of all and any claims that it was stolen. (Pravda-bros Trip Gabriel and David Sanger actually include a quote dismissing such suggestions as “conspiracy theory.”)

    While saying much about Team Hillary’s disinclination to involve itself in anything so loony as a post-election study of the vote in those three states, Sanger/Gabriel say NOTHING of Jill Stein’s amazingly successful fundraising effort yesterday.

    Thus the Times keeps struggling to walk back its noisy prior claims that Russia may have hacked the vote; and, in so doing, demonstrates its usual weird ignorance of how our voting system works, and just how easily it can be hacked (and clearly has been hacked, repeatedly, at least since 2000, albeit not by Russia).

    Compare that nugget of crapola from the NYTimes to Joe Lauria’s report, in Consortiumnews, and Jason Easley’s, on PoliticsUSA, on Jill Stein’s amazingly successful fundraising effort yesterday, to raise the money for those recounts.

    Here are the links to all three:




      1. Kim Kaufman

        No. And I was told by someone [much] more on the inside than I that it is not primarily Clinton people which is what I would have thought. Dunno. Pass the popcorn…

      2. Vatch

        We may not know until the Federal Election Commission releases the data for this time period. If the data release is based on the month, we could know in late December, 2016. If it’s based on the quarter, we’ll have to wait until late January, 2017. The Green Party could release this data on their own, if they choose to. Here’s a summary of the funds raised by Jill Stein’s campaign committee from January 1, 2015, through October 19, 2016:


        The total from January 1, 2015, through October 19, 2016, is $3,528,594. The expenditures are $3,470,291.

        Here’s a summary of the funds raised by the national Green Party through October 19, 2016:


        The total from January 1, 2015, through October 19, 2016, is $479,710. The expenditures are $363,570.

        We don’t know what the party or the candidate raised in the final three weeks of the campaign. Based on the figures through Oct. 19, it’s not likely that they had much money left over after the election. That they have raised $1.1 million in a short period of time for the purpose of paying for a recount, implies that they have received donations from people who don’t normally donate to the Green Party or its candidates. This isn’t necessarily either good or bad; it is interesting.

      3. KurtisMayfield

        No, but according to redditors it is going up steadily at $160k/hour. Which isn’t really possible. I won’t cross post to further conspiracy crap but I wouldn’t think having a steady donation rate is possible without shenanigans.

        It will be fun to parse the donor list, if it ever sees the light of day.

      1. Kim Kaufman

        I’ll have to get into this later. I’m taking a break from painting a fence. It’s a very pleasant 70 degrees in Los Angeles. Luckily a radio station is playing a 3 hour Leonard Cohen Thanksgiving special. Fits my mood perfectly.

      2. Kim Kaufman

        Haldeman’s computer/EI credits are unassailable. Brad ran them down on his show (was it only) yesterday? One thing he did was during a voting machine test in DC, he hacked it and put in a pacman game. Just to show them it could be done. It’s probably findable on youtube. The majority of the EI community are lacking in good p.r. skills. I think they’re confused about the Russian thing and think it might get attention. It is unfortunate.

    1. Carolinian

      So Jill Stein, who said on the campaign trail that Clinton is more dangerous than Trump, is filing for a recount with the specific aim of overturning the result and making Clinton president–at least according to your link.

      That being the case I’m sorry I voted for Stein and question her honesty and the Green Party itself. Since the allegations of hacked voting machines sound shaky at best, one starts to wonder whether the allegations that Stein was in fact a vaxxer are true. But more to the point one wonders whether she has HRC on the speed dial.

      1. Steve H.

        No compass, as far as I can tell. Stein had shanked Sanders early in the campaign, which seemed more about him siphoning off contributions, since he was legitimate.

        Voted Green four years ago, one of less than thirty in what should be Green central in Indiana. Took a step in for a few days after Sanders was done, felt like my feet had pounds of pond mud on them. No = zip = zero = nada interest in doing political work. But signed on the F*B*k page (some friends have been involved). Answered one question about the local water supply, saw one post about a meeting that one person showed up to, now this.

        So I un’d the FB page, an utterly insignificant and meaningless gesture. Which is, significantly, meaningfully appropriate. This election seemed like a choice between two white billionaires, 50/50 gender split. But with all four parties, it was really a choice between four white millionaires, 50/50 gender split.

      2. Kim Kaufman

        Jill Stein is being asked to do this by the EI community because she has standing. No one in this community is doing it to favor Hillary. Did someone post this here or did I see it elsewhere? Pardon the repeat if it was here: Obama asked Hillary not to do anything. He wants a smooth transition of power. End of that story. Except for it’s another eff the voters that he’s done for eight years. Honestly, it’s six freaking million dollars. It’s not a lot to get some transparency on these voting systems. Obviously, there is a certain enthusiasm for this. I don’t see any downside. Hillary will still not be president, imo.

        1. Carolinian

          If it’s an issue on principle then why not ask for a recount in every state rather than simply the ones where a challenge might either change the result–probably not even possible from what I’m reading here–or add additional FUD to an already chaotic election aftermath? This may not have been Stein’s idea but that doesn’t mean she had no choice in saying yes. In my opinion lending support to this shows the Greens to be deeply unserious. And while it matters little to anyone other than myself I truly regret giving them support through my vote. The point of politics is to gain power to make things better, not tilt at windmills.

          1. The Trumpening

            What I am hearing is that the Green Party Steering Committee rejected these recount efforts and so Jill Stein is doing this all on her own. Indeed the Green Party Facebook page does not mention the recount. And if you read this Guardian article very carefully, you will notice they never connect this recount directly to the Green Party itself.


            Obviously a recount would not expose a “Russian hack”. You would just be recounting the hacked votes.

            I’m waiting for the claims of Russian chemtrails over the swing states or reports of Russian-looking spies dumping bags of pro-Trump flouride into swing state reservoirs in the days before the election.

            1. NYPaul

              Well, Hillary did state during the campaign that she would fight cyber-crimes with everything at her disposal, politically, financially, and, militarily.

          2. UserFriendly

            It is clearly a calculation to get funds, a bigger email list, and improve the GP’s image with HillBots. She is smart enough to know it will not change the outcome, I don’t know why everyone is on their moral high horse with this. There is no down side.

            Not to mention it will surely unearth some things worth unearthing. Those were the states she picked because those are the ones HillBots would pay for.

            1. ambrit

              The optics of this are horrendous. The Greens come off looking like attack dogs belonging to the Democrats. Now, absent a direct and specific motivation for the Greens, say, a local race that could be flipped to a Green candidate victory, this exercise looks bad. I cannot believe that Stein would sacrifice the perception of her candidacy being truly “Independent” for a few extra dollars. What is more probable is a “quid pro quo” between the Clinton camp and the national Greens regarding this. Given the Clinton camps justifiably bad reputation for “using” everyone in sight for their own narrow requirements, the up side for the Greens is hard to figure out.

              1. Isotope_C14

                “the up side for the Greens is hard to figure out.”

                Yes, we should complain when people want to count the vote.

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  The upside is that the Greens get an excellent mailing list. So it’s a party building exercise.

                  Counting the votes has nothing to do with it, or else all the equally close states would be counted (Florida; New Hampshire), not just these states. (The exact some mistake Gore made in 2000, when he only demanded a recount in some counties, ceding the moral high ground.)

                  Since all three states would have to shift to the Clinton column for Clinton to win the Electoral College, the venture appears quixotic looked at in any other light than a public relations effort (granted, a successful one, so far).

              2. Michael

                The true HillBots among my friends are furious with Stein for showing them up. The rest of them think the EI concerns have been valid for years and want to see how it plays.

        2. aab

          I loathe Obama, but there is zero evidence the Clintons would do anything because he asked them to. She and Bill cheerfully threw him under the bus whenever they could throughout the campaign.

          The Clintons are choosing not to contest. I presume that means a) they know she can’t win in a recount, probably because b) they did plenty of election theft which would be revealed if anyone examined the records closely. That would explain the long delay in conceding. They would have been on the phone all night looking for places to flip more votes, or discover Republican hinkiness to overturn. Given the grim looks on the faces of news anchors before any of the states had closed, the Clintons would have had many hours to try to find/make more votes.

          Electoral reform seems absolutely crucial to progress. If you think the EI movement could benefit from better PR, let’s talk. I need to focus my energy elsewhere, but I’d rather do that with whatever spare volunteer time I have than most other things. It’s possible I can be of use.

    1. hunkerdown

      And with a light-hearted dark-hearted take on turducken no less. Cheers and may your day be pleasant and tranquil.

  2. Kim Kaufman

    The NY Mag article was a leak, not appreciated by those doing the behind the scenes Election Integrity work. Maybe there are trolls within but the for the main, the participants are serious about election integrity, have been doing this for a long time, and are not partisans.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You can’t trust those Clin-goners or Clin-gones, sometimes spelled Clingons or Klingons.

          1. ambrit

            As we used to quip when playing “Star Trek” in fortran four; “Often to be found circling Uranus.”

  3. ambrit

    Thanks for the CthuTurkey link. Now, if only the POTUS would have tried to pardon it, and ended up being eaten by CthuTurkey instead.
    I think that Obamas post White House plans include a long trip in a stainless steel ‘Brain Cylinder.’ I hope he likes golf on Yuggoth.

  4. Foppe

    Lambert: “The more I read Matty, the more puzzled I become. Is he stupid, or evil?”

    Yeah, I was pointed to that splendid exercise in myopia as well, along with the linked and equally fantastic piece, which I was pointed to when I dared to suggest that matty was providing a great illustration of the continued relevance of Sinclair’s dictum: Bernie Sanders — and many Democrats — keep confusing identity politics with tokenism. (For some reason, “misuse” of words — which is apparently what yuppies think Sanders is doing when inveighing against “id pol”, because of their blindness to the problem brought about by the bipartisan acceptance of Reaganomics, and the resulting taboo on redistributive economic policy etc. — really bothers the Vox crowd.)

        1. flora

          Adding – cognitive dissonance:

          ” They either have to accept that they understand almost nothing about how the world works – because they got everything wrong about Trump – or they need to double-down on their current hallucination. Most of his critics will double-down. That’s how normal brains work.

          “They can either…

          1. Reinterpret their self-images from wise to clueless.


          2. Generate an even stronger hallucination. (Cognitive dissonance.)”


          In this case the hallucination is ‘identity politics is more important that the economic class.’ imo

    1. fresno dan

      “Democrats neither can nor should ditch ‘identity politics’” [Matthew Yglesias, Vox].

      “The more I read Matty, the more puzzled I become. Is he stupid, or evil?”
      MOST assuredly, BOTH….

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        First, we recount.

        Soul searching and ditching (of anything) can come later.

        “The more times we recount, the more we postpone soul searching. We were robbed. Why do we need soul searching?”

  5. Michael

    Re: how to listen to your conservative family:

    Is that the part where they tell me that the President is uppity, that my gay friends deserve AIDS, or that “grab ’em by the pussy” is ordinary and appropriate behavior by the most powerful human on Earth?

    Let’s not get stupid here. There’s a reason identity politics and consensus class warfare worked for so long — the alternative was (and remains) ghastly, brutal, and awful.

  6. HBE

    The times literary supplement is a great read.

    I particularly like this:

    “What these citizens see are outsiders who yell at them about clear-cutting trees but who don’t recognize or acknowledge that those fallen trees are paying for a father’s heart operation or a wife’s nursing certificate.”

    The liberal class disparages the rural working class (and urban) for their environmentaly damaging work practices and demands they stop (and these damaging practices must be stopped) but rarely provides an alternative, other than move to where the work is. It’s along the lines”stop mining!” and that’s it. Stop mining and do what? Provide these workers and communities a viable alternative to survive and they can stop destroying the environment to survive, but that would of course mean addressing economic injustice which is a big no-no.

      1. ambrit

        I looked into working on a Solar Plant build project here in Southern Mississippi. Well, it seems that the contractors want people who will be comfortable working in all weather on a schedule of mornings and evenings. Expect nine or ten hours a day, seven days a week was the schedule proposed, for the life of the project. Then expect to be offered the same conditions on another project in another state, with no benefits whatsoever. (I’ll admit that this might not be much different from how other “extractive” industries work. Any coal miners out there to set me straight?)

      2. jrs

        Is that even going to be in the same location? Solar plants need to be where there is a certain amount of sun right? It’s doubtful whether there even are any other jobs that can be created (and don’t expect a guaranteed income to be what everyone wants either – not if one’s identity is built around work) although granted noone is trying much to create these jobs.

    1. hunkerdown

      Exactly this. If American austerians are going to assert the moral demand that one work to be permitted the slightest comfort, and then presume to create or destroy jobs in which people are presently engaged and dependent upon without adequate notice or support, American austerians are wholly and severally obligated to make the whole working class whole. Retraining programs are not whole. Grift for their churches or professionals is not whole.

      Perhaps they will understand what constitutes whole when presented with the claim expressed in their own language.

      “Expected future profits.”

      Unemployment insurance offers only a brief and partial substitute, capped in an apparent effort to deskill the work force. Some jokers benefactors might sponsor a filing on some worker’s behalf at the ICSID on just such a basis, which might reilluminate wage labor as a business, particularly if they work in the trade of investment casting, a manufacturing process which predates finance itself…

      I am thankful to still have a sense of humor about this all, and thankful to have a few days to myself to tend to my constitutional garden. And thank you, Lambert!

  7. craazyman

    Whoa it’s Thanksgiving. Except for economists. When they calculate debts of gratitude to their wives they like to stop at 90% of Gross Domestic Product. Rim shot!

    Whoa why can’t an economist cook a turkey? When he tries to heat it up it just goes back to equilibrium! Whoa. Rim-shot

    Economists get no respect. No respect at all. But if you think about it, it makes sense. Cause if they did, people wouldn’t be rational! Whoa.

    Whoa it’s Thanksgiving. There’s a turkey in every house today. And if an economist lives there, there’s two! Whoa.

    Whoa they say economics is a social science. That must be why economists like political parties. Rim-shot!

    Whoa everybody’s home today maximizing utility. If it works, why can’t economists stay home every day! Bowahahahaha.


    The laws of economics says supply creates its own demand. It’s true, the more economists they supply, the more we demand they stop. Bwhahahahahaha.

  8. efschumacher

    Isn’t the incumbent Commerce Secretary a billionaire as scion of the Hyatt Hotel fortune?

    What does a Commerce Secretary do? All the Agencies: NOAA, NIST, NTIA, PTO, Census, are pretty much free-standing independently budgeted, and independently championed in the House and Senate. The Hoover Building houses the International Trade Administration. The Commerce Secretary traditionally divides his/her time between ‘boosting’ Trade, and being the top campaign contribution getter. I’m not worried about Wilbur Ross doing anything harmful. Especially now that TPP is (un)dead.

    1. Montanamaven

      yes, there was a tweet about this by David_j_roth: /I am ushering at a DeVos family wedding
      “Are you on the Objectively A Ponzi Scheme side or the Blackwater Mercenary Solutions side?”

  9. Daryl

    Remember when “nine millionaires and a plumber” was considered a remarkably odd and potentially problematic cabinet? Well this is a bunch of billionaires, and no plumber.

    1. JTMcPhee

      And planned to take all the marbles via a “few state electoral college victory” strategy. They lost, in the game they selected under the rules they were just certain sure guaranteed Victory for the Aristocracy of Great Grift.

      Who cares? She and Bill and that crowd will still be on the grift, and would have forked the Hill-bots happily; the shape of Trumpery grows daily clearer; and do you prefer having your head cut off with an Arkansas sling blade or an Italian marble tile saw? Ordinary people, so many of whom long to be elite-ists and religiously buy their lottery tickets and pray to Jesus for a Mercedes Benz, or are so far from power over their own lives as to pull the pin and drop the grenade at their feet, were and are going to get it in the neck, end of report, full stop. “The system,” in all its parts, is a dead end, all the feedbacks are amplifiers, all the individual choices that drive things are driven by self-pleasing but mirderous impulses. IBG-YBG,right? So who the kill cares?

      A “public service” ad here in FL tells me to take short showers and don’t leave the tap running while brush my teeth. Why should I, when the squillionaire will lay “legal” ownership claim to the Floridian aquifer, from which he sucks mega-gallons to water his forking “plantings” and top up his Infinity Pools and “water features?”

      Our appetites and illusions have killed us all — we just don’t know we’re bleeding out.

  10. aletheia33

    >“But the fact is that generations of people live in those shabby towns you drive through on your way to somewhere better. And Donald Trump’s victory means that you might need to learn who these human beings are” [Times Literary Supplement]. From a Mainer.<

    i've read the piece. trust a poet, and the director of the Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching, to come up with some clear examples of what it is to know and not know, to not be known by and be known by, one's neighbors.

    she writes: "Progressive journalists are not unsympathetic to the sufferings and confusions of people like my neighbours, but rarely do they cross the barrier of 'existence within'”.

    i wish she had defined her term "existence within," which seems so central to defining what she would recommend we all try to do in learning to know and be known by our neighbors. can any NC readers explain this term and its origin?

    FWIW, as so many american literary writers have lived in rural communities and struggled mightily to convey in their works what understanding they've managed to gain of their neighbors–perhaps some of such works can help us (especially if we're stuck in burbs and cities) see those compatriots of ours better as the individuals they are.

    Mending Wall
    Robert Frost

    Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
    That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
    And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
    And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
    The work of hunters is another thing:
    I have come after them and made repair
    Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
    But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
    To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
    No one has seen them made or heard them made,
    But at spring mending-time we find them there.
    I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
    And on a day we meet to walk the line
    And set the wall between us once again.
    We keep the wall between us as we go.
    To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
    And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
    We have to use a spell to make them balance:
    'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
    We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
    Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
    One on a side. It comes to little more:
    There where it is we do not need the wall:
    He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
    My apple trees will never get across
    And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
    He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
    Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
    If I could put a notion in his head:
    'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
    Where there are cows?
    But here there are no cows.
    Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
    What I was walling in or walling out,
    And to whom I was like to give offence.
    Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
    That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
    But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
    He said it for himself. I see him there
    Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
    In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
    He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
    Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
    He will not go behind his father's saying,
    And he likes having thought of it so well
    He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

    1. flora

      Great poem. Thanks. Free trade agreements affect everyone. Here’s a point that focuses on economics instead of identity or culture:

      “According to free traders, it’s OK for foreign governments to assume control of parts of our food industry (so long as they aren’t stealing from another mega corporation). But what if state and national policy defended the rights of workers, family farmers, and rural communities as well as it has defended those corporations?

      “Now that JBS controls a big part of the beef-packing industry, they’re having problems and their bonds are almost junk. And China’s slow down has affected stock and bond prices in America because international trade and bank profits are threatened. That’s even as Smithfield tries to tear down more barriers to its business plan by defeating laws in Nebraska that protect family farmers. As usual, no one wants to talk about this, especially not corporate donation-dependent presidential candidates in farmy Iowa.”


    2. craazyman

      If a llberull could know themselves they’d be better at knowing the redneck.

      because they might see one in the mirror! LOL

      (I hope you’re keeping the hoo-doos under control up there. ::-) ]

  11. Tertium Squid

    Freeway: Homeless man builds a compound, officials tear it down, he rebuilds

    Lookit the framing by the city:

    Last week, workers removed a refrigerator with an “abundance of rotting food,” “explosive materials” and other unhealthy items, said Bureau of Sanitation spokeswoman Elena Stern.

    They make it sound gross and hazardous but everyone has rotting food and “explosive materials” in their kitchens.

    1. Anonymous

      I drive the 110 to and from work, through downtown LA and farther south….

      It’s kind of cavernous for long stretches, running beneath elevated light rail tracks and elevated commuter lanes. High retaining walls run along both sides, and every mile or less there’s an overpass. Almost every overpass has a large homeless encampment that stretches across the 10- to 12-lane width of the freeway. It’s been that way for years. There are homeless people everywhere in Los Angeles.

  12. JimTan

    “Toronto convicts first Airbnb owner over zoning violation”. Wow – unfortunately being shot in the head is not the only types of violations on the black-market for anonymous apartments. One of my personal favorites is the following quote from an article on how dealers buy drugs on the dark web:


    “The facilitator rents a carefully vetted Airbnb and arranges for a naive student to be there to sign for the package. The student then takes it to a second location, often a convenience store where the facilitator has a relationship with the owner. He collects the package from there, splits it into smaller portions, and passes those on to street dealers for sale.”

    1. UserFriendly

      Unless the drugs are packaged so poorly that they can be detected going through customs it is a federal crime to open the package. 90% of drugs on the dark net are shipped right to the house of the person that ordered them. It’s the ones who try to get things shipped to a fake name or PO box that end up in trouble.

  13. mk

    UPDATE “The Glory Days of Elizabeth Warren’s CFPB Are Numbered” [Bloomberg]. “‘A lot of the people who voted for Trump are people who got the short end of the economic stick,’ says Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. ‘And the fact is, the CFPB is an important protector of those people.’”
    Oh Really? CFPB didn’t help me with my problem with Wells Fargo. All Wells Fargo had to say was “she signed the papers”, doesn’t matter that they gave me the wrong papers to sign.

      1. kimsarah

        Well, these past several months have revealed who is on who’s side and who you thought was on your side never really was.
        Kind of like the big club, and you ain’t in it.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From labor and employment lawyer:

    Kirsanow said he didn’t talk about law-related civil rights issues with Trump, but they did talk about Trump’s interest in boosting workforce participation among people ‘who have been left behind in terms of economic advancement,’ including African-Americans…

    That balances nicely with ‘government of the billionaires, by the billionaires, for the billionaires…”

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    “Wilbur Ross, the billionaire investor considered the ‘king of bankruptcy’ for buying beaten-down companies with the potential to deliver profits, is expected to be President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for commerce secretary, two officials with knowledge of the decision said”

    Someone has to be in charge of beaten-down regions (the Rust Belt), with potential to deliver profits.

    “Must have experience for this job.”

  16. Cry Shop

    “The Obama Republicans backed President Barack Obama in 2012 and then switched parties to support Donald Trump in 2016. Only 4% of voters fell into this unusual, hybrid category, an analysis of Wall Street Journal/NBC News surveys shows. But their role is more important than that small share suggests”

    Again with the polls, have they not been discredited enough? Did anyone find a way to run a poll that suggest what % people who voted for Obama in 2012 would be willing to speak out in front of their friends, family, etc to admit to a stranger on the phone (who may or may not be who she/he claims to be, but rather a trickster) they voted for Trump this time around?

  17. Nakatomi Plaza

    The Bloomberg piece on venture cash trying to take over dog walking really bothers me. Here in SF, there are a fair number of people who make a living dog walking, but I doubt that will be a possibility for much longer. Even the shitty and compromised “gig” economy is being destroyed as investors look to extract every last cent and destroy the capacity for people to run their own businesses and make a decent living. In the near future I’ll be able to ruin my personal vehicle by using it as a cab, a doggy transport, and a delivery vehicle in the name of some of the most highly valued companies in the world, and I still won’t be making minimum wage or receiving a single benefit.

  18. ewmayer

    “Democrats neither can nor should ditch ‘identity politics’ [Matthew Yglesias, Vox].” — This actually makes perfect sense from the Dem elite insiders’ perspective, because ‘identity politics is all we got.’ Cf. Krugman v Friedman, “when you have no actual argument, resort to ad hominems.” When your only tool is a hammer … anyway, coming up with stuff to help Americans outside our .01%er donor base is hard! Matty may be neither stupid nor evil in any of the conventional senses, but like the aforementioned Operative K he is a dyed-in-the-wool tribalist. I’ve long believed tribalism/ideology/what-have-you make people both stupid [in the unwilling-to-deal-with-reality sense] and evil, the latter because the most committed tribalists seem to be the highly credentialed ones, whose ‘acknowledged expert’-ness gives them a media platform and thus makes them highly dangerous.

    The Reuters piece on Trump’s appointment of Nikki Haley as UN ambassador in today’s Links is a great example of this toxic MSM bias. The author describes Haley as ‘A former critic who has little foreign policy experience…’ — the ‘former critic’ point reinforces that whatever Trump may be he is not an ideologue; regarding the latter, given the litany of horrors our beloved FP experts have inflicted on the world post-WW2 I’d say perhaps letting some rank amateurs not steeped in cold-war, liberal-interventionist or neocon dogma is a much-needed change. (Not that the UN ambassador is anything more than a parroter-of-the-official-party-line, mind you.) Regarding the party line under the incoming administration, the article quotes Trump at his confab with the NYT, in which he ‘described the Iraq war as a mistake, urged better relations with Russia and called for an end to “that craziness that’s going on in Syria.’ Yeah, give me common sense over the kinds of ‘experience’ the MSM is unfailingly impressed – e.g. ‘Obama’s U.N. envoy, Samantha Power, a foreign policy expert’ – any day of the week. Similarly, reading Helmer’s piece on Cyprus last night I again felt a tangible relief on reading about the role of Vicky “f*ck the EU” Nuland in that and realizing that she and so many of her execrable neocon ilk were tossed out of the corridors of power by the election result. For that, committing to ‘the TPP is dead’ and saner relations with the rest of the world, the vilified-by-the-establishment Trump has already done far more in furtherance of peace and economic justice than our outgoing Nobel Peace laureate and drone-assassinator-in chief 0bama ever did. Not bad for such a clearly and manifestly flawed human being who has not yet even taken office. Which just illustrates how bad things had gotten under roughly 4 decades of neolib/neocon bipartisanship in Washington.

  19. Jay M

    so, if Trump has a halfway sane foreign policy–we critique his domestic policy? sounds crazy
    wonder if Trump has the stomach for the Tuesday drone sessions where 0bama got his bones
    good at killing people, what an asshat

  20. Bob

    Question. For everyone here who questions identity politics, have you had a conversation with a non-white or more importantly a black person about the issue? I say a conversation with a black person because the issue of racism and its effects on politics and policy helped coin the phrase “identity politics” (circa 1970s?). Why a conversation? It feels as if you are missing a fundamental aspect of this debate. My take: a dog whistle can be a great thing, maybe the democratic party needs to create one to appeal to different species. Overall, the reality is that in the American system of politics, it’s hard to trust a candidate running purely on policy because its likely that politicians policies will change (Guantanamo anyone)….

    1. Yves Smith

      Um, while the issues for blacks are clearly different, you seem to forget that one of the targets of identity politics is plenty accessible: women.

      My take similar to one that someone quoted in Links yesterday: that while elite members of “out” groups were hugely offended by Trump’s remarks because they live in well-behaved circles where people barely swear either. That’s been carried to a whole new level by this “micro-aggression” indoctrination in college (funny how fat people are exempt from this sort of solicitude).

      By contrast, people further down the food chain are exposed to casual slurs of all sorts and don’t take the Trump remarks seriously. I saw it as way overblown by virtue of having grown up on Wall Street. Men go to strip clubs and frequent prostitutes and the ones with high libidos have sex on their brain way too much of the time. The precious snowflakes act as if this is news. The woman who colors my hair (40s, Long Island accent, still has a hot body and wears very tight clothes) snorted when I mentioned the Trump pussy grabbing remarks in the most neutral manner possible. A friend my age (high earning professional) who has partied way too hard in her youth said, “These people have no clue about how much casual sex there is in the entertainment business.” Another woman, my age, child of a French diplomat, grew up in Romania and Paris and has lived her for two decades, was similarly dismissive of the Trump controversy.

      But yes, it would be good to get a perspective from blacks across the income/status spectrum.

      1. Skip Intro

        I find focusing on the micro-aggression allows me to ignore the macro-aggression that destroys whole countries, kills hundreds of thousands and sends a million non-caucasians scurrying for shelter. What is important is not who bombed their homes or why, but how we refer to them when they show up.

      1. Foppe

        not just – class, also – discrimination on the basis of education [cast as “merit”]. It’s just as social darwinist as the reactionaries are, they just use a different/additional ‘ladder’/value meter.

  21. Vatch

    government of the billionaires, by the billionaires, and for the billionaires

    Over the past decade or two, the number of ultra rich individuals in the Senate, the House of Representatives, and state governorships has been growing. So we have gradually been moving from Jeffrey Winters’s Civil Oligarchic style of government in which the politicians obey the rich oligarchs, to his Ruling Oligarchic style, in which the government itself consists of actual oligarchs. With a billionaire President elect, and several billionaires proposed for the cabinet, we have lurched even closer to a Ruling Oligarchy.

    See page 34 of Oligarchy, by Jeffrey A. Winters. Like The Power Elite, by C. Wright Mills, and various books by G. William Domhoff, the book by Winters is worth reading in the current political climate.

    I might add that if Harold Hamm is chosen to be Energy Secretary, there’ll be yet another billionaire on Trump’s cabinet. Forbes magazine says that Hamm has $13.1 billion.

  22. Kim Kaufman

    Something to think about:

    Conspiracy Theory in America (Discovering America)
    by Lance deHaven-Smith (Author)

    Ever since the Warren Commission concluded that a lone gunman assassinated President John F. Kennedy, people who doubt that finding have been widely dismissed as conspiracy theorists, despite credible evidence that right-wing elements in the CIA, FBI, and Secret Service—and possibly even senior government officials—were also involved. Why has suspicion of criminal wrongdoing at the highest levels of government been rejected out-of-hand as paranoid thinking akin to superstition?

    Conspiracy Theory in America investigates how the Founders’ hard-nosed realism about the likelihood of elite political misconduct—articulated in the Declaration of Independence—has been replaced by today’s blanket condemnation of conspiracy beliefs as ludicrous by definition. Lance deHaven-Smith reveals that the term “conspiracy theory” entered the American lexicon of political speech to deflect criticism of the Warren Commission and traces it back to a CIA propaganda campaign to discredit doubters of the commission’s report. He asks tough questions and connects the dots among five decades’ worth of suspicious events, including the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, the attempted assassinations of George Wallace and Ronald Reagan, the crimes of Watergate, the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages deal, the disputed presidential elections of 2000 and 2004, the major defense failure of 9/11, and the subsequent anthrax letter attacks.

    Sure to spark intense debate about the truthfulness and trustworthiness of our government, Conspiracy Theory in America offers a powerful reminder that a suspicious, even radically suspicious, attitude toward government is crucial to maintaining our democracy.

    Top Customer Reviews
    4.0 out of 5 stars Skepticism is a virtue
    By Jurgis on April 25, 2013
    Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase

    This book is a trip through recent history in which pictures of recent high-impact events have been excised and replaced by blank pages in which you are now free to connect your own dots. It posits that the term “conspiracy theory” had its genesis in a CIA sponsored conspiracy of its own. It works hard at removing the stigma of insanity that is associated with the term. It rewards the inquiring minds of those who seek truth and justifies reconciling hard science with unseen and unarticulated, perhaps sinister objectives.

    For those who become incredulous and weary of the way others connect the dots of world events, this book is balm for your troubled, skeptical soul. Your feelings of shame and inadequacy at being called a “conspiracy theorist” will evaporate and the term will become a source of pride.


  23. Ivy

    How will the teenage walkers be Uberized to extract equity? Will the dog walker ploy result in some spike in leash sales and baggies at marked up prices? Is there no one to curb the investor disobedience?

    1. ambrit

      The “Dog Walker” app will be the driving force. Many people are too lazy to actually interact with their physical compatriots now. Uber will supply the app and gate-keep for a “suitable” commission.

  24. Swamp Yankee

    Q: Is Yglesias stupid or evil?

    A1: Yes.

    A2: stupid with late-onset evil disorder, picked up in the miasmic DC flats.

  25. Cry Shop

    It’s hard to believe the Clinton Machine is going to run Chelsey Clinton, but then there are burough so rotten I guess even with her husband’s family back ground, his disasters with missing money, and her own issues with the wedding, etc; that the voters will let her in in return for a few crumbs falling from the table.


  26. Fiver

    Re Recounts:

    First, I find the general derision exhibited here aimed at the very idea that this election result could be false mysterious to say the least: as if, for instance Oliver Stone’s ‘Real History of America’ was silly nonsense; as if Henry Wallace who by every standard of popularity, service, loyalty,integrity etc. was by far best qualified to be FDR’s Vice President, had not been removed by an internal Democratic Party coup that placed the US and world in the hands of Harry Truman, one of the greatest political catastrophes of all time; as if the greatest power, with the most sophisticated technologies and highly skilled technocracy ever conceived had not made official lying and media-manufactured consent the norm since at least WWII; as if 2000 and 2004 didn’t happen (and some say 1960); as if Snowden et al didn’t tell everyone (again) that cyberwar was already underway, there was no such thing anymore as privacy, fully secure information, or power (or information coming from power) that can be trusted; as if the reason the world now has Trump and his frightening appointees in key positions, that Trump was able to come within a million miles of the WH at all, was not an acute, generalized revulsion for the entire elite club of power and especially the public faces of power, the political/media elites rightly perceived as having done extreme damage to the public interest long before this election.

    So this is hardly some sort of impossible idiocy – even a major Dem talking point was exactly that Republicans were deeply engaged in efforts to steal the election through voter fraud, voter suppression, etc. Now, given the Dem candidate has a sufficient popular lead to rightly assert Trump simply has no mandate for extremism, and given Dems prior claims re massive count-affecting malfeasance, and given Dems and mainstream media’s ethical shock at the thought of a Trump Presidency, one would’ve imagined an immediate effort, even if perceived as ‘desperate’ (so what, if that’s what you believe?) seeking an immediate legal lock-down of all returns in all States just as a matter of course. Instead, en masse the whole far centre-right ‘liberal’ political-media establishment folds and accepts, assigns blame and cause, and now, in exactly the same tone directs all ‘whiners’ or ‘sore losers’ to the door with a swift kick.

    The mistake in my mind is looking just at 3 ‘swing’ States. What would people say about the lop-sided nature of the outcome, pop vote versus Electoral College, if Clinton’s real margin was double, or triple or even more, because all those ‘red’ States given up for lost were not nearly so Trump as believed? Who is looking there?

    Now, if everything written over the years about election fraud in the US, and everything the Dems, Progressives and others claimed was happening prior to the election, and the problems with this Election reported by people who claim expertise are all bogus, then the idea of a recount is dumb. Trump has effectively signaled he intends to pound whoever he decides are enemies into the ground like tent pegs – one of his appointees waxes ecstatic how much fun it is killing people – incentive enough right there, one would think. But no, listen instead to exactly the same experts (Silver, NYT, et al) who so badly messed up to begin with.

      1. Fiver

        How very clever. And how much more comfortable it must be living in a world where, despite the certain knowledge that all the important players involved are ethically and/or criminally bankrupt, the process is nevertheless sound and the outcome to be accepted – even if the outcome is the third extraordinarily unlikely, historically huge event in 3 consecutive 8-yr periods (or turns), both Parties and the State claimed attempts to influence/rig the outcome were in fact already taking place, a situation in the very last days prior wherein secret meetings (DoJ) were held between representatives of both candidates and the State regarding certain unpleasant matters now apparently never to be broached again, and now, people with expertise see cause for concern but are batted down because, you know, faith in the process is sacred.

        The entire Election was illegitimate and it is a fundamental flaw in US democracy that such profound mess cannot be undone – that sort of inflexibility is what terminates species.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          To prevent such expansive views, let me say this. Do the math:

          Stein looks to me like she’s repeating Gore’s mistake in Florida.* Gore conceded the moral high ground by only contesting counties that he thought he could win. Why those three? Why not Florida and New Hampshire, for example, which are just as close?

          Moreover, given selective challenges, and if Palast’s “vote shift” framing is adopted, the recount — which is not forensic, and therefore proves nothing about hacking, the putative justification — becomes a raw power play. So, “we just have to win, then.” On both sides, which is what it will turn into on the ground, regardless of Stein’s motivation. Clarifying! (Wierdly, one justification Stein gives (“reported hacks”) is Clintonite propaganda.)

          First, let’s look at possible outcomes in the electoral college:

          Total EV 538
          Winner needs 270 (a tie is 269 each, which is mathematically possible but IIRC wouldn’t happen this year).

          Results EV:

          Trump 306
          Clinton 232

          Recount states EV:

          WI 10
          PA 20
          MI 16

          306 – 10 – 20 – 16 = 260 Clinton wins
          306 – 20 – 16 = 270 Trump wins
          306 – 10 – 20 = 276 Trump wins
          306 – 10 – 16 = 280 Trump wins

          So Clinton would have to win all three to win. Seems unlikely, given that it’s a raw power play, if we look at who controls the state offices:

          WI SoS D; AG R; Gov R.
          PA SoS D; AG D; Gov D.
          MI SoS; R AG R; Gov R.

          Second, voting integrity is a good thing, but the Green Party platform for it is at best confused:

          The Green Party Platform calls for “publicly-owned, open source voting equipment and deploy it across the nation to ensure high national standards, performance, transparency and accountability; use verifiable paper ballots; and institute mandatory automatic random precinct recounts to ensure a high level of accuracy in election results.” …

          If we raise more than what’s needed, the surplus will also go toward election integrity efforts and to promote voting system reform.

          No. “Hand-marked paper ballots hand-counted in public” is the international standard. That’s what they should be supporting. There should be no equipment, since anything digital is always open to hacking, and open-source is not a panacea. (For example, we’ve seen bugs in open source libraries persist undiscovered — so far as we know — for decades.)

          Third, since the effort is unlikely to be have an electoral effect, seems not to be based on principle, and promotes a bad solution to a real problem, the remaining motivation is the obvious one: The acqusition of an excellent mailing list to be used in party-building (the central Green driver and justification for whatever they do). Not that there’s anything wrong with that! In fact, it’s pleasing to see the Greens engaging in a little realpolitik.

          Good for the Greens for finally seizing an opportunity, and maybe turning the debacle of not achieving 5% into something better, but for reasons stated, I don’t expect the effort to come to much, and were the Greens to come out of this as the arbiters of election integrity, they’ll be doing it based on a poor platform that I would not donate money to.

          * I remember watching the Florida people count the chads on TV. They were clearly serious people trying to do their duty but faced with an impossible task.

        2. aab

          Fiver, you seem to think that the writers and commenters on Naked Capitalism generally believe and assert that the general election was clean. If so, I believe that’s inaccurate.

          Speaking only for myself, I assume that both parties both suppressed votes, and flipped/manufactured votes. I think the outcome is fair for a simple reason: we know Clinton was the favored candidate of the ruling class and status quo generally. She was not disadvantaged overall in the capacity to suppress and rig or stop suppressing and rigging, unlike how Bernie could do neither of those things in the primary. It’s logical to assume, therefore, that she lost because despite committing election theft, she was so disliked by the electorate she couldn’t commit enough election theft to overcome that obstacle.

          Look at Pennsylvania. That is a Democratic Party controlled state. Democratic Party leadership in Pennsylvania is deeply corrupt; elected officials are being convicted of corruption crimes routinely there. There were suppression shenanigans during the primary AND the general election, and numerous anecdotal reports of voting machines doing hinky things (again, during both the primary and the general) to benefit Clinton. She still lost. Not by much, but she lost. She lost because people outside Democratic machine enclaves in the state came out against her in greater than anticipated numbers, and people inside those enclaves did not vote with the same patterns, or in the same numbers, the Clinton campaign presumed they would.

          I think this general election was very dirty, and it’s a very rough form of justice that the candidate who deserved to lose lost, barely. But much of what was done to cheat probably can’t be caught with these recounts. People blocked from voting — whether by the Clinton campaign in the Spring or either campaign in the fall — won’t be counted. Voting machines with no paper trails — which had the most suspicious anomalies in the Democratic primary — can’t be audited, IIRC.

          I believe she did not win the popular vote. She manufactured votes as much as she could wherever she could. That resulted in more fake votes in states that didn’t matter than in states that did, because she had more manufacturing capacity in Democratic machine states. Can I prove that? No. But the kind of investigation that would REALLY examine our electoral system problems isn’t what’s being funded, so I’m suspicious of it and disinclined to clap for Tinkerbell.

          1. Fiver

            If I try to answer your question properly, my reply will be placed into stasis in a suspended state for the duration of the voyage – meaning we may all be long dead from the Last War, the decisive battle that is going to be unleashed from the bottom, middle, and sideways at the top, all over the world against the status quo of US Empire. Trump, with his simply brainless comments on Castro and through his picks has set the US on course for a collision of epochal import. This was going to go very badly no matter what, but Trump is eager to bring it all on now. He and the powerful players behind him going to be a total disaster.

  27. Lambert Strether Post author

    On the homeless guy under the LA Freeway: I loved the pictures, because he was so creative (although not in a way that a suburban professional would appreciate it). It is the constant but unsung outcropping of creativity like this that gives me confidence in a Jobs Guarantee as a program. Our society throws away so much.

  28. Brad

    For the Urban Working Class. To every action is an equal and opposite reaction. So too in politics. Rejection of Clinton-Obama Democratic party politics is not to be followed by an excess of concern for all those low density, low info folks out in the sticks, whether they be working class or middle class. The working class section is a distinct minority of the US working class as a whole and a dispersed one at that, whose main body is concentrated in the big metropolitan centers that hate and rejected Trump, and who will be increasingly non-white and feminine, if not so already. We will not appeal to the main body of the working class by kow-towing before the image of the Mighty White Male Working Cracker and their country music. In the long run they can at best be politically neutralized so they don’t cause more damage. Their jobs aren’t coming back thanks to capitalist automation. Their day is over.

    To describe these in this way is not to play “identity politics”, but is to describe and face reality. These people don’t know what they are doing. Some of them think it’s a great idea to burn more coal for jobs and find it convenient to believe that climate change is a Chinese hoax. We can’t afford to let them control our destiny. Period. Pay our respects to the noble role of coal miners in the United Mine Workers in the past (giving rise to the CIO, among others), and then lets bury it. “Worker” doesn’t always equal “good”. especially in the USA.

    We should not let the most backward section of the working class lead the rest of us around by the noses, just because their political power is magnified by the creaking anachronism of an 18th century mercantile-Physiocratic system that elevates the (now non-existent) agrarian over the urban. The rulers of America liked this backward feature of their political system as a lever against the urban working class, so long as it produced outcomes within parameters acceptable to them: Nixon, Reagan, GWBush. Now it has produced a major malfunction in a President opposed by almost the entirety of that ruling class. So that “political revolution” is going to come that will diminish rural power sooner than you think. And when those floodgates open, the URBAN, multiracial and feminine working class must be ready to move through it to fight for their own interest.

    1. flora

      Capitalism is a great economic engine. Engines, to work well, and not over tax their inherent physical limitations, require governor* mechanisms to modify and correct out-of-optimal running and damaging operating conditions. The neoliberal Dems, or Newt Dems, forgot this essential requirement.

      * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governor_(device)

      1. flora

        adding: when the engine’s governor is miscalibrated, or worse does not exist, it’s a mistake to dismiss the engine’s feedback systems as of no consequence. see Brexit, see Trump, see Greece, see France.

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