2:00PM Water Cooler 12/21/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.



Unfortunately, I can’t find the Goldman report referred to online:

Trump Transition

Readers: Most of the Democrat yammering about the Trump transition is so tendentious, or so tainted by bad reporting — the Russki scare is both — that there’s really no point linking to it. That’s unfortunate, since links tend to be driven by news flow. In my view, the story of the Trump transition isn’t “conflict of interest” (as if Democrats don’t have that), or corruption (as if Democrats aren’t), or the violation of democratic norms (as if Democrats don’t do that), or even racism and sexism (as if Democrats didn’t do plenty of enabling there all on their own). Rather, it’s the composition of the Trump cabinet: We’ve put a number of billionaires in charge of running the country, including the President, along with a number of generals. We used to have a layer of indirection, and the 1% didn’t openly operate the levers of power. That has changed. It’s like the boss isn’t happy with the way the business is being run, so he’s doing to do everything himself, showing people how it’s done. That often ends badly. There’s also a larger issue slowly coming into focus, a so-far unknown change in the Constitutional order. It’s noteworthy that the Democrats propose that sort of change (for example, giving intelligence agencies veto power at the electoral college stage, or abolishing the electoral college altogether) instead of — follow me closely, here, Democrats! — putting together a simple platform that would appeal to the vast majority of voters. These ideas are now in the air…

“The bottom line is this: a republic — or should I say, former republic? — founded on civilian control of the military needs true civilians as a counterweight to militarism as well as military adventurism. Recently retired generals are anything but that; they’re not even speed bumps on the road to the next set of misbegotten military “adventures.” They are likely to be only one thing: enablers of and accelerants to military action. Their presence in the highest civilian positions represents nothing short of a de facto military coup in Washington, a coup that required no violence since the president-elect simply anointed and exalted them as America’s security saviors” [Informed Comment].

“Two recent fundraising pitches featuring the incoming first family were meant to benefit charities, but they also raised questions among ethics experts that the Trumps might be inappropriately selling access” [New York Times]. “These events are dissolving as quickly as they become public, suggesting the family is learning on the fly what’s acceptable.” “Acceptable” to whom?

And speaking of what’s acceptable:

UPDATE “Trump’s Pick for Interior Secretary Was Caught in “Pattern of Fraud” at SEAL Team 6” [The Intercept]. Oopsie…

2016 Post Mortem

“16 Words: ‘The British government has learned that Vladimir Putin recently sought significant quantities of votes for Trump'” [emptywheel]. “[W]hy [is] the CIA is so invested in the narrative that Putin specifically intervened to get Trump elected, rather than the more obvious explanation, which is that he intervened to retaliate for real and imagined CIA-led covert operations targeted at Russian interests?” (For those who came in late, the “16 words” debacle was part of the Bush administration’s fake WMD ploy to get us into the Iraq War (and my first reaction, too).

“Tom Arnold claims he has unreleased outtakes of Donald Trump using racially inflammatory language including ‘every offensive, racist thing ever,’ recorded when the president-elect was the star of The Apprentice. The actor-comedian made the revelation on Dori Monson’s KIRO Radio show” [Yahoo News]. “Asked by the host as to why he was given the tapes in the first place and why he didn’t release them before the election, Arnold said that the people who sent the clips to him worked on The Apprentice and put together a compilation of Trump saying controversial things as a “funny” “Christmas video,” as they didn’t expect the real estate mogul to win the election…. When it became clear that Trump had a realistic chance of taking the White House, Arnold claims Hillary Clinton as well as new Apprentice star Arnold Schwarzenegger’s agent got involved and wanted the tapes released. ‘The Sunday before the election, I get a call from [Schwarzenegger] CAA agent, sitting next to [Clinton]. They said, ‘I need you to release him saying the N-word.’ I said, ‘Well, now these people – two editors and an associate producer – are scared to death. They’re scared of his people, they’re scared of they’ll never work again, there’s a $5 million confidentiality agreement.’ ”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Pantsuit Nation began in late October as a secret Facebook group for supporters of Hillary Clinton (and pantsuit enthusiasts). After the election, it became a place for members to commiserate over their shock and disappointment. Now Pantsuit Nation is becoming a book” [New York Times]. That was fast. I thought “Pantsuit Nation” was going to become some sort of “resistance” thing. Oh well.

“Team Bernie: Hillary ‘F*cking Ignored’ Us in Swing States” [Daily Beast]. This is well-sourced. “‘We were painting them a dire picture, and I couldn’t help but think they literally looked like they had no idea what was going on here,’ [Nomiki Konst, a progressive activist and former Sanders surrogate who served on the 2016 Democratic National Committee platform committee” continued. ‘I remember their faces, it was like they had never fucking heard this stuff before. It’s what we had been screaming for the past 9 months… It’s like [they] forgot the basics of Politics 101.'” And: “[Jane Kleeb, Nebraska Democratic Party chair and another Sanders booster] noted that instead of subsequent discussion about battleground strategy and resources, what she got was a handful of conference calls, where Sanders alumni would get to hear about the ‘three top talking points for Hillary Clinton’s email server, or something.'”

“In 2016 Donald Trump won the presidency by hanging on to Republican strongholds while building rural and small city majorities in key Electoral College swing states, margins that were not offset by Democrat urban turnout. Trump had almost no organized ground game or get-out-the-vote operation. He was outspent 2 to 1. He did not even ride his own bus. Yet a third of the 700 counties that voted for Obama in both 2008 and 2012 flipped to Trump in 2016. And though Trump lost the popular vote by approximately 2.9 million, his election redrew the political map so that now one third of Democrats in the House of Representatives are from three coastal states and only 16 Democrat governors remain. Democrats are packed into the central counties in urban areas of a million or more. They have gerrymandered themselves so that the party with the most presidential votes is in both a federalistic and geographic stranglehold” [Daily Yonder]. “What happened in 2016 was foreshadowed precisely in the 2014 Congressional elections when Democrats gained ground in metropolitan counties of over 1 million population, but lost support in every other geographic classification and with Black, Latino, and Asian voters as well.”

“In the wake of the 2016 election, a long-standing debate within progressive circles has been reignited: Whatever shall we do with the white working class?” [The American Prospect]. The previous answer was kill them, if the Case Deaton study is any indication. (Lead in the water in places like Flint would be a parallel strategy, except for the black working class. There’s opportunity everywhere!) Anyhoo, it would make me so happy if liberals could practice saying “working class” without prefixing it with “white.” I mean, all black people aren’t aspirational artisanal pickle makers in Brooklyn, right? And again, if you look at the photos of Fight for FIfteen events, you won’t — and I know this may come as a shock to TAP — see only white people. It’s almost like identity politics, as practiced by liberals, reinforces division….

“An Emerging New Center” [Joe Lieberman & Jon Huntsman, RealClearPolitics]. Note the authors. Help me.

UPDATE “Top Jewish fundraisers and activists in Florida have a message for the politicians who want to lead the Democratic Party: Support for the Palestinian cause at the expense of Israel is politically toxic” [Politico]. Of course, with Sander’s $27-donor model, the question of “top… fundraisers” doesn’t arise, so it’s hard to see why the political class has busied themselves erasing it, through silence…

“The Obama Legacy: 2008 Supporters Say They’re Better Off Today” [Roll Call]. This is a good interview round-up, but if you look beneath the headline, nobody’s doing very well; it’s almost a “glass is half-empty vs. glass is half-full” situation. And what will happen to all these people in the next recession?

Stats Watch

Existing Home Sales, December 21, 2016: “The headline may be a bit stronger than the details, but the existing home sales report for November is favorable and offers hints at what to expect in 2017” [Econintersect]. And: “This was a great month for existing home sales. I think this surge was do to anticipation of higher mortgage interest rates and not a harbinger for future elevated sales. Still, it is good news for home sellers” [Econintersect]. And: “This was above consensus expectations. For existing home sales, a key number is inventory – and inventory is still low” [Calculated Risk].

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of December 16, 2016: “Despite sharply higher mortgage rates, purchase applications for home mortgages rose 3.0 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis” [Econoday]. And: “Even with the increase in mortgage rates, purchase activity is still holding up. However refinance activity has declined significantly – and will probably decline further” [Calculated Risk].

Chemical Activity Barometer: “The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB) ended the year on a strong note, posting a monthly gain of 0.3 percent and a year-over-year gain of 4.4 percent, a significant improvement over the first half of the year, and a pace not seen since September 2010” [Econintersect]. “The Chemical Activity Barometer has four primary components, each consisting of a variety of indicators: 1) production; 2) equity prices; 3) product prices; and 4) inventories and other indicators. In December all of the four core categories for the CAB improved. Production-related indicators were positive, despite last week’s announcement that housing starts tumbled.”

Retail: “E-commerce growth is turning the aftermath of the holiday sales period into a kind of second peak shipping season as retailers scramble to handle the surge of returns that come with online sales” [Wall Street Journal]. “[R]eturns cut into margins that are already under pressure because of the high costs of managing the logistics of online sales. The returns cost sales revenue, and they’re complicated for companies to handle.”

Commodities: “Eight dead, 35 injured in Congo mining hub amid anti-Govt protests” [Mining.com]. “Despite [or because of] being Africa’s top copper producer and the world’s largest source of cobalt, Congo remains one of the world’s poorest and most unstable countries.”

Commodities: ” Prices of [soybeans] are on a tear this year after a torrid 2015, helped by buoyant demand from the mainland that has exacerbated supply disruptions due to weather uncertainties in Argentina and Brazil, two major producers of the commodity” [CNBC].

Shipping: “Following mixed output for the month of October, the Cass Freight Index Report from Cass Information Systems, which was released late last week, reported declines for both shipments and expenditures in November” [Logistics Management]. “While shipments were down, the report noted that it does not create a major cause for concern, with some degree of normal seasonality at work, coupled with Donald Broughton, the report’s author and transportation analyst at Avondale Partners, noting that on an industry and anecdotal basis market sentiment indicates there are daily reports of stronger shipment volume in almost all modes of freight transportation.”

Shipping: “Two hundred and one containerships and just under 700,000 container slots have been scrapped this year” [The Loadstar]. “This rapid acceleration in containership demolition – particularly of panamax vessels, whose book values have plunged by over 60% this year to be on par with scrap value – has helped to put a welcome brake on the rise of the idle tonnage fleet…. Nertheless, at 1.4m teu the number of redundant container slots still remains higher than in the wake of the 2008/2009 financial crash, and represents 7.1% of the world’s cellular fleet.”

Shipping: “[T]he freight market has been pretty bad overall in 2016 — even worse than the worst-case scenario we had envisaged. The four companies in our stress test generated record negative operating cash flows. Yet none of them ran out of cash, nor did they seek bankruptcy protection. All four companies had ample cash reserves as of September 30, 2016, as we were entering a seasonally strong quarter” [Lloyd’s List]. “How is that possible? The answer lies in the ingenuity of each company’s executives to actively manage their capital budgets, and to look for solutions to adversity before it became an insurmountable problem. Although each company faced a different set of circumstances, they all adopted one or all of the following strategies: reign over operating costs to extend cash burn; trim capital expenditures by selling assets or extending newbuilding deliveries; negotiate debt repayment holidays with lenders (which also included temporary waivers on loan covenants); and, last but not least, recapitalise their balance sheets by issuing fresh equity.”

Shipping: “Will the meaty profit margins long enjoyed by traditional freight brokers eventually become the meat in an Uber-Amazon sandwich?” [DC Velocity]. “However Amazon and Uber’s plans shake out, it has become clear that technology will trigger significant change in a segment that is immensely profitable by effectively arbitraging its buying and selling prices. In recent years, a growing number of digital freight-matching services have been launched to exploit supposed inefficiencies in the traditional brokerage model. These services aim to drive down prices while being profitable. Many of the newbies will fall by the wayside. However, more than a few are likely to survive, and they will leave their mark on the sector.”

Supply Chain: “Convenience shop items delivered by drone in US” [Phys.org (Re Silc)]. “‘We have now successfully completed the first month of routine commercial drone deliveries to customer homes in partnership with 7-Eleven,’ Flirtey chief executive Matthew Sweeny said in a release. ‘This is a giant leap towards a future where everyone can experience the convenience of Flirtey’s instant store-to-door drone delivery.’ Flirtey said it made 77 drone deliveries to homes of select customers on weekends in November, filling orders placed using a special application.”

Supply Chain: “Report: automated material handling market set for double-digit growth” [DC Velocity]. Lots of companies listed…

The Bezzle: “Distressed Retailers Scour Loan Fine Print for Debt Tactics” [Bloomberg (SF)]. “Take the case of preppy clothing maker J. Crew. The New York-based company is said to be seeking to take advantage of a clause in its loan agreement allowing it to shift its brand name, the crown jewel of its intellectual property, to an unrestricted entity in the Cayman Islands. By doing this, it may now be possible for J. Crew to borrow against the assets and use the proceeds to buy back a portion of its roughly $2 billion in debt at a discount… ‘They are taking advantage of valuable assets that haven’t been optimally utilized to find new creative ways to create liquidity to extend their existence,’ [said Steven Ruggiero, head of research at R.W. Pressprich & Co.]”

Honey for the Bears: “Christie’s high profile annual art auctions in Mumbai just managed yesterday to overcome growing concern about the direction of the Indian economy. They yielded a respectable but unexciting sales total of Rs 72.17 crore that acted as more of a warning than encouragement about future prospects” [The Wire (J-LS)]. Demonetization, Trump, Brexit…

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 74 Greed (previous close: 79, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 86 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 21 at 12:00pm. Now deflated to mere greed…

The 420

“Soaring Sales Forecasts for Colorado, Massachusetts Marijuana Markets” [247 Wall Street]. ” By 2020, medical cannabis sales are forecast to reach $663 million and recreational sales are expected to hit $1.34 billion.”

“[W]hile the Justice Department, in that 2013 ‘Cole Memo,’ officially agreed to stand down in the face of robust state regulations that keep cannabis out of the hands of minors and prohibit stoned driving, like all the other advice and guidance from the federal government, such tolerance is by no means binding. If future Justice Department officials want to enforce federal law, they can start raiding cannabis shops on January 21, 2017” [Capital and Main]. “Whether or not they will however, remains a subject of tortured speculation among legal experts.”

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“Snowden’s ‘Proper Channel’ For Whistleblowing Being Booted From The NSA For Retaliating Against A Whistleblower” [Tech Dirt].

Guilotine Watch

The Bezzle: “OxyContin goes global — “We’re only just getting started” [Los Angeles Times]. “Prescriptions for OxyContin have fallen nearly 40% since 2010, meaning billions in lost revenue for its Connecticut manufacturer, Purdue Pharma. So the company’s owners, the Sackler family, are pursuing a new strategy: Put the painkiller that set off the U.S. opioid crisis into medicine cabinets around the world. A network of international companies owned by the family is moving rapidly into Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and other regions, and pushing for broad use of painkillers in places ill-prepared to deal with the ravages of opioid abuse and addiction.” The Sacklers are, of course, highly respected international philanthropists.

Class Warfare

“Gov. LePage orders Department of Labor not to enforce minimum wage law” [Maine Beacon].

“Building a Mass Socialist Party” [Jacobin]. “We consequently face a seemingly irresolvable impasse: no party without a base, no base without a party. Is there a way out of this closed circle?… Among other things, neoliberalism radically shifted the foundation for capitalism’s legitimacy from essentially buying workers off to simply asserting ‘there is no alternative.’ Neoliberal capitalism was the only capitalism on offer and if you didn’t like it, too bad…. The corollary is that the core of the socialist project is about alternative politics, not just alternative policies — on developing the skills and institutional capacities to address the extraordinary power and resiliency of capitalism.” Well worth a read.

“Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and the Economy” [Whitehouse.gov]. “AI – driven automation will continue to create wealth and expand the American economy in the coming years, but, while many will benefit, that growth will not be costless and will be accompanied by changes in the skills that workers need to succeed in the economy, and structural changes in the economy. Aggressive policy action will be needed to help Americans who are disadvantaged by these changes and to ensure that the enormous benefits of AI and automation are developed by and available to all.” How much you wanna bet there was a paragraph just like this in the White House executive summary on NAFTA?

“Restoring American Competitiveness” [Harvard Business Review]. From 2009, but this is insightful: “The electronics-outsourcing story exposes several pieces of conventional wisdom as myths. One is the popular belief that an advanced economy like the United States no longer needs to manufacture and can thrive exclusively as a hub for high-value-added design and innovation. In reality, there are relatively few high-tech industries where the manufacturing process is not a factor in developing new—especially, radically new—products.” One can’t help but wonder whether Apple’s “Designed by Apple in California, Assembled in China” is sustainable (and note the subtle denigration of “assembled.” Manufacturing is not assembly!

“The U.S. Recession and Recovery Have Been Tough on Everyone” [Washington Center for Equitable Growth]. “Once population growth is taken into account, we can see that employment rates fell for all four racial and ethnic groups in the analysis. The job growth for African American, Asian, and Hispanic workers emphasized in the newspaper’s account did not keep up with the growth in the corresponding population.” Thanks, Obama!

This trend [of listening to words rather than looking at ground truth] contains a vicious class bias. ‘He says, she says’ reporting tends to be deferential towards those in power. This isn’t just because they have better-resourced PR departments but also because, as Adam Smith said, there’s a “disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful.” Such reporting also favours those with superficial charm and over-confidence – traits more likely to be possessed by men from rich backgrounds such as Cameron and Farage. And of course in giving a voice to Westminster politicians, the voices of people on the ground are not heard” [Stumbling and Mumbling].

News of the Wired

“The Surprising Use of Automation by Regulatory Agencies” [RegBlog]. Code is law…

* * *

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 (JB):


JB writes: “The developer of the land across the street from me has chosen to destroy and burn them all. Considering how easy GPS-surveying makes it to determine and overlay which trees may remain in situ when sewers, utilities, streets, and homes are being put into a development, this should be a crime. And FWIW, this was an old growth tract supporting deer, black bears, gopher turtles, raccoons, possum, and the rest. They’re all being forced to run and the trees are now being pushed together into huge piles (to be burned). Sob!”

Fine word, “developer”…

Readers, I’ve gotten many more plant images, but I can always use more; having enough Plantidotes is a great destresser. Plants with snow are fine!

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


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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. Roger Smith

      Great in the Stupids. Love that movie.

      Regarding the tapes, why would he be the only one that has them, if they in fact are real, and part of some attention grabbing rumor?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Speaking of stupid, 槑 is a very interesting and obscure Chinese character.

        It’s made of two identical words – 呆.

        I am told it means ‘more stupid than stupid.’

        Mathematically, it implies ‘> stupid.’

        My first reaction though, was not one of math inequality, but of earthquakes, as in Richter scale, or as in power or order of magnitude. That is, I thought it was stupid-squared, or stupid to the second power (stupid x stupid, rather than > stupid).

        Well, that’s the Chinese lesson of the day.

        By the way, it’s pronounced mei. So, now you know, when you hear something like ‘that presidential campaign was mei,’ spoken in China.

          1. Optimader

            Stupid but well endowed. Reminds me a a visit to a local zoo (true story)

            Little Girl: ” mommy, why does the Tapir have five legs??
            Mother: Come along Suzy, we’re late for the dolphin show..”

          1. crittermom

            A friend once referred to someone we both knew as a ‘moron wrapped in stupid’.
            That’s always stuck with me, & keeps ringing in my head when I think of the Demoncrat party and how they still don’t get it.

        1. integer

          Speaking of stupid, 槑 is a very interesting and obscure Chinese character…
          Well, that’s the Chinese lesson of the day…
          Addendum: by itself, 呆 means stupid.

          Thanks for this. I’m always on the lookout for new ways to call people stupid hahaha.
          Also, I like the idea of being treated to a daily Chinese lesson from MLTPB.

      2. Kim Kaufman

        He may not be the only one who has the tape but he may be the only one who’s spoken about it publicly.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        It’s fascinating to see Democrats doubling down on tactics that have demonstrably failed.

        It’s like watching World War I chateaux generals sending the troops “over the top” over and over and over again….

          1. Vatch

            You have an interesting point. Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Steny Hoyer, and most Democratic Congressional incumbents won reelection. It seems that all of those people achieved success. Who cares about the majority in the Congress, the state legislatures, or the state governorships?

            Plus, they prevented that pesky outsider Sanders from being elected President!

  1. hemeantwell

    Re the Informed Comment quote:

    They are likely to be only one thing: enablers of and accelerants to military action. Their presence in the highest civilian positions represents nothing short of a de facto military coup in Washington,

    Cole is reciting the proper principle, but as a formal idea it doesn’t correspond well with recent reality. Seymour Hersh is just one of several writers who’ve described recent situations in which the military was putting the brakes on the neocon faction scattered throughout the DoState and intelligence agencies. Iraq was not a military-driven endeavor. Vietnam? This is hardly a coup. It may be a more explicit embodiment of US aggressiveness, which might be helpful in opposing it. But if you want to talk about a coup, you need to focus on the increasing independence of the executive branch to engage in war and preparations for war. In that sense Cole is just laying down a smokescreen.

    I feel obliged to remind readers that Cole has worked as an analyst for the CIA. He was in favor of the Iraq invasion, though later regretting it, and was on board the HRC policy wagon on Libya.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Actually, I agree on both points. It wasn’t a general who said (paraphrasing) “We have this great military, so why not use it?” That was Madeline Albright. And I think “coup” is overblown (though as I said, we ought to be watching for changes in the Constitutional order….)

      Sometimes I just put things out there to see what people have to say :-)

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Remember we’re in Bizarro-Land, Obama reversed the polarity of politics and every straight-up Bush policy became a default Dem policy, Trump courted middle-class blue collar workers, and when Her Wonderfulness screeched about a no-fly zone for Syria in the debates it was the generals who said “lady you really don’t want to try that…”.
        Having the generals directly in charge gives me some comfort, much better than the delusional Chanel-suited war criminals like Rice, Powers, Nuland et al

        1. Martin Finnucane

          The generals are only really dangerous when they get cozy with reporters. Then the dynamic becomes corrosive: the natural tendency of ambitious company men [sic] to grandstand inflected by the natural tendency of hack reporters to swoon over the rich and powerful. The positive feedback loop inclines the ambitious company man into zany antics that more often than not end in disaster. Think: David Petraeus, Stanley McChrystal.

          I just finished reading Andrew Becevich’s America’s War for the Greater Middle East. Recommended, but problematic.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            We were lucky general George Washington was not an ambitious company man.

            We need more generals like him.

              1. Phil

                Sorry, not so, ambrit. Your prejudice is showing. Most generals are not politically ambitious. They scorn political values as being diametrically opposed to the militarist code of discipline, work, obedience, sacrifice, brotherhood, valor, honor, technical skill, hierarchy, and respect for the law.

                Indeed, most skilled generals who became president did a superb job. (Including Grant, who was no skilled general, and no skilled President, either.) I offer as the latest example Eisenhower, who was indisputably the best “non-ambitious” president of the 20th century. Again, that category has to exclude Franklin Roosevelt, who was no general, but did run for four terms–unlike any general who became president.

                Generals who rise to seize tyrannical authority–like Cromwell or Napoleon or Hindenburg/Ludendorff–are much more the exception than the rule, and their success presupposes the utter failure of civilian governance leading to complete, prolonged breakdown of the established constitutional order.

                But don’t take my word for it. A worthwhile reading list on militarism and politics is readily available; the best starting point is Gerhard Ritter’s Sword and Scepter.

                By the way, there was nothing wrong with Petraeus. In all likelihood, he would have been a popular, respected, serviceable President. I speculate that he was whacked by the Clinton gang, to keep him out of the way of her 2016 coronation.

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  > who was no skilled general

                  Not sure where you get your views on Grant (who won, after all, unlike Lee). Random search:

                  I think that Grant slightly shades Lee as a commander because in the last year of the War he managed all of the Union armies, including Sherman in the South and Sheridan in the Shenendoah Valley. Grant served in the field, supervising Meade, who was still commander of the Army of the Potomac, but he had his eye on the entirety of the Union campaign. Moreover, Grant recognize the new reality of warfare: that the firepower commanded by each side was making a battle of maneuver, like Chancellorsville, impossible. Lee didn’t think much of Grant as a general, saying that McClellan was the superior foe. On the other hand, Lee beat McClellan. He didn’t beat Grant.

                  I think Grant learned what it took to win, and won. I don’t know what other test of skill counts more. (And that started with the Battle of Shiloh. Grant was no mere attritionist, unlike (say) Douglas Haig.

                2. clincial wasteman

                  Please allow a murmured dissenting preference for Cromwell pre-1649 (i.e. before the stitch-up and slaughter of the Levellers and the invasion of Ireland: no objection to the regicide as such — anzi!), or even for Napoleon pre-Thermidor, over Eisenhower any time after he went into politics, which — according to Carolyn Eisenberg’s crucial study of the proto-Cold War carve-up, ‘Drawing the Line’ — seems to have happened after the war but while he was still a general in Europe. Whereas — again according to Eisenberg — he seems to have been more critical of Truman’s apocalyptocrats through the mid ’40s. I definitely don’t want to bicker with his admirers (Ike’s not Truman’s, if Truman has any) over his personal integrity — his ex-VP was starting a foreshortened second term by the time I was born — but it’s fairly well known that 1953-61 was no picnic for the South Pacific, South-East Asia, Latin America or Southern Europe, and a certain belatedly disowned “military-industrial complex” seems to have been a busy manager of that particular no-fun fair.

      2. hemeantwell

        Cole’s an odd duck. He’s pretty much consistently excellent on Israel-Palestine, merits being thought of as a reference both on the history and current status of that oppressive, settler-colonialist mess (he’ll use that term, or at least the first 2/3 of it). Overall, I think he’s been a coolant on the current Russophobia. I still regularly go to his site. It’s worth noting that the SST habitues dismiss him as a liberal interventionist, they seem indifferent to his stance on Palestine.

          1. clincial wasteman

            Yes, I also wondered about that acronym.
            And I promise to shut up about this now, but Cromwell’s takeover/s can also be seen less as a consequence of “utter failure of civilian governance” than as a response to the enormous class upheaval threatened by its success. Or the success not quite of civilian governance but that of the army rank-and-file Agitators and the London Levellers, whom the future Lord Protector had tolerated and even protected to a limited extent until they became too formidable a force. Christopher Hill, Brian Manning and (in a few short early essays) CLR James are all good on this point. An entire school of “revisionist” historiography has tried to erase it since — go figure — the 1980s, mostly by restoring the idea that the lives of “masterless men” don’t matter to its former inglorious glory.

        1. Foppe

          I recall that Graeber (who afaik went to rojava once) was quite annoyed with Cole’s reports about what was going on there / in syria a few years back.

      3. hemeantwell

        Back on topic, consider this from today’s Moon of Alabama

        In a recent interview Kerry admits that it was opposition from the Pentagon, not Moscow or Damascus, that had blown up his agreement with Russia over Syria:

        More recently, he has clashed inside the administration with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. Kerry negotiated an agreement with Russia to share joint military operations, but it fell apart.
        “Unfortunately we had divisions within our own ranks that made the implementation of that extremely hard to accomplish,” Kerry said. “But I believe in it, I think it can work, could have worked.”

        Kerry’s agreement with Russia did not just “fell apart”. The Pentagon actively sabotaged it by intentionally and perfidiously attacking the Syrian army…..

        But is that “the military”? Or was it the SecDef? Or was it a faction in the military? Is General Ripper in the house?

        1. fresno dan

          December 21, 2016 at 3:23 pm

          Kerry was against the agreement before he was for the agreement he was against….before. Which makes sense when you remember that Al queda was our ally before they were our enemy and than partially became our allies, when certain factions of Al queda broke off and became opposed to the initial Al queda, and to us, but only in certain geographic locations, and somewhat dependent on who they were opposing at temporal points in the events….
          Now, I could add Iran, but unfortunately, there aren’t enough pixels in the universe….

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            You make it sound so…11 dimensional, and it likely is, and perhaps there are some strings in there too.

        2. uncle tungsten

          CentCom air-commander Lt. Gen. Harrington is a war criminal.
          Remember that name. He will turn up again sometime like a turd on a beach.

          He shares the USA war crimes hall of fame with Lt Calley and with CAPT William C Rogers III. There are many more of course.

    2. RenoDino

      Trump’s generals are his anti-coup force field. He knows this election is not over until he has the military under his command. If the military would take it upon itself to negate Kerry’s truce agreement in Syria, they may not hesitate to seize power between now and inauguration day all for the good of the county of course. The Russian hacking report will be the pretext for the coup.

      Maybe that’s why Michelle has lost all hope.

    3. Cry Shop

      Not that this is a coup, but the idea that military launch coops to start wars isn’t a given.

      Has the military ever launched a coup to stop a war from starting? Not so much in the west, but it has happened frequently in India and China’s historical. Getting back on track with the west they have launched plenty of them after wars were lost. Now, have we won the wars on terror, and has regime change gone to plan? Has military spending gone away from big ticket hardware which provide plenty of kickback/retirement board membership opportunities to the Military Oligarchy? or is it moving toward a few gizmos and lots of IT? The only general who made money out of Syria is the ones managing aviation fuel and smart bombs.

  2. Altandmain

    The scale of incompetence and tone-deafness in the Clinton campaign becomes ever more apparent.

    They were running a coronation not a campaign. They thought that the moment Sanders lost and Trump was the GOP candidate, they had it in the bag and didn’t need to really do much else.

    Only question is, should the left abandon the Democrats and form a third party entirely or should they allocate resources to reforming the party? The Old Guard sure isn’t taking responsibility for their failures. The cruel reality is that they serve the rich. Anything else, like identity politics is purely a distraction in a manner like what the GOP does with religion.

    Just wondering, what percentage do you think of Democrats are “Old Guard”, what percentage are Left, and independent leaning left wing voters? Over time, numbers of Generation Y might force changes, but the Democrats will fight every step of the way.

    1. hemeantwell

      Only question is…

      I’ll say. In what I fear is tunnel vision fashion I’m still hoping (i use the word cautiously) that the Ellison fight means something, though the descent into horsetrading to get Florida votes has me in “fool me once etc” mode.

    2. tinheart

      I read the Jacobin article about forming a mass socialist party. Forming a third party would be very difficult due to the ballot access barriers of certain states. Better to take over the Democrats.

      1. Mike

        Jeremy Corbyn Britain’s Bernie equivalent took over the Labour Party (twice) and has massively increased its membership. Declared unelectable by UK Progress and the “liberal” media Labour is starting to come back in the polls. Just saying…

        1. barefoot charley

          The majority of Corbyn’s party in Parliament sabotages him every way they can think of. Party apparatus is stronger than democracy. I can’t conceive of a reformed Democratic Party–and neither can most democrats who matter. But There Is No Alternative, alas.

        2. Waldenpond

          Corbyn has the head of his party by membership vote.

          The Ds are a private club that has a closed loop system for selection….

          [The chairperson of the DNC is elected by vote of members of the Democratic National Committee. The DNC is composed of the chairs and vice-chairs of each state Democratic Party’s central committee, two hundred members apportioned among the states based on population and generally elected either on the ballot by primary voters or by the state Democratic Party committee]

          It was made blatantly clear when watching the verbal vote at the the convention… time and time again, the verbal vote would fall aye or nay and the gavel would fall and a call out was made in opposition to the verbal vote.

          After watching D members rig the process retroactively so Bittel could buy the FL chair, it’s absurd to think the any will ever have a chance to influence such a corrupt group of people.

          The elite select the committee members, the elite select the state chairs, the elite select who will be funded for promotion etc. There is no way to break into a private club owned by the oligarchs.

          If it looks like a vote will not go the way they want it, they’ll simply dump the voter rolls. After all, the force of state will be used to remind that you have no right to membership/vote in a private club.

          1. Cry Shop


            Been saying much the same, and got about the same response level. George Washington was no democrat, but he was right about party systems. Democracy in the USA was always a mock-up. Came close to making the transition in the 1930s and 1960s when the oligarchy panicked, but they kept it together long enough for the general populace to get distracted with living their lives again.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > After watching D members rig the process retroactively so Bittel could buy the FL chair, it’s absurd to think the any will ever have a chance to influence such a corrupt group of people.

            I think the real problem is that the Sanders people assumed the establishment Ds would play by the rules. That is, they brought a knife to a gun fight. Let’s hope in the next episode like this — which will happen — they know better.

            1. XFR

              The best description of the U.S.A. system I can come up with is “dual-party state”. It is to a one-party state what a dual monarchy is to a conventional unitary monarchy.

              It can pass for an actual electoral democracy more easily than a one-party state can but the public is still every bit as out of the loop.

              I’m not sure what to make of the Trump phenomenon though, at first I thought all the establishment garment-rending was just more kayfabe of the sort we saw with GWB and BHO but the sheer extent of the hysteria we’re seeing now really makes me wonder.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I suggest the Visigoth play, in which the barbarians by seeking shelter within the empire ended up sacking it.

        Here, with numerical superiority, 100% of Democrats can register as Republicans, and elect progressive primary candidates to run in the general election.

    3. different clue

      “Reforming” the party would be a self-defeating way of viewing it. “Decontaminating and disinfecting” the party and then “bio-remediating” the party might at least help people understand what is required so they can decide if it is possible and worth the effort.

      Every metastatic malignant clintonoma cell and every Yersiniobama pestis plague germ will have to be burned and radiationed and chemotherapied and antibioticced from out of the Democratic Party so that its emptied-out structures and tools and weapons caches can be taken over and used for Berniecratic purposes. This means that Free Trade Traitor scum filth like Pelosi and Hoyer and whichever of their captive servants in the Congressional Black Caucus who voted for NAFTA or WTO or MFN for China will have to be purged and burned out of the Democratic Party before it can become an Economic Patriot Berniecrat Party. Also garbage dirt Senators like the Ladies from Washington who voted for Washington to make a fortune from America’s misfortune.

      Would it be worth it? Would a decontaminated Democratic Party be a more effective suite of weapons systems than any neo-leftie-poo party which leftie wingers might invent? I feel like it would be. But it would be hard work over many decades trying to kill weaponised cancer cells and Black Death disease germs which are trying their hardest to kill right back.

    4. HotFlash

      They were running a coronation not a campaign. They thought that the moment Sanders lost and Trump was the GOP candidate, they had it in the bag and didn’t need to really do much else.

      I wonder what happened to all the $$$ that the Hillary campaign hoovered up?

    5. Oregoncharles

      Sanders got about 47% of the primary vote. Even with the rigging and the states that don’t hold a primary, that’s probably pretty indicative; it also included large numbers of people who re-registered Dem in order to vote for him. In Oregon that included almost half the registered Greens. Fortunately, most of them must have come back and brought Sanders people with them, because our registrations (about a fourth of the vote we usually get) have now increased over the beginning of the year.

      Remember that the “major” parties are drastically shrunken; the last numbers I saw were about 29% for the Dems and 21% for the Reps. That’s people who will admit to a poll taker that they belong to one of them. Note that adds up to just 50%; it’s probably less now. Also, the Dems have about half again as many as the Republicans, but very little power.

      My usual response to the suggestion of taking over the Democratic Party is to invoke history: it’s been tried, for thirty years or more. Throughout that time, at least since Carter, the party has moved only to the Right. By actual test, the strategy is not just futile but disastrous. Now Bernie has confirmed those results.

      But the material that’s come out this year, much of it right here, raises another issue: do you really want it? You’d be in the position of the dog that caught the car. For dogs, that tends to be fatal, but maybe I’m carrying the analogy too far.

      1. Fiver

        I think those are excellent points but I highly suspect that, unlike with Sanders and a ‘movement’ that was allowed some space to grow on the Internet courtesy of the Titans of Tech with tacit approval of the State, because he was inside the Dem Party, it’s an open question whether the Internet would’ve been there for a progressive ‘outsider’ Sanders even this time around, let alone providing an environment friendly to an authentic movement and vision with real potential after a couple years of Trump letting the National Security State run riot with power-Dems’ approval.

    6. Lambert Strether Post author

      > what percentage do you think of Democrats are “Old Guard”,

      The percentages don’t matter globally. They only matter at the state party level, since if the Sanders faction is to take over any of the levers of power, that’s where they have to do it.

  3. Jess

    “that growth will not be costless and will be accompanied by changes in the skills that workers need to succeed in the economy, and structural changes in the economy. Aggressive policy action will be needed to help Americans who are disadvantaged by these changes and to ensure that the enormous benefits of AI and automation are developed by and available to all.”

    And what about those who are not tempermentally suited to wearing a white shirt and tie, or a white lab coat, and working inside, perhaps even in giant windowless structures or tiny cubicles? What about those whose psyche requires fresh air, the elements, physical movement? Not to mention, what about all those tasks that only tradesman can accomplish? Typical elitist bullshit.

    1. ambrit

      Sorry to tell you, but, as has been experienced by one who thought that mastering a “trade” was the path to secure a “somewhere middle class” life style, by labeling trades and skilled workers as another form of “Labour,” the movers and shakers pulled off the feat of denying tradespeople everywhere any self respect or economic or political power. Essentially, as I can personally attest, “skilled work” has been globalized, with an attendant ‘race to the bottom’ in wages and benefits. Those in the lab coats and cubicles had better watch out. They are next to be ‘arbitraged’ into poverty. Can we say “Technotariat” boys and girls?

      1. Cry Shop

        Lab-coats: see work visa programs – ie: happened already, started in the 1980s. It’s only real PhD’s, ones from decent schools who have deep mental skills, who’ve avoided wage deflation.

        1. Cry Shop


          I think they got it wrong, because they don’t understand that the higher the skill level, the more abstract the playing ground. Driving a car isn’t that big a skill issue, but it requires running through a complex, real, playing ground. Nothing quite a messy as reality. Running a Gas Chromograph is easy, interpreting the results for standard existing benchmarks even easier, but prepping some samples to load into the GC automated tester, working them through the physical world and into the lab is still going to be messy (and sometimes dangerous) grunt work. As work dries up, those grunts are going to be ever cheaper to hire. Seems like I’d go for the expensive,yet easy to automate middle and upper(just below board level) management jobs. That’s what IBM is doing.

      2. different clue

        Many already have been. In pharmaceutical research, for example. But they didn’t care when it was happening to the Unionised Thingmakers. So perhaps it is well that they suffer and cry until they develop a sense of pragmatic social co-survival co-solidarity with Free Trade’s disposed-of disposables so that all such groups can “exterminate the enemy” and restore their own positions and futures together.

    2. jrs

      psst, let me let you in on a secret: noone’s psyche is ideally suited to giant windowless structures with tiny cubicles. Many who have such opportunities tolerate it for a paycheck as a lesser or necessary evil, some do not. And if you think blue collar work is the easier path, well there there is the risk of real physical injuries (not just ahem carpal tunnel which catches up with nearly all office workers eventually – but bloodshed and burns and losing fingers and so on – plus the sheer exhaustion of working long hours of hard physical labor – the 8 hour day is really too much for hard physical labor).

      1. Jess

        My father was in the construction trades and died at 59, and I’ve also done my share of what might be called “manual labor” so I fully understand what you’re saying. Still, some prefer it, or are called by talent and temperment to do it.

      2. different clue

        Push carpal tunnel ( and other repetitive syndrome injuries far enough) and it takes fingers and whole hands. I know of co-workers in hospital pharmacy whose hands became incurable pain machines fit only for storing a pair of gloves on.

        Of course there are people who don’t believe repetitive motion injury can get that serious. I pray that such people get repetitive motion injury which is that serious . . . so that they can re-assess their belief from a position of newfound personal knowledge.

  4. Vatch

    “Gov. LePage orders Department of Labor not to enforce minimum wage law” [Maine Beacon].

    Whenever I see Governor LePage’s name, I think of Governor Le Petomane in “Blazing Saddles”. A lot of hot air, and I will not go into detail on that point.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      And if the Democrats didn’t suck so bad, they’d be able to beat him. Instead, they’re doing the blaming and shaming thing, “How can the voters be so stupid!?” and on and on and on. Meanwhile, these Democrats are the same corrupt bastards who gave us the landfill, like taking other people’s garbage and dumping it into our watersheds is the best the state can ever expect to do. No thanks.

  5. Tim

    “OxyContin goes global — “We’re only just getting started”

    You know the standard story in the press for our opiode epidemic is, who could have known at the time that liberalizing the prescription of pain killers would lead to this epidemic?

    This article just flushed that arguement down the toilet down the toilet. Evil is as evil does.

    We won’t be fooled again in the US so they are out for a new set of fools.

    I hope China doesn’t forget it’s epidemic no matter how long ago it was and edicts strict guidelines on acceptable prescription of painkillers to doctors, to get in front of this push

    1. geoff

      It’s the Opium Wars all over again!

      Seriously, there obviously aren’t enough people in North America to addict to and kill with their product, so Purdue Pharma’s going global!!

      1. RMO

        Can someone give me any valid reason why we just don’t universally prescribe, you know, plain old OPIUM based painkillers for severe pain? Yes they are addictive but at least we know they work and about the only real side effect of extensive use (in the case of actual pharmaceutical grade morphine, codeine and heroin) is constipation? None of the wonderful new drugs seem to work any better for pain, are at least equally addictive and the consequences of long term use are unknown.

  6. dingusansich

    putting together a simple platform that would appeal to the vast majority of voters.

    Clinton and her platform don’t represent my views no way, no how, and in my opinion Sanders would’ve put Trump away with ease, but she won by 2.8 million votes and 2.1 percentage points, and if Greg Palast is right, it’s less that she lost than that, as with Gore, a lackluster campaign let the Republicans come close enough for the black magic of election fraud—voters, disappear!—to hijack the presidency. “A republic, if you can keep it,” the man said. No joke, that.

    1. todde

      Palast has been saying Election Fraud for decades, where was the democrat party then?

      And no, she didn’t win. Getting the most popular votes doesn’t win you anything except a talking point.

      1. Wanderingmind

        Palast has added that the Democrats have no incentive to fight the manner in which Republicans purge voter roles because:

        1. They use the same techniques during the primaries to defeat candidates like Sanders, and

        2. The party establishment would rather keep control of the party apparatus than allow a full democratic (small d) program to become dominant.

        See the interview with Palast on the Real News.

        I think Lambert may have discounted what Jill Stein was trying to do, based on Palast’s analysis. Stein wanted a hand count of all of the ballots, which per Palast would have counted tens of thousands of votes for the first time, most in places like Detroit, Flint, Milwaukee. Enough to change the outcome of the election.

        However, (again per Palast) Clinton refused to become a party to the lawsuit and, because Stein had no chance of winning Michigan, e.g., there was no basis to go through with the hand count.

        Talking Points Memo has made its reputation in part on the story of voter repression, so Palast is not the only one looking at this. However, Palast does not limit his criticism to the Republican party and so is able to give, IMO, a more coherent narrative for the why’s and wherefor’s of this story.

        1. dingusansich

          An excellent summary of Palast’s position. I’d add that item 1 is conjectural; it’s plausible, but it needs substantiation. I’d like to see Palast present hard evidence of Democratic collusion in election fraud schemes. It’s not yet clear whether the party of the less right allows initiatives like Crosscheck to go unchallenged because of malign intent or because of simple, maddening incompetence.

          Either way, if Palast is correct, for a small-d democratic organization like Our Revolution to succeed, it will have to come up with multiple strategies to beat back what amount to subtler, more sophisticated versions of Jim Crow.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Unfortunately, Stein’s botched effort succeeded in obscuring Palast’s crucial work. That their statistician started out by reinforcing the Clintonite “The Russkis did it!” was a signal of incompetence to come, which duly came.

            1. wanderingmind

              The reason the recount in Michigan was stopped was that the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that Stein was not an “aggrieved candidate.” She was not aggrieved because, according to the court, regardless of the outcome of any recount, she was not going to win.

              Clinton could have joined in the lawsuit with Stein, which would have met that argument and the recount would have continued.

              So, again, I think that you have mischaracterized Stein’s role.

              Based on Palast’s analysis (and as I said Talking Points Memo has been flagging the voter suppression story for years), there is a need to have hand recounts and challenges to the systematic exclusion of minority voters, etc.

              It appears to me that is what Stein was trying to do. The “botching” aspect came from the failure of Clinton to join in.

      2. zapster

        She likely did. That’s why Trump was so desperate to stop the recount. It was definitely swinging toward Clinton in MI. The bigger issue is that Palast is right, and every election that we let them steal results in the next batch of ringers being even worse. How long are we going to tolerate this?

        1. aab

          Based on what? The biggest reveal out of the Michigan results is that more than a third of Detroit precincts recorded more votes than were actually in the boxes, once they broke them open. Because of the hinky rules, in a recount situation, the original, clearly fraudulent count stood, rather than being corrected to reflect the reality of the ballots in the boxes. Do you really think those phantom overvotes were Republican ones?

          If she could have won, she would have called for recounts and audits. Do you really think she hesitated to besmirch our electoral process out of an abundance of caution, but a coup attempt facilitated the CIA was no big deal? It seems to me, given what we know generally and the uncovering of those systemic Detroit overvotes, that the Democrats stole as hard as they could for her, and just fell short, which is why Bill, Podesta, whoever was able to force her to the podium the next morning to concede.

          The entire Democratic Party wanted and needed her to win this. They were heavily incentivized to call for a recount if they had the slightest reason to believe they would win it. Yet they did not. I’m pretty sure that horse thundering across the plain is that both parties cheated to a draw, so electoral fundamentals — which always pointed the change agent winning against the status quo — won out.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > The entire Democratic Party wanted and needed her to win this. They were heavily incentivized to call for a recount if they had the slightest reason to believe they would win it. Yet they did not. I’m pretty sure that horse thundering across the plain is that both parties cheated to a draw, so electoral fundamentals — which always pointed the change agent winning against the status quo — won out.

            Detroit being, as I recall, controlled by Democrats.

          2. Fiver

            For the more cynically minded, there are a couple of perfectly cogent alternative explanations as to why the most senior Clinton Dems may have balked at the recounts – but rather than go into that, I would point out the professor from the University of Michigan who was expert re voting machines in that State made the argument for a recount based on counting what were effectively the ‘spoiled’ ballots – those the ancient machines could not assign due to imperfect voter marking, but which any high school kid could ascertain belonged to ‘x’ or ‘y’ or were truly ‘spoiled’. The expectation based on prior experience was a reject rate for the State overall that would amount to tens of thousands of ballots, so given the worst machines were often in the poorest districts, also known to be heavily pro-Dem, it was not at all an unreasonable proposition to count the ‘spoiled’ ballots. The question I gather is whether the machines counted the ballots but did not assign a vote for ‘spoiled’ ballots. However, a very large number of machines/precincts were ruled off limits from the outset, and of course the whole effort was unceremoniously shut down before anyone could learn anything of value. I think non-Dem, independents/progressives who were/are rightly terrified at Trump had a perfectly legitimate right to attempt to overturn what was, after all, and especially for them, an entirely invalid process on both sides from start to finish, as any International Observers could’ve attested.


          3. JohnnyGL

            “The entire Democratic Party wanted and needed her to win this. They were heavily incentivized to call for a recount if they had the slightest reason to believe they would win it.”

            Are we sure about this? I’m not convinced. Past evidence indicated that Dem Party leadership is happy to take losses from time to time and bet that Repub screw ups will bring forth a revival of the Dems as seen in 2006. Pelosi’s remarks about how there’s no real need for a big change would seem to be in line with this mode of thinking. The way she spoke, it sounded like policy didn’t matter and electoral fortunes just ebb and flow like the tides.

            Also, since it would be irresponsible NOT to speculate….Trump seemed to quickly change his tune about investigating and prosecuting the Clinton Foundation post-election. If the Clinton camp were to contest results, would Trump have put that option back on the table? One could easily see a quid-pro-quo here. But, of course, we know the Clintons don’t do quid-pro-quos, so I’m sure it’s impossible! :)

    2. Steve C

      Democrats are too compromised to have a simple specific platform that they really mean. The donors won’t allow it. They only get into power when the Republicans screw up horribly then hand it back when they produce no results.

    3. hunkerdown

      What she won wasn’t the game that mattered. The talking point about the popular vote shows that the Democrat Party is a petulant child caught out in a serious lie and the little shit doesn’t think we’re serious about repudiating its politics of whining.

    4. ian

      A good start would be to move away from identity politics and towards a more color, gender and ethnicity-blind economic appeal to the middle class. It was identity politics that did them in – working class white folks voted _their_ identity.

        1. JohnnyGL

          I think you meant “higher levels than Romney”.

          Anyway, this Jacobin article pointed out the class issue cuts across ethnic groups. The differences between wealthier black neighborhoods, where turnout was up, and more working class neighborhoods, where it was down, was interesting.


          “In rapidly gentrifying Ward 1, home to Howard University and prosperous, diverse neighborhoods like Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights, Clinton’s performance matched her strong showings in the District’s rich white areas: registered voter turnout grew 8 percent from 2012, and Clinton gained 17 percent more votes than Obama. In Ward 4, largely black and middle class, overall turnout also rose from 2012, while Clinton matched Obama’s vote totals. But in Ward 8, which encompasses poorer and working-class neighborhoods in Southeast DC, turnout dipped from 2012: Clinton received 13 percent fewer votes than Obama.”

          1. zapster

            And how many of those poorer voters were disenfranchised, turned away from long lines and overloaded polling places and how many of their votes weren’t counted at all–as in Detroit? Election fraud has everything to do with this, and campaign strategies much less. In a rigged election, analyzing voters and strategies is pretty much meaningless.

            1. Sammy Maudlin

              And how many of those poorer voters were disenfranchised, turned away from long lines and overloaded polling places and how many of their votes weren’t counted at all–as in Detroit?

              Um, I don’t think the question is how many voters were turned away in Detroit, but how many times their votes were counted.

            2. JohnnyGL

              “Election fraud has everything to do with this, and campaign strategies much less. In a rigged election, analyzing voters and strategies is pretty much meaningless.” – I have to respectfully disagree, here.

              All the body language from the Clinton camp was that they just weren’t interested in those voters. If they were, they’d have worked harder on defending the Voting Rights Act, launching voter registration drives, getting equipment updated in poorer precincts.

              They thought the keys to the castle for winning this election was bringing in droves of those “never Trump” Republicans in the Philly suburbs.

              Recall Obama’s convention speech about how today’s Republicans were so far gone from “the Party of Lincoln” and how the Dems wanted to welcome those voters to come on over. It worked on the Bushes and Romney, but failed to bring over the Republican base voters.

              Think of Schumer’s remark about grabbing moderate Republicans to make up for losses among working class whites. If they’re not interested in working class whites, is it a reach to think they might not care about the black working class, either? Or maybe they thought Trump would drive turnout for them?

              I think ignoring voter suppression was a willful decision, and it’s a direction the Dem elite has been going in for quite some time. Their campaign strategy seems to take this kind suppression as a given and works around it. It clearly does NOT challenge it.

          2. Yves Smith

            Sorry, huge oops! Yes, traditional Dem cohorts gradually leaving the Dems because the Dems have more and more visibly failed to deliver on their brand promise.

        2. Katharine

          Is that in absolute numbers, percent of votes in this election vs. that, percent of registered voters…?

    5. RPDC

      I’ll let the Carolina Panthers know that they “won” the Super Bowl by gaining 315 yards to Denver’s 194. I’m sure they’ll be ecstatic.

    1. RUKidding

      That, and the fact that she’s lazy and entitled and didn’t feel like talking down to the peasants. If she had run her campaign differently, people would’ve maybe showed up. They showed up for Bernie. Sanders, like Trump, went forth and spoke to the proles in their language and discussed their actual needs. It’s highly unlikely that Trump will deliver on his promises, but he did speak to the proles about their real life experiences and the real problems they are dealing with.

      Clinton only wanted to rub shoulders with Rich Republicans. It’s a sick joke that she and her scuzzy hubby pretend that they’re “Democratic” Party pols. Not really. Not ever. Not gonna happen. Go away.

      1. Susan C

        She lacked authenticity and did not have a message. How many times can people listen to her say she has all this experience, while shaking her heads that she really never did anything. It didn’t play well obviously. It’s like people were to care about her, not her caring about the people.

  7. alex morfesis

    Policy Goldman report on trump infrastructure…not what you are looking for but might help with the discussion

    joint comm on taxation…guvmyntrs(auto download of pdf)


    treasury dept report


    and a global take on his plans


    if my quick read is correct…the refusal of congress kritters to fund 170 billion over 10 years is the “basis” for this need…

    funny how they can find money to drop ordinance to pound sand with…to drive people back to the stone…

    oh…they are still living in the stone age…

    well, that thunder and lightning…

    oh…they have seen thunder and lightning too…

    well those companies have to hit their quarterly numbers so ordinance away…

  8. DJG

    Illinois, with that supposely toddling town at its epicenter, losing population faster than any other state. Also, it appears from the figures that Illinois can’t hold the attention of immigrants.


    There is an inordinate amount of stenography of statements barely worthy of ridicule from the governors’ office. In fact, Illinois state income tax is below that of California. Sales tax is what annoys people here, as do suburban property taxes. Chicago’s property taxes aren’t quite as astounding as, say, Evanston. And Illinois has gone way beyond expectations in giving away the pantry to businesses. So I’m wondering what the factors are.

    Maybe Illinois is the place to experiment with a third party. The Midwest did so in the past. You know, La Follette, from the now-depressed state of Wisconsin. I’d be in favor of more artisanal pickle makers if they didn’t consistently turn out to be bearded lumbersexuals and lumbersexualesses who like to talk up Rand Paul. Maybe good old-fashioned organizing would do us well.

  9. LT


    Hard to see the projected tech utopia benefitting all. The main selling point of AI that has the “masters of the universe” so excited about AI is control of humans.
    No more messy questioning of their policies and programs, just pre-programmed execution (and excuses for those failures built in).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If the object is control of humans, we need AE.

      AE – Artificial Emotion.

      One can get more, have more control over another human with a fake “I love you.”

  10. fresno dan

    I didn’t see it, I only read about it afterward. Glenn Greenwald appeared on the Tucker Carlson show, and skewered the dems over the Russian hacking. Not seeing the show, I had no idea if Carlson knew that Greenwald, being labelled “liberal” was a TRUE liberal instead of just a shill for a branded “liberal” spokesman on TV, and was going to completely skewer the dems, or if Greenwald was allowed to appear because Greenwald’s take coincides with FOX news’s…
    As far as I know, that was the first and only time Greenwald has appeared on FOX – does anyone know if Greenwald has appeared on FOX before?

    Of course, FOX and Carlson ONLY take the skeptical position regarding Russian Hacking because they are on the branded repub side and choose only to take the Trump viewpoint. If Trump gets us into a conflict and uses the CIA to justify it, you can bet your sweet bibby that FOX will do a 180. Of course, its all 180’s by practically every hack the media uses to fill up air time with all day, every day, now a days…

    It makes me wonder: Has Greenwald in the last few years ever appeared on MSNBC? Is that due to Greenwald choosing not to, or is he banned by MSNBC?

    strange bedfellows

    1. marym

      Glenn Greenwald ‏@ggreenwald · 7m7 minutes ago
      About to go on MSNBC with @AriMelber to talk about Russia and Democrats

  11. diptherio

    Was a little taken aback by this:

    …Booted From The NSA For Retaliating Against A Whistleblower

    Really? Since when does that happen? He must have stepped on the wrong toes while he was doing what, one can only assume, is SOP for the NSA.

    Ellard didn’t just violate standard government policies on workplace retaliation but a fairly-recent presidential directive as well.


    It’s somewhat of a surprise that Ellard managed to get caught in this loosely-protective framework, suggesting whatever he did was fairly egregious. Officials of his stature rarely see retaliation claims against them substantiated.

    Where’s Paul Harvey when you need him? I want to know the rest of the story…

      1. YY

        I think John Batchelor carries on the radio style of close to reactionary conservative politics that sound remarkably liberal. In terms of convincing editorializing with the long pause, Jeff Dorchin, bless his heart, carries the torch.

  12. Kronosaurus

    “Most of the Democrat yammering about the Trump transition is so tendentious, or so tainted by bad reporting — the Russki scare is both — that there’s really no point linking to it. That’s unfortunate, since links tend to be driven by news flow. In my view, the story of the Trump transition isn’t “conflict of interest” (as if Democrats don’t have that), or corruption (as if Democrats aren’t), or the violation of democratic norms (as if Democrats don’t do that), or even racism and sexism (as if Democrats didn’t do plenty of enabling there all on their own).”

    I agree that the reporting is bad. But come on. Trump won, not because he put together a convincing set of ideas and policies. He was inconsistent at best and many of his ideas were silly. All he ran on was the fact that Clinton was corrupt, he was an outsider, and he was going to drain the swamp or something. So it is quite appropriate to run stories bout conflicts of interest, corruption, and so on. Just because Democrats are guilty of all of the above does not mean we stop caring about these issues.

    I realize that we have been yammering about Trump’s corruption for over a year and that for some crazy reason he still won the election. It is quite mind-boggling in fact. So yes, perhaps pointing it all out may be, from a tactical point of view, a waste of time. Was it a mistake to nominate Clinton? Yes. But that does not mean we stop caring about lying corruptness in our politicians.

    1. hunkerdown

      Kronosaurus, stop talking about Trump and start talking about the sham primary your Party ran as revealed in the DNC emails.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Life is full of mysteries.

      And it may be quite mind-boggling, but it may be that we don’t full understand how some people prioritize.

      Perhaps dying or fearing death due to neoliberalism is the greatest motivator to vote for something.

      And if this – All he ran on was the fact that Clinton was corrupt, he was an outsider, and he was going to drain the swamp or something – if this is it, then, we have to question why others, or another candidate like Sanders – did not do that.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      “I realize that we have been yammering about Trump’s corruption for over a year…..”

      I don’t know where you’ve been, but most of the “yammering” I’ve heard in these parts was about clinton’s corruption.

      And that kind of turns your narrative on its head. You and that mouse in your pocket might oughtta yammer less and listen more. Your mind might be less boggled.

    4. zapster

      As George Lakoff has reported, negative publicity is just as good as positive publicity. More is better.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > perhaps pointing [Trump’s corruption] out may be, from a tactical point of view, a waste of time.

      No, it’s a strategic failure, which you would have seen had you continued to read what I wrote:

      In my view, the story of the Trump transition isn’t “conflict of interest” [etc. …] Rather, it’s the composition of the Trump cabinet: We’ve put a number of billionaires in charge of running the country, including the President, along with a number of generals. We used to have a layer of indirection, and the 1% didn’t openly operate the levers of power.

      In other words, the issue is oligarchy. Openly. Of course, the Democrat establishment can’t point that out, because they have their own good squillionaires to suck up to.

  13. Kronosaurus

    Let’s assume Russia intervened against Clinton in order to retaliate against Clinton. Think about that for just a minute. What would the moral of that story be? Don’t do anything bad to Russia or else they will take you down in cyberspace? In other words, the fact that Trump has been so cozy with Putin may not be because he believes they are ok, but instead, one way to interpret it is that he is appeasing them.

    Appeasement. Remember when that was a bad thing to do? I seem to recall that the political party that slung that epitaph around the most was….

    And even if Russia was not behind the hacks/leaks, someone was. Is it not worth investigating or getting the least bit bothered by?

    1. hunkerdown

      Kronosaurus, why are you defending a certain amount of impunity as some sort of reward for yourself and the rest of the looting professional classes? If she had really stuck to yoga routines and Chelsea’s wedding (as funded by the Foundation, illegally, ahem) there wouldn’t have been anything to find.

    2. todde

      Investigate away.

      Nobody ever said not too.

      The Democrats promised us the ‘most transparent administration ever’.

      It appears someone took them at their word.

      1. Susan C

        I don’t recall the most transparent administration ever part. Where did that come from? Obviously the Dems are still pointing their finger at the bad guy and blaming him for their loss. It would be interesting to do a real in-depth survey on exactly how many people if any changed their voting because of the hacked emails, that they were hacked and/or because of their content. People may have changed their expected voting patterns for reasons other than the emails. To base it on the polling – how the percents would change due to what a candidate said or what Comey did – how can the polling that was being done week by week be that predictive after all when it was so wrong on Election Day? It would make for a good analysis – was perhaps Trump always really in the lead? I was polled by phone but there was no mid-point on the scale for not sure which I thought was odd. Essentially they forced you into answering Clinton or Trump.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I don’t recall the most transparent administration ever part. Where did that come from?

          It came out of Obama’s mouth. The Hill:

          President Obama on Thursday hailed his administration for its transparency.

          “This is the most transparent administration in history,” Obama said during a Google Plus “Fireside” Hangout.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      Oh, Lordie. The “appeasement” shit again.

      Get over it, Krono….. Every once in awhile you have to take the trash out. With hillary clinton, it just got too ripe to ignore.

    4. jrs

      One person’s appeasement is another person’s diplomacy. At least both avoid war.

      I suppose the moral for them is they should take computer and other security more seriously. But I don’t really care about what lessons the DNC and so on take from it. Because no I don’t think it’s worth me personally getting bothered about the hacks, because assuming the information released is true, information getting out there is good. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

    5. YY

      It appears that even the “deepest thinkers/speculators” are bent on creating a story. I have some questions as to how many other entities and hackers knocked on and infiltrated the DNC servers, and why it is so strange that Russians, paid full time to snoop around the web, would have come across the DNC at one time or another. Should one not expect this? And why would Putin of all people have the time and inclination to be standing behind the shoulder a bunch of otherwise gamer techies? It’s taking months for reporters and political junkies who are sensitive to what is interesting and what is not in US political culture to find the nuggets in Podesta’s emails even when presented with a searchable database. Do we have better analysts in Russia at foot soldier level to ascertain what would or would not tip the US elections? Is it not possible that the Russians hacked but separate and apart from this some person internal or close to DNC just made a USB copy of the mail information and proceeded to leak it?

    6. Waldenpond

      Leave the powerful alone!!!! Next you’ll be asking they be held accountable for their own acts/words!!!!

      You just wrote: [But that does not mean we stop caring about lying corruptness in our politicians.] and then want to focus on mythical sourcing of actual words/data that demonstrate the Ds just rigged their own primary and sell government.

    7. uncle tungsten

      The someone was an insider most likely. Before you shoot me down Kron, just think, it is just as plausible given the circumstances and what we know.

      Guccifer got close to SoS emails, then there was the DNC hack and that’s what I refer to as the insider hack, then there was the Podesta hack (that goose used “p@ssword” as his stupid password), then there was Wiener!! all of them are fools and all of them risked the USA national security. It doesn’t get much more inside than that.

      Hillary lost because she is a failure at political math + she is surrounded by others with the same disability. The Clintons lost the election and no one else.

    8. Temporarily Sane

      You have been drinking from the Klinton Kool Aid, Kronos. If Russia hacked the DMC and threw the election in Trump’s favor those making that accusation should lay the evidence that proves it on the table for the public to see. Oh that’s right…they don’t have any evidence that the Russians did what they are accused of doing. And, really, are people who have condemned Syrians to more war and death in in the name of regime change in any position to get on a high horse and scream about dastardly people who “influence” elections? Give me a break.

      1. RMO

        Even if the Russian government agencies actually did go in and hack the DNC emails AND release them what bloody difference should it make? IF they did it (which I seriously doubt) all they really would have been guilty of was doing the job the U.S.A.’s OWN JOURNALISTS should have been doing in the first place!

          1. Pat

            Why one might think there had been some corruption of that system if one were cynical or a realist paying attention.

        1. MLS

          Putin says:

          “You stop telling lies about me and I’ll stop telling the truth about you.”

          So yeah, basically all this alleged Russian hacker did was expose the seedy behavior of the Democratic party. Not sure how what’s in those emails is Russia’s fault.

    9. Darthbobber

      “Lets assume…” what is by no means proven.
      “may not be…” “one way to interpret”.
      Worth investigating might start with the leakers being willing to testify UNDER OATH as to what they claim to know, and providing the actual evidence, if any.

      Folks are welcome to investigate away, if that’s what they actually do. But much more likely to turn into posturing for the cameras.

      One way to interpret Trump’s attitude would be that there are perfectly good reasons to desire a functional relationship with the Russians.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > a functional relationship with the Russians.

        From the realpolitik standpoint, not insane. Of course, if your rice bowl depends on a war with Russia, obviously evil.

    10. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think the moral is that if you’re a great power, then stop whinging when your own policies cause blowback. Suck it up. Grow a pair.

      And people, as shown by your comment, forget or erase that the emails were legitimate. They were true. (And if indeed an released leaked them, they were not a hack, but a leak.)

      So how rotten does a political class have to be, that printing the truth “interferes” with its preferred outcomes?

      1. XFR

        I tried to point out, on a partisan Dem blog, the sheer absurdity of saying “How dare you catch me cheating! That’s CHEATING! Therefore, you should forfeit and I WIN!!!!”

        Blank stares all around.

        One guy opined that I must be a Sanders supporter or something.

        You can never argue with a crazy mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mind
        You oughta know by now
        You oughta know by now

  14. geoff

    “In the wake of the 2016 election, a long-standing debate within progressive circles has been reignited: Whatever shall we do with the white working class?” [The American Prospect].

    Given that The American Prospect is the house organ of John Podesta’s “centrist” think tank the Center For American Progress, I think we can safely guess the answer: “ignore them”.

    1. UserFriendly

      Maybe try reading something before you trash it. It might as well have been ‘Run candidates like Bernie from now on.’ It’s a whole lot about moderate white working class voters. The only reason they are not more liberal is because they don’t trust DC to not just sell out to their donors and give the scraps that are left to people of color that are just poorer than them. They know the GOP is only for $$$ but they know the dems aren’t for them. They supported economic populism as long as they thought it was genuine.

  15. b.

    “Team Bernie: Hillary ‘F*cking Ignored’ Us in Swing States”

    The Incompetence Dodge is back – see apologias for Bush, Obama, i.e. the cognitively challenged version of “If Only The Czar Knew”.

    Clinton’s basement e-mail server was the logical outcome of who she was, down to the very bones – it was inevitable, regardless of regulations, FOIA, likely consequences etc.

    I suggest the same view has to be applied to her campaign. This was not ignorance or incompetence. Clinton and her proxies decided she’d rather loose than align with the rabble. They also didn’t think she was going to lose, but that is secondary to the recognition that, given who they were, and what they stood for, they had no other choice.

    Clinton was not willing to concede anymore ground to Sanders than she felt she had to, JIT, to make it through the primaries. She deeply regretted every inch she gave – the double rejection of her TPP undulations by both sides of the divide was pretty much the end even of “platform” concessions. Clinton did not want to get caught out again. If you want to be generous, Clinton was the establishment exemplar of an honest politician – one that stays bought by the elite sponsors and donors no matter how the votes fall out. Ineffectual, maybe, but the oligarchy preference here is not quite trivial to discern even for somebody like her, who made a career out of it.

    She also didn’t think she was going to lose. Who were they gonna vote for? She had the base by the balls, taking us hostage to coerce us into that formality of a vote. This is politics – if you aren’t paying for it in some way, then you must be the mark and the product, and she was confident we would have to look to her to deliver us.

    Clinton didn’t campaign in those states because, ultimately, she had nothing to say to the voters that live there. She did not attempt to reach out to the Sanders voters because she literally had nothing to say to them. Her Heisenbergian “position” on TPP had enough uncertainty to imply zero momentum, and that dilemma would have gotten worse with every minute of direct exposure to an audience of voters she had absolutely no intention to accommodate in any meaningful fashion. Trump might or might not have the self-awareness regarding The Con, but Clinton had too much of it to even try to fake it. Once you deplore, you cannot stoop back down there.

    Her eyes firmly on the opening moves following the “endgame” of vote counting, she and her apparat were primarily concerned with cutting Sanders supporters and independent actors outside the campaign out of the loop, intent to channel any acclaim, praise, and any markers resulting from the “Victory” straight into the apparat.

    For Clinton to go to those Lost States, she would have had to change her policy prescriptions, or at least her promises. This was so antithetical to the zeal that is expressed in her otherwise unremarkable career – Libya definitely comes to mind, as does Russia – that she could not only not conceive of taking this step, she could literally not let herself concede the possibility that such an adjustment – a realignment with the rabble – was necessary. Unlike Obama, she knew she would settle for those voters who would not just “settle” for her. Those votes she went for in Arizona and elsewhere, and among the KIssinger Min-me’s of the US ‘stablishment, those were the ones she really wanted.

    Her campaign’s misplaced confidence was not the cause of her failure, it was merely a consequence. There was really no way Clinton could have gotten elected, because for her to succeed, she would have had to at least pretend not be Clinton anymore.

    Unlike Obama, she simply did not have the gifts to fake it and to “sell the con”. Even her arrogance in refusing to pretend is merely a thin layer on top of that inability to lie convincingly.

    1. JustAnObserver


      I’d only add that The Con, as you describe it, didn’t just start with the election or even the primaries. Most likely it goes much further back than that. Maybe as far as the “negotiations” that gave Clinton the State Department as a quid pro quo for bringing her supporters in for the 2008 general after she lost the primary.

      Her Black Swan, that upended all these calculations, was the entry of Bernie Sanders into the Dem primaries with his single minded hammering day in, day out on the message that neoliberalism, triangulation, or whatever else you want to call was OVER. And, even then, she and her campaign assumed that his endorsement would bring his supporters (or enough of them anyway) onto her side just as she’d swung hers to Obama 8 years before.

      1. RUKidding

        Agree with both of you. I kept hearing Clinton fans adjuring me that Clinton was really truly amazingly super “progressive,” and I’d be abolutely amazed by how faaaabulous she would be in office. Plus the PantSuit Empress had “adopted almost all” of Sander’s campaign promises. And then I heard that she “all of these programs” to aid and assist the working classes in Fly Over States – which Clinton took literally and just flew over them. And why oh why were those SEXIST wretches so ungrateful for the crumbs that La Clinton was tossing to them???

        I asked several times for specifics on her “programs” to assist the working classes (of whatever gender or ethnicity), and quite honestly, not ONE person could tell me one damn thing. Just that she had faaabulous programs.

        Well Trump also said he had faaaabulous programs, and he most likely lied about it. But he at least went out talked to the wretched and promised to help them. Clinton couldn’t even be bothered to do that.

        And she figured that the deliberatly condescendingly & dismissively labled “BernieBros” had nowhere else to go, so they’d just vote for her without her having to deign to even acknowedge their deplorable existences.

        She deserved to lose… Bigly. And I detest Trump. But my loathing of Clinton, after witnessing this $2billion travesty, knows no bounds. The whining and tantrum throwing over Putin just puts icing on the cake. Go away. Go far far away and leave us alone.

        1. Philman

          I agree with you both! I cannot find the clip, but at the DNC convention, someone asked Biden about the pissed off Bernie supporters, and he said “Where else are they going to go?” They were basically laughing at throwing the bernie backers under the bus.

          1. JustAnObserver

            I remember in a discussion around about the DNC convention time some hard core Hillbot said the same thing. I replied, without thinking about the consequences, something along the lines of “Maybe nowhere at all”.

            Reaction was a kind of shocked silence followed by accusations of treachery directed at me for just pointing out a possibility they’d not even considered. Lots of heated “conversation” followed. Sigh.

        2. Susan C

          I heard staunch Republicans say, after Bernie was defeated, that Hillary was a progressive. She started saying that about herself as a way to get the Bernie people to vote for her. When I asked what progressive policies Hillary supported, they had no idea.

  16. Just1

    Question: Is anyone else having trouble commenting at moonofalabama.org? (or any other ‘fake news’ site?)

    1. epynonymous

      I haven’t tried, but I’ve been seeing some pop up.

      Even one that opened with an article about “I’m white and I’m not ashamed of it.”

      I like the ones with the cryptome thing with the auto-generated fractal. Honestly. I can’t remember the host, but they allow you to post anonymously without an ‘account’ Logging in is absurd.

  17. YY

    “Designed by Apple in California, Assembled in China”

    While I agree that Apple’s sustainability relies too heavily on outside developers of component technology, I would not read into the notion of assembly anything more than what it actually means. It is common understanding in the electronics industry that the making of the final product is assembly and somewhere upstream in the supplier chain things are manufactured. In normal person English, manufacturing means something more generalized.

    1. hunkerdown

      Seconded. “Assembled” also helpfully erases the manufactured components and whether or not they’re made from the finest Congolese conflict tantalum.

  18. Jim

    Re: “Building a Mass Socialist Party” in Jacobin:

    “In fact, in today’s context more radical policies are essential for even achieving moderate reforms.
    This consideration shifts the emphasis from the terrain of policies to the terrain of power–to an alternative politics rooted in developing the deepest political capacities.”

    This was an insight the neoliberals learned early in the game when they realized that while both the corporation and the state had a hierarchical structure, the state was not like the firm in that it had access to force and tended to make claims that it had a monopoly on the legitimate use of force and could therefore shape the very rules and rights of a market regime.

    Unfortunately a significant portions of the Left still views a market society as simply a centrally planned economy run by the banks and corporations, when it is the power of the modern State to enforce neoliberal rules and regulations through coercive power–that calls the shots.

    The Left will never get anywhere until it rethinks the use of power and coercion within our society–something which the Donald seems to have instinctively grasped quite early in the game with his apparent calculations to attempt to have more placid relations with Russia, which may ultimately create additional economic rents for his favored purveyors of violence–and maybe less cash and influence for such organizations as the CIA and other less favored sectors of the national security complex.

    Always be negotiating with the organizations of violence do make sure that some get a decent payoff and have an interest in keeping you alive.

  19. uncle tungsten

    Re Realignment and Legitimacy, “UPDATE “Top Jewish fundraisers and activists in Florida have a message for the politicians who want to lead the Democratic Party: Support for the Palestinian cause at the expense of Israel is politically toxic” [Politico]. Of course, with Sander’s $27-donor model, the question of “top… fundraisers” doesn’t arise, so it’s hard to see why the political class has busied themselves erasing it, through silence… ”

    It may well be time to call the Israel/Palestinian bluff when it comes to fundraising. This BS hysteria nonsense from the Jewish fundraisers needs to be flamed and buried. For too long this absurd pearl clutching manipulation has been eroding common sense. Power to the $27 uprising and clear thinking.

    For what its worth from 2016 USA stats;
    Protestant 51.3%, Roman Catholic 23.9%, Mormon 1.7%, other Christian 1.6%, Jewish 1.7%, Buddhist 0.7%, Muslim 0.6%, other or unspecified 2.5%, unaffiliated 12.1%, none 4% (2007 est.)

  20. Jay M

    Sorry for no link, but have seen speculation that legitimizing the capital move to Jerusalem and final annexation of Judea and Samaria (west bank) with legitimization of settlements will create a minority Jewish state that may become politically toxic like certain areas in South Africa. Too much love from the hegemon may undermine the scrappy euro oriented democracy in the middle east with nuclear weapons.

    1. integer

      My reading of the realpolitik underlying this decision is that Trump is allowing Israel to take these actions in the West Bank due to his election having effectively put an end to their territorial ambitions in Syria. A consolation prize, if you will.

  21. lyman alpha blob

    On the potential ethics of self driving cars – http://phys.org/news/2016-12-decisions-autonomous-vehicles-dire-situations.html

    Bill Ford Jr., executive chairman of Ford Motor Co., said recently that these ethics must be derived from “deep and meaningful conversations” among the public, the auto industry, the government, universities and ethicists.

    Azim Shariff, assistant professor of psychology & social behavior at the University of California, Irvine, and his colleagues – Iyad Rahwan, associate professor of media arts & sciences at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Mass., and Jean-Francois Bonnefon, a research director at the Toulouse School of Economics in France – have created an online survey platform called the Moral Machine to help promote that discussion.

    Launched in May, it has already drawn more than 2.5 million participants from over 160 countries.

    You too can be an Uber-mensch – decide whether it’s grandma or Mr. Whiskers who becomes road pizza at Moral Machine!

  22. S M Tenneshaw

    Psssttt…Islamophobia is not an actual thing, it’s just a BS meme cooked up to whitewash an odious belief system and smear its opponents as racist.

    Just in case you didn’t already know.

  23. Kim Kaufman

    Two Books That Diagnosed Trumpism Pre-Trump


    “In a feat of psychological engineering one year later, almost three quarters of Tea Party adherents agreed with the statement, in a PRRI survey cited by Jones, that discrimination against whites “has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities.”

    “In 2016, those desperate perceptions justified desperate measures. In a PRRI poll taken before this year’s election, 72 percent of likely voters who supported Trump said American society and way of life have changed for the worse since the 1950s. According to exit polls, 80 percent of white born-again or evangelical Christians ended up voting for Trump, who has promised to turn back the clock on multiculturalism (“Merry Christmas”), mass non-European immigration (“the wall”), feminism (“Man of the Year”), globalization (“tariffs”) and nearly every other force undermining white Christian hegemony.

    “Before any votes were cast, Jones, a self-described product of white Christian America, warned of the possibility that “white evangelical Protestants will mortgage their future in a fight to resurrect the past.””

  24. Oregoncharles

    ““Building a Mass Socialist Party” [Jacobin].”
    Is there more than vague hand-waving in this? I didn’t see anything corresponding to the title, nothing concrete or specific. I found it very frustrating to read.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Let me therefore recommend it again. This paragraph caught my eye:

      While left social democracy, for all its anticapitalist rhetoric, is oriented to ending neoliberalism, socialism is — in its vision, structures and practices — oriented to ending capitalism. The corollary is that the core of the socialist project is about alternative politics, not just alternative policies — on developing the skills and institutional capacities to address the extraordinary power and resiliency of capitalism. Socialism’s preoccupation with “capacities” is perhaps its most significant contribution to addressing social change.

      Readers will recall that Syriza conspicuously failed on issues of “organizational capacity.” So I find the analysis germane for the left in general, and for 2016 in particular, where the GP conspicuously failed in the same way, both in failing to achieve its 5% goal (in a year when the choices were Clinton and Trump) and then in its foolish recount effort.

      True, the article isn’t some sort of cookbook and doesn’t provide any recipes. But I don’t think that makes the analysis any less solid.

      1. Fiver

        I cannot fathom the continued hostility to a group of people who are, in terms of policy orientation, values, intent, etc., undoubtedly more ‘progressive’ than those claiming that portion of bandwidth from within the Clinton/Democratic/msm spectrum.

        It was precisely the extremes of emotion and divisiveness that made it just too difficult for any progressive 3rd Party to break through. The beauty of Trump, from the Clinton/Dem machine view is that he, with his appointees, has all but guaranteed an initial backlash in 2018 and even the prospect of a rout in 2020 – assuming there is a vote at all. I don’t see a 3rd Party with a real shot unless it comes as a result of all authentic ‘progressives’ exiting the Dem Party en masse, at which point I for one would advise extending a welcoming hand to Greens and anyone else to form a very broad coalition. Trump could well be so toxic at that point that for the first time ever, Americans have a choice for a Progressive that could win. I would of course do anything legal to encourage a 3rd Party on the far-far right to further hamper Trump.

        As to the recount – as noted in another comment, Greens had a perfectly legitimate reason to call for the results of the Election to be authenticated, as did plenty of other people who were not Clinton Dems. If millions of people of good will who rightly believed the entire Election was a mammoth travesty of justice, but had some hope of negating the outcome of the tortured process, they had every right to try. But not only were these efforts met with terrible smears, rank hostility, misplaced tribalism and more, even when Power stepped in to shut-down the legally pursued effort, those attempting to fight for legitimacy were dumped on, and most severely by those ‘independent minded’ types who, in so unseemly a manner on this,one lined up four-square behind theTrumps or Clintons hurling catcalls, worst wishes, tossed anchors instead of life-jackets, etc.

        How about reaching out to these people by adopting a set of integrated, sane environmental policies?

  25. Darthbobber

    “In my view, the story of the Trump transition isn’t “conflict of interest” (as if Democrats don’t have that), or corruption (as if Democrats aren’t), or the violation of democratic norms (as if Democrats don’t do that), or even racism and sexism (as if Democrats didn’t do plenty of enabling there all on their own).”

    I can see this viewpoint, and I’m part way there, but can’t fully agree. I think there’s at least an argument to be made that in terms of conflict of interest, for example, we’re looking at a significant difference in degree, and a further regression down the slope on that.

    Another story is that we’re back to dealing with “inconvenient” laws by simply appointing people to run agencies who are explicitly hostile to the stated missions of those agencies. And again, the democrats have been known to engage in-ahem- “discretionary law enforcement”, but to nothing like the degree that I think we’re going to see from these folks. I’m reminded of James “Christ is coming, cut down the trees” Watt at the EPA back in the day.

    Being in Philly, I have my own tales of Democratic corruption (and racism), but that doesn’t change the likelihood that we seem to be getting ready for a positive orgy of this sort of thing, dwarfing anything seen since the waning days of the 19th century. I do think its possible to lean a tad too heavily on the “Donkeys do it, too” theme, though the self-righteous posturing of many Democratic figures and supporters does make one want to do that almost reflexively.

  26. John Morrison

    I am very sorry to say this, but the invasion of Iraq and the current militarism we are in have turned civil control of the military on its head. IIRC, the military was more reluctant to invade than the President, the Vice President, and the people around him. At the very least, the military knew that far more soldiers were needed than the civilians thought — and far more than they told the civilians, because the civilians had decided what they wanted to hear.

  27. Pat

    I know I’m late to the party, but if editors etc on the Apprentice really did prepare a ‘funny’ outtake blooper reel of Trump’s greatest hits as a racist misogynist ass, it is unlikely it was just sent to Tom Arnold. Not saying it doesn’t exist but just if it does being a one off doesn’t make sense. Secondly if Clinton and/or Schwarzenegger knew about it or had access to it and wanted it released it would have been released. I call publicity bull.

    This could end up being the Trump version of Michelle’s ‘whitey’ tape. Lost in the wilds for decades and searched for as if it were a yeti.

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